By: Dominique de Bourgknecht, baby deedee
If you already have a young child and are preparing for your second (or third), one thing’s for sure – you should never expect all your children to have the same sleeping patterns/habits. For some babies, they can self-settle and sleep through the night easily and earlier than expected while, for others, consistent sleep patterns and easier bedtimes may not come so quickly. Managing different bedtimes and sleep patterns all comes down to creating routines as early as you can for each child, and being strategic in between. Here are some tips and advice to remember when coping with these shifting family dynamics:
Differences in Sleep Patterns
You may have gotten lucky with your firstborn being an easy sleeper, but don’t necessarily expect that with the next! You should always assume that your each of your children will have different sleeping habits and patterns that need attending to. Your first baby involved a lot of learning and self-doubt. But keep in mind that you also had more time for trying new tricks at bedtime since you didn’t have another child to take care of. With a second child on the way, juggling your routine and managing your time can become much more challenging and even more important.
Tackling multiple bedtimes is one of the most common problems that parents face, especially if it involves an infant and a preschooler. That’s why establishing routines for both is such a crucial step to help you overcome this.
Why Routines are so Important
Parents know that establishing routines is a fundamental part of parenthood and that creating them as early as possible can help you manage your time and kids much better. Once your second child comes along, take those first few week and months to really understand the feeding and sleeping patterns of your newborn - this could differ greatly from your previous experience.
Meanwhile, try to maintain the routines that you’ve developed with your first child by sticking to your normal daily habits as much as possible, including their nap time, mealtime and bedtime. Establishing a structured schedule also helps children feel more secure and comfortable when they know what to expect. This is particularly important for sleeping habits. And, once your children know what to expect, they will learn to accept it without putting up such a fuss.
Use Simple Distractions
For your preschooler, it always helps to use something to keep them preoccupied and entertained whenever it’s time to focus on your newborn – whether it’s during feeding, changing, or putting them down to sleep. This can be extremely helpful when juggling their individual routines at the same time. So don’t feel guilty about letting your child watch a little TV, play on their iPad, or play with their favourite toy while you’re placing the baby down for a nap (though, if it’s getting close to your older child’s bedtime, I recommend foregoing screen-time, which can rev up your little one’s mind and, instead, opt for quiet reading, colouring, or puzzles after suppertime). Once your baby is down for sleep, you can spend some quality one-on-one time with your older child while getting them ready for their bedtime.
Make Sure Baby is Comfy
This one should go without saying – but you could always give a little extra care here and there when choosing baby’s pyjamas, bedding, and nursery atmosphere. Personally, I always recommend some nice and snug baby footed pyjamas to be worn when it’s time for bed.
Start Bedtime Early
Keep in mind that children need plenty of sleep – more than adults do. Preschoolers generally need 10-12 hours of sleep at night, while newborns require a total of 15-18 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period between numerous daytime naps and lots of nighttime sleep. So, aim to get your children to bed early enough so that you can manage their bedtimes accordingly.
Children also need consistency in their routines. This allows them to establish behavioural patterns and it also helps take the guesswork out of the day. Consistency helps them learn to expect mealtime, playtime and bedtime.
When it comes to juggling your second child’s sleep patterns, just remember that this is temporary. Soon enough once your baby grows you can put your children on the same schedule and manage your time more easily.
Dominique de Bourgknecht is a Mom of three and the Founder of baby deedee (www.babydeedee.com). Inspired by the need for a cozy sleep solution for her infant son, and let’s be honest, more sleep for her too, Dominique left behind a successful career in finance to launch baby deedee in 2008. Dominique lives with her husband David, 7 year old son Adrian, 5 year old son Mateo, 2 year old daughter Juliette and cat Pacha, in Rye, New York. In her very limited free time, Dominique enjoys cooking, especially foods her 2 littlest boys surely will not eat, International travel, and yes, sleep.
Erin Junker is a Professional Infant & Toddler Sleep Consultant, and owner of The Happy Sleep Company (thehappysleepcompany.ca). She works closely with tired parents to help them help their little ones get the healthy, restful sleep they need. Follow her at www.facebook.com/thehappysleepcompany, www.instagram.com/thehappysleepcompany, and on Twitter @TheHappySleepCo, and let’s get your family the healthy, happy sleep you deserve!