Tips for success with the Second Child Shuffle

Remember when you were a parent of one baby? Maybe your life was a well-oiled machine, where your activities revolved around your baby’s regular sleep times, always in their cot in a darkened room. Or maybe you survived the wild ride of constant kilometres in the pram or the car day and night to coax your baby to sleep (and keep them there for longer than the magical 40 minutes). Whatever your sleep situation, looking back on it, at least you had time to give it your best shot.

Now there is another baby in the house, and all bets are off.  It’s just not possible to devote the time to rocking, walking, driving or even self-settling when there is a toddler (or toddlers!) who also need your previously undivided attention.

The solution generally involves compromising someone’s activities for another’s sleep.  Dean Fanning, father of 3 boys under 4 when he founded Pramrolla, has some tips for making the situation less fraught for everyone.

  • Involve your toddler in the baby’s nap and bedtime by making him a helper in the routine.
  • Try and be consistent with the times you put your baby down to sleep to establish a regular sleep routine.
  • Remember to enjoy one on one time with your toddler when your baby is asleep, reading a book or enjoying cuddles.
  • Limit the amount of time you work on a nap with your baby; they are constantly changing, so what worked yesterday just simply might not work today for who knows what reason.
  • Babies have an amazing ability to sleep anywhere. We used to tip toe around the house, and turn the volume down. Then the Grandparents babysat for us. They had the TV volume on 10 with all the bedroom doors open, and still not a hint of disturbance from anyone.
  • And of course, sometimes, pram sleeping is an inevitable fact of life when caring for multiple little people. Sometimes you have to compromise what you know is best practice, and address the reality of the situation and just cope. We invented Pramrolla to deal with those stressful times when you are at home with your toddler(s) and it just isn’t possible to walk the pram around the street.

Pinky McKay, author of ‘Sleeping Like a Baby – simple sleep solutions for infants and toddlers’ has some good advice on making the best of this challenging situation:

Some ‘experts’ claim that any sleep that isn’t in a cot is ‘junk sleep’ like ‘junk food’ and won’t refresh your baby, especially his tiny brain. Sleep is sleep. A child who is quite flexible about where he sleeps is a lot easier than one who will only ever sleep in a darkened room at home, in his cot. While you may be able to get home for every sleep with a first baby, it’s pretty unrealistic if you have more than one child: if you have a school pickup to manage, your baby will almost certainly get used to sleeping ‘on the move’. 

Pinky also has some very interesting views on the benefits of your baby sleeping in a pram, a sling or your arms, with regards to the rocking motion helping develop his vestibular apparatus, that helps with the development of speech and language, balance and sensory integration (making sense of all the sensations of sound, movement, taste, smell and visual stimuli).

It’s true, life isn’t what it used to be with just one child. But with a bit of pragmatism and compromise (and a bit of pram sleeping!), you will make it through this time with your health and happiness intact, ready to face the next exciting ride parenthood has in store for you.

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