Deciding to sleep train your baby when they are room sharing with an older sibling needn’t be difficult. It is natural to worry that the baby will wake up your older child with all the crying and worry about how your older child will react to the crying. There are steps you can take to make the sleep training process easier for everyone. Just remember that, while the sleep training isn’t easy for your whole family, there will be great gains when you come out the other side. Chances are right now your whole family isn’t getting the sleep they need, but this will change for the better once you’ve improved your child’s sleep. Read on to learn about sleep training and sibling room sharing.
1) Prep the other sibling about the sleep training process.
It is important to discuss what is about to happen with your older child so that they are prepared. You could even do a family meeting. It is important to discuss: a) that you will be teaching the baby how to fall asleep on their own and sleep through the night, b) that there will be crying but there is no reason to worry because the baby is okay and c) the importance of sleep. You could even get your older child involved in the sleep training process. Do they want to sing a song or read a book as part of the bedtime/naptime routine?
2) Move better sleeping sibling into another room.
You may like to concentrate on sleep training without worrying so much about your older child getting woken up. Perhaps for the few weeks it takes for you to improve your younger child’s sleep you move your older one into your room, and move her back once your baby’s sleep has improved . I would recommend giving it a few weeks of consistent good sleep before moving your older child back in, if that is possible.
3) Use white noise.
I wish I could tell you differently, but babies will cry while learning to fall asleep and return to sleep by themselves. This is inevitable because they are learning a new skill. They are not used to putting themselves to sleep and returning to sleep when they wake briefly through the night. Depending on their age, once the sleep training process is finished they may even still wake at night for feeds. A white noise machine can help make it easier for your older child to sleep through those noises. The white noise machine should be on the lowest setting.
4) Children can be deep sleepers.
Toddlers and younger children are actually deep sleepers, so are less likely to wake up to your baby’s noises at night. My 5 year old won’t wake even if I go in his room and search for something for 20 minutes that he needs for school the next day. It surprises me every time!
5) Protect each child’s sleep routines.
Although it can be tempting to try to put both children on the same routine once they are room sharing, this is not necessarily the best idea. Chances are that your two children will have different bedtimes and that is ok. If you have one child stay up to match the other’s bedtime or naptime routine you may find you end up with a tired child, which makes it even harder to get them sleeping well.
Protecting both children’s schedules just means you put one child to bed first and have some quality time with the other child. Throughout the years of room sharing, you will also find that the child who stays up later will switch around as their needs change. My children have been room sharing for 3 years and they’ve each been the one that stays up a bit later and spends quality time with Mommy and Daddy!
If your older child still naps you may worry that they’ll disrupt each other doing it in the same room. Or maybe they have slightly different nap times and you don’t want to run the risk of waking each other up. For me, I worried that they would spend ages interacting and therefore not fall asleep at nap time. I separated them and my older child napped in my bed. This worked very well, especially when my older child started dropping his naps.
Now that I’ve given some tips to help with sleep training and sibling room sharing. It is time to pick the method that suits your child and your sleep goals. There is no right or wrong method to choose, you need to choose what will work best for your family, but just remember to be consistent!
If you need help with solving your child’s sleep problems, please feel free to contact Mylee at Little Big Dreamers today. Or you can schedule an appointment here. I look forward to helping you improve your child’s sleep!