Whenever I am trying to get my 8 month old to sleep (or back to sleep because my 4 year old has woken him up AGAIN), my 4 year old comes in and makes annoying noises until the baby is fully awake and I am LIVID. I have tried asking him to stay and play in the playroom, asking him to stay and eat in the kitchen, sneaking off. I have tried talking to him about how his baby brother NEEEDS sleep, and I am trying to give him what he needs. He understands that it only takes a couple of minutes to get the baby back to sleep. I have tried explaining how frustrated it makes me when I can't give the baby what he needs. I have tried reasoning with him that he doesn't get the alone time with me that we both need when he wakes his brother up on purpose. I have tried giving him time-out and doing time-ins. I have yelled (not proud of this - just being honest here), and I am at my whit's end. I have taken away the privilege of an afternoon show. This cannot continue.
My four year old has access to lots of toys (blocks of various kinds, baby dolls and animals, doll house, puzzles, books, farm set, dress-up clothes) and craft things that he often does independently even when I am available.
Noise carries a lot in our house, so I keep a fan and a white noise machine on in our room when the baby is sleeping to minimize noise disturbances during naps, but he still needs to be nursed back to sleep at least once or twice a day for 3-5 minutes as he is a fairly light sleeper.
Any thoughts on some gentle and effective strategies for getting my big boy to leave us alone for those few critical minutes?
This is coming from a now tv-free-household-mama.... when my 2 kids were those ages I would put on a show for my dd when I had to put the baby to sleep! Or I would put on starfall.com for her to play.
Another desperate mama solution: try a sticker chart. Yes, many fellow MDC mamas hate them... I avoid them myself. But the desperate mama may find success in rewarding the noisy older kiddo by giving a sticker (stamp, whatever) on the chart for every successful sleeptime routine.
Then, the next step: if you can get older kiddo to stay quiet during the putting-to-sleep time you are half way there. Next you need to occupy him in a quiet activity to ensure that baby STAYS asleep. This will probably involve active 1-on-1 time with you and some planning to have lots of QUIET activity ideas on hand.
Or try something completely different. If you babe will sleep on the move (stroller, carrier) plan nap time to coincide with a trip to the park. Baby sleeps while older kiddo runs around. Or even try taking a drive in the car if that would work. Pack a snack and a book-on-cd for older brother and go for a drive. Depending on where you live/what's nearby you might even be able to park next to a grassy place, leave the windows open and play ball/whatever with dc1 while baby sleeps on (of course I mean in a place where you are RIGHT there next to the car!).
Good luck mama. I remember how VERY ANNOYING this can be!!!
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
oh that used to make me see RED.
Eventually we settled on a solution. If he intentionally woke her then HE had to have a rest time, too. In his room.
If he cooperated then he and I had 'special time' together. Like a game something.
DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).
I announce that I'm putting the baby to sleep and that the nap room is off limits for now, and then I lock the door. Not in a punitive way or anything, just to reinforce that we need to be left alone for a few minutes. I have two older children though - 5 and 7, so they can sort of keep an eye on each other while the door is locked.
I never did find a solution! We had the same trouble, coupled with the fact that my youngest was also hard to put down for a nap in the first place. Finally, when dd2 was 15 months I gave up putting her down for a nap! She would, of course, nap in the car on the way home from town, but I just could not solve a problem coming at me from both sides. 6:00 bedtime, anyone?
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."