As far as neighbors go, it’s almost guaranteed that no one sets out wanting to be a jerk neighbor, but there are some indisputable facts of life that get in the way:
- Sometimes festivities get a little too festive a little too late into the night.
- Not everyone works 8-5 Monday-Friday, and Sunday morning or late Thursday evening may be the only time available to mow the lawn.
- Babies are frequently very loud, and their squawking can disturb both your peace and your neighbor’s tranquility. The difference: you love your child, and your neighbor doesn’t necessarily…
As a new parent, there are few things more important than getting your baby to sleep well. Those few moments of quiet offer an opportunity for your baby’s growing brain to recharge, and they give you precious respite from the demands of a little person who can’t tell you what they want. It’s already overwhelming learning how to parent a new baby, but adding sleep deprivation can take tension up a notch.
Unfortunately, babies and their unpredictable schedules and needs sometimes bring out the worst in people. Suddenly you might find yourself feeling angry toward neighbors that you never realized were noisy before (or weren’t bothered by before baby), or you might even find irate neighbors pounding on your door because your little one’s late-night cries are keeping them awake. Perhaps there might even be a bit of both going on! Suffice to say, things can get heated and either passive-aggressive or aggressive-aggressive very quickly.
Whether or not you have an amiable relationship with your neighbors now, it’s always a good idea not to escalate things if you can help it. To help you through what is likely to be a tense time, here are some things you can do to navigate noisy neighbors.
Do What You Can at Home
When you are the one with noisy neighbors, you may be tempted to walk on over to their home, pound on their door, and scream at them to cut that racket upon penalty of death! (Sounds overly dramatic, but hey, sleep deprivation makes monsters of us all…). Doing something like that isn’t likely to produce the results you want, so you might take a step back and see what you can do within the walls of your own home first. Here are a few examples:
- Hang curtains: This one is easy enough, and it can make such a difference. There are even specialty soundproof curtains that absorb a lot of outside and ambient noise that might prevent your baby from sleeping soundly. Not only do they help with noise reduction, but they also help improve energy efficiency and block out outside light so that your baby can sleep better.
- Door draft blocker: The large space under your child’s bedroom door can be drafty and let in unwanted sounds. Consider installing a draft blocker to help keep noise to a minimum.
- Use a sound machine: A sound machine with white noise is always a good idea for young babies because it helps replace unwanted sounds with more desirable ones (ex: ocean waves, white noise, brown noise, etc.). Just be careful not to have the volume set too high because that can damage your infant’s sensitive ears.
- Close or cover the vents: As long as ventilation isn’t a problem, you might consider closing or covering the vents in your child’s room during the problem times.
- Rearrange: It is very frustrating when your baby won’t sleep because of noisy neighbors, but sometimes all it takes is changing things up within your own home to solve the problem. If the sound comes from a shared wall, you might try moving the baby to another room completely. If it’s from an outside or nearby space, simply moving your baby’s bed from one side of the room to the other might be enough. If moving the bed isn’t possible, you can try shifting the dresser or other furniture to the area in front of the sound to help absorb some of the sounds. Sure, the new placement may be inconvenient for a while, but sometimes ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.
Once you’ve soundproofed from within, make sure to check that you can still hear your baby’s cries. An audio or video monitor is an inexpensive way to check on your baby without adding additional noise to your home.
Consider Their Feelings
There are few things louder than a screaming baby and even fewer things you can do to get said baby to stop crying immediately. You might not want to admit this, but if you have a young child living with you, you’re probably the noisy neighbor more often than you’d like. In addition to doing the things above to help absorb the sound from within your home, you can also do some things to keep the peace with your neighbor while you all grin and bear this stage of life.
- Explain what you’re doing: Paying your neighbor a quick visit with a happy baby on your hip can work wonders to keep things positive. You might want to outline the measures you’ve taken within your own home to help reduce the sound, but you should also be frank that it might take a while before your baby sleeps through the night and during the early morning hours. This conversation won’t solve everything, but having a cheerful baby with you can help keep things light and remind your neighbor that there’s not much else you can do.
- Prepare a sleeping/noise kit: If things are particularly rough, you might offer a noise kit to your neighbor, complete with a noise machine, earplugs, and/or homemade cookies.
- Suggest an app: If buying a white noise machine for your neighbor is out of the question, you can suggest a white noise app to use on their own speakers. This one is particularly cool and customizable, but there are hundreds of other options for you to check out.
- Apologize for the crying: Even though there’s little you can do to help things, an apology for your crying baby can go a long way. People like to feel validated, and acknowledging that your baby cries loudly during the night can make your neighbor feel more optimistic about the situation.
Attempting to train your child to sleep through the night is tricky enough on its own, but adding noisy neighbors into the mix can make it a nightmare. Even doing all of the tricks listed above, you might still have trouble with neighbors, but at the end of the day, this stage of life won’t last forever. Sometimes all you can do is what you can do and know that this, too, shall pass.