How To Manage Sleep For Parents With a Toddler and Baby
Tiredness is a certain with a baby, but what happens when you have a baby and a toddler? Sleep consultant, Boogie, has some advice about managing two sleep schedules for the best outcome.
Getting ready for a new ‘arrival’ is always very exciting but when you also have a toddler to take care of, this can be a bit scary for parents. The reality strikes and you start to question yourself: “How am I going to deal with two babies at the same time?” It’s not easy but it is manageable and once you get into a routine, you will become a pro!
Managing sleep with two children can prove to be tricky so sit down and plan the day ahead. Getting yourself organised is crucial if you want both your children to be well-rested and get some sleep yourself too.
- You are dealing with two children and therefore two different schedules. You will have to learn how to balance both of your children’s sleep needs.
- For the first 6-8 weeks your new-born baby can sleep pretty much anywhere, so it’s reasonable to take her out and about together with your toddler. However, once your baby has passed that stage you will have to take her naps into consideration while looking after your toddler at the same time. I normally suggest having two main naps at home as sleeping when out all the time is not as restorative as sleeping in bed. Think about you having a nap in a car compared to having a nap in your own bed. Which one do YOU prefer? The morning nap tends to be more difficult to fit in between drop-off at the nursery, playgroups and activities for your toddler. This is the time to ask for help from your family, friends or neighbours who could take your toddler to the nursery or babysit while your baby is having a nap. If you do have to take your baby out then try to limit it to 2 or 3 mornings a week, so that your baby can have restorative naps at home for the rest of the week.
- If your toddler is still napping then soon your baby’s schedule will catch up and synchronise with your toddler’s. At some point you will have both babies napping at the same time! How amazing is this! Make sure you use this time to get some much-needed rest yourself. If your toddler doesn’t nap anymore, then encourage some quiet time while your baby is napping. Closing curtains, putting on soft music and just spending some quality time with your toddler will help you both to recharge the batteries. Try putting on white noise in your baby’s room. This will mask any outside noises, so if your toddler is noisy, baby’s sleep will not be disturbed.
- Bedtime is probably one of the most intense times of the day for a lot of parents, especially if you have two or more children to deal with. If both parents are present at bedtime you can simply split bedtime routines for your children between you. Just a small tip, make sure that you alter between the children every day, so that your baby and toddler experience both of you during bedtime and they don’t get too attached to one parent when being put to bed.
It’s a different story when you have to deal with bedtime on your own; but this need not be stressful as there are things you can do to help you cope:
• Organise bedtime routines for both of your children to happen at the same time and place. You could have your toddler in the bath while you are giving your baby a wash. Dress them both in pyjamas and go into one of the bedrooms. You can read a book with both children and feed your baby after or even while you are reading the story. Multitasking is going to be your second name soon!
• I don’t recommend screen time during bedtime as it interferes with melatonin production; so turn the TV off one hour before.
• You will know which child is ready to go to bed first. Usually, baby would be the first one to go down but with time it may change as your toddler may have been going through some changes, e.g. dropping the nap. In this case an early bedtime for your toddler before you put your baby to sleep will work.
• While you are settling baby, your toddler will need to be kept occupied. I’d suggest getting something special for bedtime, maybe a toy or a sticker book that your child will play with quietly for a few minutes.
• Once your baby is in bed, it’s time to get some one to one time with your older child. Make it special, full of cuddles and kisses as she will need your full attention for those few valuable moments when you are not preoccupied with the baby.
•Once your toddler is settled, make your exit, put the kettle on and your feet up as you have made it through another wonderful day as a super-multitasking parent.
For parents who are still waiting to become second-time parents - when the new arrival comes, toddlers tend to have sleep regression when they wake up at night, come out of their beds or become early-risers. Therefore, if your toddler already has some unresolved sleep issues, make sure that you deal with them before the second baby is born as coping with both babies not sleeping at night is just simply impossible.