If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s video:
Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and today, I’m going to answer Danielle’s baby sleep problem. She e-mailed in this story.
“I currently live in Japan and I have two and a half and a 7-month old. Before my 7-month old son was born, my daughter was sleeping well and able to put herself to sleep. After his birth, she had great difficulty getting to sleep on her own. Then two months later, we moved in with friends for two weeks, went to a 5-week missionary training in Colorado in which we all shared one room. We stayed with friends again for a week and then moved back to Japan where we initially slept in one room and she could see us. Now, we’re using all of our 2-bedroom apartment and we’re attempting to have the two children sleep in the same room. My daughter repeatedly cries, throws a fit or takes two hours to get herself to sleep at night. She’s also begun waking during the night and having difficulty going to sleep. This is often not because my son is still awake crying. We have tried letting her nap longer, shorter or even not at all. We’ve revamped our evening routine to be even more routine and predictable. I’m also working to teach my 7-month old to fall asleep on his own. I need help to know how to meet each child’s needs without losing my sanity.”
Danielle, I’m wondering if you meant to say, “This is often because my son is still awake crying” because later you told me that your 7-month old son also does not know how to put himself to sleep.
First of all, it seems that there has been a lot of changes your family has gone through. Different sleeping arrangements and moving across the globe with a 13-hour time difference can be a lot of change at a young age. Oh, and let’s not forget, getting a new sibling! So, I can see how this could be difficult for her as a two and a half year old. Of course I’m not exactly sure of the timeline of these changes, or when these problems occurred. Some of what you are seeing could just be from some anxiety associated with the changes and transitions. Good for you that you’re incorporating a lot of routine and predictability, not only in her bedtime but also during the day because that will help her to feel less anxious.
If you are settled in and planning to be in this apartment for a while, then I think you can get started with the sleep coaching. However, if you’re seeing signs of generalized anxiety during the day or behaviors that concern you, you should first talk to your pediatrician. Let’s assume that with all of the traveling, we just have some sleep habits to undo, which I completely understand. With all of the traveling and different sleep arrangements I would have told you, “Do whatever works!”
With both children in the same room, and if have both parents available to help out, you can easily do this by doing The Sleep Lady Shuffle (as outlined in my book, Good Night Sleep Tight). You can begin by having one parent sitting next to your son and one parent sitting next to your daughter. Then, as outlined in The Shuffle, you will only need one parent as you’re moving towards sitting by the door, the hall in view and eventually out of view. I think The Shuffle works well with two siblings sharing a room. I also talk about this in full detail in my book Good Night, Sleep Tight. For now, here are some sleep tips to help get you started.
I would do all the steps that I would recommend working with toddlers or preschoolers, including a very simple sleep manner chart. I would talk to her and explain, “How lucky and special it is to share a room with you brother. Mommy and daddy are going to be there and teach you both how to put yourself to sleep and sleep all the way through the night.” You may have to put the baby down to sleep earlier, and have the bedtime routine with your daughter in another room (quiet story, going over her sleep manners, etc.), and then tiptoe together into the room and tuck her in. You can say, “See, your baby brother is sleeping,” (if he is hopefully sleeping). If he is not sleeping, you both will have to be present. One parent will be with him while he is awake and protesting, and the other parent sitting next to her bed. Again, I would recommend following all the rules of The Sleep Lady Shuffle. It can take a little bit longer with older children in general, especially adding in the combination of the younger sibling, and possibly waking each other up. Just remember that staying consistent with The Shuffle is important. Most of all, remember that if one of them wakes up, don’t panic and go in and revert back to rocking them to sleep in fear that they will wake up the other one. They probably will wake each other up, and it’s just something you will have to move through and remain as consistent as possible.
If for example your daughter does wake up, and you rush in saying, “Be quiet, you’ve woken up your brother. I’ll lie down with you just for now,” then she will learn that all she needs to do is wake up her brother to get mom to lay down with her. So, you want to avoid that common mistake a lot of parents make. Instead, one parent would go in to your son and one parent would go to your daughter. By dividing and conquering, you can stay consistent and I promise you that you will have two kids sleeping through the night. You’ll have your sanity and a happy well-rested family.
The Sleep Lady
Video filmed by In Focus Studios
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