How do you manage your baby’s naps when you also have a toddler?

Can you give any good tips on managing nap routines and nap popups when you have an older child? My seven month old definitely wakes up between sleep cyclesand I was wondering what one can do with a two and a half year old while I’m running upstairs to soothe the baby so he keeps sleeping. I remember with my first I could really focus on his naps and nap routine but with my second it’s a little tricky.

It’s amazing how things change with baby number two, isn’t it? The answer to your question depends on how you want to manage naps going forward. At seven months you could do a nap intervention to teach your son to connect sleep cycles if that is something that you want to do. Once you are finished with intervention, then you wouldn’t be required to help him bridge sleep cycles. If that isn’t something that you’d like to do, then you’ll want to make sure your son has an optimal nap environment — darkness is particularly important for longer naps. You’ll also want to anticipate your son’s wake up by strategic planning with your toddler. Since sleep cycles have a predictable duration you can estimate when he’ll need your help. Plan to have your toddler engaged in an activity that will keep him/her occupied before your baby wakes up. For example, start coloring with your toddler right after you put the baby down, so that you can have some meaningful time together. As your baby’s sleep cycle waking approaches, direct your toddler to “color a picture for mommy,” then sit nearby while s/he works independently for a few minutes, then go help the baby just as he wakes. The fastest way to get your toddler to follow you to the baby’s room is to have an abrupt or forced transition in response to the baby waking. Obviously you should also make sure your toddler is in a safe location while you’re bridging the baby’s sleep cycles. Good luck!!

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