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Help! 4 year old waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night

(2 Posts)
djini Tue 26-Jan-16 04:36:03

(Apologies in advance for the looong essay)

My 4yo DD1 is usually a good sleeper - 7-7 for pretty much the last couple of years, no daytime nap anymore. She's in a toddler bed in her own room, with no child gate on the door, and this has been fine for ages; the only time she'd come through to our room was in the morning - "time to wake up! I'm hungry!"

Now we've got a newborn DD2 (3 weeks old) in our room and consequently are up a bit (a lot) more in the night, but try to keep things quiet and dark when feeding, changing, soothing etc. DD2 is not yelling all night, but obviously it's still noisier than it had been before she showed up.

DD1 is now going to sleep ok, but then waking up and coming through to our room 20+ times a night, usually between 2-5am. She's half asleep at least at first, and she doesn't have a "real" reason - no nightmares, toilet needs etc (though she invents reasons like "I've got a hurty nose" "I can't find my pillow" etc) - she just wants company and reassurance, I think. That's totally understandable, given the change in circumstances, but how can I help her feel reassured AND still get a good night's sleep so she can function the next day? Feels like we've tried all the usual approaches - bribery, threats of consequences, extra love, silent stern-ness, reasoning.... Nothing works.

Each time she comes through, one of us needs to take her back to bed (usually DH if I'm feeding DD2), which we do quietly and firmly, having determined there's no specific need or worry that needs addressing. And then 20 seconds later she comes wandering in again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Her timing is pretty impeccable - eg yesterday I managed to settle DD2 after a mega 3 hour cluster feed, and multiple attempts to put into crib, then 1 minute after DD2 finally conked out in Moses basket, DD1 came wandering in and woke her up again. I could weep. I DO weep. We're both at the end of our tethers, and severely lacking in sleep and patience.

FWIW, DD1 is outwardly happy and curious about her new sister, but somewhat noise sensitive (bathroom hand dryers etc) and gets stressed when DD2 cries. DD2 isn't a sad baby at the moment, but does whinge when woken. That means that in the night I'm stressed that one will wake the other up, and it becomes a vicious cycle of waking, with everybody getting gradually more frustrated and less rested. In the meantime, none shall sleep!

Any ideas, hints, suggestions or solidarity most appreciated...

BBQueen Tue 26-Jan-16 04:44:44

That sounds awful, and I've had the similar frustration of getting the baby to sleep only for my 4yo to come barrelling in.

Have you tried bribes (we had chocolate for breakfast for staying in bed all night!)? Sticker charts etc might be ok, but for us it sometimes needs to be an immediate reward.

Hope you get a bit more sleep tonight and congratulations on the new baby.

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