1. Divide to Conquer. Let’s face it, kids are playful. They’re supposed to be! Even if they are tired, being in the same space is an invitation to play and engage. Many families find it helpful to put up a partition or other device to physically separate their children during sleep times. Our favorite option? A cute floor to ceiling curtain on a ceiling track. Simliar to what you may have had if you shared a room at the hospital, only, well, much cuter. Pottery Barn Teen sells a functional and affordable cable system. With a track system you won’t have to worry about anything falling over. And, during the daytime, a curtain can easily be pulled back to open up the room for some serious playtime!
2. Set the Mood. A dark, quiet room is the optimal sleep setting for most individuals, but it is especially important when siblings sleep together. Keep the lights low so that your children can’t see each other or be distracted by one another’s shadows or movement. We also strongly recommend using a white noise machine to muffle out the inevitable sleep sounds that all kids make.
3. Prepare in Advance. It’s never too early to prepare for bedtime. Take advantage of small windows of time in the late afternoon to lay out pajamas, collect lovies, refill humidifiers, fold back sheets, turn on nightlights and draw shades. It gets hard to find the time to do all this once the evening routine begins, so the earlier you get prepared, the more organized you’ll will feel.
4. Distract, Distract! If you need to occupy your older child while you feed and put down your baby, consider putting together a “busy box” of toys for him to play with. You can fill it with dollar store finds, birthday party and happy meal favors. You know, the little trinkets that always end up at the bottom of your purse. You’ll be surprised at how long this stuff can keep your child entertained!
5. Find One-on-One Time. If you put your baby down to sleep before your older child, you’ll want their room to stay dark and quiet. Start a new tradition with your big kid of reading stories in your bed, or consider doing something different and fun like “camping” in the living room where you read stories in sleeping bags. Not only will your older child love the novelty of it, but you will also get to spend much-needed quality time together.
6. Make it Fun! Getting your older child to stay quiet when you take her to bed can be challenging. So, make it fun. She may be enticed into whispering and tippy-toeing by being able
to use something fun like a flashlight or a low-level light companion (A Light in the Night™ buddy) when she climbs into bed.
7. Expect the Inevitable. Be prepared for, and accept the fact that your kids WILL wake each other up every so often. Eventually they will learn to sleep through each other’s noise, but it always helps to have a “back up” plan for the nights when they end up keeping each other awake. Consider setting up a pack n’ play in your room or another part of your apartment where you can move the baby for a night if necessary.
8. Separate for Sleep Teaching. You shouldn’t expect your baby to sleep through the night until around four months. If, after that time, you want to teach your infant to sleep through the night, we recommend moving your younger child (and their crib or portable crib) to your room while they learn. Make sure you explain to your older child what is happening and thank him for being cooperative. Perhaps even give him a job, like picking out a sleep buddy (e.g., lovey) for his sister to have. An even better option is to arrange for your older child to spend a fun weekend at grandma and grandpa’s house while you do sleep teaching at home.
About You Plus 2 Parenting
You Plus 2 is a time management and life strategy consulting service for busy moms of two. We specialize in helping families re-establish a routine and discover a new normal after the addition of a second baby. For more information about how we can help you get your life back on track, learn about workshops and read client testimonials, visit our website at youplustwoparenting.com.
About Dream Team Baby
Dream Team is an infant and toddler sleep consultancy specializing in problems big and small. Parents across the country love this holistic, yet effective approach to solving sleep issues. Sleep services are available for children up to the age of three. Consultants provide families with the tools to teach children how to sleep with the option for 1-3 nights of overnight assistance. Learn more and download our Top 10 Sleep Tips at dreamteambaby.com.
Here are some sleep highlights from our Parenting Center: