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!