Transitioning to a Big Kid Bed: Podcast Episode #108
Alyssa talks to Chris Emmer, a past sleep and postpartum doula client, about transitioning her daughter to a “big kid bed.” Alyssa gives tips on shortening the bedtime routine and getting the child involved and excited about sleep! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Alyssa: Hi. Thanks for joining us today on the Ask the Doulas Podcast. I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas. I am a certified postpartum doula, newborn care specialist, and certified infant and child sleep consultant. Today, we’ll be talking to Chris Emmer. She is a past sleep client of mine and also a doula client of ours.
Chris: Hi, Alyssa.
Alyssa: Hi, Chris. How are you?
Chris: How’s it going?
Chris: Oh, my gosh. I just got Sam down for her nap. It’s such perfect timing that we’re going to talk about this right now.
Alyssa: Well, let’s dive right in. I know both of us, our time is limited. She’s taking one nap a day, right?
Chris: Oh, yeah. She’s down to one. She’s been a one-napper for a while.
Alyssa: And she’s just two?
Chris: Yeah. She’ll be two and a half, actually, in, like, a matter of weeks here.
Alyssa: Oh, my gosh. Like, when did that happen? That seems crazy.
Chris: I know. The shortest time. It feels like a hundred years and one day, all at the same time.
Alyssa: I bet! So tell me what’s happening. So since I’m recording, I’ll just update the listeners that you texted a while ago and were like, okay, you know, one of those asking for a friend — what do you do when your two-year-old is climbing out of bed or the crib? So you had to transition her from crib to big bed recently?
Chris: Yes, absolutely.
Alyssa: And it hasn’t been going well?
Chris: No. It has not. It’s been going fine, but it’s been a surprising transition that I was, like, wait, what? I thought we figured out sleep.
Alyssa: Well, it’s a different ballgame. You have a toddler now with a little voice and an opinion, and yeah, it makes things a little more difficult. I mean, typically, I like to keep a baby — or she’s not a baby anymore, but a toddler — in a crib until they’re three for, probably what we’re going to find out, is all the reasons that are driving you crazy, like they don’t have any impulse control, so they will just get out of bed, and then it turns into this really fun game for them to keep popping in and out of bed. But then at that age, too, they might not understand the rules, and it might be hard to give them some rewards. We’ll talk about some of the things that I suggest. But, yeah, what do you find is your most difficult aspect of transitioning?
Chris: The put-down has become a very long process.
Alyssa: Like the whole bedtime routine?
Chris: The whole bedtime routine. It’s off the rails. With the crib, it had gotten so deliciously easy where, I mean, read some books, put her in the crib, walk out, you’re all good. Like, not even a peep comes out of her. And since she’s transitioned to the big girl bed, she’s also — and I don’t know if it has anything to do with getting out of the crib and into the big girl bed, or if it’s just, you know, synchronistic timing, but she’s also developed, like, a little bit of fear of the dark, which is funny because when she was in the crib, the room was totally pitch black, and now that she’s in the big girl bed, I have got nightlights in every outlet in that room. It’s much lighter in there. So she just gets kind of nervous, I think, and that’s honestly the word that she uses. She says, “I’m nervous.”
Alyssa: Well, that crib is small and has walls and feels safe and secure, and now she’s in this big bed that maybe she’s afraid of falling out of or there’s all the — you know, it’s just a lot — it seems bigger, I’m sure. The whole room seems bigger to her now. But she was crawling out, right? That’s why you —
Chris: She sure was, and she just did it once, and I thought like, okay, well, she figured it out, but, you know, maybe we’ve got a few weeks where she won’t try it every time, and even that night, put her in the crib — two minutes later, boom, she’s out of the crib. She’s running towards the door. So, yeah. It was not really an option. It was like, okay. Well, I can’t have her flying out of the crib.
Alyssa: I wonder if — and you’ll know if this will work for her — a lot of times when kids aren’t ready to transition, we can put them back in one of those sleep sacks with the arms out, and then when they’re in a sleep sack, they can’t get their feet up high enough to actually climb over. And if she’s smart enough to then unzip the sleep sack and get out of it, you can flip the sleep sack, like, backwards so the zipper is in the back and she can’t reach the zipper.
Chris: Oh, my gosh.
