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How do you parent multiple kids to sleep?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm about to lose my mind. My newborn daughter is 4wks and was born preterm at 35wks. This threw us for a loop and I'm extra sensitive to her needs. We have a spirited 3yo who is 4 in Dec. and has been particularly difficult to put to sleep. She's also going through a sleep regression while trying to adjus to a new sib. DH doesn't put her to sleep-- never has really. I nurse her though she barely drinks-- mostly latches for comfort.

Our newborn is now getting very fussy in the evenings and my husband and I are having lots of trouble staying calm. DH does more harm then help and we are getting DD to sleep very late. He tries to rock her to sleep but it's usually last resort. I'm really missing DD1 so I want to spend that time with her, but DD2 just plain NEEDS me and I'm having to keep DD1 up till I can get the baby to sleep. It's all very chaotic. DH is feeling useless and gets really upset with me for not letting him do more. I won't let my baby scream with him while DD1 comfort nurses to sleep. I just can't do that right now.

Any tips on how to balance? I know things will eventually settle down but DD1 is just so hard to put to bed we are at our wits end!
post #2 of 19
Towards the end of my pgs I've had my dh take over getting the kids to bed. My babies have all been fussy in the evenings and need my attention when its bedtime for the older kids. My advice is let your dh put the oldest to bed, just try to get your cuddle time with her earlier in the evening or day. Cuddle with the oldest at a time when baby is content.
post #3 of 19
My DH usually puts our oldest (3.5yrs) to bed as well. When he works evening shifts though, I have to do both girls. I usually lay in bed with one on either side of me. If the baby will tolerate it, I feed DD1 for a short period (I have a strong feeding aversion with her now so can only tolerate a short feed). I then sing to her or scratch her tummy or both while feeding DD2. When DD2 was tiny I would sometimes have to walk her in the bedroom while I sang to DD1 who was lying in bed. These days we can all usually stay in bed together.

Good luck. It is one of the harder aspects of having more than one child I have found.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
It IS so hard right?

I'd really like to transition from nursing to just a backrub etc. and wish I could just lay down with DD1. Right now she's NUTS before going to sleep and refuses daddy, so nursing has been the only way to relax her. I do it sitting up not laying down. And YES to the nursing aversion which has been difficult the entire pregnancy-- I can barely stand it now 4wks postpartum.

DH would have put her to bed while I was pregnant but her bedtime became so late I wouldn't ask him to as he'd lose so much need sleep if I did. He also lacks the patience and commitment it takes to get DD1 to sleep. She's definitely got some issues calming down that we need to work on but is pretty normal for her age. He doesn't see it this way and blames me for not doing things differently.

So yeah I'm having trouble relinquishing this responsibility to DH because once he's back to work (he was laid off after I delivered early because it was a new job and they didn't know I was pregnant!) I'll probably be the one putting both kiddos to bed anyway. I'm not sleeping in our bed (we cosleep with DD1s twin next to ours) anymore anyway and am very sad about that. DD1 used to be able to roll over and snuggle me and has to rely on daddy now. It is so difficult finding a good balance!

I feel like it would be more traumatic trying something new but at this point-- we already are hostile and emotional towards DD1 at bedtime and that isn't good for anyone. DH not being involved was much easier and less stressful for me but he needs to help-- I can't do it alone.
post #5 of 19
I'll start by saying that my DD2 was a big, robust term baby at birth so what I do may not work for you but I figured it can't hurt to share. My DD1 is 2.5 and she weaned about halfway through my pregnancy so that's different too. I do take bedtime as special DD1 time since that's the only time baby isn't around. I was able to convince DD1 to let me nurse baby while I read her stories since my attention is still with her, just my hands are full. Daddy holds the book, I read, baby nurses and after she's full, the interlopers leave and big sis and I get back to business. Meanwhile, daddy does his best. He starts with burping baby and giving her a chance to fall asleep on his chest. He can walk her around or bounce on the exercise ball or try the baby swing. He can try the binky (there are times she wants comfort but no milk and she fusses at the breast), change diaper or if he gets desperate, take her for a ride in the car. Basically baby can come see us until we crawl into DD's bed. After that daddy is on his own for 20-60 minutes depending on how hard it is for DD to fall asleep. I know baby needs me but she's with a loving parent who is busting his hump to comfort her. For me this compromise is working for now. DD2 is 8 weeks old, not super fussy but a typical young infant. I hope you find something that works for you. I think the key is to help the older child be more relaxed and then daddy can handle baby for the duration of a quick snuggle. I feel for you! It's certainly not easy. hug.gif
post #6 of 19
I too would recommend reading to DD1 while you nurse DD2 and then have your DH take one of them while you put the other one down, I would keep the one who is faster to put to sleep. I know it is hard to hear DH struggle with either child, but it is ok and necessary for him to get a chance to figure out his own way. I made sure DH was putting DD1 to bed most nights while I was pregnant with the twins as I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. It was a good thing too since I ended up in the hospital a week before giving birth, so he had to put her to bed then. It may be too much to change now to have him put her to bed, but your DH can still help, let him!

