Every parent knows a new baby means your sleep will be significantly disrupted. So imagine how potentially distracting the noise of a newborn could be to a small child. In fact, with the arrival of a sibling, it's normal to worry about sleep transitions and how you'll accommodate two mini-humans and their different sleep schedules. But will a new baby cause a toddler sleep regression? Turns out, change is the name of the game when it comes to welcoming another baby to the family.
There are some age-related sleep issues that can affect a toddler's sleep, regardless of whether or not a baby brother or sister enters the picture. Many young children experience a sleep regression, which The Baby Sleep Site describes as a disruption to otherwise established sleep patterns. Your baby will experience numerous sleep regressions in a relatively short period of time, most notably, according to The Baby Sleep Site, around 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years.
toddlers in particular go through numerous milestones, like transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed, toilet training, and separation anxiety, that can cause a sleep regression. The experts at Healthy Sleep at Harvard Medical School confirm what parents everywhere know in the toddler years sleep needs are modified and there are a lot of changes to contend with, saying:
"As we go from infants to toddlers, sleep becomes more consolidated and naps less frequent."
So although all the crying, noise, and household disruption that typically accompanies the arrival of a new baby probably doesn't help, your toddler may well have experienced a sleep regression anyway.
Kim West, also known as the as The Sleep Lady, recommends that parents take the time to talk with their toddler age children about the changes in the house and the new baby's needs, so that your toddler can better understand why certain schedules or routines have been disrupted. West goes on to say:
"If he’s waking up because he hears the baby, explain that everything is okay, that new little babies need to wake up and eat but soon the baby will sleep all night just like his big brother or sister."
Having a new baby can be a stressful experience, to especially if you, as the parent, are also suffering from the effects of broken sleep. To get through a period of readjustment as your toddler gets used to their new sibling and settles back into their usual sleep routine can be tough.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) advises parents that some disruption to normal sleep patterns is to be expected. They also suggest that parents do everything they can to keep calm and to model appropriate behavior for their child, so that they can learn to adjust to their new normal. The APA goes on to say:
"It is normal to get upset when a child keeps you awake at night. Try to be understanding. A negative response by a parent can sometimes make a sleep problem worse."
It might not feel like it when you have been up all night with a newborn baby and a toddler, but these sleep issues will pass and, before you know it, the whole family will be sleeping soundly.