Alyssa: We’ve had to do that for some kids, but it helps. Like, she might want to climb out of the crib, but she won’t physically be able to anymore.
Alyssa: I don’t know if you think that would work for her.
Chris: She’s such a physical little lady that I think that she would go nuts if she was, like —
Alyssa: If her legs were restricted?
Chris: Yeah. Yeah. And then the other thing is that, you know, we’ve got our next kid coming in, like, end of May, beginning of June, so it kind of feels like it’s inevitable that we have to do this transition, and I’d almost rather get it done with without also having a newborn to try to wrangle, you know? So it’s a little bit like, dang, this day — I knew it would come. And also, like, well, it’s kind of good timing.
Alyssa: Yeah. Well, we don’t want to force it just because a baby’s coming. Like, we could wait until — you know, baby’s not here until May or June. You could wait until spring. Maybe — you know, do you think Sam would understand if you asked her, okay, I know you’re nervous. Would it make you feel better to sleep in your crib again? And even if you have it, like, completely torn apart and put away and the big bed up, like, you could put that crib in the nursery with the big bed temporarily again. I just wonder how she would respond if you said, you know, it makes me sad that you’re nervous in the dark. How do you feel about sleeping in your crib again, but you have to stay in the crib.
Alyssa: I don’t know. It’s just so hard at this age. Like, it totally depends on the kid. Like, she might get that and be like, yes. Yes. I like that idea. Put me back in the crib. Or she might just look at you with a blank stare and be like, what are you trying to ask me here, lady? You’re trying to reason with me? Come on. I’m two and a half!
Chris: I think she’s a little bit of the, what are you trying to do here, lady. But she is making progress with it. It’s been, I don’t know, a month, maybe. And it is getting easier. Bedtime’s getting shorter. She had a little bit where she — probably like a week or so where I would say three out of four nights of the week, she would wake up in the middle of the night and be awake and freaking out, and we would have to go get her, hang out with her for, like, an hour and then put her back down. She’s gotten over that waking in the middle of the night part, and I think she’s — I can tell she’s proud of herself. Things that have kind of worked are teaching her about, like, if you get nervous, take a deep breath. That has worked, and then I have been toying with a reward chart, like a sticker chart, and she seems excited about it. We have yet to put a single sticker on the chart. So I don’t know, is she too young for something like that?
Alyssa: Well, that’s a good segue into — okay, so I have the four Rs, and they’re kind of like your superpower for dealing with kids in big beds who want to pop out like Sam. So the four Rs are rules, rewards, roleplay, and then returns. So rules are just that. Like, you can create a chart, but get her involved with it. So if she likes stickers; if she wants a new doll — like, you could create a chart for a week, and once she gets a sticker on every day of that week, she gets to pick out something. Or, you know, she really loves donuts, and she doesn’t get them that often. You know, something that makes her super excited. But then the rules have to be really simple. Like, three of them. Like, okay, Sam, let’s say the rules together. One, stay in bed. Two, be quiet. Three, close your eyes. But you can also make it fun. Like, okay, what kind of animal is quiet, and what kind of animal is loud? We don’t want to be the loud animal. We want to be the quiet animal in bed. You know, just think — and you know her best. Like, you know what will trigger her little brain to be excited about this. And like you said, we want her to wake up and be so proud that she did it. And, again, the problem with doing this before three years old is she might need immediate gratification, and the reward chart just does not do it for her. So she’s like, I did something good, but I have to wait all night for it, and then in the morning, I don’t even care anymore.
Alyssa: So that might be the tricky thing is, you know, just, you got to kind of work it to whatever works best for your own kid. But if she lays in bed quiet and says the rules — you say the rules to her, and you leave, even if it takes her 20 minutes to fall asleep, if she’s lying there quiet and not getting out of bed and not being disruptive, let her. Like, we want her to know her bed is not scary. It’s a safe place. So do whatever you have to do to figure out what’s making her nervous. I also caution you about putting nightlights all over the room because we don’t want it bright in there. That triggers her brain to stay awake instead of get sleepy. So we don’t want it too bright in there. So, yeah, maybe just come up with some rules and have her help you with them. And then the rewards is kind of the second part of that, so it’s a positive consequence for following the rules, whatever those rules you made up are. And if she hasn’t gotten a sticker yet, maybe the rules need to start a little easier. Like, okay, the rules are, we brush our teeth. We put on PJs. We read one book. And you need to kind of set a time limit because you don’t want to have to do this for an hour every night. Make it very clear. You get one book, one song, and five kisses or something. Then I leave. And if you say, then I leave, you really need to leave.
