“Should I have another baby?” is a question that spins through a lot of parent’s minds, but when your first is a horrible sleeper, it gives it a whole other meaning. Can you go through this again or, worse, what if the next child is an even worse sleeper? For some of you, that might not even seem possible. This article will be part 1 in a sibling series that will explore how you might make the decision to have another child or not and sleep tips for handling more than one child, multiples, or otherwise.
Beyond practical matters such as the cost of having a baby, there are a lot of emotional triggers in your decision to grow your family with another baby (or babies). I look around at some of these larger families and wonder how they can have 3, 4, even 5 children! My two boys run me fairly ragged. 🙂 But, as my eldest gets older and even more independent, I can definitely see that things are easier in many ways, and still hard in others.
Although I don’t know what drives your decision making, I will share tools that I used to decide to go ahead and have a second child (and I’m glad I did!) and why we stopped at two. Ha! Obviously, I can’t tell you the best decision for your family, but I will try to help you consider different aspects of it. 🙂
Weighing the Pros and Cons
As with any good decision, I weighed the pros and cons of having another baby. First, it’s never about quantity. The love you have for a baby, even if that is the only thing on the pro side (which it’s not) could outweigh a million cons.
In my case, it was not the sleep-deprivation that was my biggest con, but more so it was the experience surrounding sleep that made me pause about having a second child. Could I go through the first two years all over again? Could I take months to teach a new baby to sleep if it came to that, again? Could I go through all the frustrations, again? After all, it inspired a whole website about it! I could handle the temporary sleep loss of breastfeeding once or twice a night, but could I get up every two hours AGAIN and start all over? Not to mention, it probably could have been more bearable if my son was at least happy when he didn’t sleep enough, but he wasn’t! He was such a crabby pants without sleep that it made everything so much more stressful. Add in his intensity and persistence and he is a high-demanding little boy, even at 5 years old.
In the end, my pros: the light of my life, the smiles he did have, the laughing and giggling, the hugging, the breastfeeding bond, the nurturing, teaching him sign language, watching him grow, seeing him learn to read, etc., and cherishing all of the time we did have together NOT surrounding sleep was worth every minute of frustration I had trying to get this little boy to sleep!
Looking at the best-case scenario
As I was pondering the pros and cons of having another baby, I envisioned the best-case scenario:
My son was finally sleeping all night, most nights (still wasn’t perfect at this point, especially when the nightmares started) and I envisioned him only getting better. I envisioned having another baby who was a dream sleeper from the beginning and was one of the “easy” babies I’ve heard about. Ahhh… daydreaming can be fun, even if you know it will probably be a pipe dream. 🙂
Looking at the worst-case scenario
After seeing the best-case scenario in my head, I said to myself “But, what if…the new baby is a worse sleeper and my toddler’s sleep starts getting worse with a new baby here?” After all, I’ve helped plenty of people whose third child is the difficult one, for example, not the first. The worst-case scenario looked something like this:
- Toddler goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m.
- Baby wakes at 9 p.m.
- Baby wakes at 11:30 p.m.
- Toddler wakes at 12:30 a.m. with a nightmare
- Baby wakes at 1 a.m. before you even make it back to bed
- Baby wakes at 3:30 a.m. but doesn’t go back down until 4:30 a.m.
- Toddler wakes at 5:30 a.m. for the day and then goes to wake up the baby
Now, repeat it every day for months. Yes, it can happen. What’s worse than getting up frequently with a baby? Getting up with two AT DIFFERENT TIMES! Exhausting. So, this brings me to an important piece that helped me get past the worst-case scenario:
Hey, what was the chance that would happen to me after I’ve worked so hard on my son’s sleep? 😀 I’ve learned so much, I wouldn’t live the worst-case scenario, right? And, how could the baby’s sleep be much worse than my first’s and I made it through that…eventually, right? (Actually, it could get a lot worse as I’ve now learned!) What is another two years? They are only this young once and, how sad, one day they won’t even need me as much and be off with their friends. I can make it through this!
