Naps & Siblings

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Keeping 3-year-old quiet while baby naps

Oct 2009

We have a 6 month old and a 3y.o. (who mostly doesn't nap, but occasionally does, and he's not in preschool either.) Until now, the baby would sleep anywhere, anytime, but he now needs a quiet, calm environment to fall asleep in, and big brother is anything but quiet and calm. Sometimes I can occupy big brother with a toy or activity for a while, but he always seems to call out for ''mama'' right when the baby finally dozes off, waking him up. We don't have a T.V. and I would like to hear from other families who have managed this problem without resorting to turning on the tube for a half hour to put the baby down -- I am contemplating getting a portable dvd player just to pull out for the naps, but hubby would really like to avoid it if we can (yes, I know, HE'S not the one who is struggling with this everyday, so ultimately it's my choice weather we do it or not.) We can't afford to get a babysitter/mother's helper, but sometimes I feel like we can't afford NOT to hire one -- given the price our little one has to pay. Thanks, Trying to find a balance, still.

Get the portable DVD player, rent some DVDs from your library (they usually have a good selection, its free and it gets you to the library regularly since the fines are alot if you don't return on time) and have that ONLY for naps. Now that my younger child (17 mths) is only doing one nap, and the older one (4.5yrs) is better able to self entertaining, I don't always need the dvd player. But think of it as a great tool to help during this time. Keep in mind for some older children being alone and doing something may work (and the won't call you) - for my son, we had to get a headset for the DVD so he could be in the same room with me. He now is able to watch in a different room. I also think because we are living in a very small house I demand alot of quiet from my older child (so the baby gets naps) - so the dvd watching feels a little like a reward for the quiet required. The other thing - with DVD's -- since there are no comercials, and you pick what you want -- its very different from TV. We have purchased a number from National Geographic that are great, as well as one with trucks that are great (Codys crew, garbage monsters, metal monsters (all about metal recycling), there are lots of great ones out there. been there

Hi Dear, First let me tell you that this is a very common situation and that we used to avoid TV at all cost, but if that is the help you can get, GO for it, really Tv it's no so evil, I just to beat my self up for letting my older one watch TV for so long when my second one was born.

So here is what you can try, a big puzzle he can probably start by practicing with a 100pc one, from Thomas or something, but don't make nap time a first time or he'll interrupt you. An audio book is another option, but it all will depend how still he can be.

And my very favorite choice is a video on the laptop with the headphones. I 'll tell him he can watch this or that BUT he has to remain quiet until baby is sleeping. turn it off if he doesn't comply or it will not work, This can be his special treat to let the baby sleep. even twice a day.

I know it's hard, and you know what?, once they are older they will watch tv less and less, now my kids 4 and 2 just watch 30 min 2 times a week (weekends) when we don't have school. So it's gets better.

Don't feel guilty motherhood is hard and just let it go they'll be fine, I promise. Take care of yourself . Best of wishes been there done that

I have a 9 month old and 3 year old and have been having the same difficult juggling act as you when my husband works late. It's so difficult because best case scenario it's 13 minutes leaving my 3 year old available to walk around the house, turn the stove on, whatever (!) while I put the baby to bed. Nerve-wracking. I have found two things that help. BTW, a DVD or TV is NOT one of them. If I have my 3 year old watch TV, she still calls for me (when a commercial comes on to fast forward through it, etc.). So don't feel badly about trying to not resort to that. And you're right, it's always RIGHT when I have the baby asleep that she decides to start yelling.

The first thing that has helped is that I have some neighbors I'm close with, and the mom has asked me periodically if my daytime nanny can watch their napping baby while Mom goes to pick up her other kid. I said that would be fine, as long as I can rely on her (the mom) to come to my house periodically from 8:30 to 9:00 pm to hang out with my older kid while I put the younger one down. This schedule works for her because her kids go to sleep before then. Maybe you have someone you can make a similar arrangement with? The other one is I started just calling my 3 year old's bluff and inviting her into my toddler's room when I'm putting him asleep and as soon as I wasn't telling her she COULDN'T come in, she got bored after about two minutes and left, and I previously set up some puzzles and quiet activities in her room which she went and played.

Another option I've done is put the baby in the Bjorn and carry him around the house until he falls asleep, then just quickly putting him in his crib which only takes one minute. But I know this isn't setting up the best sleep practices for him.