Chris: Yes. And don’t let her extend it.
Alyssa: Right, because they’re so good at that!
Chris: They’re geniuses! For the sticker chart thing, you had said in your example, like, stay in bed, be quiet, and something else that was nighttime related…
Alyssa: Yeah. Close your eyes.
Chris: Yeah. Close your eyes. So would you keep them all, like, in the same category? Because what I’m doing right now — let me read to you my current reward chart. Okay. It’s a little all over the map. One is picking up her toys. Zero stickers. One is staying in bed. Again, zero stickers. One is saying please and thank you. Zero stickers. And then another one is going potty. So, I mean, it’s like everything that I want her to do. I was just like, let’s put it on here. So maybe I need to get more…
Alyssa: Maybe focus it on just sleep right now. Like, to be transitioning to a big girl bed and potty training and learning manners and all the things at once — I would just stick to sleep until she gets this figured out. You don’t want to do rewards forever. You want to give her a few weeks when she’s doing good, and then you get rid of the sleep rewards, and that would be helpful to then move on to, okay, now you get potty rewards. You know what I mean? And then once she’s going on the potty, now let’s work on your manners and cleaning up. So we’re going to sing the clean-up song and you’re going to say please and thank you, and you’re going to help Mommy and whatever other manners you want. But it might just be too overwhelming for her because it is kind of all over the place.
Chris: Yeah. Definitely. I think she just is like, okay, whatever. Sticker chart, I don’t get it. Doesn’t mean anything to me. Thanks, though.
Alyssa: Well, and if the sticker chart doesn’t work, maybe — you know, what else could work for her? What does she get super excited about? Is it Skittles? Like, you could give her two Skittles that day if she does something. I don’t know.
Chris: Right. Like, she loves cookies. Maybe she gets, like, to go pick out a big cookie from the bakery or something.
Alyssa: Yeah. Something that she can’t stop talking about, because you know they get something on their brain and then they tell everybody. You want her to be like, I’m going to get a cookie if I stay in bed all night. And you’re like, yes. You will.
Alyssa: So if stickers don’t do it for her, then figure out what does. And then when she does do it, like the first night she does it, make her feel like a rock star. High fives, hugs, you’re so great, you did such a good job, I’m so proud of you. You know, you’re going to be a big sister, and you’re going to be the greatest big sister because you’re going to be able to show this baby how we sleep like a big kid. And that will be really helpful, too, when new baby does come and you’ll have to explain to her, you know, you’re going to hear your little brother or sister crying in the night. They’re okay, but, you know, don’t go check on them. Don’t mess around. Don’t talk. Just stay in your own bed and sleep, and then we need you to be the good big sister and show baby how we sleep through the night. Just so that she doesn’t — because she’s going to feel left out no matter what. She’s used to getting all your attention, and now baby’s going to get most of your attention for a while. Bedtime routine at that point will be a big deal for her. You and your husband will want to make sure you have a dedicated, like — while one of you is with the baby, someone has to have a dedicated time with Sam where it’s only focused on her because she’s going to feel like she doesn’t get that anymore for a while. You know how hard it is in that newborn stage. They just need you 100% of the time.
Chris: Right. I know. Bedtime is one of the things I feel most nervous about. Like, I can’t even wrap my brain around putting two kids down at the same time. So it feels important to get her sleeping good, and I feel like this is — you know, we’ve got some time still. So I feel like it’s kind of working out, slowly but surely.
Alyssa: Yeah. And it will. You do have time. I think, again, like, when we were doing sleep training when she was a baby, consistency is still key. Like, you have to make the rules, and you can’t stray from those because especially now, they know how to push, and I know that if I ask for X, Y, and Z, and Mom’s going to get it every time, then of course I’m going to ask for these things every night. And she might be a little mad at first, but she’ll get over it.
Chris: Yeah. Stick to your guns. You don’t think she’s ready to drop that nap, do you?
