Keep Your Toddler Sleeping Well With a New Baby in the House

By Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH July 25, 2014
Are you pregnant and worried your new bundle of joy will wreak havoc on the healthy sleep habits you have finally established for your toddler? Is your new infant waking your toddler during his naps and nights? Never fear, there are several tricks of the trade to help keep the entire family sleeping well.

Restful Sleep Tips for Your Toddler and Your Baby
  • Use a sound machine to help muffle the noises of your infant. Be sure to place the sound machine across the room from where your children are sleeping, and do not use it at the maximum volume. Additionally, you may want to use a sound machine outside of the room for better success at muffling the unwanted sounds.
  • If your children are sharing a bedroom, consider staggering bedtimes so that one is fast asleep before the other goes to sleep. Napping in separate rooms can sometimes be beneficial to ensure they each get the daytime sleep they need.
  • Be careful not to start new unwanted sleep habits, such as feeding during the night or rocking back to sleep as a short-term solution. Continue to use the strategies you have used in the past to ensure healthy sleep.
  • Make sure you are giving off a sense of confidence in your children’s ability to be healthy sleepers. "Your infant may not be able to tell you that you seem stressed or ask you what is wrong, but our work shows that, as soon as she is in your arms, she is picking up on the bodily responses accompanying your emotional state and immediately begins to feel in her body your own negative emotion," says lead researcher Sara Waters, postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Lastly, do everything in your power to keep your toddler well-rested. Avoid your toddler becoming overtired by sticking to your regular routines. An overtired child has a more difficult time falling asleep, wakes up more throughout the night, and tends to wake earlier in the morning.
While you may be nervous that your new baby’s sporadic sleep schedule will change your toddler’s sleep habits, remember that kids can learn to sleep through each other’s cries if given the time and space to do so. It really is possible to enjoy your new addition and keep your other children well rested!

Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.