Establishing and Keeping Baby's Sleep Routine

A New Sibling

Bedtime was sedate at Nancy Coulter-Parker's house in Boulder, Colorado -- her nearly-4-year-old daughter, Ellie, went to bed without much of a production -- until a baby brother, Kai, was born. Then Ellie would cry and yell loudly from her crib, demanding her parents rock her to sleep or rub her head until she fell asleep. These bedtime battles continued off and on for a year until Coulter-Parker and her husband, Jeff, moved their kids into one room. "Sharing a room made Ellie feel more relaxed at night -- she'd been feeling left out and lonely. Now she falls asleep within a few minutes," says Nancy Coulter-Parker.

Making a Plan, Setting Ground Rules

Experts advise that during times of transition, every family needs to figure out a plan that works best for them -- as long as there are ground rules. If room-sharing is what your family opts for, make sure your older child doesn't interact with the baby after lights out, for example.

One plan all sleep experts support is to maintain the bedtime routine during transitional or troubling times. If Mama usually reads Green Eggs and Ham, she should keep doing it while Papa takes care of the newest member of the family. Or you can swap normal bedtime duties several months before the baby arrives, says Mindell: "The more you can do to keep your child's life consistent at bedtime, the better off you are."

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