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Juggling older kids and your baby’s sleep

When you have toddlers or older children, one of the trickier things about bringing home a newborn is trying to juggle everyone’s routines and sleep. Especially as baby’s sleep patterns will change quite a bit in their first year.

What if you have a toddler to take care of and a newborn to settle into a nap? Or an older child who needs picking up from school and a toddler who is tucked up in bed, fast asleep?

It takes planning, asking for help (if it’s available), being a bit flexible and sometimes thinking outside the box, but it is still possible to lay the foundations for your baby’s sleep while looking after the needs and routines of your other kids.

Your newborn’s Sleep-Feed-Uptime Cycle should continue during the day, wherever you are. If ever you need to wake your baby because you are leaving the house to pick up or drop off your other children, then do that. If you need to leave home at 2:30pm, for example, and your baby will still be asleep, wake them in advance and feed them (so you are keeping the Sleep-Feed-Uptime Cycle going) and then leave.

If you are driving home from school drop-off and your baby has fallen asleep in the car for a short time, try to transfer your baby into their crib when you get home.

You can also slightly tweak your baby’s routine and plan their naps or their wake times around the times you need to get out and about with your other kids. It can take a bit of time to get there, but each day, try to stretch your baby’s awake time by a few minutes (without letting them become overtired), or bring their nap forward slightly (ensuring that your baby isn’t under-tired).

When support is available, consider reaching out to your family, friends, other parents at school or day care to help you with pick-ups and drop-offs while you stay at home with your little one who’s sleeping.  It doesn’t have to take a village to raise a child, but it certainly helps!

If you’re doing it on your own, or there’s a day when you don’t have the luxury of someone helping out, just do your best. If you have to wake your little one from a nap or two, it’s okay. See if they can make up their sleep at other times throughout the day or if it’s been a bad day with lots of broken sleep, put them in bed that night a little earlier than normal.

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