So your second or subsequent child has arrived. Like many parents, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure of how to manage your youngest one’s sleep, whilst also navigating the needs of older siblings. You will be relieved to know that sleep training your baby with other children in the house doesn’t have to be stressful, that it can definitely be done. The FAQ’s below will help you get started on your youngest child’s sleep journey.
Q: What do I do if my baby needs a nap but I have to take other children to school or activities?
A: It’s all about balance. Sometimes your little one will have to nap in the pram or car, which is totally fine. The good thing is, older children’s schedules and activities are usually in the mornings or afternoons, which means your little one has a chance for a longer restorative nap at home in the middle of the day. It’s also Ok for certain activities to be missed for a couple of weeks whilst you are in the middle of sleep training your youngest. Once you have your baby sleeping well, you will probably find they are very adaptable ‘super sleepers’ wherever they are.
Q: Won’t my older children wake up when they hear my baby’s cries at night?
A: Surprisingly, older siblings are seldom woken when their baby brother or sister is crying, as they tend to sleep very deeply overnight. A good idea is to have some white noise in both baby and sibling’s rooms, and shut your older children’s door.
Q: My two children sleep in the same room. How can I sleep train my baby?
A: It will be easiest to teach your baby to sleep well when you aren’t worried about your other child waking. Just for a couple weeks whilst you are sleep training, it’s best if you can separate your children, so consider putting baby in your office or spare room. Alternatively, allow your older child to sleep in your room on a mattress during sleep training because they are ‘such a big boy or girl’. Then when you have your baby sleeping well, they should be fine to go back in the same room.
Q: How should I prepare my older child for when I sleep train my baby?
A: It helps if you can talk to your older child to prepare them for the change a day or two in advance so they know what to expect. Make them feel special by ensuring you put aside a decent chunk of time to play and read with them. Sometimes you will have your baby with you at these times and that’s OK, as long as your attention is focused mainly on your older child.
There is one more very important point to make in regards to sleep training your little one. Remember, what worked for your first (or second or third) born, may not be the best fit for your new baby. Children have different personalities and temperaments, and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.
Tori is a certified baby Sleep Consultant based in Toowoomba, QLD. She works with families all over Australia, helping to empower parents with the confidence they need to teach their children how to sleep well.