Ask an Expert: How to Sleep Train in a One-Bedroom Apartment
Advice from Sleep Consultant Hadley Seward
Whenever I get a tough question about sleep from (nsfmg) members, I go straight to my number one trusted source (and friend): sleep consultant Hadley Seward of Bonne Nuit Baby. Hadley approaches tough sleep conundrums with the empathy of a mom who has been in the trenches of sleep deprivation herself, but with the pragmatism that you look for when you kind of need “permission” from someone with way more expertise than you, to do something that doesn’t come naturally as a parent. Because, let’s face it: Getting kids to sleep on their own usually involves some “on their own” time — which isn’t easy them, or for us. Below is a question from (nsfmg) member, “P.”; about sleep training her 5-month-old, but worrying that the crying will wake her toddler, because they live in a small one-bedroom. I thought it would be helpful to post for the community to learn from, because so many of us live in small spaces and deal with the worry of disturbing our older child’s sleep. It also brings up the age-old question of, “what age should I start sleep training?” and, “am I screwed if I don’t sleep train now?”. I’m sure we can all benefit from Hadley’s wisdom.
Hey Mom Group —
“I need some advice and was hoping to ask the group! I have a 5-month-old son who doesn’t sleep. Or rather he wakes up every 2 hrs or so and the only thing to soothe him is the boob. He was sick at 6 weeks and is getting over a cold now. Feel like teething is thrown in there too. But my husband and I are losing it. We can’t let him cry it out too long because he will wake our toddler who is already not a morning person. We are in a small thin-walled 1-bedroom railroad apt, can’t afford a sleep consultant and barely have time and energy to shower — let alone read a whole book on sleep training. What are we missing? What can we do? On one hand I feel like he just needs me more than our older one did, but I need a break. Any advice would help!” — P.
I feel you, mama. It's so tough to be a good parent to both your kids during the day when you're just not getting enough sleep.
“Almost always, kids don't wake each other up nearly as much we we anticipate they will.”
First off, I would have a heart-to-heart with your husband to decide what you two want to do. Would you like to sleep train so that your son sleeps through the night? Are you not quite ready? Either way is fine — respect where you are in your life now, not how you think you should or shouldn't feel.
If you're ready, then this (5 months) is a great age to help your little guy fall (back) asleep on his own. There will be crying — I can almost guarantee that he LOVES getting to see you every few hours overnight; plus, there's a yummy snack involved! So he will protest . . . but, done consistently and correctly, overnight sleep training is pretty quick. With my clients, we usually see massive progress in the first week.
I totally get your concern about how sleep training your baby could potentially disturb your toddler's sleep. My best advice is to try to ignore that concern for 2-3 nights. Almost always, kids don't wake each other up nearly as much as we anticipate they will. And, if they do, it's usually only for 1-2 nights. One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to play the long game but in this instance, try to focus on the end result and know that the first few nights may not be ideal . . . but that it will all work out quickly.
If you're not ready, then that's okay too. There's no magical age by which you have to sleep train your child or all hope is lost. I personally am a fan of nipping sleep issues in the bud, but that's not for everyone. Just know that whenever you ARE ready, there will be a solution then too.
If you’re interested in learning more about Hadley, and her sleep consulting services — Bonne Nuit Baby — go to https://www.bonnenuitbaby.com. You can also book a 15-minute chat with Hadley by going here.
Photograph of Lisa Bonet and Zoe Kravitz by photographer Stephen Salmieri, 1989.