Congrats! A new baby sister or brother is on the way! How are you staying on track with the older sibling’s sleep? Do you have a plan to keep your family sleeping with this new addition?
A new sibling often throws schedules up in the air for a bit. If you’re already at the point where your older child sleeps through the night and takes long, rejuvenating naps, you may be concerned that the new child might upend all that you have done.
Here’s what I do know, a new baby will most likely impact your older child’s sleep. I am not saying it happens every time, but with anything new in a toddler’s life, it seems huge! And here are the two main reasons why:
- Your newborn is going to wake up numerous times a night and make some noise, which is likely to wake up your toddler.
- Your toddler’s going to be jealous of the new baby.
Is Your Newborn Crying Waking Your Toddler?
As I am sure, you’re well aware, newborns wake in the night and will cry when it’s time for a nighttime feed. You can’t change this, and you wouldn’t want to as it’s your newborn’s way to let you know that they’re hungry. So even if there were some ways of muting the noise, it wouldn’t exactly be beneficial for your baby.
So what can you do?
Your best bet here, if possible, is to keep your newborn in your room and get your toddler into their own, in a crib, preferably down a hallway as far away as possible from your newborn’s sleeping area. Why do I have the “in a crib” clause there? Because you’re likely going to have an easier time of this if your toddler’s still in a crib as opposed to a big kid bed. Regardless of whether there’s a new baby in the picture, I recommend keeping kids in the crib as long as it’s safe to do so.
Another solution is to use a white noise machine in your older child’s room. Reminder to keep the noise under 85 dBA and not too close to the crib.
Finally, I also suggest preparing your child. Talk with them about the fact that their new brother or sister might wake up in the night. Let them know that there’s nothing to worry about, they don’t have to come check it out.
Is your Child Jealous of Your Newborn?
If you have a newborn, you will likely have already noticed that your older child is a bit jealous of all the attention that your newborn is receiving. They were used to that attention from grandma and grandpa or even mom and dad.
Often a huge symptom of jealousy includes a regression. Suddenly there are more requests for cuddles, wanting to go back into a crib if they’re in a big kid bed, trying out a bottle again, and maybe even bedtime battles.
How to Handle Older Sibling Jealousy With Newborns
What would be your response as a parent? Guilt? Compromise? Or consistency?
Often sleep problems re-arise because of compromise. Reading one more story, spending time together by cuddling in bed, not putting them right back to bed when they ask for one more drink, etc.
Of course, you want to show your older child that you love them just as much as before, but compromise at bedtime is creating confusion. We often hear the phrase, “Toddlers love pushing boundaries”. But in reality, they’re often just checking if the boundary is still there. They don’t want them to move. They want to feel safe and experience familiarity. It gives them a sense of security to know that the rules and expectations surrounding them are constant and predictable.
I know it doesn’t feel that way sometimes, but I can assure you that the more you give in to those demands, the more they’ll ask for. It often gets to the point where your toddler feels like they’re running the show, and that can be very distressing for them. They feel much more secure and relaxed with the confidence that their parents are in control.
Consistency Continues To Be The Key!
Just like when you started sleep training, consistency is important. Watch out for concessions being made. Keep everything around bedtime exactly as it was before the new baby showed up. Same bedtime, same bedtime routine, the same number of stories, same sleeping conditions.
If you start changing things, it’s only going to reinforce your toddler’s suspicion that things have changed, and that’s likely to bring on more insecurity.
If your child is still exhibiting jealous behavior, make sure to spend quality time with them during the day. Give them your undivided attention. Make them feel like the center of attention for even 15 min per day to help make sure bedtime is as smooth as before the new baby entered their world.
Contact Tender Transitions
If you’re struggling with consistency or setting up a sleep schedule that works for your growing family, one of the sleep coaches at Tender Transitions would love to walk alongside you. We understand the importance of sleep, especially during the transition of bringing another little one into your home. Schedule your free call with us.