And, so it was decided and I…
Once we decided that another baby would be a great addition for our family, we hurried up to start trying. Sadly, we got pregnant very quickly, but lost the baby 🙁 but, thankfully, got pregnant fairly quickly again a couple months later. Boy, was I soooo glad that I was already pregnant when my toddler hit the peak of his Terrible Two’s. Wow! That’s all I can say as there are no words to describe the sometimes frustration of having a 2 1/2 year old (at least mine). Finally, things started getting soooo much easier around 3 1/2. Yep, a year later and after his baby brother was born.
So, how was #2 as a sleeper?
Well, you can read my sleep training story, but all in all, my second was a MUCH better sleeper than my first. Their temperaments are soooo different! They are both easy and hard in their different ways. My first is challenging in many ways, but he was never mischievous, potty trained easily, and his attention span is solid. The second is easier in many ways, but he’s a “tornado” (i.e. you walk through the house and he’s taken everything out and moved on in about 30 seconds), fairly mischievous though it’s unintentional, and potty training ended up being more challenging. My second was NOT a dream sleeper, but he was also not my worst-case scenario, either, and we never had to do much “sleep training.” He ended up being in the middle. Since he was not “as bad” as my first, I was probably not as rigid, either, ironically. He likely could have been a much better sleeper, if I pushed it more, interestingly enough. Having had his older brother first definitely made me a bit more “forgiving” in terms of what was a “problem” or not for us to work on.
How we knew to stop at two
All in all, I am very happy we went on to have another baby. I can’t imagine my life without either of my boys. I love being a mom, even if it’s sometimes frustrating and draining. But, we did end up stopping at two. I believe that all families know when they are “done” and we saw that time come and go. My husband is a wonderfully involved Dad and one of the best I’ve EVER seen, but he is not a “baby” person (does not like deciphering why they’re crying mostly) and we couldn’t see going through the baby years, again.
Frankly, we also thought very little on the financial impact of a baby, even though kids costs a LOT to raise, but, there were certain factors we did think about money such as traveling/vacations and we knew the bigger our family, the less we could take the family on trips to see the world, which is important to us. We also saw less we could give the kids (less time, less attention, less sports, less whatever), the more kids we had, too. Our family of four felt perfect…for us.
All families will, of course, have different things that are important to them and all families have different patience levels for kids. Until you have kids, it’s hard to envision just how MUCH time and attention they need and, depending on a lot of factors, this may make or break you as a family. Family pressures, work pressures, and marital issues all play into the whole of the family and your family’s happiness level, and should be considered when you make as an important decision as this one. I will say, having your first sleeping well is a must before you tackle the next!
Other parts in the series:
- Sibling Series, Part 2: Juggling Different Baby and Toddler Sleep Schedules
- Sibling Series, Part 3: How to maintain Twins and Multiples Sleep and Feeding Schedules
How do/did you know you should or shouldn’t have another child?
For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan® you can feel good about!
18 thoughts on “Sibling Series Part 1: Do You Have Another Baby After a Horrible Sleeper?”
I found your site after trying to put my 9 month baby girl arround 5 hours and even at that time I used to think I wanted more than 2. Now that she is almost 2 years, somedays I feel like I don’t want more kids but next day I want 4 and have a big and happy family.
My husband have always said he wants 3. I don’t know yet what to do and my biggest fear is to leave a big gap between my first and second!
I always knew I wanted at least 2 and used to think I wanted 3, however we have decided 2 is enough. My first son was a bad sleeper, but he got slighlty better after the year mark when we did a bit of cc, he didn’t sleep through until he was 2 though and every so often will go through a bad patch of either waking early or nightmares etc, but he goes to bed really well. I truely thought that i would get lucky second time round as you never get two the same right? Well that is right because Oliver my second son is a worse sleeper *sigh* at almost a year we co-sleep. He goes in his cot around 7 ish and will wake twice usualy before I go to bed at 10 ish and bring him in with me. He will then wake once or twice for a feed. I must admit that it has put me off having another I dont think I could cope with another bad sleeper.
