The bond between a baby and a sibling is wonderful. But when one is waking up the other in the middle of the night, it can get slightly… challenging. Read on to find out how you can cope with late-night wakings.
It’s 3 a.m., and you’re struggling to put your baby to sleep. Finally, right when you manage to put her to sleep, your toddler wakes up, wanting to join the party.
It’s quite common for a toddler to start waking up at night after a sibling arrives. The good news is that there are tricks to make the experience easier to bear.
Keep your baby and a sibling in separate rooms
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep in their parents’ bedrooms until one year of age to reduce the risk of SIDS.
After that, it’s up to you to decide whether you want your kids to share a room together. If your baby is old enough to be at least partially sleeping throughout the night, you can consider putting the baby and sibling together.
Purchase a sound machine
Although research is limited, it indicates that playing soothing music or sounds can improve children’s sleep quality.
Regardless of the evidence, playing soothing sounds can help your toddler sleep through any crying or noises you and the baby make during the night.
Get a sound machine and leave it in your older child’s sleeping space.
Make sure the music is not too loud and not too quiet so that he can easily fall asleep to the sounds of the falling rain or ocean waves.
It can be challenging to soothe two kids simultaneously. If you ask a sleep expert, they would tell you to always go to the child who’s crying.
So, if your toddler wakes up crying while you’re soothing your baby, go to his room, even if that means taking your little one with you.
Sometimes, after he’s been woken from his deep sleep, what your toddler needs is reassurance and comforting. He may wake up worried that there’s something wrong with the baby, so go to him.
Assure him that the baby is fine and that he should go back to sleep.
Walk him back to his room
If your baby and sibling are sleeping in different rooms, another scenario that may happen is to have your infant finally fall asleep only to see the toddler wandering into the room to check what he’s missing.
If this happens, tell him, in a quiet and calm voice, that he needs to sleep in his own bed, just like his sister needs to be in hers.
Don’t raise your voice or get cross with him. Just take him back to his room, and remind him that it’s sleepy time. Tell him that he may hear his baby sister but that she’s safe and you’re taking care of her.
Establish a calming bedtime routine and be consistent
A bedtime routine will give the baby and sibling consistency and safety, knowing what’s to come.
They will know that when you dim the lights and start reading a story that it’s time to go to dreamland.
- An earlier bedtime.
- Decreased sleep onset latency.
- Reduced nighttime awakenings.
- Increased sleep duration.
The benefits of a bedtime routine go beyond improved sleep. Apart from helping your kids sleep more soundly, a bedtime routine can result in improved behavior during the day.
Although you may feel tempted to skip your bedtime routine on the weekends, make sure you don’t. Parental inconsistency is what often prevents children from sleeping more healthily. Choose a bedtime routine and stick to it.
Teach your kids to self-soothe
If your crying infant is what is waking up the toddler in the house, then you may want to consider sleep-training. Your baby is crying because she can’t fall asleep by herself at bedtime or soothe herself back to sleep.
What some parents do is they’re so worried the baby would wake up the toddler, so they resort to feeding the baby back to sleep. But by doing so, you’re not giving your baby the space she needs to self-soothe.
As a result, your baby may develop a “feed to sleep” association.
Similarly, if your toddler keeps on waking up at night crying or leaving his bed, help him learn to soothe himself back to sleep; otherwise, he’ll always expect you to be there when he wakes.
There are several sleep training methods you can try with your children. You can go with the cry-it-out method, which is the fastest way to teach them how to fall asleep independently. Alternatively, you can opt for the Fading Method, which is a gentler alternative to the cry-it-out technique. It involves giving your kids the hugs and cuddles they need but gradually reducing the amount of time you’re in the room.