Author Topic: How can I sleep-train a second baby when I have a toddler running around?  (Read 17942 times)

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Offline Jaime

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How in the world do you begin to sleep train #2?
There are 3 main things to remember:

1.  Ask for help:  someone (paid or unpaid) to watch/entertain the older child either:
          for a few days in a row so you can get a good start, or
          on a regular basis a couple times a week so you have regular time with #2

2.  Synchronize both children's schedules – get the baby's long afternoon nap to line up with the older child's afternoon nap

3.  Be flexible, go with the flow as best you can, and don't stress about what doesn't get done.  (This applies not only to sleep training, but to housecleaning, cooking, the really comfy jammies you'd prefer to wear all day and the amount of TV you watch too.  ;) )

How Can I Teach Independent Sleep?
In short....

Set the stage
     winddown routines will be very helpful, as you can do them anywhere and help teach #2 the cues for sleep – don't forget to swaddle, swaddle, swaddle!!
     darken the room
     white noise – in whatever form – can help #2 focus on the task at hand.  It can also help block out any noise #1 is making

Pat/shh is the best technique to help your infant learn independent sleep.  It will be up to you to determine which variation this child prefers.  Don't assume that whatever you did with #1 (if you did anything) will work for this child, even if #2 is the same type as #1.
          consider how your child prefers to sleep – side, back??
          maybe #2 doesn't like the pat; try a firm hand on the chest or tummy is better
          maybe #2 doesn't like the shhh; try softly repeating their name, just chant "sleep", or don't say anything at all.

How can I get #2 to go to sleep while we are out & about doing #1's activities?
Don't forget that you will need some time during the first couple of months to recover and adjust to your new life (not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well).  When there are things that you just have to do (groceries, a walk around the neighborhood, etc.), it might be easier to do them earlier in the day – like after the first nap - when everyone's fresher and in a better mood.  See if you can schedule a playdate for your toddler once or twice a week – where either folks come to your house, or (even better) a friend/relative will just pick up your toddler and take them for a few hours.   

It will really work out better not to try to do too much too soon.   

Once you get to about 8 weeks, aim to have at least one nap (preferably the same nap) in the crib each day.  Remember, Tracy says "start as you mean to go on," so if you expect #2 to sleep well as a baby and a toddler, you must allow him to sleep well as an infant.  It is okay to have a nap in the car seat, stroller, sling, front pack…just make sure that #2 is getting enough daytime sleep & is eating at regular intervals (likely a 2-3 hr EASY by now).  Write things down if you find you are forgetful (and who could blame you!). 

My baby will go to sleep independently, but is starting to have 45-minute naps.  What do I do?
The 45-minute nap monster is, unfortunately, very common & rather normal.  Visit the nap board for specific techniques you can use to overcome this situation.

Keep in mind that if your baby wakes up happy, it will probably be easier to just get her up and go about your day.

Now, trying to use those nap-extension techniques can be tricky.  When you only had 1 child, you might have had no problem spending the recommended 40 minutes before stopping.  With #2, you might be lucky to have 10-15 minutes before your toddler comes back in the room.  Truthfully, if you haven't seen success at that point, it is probably easier to just take the baby out and go about your day.  Adjust your EASY routine accordingly – it may not exactly follow EASY anymore; might look like EAEAS or some other pattern.  You could easily have 5 or even 6 45-minute naps in one day.

Several moms have noted that their #2 child had 2 short morning naps, 1 long afternoon nap (cause that's the one they worked on extensively while the toddler was napping.)

Seriously, what do you DO with the toddler?  Mine won't stay out of the room long enough for me to get the baby to sleep!

There are all sorts of things you could do, but here are some ideas…

Make your older child part of the winddown routine – have them help you find a diaper, paci, lovey, turn on the white noise, dim the lights… whatever you are comfortable with, up until it's time to get the baby to sleep.  Then have the older child leave the room, telling them Mommy will be out in a few minutes.  Have something out of the room for them to do/play with/eat, etc. 

Alternatively to the previous idea, give your toddler a doll that they can put to bed right along with you (works well with those nurturing types).

Put together a box of special toys that only come out when it's time for the baby to take a nap, and put it in a room that is barricaded and so childproofed that it will be okay to leave them alone for a few minutes.  (That last part, of course, will depend on the ingenuity and sneakiness of your child.)

Establish a routine where if the toddler "helps" you by being quiet in another room, you will in turn spend some fun one-on-one time with him after the baby is asleep.  Even very young toddlers will catch on to this after a little practice. 

Set up a reward system for every time your toddler is good during baby's naptime.

That's all well and good, but how do I get my toddler to stay out of the room in the first place?
Practice, preferably not when you are trying to put the baby down.  Play with them for a little while, then say "I have to go get the laundry (or whatever) and I'll be right back."  Go off for a few minutes, but then come back and play some more.  Then tell him you're going to "load the dishwasher"…. Repeat many times.  They will slowly start to understand that you are always coming back, and they don't have to spend that much time on their own.

My older child doesn't take a nap anymore.  What can I do?
Even though your older child may not need a nap, many toddlers benefit from having a "quiet time" in their room for a couple hours.  You might want to set a special light to a timer; when the light turns on, he can come out again. 

for more tips and ideas, read here:
« Last Edit: October 31, 2007, 16:43:52 pm by meltown »
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