I received this topic suggestion on my Facebook page and thought it would help many parents! (If you do not already like my Facebook page – check it out at www.facebook.com/sleepwellsleepsolutions – There is a lot going on there!)
I am going to start talking about ways to start preparing to add another child into the bedtime mix and then I will give tips if you already have two children.
Tips for Preparing for the Second Child
- Make sure your first child is sleeping well – If your first child is not sleeping well and needs a lot of help at bedtime, things are not going to get easier with a second child. It is best to start working on your first child’s sleep as early in your pregnancy as you can. That way you have more energy and your child will not associate the sleep changes with the new baby.
- Make sure both parents can do bedtime – If only one parent typically does bedtime (especially if it Mom), start having the other parent be more involved in bedtime. (I am going to assume Mom does bedtime and Dad does not to make this explanation easier!) You can start gradually if Mom is the only one to do all aspects of bedtime. Have Dad start by being involved in reading books while Mom then comes in and does asleep time. Then have Dad take over everything one night. This way when the baby comes, either parent can do bedtime with the older child.
- If both parents do bedtime together every night, start having only one parent do it – Another situation I see is that both parents are in the room during bedtime. While that may be working now, when the second baby comes, this will in all likelihood not be possible.
- Have someone else be able to do bedtime – If you are planning on leaving your child with a babysitter or family member while you are having your second baby, be sure that person has been able to do bedtime at some point before you are having the baby.
- Make other changes far in advance of the baby – Will you be changing your older child’s room? Taking the crib away from them? Make any big changes like this as far away from the birth of the new sibling as you can. If you decide to do it after the baby is born, wait a few months. This will hopefully avoid your child from associating these changes with the new sibling.
Tips for Making Bedtime Easier with A New Baby
- Spend some one on one time with your first child – Try very hard during the day to spend some one on one time alone with your older child without any distractions.
- Try to give your older child undivided attention at bedtime – If it is at all possible, have someone else looking after the second child while you are doing bedtime with your older child. If you do not have anyone else to take the baby, try to include them in the bedtime routine. Have the older child hold a book you are reading so both he/she and the baby can see the pictures. Do not make the older child feel as if the baby is an inconvenience, or they may begin to believe that. You may also think about putting the baby in a bouncy seat in the older child’s room so you can focus on the older child.
- Give your older child a “baby” to take care of – Your older child may enjoy having a baby doll they take care of while you are taking care of your new baby and they can take care of their baby at bedtime as well.
- Have a relaxing, calm bedtime routine – Again, as much as possible, keep the bedtime routine calm and relaxing. This is not always possible of you have a screaming baby of course! Try to be as relaxed as possible and your child will follow your lead.
- Stagger Bedtimes – Normally very young babies will go to sleep later than older children which will probably work to your advantage early on. This will also work to your advantage if one child needs more help falling asleep (probably the younger one!)
- Have different soothing methods for your second child – If the only way your baby is soothed is being breastfed and you are the only one doing bedtime, this may become very difficult for you! See if your baby will also be happy for a bit in a swing or bouncy seat, or by sucking on a pacifier or finger.
Do you have questions or suggestions for making bedtime easier with two (or more!) children? Feel free to share below!!