Other than that, no miracle solves. I even tried bribing, telling the 3 year old if she was quiet she could have a sugar free lollipop in the morning. which worked but I was embarrassed the next day at 9 am having her walk into daycare with a lollipop. When they asked me what it was for I had to say, ''she let me put her brother to sleep last night?'' not the best! She's a tad young for a responsibility chart but we are going to keep trying that as it seems to work great for some. Then I would just create a space and call it, ''stayed quiet during baby's bedtime'' and if she does it, she would get a magnet or star. - It's tough at bedtime

I have a 4 month old and a 3 year old, with a similar situation. I have been trying two things: 1) If older brother wakes up while baby is still napping, he gets to use my iphone. I have a variety of preschool games on there where he learns the ABC flash cards, and does some puzzles. I also have a lot of family pictures loaded on the phone which he likes to look at. And sometimes I let him watch YouTube where he can watch clips of some of his favorite shows like Super Why on PBS.

The other thing that has worked for me is to have a ''secret closet of surprise toys'' that my son has not seen before. These are mostly hand me down puzzles, and quiet games/toys that he gets to play with as a reward for playing nicely/quietly by himself while the baby naps. This was worked great. He does not get one every day, just sometimes when he has been especially good.

Both of these strategies have been working for us in our very small 1-bedroom home! Best of luck to you. anon

Entertaining 6mo old during toddler's LONG naps

May 2009

I have a 6 month old and a 2-1/2 year old, and I'm home alone with them both 2 days a week. My toddler still takes marathon 2- 3 hour naps every afternoon, which rarely overlap with the baby's shorter, more frequent naps. I've found that I'm at a loss for what to do with the baby while she and I are housebound all afternoon waiting for her brother to wake up. This didn't seem to be an issue when it was just me and my older child; he liked to go out, so we spent most of his waking hours his first year doing stroller rides or visiting peoples' houses or playgrounds. With baby #2, I'm having to rely more on my baby-entertaining skills, and I'm finding that they're pretty limited! There's only so much flipping through board books and looking at squeaky toys that we can take, and on top of that, we have a small house and need to keep quiet so my son can sleep. I feel like the baby and I are both frustrated and bored at the end of the afternoon. Any ideas on how to keep her happy for a 2-hour stretch? Need some Baby 101 skills

You sound frustrated but I really doubt your 6 month old is! Shouldn't trying to sit up and crawl keep him occupied? Just keep going out in the mornings as much as you can and your 6 mo old can explore the house every day in the afternoon. Do you have a yard and a baby monitor? If so you could go out there with the baby and keep an ear out for the 2 year old. I don't think your 6 month old should watch videos but you could, guiltlessly, watch a show that is too boring for babies while your baby played with a baby gym or similar. You could also do whatever laundry, dishes, cooking, need to be done and then you would be able to play all together from nap wake up to dinner time. anon

If possible, get a baby monitor and head outside! Our monitor works in the backyard, and even a bit down the street. Some fresh air does wonders, and getting out leaves the house quiet for the toddler. On a rainy day, even the garage can provide sufficient amusement.

Do you have a front or back yard you could sit in/play in? That way, you could let the baby play with grass, leaves, etc. and chill out in the fresh air and sunshine. You could put a baby monitor in the toddler's napping room and take it outside with you.

Alternately, what about putting some lentils or other beans into a plastic water bottle for the baby to play with. My daughter loved anything that made sounds and loved playing with these types of homemade ''instruments.'' Also, any new textures are amazing to babes. Try a ball of yarn, a piece of soft silk, something scratchy like velcro.

You could also have friends visit you at home while your toddler naps. Babies generally love new faces to look at and you'd probably appreciate some adult conversation. hope these help!

Maximizing naps for infant and two-year-old

March 2009

I have a very active 2-year old and a 3-month old son, and my 3- month old is starting to outgrow his nice habit of napping in the Bjorn wherever I took my toddler. Can those of you with 2 kids share your strategy for maximizing both kids naps without staying home all day? I was a slave to naps with my first, but I can't maintain the same standards with my 2nd because my toddler NEEDS to get out of the house or he is more prone to tantrums and not taking a nap himself. How did you do it (without a nanny, daycare, or other help...I'm on my own here!)? Thanks! Nap Juggler

My philosophy was that if a day care can get all the kids to nap together when they have at least 6 babies, surely I could figure it out for two. The baby was on her own schedule at first, but by 3 months or so, had established her morning routine. Then, I would put both kids down for their afternoon naps at the same time. The oldest didn't always nap, but I kept to a routine and taught him that he did not have to nap, but he did have to have quiet time. He could read books or do other quiet things. Again, nothing works 100 percent, but my kids at 2.5 and 5 still nap in the afternoon as well as sleep well at night. I know the 5 year old will give up the afternoon nap, but I'm thankful he did it for so long. Plus, as he naps less and less, he still knows that we have quiet time in the early afternoon. anon

