Is there anything more exciting than watching your family grow? Adding a new addition to the house is so thrilling, and yet, it’s also stressful. Trying to work out the logistics of who is going to sleep where is sometimes a hassle. There are questions that will need to be answered, such as, do you buy a second crib or is it time to transition your little one to a toddler bed? Will two older siblings now have to share a room to make space for the new baby in the crib? Should you co-sleep with your toddler and is this going to cause problems as you try to juggle your new infant?
Bringing home a new sibling often causes regression in a toddler’s sleep program as they feel they are being displaced by the new baby. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions that can help you deal with the changes a new baby will bring to your household.
1) What should we do if we are currently co-sleeping with a toddler?
There is no need to kick out your toddler to make room for the new baby. Your toddler will understandably feel jealous if they know that the new baby is sleeping with you and they aren’t! Put the baby in a co-sleeper attached to your bed or in a bassinet placed next to your bed. If your toddler is sleeping in their own room and suddenly wants to sleep with you and the baby, make a bed for them on the floor next to you and tell them that they can come sleep with you in this “special” bed if they want to. Of course, if you don’t want to start your toddler sleeping with you again, you can try to explain that the baby is only sleeping with you for a little while, and that they will move to their own room once they are a bit older.
2) Should we move the older sibling into their own bed?
Most children will move easily from a crib to a bed somewhere between 2.5 and 3 years of age. You should couple the move with a reward system so that your toddler wants to stay in their new bed. There is nothing more frustrating than finally getting a cranky infant to fall asleep, only to have your toddler come into the room crying because they want to sleep with you. Understand that toddlers have a hard time sharing. They don’t like to share things that they see as belonging to them, especially YOU. If your toddler resists giving up his crib, don’t force him just yet. Let him keep his crib if he wants to, and bring it up every 30 to 60 days until he decides to let it go.
3) When should I move my toddler if I can’t fit two cribs?
If two cribs aren’t possible, or if your child is over 3 years of age, make the transition to a new bed at least 6 months before the baby is born or wait until about 4 months after. This doesn’t have to be a quick transition. If you make this move all about them and avoid mentioning that this is because they must make room for the new baby, it should go fairly smoothly.
4) My toddler used to sleep all night, but now wakes up often
Regressions in sleeping patterns are normal for older siblings when the new baby arrives. As sleep deprived as you might be, try to be patient and avoid scolding them for waking up. Keep voices low and conversation to a minimum. If they have gotten out of bed, take them back, tuck them in with a kiss, and leave the room. Try to avoid creating bad habits that you will need to fix later on. Sleep training when you have several children is possible, but it’s very difficult and will cause you more stress and anxiety in the future. Try to give your older children more attention during waking hours and use a reward system to help prevent them from getting out of bed at night.
5) How do I manage bedtime for two children when I’m alone?
It might take you a few nights to work out the proper routine, but it can be done. Try a few different routines until you find the one that works best for you and your children. Some good tips about bedtime routines include:
- Avoid the use of television, laptops, video games, or tablets before bedtime. The blue light that electronics emit makes it difficult for the brain to fall asleep.
- Offer a flashlight to make shadow animals on the wall
- Allow them to color in a coloring book in bed while you put the baby to sleep
- Let them look at a picture book or write as many numbers as they can to show you when you come back to the room. You can put the baby to bed while they are busy.
Author: Aimi Palmer
Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Owner of My Little Sleeper.