Find out how to keep your older kids quiet during baby’s nap time so baby can get a good nap. Learn how to structure the day for your toddler, preschooler, and older kids so they can learn to be respectful of baby’s nap time while still being able to have fun and be kids.
I think a big challenge with a baby is what to do with the older children while baby naps–or in other words, how do you keep the older children quiet while baby is napping?
This is the most challenging while baby is young and taking four naps a day.
From the time Kaitlyn was born, I had two goals I tried to meet.
One is that I didn’t want us to feel like we had to tip-toe around the house at nap time–I wanted us to be able to move around and talk like normal people. However, I also wanted us to respect the sleeper.
When I was growing up, my mom ingrained in us to respect the sleeper and those of us who were early risers would be respectful of the non-early risers and try to be quiet.
So normal sounds were okay, but there didn’t need to be loudness, yelling, and running.
So that is a nice goal, but how do you implement it? How do you keep older kids, who are typically toddlers and preschoolers, respectfully quiet during baby’s many naps. Here are some ideas.
APPROACH AS A SIGN OF LOVE
Something I didn’t want to happen with any of my babies was the older children growing to resent the baby.
I didn’t want them to be frustrated at the baby because we couldn’t wake up the baby. So I taught it with the angle of “we are doing this to show respect and love.”
We show our baby love by respecting baby when she is sleeping. See this for more on this concept: Moral Training: Love
WHITE NOISE IN BABY ROOM
I didn’t figure this out until McKenna came along, but white noise in the baby’s room is very helpful. This helps muffle out normal noises so you don’t feel paranoid to move around your house as usual.
You can use noise machines, humidifiers, box fans, mp3 tracks…
Many people worry about using white noise because it can be a sleep prop. Read Benefits of White Noise for Baby Sleep for all of my thoughts on this and how to use it successfully.
GIVE BABY TIME TO GET USED TO IT
A brand new baby usually will sleep through anything (though there are sleep experts who say just because a newborn is asleep doesn’t mean the sleep is ideal–a newborn in a disruptively noisy environment may not be getting as restorative of sleep as one in an ideal environment).
Then the baby seems to enter a phase where sleep is more sensitive. Noises will wake baby up.
After some months, the baby will start to sleep through those noises again. The trick is keeping noises normal so the baby can get used to it and staying patient through the sensitive sleep times.
Some babies are more sensitive than others. Some will sleep through noises more than other babies will.
A great way to control the noise levels is to keep the older kids occupied. Have your structured activities happen during baby’s nap.
Some ways I pair these is chores/independent play in the morning nap, and learning time/reading/rest time in the afternoon.
Occupy the older children by having independent playtime during one nap. Obviously you won’t cover the entire nap, but you can get a good chunk in there.
Have it in a place where the noises your child makes won’t be too noisy for your baby. This is an especially helpful thing to do when you have three or more children. More than one child makes for noisy interactions.
When Brinley was a baby, we always had independent play on Sunday mornings during Brinely’s nap (our church was at 1 PM). This way, the older kids wouldn’t get all riled up and loud and wake her up early before church.
Another great thing to do is to align nap/rest time with baby’s afternoon nap. This will keep your older kids quiet during baby’s nap.
If you have a child sharing a room with your baby, but that child in your bed or on the couch for a nap or rest time.
You can also have some learning time during baby’s nap. Learning time is another structured activity where you can keep your child’s noise levels at a reasonable level.
Read stories to your child during baby’s nap. If your child is old enough for SSR (sustained silent reading), do that during baby’s nap, too.
You can also play audio books while your kids can quietly play with toys.
You can do your chores during nap time. This will give your children something to focus on and prevent them from getting really loud.
Just be aware of when your baby will reach the age to benefit from observing chores being done. I didn’t do chores in front of Kaitlyn and I think that contributed to her not wanting to do chores at a young age. She has overcome that and now is a great worker, but in her younger years, she had no desire to work.
With Brayden I had always worked with him around, and with McKenna I was careful to do cleaning in front of her. I think by 9 months, it is good to do at least some cleaning in front of your baby. Brayden was copying me by 9 months, though, so even 6-7 months might be a good idea.
If you do TV Time each day, do it during baby’s nap. This is win/win because it keeps kids quiet and it makes it so TV time is at a time when baby won’t be around to watch the TV.
Your toddler, preschooler, or child needs to move around and get the wiggles out. Make sure your child is getting as much exercise as is optimal for him.
A child who has too much energy is going to have a harder time being appropriately quiet indoors.
You can all go for a walk or bike ride together and this will help your child to not have so much energy to burn in the house during baby’s nap.
Get in that free play and outside time while the baby is awake.
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
Take opportunities to get your older kids out of the house. They will benefit from a change of scenery and a change of pace. This can be a as a family but it can also be in one-on-one dates with one of the parents.
Once you have worked your rules and schedule for the best environment for baby’s naps, have some consequences for when your children get too loud and crazy during nap time.
Especially in the younger days of baby’s life, you can’t really fill each nap with structured activities. Baby sleeps too much to do that. Your children will have times they get loud.
We start with a reminder. Kids are kids and when kids get together, they have fun and get loud. We start playtime with a reminder about respecting sleeping people.
If/when they get loud, we tell them they are being too loud. Again, kids are kids and kids don’t necessarily know what level is “too loud.” Your reminders will help them recognize what is and is not okay.
If they can’t calm down, I bring in a consequence. Going back to me not wanting resentment to build up, I try to make the consequence apply very logically (which is the way I am in all consequences naturally, but I am careful to make sure in this instance that holds true).
An example of a consequence for a group of siblings being noisy is that they don’t get to play with each other for the rest of the nap.
I also had a rule that if you can’t be appropriately quiet inside, you need to play outside. This worked for us where we live and what our yard and neighborhood are like.
My favorite consequence came one evening when the children obviously had way too much energy built up. They could not be quiet at all–they obviously needed some exercise.
So I sent them outside to run laps in the backyard. We have a large yard and I told them they each needed to run three laps. They ended up enjoying it so much they each ran at least ten laps. What they needed was to burn some energy!
You will want to work on your rules and expectations while you have a newborn. This way, your kids can practice and understand what is okay and what isn’t okay while your baby is still in a very sleepy state.
These tips will help you keep your older kiddos quiet while your baby naps. Babies do move from 4 naps to 3 naps to 2 naps relatively quickly, so this is not a forever thing.
- What is the Best Age Gap Between Kids?
- How to Set Boundaries for Children & Siblings
- How To Meet the Needs of Each Child
- What Is the Ideal Number of Children to Have
- Tips to Successfully add Your Baby to the Family
- Baby Feeding Schedule with Older Child(ren)
- Planning Your Schedule for Multiple Children