So now you have sleep sorted there is a good chance baby number two might be on the cards, or even on it’s way! If the prospect of getting two little ones to sleep at once seems daunting, well, you’re not wrong! But with some expert advice and the right strategies this is achievable.
Here’s how to stay on track when baby number two comes along.
Bringing a new baby home is both exciting and a little nerve racking. One of the main areas of uncertainty is around sleep. As a child and infant sleep consultant I have dealt with this challenge a lot. Here are some of my expert tips for sleep tips for newborns and a sibling.
Rushing to baby to protect older sibling
The number one reason I work with parents who have more than one child is because they have rushed to their baby in order to preserve the eldest child’s sleep. Keeping your older children/s sleep on track is vital but rushing in to constantly put the dummy back in or rock etc may only leave you with some pretty strong props. So here is what I recommend to help avoid this issue:
- White noise can be a great tool to use to minimise disruption. I don’t recommend loud white noise but it is a great way to drown out external noise. This can also be effective when your little one is sleeping and you have a toddler cyclone rolling through the house.
- Communicate, let them know that it’s ok if they hear things but to roll over and go back to sleep.
- Use a reward chart for a short period of time to encourage your big kids to stay on track.
- Finally but most importantly I am a big believer in getting on top of sleep issues early. Create healthy/sustainable sleep habits for your baby so you don’t have to worry about it. All too often I hear from Mum’s overcome with an enormous sense of guilt as they are having to spend so much time settling their baby they have near no time for the other children. It can be a tough juggle but getting on top of sleep issues is key.
Maintain the boundaries more than ever
Keep your boundaries in place. It’s really tempting to let boundaries slip when number two comes along. Not only are we busier with two, we are tired and often struggle with a sense of guilt towards our older child. It is however crucial that our boundaries stick and here’s why.
- Our children get a significant sense of security from boundaries. Children who lack boundaries end up taking control of bedtime. This is simply just too much responsibility for our little ones to cope with. In turn they may display the following – insecurity, tantrums, crying and poor behaviour.
- You can still have boundaries in kind parenting. Sometimes parents have to play the hard role, that’s a part of parenting! It is essential we aren’t afraid of upholding boundaries for our little ones. Achieving a balance of love, kindness, care and boundaries is all a part of parenting our little ones.
- Pick your battles. Don’t pick every little battle, there is a good chance that you will become overwhelmed and in turn let go of the ones you should be enforcing. Think carefully about the important boundaries, the ones around the wellbeing of your child. For example sleep, meal times, safety and any others you see important within your home.
Focus on quality time even though you are busy
You may not be able to spend as much quantity of time with your older child when the new baby first arrives so focus on quality over quantity.
- The reality is you may not get as much one on one time as you used to but when you do, soak them in your undivided attention. Put your distractions aside for a period of time to spend quality time together. It will alleviate some of your guilt and give them the chance to see your capacity may have changed but your love and their meaning to you certainly hasn’t.
Be kind to yourself, bringing a new baby home can be a really intense time both emotionally and physically. You’ve got this!
*First published 2017, updated 2020 for currency and links.