Also, could you tandem nurse them? If not, I understand, but I know being able to tandem nurse my twins especially at bedtime is invaluable some nights.
post #7 of 19
I basically do what Quinalla does. It doesn't work perfectly, but it's as close as we're gonna get around here. For what it's worth, it does ease up once the baby gets past the worst of the evening fussies. Took awhile to tweak it to arrive at what we've got. The key for me is to feed Ds2 first, pass him to daddy, then deal with ds1. That way, if I do hear ds2, I'll know it's not hunger.
post #8 of 19

Hopefully things are looking better for you! I just came in to commiserate and tell you what I did.  My DS will be 3 in November and is very high needs around bedtime - similar situation where as much as DH wants to help, DS shuts him down when it comes time to sleep.  And DD is now 16 weeks, and a typical baby, and typically needed to nurse at some point during DS's routine if I tried to do it on my own.  What I did at the beginning was tandem nurse the kids on the couch while a movie was on.  We would all cuddle up on the couch and by night time DS was wiped out, and basically we would cuddle/nurse until he fell asleep. Once he was asleep we moved him to bed. I had a slight nursing aversion, which was always more intense when they both nursed, but DD would fall asleep pretty quickly and was content just sleeping on my chest, and then DS was the only one nursing for most of the time.  After a little while, once we started getting adjusted to the new baby, he started becoming more interested in the movie/tv than nursing to sleep, at which point I started turning off the TV but staying on the couch.  Eventually he started getting over stimulated enough that being in the living room at bedtime was not working any more.  We tried a variety of different things, and basically now DH handles the night time routine with DS while I get the baby to sleep, then DS joins us in the big bed.  I can't put them to sleep at the same time any more (unless they are both totally exhausted) because they keep each other awake.  When I was pregnant, I did break the nursing to sleep association, so even though he did go back to it for a few weeks/months, I have gone back to letting him nurse for a bit then telling him it's time for the nums to go to sleep, and he will either roll over and put himself to sleep or cuddle up with me and go to sleep.  Our bedtimes typically go pretty smoothly now.  Sometimes I do need to ask DH for a hand with the baby or to take DS back for a little bit if things go awry, but now that we have found a groove it's working out.  It's by no means perfect, and we will need to tweak it some more, but at least we have a go-to right now.  So I would just keep trying different things until you find something that works.  Once you have a framework, you can tweak it as needed to meet your needs a little better.


Where I am having trouble now is nap time!!! It's hard to make up a new routine when they want the old one so badly.  But once the new routine actually becomes routine, it should be easier, right? 

post #9 of 19

DS1 is 3 and 8 months and the baby is now 8 months. By now, we are able to do a pretty smooth bedtime most days, not that we settled in a consistent routine but for any different situation that arises I already have the right fix or I am able to create a new fix then. I will share all the different thing that help.


First of all, I always try to put the baby down first,  I nurse him lying down in bed, in this case DS1 will be : 1- by my side, while I read him whichever books he chooses or 2- still soaking and playing in the bathtub (small apartment) 3- with DH playing something quiet with soft lights (if DS1 wants because he generally wants to be in bed with us) 4- and only when I am exhausted or burnt out , watching animation of sweet books (goodnight moon, owl babies)  in youtube on my phone or laptop in bed with us. 


