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We have a 2.5-year-old child. Our toddler was colic for the first 6 months, then slept like a champ - seeming to make up for his past indiscretions as an infant ;)

At 2 we transitioned him to a "big boy" bed by taking a wall off of his crib. He presented no issues, didn't even get out of bed at night. All good stuff.

At 2.5 we have brought a baby sister home. The acting out started the moment we got home due to us being away for several days. It has steadily increased for a few weeks and has now become part of bedtime. He now fully screams, at the top of his lungs, for 2 hours. He gets out of bed, opens his door (which is gated) and screams for us. His timing used to be 6:30 to 7pm for bed. Now it's between 9 and 10 with endless screaming. The icing on the cake is he's waking up several times through the night requiring attention to be soothed... And now wakes up at between 3:45 and 5am.

We have tried taking him back to bed constantly (over 75 times), laying on his floor, tried putting him to sleep by soothing him at his bedside, yelled back, etc.

Patience is at a premium and we are exhausted from the baby, and now he's more affecting our (my) sleep than the baby.

I've spent hours reading resources online and so far we have yet to find anything that has positive effect on this predicament. Any help or recommendation?

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Welcome Andrew! Congratulations on your new daughter! I am going through the same struggle as you with my two sons (One being 2 years old, the other now 1 month old) and I'd like to share what my wife and I have observed with our children to try to help you.

We've found that there aren't any 'tricks' that consistently get our son back to sleep, only principles that we try to adhere to. The best we can do is try to understand what our older son is going through and provide parental guidance and structure to help him process being and older brother.

1.) Consistency: Your son has spent his entire life only knowing being an only child. Now that he has a sister, time and attention have changed and his understanding of the world has completely shifted. This can come out in multiple ways, waking at night being one. Provide consistency of schedule, attention and response while he is adjusting to life as an older brother.

2.) Communication: Communicate with your partner about everything - struggles, anxieties, ideas...etc. Approach night time as an expedition team approaching a mountain climb. Discuss who will run the bedtime routine for your son. Discuss who gets up for each child. Be open and willing to take on double duty for each other as well if there's been a rough(er) patch but keep communicating.

3.) Patience: Your son is working through a world altering shift and he is adjusting. This will take time and there's no way to avoid it. Attend to his needs as he expresses them and know that as you do, he will become more secure that you are still there for him.

4.) Be Flexible: Life changes over night. Don't hold too tightly to any given schedule or plan.

Every night is different and difficult in varying ways. What worked last night will have negative affects the next night. As best you can, listen to your son, observe his behavior and discern why he is behaving the way he is. Work to address the cause of outbursts, tantrums or waking up at night and behavior will follow.

  • This is good, solid advice. Allow me to add that both of your sons have had their routines disrupted by their new siblings. Infants cry at odd hours in the night, quite possibly contributing to their big brothers waking up. Mimic the middle of the night scenario for both your children. If the baby wakes for milk and a diaper change, offer big brother a chance to go to the bathroom and get a sip of water, then back to bed (just like the baby). Their needs will be met and bedtime will become less and less of a struggle. – elbrant Feb 19 at 4:49

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