Hi. I now have a 13 month and a 32 month old. For at least six months I've had them on a nap schedule. My baby naps 10-11 and both nap 1:30-3ish. Without this schedule I would lose my mind. I try to get the kids out for a short walk or an errand before my baby's first nap so my preschooler can get some energy out before being stuck inside. It's been working really well. I have found the one hour alone with my preschooler is a good time for laundry or baking together. It's hard to get the naps on the schedule at first, but it's worth the effort. Emily

I would try really hard to get the baby on a 8 or 9am and 1pm nap schedule with an early bedtime (6:30ish). That way you can go out for a few hours in the morning after the baby wakes up (around 10 or 10:30 till noon) and then again after both kids wake up in the afternoon before dinner. At about a year the baby will give up the early nap and you'll have the entire morning to do things. It goes by fast. I live in a 2 bedroom so I set up a pack-n-play in our room for the baby to nap in the afternoon so both could nap at the same time. You might have to plan shorter outings for a while like a quick trip to the park or a walk around the block while the baby is getting on a schedule. I also find that if I can make dinner earlier in the day (like during a nap time for example) it makes afternoon outings easier. I make whatever we're having and just stick it in the fridge and re-heat for dinner. Crock pot meals will also give you more free time in the late afternoon. good luck

I had a very similar problem. And in the end I could never get it to work right. I know it is not very helpful but I thought some sympathy might help. My 2nd is now a year and she takes 1 nap at 10 am so that the older one can have the afternoon but I feel bad for her since she seems alway sleepy/grumpy. And the older one does not nap but does quiet time at the 10am slot so that she has the energy to run around. I guess the good part about kids is that they are always changes so if you found the perfect solution they would change out of it anyway. I was amazed that no books or BPN every talked about how to give both kids what they need. I guess there is no good answer. Good luck

How to manage naps for 2-month-old with non-napping 3-year-old

Jan 2009

I have a 2 month old and a 3 year old. I'm wondering how I will ever be able to get my baby into a good nap routine while trying to juggle my older child who has his own needs and doesn't take naps anymore. The baby is actually a great sleeper at night (5-8 hours) but if he doesn't get enough naps he is a mess by 5pm. I also know that over time a lack of a good nap schedule/consistency is going to have a bad affect on his nighttime sleep. I was religious about my older child's nap schedule and it made his life and mine so much easier. But now I'm having a tough time keeping a good nap schedule for my baby. It takes 10-15 minutes of downtime to settle him into his crib--but I am constantly being interrupted by my older child while trying to do this and this wakes the baby. He has needs (hunger, help with potty or just needs attention) and I know he feels left out when I try to get him to leave the baby's room while I'm putting him down. If I put the baby in a Bjorn Carrier he will instantly fall asleep and stay that way for 1-2hrs (my back-ouch!). But I feel that this isn't such a good habit to get into--I want him to nap in his crib for most naps, but when I've got so much going on with my older child I give in and just put the baby in the carrier. There's also the other issues of my older ones preschool schedule (I have to drive him and pick him up during prime baby nap time) and his (and mine) need to get out during the day. I just feel a bit overwhelmed and wonder if anyone has suggestions on how to make this work. Is it possible to have your baby nap in his crib without sacrificing my older ones life completely? I've been following the ''Baby Whisperers'' nap routine and it works amazingly well when I can focus on just the baby like on weekends when my husband is home so I know it works. But during the week this is so hard. I know its not going to be perfect--the ''schedule'' will have to be flexible and most days its going to be tough, but I know that sleep is so important and I don't want my baby to suffer. Will the baby just get used to the noise of my older child? Do I just give up trying to have some consistency for my baby's naps? How can I find a happy medium? -Anon

I had the same problem when my husband was working later a lot and travelling and I needed to put my baby down for a nap or to bed.

I ended up letting (and letting being the operative word here -- making it a treat) watch TV for 30 minutes while I put the baby to sleep. I chose a short DVD like Curious George or a short TV program like Caillou (who therefore turns out to have merits in spite of his constant whining!). My elder son knew that TV went off once the baby was down and then we cuddled and read a book together. When the baby was going through a stage of wanting to nurse/feed for longer I put on Sesame Street, because it's close to an hour long.