Then, if the baby doesn't fall asleep, oh oh: It will have already delayed DS1's bedtime due to me trying and trying and just wasting time. First of all: Deep breath! If DH is at home, it is no biggie. By then, the baby is nursed and may spend some good time with papa in the living room while I nurse DS1 to sleep. I may stumble on a very frustrated and cranky papa who feels his life is nothing but tending to family's needs and when he can finally do something by himself blablabla. Well so if DH is specially frustrated (he works a lot) or if he is not there (working evening) I will have the baby in bed with us while I nurse DS1 to sleep. Baby will be besides us: 1- being entertained by lil dolls, toys, rattles that I shake in front of him or, rough confession, (when he was very young specially ) being hypnotized by a phone app of a rattle that I held and shook for him to watch, a few more minutes of it  and DS1 is out. 2- trying to reach for the same toys/dolls rattles as he got older 3- trying to catch different soft animals/balls that I throw back and forth (grabbing him by the foot when he decides to jump off bed 4- the newest thing, sitting in front of a box with different objects to hold, examine and mouth. (well, the baby is nursed when I start with DS2 so he is likely to be in a good mood, if he is cranky, he is either teething, for which he will take Camilia or he is sick then I will try whatever comfort he needs and/or nobody sleeps)


DS1 never sleeps with DH. It has to be me. I don't blame DH at all, This boy has more or less nursed to sleep for over 3 years now.


When DS1 doesn't fall asleep in the breast, we will hang out in bed, I may rub his back while I nurse the baby again. If baby doesn't want to nurse or/and DS1 can't fall asleep, the boys may "wrestle" in bed a bit and we start over.  I may give up sleeping (deep breath again!) and trust that we can start over smoothly in 1/2 hour or so... bring the boys to clean DS1's room (in low light)... Deep breath!


In general, lots of deep breathing and patience, I myself will be sleepy and tired, nursing in a low lit environment can put me to sleep faster than the kids, so I tend to get cranky in the process when all attempts fail. Staying calm helps me find a new solution. There is lots of crying sometimes, from the children or even me. But those are happening rarely now.


When I bring either boy into the bedroom, the light is dim and I have put a few drops of lavender EO on a piece of wipe over our lamp.


Best routine: I bring DS2 in the bath with DS1, they love it. I wash the baby very quickly and bring him to our sleepy/lavender womb while DS1 stays playing in the bath. When he is done (he decides) DH takes him out, brushes his teeth... pee, pajama and he join us in bed. If DH is not there and baby sleeps before DS1 is done in the bath, it is heaven. If not, well... I am working on that one.


Counting DH out of the equation, helped me feeling calmer, It empowered me. I actually learn the best routines and felt the most patient when I didn't have DH around. Counting on him or adding his inability/frustration/whatever-it-is to the process just made things more messy. I found a place where he could help, he helps very little but it is a true priceless participation. Whether if it is fair, I don't know, but it works well this way (for our abilities and personalities).


You will get there and you may even like it more than before. Bed time can be a beautiful time for the family.

post #10 of 19

oh yeah, tandem nursing was so effective! But I hated it so I forgot to mention.


I got up from bed, leaving behind those two little ones deep asleep. It was like winning a battle. But I hated the physical effort, the back pain, the sore arms... it was so stressful for me. It wasn't worth the feeling of power after a won battle. 


But hey, if you go well through the physical challenge... oh it works!!!

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dancingflower View Post

Counting DH out of the equation, helped me feeling calmer, It empowered me. I actually learn the best routines and felt the most patient when I didn't have DH around. Counting on him or adding his inability/frustration/whatever-it-is to the process just made things more messy. I found a place where he could help, he helps very little but it is a true priceless participation. Whether if it is fair, I don't know, but it works well this way (for our abilities and personalities).

You will get there and you may even like it more than before. Bed time can be a beautiful time for the family.