Alyssa: I don’t think so. At two — most — I mean, if she’s not tired at night or waking super early in the morning, that’s kind of when you know they’re ready to drop the nap. She needs — you know, let’s say she needs 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. So that’s 12 hours at night and a 2-hour nap. Now, as we get older, we kind of need less and less sleep. You know, I think most toddlers through teenagers, even, still need 10, 11 hours of sleep. So school-aged kids are not getting enough sleep when parents just tell them they need 8. They still need 11. My almost 8-year-old daughter gets 11 hours of sleep at night. She needs it. But when you notice Sam is just either not tired for that nap or when you give her a nap, she refuses to go to sleep on time, or she goes to sleep on time but starts waking up at 5:00 in the morning, she’s just getting too much sleep. So instead of eliminating the nap altogether, you could drop it down from 2 hours to 1 hour and see if that helps. And then, you know, maybe in the next 6 to 12 months, you could try dropping it. There’s going to be a period of transition where some days, she’ll need it, and some days, she won’t, and that’s totally fine.
Chris: She goes to school two days a week, and there, she will take a nap like a champion. Her teachers are like, oh, she laid right down and put herself to sleep.
Alyssa: Of course she did!
Chris: Like, what? How did you do that? Teach me your ways! And one of the things that they do at school is they have a sticker chart. That’s where I picked up that thought because I was like, what’s working for you? Please tell me! Tell me all your secrets! So they do the sticker chart, and then when they get, like, five stickers, they get to pick out a reward. So maybe that’s like — she came home with a pink sparkly bracelet one day, and she thought she was the coolest girl in the world.
Alyssa: Oh, maybe you buy, like, a little treasure box for her that she knows she gets to look in and pick something. You know, that way it’s, like, there in the house; she can see it, and she knows she gets to dive into that treasure box every Sunday. So she has to, you know, Monday through Saturday, has to get a sticker on the chart, and then on Sunday morning, she gets to choose a little prize from the treasure box. That’s a good idea.
Chris: I feel like she would be so geeked about that, like if she could see it and know there was, like, treasures inside.
Alyssa: Yeah. I wonder if you could even find, like, a clear little locking — I’m almost picturing, like, what looks like a makeup case or something.
Chris: Like a Caboodle?
Alyssa: Yes! A clear Caboodle filled with sparkly toys. That’s a great idea.
Chris: That would also just be so fun for me to put together!
Alyssa: Right? It would be, like, the cutest thing ever!
Chris: No, I think that that would really work for her, though! And, like, the reminder of being able to see it would be, I think, enough to keep it top of mind for her that, like, we’re going to work towards this.
Alyssa: Yeah. Be a good incentive for her.
Alyssa: Yeah. So maybe try that!
Chris: I will!
Alyssa: So the third R is roleplay, and this could work well for her if she, you know, has, like, a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Like, you would use roleplay with that little stuffed animal and put them to bed. So you’d kind of do a little condensed version of your bedtime routine with the stuffed animal. So you could say, let’s make rules for — you know, my daughter has a teddy bear named Fuzzy. So let’s set some sleep rules for Fuzzy. Let’s put him to sleep and then give him a kiss, sing him a song, and then you kind of just close the door and go out into the hallway and wait. And then you just wait a couple seconds and say, okay, I think he’s sleeping. Let’s go check on him now. That, in her mind, triggers, oh, I think when I go to sleep, Mom and Dad might be waiting out in the hallway, like, checking on me, and that makes them feel comfortable, even if you’re not out there. And then you go in and say, oh, good job. You know, Fuzzy’s sleeping. Let’s put a sticker. You could even make a little chart for the stuffed animal and give the little stuffed animal a sticker on their chart. And, again, you know Sam best. Maybe that works for her; maybe it doesn’t. But it’s worth a try.
Chris: Yeah. I love that!
Alyssa: And if you don’t make a chart, you could put a little sticker right on the stuffed animal’s hand, like right then and there, and be like, oh, my gosh. It’s so great! And then in the morning when Sam wakes up, you can say, okay, let’s go check on the stuffed animal, too, and see how they did. And you just make it silly and fun, whatever — and they also kind of feel like they’re in charge, then, of this little stuffed animal’s sleep schedule. And most two-and-a-half-year-olds like to be bossy, so…
Chris: I think she would love that. I think she would be so into it. That’s a really fun one.
Alyssa: So maybe you could make, like, a little sleep corner for the doll or stuffed animal.
