You might find yourself wondering, how do I cope with my toddler and my baby at bedtime? It’s a really common question. Just when you think you’ve nailed sleep with your first, you need to consider how to juggle two tired children at bedtime.
Fear not! I have some suggestions to help you. This might not be what you do, so if it doesn’t feel right for your family don’t worry, but it might give you a helpful timeline……
First of all, implement some after dinner play for your toddler. A bit of silly time to allow them to let off steam! I often put on some music so we can dance around while I am actually tidying up a little so that there’s less to do later on.
Give yourself plenty of time for your bedtime routine and try to stay as relaxed as possible. Consistency and staying calm will help. Sometimes it’s happens that one child will get upset near bedtime, but give yourself some grace and know that you are doing the best you can.
Start bath time – make sure you have everything you need in advance. Pyjamas, nappies, towels, toys etc. The key is being prepared.
Get your toddler in the bath first while you safely lay baby on a towel on the bathroom floor. Once toddler is in the bath I would lower baby into the bath with a bath support. You can gently get toddler involved – ask them to help you wash baby (it could be that they stick to just feet with a flannel). Reiterate how helpful they are, and how gently they help with their brother or sister.
Get baby out first (they really only need a short bath). While you are dressing baby, give the toddler a toy to play with and perhaps sing a bath time song together. Once baby is dressed leave him or her safely on another towel or playmat while you get toddler out and into pyjamas. This is the point where its possible that baby might get upset as they are ready for their bedtime feed, but if they have to wait a few seconds, don’t panic.
Pick up baby and head to toddlers’ bedroom. Ask toddler to pick some books while you get comfy with baby. Lots of pillows/cushions are useful here to support you and baby. Take some deep breaths if you feel stressed!
Either cuddle baby and read all together if baby is content, or if baby can’t wait then begin the bedtime feed while you read to your toddler. If it is a little tricky to turn the pages then get toddler in bed and tell them a made-up story all about a little girl or boy called *insert their name* who was the most loved and wanted little child. You can make up silly stories about what they did that day.
Once the story is over, I would take baby into their room/your room (wherever their crib is), and settle them down to bed. Tell your toddler that you will be back in a moment and to either wait in bed, or give them the opportunity to pick an extra book for you to read together for ‘Cuddle Club.’
(Cuddle Club is a concept I came up with for my eldest Daisy!) Its really lovely to have some extra time alone with your toddler once baby is in bed. You can read an extra story or two, or simply spend that time re-connecting with just the two of you.
If your baby takes a while to settle and your toddler is always out like a light, you could consider kissing your toddler goodnight first and then settling baby afterwards. Whatever works best for your family.
If you would like to learn more about sleep and have guidance on how you can approach achieving a well-rested night’s sleep then check out our online courses.
These are designed to teach you all about how your child sleeps and to provide practical suggestions for settling techniques and routines to work towards.