Gosh darn I love your attitude! I'd really love to count DH out. He seriously can't hang for the duration of what bedtime takes with a very young baby and a 3 year old. Well, she'll be 4 in Dec. and it is hard to think about how much she needs to be parented to sleep when in a lot of ways she is so grown up! My DH expects her to just go to sleep on her own and is generally negative about it. I enjoy the special time like you and find myself much calmer without DH but am also really tired.

The baby is just so fussy right now and the added stress of my DH going back to work is hard for me. I will need to let him sleep and either keep DD1 up later then she should be (which just ends up making everyone miserable) or waking up DH to help. Would I really be the only mama here who has done that?

So fast forward 3 weeks and it hasn't gotten much better. Last night was terrible. Both kids were not sleeping and I was up till 4am with a super fussy baby. I've realized now that both daughters have/had a bit of colic. I've done my best with new baby to relieve gas and burping but am only able to hang in there because DH helps in so so many ways. I'm on my own tomorrow night because he's interviewing in the early AM and needs to go to bed early. I'm sure DD will not be ready to sleep when he is, even though we are working on it. So I need to figure out how to cope and time things just right so both kiddos get what they need from me.

Deep breaths indeed!
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
So fast forward 3 months almost and we are STILL struggling with this! DD1 will not go to sleep some nights with daddy even though we got her on his schedule! He ends up staying up much too late and is EXTREAMLY tired the next day. greensad.gif

Should I just take over getting DD1 to sleep during the week? Does anyone do this where the DH goes to bed alone during the week then helps out more with bedtime on the weekend? Does that work or backfire because of the back and forth?

I tried nursing DD1 tonight and at this point I just need to stop. The aversion is at an all time high and I just can't stand to anymore. This is why I wasn't able to get DD1 to sleep tonight. Getting DD to stay laying down in bed is also impossible because she can get into our bedroom where DH is and just wake him up. I told DH he's just going to have to lock the door. But that makes me so sad. I know she'll tantrum over it like daddy abandoned her. I'll just have to explain it to her over and over.

I feel like I've tortured DH with this and he even said he wants to stay in a hotel by his work if it keeps up. Ugh. Help!
Edited by tillymonster - 11/18/13 at 1:24am
post #13 of 19
We do some back and forth because DH works at least one evening shift a week so he isn't here for bedtime. It is always harder for me with the two of them but I think that is more about her sister being there than the back and forth between DH and me.

My DD1 (3.5) takes a long time to settle some nights too. This is our current routine: dinner, bath (sometimes a quick shower), in the bedroom by 7pm at the latest, door closed. She is allowed to watch two Peppa Pigs (8mins each) then lights off. DH will sing to her if she asks and they sometimes talk about the day. She moves around the bed quite actively sometimes but he won't let her play off the bed. She is almost always asleep by 8:30pm, usually earlier if she hasn't had a daytime sleep, but she does really need that wind down time.

Not sure if it's possible for you to do something like that?
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
That's almost just what I did tonight though no bath. I feel like they amp her up so we don't have them every day. Though she needs one more lately. Lol!

Tonight I read her books, told her stories then turned off the light. She protested so we flipped the hall light on. I tried to talk her down with a story while bouncing DD2 in a sling sitting on the edge of the bed. Which almost worked but then I made the mistake of looking at her. She then started crying asking for nom noms and to be rocked so I tried to tandem nurse. It. Was. Horrible! Ugh I wish I could just get over the aversion! I hate it and want to crawl out of my own skin. I could have had her to sleep right then and she was so upset. I felt horrid about it. I want her to be done. I was not planning on mother-led weaning. I made her get off my lap and lay down next to me. I feel like it was a success. She cried much less then I thought she would and did what I said. That was surprising because before she would just take off and go wake daddy up!

I feel like he just won't put in the work and always ends up needing me to help. I told him he needs to just start laying down with her but I think it's something to be worked on over the weekend.

Good to know I'm not the only one who switches back and forth though I feel like that is confusing for her. I wonder when this'll get easier?! When baby starts really getting active I don't see DD1 having the quiet/calm she will need so daddy really needs to help eventually. Though I'm torn because I find I do a better job myself even though it's exhausting.

