I think it’s fair to say that I was
obsessed with very passionate about my first child’s sleep. I kept her to a schedule, revolved our days and nights around her slumber, and cowered at the thought of doing anything different. Surely this was the only way to keep her well rested. When I got pregnant with my second child I thought, well, I guess I’ll do the same for this one.
It’s true that when my son was born, I did have the benefit of sleep knowledge and experience to help get him on a good path from the beginning and I used that to my advantage as best I could. But the reality was that I had another child to care for, to entertain, and to get out of the house and so second child sleep syndrome began to set in. So it became a juggling act. And one I didn’t always handle so gracefully, I might add. My son is now 13 months old and we have found a rhythm with my older child while still preserving his sleep needs, but here are a few tips I would tell myself if I could go back in time.
Tips For Dealing With Second Child Sleep Syndrome
- Once the baby is more ready for a schedule (at about 4 months), begin to move to a more by-the-clock schedule. This will give you more predictability to your day and will allow you to actually plan things. (Imagine that!)
- Ask for help. Can a family member or friend come stay with the baby during naptime while you do preschool pick-up and drop-off? Remember, it won’t last forever.
- Use the late-day catnap that small babies take to give you some flexibility. Because that nap is mainly a bridge to bedtime, it can be shorter than the others and also on-the-go.
- Embrace an early bedtime. If a child hasn’t napped well during the day because of disruptions, remember that you can always work to make up that sleep at night. And the bonus is, you get a little extra time with your oldest. And maybe a little extra time for yourself.
- Know that you can’t always stick to a schedule 100%. Do your best the majority of the time to protect your little one’s sleep and remember that in doing so, you are actually putting yourself in a better position to deviate from that schedule when necessary. A well-rested child handles those one-off changes very well and gets back on track easily. So don’t forget to enjoy all of the fun that another child will bring to your home!
Written by Good Night Sleep Site Consultant.
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