Great topic! I always knew I wanted more than 1 child – no specific number. My husband was reluctant to have our #1, then he came around and even though we had some issues with #1 it didn’t stop us from falling pregnant after 13 month, I lost it and then lost another. Now #1 is 18 months and frustration on all sides is setting in, the only good thing is that # one is finaly sleeping 11-12hrs straight, but my husband is back to saying no kids due to the daily dramas. As I’m still recovering from the loss, it’s difficult to see how things will work out but the topic is on my mind a lot. Thank you for pointing out the pros and cons!
What perfect timing. My husband and I have just decided we want another ride on the baby rollercoaster with our first 12 months old and still a bad night sleeper. We figure, it could all be different in nine months and if not than we’ll handle it because, in the light of day, they’re really worth it.
Another good article! Nicole, every time I read about your personal experiences, I cannot get over the similarities to ours. We always wanted 2, and in spite of the challenges with #1, we jumped into it. We also got pregnant quickly, and lost that, leading to the 27 month spacing between our girls. Our #2 is also much easier in a lot of ways. She’s still only 5 months old, so it’ll be interesting to see how much more different! Potty training in particular I’m crossing my fingers on b/c #1 was done by 21 months(!). Tonight was a good illustration of what you talk about with not pushing as much with #2 on some sleep things; she had a tough time b/c I’ve been finding it almost impossible to provide a regular schedule for her and she has been getting over-tired too often. I would still say she’s solidly in the middle (although I may be back in touch with some recent issues!) instead of a ‘dream’ sleeper or as bad as our first. I have to say, the first couple months with 2 were pretty much that worst case scenario you describe – and worse as our oldest was quite sick during the first 3 months after our second was born, which led to the whole host of issues you helped on with her.
One thing I’d love to see you address on a practical level is how to handle older children & younger children’s different sleep needs. Our #2 is NOT flexible on her sleep environment so far, so it’s been very hard to provide regularity for her and to not keep my oldest cooped up. Hopefully you’ve got another good article up your sleeve?? 🙂
What an interesting topic! I admire people who can have many children close in age together. In my situation, however, my daughter turned out to be difficult if not impossible to wean at age 1. So, I continued breastfeeding her until after age 2. That means my children are 3 years apart by natural child spacing. My daughter was a terrible sleeper as a baby and toddler, but as a 3 year old goes to bed easily, sleeps 12 hours each night and rarely wakes us up. I guess I am just trying to point out that if the first child is a bad sleeper, it’s not always a “now or never” situation.
My son was a difficult sleeper. He had reflux and I know I did things wrong with him at the beginning in regards to his sleeping. At 8 months he started sleeping through the night (7a-7p). So we decided we would try for #2. well, it happened quickly for us as we are expecting in November and just a quickly as we got pregnant, my son started waking up in the early morning and now at 1yr old he is having trouble napping some days which leads to a disaster all night. Having said all this, we are still so happy that we have a second one on the way. I guess the silver lining is that at least we never got used to having a full night of uninterrupted sleep so adding a waking newborn will be less of a shock since we are already used to waking in the night. 🙂
i finally decided to have baby no. 2 after my 1st daughter is 5 years old, i know it’s too big gab between them but i was so afraid bec she was sooo bad sleeper,,now i feel so calm and optemistic after reading your words and hope it can work on me…
I’m pregnant with no.2 and still up with no.1 (1yr old) most nights. He was sleeping at one point but I started work again – had to – and although he’s happy in daycare, he’s become more clingy at night. Teething and the bugs they pick up from other kids doesn’t help. But we always wanted 2 kids reasonably close, so they’ll have more in common growing up. Plus at 35 if I leave it too long… you know the score. So here we go! Due in February so all I ask is the strenghth to take each day as it comes. And we’re saving like crazy so I can get some help around the house in the early weeks. At the moment, when I’m really tired, it’s the thought of the new baby that keeps me going (irony?!?!).