I found the elder one came in and ''disturbed'' me and the baby because he really just wanted to join in and be with us.

We like to limit TV as much as possible and I think this helped -- watching TV seemed like something novel and it kept him busy.

(Now with a toddler and a four-year-old those limits on TV have, um, faded...!) anon

short answer: yes. We too were hard core with child #1. At two months though I would use bjorn. I would use it until 3 to 4 months, and keep trying to get the baby into their crib. For us, around 4-5 months crib sleep happeend more consistently. Another thing, for us the older child's sleep was the priority -- ie, if he did not get his naps, my life was hell. if baby was cranky, I put her in a carrier and we could get on with things. Because my husband travels, I am often putting kids to bed alone. I use a portable DVD player for my older child - it works great. He picks his DVD, watches it while the baby nurses/gets put in her crib. He knows the rules (he can't eat, must wisper, low volume). I know some might be horrified by that but if you are trying to get two kids to sleep by yourself, it is a dream. As far as getting out of the house, we go when baby is awake. I figure its not always going to be like this. And with driving to/from preschool - most days it works & I can keep the baby on schedule but sometimes she falls alseep. Around 6 months start keeping track of what works for the younger one and then try to nudge sleep in the direction that works for the whole family. Its hard, but its do-able. good luck

Naps are definitely possible. I have a 7 month baby and a newly turned 4 year old. When I notice the baby is getting tired, I tell my 4 year old to be quiet and if she decides to come into the room where I'm laying the baby she will have to take a nap too. That usually sends her running out to go draw or dance in the livingroom.

I also have bonus children and this works the same when they come to visit. Everyone knows that when I'm putting the baby down to make noise somewhere else. As far as snacks/food goes, prepare something before putting the baby down. A 3 year old is very capable of eating a snack alone. If you get really desperate, there are always educational videos/tv shows. If everyone is really tired, then all 3 of you can crawl up in bed for a nap.

During the weekdays, try to train your baby to nap while the 3yr old is at daycare and schedule the rest of your outings around that. You can do it!!! Mom of 2 (& 5 bonus!)

I have an 8 month old; my son is also three, and in preschool. The naps are hard. You still have some time, though--at two months, the baby's naps are probably still pretty crazy and unsettled. Let the baby nap whenever he can, for now. Three, even four naps a day if they get cut short. You have a little time.

Once the nap settles, the three nap stage is the worst. In our case, nap #1 was a car nap to and from preschool. It was always a horrible nap (even on non-preschool days) and never really established itself beyond 30-45 minutes. That stage (thank goodness) was short, though. Just a few months. Now we are at two naps a day, and the naps no longer hit school drop-off and pick up. A reprieve, for now.

My first child was a beautiful napper, too, and it is terribly difficult not to be able to dedicate all the time and the family's schedule to the second child's nap. We've been lucky that she falls asleep well (now); we can set her down and leave the room and she'll fall asleep with minor fussing. (Keeping her asleep with a three year old running around the house is a different story!) We can only do what we can, and on weekends and non-school days we do let her nap determine our schedule to help balance out the days where we have no control.

Good luck. We're right there with you!

I have a 2 yr old and almost 4 yr old boys. When my younger was about 1 yr old, my older one (at about 3 yrs old) started giving up the nap, but he was miserable in the late afternoon. I was struggling with the baby's naps, and toddler's no naps. And I were too, so strict about my older one's nap probably until the younger one arrived. Anyway, what worked for us is, family bed for the three of us during the nap. Everyone has to sleep in their bed for the night, but we share the big bed during the day. The rule for older one is, he doesn't have to sleep, but he has to rest and be quiet while lying with us. If he make noises or wriggle a lot, he has to go to his own bed ''to rest''. I recently started stating this rule to my younger one, too.
The pros are: 1. This has been working for over a year now. 2. My older one naps most of the days, too. 3. My younger one gets an uninterrupted nap every day at the same time. 4. I get the rest, too. 5. Snuggling with the kids is SO nice, especially after they fell asleep. 6. My kids LOVE to sleep together. The cons are: 1. I hardly ever find time for a one-on-one interaction with the kids. 2. I got used to take a nap now!
This is just what worked for us. It may me suitable for your family or not, but I hope it gives you at least an inspiration.

