Adding Siblings & Sleep
I have to say, watching my twins become big brothers has been the most amazing thing to witness. Was it scary to bring a newborn home to my 18 month old twins? Of course. But watching them learn and grow together has been one of the most rewarding (and exhausting) experiences of my life.
I know that the idea of adding another baby to the fold can be a bit unnerving, especially if your older child (or children) are great sleepers and thrive off of their routine.
This is a big transition:
-Parents will be home with baby for a bit (fingers crossed)
-Baby will need a lot of attention
-Baby is loud and doesn’t play with them… yet
-If they were the only child, they now need to share their parents with someone else
-Schedules might get slightly thrown from baby and their needs
These are all normal and expected parts of the transition.
Now I would love to dive into some preparations we can take before baby arrives, or even just after!
Let older sibling bond with the bump
-Encourage them to sing, hug, kiss, talk to Mom’s belly
-Let them feel the baby move around
Let older sibling help get ready for baby
-If older sibling is up for it, let them help set up the nursery
-Show them the new baby’s sleep space in your room
-Let them choose out a special stuffed animal or blanket for baby
-Let them help you clean bottles or organize clothes… You might have to do it again afterwards, but it will be worth it to let them feel helpful
Talk to older sibling about what might happen when baby comes home
-Babies cry sometimes, if they are crying, don’t worry, they are okay
-Babies poop/pee A LOT- I would love your help changing diapers! That might just be handing you a clean diaper, but it’s something and it helps them feel involved
-Baby is going to be eating from Mommy, can I show you what that will look like with your baby doll? Isn’t that amazing?
Make a plan for how older sibling will meet new baby
-This is a very personal decision, but have a plan for how your older sibling will meet the new baby
-You may choose to have the new baby give their older sibling a gift
-Having a plan will help bring calm to the momentous occasion
-Do your best not to have huge expectations- older sibling may be thrilled, or they may not be super interested- either reaction is totally okay
Once baby is here
-Try to tag team with the baby to offer undivided attention to your older child
-Let your older child help with simple tasks will help keep them involved
-Be sure that when people come to visit the new baby that they also give special attention to your older child, this may take a reminder from you if Grandma has been holding new baby for an hour…
-Alternate who does bedtime with your older child to continue offering them that special time just before sleep
Get sleep on track 3 months in advance of baby’s arrival
-This is ideal timing to space out the transitions/changes
-If you’ve missed this timing, don’t panic, we can definitely still work on sleep, let’s talk about it
-Older siblings will tolerate the transition to being a brother or sister much better if they are well rested
-We will ideally see older sibling sleeping in their own sleep space, independently, and taking good naps (if they are still at napping age)
-If this is a current issue- please reach out, let’s get everything set before new baby arrives
If sleep is in a good place
-Do not make any changes to their schedule/sleep leading up to baby’s arrival
-This means not transitioning to a big kid bed, not starting potty training… These are big transitions, so space them out
-Once baby arrives, continue to offer sleep at normal times
-If your older child has a regression after baby arrives, try to stay as consistent as possible, not bringing in new sleep associations- this regression should come and go quickly with consistency
-Do your best to continue with a similar bedtime routine- this will help cue your older child that sleep times have not changed
Adding a new sibling to the mix is a really exciting time for everyone filled with a myriad of emotions. We know that we feel better when we sleep. We are able to tolerate the things life throws at us when we are well rested. This is all true for our little people as well. The more thought and preparation we can put into how we will respond to our older children once new baby arrives, before baby comes, the more prepared you will feel for the transition yourself.
While also giving your older child grace, give that grace to yourself. You are navigating what it is to have more than one child, or just a new child in general. Everyday is a new day, a day to grow, and a day to soak in this new life.
Remember to always ask for help when you need it.
And also remember, I am here as a resource to you and your growing family.