I love this article, thank you for posting! This is something my husband and I talk endlessly about. We always said we would have two, but neither one of were prepared for how hard it was having a baby. I thought the first week 8 of his life were practically impossible, the next 6 were only slightly easier. My little one required tight swaddling and lots of bouncy/swaying/pacing to get to sleep. I was walking up and down the stairs for hours a day getting him to sleep, only for him to wake up the moment he was put down in the crib. I was so emotionally & physically exhausted by the time my hubby got home from work. I had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into and both of us thought no way to a second baby. But then around the 4 1/2 month mark we stopped swaddling and all the bouncing and he just started sleeping better. Everything got easier after that and we finally started to understand why people have more than one baby. My son is an absolute joy and I can’t imagine my life without him and I think that 4 very difficult months was totally worth it. I’ve often times felt like a bad mom because I question if I want more children based on the difficulties I had my first. Its nice to know that other parents have the same concerns and feel the same way. Thanks again for posting.
@Wendi I think the first few months are definitely the most exhausting… and really the first year and then you start to see the light and how people can have more than one. 😀 I’m glad knowing others have the same doubts helps you feel not alone. You are definitely not alone as I have parents ask me sometimes about this and why I thought it would be a good topic. Thanks for sharing!
@Ems I agree! Since my husband and I were “older” we didn’t want to wait too long, either. Congratulations on your new baby! 🙂 I hope you are able to have help in those early weeks. That would help a lot. Good luck and thanks for commenting!
@Mariana Congratulations on having your second! I hope your second is a much better sleeper like mine, too! 🙂
@Jen B That is a silver lining! I often think that parents who are used to getting a lot of sleep and then having a difficult sleeper likely have an even harder time adjusting, so I agree with you. Hopefully, your second will be a champion sleeper! Good luck! 🙂
@Heather You are definitely right that nothing is forever. I think of families with 4 kids and wonder how they go thorough 8 years of sleep deprivation, though! 😀 Well, potentially 8 years. 😉
@Ellen Thank you! 🙂 When your toddler is waking that definitely makes those first few months with a newborn MUCH more difficult. Yes, I’m planning to do a couple of articles on how to juggle more than one child and differing sleep needs. Challenging indeed and, of course, you can only do the best you can in some respects. Thank you for commenting!
@Wendy You’re right about that. Good luck!!
@Anna I’m so sorry for your multiple losses. 🙁 It is hard with the daily dramas of an 18 month to 3 year old. 🙂 They can be soooo cute and soooo frustrating at the same time. My husband was always adamant about two and I was always open to 2, maybe 3, but then 2 seemed really good. LOL My friend’s husband was intent on just one for a really really long time and they just had an “oops” and are expecting another when their eldest is now 6! 🙂 I hope your husband comes around, if you do decide you want another. I know it’s hard with the losses. Good luck to you!
@Alex Oh I’m so sorry your second ended up being harder and even the first was tough! 🙁 I don’t blame you for deciding you can’t do it again. That’s how we felt. Although my second was easier, it still wasn’t “easy” per se, so we just didn’t see going through that first year all over again and still have the energy and attention for our first two. Thanks for sharing!
@Carolina Oh I remember those yo-yo feelings. One day it’s so manageable and then the next is so challenging. Good luck in your decision! I know it’s a hard one, sometimes, and it’s such a personal decision to make. You will know. 🙂 We wanted our spaced about 2 years apart, too. Too long and the kids are in such different places in their lives. Even 2 years is a lot sometimes. My 5 year old just can’t grasp why my 3 year old doesn’t grasp some things. 😀 We didn’t want to feel like we were starting ALL the way over, but there are pros and cons to different age gaps, I’m sure. Older kids can help more with the baby, too, so that seems like a plus. I know you’ll figure it out. 🙂 Good luck!
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