New Sibling Sleep Regression and How to Prevent It

New Sibling Sleep Regression and How to Prevent It

All Ages

Jan 17, 2023

Are you welcoming a baby soon and wondering if adding a new sibling to the family is going to cause a sleep regression for your older child or children?

Maybe you’re having your second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth child or beyond. 

Maybe you are having a baby or you’re adopting a baby!

Whatever number or situation, a new sibling is a huge life event for the whole family.

With a new addition on the way, you might be wondering in the back of your head, “How is this new baby going to impact my other children and their sleep?”

It’s safe to say that a sleep regression can be totally normal when you introduce a new sibling into the house.

In this YouTube video and blog post, I am going to walk you through which strategies to implement in order to keep sleep a thing while welcoming a new baby and sibling into your family!

Adding a New Sibling And Keeping Sleep A Thing

In my family, my daughters are 18 months apart. 

Our lives were turned upside down when we introduced our second daughter into the family because not only were we juggling a baby and a toddler but we were also getting ready to move!

Because of this, we knew we HAD to be intentional about instilling healthy, consistent sleeping habits so that our oldest daughter could continue to sleep well despite the new sibling and changes. 

If you are about to welcome a new baby, it’s extremely important to ensure that your older children are sleeping well.

Your newborn is going to be waking often at night, and it will be extremely helpful to you if your older children are sleeping a solid 11-12 hours all night long, without interruptions or wakings. 

Below you can find my top five strategies when it comes to preventing the new sibling sleep regression when welcoming your new bundle of joy.

Strategy #1 Prepare for the new sibling by communicating about it with your child

The first and most important strategy to implement when welcoming a new baby is communicating about it clearly with your older child or children.

If your children are 18 months apart or closer, then there won’t be much communication going on.

However, if you have a toddler, preschooler or an older child, it’s extremely important to communicate with them about what things will be like and how things will change when their new sibling arrives.

Introduce your oldest to the bassinet and explain to them that is where their new sibling is going to sleep. 

Show them the baby’s new sleeping space and get them involved in setting up items around the house like diapers stations and play areas! 

>>> Are you room sharing with your newest addition? Use code LITTLEZSLEEP to save $10 on a SlumberPod.<<<

When it comes to other topics like the arrival of extended family members who will be visiting and helping, be sure to communicate this with your child as well. 

Explain to them that their extended family member is coming to help make meals for them, or care for their new sibling while you rest and recover, or play with them and take them on outings! 

However your family plans to function, be intentional and clear when communicating with your child. 

By taking the time to clearly communicate with your child you are helping them learn how life works as well as fostering a sense of connection, trust and understanding.

Because believe it or not, intentionally communicating with your child about adding a new sibling directly affects your child’s sleep! 

When your child feels more secure and less confused, they will be able to connect more easily with the new situation.

They can sleep and “rest easy,” knowing that you see them, love them, and want to include them.

Strategy #2 Practice the newborn routines before their new sibling arrives

Next, communicate with your older child about what their new sibling will be like and what new routines will occur!

Practice and role play all the new baby routines with your older child or children.

Use a baby doll and show your child what it’s like to swaddle and change their new sibling’s diaper.

Model what it’s like to feed the baby.

Demonstrate how to put the baby down for a nap.

Role playing all of the new baby routines with your older children will help them to readily recognize the new routines when their baby sibling arrives.

Welcoming a sibling is a huge change and clearly communicating WHAT you’ll be doing, HOW you’ll be doing it, WHERE you’ll be doing it and WHY you’ll be doing it will dissolve any tension that you might have when it comes to caring for your newborn alongside of your older children.

Your older children want to be involved and want to help, so let them!

Celebrate this new and short-lived newborn season by carrying out the routines together.

Strategy #3 Praise and encourage your child 

Eek! Your baby is finally here and your whole family is so excited to meet them!

When your new baby finally arrives and your older child begins watching you and helping you, be sure to praise them and encourage them along the way!

The new baby routines will likely be busy and tiring but they should also be inviting and joy-filled for everyone involved, including your other child or children.

Praise your child for bringing you a fresh diaper, or singing sweetly to the baby, or helping you with the newborn’s nap routine! 

All of these seemingly small and mundane moments  and tasks of caring for a newborn are actually really big moments for your older child and it’s important to involve, notice, and encourage them every step of the way.

For example, when it’s time for your newborn’s next nap, communicate that to your child. 

Tell your child what’s happening next, and it’s likely that they will remember some of those things you did with the baby doll beforehand. 

If your child is a hands-on learner, it can be really helpful to let them continue to use their baby doll as they carry out the routines alongside you. 

Above all else, be sure to overflow them with praise and encouragement as they embrace the change of having a new sibling with you! 

Strategy #4 Explain that this is just a season

After a few days or weeks of welcoming your new baby, it’s possible you might hear your older child say that they miss certain things about how things were before the baby came.