Chris: Yeah. She does have a little crib for her babies.
Alyssa: Oh, perfect.
Chris: I love that. Good one!
Alyssa: And then the fourth one is returns. So when you say in the middle of the night she wakes up and needs your help and you’re in there for an hour, you know, you kind of want to — we don’t want to be in there for an hour, but you also don’t want to do the bedtime routine for an hour, so everything needs to be super quick. Like, remember when she was a baby and we would just kind of let her fuss it out, but we would always go check on her. But the check-ins were, like, super quick. They’re quiet. No talking. We’re not there to entertain her, and especially now toddlers love attention. So if she knows, okay, I’m nervous. I’m scared. I woke up in the middle of the night. We obviously want to go comfort her. But we also want her to know that you’re not going to lay there with her for an hour at 4:00 in the morning because you’re exhausted, too. So it would be more of, like, going — whether she got out of bed and came to you or was just crying in her bed, you could go — you know, you could go lay down with her for a second, or not even lay down; just, like, lean on — kneel on the floor and shush her or something. Like, you don’t even need to talk. Just shush, give her a kiss, rub her hair, and then say, okay, it’s time to sleep. Remember your sleep rules. And then leave. So you want to be in and out really quick again. And she’s old enough to understand, like — and you can tell her, like, Mommy and Daddy are tired, too. I need to go to sleep. So you definitely don’t want to do — and you said she’s kind of over that, but hopefully she’s done, but if she did that again — but then just kind of apply that same thing, too. If you put her in bed and then she pops right back out and you’re watching TV and all of a sudden there’s a little pitter-patter of feet behind you, just do it really silently and quickly. And you don’t want to say — you want to keep it positive, if you do say anything. You don’t want to say, oh, you got out of bed. You don’t get a sticker. You don’t want to say anything negative or talk about consequences at all. Don’t remind them that they won’t get a sticker. They just won’t get one in the morning, but we don’t want them to get all upset in the middle of the night, which makes it harder for them to go to bed.
Chris: Interesting. Yeah. So have it be just a positive reinforcement but don’t, like, rub it in?
Chris: Like, well, there goes your sticker for the week.
Alyssa: Yeah. And I find myself doing that. You know, my daughter can take forever getting ready for school, and I’m like, you’re this close to losing your iPad. And then all of a sudden she’s crying, and here I am, I’ve got five minutes to get her out the door, and I just messed everything up because now I have to say, oh, I’m sorry, and console her, and now she’s crying and all upset, and she has to go out the door crying, and then I feel awful all day. And I’m like, why did I just do that? You know, like, I can talk to her after school about listening better. It’s the same thing in the middle of the night. We’re tired. We’re furstrated. They’re not listening to us. And we’re like, you just lost your sticker. And kind of get upset, and then they’re crying because they can hear that we’re upset, and they just lost a sticker so they’re sad. So it’s not that you won’t do it ever, but just try to keep it in your mind. Just try to keep it positive. Like, I know you can do this. You’re a big girl. You can go to sleep. I don’t know if that helps.
Chris: That does help a ton. And yeah, I’m sure there will be times where I’ll slip up and accidentally bring it up.
Alyssa: None of us are perfect. That’s why I try not to be too hard on myself. But, gosh, sometimes it’s hard. Do you think a sleep training clock would work for her? Would she, like, understand a light turning on at a certain time?
Chris: Okay. So we do have one of those, the Okay to Wake clock, and I set it so that — well, it was right before daylight savings time, and I set it so that it would turn green at 7:00 a.m. And since daylight savings time, she’s been awake much earlier, so like 6:00-ish, and she wakes up just kind of like — I don’t know. It feels like she wakes up and thinks, like, what the heck? Like, where am I? What’s going on? Got to find Mom. And so I am up anyways, and I’ll just open her door and let her come out, but I’ve been thinking about how I can get her to stay in her bed longer.
Alyssa: So when the time changed, did you adjust her schedule?
Chris: We did.
Alyssa: And it just didn’t really click?
Chris: We’ve just been in a little bit of a funky timing thing where bedtime started taking a lot longer, so even though we start it at the same time, it would take her longer to fall asleep. And then you would think that that would make her sleep in later, but of course, it has worked the opposite and she’s been getting up earlier.
