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It's all well and good to hear that most experts think it's okay to let your child cry a little to settle himself to sleep, but what if the neighbors complain? What if you live in a one-bedroom apartment and you need to get to bed yourself? What if you have two children, and they share a room? Sometimes tackling your toddler's sleep problems can get complicated. So what can you do about it? We asked our resident sleep expert, Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, who had the following suggestions:
- If your children share a bedroom and one is having sleep problems, have the good sleeper move out for a few days. The child with the problem needs to learn to sleep well and peacefully in his bedroom – the other one has already learned how to do that, so he'll be fine spending a week or so sleeping in another room.
- Make sure you and your partner – and any other relatives living with you – agree on how to handle sleep problems. This is particularly important if you share living space with your child's grandparents or other family members who may think they know more than you do. If you and your partner decide that you're going to let your child cry for five minutes before going to him, it will disrupt your plan if Grandma comforts him right away. Consistency is key when you're trying to establish healthy sleep habits, especially with toddlers.
- If you live in a one-bedroom or studio apartment or an apartment complex with thin walls, there may not be much you can do without the neighbors complaining. If and when your situation changes, you can start teaching your toddler the basics of good sleep then (it's never too late, after all). Another strategy is to start with naptimes when others may be out for the day.