Please watch my baby sleep video on how to prepare for a new baby on the way.
To ask a question about your child’s sleep, just leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below! I’ll choose one and create a new video answer each week!View the Video Transcript
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week’s question is from Cheryl. She writes:
“I am expecting another baby and I dread what will happen with my two-year-old who has been trained to be a great sleeper since she was one. Their rooms are close and I fear that she will hear the baby and react with crying and waking up to the noise. What do you recommend I do to prep for the new baby?”
This is a great question and a lot of people either do not start sleep training until they are expecting a new baby or definitely feel a little nervous about rocking the boat when the new baby comes along. I am guessing she is still in a crib, so the first suggestion is to not move her to a toddler bed. To a lot of expectant parents it makes sense to think that they should get their older child ready for a bed. Some parents think that they should start early, so a few months before the baby is born they start transitioning from the crib to the bed.
Even if she is doing well at bedtime, as soon as that new baby actually comes home, there is usually either a regression in sleep patterns, in potty training, or both. If you really want to move her to a bed, it is best to wait at least a few months after the new baby has arrived. Give your toddler a chance to adjust to the new baby; to get used to the idea that there is a new family member. Let her know that things are okay and will remain the same in regards to bedtime, so she feels reassured and then start the transition.
That is usually easy enough to do, because new babies are often in a basinet anyway for the first couple of months so you won’t be desperate for the crib. I had children quite close in age and I had two cribs all the time. I had my older one in a crib and bought a second crib for the baby because I didn’t want to risk having a regression with regard to sleep, especially with a new baby in the picture. Try to keep her in the crib as long as you can. I usually suggest anywhere between 2 and a half to three years old, as a good age to transition from the crib to a bed. I find that children are much better at understanding the consequences and you can really go through it and discuss it with them. It goes more smoothly, in general.
The next thing you want to do is be fairly firm about your expectations about her sleep habits, even if at first she is protesting a little more than normal about going to bed. It is tempting to feel bad for them, because there is a new baby some so parents think they should let them stay up a little later or lay down with her because she is feeling a bit insecure, but it is not a good idea. Toddlers actually end up feeling more insecure when rules and boundaries shift when pushed, than they do if they push and nothing happens.
Remember that even though she might be pushing, you need to stay consistent; you want to stay firm and supportive. Keep bedtime the same so that her whole life does not feel that it is spiraling out of control. So anticipate some resistance but then handle it accordingly. I always tell parents if you want to alleviate your guilt about bringing a new baby into this family then do it in other ways. Take her for ice cream, just the two of you or on a trip to the aquarium. Do something special that is just “you and me time”.
Stay strict with your boundaries. If she hears the baby cry in the night, you can tell her that babies cry and that Mommy is handling it so she go back to sleep. The good news is that toddlers are very sound sleepers, especially if they have been good sleepers for any length of time. It sounds like you have done a great job with her and that she is a good sleeper, so that should stay in place. There might even be nights where the baby is quite upset and it still does not wake your toddler at all. If it does happen to wake her, you just remind her that it is okay, tuck her back in and back to sleep she goes. Anticipate some trouble but just stay strong and consistent with your expectations for her and it should go well.
So good luck, congratulations, and sleep well!
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