Maybe they’re not verbally communicating this to you, but they are acting out in ways that clearly show they miss and long for what life was like before the baby arrived. 

It’s no surprise that when a newborn arrives, they need a lot of care and attention. 

Oftentimes this means that you will spend less time connecting personally with your older children for a season while you focus on the newborn. 

It’s important to communicate this reality with your older child in a way that is most appropriate for your family. 

When it comes to the newborn, explain to your child that newborns need a lot of attention when they first arrive! 

They need their diapers changed, they need to be fed, they need to be held, and they need help getting to sleep!

Remind them that when they were a baby you did the same things for them, too! 

Show them their baby pictures, reflect on when they were a newborn and baby, and celebrate their growth! 

This will help your child to relate more deeply with this season, understanding that it will pass and it won’t be like this forever!

Strategy #5 Honor your child’s bedtime routine at all costs

Now, let’s focus on the sleep foundations that are crucial to your child’s success when it comes to adding a new sibling to the family.

It’s extremely important that you honor your child’s nap and bedtime routines when welcoming a new sibling. 

It’s normal for the nap routine to be a little more flexible because it’s likely that a different caregiver or a family member is helping to put your child down for their nap. 

Encourage your caregivers to honor your child’s nap time and nap routine. 

Consistency with the nap time and the nap routine will result in a child who naps well because their nap is offered at the right time and their routine cues them for sleep. 

When it comes to bedtime, bedtime routine should be seen as precious and it should remain as consistent and normal as possible. 

Your older child is likely going to bed between 7:00-8:00PM, while your newborn is going to bed later, so your child’s bedtime should be able to remain the same even when the new baby arrives! 

>>> If you want to know more about the specifics of your newborn’s sleep schedule, I want you to point you to my FREE newborn routines guide HERE.  In this guide I walk you through every routine that you’re newborn needs during the day. <<<

Even if your older child’s bedtime routine is something that they can carry out on their own, we want to make sure there is an intentional time of connection with them before they go to sleep. 

After they shower, brush their teeth, and put their pajamas on, spend some intentional time talking with them, reading, or playing a short game together!

In addition to this, if at all possible, try to do your child’s bedtime routine without the newborn tagging along.

This will ensure that your full attention is on your older child and the time you are spending together. 

By honoring your child’s bedtime routine, you’re able to give them the attention and connection time they need during this season of welcoming a new sibling which will help to prevent a sleep regression.

If your older child is sensing that they’re not getting attention or connection during the day and evening anymore, they are likely going to begin waking during the night or the early morning looking for that connection time elsewhere. 

If they are in an open bed, they will certainly learn to get up out of their bed and begin looking for you when they do. 

If you have just welcomed a newborn, it’s critical that your older children are solid sleepers who stay sleeping while you care for and feed your newborn throughout the night. 

If you are about to welcome a newborn and you have an older child who isn’t sleeping through the night, we are here to help you every step of the way. 

If your child is 4-16 months old, check out our Baby Sleep Program HERE.

If you have a toddler who is 17 months – 3 years old, check out our Toddler Sleep Program HERE.

For 3-5 year olds, check out or Preschool Sleep Program HERE. 

Once the newborn arrives, you might find that your older, “sleep trained” child is now off track!

If that’s the case, you can simply retrain them with your sleep training program since you have lifetime access to it! Simply log into your account at www.littlezsleep.com and revisit your program. 

Start the program from night one and follow it step by step. 

If you are truly retraining your child, you may not have to complete the entire sleep training program. 

Sometimes all your child needs is a few days to a week of refreshed, structured expectations in order to get their healthy sleeping habits back on track.

It’s easy to become wrapped up with following the newborn routines that you let your older child’s routines derail.  

Simply follow the plan and get back to the basics with your child. 

Finally, and most importantly, congratulations on adding a precious, new family member to your household! 

It’s such an exciting and memorable time and we are here cheering you on, every step of the way.

 Enjoy every bit of those fresh, newborn snuggles and take it all in with your family. 

If you’re juggling a newborn and a toddler or preschooler, I want to point you to our Complete Schedule Guide HERE to keep all of your little one’s thriving and on track!

Download our FREE Newborn Guide HERE and if you’re watching this on YouTube be sure to check out our entire newborn playlist HERE so that you and your little one can make sleep a thing from the start. 

Conclusion

Welcoming a new sibling into the home is a big change for your whole family! It is possible to welcome a newborn into your home without experiencing a sleep regression with your older child or children! 

  • Maintain an open line of communication between you and your older children and explain to them what’s going on!
  • Practice the newborn routines with your older children before the baby arrives so they can enjoy doing them and take ownership of some of those routines when they welcome their new sibling!
  • Honor your child’s bedtime routine and take time to personally connect with them, giving them your fullest attention.

 LOVE THIS? PIN IT FOR LATER!

Little girl kissing her new sibling

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