You might find yourself wondering, how do I cope with my toddler and my baby at bedtime? It’s a really common question I get asked actually. 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.
Implement some after dinner play for your toddler: Have a bit of silly time to allow them to let off steam! I find this is really important for toddlers and it lets them get out their last bits of energy before the bedtime routine starts. 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. I do try to get the kitchen and playroom area completely cleaned up so it’s ready for the next day… as there is nothing worse than walking into the kitchen or playroom after the kids have gone to bed and it’s a complete mess!
Get organised: Organisation is key! Make sure you have everything you need in advance of starting bath time. Pyjamas out, nappies ready, towels, toys out, sleep sacks ready in cots, dummies washed etc. They key is being prepared. Get your toddler involved with this – let them choose their PJs for example so they start to grow a little independence and giving them choice is really good for them. I really recommend a nappy caddy which has everything you need in it. Have a few nappy caddies around the house – they are so handy! Then start to run the bath!
Bath time: 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.
Story time: Pick up baby and head to toddlers’ OR your 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 bottle feeding, have your bottle ready to go before you head up for bath time (leave it in a bottle warmer pouch). 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.
and bed…: 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 “special story time”. Special Story Time is a concept you can use. It is 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.