Alyssa: Well, that could be a sign, too, then, of that maybe you just need to try shortening that nap.
Alyssa: And maybe that will push your morning out a little bit. So she’s normally getting two, and you could even ask, you know, at school — how long does she nap at school?
Chris: Like, an hour. An hour and a half at the very most.
Alyssa: Yeah. Maybe ask them to —
Chris: And same at home, too.
Alyssa: — get her up after an hour and see if that helps.
Alyssa: Or 45 minutes, if she’s normally doing an hour.
Chris: It’s just so terrifying to wake up a sleeping child.
Alyssa: Do it slowly! Go in gently. I mean, even with a baby, you know, you would just kind of slowly maybe turn the lights on dim and sit on the bed and rub her back or something and slowly wake her up. Doesn’t need to be loud and abrupt with glaring lights in her face.
Chris: Interesting. On one day of the week, she goes to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the afternoon, and on those days, she generally doesn’t take a nap.
Alyssa: Interesting. How does she do at night those nights?
Chris: Just a wreck. She’s exhausted. It’s super hard to keep her awake on the drive home, and it’s really hard to get her to bedtime. And then bedtime just kind of falls apart because she’s so overtired.
Alyssa: So why doesn’t she nap there?
Chris: They just can’t get her down. Because she’s a fighter, you know? You got to be ready of the battle.
Alyssa: It’s so funny. She does it for everyone but those who are closest to her. You know, like, she can do it at school. Because it’s not their parents. Like, they listen to everyone else other than parents and caregivers like relatives or whatever. It’s just the hardest for us, and they know we love them the most, and they just push and push. And usually we give in.
Alyssa: Which makes it so frustrating for us! Yeah, so she can do it, but I get it. If your parents don’t want to, like, even deal with that fight — but they too — I mean, if you’re going to try this, they could also have a sticker chart at their house where — you know, maybe it’s smaller things, that if she lays down and sleeps, she gets to pick out one thing from this jar when she wakes up. So they could use their own version of that. Because she obviously needs it. That’s your first sign right there, when you answered, she’s a wreck. So if she didn’t nap at all, then you would just be dealing with that every day. I mean, she’s not ready. Not ready to drop that yet.
Chris: Well, that’s good for me!
Alyssa: Even when she is ready, though, you can still make her have quiet time. So let’s say in a year. She’s three and a half or almost four, and she just doesn’t need to nap anymore. When she’s at home, she just gets an hour of quiet time in her room. So you still have that hour of reprieve, and she gets to play trucks or dolls or puzzles or color or whatever she likes to do, but she has to do that for an hour.
Chris: And just be quiet in her room?
Alyssa: Yep. Just give her quiet time. So I do have a section on a new sibling. Expect some jealousy, like we talked about. Well, you know, a lot of times, it’s — if the toddler’s in the crib still, they have this feeling of the new baby stealing their crib, but that shouldn’t be an issue since she’s already out of the crib. I would just talk to her a lot about the new baby and how the baby is going to need you for a lot of things, but you’re still the big sister. And then talk about them crying in the night. They’re going to be hungry. That’s why they’re crying. They’re not sick or sad. And that she just needs to stay in her own room in her own bed, and keep the expectations really clear. And then, again, just keep using positive language. Like, I know you can stay in bed because you’re such a good kid. You’re such a big kid. You’re a great big sister. Just keep a lot of positive language. And then really focus on her at bedtime.
Chris: Yeah, and make sure to have one on one for that?
Alyssa: Right. That will be really important. Do you think that they will ever — because I do have a section on siblings who share a room, and I did get asked by someone else who heard a different podcast to share some information about, like, if siblings ever share a room. Do you think that the two of them would ever — I guess that might depend on if you have a girl or a boy?
Chris: That’s true. I mean, I think it’s cute, the idea of them sharing a room, but honestly, for that newborn phase, I can’t even — my brain can’t even comprehend how that would work.
Alyssa: Well, yeah, newborn phase, usually the baby would be in your room in a pack and play or bassinet or something anyway.
