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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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