We're all parents, and you know what I'm talking about: that terrible parenting purgatory of broken, inadequate sleep. Oh, everyone warns you (a little too gleefully) when you're pregnant: "Sleep now!" As if sleep is something you can squirrel away in a bank, and take out later. Imagine? "I'd like to make a withdrawal please. Three extra hours of sleep." If only.
Other parents, depending on how cranky they are, are more ominous: "You'll never sleep again!" That's not quite true. Things settled into a predictable, normal sleep pattern more nights than not when my youngest was about three (sorry, parents of newborns!). But then we got all sleep-screwy again when we added another kid, our sweet third child, to the mix.
As an editor at Parents, I have access to a lot of sleep advice, and in fact edited this story, "How to Get Your (Second) Baby to Sleep," by Cara Birnbaum, currently in our December issue. The tips in it helped us all get more sleep, until we recently got off track when the baby was sick and one parent was traveling, and 3 a.m. wake-ups resumed. It's time to re-read it again. (Did I mention the "baby" is two?)
One of the most helpful insights I learned from the story was this one: Having your little one in the same room as a big sib won't ruin all the hard work you did getting your big kid to sleep at night. Older kids spend a fairly large amount of the night in deep sleep, and it takes a lot to wake a sleeping child, even if she and the baby share a room. This was my biggest hurdle to putting an end to middle-of-the-night visits with my baby: I was afraid her crying would wake her nearby sister. I was surprised, though, how often my big girl snoozed through those wake-ups, once I put my mind to working through them. Another great tip: Get your big kid on your team, prepping her for a week of some crying while "we teach your baby brother to sleep," and maybe planning a couple of "sleepovers" with whichever parent isn't on baby duty.
Check out the whole story in our December issue or here. And for a refresher on getting a baby down, check out this video, "How to Establish a Bedtime Routine:"
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.