Let me start by saying that it is possible to successfully sleep train baby with older siblings. In creating the Baby Sleep Trainer Program, one thought that came up through the feedback channels is that sleep training really is a lifestyle change. It’s just like diet and exercise. If you want your child to have healthy sleep habits, then you must ensure that you are enforcing those habits in your family’s day-to-day life. So, how do you work towards good sleep habits for your infant while still meeting the needs of your older children? Read on to learn!
There are two main issues when discussing maintaining good sleep training habits for younger children while caring for older siblings’ needs.
1. Conflicting Schedules
This is the most common issue when juggling an infant’s sleep needs, and the needs or schedule of an older sibling. This can be especially difficult when the young infant naps three times a day. Or the infant’s naps overlap a time when a parent needs to be out for school pick-up/drop-off, or some other activity. The most important thing to keep in mind here, is that it’s only a matter of time. These types of scheduling conflicts occur most when baby is between 4-7 months of age.
In those early months, it is nearly impossible to not have baby either in the car during nap time. Or in the car outside of nap time where they fall asleep anyway. In either case, it’s best for Mom and Dad to just do the best they can. Avoid taking baby out unnecessarily, and try very, very hard not to be stressed when baby is off schedule. When baby naps on the go, it should be counted as their first, second, or third nap of the day. And once they get home, they should be kept awake until as close as possible to their next scheduled nap time.
Once babies get into a two nap schedule (around 7 months), it becomes much easier to navigate school pick-ups/drop-offs, and even move around baby’s schedule to accommodate their sibling’s outings. If parents have any reinforcements to call in such as a carpool, or grandparents to watch baby during pick-up, this is the time to call in help.
2. Worry That Sleep Training Will Wake the Older Sibling
There is a near constant concern amongst parents that a crying, younger sibling will wake an older sibling throughout the night. Let me start by saying that I have worked with hundreds of families who have a baby plus an older sibling. And I can count on one hand the amount of times a crying baby woke the older child! This is astonishing even to me.
In short, you don’t need to be worried that you can’t successfully sleep train baby with older siblings.
Older toddlers and school-aged children typically sleep very deeply overnight. So they aren’t usually bothered by the cries of their baby sister. Ensuring they have their own white noise, and a closed bedroom door also helps. Even so, some parents feel better sending the older child out for a sleepover with grandma for a few days. Or, inviting big brother to sleep in Mom and Dad’s room on the one condition that they must remain quiet and sleep all night. If they don’t, they risk losing the privilege of the sleep over, and get sent back to sleep in their own room.
Include The Older Sibling!
Finally, discussing with your older toddler or child that baby brother is going to be learning how to fall asleep without help, and might be crying a bit, can go a very long way. Tell them that it’s their job to be quiet, and sleep at night so that baby brother can get some sleep as well. You may be surprised at how motivated they are to help out with the sleep training process!
There is a lot of apprehension that goes along with sleep training, but thankfully, disrupting an older sibling’s sleep is almost never something parents find to be an issue.
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