Bringing a new baby into the house is very likely to impact your older child’s sleep habits in one way or another, and there are two big reasons why;
1. Your toddler will likely hear the newborn’s cries and think they should help.
2. Your toddler’s wondering why he or she is no longer the center of your world and may be a bit jealous to share your attention.
The confusion of the upheaval of a once only kid household and jealousy will likely cause sort of a regression, prompting your toddler to want the ‘only kid’ attention they enjoyed previously, such as…
● Lots of requests for snuggles
● They may want to ‘act like a baby’ again
● Requesting to sleep in your bed or in your room
● Additional stalling, antics and tantrums during the bedtime routine
The biggest reason this can affect sleep is that parents start feeling guilty about the fact that they don’t have enough hands or time to be in two places at once, so they try to compensate by giving in to all those requests, and those requests frequently show up right at bedtime. You’ll likely hear everything from requests for extra stories, staying up later, laying with them, holding hands, etc.
Parents… I totally understand. Guilt sucks. And when we feel guilty about spending so much extra effort on a new baby, we start to do anything to make sure our kiddos know they haven’t been forgotten, get extra time with us and feel all the love.
So what’s the harm in a few more books and laying in bed with our kid to give some extra love and attention?
“Children are as independent as you expect them to be.” ~Maria Montessori
It’s likely this situation will happen at some point, so here’s what you do:
Keep everything around bedtime exactly as it was before the new sibling arrived; the same bedtime routine with the same limits you had before (ex: reading 2 books), sleeping in their own bed and sleeping there all night.
Comfort and support, but don’t change the how, where and when.
If you start changing what’s allowed around bedtime, such as adding a dance party and saying goodnight to every stuffed animal in your child’s room, it’s only going to tell your toddler that boundaries mean nothing and trust me, they’ll take 10 miles if you give an inch.
Second, try to focus 15-20 minutes during the day where it’s just you and your toddler, one-on-one to do something together. Your kiddo will love the extra time and snuggles.
Never apologize to yourself or your kid for setting boundaries. If the feeling of “oh no, I have to give everything” guilt starts to set in, remember that your toddler is simply working through some big emotions, which toddlers don’t know how to navigate. You are doing the best you can and holding to your boundaries to have a happy, attached and supported kiddo. You’re an awesome parent…don’t forget that.
Within a few weeks, your whole family will have had time to adjust to the newest member of the family and you’ll find that new groove. You’ve got this!
Walking through a large store last weekend with my daughter, she asked to go through the Halloween section. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised but also excited that she’s starting to enjoy one of my favorite holidays! We turned down the aisle and she ran right past the candy, the girly costumes, the silly masks… then stopped cold in her tracks in the face of a creepy looking clown thing that you hang up on your front porch to greet trick or treaters. The look on her face said it all… Yikes!
Did you have a lovey as a child? I’ll admit that I still have my pink crocheted blanket. It’s no longer on my bed, but I can’t bear to get rid of something so dear to me that brought me comfort and happy memories.
I always ask families if their child has a lovey. You might call them security blankets, wubbies, snuggle bunnies, blankies, etc but they are all the same thing…they are an object that your child takes to bed with them whenever they sleep for comfort and security.
Loveys can be a comforting way for your child to sleep and become one of your child’s strategies for falling asleep.
I recommend parents introduce a lovey between 4 to 6 months of age.
But how do you choose which one? And what if my child doesn’t like it?
Make sure the lovey is something small, such as a small stuffed animal or small blanket, about the size of a face cloth that the child can easily find in the dark. The benefit of a lovey is that it’s something baby can find in the middle night by themselves and doesn’t require your assistance.
Their lovey shouldn’t make noise, such as a rattle or crinkle sound; it shouldn’t light up and shouldn’t have pieces that can be choking hazards, such as buttons for eyes.
You may notice that your child has a particular attraction to a small stuffed animal during playtime. Once you’ve identified the new lovey, include it in activities during the day such as tummy time and when they’re traveling in their car seat.
We as parents know that frequent hand washing and cleaning heavily used surfaces like doorknobs and light switches can go a long way to preventing the spread of germs, but what do you do when your little one wakes up with a stuffy nose and a cough?
Usually your baby is a great sleeper, but now she has what looks like a cold and consequently isn’t sleeping well. Have no fear! I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that your baby doesn’t pick up bad habits that will persist long after the germs have gone. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Expect that your sick child is going to have some nighttime wakeups. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. They may have one, two, five or even more nighttime wake-ups…it’s how you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.
One of the big mistakes people make is that they start to intervene in their child’s sleep skills. Meaning they go in, they try to rock or they start to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props. I understand why people do that because you want to comfort your baby when they’re sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort baby…you can absolutely go in. Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but don’t interfere with her sleep skills.
You’re not going to rock her back to sleep. You’re not going to feed her to sleep. You’re not going to do any of the things that you normally wouldn’t let her do. The only time you would ever go back to a nighttime feed, obviously, is if your doctor or pediatrician suggests it. If she’s had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.
You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights. Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the danger that the baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds, rocking, etc even once the sickness is gone.
Another big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them. Again, I understand it. My daughter seemed to come home from daycare with a new sickness every other week. I’d get sick, then she’d bring home something new. It was a vicious cycle. I understand where that desire comes from. Again, you want to comfort your sick child. If you’re really concerned about your child in the night, it is much better for you to go to them than to bring them to you.
If you’re really concerned, throw down an air mattress on the floor of baby’s room. Spend a night or two in his room to keep an eye on him. Again, remembering my rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside his bed. If everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track with good sleep skills. Go back to your normal routine and baby will remember those great skills that she used before the sniffles came.