How to help your toddler sleep when you have a newborn baby
There I was 35 weeks pregnant with our second baby, creating a thorough sleep plan for our unborn little girl. After giving birth first time round to our sleep thief, I was determined to use all of my tools in my toolkit to help our baby girl to learn to sleep.
You can imagine how shocked I was to witness baby no 2, Ruby trying to sleep through the night on the day she was born. I sat there watching and checking she was breathing all night, whilst she peacefully slept.
Quite a different experience to bringing Oliver home, he just screamed the house down, meaning he was awake most of the nights and days. We stuck this out until just before he was 1 and then finally reached out for professional help. From then onwards we have been guaranteed a good night sleep unless he was unwell.
So our second surprise after welcoming Ruby, was the return of the sleep thief Oliver! I know I tell my clients that the introduction of a sibling can affect your older children’s sleep, but never in a million years did I think this would happen to us. Just when Ruby was 2 weeks old, Oliver decided sleep was overrated, we saw 4am wake ups, night wakings, bed time resistance and nap times were no more. Ironically Ruby was getting the most sleep out of all of us.
As we hit the third week, I pulled myself together and found a small window to plan and start sleep coaching with him. It took 1 day and he was no longer our little sleep thief again, the night wakings, bed time resistance and early rising were all resolved. Naps have taken a little longer, but he now is back to napping most days.
This exhausting experience has inspired me to share with you my top tips on how to help your toddler to sleep when you have a newborn baby.
Let go of perfection
A huge lesson for me since becoming a mother of two, is that it is impossible to stick to the routine that you had with one child. Oliver’s routine was quite regimented when there was no one else to think of, and now he has a routine which is a lot more flexible for the whole family.
For example, if your first born or older children usually nap in their bed or cot, it maybe now they sleep in the car or buggy for some of their naps. Or if your toddler hasn’t napped for long enough, just bring his or her bedtime forward to 6.30pm.
There has been a lot more T.V time and less time outdoors since the birth of Ruby, which does not sit well with me. Oliver had never watched an hour of television before Ruby arrived, however some days he now has, just to allow us a chance to breathe. If Oliver has a balanced day of being outdoors for a short while, playing in his bedroom with us and by himself, having family time as well as some television time, then I am happy.
My tip with screen time is to not allow your toddler to watch/use it two hours before a nap or bedtime.
Ask for help
Accepting or asking help doesn’t always come naturally to us as mothers and fathers. However, this is a skill that I have become comfortable with using since our experience with Oliver.
As a parent, you need to be in the best state of health possible to look after your children. If this means, leaning on willing others to make sure you are rested, then do it! After all, it is very hard to think with clarity when you are in the middle of sleep deprivation, even as a Sleep Consultant.
Use professional services to lighten the load and put your own physical and mental health first. We lightened our load by hiring a fantastic cleaner and gardener, yet this isn’t something we can naturally afford, we put a very high price on being in tip top shape to parent.
If I wasn’t a sleep expert I truly believe that we would still be battling through Oliver’s second bout of sleep challenges. Although clearly I am biased, definitely hire a sleep consultant to help your toddler to sleep, this will save you the pain and agony of sleepless nights
Don’t listen to others
Returning to sleep deprivation has made me realise how vulnerable you are to the opinions of others, yes even as a Sleep Consultant. It is very different being able to supply the tools to clients to resolve their sleep challenges than it is to being in the middle of sleep deprived chaos yourself.
I heard friends and family try to reassure me that this is just a phase or maybe he just doesn’t need to nap anymore. Although grateful for their kind reassurance, I knew from my professional experience and mummy intuition that neither of these were true. You know your child better than anyone, so take your own lead and be careful where you take your advice from.
Don’t give up
Ruby has only ever woken up 3 times maximum during the night since she has been born, which is unbelievable considering her brother was waking at least 4 times as a nearly one year old. However, when your toddler is waking 3 times a night plus 1 or 2 feeds with a newborn, it is a whole new level of exhaustion.
When you are this exhausted, it is so easy to just keep going with how things are because you are too tired to make a change. Perhaps negativity gets in the way and you start to lose hope or belief that you are more than capable to resolve this. I am a firm believer that you can turn your situation around, if you would do anything to change it. So please do not give up, you have got this!
So there are my 4 tips on how to help your toddler to sleep when you have a newborn baby. If you are expecting a baby or have recently welcomed one, and you are worried about your toddler’s sleep then get in touch here to find out how we can work together to bring sleep back to your whole family.