Sleep training at any age can be rough. Sleep training is rough on the child and it’s rough on the parents. When you live in an apartment, townhouse, duplex, or any other living space with shared walls it can be an even bigger challenge. For the first two years of being a mom I lived in an apartment. We lived in an apartment while my daughter was a baby and while we did finally sleep train at just past a year old.
Let me start with my kids have never been terrible sleepers.
I have two, my daughter is just over two years old and my son is almost 11 months. We have been blessed with very mello, easy going kids. They don’t need to be rocked, cuddled, held or any other thing to fall asleep.
BUT they have always wanted a drink (bottle of formula or sippy cup of milk) to go to bed and another to go back to sleep when they wake in the middle of the night.
I did not sleep train my daughter away from wanting a bottle every 4-5 hours even at night until she was over a year old. I did not feel comfortable letting my daughter cry it out when she was any younger, however, my daughter is stubborn and the only way sleep training was going to work for her was to let her cry it out. It can take the tough with love, route to teach her, she’s very strong headed and independent.
While living in an apartment we let her cry it out. We did not just let her cry without intervention. Each time she woke I went in the room, reassured her, changed her if needed, and layed her back down at varying intervals until she fell back to sleep. it took about a week.
How did we do so without upsetting neighbors?
There were five easy things we did.
1. Make friends with the neighbors.
I’ve found that neighbors can be less kind and understanding to any disturbances when they do not know you. If you introduce yourself, explain you have young children, open your door to any complaints, they’re more likely to give leeway. They are also more likely to speak with you directly first about any problems or concerns before going to apartment management.
We were lucky and had a wonderful older couple living above us. This couple was actually starving for grandkids, often reminding their daughter to have kids, so they were very loving and kind towards us.
2. Butter them up
A simple and kind gift in thank you and appreciation goes a long way. My husband and I bought a $50 gift card for our neighbors. We lived on the end of the building so only had two neighbors, those directly above us and neighbors on one side. We concerned ourselves with the neighbors above us the most.
3. Try to give as much distance to shared walls as possible
This can be hard if you have neighbors on both sides of your apartment. We were lucky and lived on the end of the building. Our daughters bedroom was on the shared wall but when we sleep trained we moved her for a short time. Instead of her crib being right against a shared wall we moved her to the other side of the room. This helps give a little more space, if even so slight, between your crying child in the middle of the night and your neighbors.
4. Reassure your child
This tip is a general sleep training tip. Do NOT just let your child cry until they fall asleep. I went in and reassured her, first after 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. The first night is the roughest. (This is definitely why you want to warn neighbors before you start). She often cried even harder at first when you’d leave again, but she learned quick. Mom wasn’t just leaving. Each time I reassured her it became a little easier for her to just take the reassurance and try to go to sleep. It only took a night or two of long crying spells with these intervals for her to start learning to self soothe and not need a bottle.
These intervals of time help with neighbors. I’ve always thought it is easy to tell if a baby is just being ignored and let to cry, especially as time goes by REALLY slow when you’re woken by noise in the middle of the night. If the neighbor thinks you’re doing nothing to try to help the child it’ll upset them more too. It shows respect for your neighbors if you show a sign of trying to make sure their disturbance is kept to a minimum.
5. Wait until you’re ready and try to get sleep when you can too
I admit it. One major reason I waited until my daughter was one to sleep train was because I was not willing to lose the sleep over that week or so it would take. It is tiring to have your child wake multiple times a night, yes. However, the short time it takes to feed them a bottle and put them back in bed is nothing compared to the long bouts of crying while sleep training, especially the first couple days.
I waited because I was not ready. Make sure you’re ready for the lack of sleep. Prepare yourself with caffeine to get through the days and nap whenever you can. You need to be functional. Also remember, it’ll be worth it. The full nights of sleep after will be bliss.
What sleep training tips do you have? What worked for your kids and what age did you sleep train?
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