Life with 2 kids is tough, but fun, and gets much better - faster than you think now. Good luck! Nes

I won't address most of your questions because I never really cared whether my babies had a consistent nap schedule or not (one did, one didn't and they've both always slept just fine at night), but I will tell you that you MUST get a better carrier than the Bjorn. Even if you prefer to get your baby sleeping in the crib most of the time for whatever reason, you NEED to be able to have him nap in a carrier without it hurting your back. Babywearing really is the only way to meet the needs of both of your children at the same time -- at least, while staying sane yourself.

I could write chapters about choosing slings and carriers which I won't do here. But I encourage you to e-mail me, attend a Bay Area Babywearers meeting (more info: ) and/or check out for information and help on that subject! Holly

I put on a video for about 20 minutes for my 3.5 year old while I put my 14-month old down for a nap. My oldest knows that she has to get into her bed when the baby is asleep. I'm sure there are better ways, but it was too distracting for my youngest to have my oldest in the same room. Anna

I do nanny shares and have this problem a lot, but I still get baby to sleep everyday. I used to lock the front door and send the toddler into the other room to play quietly (he played loudly of course, but it was muffled). I stopped doing this when I found him sitting in a window sill one day and my heart nearly stopped. So, prior to baby's nap, get your toddler a fresh water sippy, take him to ''try'' in the bathroom, give him a snack, and do everything you can to pre-meet his needs. Tell him once you sit down with the baby, you cannot talk with him and he will have to do things on his own. If he can't handle toileting solo, make him wear a pull up just while you put baby to bed. Kids are great at finding things that you must help them with now. Deal with legitimate things, prepare in advance, and otherwise tell them no, or they have to wait.

When he comes to interrupt you, give him a stern look with your eye and sharp shake no with your head. Point out of the room, if he's safe on his own. If you must keep him close, that's fine. Remind him several times that it's quiet time and to find a nice book or quiet toy. Darken the space near/around baby's eyes so he cannot be stimulated (blanket). Remind the toddler that as soon as he helps you get the baby to sleep by being quiet, you get to have lots of fun, just the two of you. Try your best to give the toddler a great nap time experience, so you can remind him next time how much fun you have. After baby goes to sleep each day, praise your toddler for doing such a good job helping you get baby to sleep (the ''quieter'' noise is the best they're capable of at this point).

Can 2-year-old and baby nap in the same room?

March 2008

We're not there yet...but I was just wondering if it is possible for two kids to nap in the same room without keeping each other awake and goofing around instead of sleeping? I have a 2 year old who naps in the afternoon and a 3 month old who is now napping and sleeping nights in my room. I'm planning to put them in the same room in the next month or so but I'm concerned that the 2 year old won't nap with the baby in the room. She's still in the crib and not ready to move to the bed. I've thought about possibly teaching her to nap on my bed, which will probably be difficult. I'm using my only pack-n-play for the 3 month old until the 2 year old moves to the bed and it's too much trouble to move it in and out of the room for naps because I'd have to collapse it every time. I don't want to start any bad habits and I want them both to sleep so any advice is much appreciated. anon

Short answer - YES!

My 1st and 2nd napped in the same room for years and now my 2nd and 3rd nap in the same room (and have for 2 years). I didn't have a lot of luck with all three napping in the same room, even though they sleep in the same room at night.

Occasionally, we'll have a week or two when they play with each other too much, but we make adjustments/tighten the rules and things get back to normal. It wouldn't work any other way in our small house. Mom of three


Is your two year-old a good sleeper? Can you have one fall asleep in the bedroom and then put the other down (obviously the two-year-old is more aware, so I would put her down first). Most kids will sleep through fire alarms, so she may not be bothered by the addition of the baby.

Also, pack and play...I remember being able to more ours in out of doorways pretty easily by only dropping down two sides rather then the whole thing. It isn't that big of a deal, especially as you only have a few months (of course, I can say that because I am actually getting sleep in longer than four hour, sorry if that sounds harsh) jan

I have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old, and they both nap in the same room (on the same bed!) in the afternoon. It was iffy at first, but sometimes the older one falls asleep first on her own, then I go in with the baby and stay until she falls asleep. Sometimes, the older one is still awake when I go in, and usually stays awake until the baby falls asleep and I leave the room. I am always worried that one will wake the other, but after a few months of this, I think they're both getting really used to sleeping at the same time! It just takes persistance. good luck

I waited until my daughter was done teething (about 20 mo) before moving her into my 4 year old son's room. She got up so much at night it was easier to have her in my room anyway, and not have to worry about her waking up my son. They've been sharing a room for 3 months now, and I have to stay in the room until they are asleep or they do play and giggle and keep each other up. If she wakes up crying he doesn't even flinch. I think they get used to each others sounds and can sleep through anything. Like anything else, practice and routine take time and they'll get it eventually. Kids can do anything, just be consistent and patient and it will all work out. Good luck! anon