Do any of your partners complain or have trouble when the plan doesn't work out and they end up losing sleep? He's the only one working right now so I'm trying to be fair. I just feel that it's so hard on my own.
post #15 of 19
Ugh, I feel for you. It is so hard to balance the needs of two at very different stages.

To answer your last question, no DH never complains. At least, not in a blaming me way. We always ask each other how our respective nights were and he will tell me if they had a bad one. Because he works shift work we sometimes have the luxury of allowing him to go back to bed for a couple of hours before work. But I realise that this isn't an option for 9-5 workers.
post #16 of 19

Now that I'm 8 months in, this is starting to get a little easier for me.  The three-year-old has learned to accept some interruptions to the existing routine, and the baby is getting better about hanging out with daddy for short periods while I get older brother settled in.  DS1 falls asleep before DS2, so instead of focusing on getting the baby to go to sleep (which is difficult), I put most of my energy into getting my older child settled, then the baby can take as long as he wants.  Currently we're in an ugly phase where I don't get much, if any, time to myself in the evening, but I realize this is just a phase and can deal with it.  I know it will get better some time.   

post #17 of 19

I was thinking back to what helped when ds2 was born, and really it was more time that dh spent with ds1.  It seemed the more time he spent with him one on one outside of bedtime, the more ds1 accepted and even wanted dh to lay down with him when it was time for bed.  Also, dh developed a different routine from me...like, telling ds1 stories rather than just reading a book ... especially when the lights would go out, dh would just tell stories in a soothing voice until ds1 would fall asleep.  A lot really depended on whether dh felt like it.  I always feel as a Mom, it doesn't matter if you feel like it or not, you gotta put the kids to bed and comfort them, but somehow men seem to complain more about it, as if being tired is really unexpected when you're a parent.  Obviously, if your dh's job depends on it, you gotta figure out alternatives...but I've done tired for so many years, I don't know what else there is, LOL.  I really have to push dh to spend time with the kids in ways they like (rather than letting them watch James Bond with him, grrrr).  But that's really what helps, especially if you're the one at home with them all day.


Have you thought about weaning dd1?  Or cutting back on nursing?  It really is a 2 way street.  I really couldn't nurse past 2 y 3 months with my boys...it drove me crazy, and I felt like that was plenty...I didn't want to feel like I resented them but that's what it started to feel like once I started to have an aversion to the nursing.

post #18 of 19

My oldest will also be four soon and I have a 6 month old too. For us, it works to try and be firm yet kind with our oldest. I start to put oldest to bed at 6:30pm, very quick process. No bath since it makes her more energetic. Story, back scratch. (nursing her is only allowed in morning).  But then I promise to check on her - this proved to be key for us. So while I am doing something else, possibly putting down the baby, who goes to bed for 7pm.  I regularly check in with oldest (pop my head in the door) and then say I will check on her again. If she gets up, I am firm and kind/calm and say it is her bedtime.  I also try to prep her for bedtime sometimes, by letting her know earlier on in the day what it will look like.  "I will tuck you in, then I will be with the baby, then I will come back and check on you."  I don't say it as a question, but a straight-forward, loving fact. "This is what our family does at bedtime" kind of confidence.  Yes, sometimes it goes sideways, but I try remain firm yet kind, even if she is screaming, which she almost never does anymore.  

post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you mamas! Being firm and consistent is key and that's just so hard when one night the baby is asleep or mellow and the next she's fussy and awake. I ended up putting DD in with daddy after exhausting efforts to get DD1 settled. I need to be better about putting baby down but just don't want to! I want DD1 to just lay down next to me! She'll get it. I know she will. But daddy giving up on it and causing me more stress when things don't go his way really irks me. He is trying but only to a point. I want full commitment.

I think it's going to have to be on me to help DD1 to sleep and if it doesn't work, she stays up. I can't really see any other way.

I don't nurse DD1 anymore except for a few minutes most nights though I've gone a few without doing it. I plan to officially wean on her 4th bday. It's been a year longer then I'd hoped. I thought she would have weaned by now! I was hoping it'd be child led but I just can't do it anymore.
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