Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get your baby and your toddler to sleep at the same time

During the last days of my second pregnancy I was constantly asking myself how am I going to put my son and my daughter to sleep at the same time, especially in the afternoon when my husband is at work and I'm alone with the kids. Looking back I can say that I was really lucky, because my daughter wasn't colicky, nor too gassy and as a newborn simply slept most of the time. But as she started to spend more and more time awake, I began asking myself what would be easier: 1) if my kids take naps together, but are also awake at the same time of the day or 2) they take naps one after another, but then I never get any time just for myself. I would advise you to consider these 2 options, choose what's best for you and go from there. But bear in mind that at some point your little ones will probably start taking their afternoon naps at the same time. I had a very tough time putting my kids to sleep in the afternoon. If your older child goes to sleep by himself, it wouldn't be too difficult. Mine didn't and that made nap time extremely hard. I had to try a whole lot of stragedies until I found the best solution for us.

The first stragedy I tried was to lay down with my son and nurse my daughter (or give her a pacifier). I tried to do that for a couple of days, but  quickly realized that this wouldn't work out for me, because both of my kids sleep pretty lightly and the whole time they were waking each other up. Therefore, I decided to put them to sleep separately. I would leave my daughter in her playpen with her favourite toys and would try to lay down with my son. Unfortunately, this didn't work either, because Sophia would get bored quickly and would start crying for me before her brother would fall asleep. So, my next strategy was to feed my baby really well and then put her in her favourite bouncy chair hoping that she would go to sleep on her own or at least sit there quietly, while I try to put my son to sleep in the furthest room possible. I also tried to put her in her crib with her favourite mobile on.This plan would work occasionally, but most of the time she would start crying and wouldn't go to sleep. Plus, I didn't really want to leave her unattended for more than few minutes and quickly decided that this option wasn't for me either. So, I came up with another bright idea: I would put Sophia to sleep first and then her brother. This stragedy worked fine for me, the only problem I had was that sometimes he would wake her up, because he's very loud and loves to scream. Finally, I decided to make life easier for everybody and started teaching Ryan to go to sleep by himself. I waited until he gets really tired, then feed him well and explain to him that he's a big boy and needs to go to sleep by himself. Honestly, the first few days were disasterous. There was a whole lot of crying and screaming. I would put him in his room and as soon as I walk out he would come right after me. That's why I stayed in his room with him, but I wouldn't lay down on the bed, I would simply walk around singing and rocking the baby, so she would go to sleep too. And miracilously, after about a week, Ryan started to fall asleep easier and faster. Sometimes my kids would fall sleep at the same time and would nap for 1-2 hours, which allowed me to rest and enjoy some peace and quiet.

If none of these stragedies works for you and you're unable to get your children to nap, you can try 2 simple solution :  1) stroll them around the neighborhood and after they fall asleep you can move them in their beds. 2) Take them out to a playground in the morning and let them play until they get tired. Bring a lunch and a snack with you and don't forget to change their daipers and feed them before heading home. If the kids are fed and tired, the chances are they'll go to sleep pretty quickly in the car or in the stroller.

In case you're still experiencing difficulties think carefully what your children are eating or drinking. Juices contain sugar, which could be keeping them awake. Sweets and candies before nap time are bad idea too. Soft drinks could contain both sugar and caffeine and should not be part of your kids' diet. Consuming juices and/or sweets during the day could prevent your little ones from easily falling asleep in the evening.

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