I'm not sure about other parents but I have been unsuccessful having my two kids nap in the same room. One problem is that they don't nap at the same time. The other problem is that I couldn't go in and out of the room to get one without waking up the other. My solution was to have my 2-year old nap in my bed. He loves it. However, he asks for mommy's bed alot, even at bedtime. I'm unsure as to what came first-- napping in mommy's bed or the 2-year milestone, but he's been having alot of nightwakings and ends up in mommy's bed.

My kids, however, started sleeping at night in the same room a few months ago (son at 21 months, daughter at 8 months) and do really well together. My daughter was such a light sleeper but once she started sleeping with her crying, talking, playing brother, she slept through it all without any problems.

I hope this helps. Anon

I have a 3.5 y/o and a 1.5 y/o. If I put them to bed at the same time for naps, they keep each other awake. However, they both go to night time bed at the same time w/o keeping each other awake. (weird) I put the 1.5 y/o to nap first, and after she is asleep, put the 3.5 y/o to sleep. Then they both sleep. That's how we do it! -I want my naptime too!

Managing infant's naps & sleep with toddler sibling

April 2006

I've searched the archives, but didn't see this specific issue addressed... We have a 3 mo. old and a 2.5 yr old. Now that the baby is nearing the point at which I feel it is important to have regular nap and bedtimes, I'm at a loss as to how to accomplish that with a 2 yr old running around. In the evening, I would like to be able to provide a quiet, dark, calming environment in which to nurse the baby to sleep, but with no one to supervise my 2 yr old (husband works late), this doesn't seem possible. During the day, my 2 yr old has classes to attend (mornings only), so the baby doesn't get good quality naps, because of the disruptions in and out of the car, into the class facility, changes in noise level, etc.

I do have a babysitter 2 and 1/2 days a week, which is great, as this allows the baby to get a decent nap environment on those days... but what do I do about the other days of the week, and every evening at bed time? I guess my question is also, for those of you who are ''sleep-nazis'' like me, and you weren't able to provide the quality sleep for your second child that you did for your first, did everything turn out okay with the second? or were they crankier or have other issues because their naps weren't regular? Any advice or words of wisdom are welcome. thank you!

Wanting the best for both my children

It IS hard to balance the sleep schedules. I have two spaced exactly as yours, now 3.5 and 16 mos, and its still hard. Both childrens' schedules change as they age, so you end up going in and out of easier and harder phases. We were in an easier one, now #2 lost a nap and its harder to juggle again. My husband also works a lot of nights.

I started by putting #2 to sleep partially awake from day 1, because his sister requires much more involvement and I knew I couldnt do that with two. And I had a *deal* with myself that two out of three (when he was taking three) naps had to be in his crib, which usually meant #1 got an outing for half the day, and then the other half we did something around the house. #2 lost his 3rd nap by 6 mos, so it was 3 mos of this routine. Nighttimes, I too brought #2 into a dark room with a fan on and sat and nursed him before putting him in the crib (about 20 min).

I tried doing this with #1 sitting next to me but she would start talking, or #2 was aware of her - it didnt go as well as I wanted, so I started preparing something for #1 to do for those 20 min, and I would leave her on her own (with the house locked up and curtains drawn, etc) to play for 15-20 min. She came into the dark room occasionally if she got lonely or bored, but for the most part it was fine. Now that Im not nursing anymore, the three of us sit piled in a rockingchair in the same room with the fan and a small light and read for 20 min, and then she kisses him goodnight and leaves the room and I lay him down.

I definitely think #2 is more flexible sleep-wise (and/or I am ..) #1 seemed to require more to get to sleep, such that if she missed a nap, she couldnt get herself down again and ended up crankier, whereas #2 just gets more tired and takes a longer nap later, but he doesnt really get cranky. I think its because I never taught her to fall asleep on her own and I did with him (putting him down slightly aware).

Currently, she goes down for her nap at 1-1:30, and he would ideally go down at 11:30, so I *make* him hold out until 12:30-1, unless he just cant do it. I feel guilty, but he's always fine.... anon

Preschooler beginning to skip naps but sibling still needs naps!

