After the success of first Secrets from a sleep consultant post a few weeks ago, Lucy has kindly written us another insightful blog on the subject of How to sleep train a baby with a toddler in the house
Lucy Barker is the Infant & Child Sleep Consultant at Zoë Clews & Associates who are a team of hypnotherapists and experts offering advice and treatment from sleep training to hypnobirth, based in Harley Street London
How to sleep train a baby with a toddler in the house
Everyone knows that sleep training is noisy. No matter how gentle your method, changing a baby’s lifelong habit is rarely met with a smile. And all that noise can be terrifying when you’ve only just got your toddler sleeping through. But don’t let anxiety around waking your older child stop you from sleep training your littlest.
Worst & Best Case Scenario
Worst case scenario: You all have a couple of rubbish nights.
Best Case: within a week, everyone is sleeping solidly. And, trust me, I see Best Cases all the time!
Top Tips on Sleep Training
To give you the confidence to start, here are my top tips to sleep training without completely breaking the rest of the family.
- Be prepared for the worst. Let’s be honest: no matter how prepared you are, everyone’s probably going to have a couple of disrupted nights, so start sleep training when you’ve got support or a clear weekend so that you can be a little bleary-eyed without accidentally pressing the nuclear button.
- Get your toddler sleeping well. Make sure that your toddler has a well-established sleep routine with clear response boundaries to night-wakings before you start sleep training your littlest. This way, if there’s any disruption to their sleep, you know exactly what to do to get them back on track when things are back on an even keel.
- Introduce distractions: Use white noise to counteract the worst of it and a reward chart and/or stickers to encourage the right behaviour.
- Give them a head’s up. Explain what’s happening ahead of time and that you’ll be with them as soon as you can if they get woken up. They may not care at 1am, but you never know. If there’s two of you, decide ahead of time who’s looking after which child each night to avoid confusion.
- Keep responses consistent. Respond to a woken child exactly as you would any of their night-wakings. Offer gentle reassurance, but don’t be tempted to overcompensate with bed-sharing, lengthy settles, 3am iPads or endless songs
- Avoid ANYTHING that could become a habit: you’ll be amazed at how quickly a child can get used to hand-holding, especially if they’re a bit miffed at losing attention.
- Respond to disrupted nights with early nights. If your toddler’s having temporarily broken nights, avoid overtiredness and loss of self-settle by keeping an eye on their ‘Wakeful Window’ and encouraging good naps and/or early nights.
- Know that this will pass! Good, responsive sleep training can turn a baby who wakes every couple of hours into a good, solid sleeper in a matter of days: the noise and disruption honestly won’t last forever. Sleep training is not easy. The easiest part is finding an excuse not to do it and fear of waking an older sibling is right up there. But if you or your little one are struggling to get through the day, it might be time to start. Find a responsive sleep training plan that suits where you are now, choose a time when you don’t all need to be super sharp during the day and go for it. It’ll all be over in a matter of days and then, imagine what you can do!
Remember this too
IMPORTANT NOTE: it’s really important that you don’t put any extra pressure on yourself and your baby around sleep in those first few weeks. Do what you need to do to get through the night. Once your little one is over 18wks, we can start talking formal plans and you’ll be amazed at how quickly and easily habits can be changed when you’re following the right
method. Before that, it’s gentle sleep shaping and loads of cuddles.
By Lucy Barker, Infant & Child Sleep Consultant