One of the more common questions I get asked is from parents who have an older child and a new baby sharing a space. The question, as you can probably guess, is “How do I sleep train my baby without disturbing my toddler in the process?”
It’s definitely a tricky situation but I have some tips today to help you minimize the impact on your older child while you teach your baby the skills they need to get the whole family sleeping peacefully through the night.
One of the questions that I get asked a lot is how can I teach my children to sleep well if they share a bedroom? That is a tough one and I’m going to paint a picture in a couple of different scenarios today.
The first and most popular scenario is where you have an older child and a baby and they are sharing the same space. And I’m going to assume that the older child sleeps well.
I’m hoping you discovered the Sleep Sense program early on with that child and they’re a beautiful sleeper. So I’m not gonna worry too much about the older one.
But I agree it’s tricky when they’re in the same room. It’s going to be hard for this older child to continue to sleep well. You’re most likely going to be a little sensitive to the fact that baby’s waking up older child and be a little, maybe a little more lenient with your rules because of this.
So if that scenario, my advice is that you move baby out of your older child’s room for the short term and that could be anywhere, your room, the laundry room, the office, the spare bedroom. It doesn’t really matter where because it’s just gonna be for the short term.
If it is in your bedroom though, make sure that you build some sort of space for that baby in your room, whether it’s you make a wall out of furniture or you hang a sheet down or you make a little partition somehow or you put her in the closet in your bedroom. Again, it doesn’t have to be pretty it just has to be her own space. Because that’s gonna be a bit of a challenge if she wakes up in the night and sees her favorite people laying right beside her, that could cause some trouble. So make some sort of space for her.
And then go ahead and sleep train. Now I would still recommend that you speak to your older child about what’s going to be happening. Because even if the baby’s in another room there is a possibility that the sound or the protest of that baby is going to potentially wake up your older child. So just prep her and say, “Listen, you might hear your baby brother tonight. “It’s nothing to worry about. “Mommy’s dealing with it, or Mommy’s teaching baby “how to sleep well.” Just explain to her that there’s no reason for her to be alarmed or concerned and to just return to sleep if she hears the baby in the night.
And know that this is just a little short-term hill we have to climb to get to the other side, which is both children sleeping wonderfully.
So once baby is sleeping well and through the night in the alternative location I would give it a good two or three weeks of solid sleeping well before you move them back. And it should be relatively smooth sailing when you move them back.
Again, you might have to give your older child a little bit of a prep that if you hear her don’t worry about it, it’ll only last a minute or two and baby will go back to sleep.
The good news is that they will get used to each other on some level, right? Just the same way we all get used to sleeping in bed with partners or having other people in the room with us. So they’ll become a little less sensitive to the noises and sounds that go on in there.
Now the other scenario would be that you have a toddler and an older child. My only change to this advice is never move a toddler. If you’ve got a sort of 18 months to 2-1/2 age range child here that you wanna sleep teach, my advice is to leave the toddler as is and move the other child again giving clear rules that this is just for the short term and once the toddler is sleeping well they’re going to go back to their room.
I just find toddlers are so sort of black and white with their thinking that it can just cause so much anxiety and upset that they’ve been moved that they can’t really get beyond it and it’s hard for them to learn to sleep well with all this kind of change going on.
So definitely keep your toddler where they are. And know that you know, like I said, it’s a trickier situation with more kids. It’s definitely worth doing thought, right? Especially if you’ve already seen the proof in the pudding, your older child’s been a great sleeper for years.
We know that this is doable, we know it’s a little bit of work to put in on the start to get everybody sleeping well. But a good night’s sleep is a gift to give to your child. So I encourage you to get started.
Thanks for watching, sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!