March 2006

Our 3.5 year old preschooler is beginning to skip naps. I understand this is pretty common developmentally, but we have a younger son (almost 2) who still needs to nap. We have tried ''quiet time'' with our preschooler, but aren't having much success, since he makes lots of noise and wakes up his brother. They used to nap in the same room, but now even if we put them in separate rooms the noise level is so high that he still wakes up our younger son (it's not a big house, either).

Has anybody had sucess with ''quiet time'' at home? What stragegies do you use? How long can I reasonably expect my preschooler to be in a room by himself doing things quietly (e.g., reading)? How do I reinforce the ''quiet'' part? -this is the biggest challenge we are having now. Thanks! Eva

Hey, I had this exact scenario! What I found is I could *somewhat* count on the older child to be quiet while putting down the younger one, but that I had to spend time with her as soon as I put the sibling to bed. Quiet time became quiet time spent together: special one-on-one time, but not an actual break for me. If there were times I could get her interested in something quiet such as coloring, I might do laundry/fold clothes, and occasionally read for a few minutes, but in general, it was our laze around time together, and the only way to keep her quiet was to be with her. She still woke him up sometimes when she'd run across the room loudly, but I kept emphasizing how much the younger one needed sleep.

Sorry, my answer is that you still get no break, but can perhaps get the younger one the needed sleep. anon

My 3.5 yo didn't want to nap either and it was making him a wreck at by the end of the afternoon. What has ended up working great is pushing the nap time back. He used to go down around 1pm and to bed at 8pm. Then that stopped and trying to get him to settle down for some quiet time was impossible. Not even reading for a while would work. He'd get so tired he'd be more amped up and I was going bonkers from not getting a break. So what I started doing was putting on a mellow video for 15 minutes in our room with the drapes closed to get him to just sit still for a bit and chill. I time it so it ends closer to 2 - 2:30pm. There will be a brief struggle to get him to lay down, but we talk or sing a song, and then he ususally falls asleep with little fuss. Sometimes he even goes down at 3 and might not wake up until 5pm, but he'll still go to bed at 8pm. Since he's no longer overly tired, it's easier to get him to bed at night. anon

Our older boy didn't give up naps until age 4, but has been having 30 min of quiet time when his brother (3 years younger) naps. They are now 5 1/2 and 2 1/2.

We let him set a timer that he takes into the room so he knows how long he has to stay. His activities are usually: puzzles, drawing/stickers or other art projects, looking at books, playing with toys.

He is sometimes too loud, but he knows that if he is really loud the timer will be reset for 30 and he will have to start all over. I think this only happened once or twice - he is old enough for this to be effective. We shut both his door and ours (where his brother is sleeping) and luckily once his brother is asleep moderate noise doesn't seem to wake him easily. The younger one also sleeps longer/better if one of us is napping with him, which we usually do until the 30 min. quiet time is over for the older boy. White noise or music might help the napper sleep too.

You might try saving a special toy or book just for quiet time, so he's drawn to it - something that doesn't require adult help and is quiet. We've also let our older boy listen to books on tape on a walkman sometimes during quiet time.

For us not only is the quiet time important as a way to free us to get the younger one down for his nap, we feel it develops a tiny ability to entertain himself in our son who usually wants a lot of attention. When his 30 min. are up, we really enjoy the one on one time we have to read or play together until the younger brother wakes. - Charis

Scheduling naps for 4 mo-old and 4-year-old in shared bedroom

June 2005

We have two boys - 4 months and 4 years old. We are thinking of moving the baby into a crib in his brother's room in another month or so. My questions are in regard to napping: 1) How have you kept to a nap schedule with one older, active child - with a busy pre-school and park/playdate life? 2) Where should the baby nap when the big brother is home - in his crib in the shared room? in a pack-n-play in our room? (Most toys are in the shared room and I hate to kick older brother out for what could be 3 hours!) 3) Has anyone felt as guilty as I that baby #2 naps at least once a day on the go - ie, in the car seat or at the park? (The 4 y.o. is no longer napping but takes a pretty long ''quiet time'' in his room - which is essentially independent play for him and a break for me.) -Learning my way with two.

Hi, Aren't the logistics of two a challenge? JI have a 4yr old and a 1.5 yr old and the way we handled naptime was to have the baby sleep in the pack and play on our room. JThat way the 4 yr old can have her quiet time with her books and the 1.5 yr old gets a good sleep. JAt night they go to bed at the same time and it works out fine. (Although I must admit we are going through a bad sleep period where they are waking each other up. JIf we're having a very bad night we bring the baby into the pack and play in our room. JUSUALLY they sleep great at night sharing a room. I also hope that sharing a room will help them develop a close relationship.)

