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Bed time with toddler + baby

Updated: May 26, 2023

How to do sleep schedule with a toddler and baby


Are you wondering how to manage bedtime with more than one child ? If bedtime is a struggle with a baby and toddler then you are not alone.


Your toddler will sense that there is a shift in dynamics and they may display challenging behaviours in new ways.


This is totally normal!


Your toddler’s needs are changing throughout their lives which is age appropriate.

New-borns sleep is not linear and can be tough. Early evening unsettled periods are common. So bedtime can be TOUGH.


Everyone needs more reassurance at bedtime and your energy levels may be depleted.


All these things are completely normal but it can be an over load of the senses when you have a baby and toddler screaming at you at the same time! Everyone may end up in tears.


Staggered bedtime


This may need some schedule/routine or nap shifting and your brain may not be up for the challenge so writing down a potential nap schedule can help. You could try putting one child down first and then manage the others bed time. If your toddler requires more reassurances and attention, putting your baby down first may be more appropriate.

If your baby wakes after one sleep cycle then you could get your toddler down in that time (in an ideal world).


Often new born babies will want to come along for bedtime but this may distract your toddler. If this doesn’t worry your toddler, then baby wearing or feeding your baby whilst managing your toddlers bedtime routine might be a good option. Music, stories mediation or audio books may help your toddler drift off whilst you support them.


Staggered bedtimes work well for children who are on different schedules.


Prioritise 1:1 connection and create connection rituals.


If you emotionally connect with your older child at bedtime they are going to feel more secure. However, this is sometimes hard with a new born who has higher needs.


It is important then to connect at other times during the day and then inform the toddler that you cannot wait for bedtime stories and give them a bath, for example. Another way of maintaining connection is giving them a photo of you during bed time, let them sleep with your clothes that smell of you, record yourself singing and play it to them, have a secret handshake you do before bed or an animal with your voice note recorded.


Toddlers love to feel secure and special so sliding hearts under their door at night can see that mummy or daddy have checked in on them.



Control


Toddlers love control. Giving them control will help them feel that they are in charge of their bedtime.


For example


– Allow them to pick from two sets of pyjamas


- Respect their need for space away from the baby


- Allow toddlers to have visual aids for their bedtime routine. This can help reduce resistance.


Make sure you capitalise on your toddlers help and support, praise them. Try not to say “ I am feeding the baby” try and say “I will be with you when I am free and then we can play and I cannot WAIT it is going to be so much fun.”



Top tips

  1. Get everything ready really early. Lay out pyjamas, sleeping bags and books etc.

  2. Let them fall asleep together on a floor bed and transferring them to their own beds can be far less stressful.

  3. Tag team with a partner or any adult willing to support.

  4. Make sure your toddler receives lots of 1:1 time with mummy or daddy during the day

  5. Make routines clear and consistent so your toddler knows what to expect


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