So here’s my deal: After months of trial, error, sleepless nights, and experimental bath and bedtime stories rigamarole, my two-year-old daughter sleeps through the night in her own room. We all wake up around 7 a.m., well-rested. Now, I’m 38 weeks pregnant with her little brother, and I’m afraid our airtight sleep routine is about to be thrown right out the window. I asked sleep expert Julie Contarini how we can continue catching our z’s with a newborn and a toddler in the house.
Should my 2-year-old’s bedtime/sleep routine change with the introduction of the new baby?
Keep her routine and bedtime as consistent as you can. With everything changing (for the best) around her, she will feel safe if she is well-rested and if the steps of her bedtime routine are predictable. It can be very tempting to let older siblings stay up late when a new baby arrives – don’t do it. She needs the sleep, and you could start to see sleep and behavioural issues with an overtired toddler.
Should we try to coordinate naps so baby and toddler sleep at the same time?
For the first four months, your baby’s schedule will be a little different every day. The best thing you can do for your toddler is to keep her routine tight. Kids thrive off of boundaries and knowing what is going to happen next. They feel safe with the boundaries (even though they often test them).
My daughter is basically the Tasmanian devil when she’s home. How do I prevent her from waking the baby up when he’s napping?
He is going to adjust to the sounds. He’s already hearing her in your belly. If you decide to have him nap in his room, then you can use white noise (not too loud) playing to dampen the outside sounds.
My husband is usually available to help, but how should I tackle double bedtime when I’m alone?
If you can, feed your baby just before bedtime routine for your daughter starts and then see if you can rock him/help him to sleep and put him in his bassinet/playpen while you do the routine. If not, include him in the routine for your daughter. She can pick the book to read, she can pick out her pjs etc.
Since we only have one extra bedroom, they will need to share a room eventually. When should that transition happen? How can I make it smooth?
Great question! I would suggest waiting a few months. After four months, you can sleep train, and then you will have an idea of how many night feeds you have. You might decide to wait until he is a little older and not having feeds before making the move.
When you are ready, explain to your daughter that they will be sharing a room, and (once she is out of her crib) she needs to stay in her bed and not put anything in the crib. They each have their own safe sleep space.
My 2-year-old still sleeps in a crib. Should I transition her to a bed before they start sharing a room? Do I need to buy another crib?
Fantastic question. I would hold on to the crib as long as you can (for as long as it is safe). That crib is her safe space, and again, with things changing around her, it is nice that she has her space. The longer you wait, the better she will be able to understand the freedom that comes with a bed. You can use a playpen for your baby. Just be sure to keep it clear (no stuffed animals, blankets, baby positioners etc). It should be only the sleep pad it came with.
Won’t my toddler wake up the minute baby cries in the night? How do I try to prevent this?
Not necessarily. I find that kids sleep pretty soundly for the first half of the night. If he is up after 5 a.m., then yes…. It could wake her. If she doesn’t have white noise in her room, think about using it. Don’t play it too loud (about the sound of the bathroom fan), and don’t put it directly beside her. Across the room is best.
As a first time mom expecting her second in a few weeks, any other advice to help us all get the rest we need?
Go easy on yourself. You will have two little ones, and if you have the choice of cleaning or eating while both are sleeping–eat and rest. I won’t say sleep when the baby sleeps. I know some people cannot do that. Try not to feel like you need to do everything all at once. Watch the wake windows with your newborn. We generally see a wake window of 30-90 minutes for the first few months. Help him to sleep if you need to. You cannot spoil a baby. I do suggest following the ABC’s of safe sleep.
He should sleep:
Alone on his
Back in a
Crib or playpen, and I know that you will be room sharing, which is great.
You’ve got this, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.