Managing Your Toddler’s Sleep and A New Baby

sleep tips for managing your toddler and newborn
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

Many parents are trucking along, figuring out this parenthood gig and once we feel like we’ve got our sea legs, we decide to add a new baby to the mix.  Let’s keep it interesting, right? While your toddler / preschooler may thank you later, some kiddos may not love the change at first.  Sleep is one area where kiddos tend to push back. Many toddlers begin to boycott naps, have difficult bedtimes and experience night wakings after their sibling arrives.  Our top tips for managing your toddler’s sleep and a new baby will help you avoid some of that drama so your family can get as much rest as possible.  

Tip 1: Ensure Your Toddler Has Healthy Sleep Habits Before the Baby Arrives

If your toddler is boycotting naps and/or up all night, it is going to make it MUCH harder to transition to having a newborn, who will DEFINITELY be up all night! I recommend working on your toddler’s sleep before the baby arrives.  We can help with that!

Tip 2: Move Towards Independent Sleep

If you are currently bed-sharing with your toddler and you want them in their own crib/bed before the baby arrives, you’ll want to try to work on that transition 1-2 months before the baby arrives.  We don’t want to make transitions too close to the baby’s arrival and have the toddler feel displaced by their new sibling. 

If it’s too late for that, you can continue to bedshare with your toddler, but ensure that you have a safe, independent sleep space for your newborn, like a bassinet.  Once everyone has adjusted to the baby being home, it will be easier to make the transition to your toddlers’ crib/bed 1-2 months later. 

Tip 3: Keep Your Toddler in Their Crib and Invest in A New Crib

One of the most common challenges I see as a child sleep consultant is parents who try to avoid purchasing a new crib and they transition their toddler to a big kid bed before they are ready.  For sleep’s sake, PLEASE don’t do this! 

When children are transitioned to a big kid bed too soon, sleep BLOWS up!  Being up all night with a wandering toddler and a newborn baby sounds like my personal hell! 

– Christine

I recommend holding off on transitioning children to a big kid bed until they are developmentally ready. This is usually around 3+ or when they continually ask for a big kid bed.  You can learn all about that transition here.  Consider borrowing or investing in a second crib or a pack and play with a pack and play mattress.

Tip 4: Prioritize Connection Time

Having a new baby and a toddler is a juggling act. Oftentimes the toddler can kick up behavior when they begin getting less attention than they have been.  Kiddos love attention and it honestly doesn’t matter if it is positive or negative – they’ll take it!  

The key to limiting negative attention-seeking behavior is prioritizing connection time.  I recommend Mom does child-led play for 30 minutes after dinner and before you begin the bedtime routine. 

Focused playtime REALLY fills up children’s cups and makes it much easier to separate at bedtime. 

If Mom is nursing, this is a great time for Dad to feed the baby a bottle and connect with the baby.  If Dad isn’t home, putting the baby in a carrier is a great way to be able to multi-task!

Tip 5: Stick With the Consistent Bedtime Routine

Children really thrive on consistency and they treasure the bedtime routine as a time to spend time together.  If Mom normally does the routine and isn’t nursing at the time, try to stick with the norm. This will help to alleviate bedtime battles and night wakings to spend 1-on-1 time with Mom.

Do your best to stay consistent with the steps of the bedtime routine as much as possible. If another parent or caregiver has to do the routine, ensure it contains the same steps in the same order. 

Tip 6: Set Limits

Extra connection time during the bedtime routine is great, but set some limits and stick to them. If you give in too much, bedtime starts pushing too late and our toddlers begin the overtired meltdown.  

This is an area where our parental guilt tends to get the best of us. If our toddler is using every stalling tactic, it can be tough to say “no”. This can be especially difficult if we are feeling guilty that we haven’t spent as much time with them as we’d like. 

Integrate any stalling tactics into the routine and then don’t give in. Just one more book or 5 more hugs and kisses push bedtime too late. It will be much easier for your toddler to settle in at bedtime and have a consolidated night of sleep if he or she isn’t overtired. 

I promise that you and your toddler will adjust – it’s going to take some time! Hopefully, these tips to managing your toddler’s sleep with a new baby will help!

If sleep gets too far off track and you aren’t sure how to get back to normal, schedule some time with us. During an intro call, we can talk about working together.  Sleep deprivation doesn’t have to be a way of life!

p.s.  Congrats on your new baby!  Did you know that with a Newborn Sleep Jumpstart consultation, we can set you up with healthy sleep habits from the start? 100% worth the investment.

p.p.s. If these tips help, tag us on Insta @bellalunafamily so we can celebrate with you!

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