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Combined Toddler and Baby Bedtime Routine

Submitted by on Sunday, 16 November 20084 Comments

When you have a toddler and a baby, finding and implementing a bedtime routine that works for both kids can be harder than a camel’s hump.  We created a routine that has worked well for us and the kids for about a month so far.  If you have a baby that is about 3 or 4 months old and a toddler that is about 2.5 to 3 years old, give this combined bedtime routine a try.  It may add some much needed peace to your evenings.

The routine starts with dinner together as a family.  If your work schedules allow you to have dinner together as a family, then by all means this is the best way to start your bedtime routine.  With a small baby, this can be, and is, a challenge.  Usually we try and have Sweet Cheeks near us at the table while we have dinner, either in a bouncing baby chair, or lying on some blankets with some toys to keep her occupied.  If she gets fussy, one of us holds her while we eat.

Getting both baby and toddler to bed can be harder than my head

Getting both baby and toddler to bed can be harder than my head

After dinner, it is time to clear the table.  You can involve your toddler in clearing the table, as we do with Smarty Pants.  Sometimes both parents can’t clear the table, depending on the baby’s needs.  While one parent is clearing the table, the other one can start preparing the baby for the next phase of the routine:  the bath.

The bath is a great bedtime signal for the kids, and helps to bring some calm and relaxation to the end of the day.  I find the warmth of the water soothes them and tires them, making the perfect segue from day to night.  We find it is most efficient if both mom and dad get involved at bath time and bathe both kids at the same time.  It is a great way to spend some time together as a family as well.

When both kids are done bathing, it is time to divide and conquer.  One parent starts the baby bedtime ritual, while the other one takes on the toddler bedtime ritual.  If mom is breastfeeding the baby, then she may be better suited for the baby bedtime ritual.  That leaves good ol’ dad on toddler watch.

So, mom gets the baby dressed, gives her a baby massage, feeds her and burps her, lays her in bed, plays a lullaby and perhaps creates some white noise while baby falls asleep.  In parallel, dad brushes the toddler’s teeth, brings him to bed, reads him a story, sings him a song and kisses him good-night.  (For more details about individual baby and toddler bedtime routines and rituals, see my baby bedtime routine jam and my toddler bedtime routine jam).

If all goes well, both kids will fall asleep around the same time, and you can re-con with your spouse for whatever you fancy.

As far as timing goes, we try and have dinner sometime between 5pm and 6pm, then bathing sometime between 6 and 6:30pm, with the kids ideally asleep by about 7pm.  Depending on your kids and your own work schedule, an hour later might be more suitable for you.  In any case, if possible, it is always good to have the kids in bed by 8pm at the latest.

If you can get your kids into this routine, you will probably find that they will fall asleep without much fuss.  The beauty of using routines that are the same night after night is that your kids know what is coming next, they are used to it, and they expect it.  They know that once the routine is over, it is time to sleep, and indeed, they do sleep.

Do you have any further ideas for a combined toddler and baby bedtime routine?  Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

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  • [...] written a few Jams about toddler bedtime routines and a combined toddler and baby bedtime routine, and both of them include having your toddler take a bath or shower.  What if my toddler refuses [...]

  • MommyC says:

    I have 2 boys, one is 2 years 3months and the other 7 weeks. I am trying to impliment a sleeping routine that works for baby and toddler. 2 year old has a routine (set before baby came along) well to be honest it wasnt set in stone, but it was working. Now with baby, I am trying to get baby sorted before toddlers routine has to start.
    So that means I start babies bathing at 6pm, baby massage,jammies, fed and “hopefully” asleep by 6:30pm. While I am bust with baby, toddler watches Teletubies and eats,from about 6:30 – 6:45pm toddlers routine starts, bath (6:30pm), brush teeth, massage (quick one because you have to catch him most of the time, and he doesnt sit still!) jammies (7pm), story and “hopefully” asleep by 7:30pm – 8pm.
    My husband works night shift every 3rd week, so for that week I am alone with the kids, which makes this routine VERY difficult, I try get my mother-in-law over to help or my sister (which by the way was her first night tonight and I think I’ve scared her off kids for atleast the next 10 years!) but I am not always able to get someone over to help, then its very tricky and extremely tiring. Plus having “other” people help is also a mission abcause they dont know the routine (or in my mother-in-laws case: she just does her own thing) it takes long to get both kiddies down and properly asleep.

    I am exhausted. And I have to start working again as from next month. I dont know how I am going to do it?\

    Any ideas for possibly making my life easier???? I’m desperate!\
    (Just a note…. Drugging the kiddies did cross my mind for a split second! Tempting as it is… I would never do that!)

  • Head Jammer says:

    Hi MommyC, thanks for your comment and sharing your situation. That is a really tough one. When mine were around that age, I usually put the older one to bed while my wife put our baby to bed. I think if you can follow a routine it will help things along.
    Perhaps you can combine their bath time – give them both a bath at the same time, and that way after the bath you can have them both in their jammies at the same time. Then, while you are feeding the baby and putting baby to sleep, your 2 yr old can watch a video and eat.
    Then, when the baby is asleep, you can then brush your 2 yr olds’ teeth, wash his face, and read a bedtime story.
    That at least takes away the extra bath, which can be exhausting in itself.
    Let us know how it goes and all the best to you!

  • yan says:

    dear sir,i have a 27month boy n a 3 weeks old girl, and my husband travels a lot for work. because of my birth n recovery from it,he didnt travel for about a month but next week onwards he is resuming his travel again. im breastfeeding my girl n my boy is started to be attention seeking, very active n not listening to my words as how he was before the arrival of baby.he deliberately testing my patience n tolerance,i still have to do groceries, send him to the nursery, cooking, washing, housecleaning, laundry, breastfeeding, changing diapers, giving them baths,rest!!without eating well n enough, my hormones wont work on breastfeeding….im scared n freaks out when both cries at the same time n i dunno who to handle first!!!wat should i do?

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