Second Child Sleep Tips
Second Child and Establishing Healthy Sleep Patterns
Second children and establishing healthy sleep
Oh gosh… where do we even start!! I wish I had these second child sleep tips a few years ago! For me, I did NOT do this, and boy do I regret it. I was determined to be the Mum on the go, things wouldn’t change and I would still work around my 2 year old and all she had going on. She was a great sleeper, my second one would be too. What do you know, my second baby didn’t sleep well, I was left feeling exhausted and guilty. Having a second child thing was not as easy or enjoyable as I thought it would be.
Don’t get me wrong, I still feel you can have some sort of balance without feeling you have to be banished to your home all day and night, but I think there is a way to be able to respect your new babies need for sleep as well as respecting your older childs ‘life before the baby’.
So what does ‘healthy sleep’ actually mean? It starts with respecting your babies need for sleep, and committing to make it happen in a safe and intentional way. It’s choosing to make sleep a priority in your household, and not taking it for granted. Establishing healthy sleep habits early on is the best way to gently encourage the development of self settling skills.
Healthy sleep improves mood, temperament, cognitive development and performance, so it’s well worth looking into.
Consider these tips:
Learn about tired signs and aim to not let baby ( or toddler!) get overtired.
Overtiredness can cause a very unsettled baby who may not sleep well and who may experience colic type symptoms at the end of the day. Aim to put baby to bed tired, calm or drowsy, not fussy and overtired.
If baby comes to expect this, they will be able to learn to go to sleep more independently as time goes by.
Stay home for naps when you can, people can come to you.
No matter who all of a sudden wants to come and visit you, remember your baby is not there to entertain adults, there is plenty of time for that when they are older! They can have a good old gork at baby, but no need to wake the baby up so baby can put on a show.
Is your baby sleep space conducive to good sleep? Is it warm and dark? What about white noise? Is your baby swaddled appropriately? Are there any hazards you need to be aware of and remove?
Vary the way your baby can fall asleep
Aim to do a buggy/frontpack walk each day, the late afternoon is a great time for this, sleep is sometimes more difficult to achieve here and everyone is a bit ratty. Organise a single or double buggy before bubs arrives so you know you have this handy to escape the premises when needed! The sun and fresh air is good for everyone.
Are your sleep expectations realistic?
There is lots of unusual and unhealthy advice circulating when it comes to babies sleep. PLEASE talk to the trained professionals if you have a question or concern regarding sleep. If you are striving for something that baby is simply not biologically capable of at their age, then you could be striving in vain and causing more issues. The same goes for older babies, are you limiting their opportunity to sleep better because of certain habits or misinformation? Find out from your sleep consultant what some age appropriate sleep goals for your baby could be.
If you are going back to work, working from home or needing extra childcare/support you don’t need to compromise your child/childrens sleep.
Look into daycares, preschools and/or in home care or nannying options. Ask about their sleep policies and look into their sleep environments, are they safe and appropriate. Always try to look for a place that will respect the child’s need for safe and healthy sleep and that will also respect your thoughts on the matter! I worked with an awesome family who had no relatives nearby, so they got pro-active and contacted their local PORSE centre to see if they knew a ‘Grandmother’ type person in the community who might be open to meeting them, making a connection and doing the odd bit of babysitting. It really worked – they have adopted a Grandmother and this Grandmother has adopted new grandchildren. The parents get time with each other and the children can still have their normal naps, bedtimes and routines. It’s win win. Another great family got their PORSE caregiver involved with helping to make positive changes to their babies sleep with great results. It’s worth having the conversation!
Plan things for your preschooler to do while you are feeding and settling baby.
Create a little playbox and rotate toys each day, pre prepare snacks the toddler can get and sit down with when your arms are full. If you are worried that your older child is missing out on things, consider ways they can still get out and about without it being solely down to you. Create a support network you are comfortable with and ask a grandparent, friend, neighbour or babysitter to take your older child out briefly on occasion.
Give yourself at least 3 weeks grace when baby arrives.
Your main goal is to get feeding established, bond with baby and recover from the birth. Go easy on yourself. After that, get thinking about how to extend babies sleep times if needed and looking into some kind of structure to the day that works around sleep times. Structure and routine isn’t restrictive, it can create freedom as you can learn when best to make appointments and get out and about.
When in doubt call your local sleep consultant. The sleep needs of a baby change and evolve, and establishing healthy sleep in your household means knowing about what sleep your family needs and how best to go about achieving it.Jo – Mother of 2
Auckland Baby Sleep Consultant
021 802 892