When you had your first baby, your life got turned upside down. Your life was changed forever – including your routine.
But now that you have had another baby, it’s not only you whose life has been turned upside down. Your first born who was enjoying all the love, attention, and care has to share you.
Behavioral changes in toddlers are very common when a little sibling arrives and that includes sleep regression. In this article we are reviewing the best ways to handle a toddler sleep regression after a new baby is born.
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Often babies start to sleep through the night at 6 to 12 months old. So when your toddler suddenly refuses to go to bed at night, refuses to nap, starts to wake up at night, and/or doesn’t go back to sleep on his own, you are looking at a toddler sleep regression.
There are multiple reasons behind toddler sleep regression, including physical or mental development and disturbances.
Toddler sleep regression after a new baby can be a result of multiple reasons. Let’s take a look at them.
Toddler Feels Neglected After New Baby Arrives
It is entirely natural for you to focus more on your newborn. However, your toddler was getting all the attention before his sibling came along. This might put him under stress causing sleep regression.
With a newborn at home, you can’t assure that everyone will sleep peacefully. Babies cry at night and they will wake up to feed.
Your toddler is not used to sleeping in a dynamic environment. He might be waking up because of the extra noise.
So many things have changed for your toddler. There could be big or even just small changes to his routine. It might just be a matter of needing time to adjust to a new schedule.
Every child is different. If your toddler was an only child before the baby arrived, he might take more time to adjust.
I recommend giving your toddler about 2-3 weeks to adjust to a new routine and learn that he now he has to share his parents. If your toddler is still having sleep problems after a few weeks then you can take action accordingly.
The actions you can take are discussed in the next section. If your toddler was sleeping well previously, then implementing the below tips should get your toddler back on track within a few days to a week.
Let’s review the best things you can do to stop toddler sleep regression due to a new baby. Getting your toddler back to good sleeping habits will reduce your stress and help you get better sleep too.
Life seems to be unpredictable with a newborn. You don’t know when you are going to sleep or eat. But it’s important for your toddler to still have a reliable schedule.
He should sleep, eat, and do activities on his time. Kids and even adults who have a routine tend to have better focus and calm behavior.
If you previously sleep trained when your toddler was a baby, then you can use the method you used then. If you did not sleep train previously, I have always used and recommend the Ferber method because it works!
The Ferber method is when a parent leaves the child to soothe himself for a specific time interval. Any crying or disturbances will be ignored for that particular time frame. The length of time intervals will be gradually increased, starting from just 3-5 minutes.
Your child is most likely to settle down within 3-4 days. You can use the Ferber method for problems going to bed or middle of the night disturbances.
Having a bedtime routine works really well when you are sleep training your child. But it’s improtant to continue with this routine even after sleep training is complete.
Repeating the same activities every night will help your toddler’s brain identify that it’s bedtime, and he will fall asleep quickly. A very simple routine could be dimming the lights in the evening, reading stories, and tucking your child into bed.
If your toddler is used to taking a nap daily, you shouldn’t skip it. Even though it seems counterintuitive, an overtired child will not get good sleep.
When someone is overtired he is actually more likely to be disturbed during the night and wake up. Even if your toddler has been skipping naps, you can still put him in his crib or bed for quiet time.
This way at least some days he will nap. And if not, at least he has some nice down time to just relax.
Your toddler might be craving your attention. So spend some time with him.
Remember, it’s not about the amount of time – it’s more about the quality of time. Play his favorite game, tell a story, or play outside, whatever your toddler likes the most.
You may need to setup a different sleeping arrangement with a newborn, but when your newborn first arrives it’s best to keep your toddler’s sleeping arrangements the same.
If possible, do not change your toddler’s room or bed. If you do need to make changes, I recommend getting your toddler used to the new setup before the baby is born or after your toddler is settled in with having a sibling.
Sound machines can be very beneficial to help kids sleep better. They drown out other noises from around the house and create a calming atmosphere in the bedroom.
Blackout shades or curtains are beneficial for keeping your toddler’s room dark, even when the sun comes up or during naps. Both of these items have helped my kids sleep well at night, take good naps, and they don’t wake up too early (around 7-8am).
To keep your toddler engaged, you should keep him involved with the new baby as much as possible. For example, play with them together and ask your toddler to help with diaper changes or bottle feedings.
As a result, he will become more connected with his sibling and it will take less time for him to adjust to his new life.
9 – Avoid Other Big Changes
Did you just move? Is your toddler starting at a new daycare or preschool?
If on top of a new baby your toddler is also dealing with additional big changes, this can definitely add to your toddler’s sleep regression problems. Sometimes these changes are unavoidable.
In this case, try to wait for changes until after the first few weeks from when the new baby comes home or that you feel your toddler has adjusted well to his new life.
10 – Invest In a Toddler Sleep Guide
Maybe you need more tricks up your sleeve than what we have discussed. Or, maybe you toddler has never been a good sleeper.
In this case I recommend investing in this toddler sleep guide. It was written by a pediatric sleep consultant who lays out the simple things you need to do to get your toddler sleeping well.
Whether you are sick of co-sleeping, need help with naps, or just want your toddler to sleep through the night. This 33-page guide is loaded with the simple, actionable steps you need to get your toddler sleeping well.
What Do I Do If My Toddler’s Sleep Regression Involves Waking & Screaming At Night After a New Baby?
Imagine you just put your newborn to sleep and you were about to fall asleep as well, but all of a sudden your toddler wakes up screaming. Ugh! And then even your newborn wakes up crying from the noise.
It is definitely an overwhelming situation. What should you do in such a scenario?
First of all since this has become a habit, don’t rush to your toddler. When a child gets someone instantly to soothe him, he is more likely to continue with the same behavior.
Wait and see if your toddler will settle himself and go back to sleep. I know this is probably unlikely at this point, but at least try. If he doesn’t, you can use the Ferber sleep training method discussed above.
It will take a few days to start working, so make sure you stick with it. The Ferber method is super helpful for parents who do not want to co-sleep with their toddler.
Even though it’s discouraging when toddlers have a sleep regression after a new baby sibling arrives, you can get them back to normal sleeping patterns using the tips above.
A toddler sleep regression after the arrival of a new baby is not necessarily a shock. There are two main culprits:
- Your toddler misses the attention he used to enjoy
- He is disturbed by changes which might include a new schedule, new sleeping arrangements, or baby’s crying at night
If you make sure to follow a schedule with your toddler and sleep train as needed these things should help him sleep better. Finally, if you need more help you can invest in this very effective toddler sleep guide.
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