Alyssa: But let’s hypothetically say you decide, you know, a few months in or something to move the crib into her room. Ideally, you would put the baby to bed first and then Sam. So, you know, by then, she — let’s say her bedtime is 7:30, but you’re going to put the baby down at 7:00. That could be perfect. So the baby goes down, and if you do any sort of sleep training, or let’s say you read through the plan I gave you originally, and you’re like, okay, at three months, we’re going to start doing some things. Do that while baby’s still in your room, and then, you know, make sure that the new baby is — like, I know that after I put baby down, he or she is going to fuss for, like, 15 minutes and then fall asleep. So that way you know, okay, once I transition — and even if — I mean, this could also work if the nursery is going to be right next to Sam’s room, like abutting walls. It’s kind of the same as being in the same room, because she’s going to hear the baby all the time. But you would know that I can put the baby down. They’re going to fuss for, like, 15 minutes, but then I’m going to start at 7:30 putting Sam down, and then she’ll be asleep by 8:00. Just keeping it really consistent and keeping her bedtime routine really consistent, but getting the baby’s out of the way. And I think if you have to do them at the same time for some reason, you’re just going to have to divide and conquer so that she still feels like she’s got some, you know, one on one time with you.
Alyssa: I think letting her know that babies just wake up to feed, you know, especially at first, but let’s say baby’s three or four months old. If the baby wakes up fussing, Sam will just have to know, like, it’s normal. Leave the baby alone. Don’t try to go do anything because then you’re going to wake the baby up more. Just let the baby fuss back to sleep because that’s the last thing you want, to look at the monitor and Sam’s in there reading a book or singing a song or doing a whole dance routine! Like, I know how to make the baby stop crying! I’ll turn on some music and dance!
Chris: I can picture it! I can totally see it on the monitor playing out in front of my eyes!
Alyssa: Disco ball going!
Chris: That’s really helpful.
Alyssa: Yeah. Just talk to her a lot!
Chris: I feel like we’ve got a kind of a phased plan where it’s like, okay, first, let’s get her — let’s do the rules, rewards. And I think the roleplay thing would be really fun, too, to practice bedtime with her toys and get that going for a while until she gets really good at that. And then we can start talking about what it’s going to be like when the baby’s here and how she can be a really good big sister and teach her sister or brother how to stay in bed and be quiet and those sorts of things.
Alyssa: Yeah. You could even use a baby doll and pretend. You know, if you call your baby something right now, like pretend it’s little peanut or whatever. And then say, let’s teach your baby brother or sister to go to sleep. And then when baby actually arrives, you can make her a part of that process. Like, remember how you do that? We’re going to shush baby. Let me swaddle the baby, and then I’m going to teach you how to help me, like, shush the baby. And she can sit by the crib and go “shhhh” or something. Have her be part of that, and then you slowly walk out together. Then she’ll feel like she’s actually helping and part of this process as a big sister instead of just feeling left out.
Chris: Yeah. Totally. I could see her feeling really cool being, like, a part of the mom squad.
Alyssa: Heck, yeah!
Chris: Awesome. This is really helpful, Alyssa.
Alyssa: Well, thank you for doing this!
Chris: Thank you for all your wisdom!
Alyssa: Yeah. You know I’m always here!
Chris: I know how you knew the asking for a friend thing…
Alyssa: I’m like, wait. Is Sam two? Are you asking about your own child? It literally kind of took me back a minute. I’m like, no way she’s two!
Chris: Let’s just say someone has a kid who isn’t sleeping. What would one do?
Alyssa: Hypothetically… Well, cool. It was so good to talk to you, and congrats again. I’m super excited for you.
Chris: Thank you so much. I’m going for that VBAC this time.
Alyssa: Awesome. Before you go, I can give you a little shoutout. Are you still doing both Biz Babysitters and Sweaty Wisdom or neither or one or the other?
Chris: I am actually doing both. Sweaty Wisdom had a name change, and now we’re Mindful Social Co. So we made a little switch, but still doing that, and then Biz Babysitters had been kind of on hold, but my fire has been reignited with this pregnancy, because I’m like, God, I’m in it right now. I know exactly what this feels like. So that’s back in biz, too.
Alyssa: You learned from last time what you need this time.
Chris: Yeah. Exactly. So it’s fun to strategize on that.
Alyssa: Cool. Awesome.
Chris: Thanks so much!
If you have any sleep questions or would like to inquire about a sleep consultation with Alyssa Veneklase, these can be done via phone and text not only with local West Michigan families, but families all over the country. Contact us here!