Your 3-year-old may have been a sleeping champ – that is, until the new baby arrived. The new baby now wakes the older child! If you have two little ones sharing a bedroom and the baby wakes during the night, it’s not unusual for the older child to rouse with the noise.
Of course, 3 am is not the time for a family get-together, so when baby disrupts your preschooler’s sleep, it’s time to take steps to minimize the sleep disturbances. Take a few creative measures to help your 3-year-old get the sleep she needs.
Start with an explanation to your older child so she understands what’s causing the upset. The simple conversation might just be, “Baby is not such a good sleeper yet, is he? He’s trying to learn, but it takes time.” You might try brainstorming some sleep strategies with your youngster for ways she can cope with the noise at night. Hugging a stuffed animal tightly, closing her eyes and thinking calming thoughts and trying to ignore the baby are possible ideas for your little one to try. In the morning praise your 3 year old for being so good during the night and staying in her own bed, if she does wake and return to sleep give her a little reward in the morning or if your going to the playground or somewhere tell her it is because she is so good during the night.
When baby’s night crying wakes his roommate, a white noise machine or playing soft music could be one solution. By playing white noise in the children’s bedroom to override the fussing noises, your 3-year-old might sleep right through without a hitch. Even light sleepers may sleep through baby’s cries with a white noise machine. Another benefit of white noise – your baby might sleep more soundly, too.
If the disturbances become too numerous and your preschooler is having trouble due to the lack of sleep, consider a temporary sleeping rearrangement until your baby begins sleeping better during the night. Your older child is probably old enough to understand the temporary reorganization, especially if you present it as a way to ensure that she has a quiet place to sleep so she feels good throughout the day. Once baby starts sleeping better, you can put the kids back together in the same bedroom again.
Although it can feel like sleep issues will never end, before you know it, your baby will master sleeping and the kids will be able to coexist happily in their bedroom.