My Child Keeps Waking Up At Night. I’m trying to get my 6-month-old to sleep through the night, but letting him cry it out wakes up my 3-year-old. What am I able to do?
A. I recall those late-night wake-ups vividly—my 6-month-old son sobbing it out at 3:30 a.m., unconvinced by my whispered “night-night, time to go to sleep now.” If listening to him scream himself to sleep wasn’t horrible enough, hearing my 3-year-old ask, “Mommy?” made for an especially difficult (and early) morning.
Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your sleep training:
Make some noise—white noise, to be precise. The sounds will block out your elder child’s wailing in the middle of the night. You can buy a white-noise machine, but in my older child’s room, I always used a room fan. It made just enough “noise” to drown out the cries from her younger brother’s chamber. Other families I know listen to a soothing CD on repeat.
Discuss the situation with your daughter. Describe how her younger brother is gaining the ability to sleep through the night. Remind her that if she wakes up, she understands how to get back to sleep. Also, develop a plan with her brother on what she can do if she is awakened by him. For example, you could say to her, “Close your eyes again, cuddle with your bear, and reflect on the story we just read.”
Don’t linger too long. If your daughter wakes you up because her brother woke her, go into the room and explain (in whispers) what’s going on: “Your brother is weeping because he can’t get back asleep.” Don’t switch on any lights or do anything else that might irritate her. Tell her what the strategy is and stick to it every time she gets up. “Mommy is going to tuck you in now and kiss you,” you could say. Then we must all retire to our beds until the morning.”
Patience is required. For a while, you might have not one, but two grumpy kids until your youngest starts sleeping through the night. You’ll know why if you notice increased tantrums, complaining, or clinginess. Consider how difficult it is for you to get through the day—and you’re an adult who can order a latte! So stay in there, stick to a normal bedtime and naptime schedule for your kids, and everyone in your house will be sleeping soundly soon.