When my younger child still took two naps a day, he almost always had his morning nap out and about. JI just couldn't find any way around that without staying home a lot more than my older child and I wanted to. JI also kind of pushed him toward taking only one afternoon nap, because it was much more convenient and he slept so much longer in the afternoon when he skipped his morning nap. JI think these second children are pretty adaptable! Good luck and happy sleeping! Alonn

We do the younger one in the crib, and the older one on the couch for naps. If your older one needs access to the bedroom for playtime, then daytime naps for baby should be in a pack-n-play in the parents' room. It's not that hard, and the younger one will easily become accustomed to it.

Nighttime in the same room is a little harder, and usually if one awakens, you have two children on your hands unless you quickly remove the crying/screaming child to the parents' room or living room.

Assuming your stroller reclines, what's so wrong with naps at the park, where there's fresh air? Many people do it with something covering the opening to keep it dark. Hopefully this also helps the younger one become a deep sleeper. That could only help... anon

My kids were also four years apart. As I recall, my younger one got very few regular naps (and never slept three hours straight - you are lucky!). JBut he did nap in his crib sometimes! We started keeping a selection of toys and books in the living room (if it bothers you to keep them there all the time, maybe you could have a big basket for transporting them out each day). JIf your infant isn't too light a sleeper, it may not be a problem for your older one to do some quiet play in the bedroom once baby is sleeping soundly. And if your older one had friends for occasional playdates, maybe try to schedule the ''away'' ones during naptime. Anyway - don't feel guilty about the random traveling naps - all second (and later) kids are stuck with it! R.K.

Ah yes, the second baby scheduling crunch. I think it's fine for the baby to snooze in the car seat, or in his stroller at the park. Babies are adaptable and will get used to sleeping wherever. Don't feel guilty at all - he'd rather be with you and his older brother anyway, and you don't want to curtail the 4-year-old's activities just for naptime. As for where to nap him at home, Why not just put him down in a port-a-crib in your bedroom? That way he gets his rest in a dark, quiet room and your four-year-old isn't banished from quiet time in ''his'' room? My second slept in a port-o-crib from a few months on until he was two and we put him on the bottom of a bunk bed. Three bedrooms is a luxury these days, so you just make due. two in a room for eight years now

14-mo-old's mid-day nap vs. sibling's preschool pickup

August 2004

I have a 14-month-old son, who until recently took an early morning nap at home with me while his sister was in preschool, followed by an afternoon nap when we returned home from school for big sister's nap. However, he is now clearly trying to transition from two naps to one, and my goal, for the sake of my own nap and his sister's, is to get him to WAIT to take it until AFTER the preschool pickup. Is this a cruel and/or hopeless dream?

As it is, the poor little kid is obviously EXHAUSTED in the late morning (he's one of those who naturally wakes up around 5 a.m. -- hence MY need for a nap!), but if I take pity on him and let him take a nap then, (a) it is short unless he's in the stroller, and (b) he then refuses to nap in the afternoon. On non-schooldays, pushing his nap toward about noon has resulted in a long, single afternoon nap -- but that's obviously not possible when we're about to go pick up his sister. (Or should I indulge his natural sleepiness but just put him to sleep in the CAR, so that he'll be strapped in and ready to go without being disturbed? The flip side of this is that only in the first 15 minutes or so of a car-nap is it possible to take him out and move him to his crib -- later than that, and he wakes up when removed from the car and refuses to go back to sleep in the crib.) And trying to keep him up until school pickup time seems positively sadistic, is often unsuccessful, and on occasion results in his not taking ANY nap, having missed his real napping window at 11:30/noon.

Any ideas for how to handle this when I'm the one taking care of him? (He does have a babysitter on some days, and THEN he gets a good, very long nap, exactly when he wants to take it.) Thanks!

can you set up a car pool for your pre-schooler so that at least half of the time you don't need to interrupt the baby's nap? good luck

You don't say how far you live from preschool, could you walk/stroller there? Your son could fall asleep in the stroller (or sling), and stay asleep for a longish nap. Would that be too long a walk home for your older one? Or do you have a double stroller? Another idea while he transitions to one nap - is there another parent you could trust to drive your daughter home? Maybe you could offer to drive them both to preschool, leave the car-seats there, and the other parent drive them home. Once your son is solidly on just one nap, he might be more able to postpone it until big sister g! ot home, but for now he could fall asleep when he needs to. R.K.