Ask the Experts by Patty Werner
Q. Our toddler was sleeping like an Olympian until his baby brother came home. How do I help my older child adjust to his new sibling so that he sleeps like he used to?
A. Toddlers can experience a wide range of emotions when a new sibling is brought home. It is important to acknowledge your child’s feelings and encourage them to share them with you. It is common for a toddler to have difficulty at bedtime and overnight during this transition in your family. Here are some tips that will help you get your child sleeping again:
- Quietly walk your toddler back to bed without reprimanding him. If he is concerned because he heard the baby cry, let him know that babies wake to eat and everything is okay.
- Start his bedtime routine earlier so you can spend special time with him before bed. This will help him fill up his mommy/daddy love tank and reassure him that he has not been replaced.
- Involve your toddler in the baby’s care, during the day and at bedtime if possible. This gives your toddler the feeling of being the big kid, giving him a new sense of self and a spot in the family that feels good.
- Plan ahead for your children’s sleep environments. Whatever you are planning to do for sleeping arrangements, get them in place prior to your new baby coming home. Involve your toddler in any changes that take place. This will help avoid an abrupt changes in the sleeping environments after your new baby arrives.
Above all, reassure your toddler he is loved and how lucky the new baby is to have a big brother like him!
Patty Werner is the only Certified Maternity and Baby Sleep Consultant in Michigan. As a baby sleep specialist she customizes gentle, no-cry Sleep Plans for families experiencing difficulties with their little ones and supports her clients through the training process. You can reach Patty at (248) 770-4655 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her website: www.babysleepallnight.com. Werner is a member of the Family Center’s Association of Professionals.