Introducing your new baby to their siblings is a precious moment. The older siblings have been waiting for a “long time” for the baby to finally come out of your belly. The sparkle in their eyes is heartwarming.
But how is your older child going to react after the initial excitement? Are they going to embrace their new sibling or become jealous and clingy?
And for you as a parent, the juggling begins. How do you manage nap schedules, feeding time, and bedtime routines? Especially if you’ve already established a solid sleep routine with your older child. What now? How are you going to get both children to sleep at night?
I have 10 tips to help you juggle multiple bedtime routines so that you can get your children to bed, teach independent sleep skills, and have time to yourself at night.
1. Have one bedtime for all the kids in the house.
This seems daunting. Isn’t it easier to get them down one-at-a-time? Getting two or three kids to bed at the same time seems impossible. Especially, if it seems too early to put your toddler to sleep at 7 pm when your other one is going down. Actually, a toddler still needs 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep, so if your toddler needs to be up at 7 am, the early 7 pm bedtime works.
2. Team up and switch off
If you have a partner who is home and available at bedtime, split the tasks. Switch your roles the next night, so you each have similar workloads and each parent can execute the routine. This has the added bonus of teaching your kids to be flexible with which parents put them to bed. It prevents the tailspins that might occur if a specific parent isn’t available one night.
3. Multitask your routine
As a parent, you are already the champion of multitasking. The same can be true for bedtime routines, double up whenever you can. Bathe your children together, feed your baby while reading bedtime stories, and so on. Find ways to overlap tasks.
4. Minimize the bedtime routine to 15-30 minutes
Does your toddler ask for one more story before bed? Stick to a defined number of stories. Keep your routine short. These bedtime routines are vital for teaching your child that it’s now time to sleep. The consistency helps your child’s brain and bodies to know that bedtime is approaching which stimulates melatonin production, which is the hormone that signals their bodies to wind down.
Often, I recommend starting your routine with a bath because it’s a notably different activity. It sends a strong signal that it’s time to get ready for sleep.
5. Save a special activity for bedtime
Sometimes, you’ll need some time to put the baby down while your toddler is still awake. During these times, it is great to have a non-screen related activity to pull out. This activity should be quiet and not require one-on-one help. Also, it shouldn’t be too stimulating or be something that your child can put down when it’s time to be put in bed.
A special coloring book or sticker book is a great option.
6. Enlist your toddler’s help
Get your toddler to help out with the bedtime routine. They can help retrieve the pajamas and diapers, or lay out the toothbrushes and toothpaste. Toddlers love structure, predictability and a sense of autonomy. Giving them the role of helper not only occupies them, but it gives them a sense of accomplishment.
7. Stick to your guns
Consistency – it’s a word that I use a lot. Toddlers love to push the boundary and are constantly trying to see how far they can cross the line. And when things get busier with another child in the picture, it natural to bend the rules a bit and overlook previous rules or expectations. Without the former consistency, toddlers can feel a little lost and tend to throw more tantrums when they aren’t getting their way. As I said before, kids thrive on predictability. Try to keep the routine and expectations similar to before your baby arrived.
8. Don’t resort to TV or other screen time before bed
I know, I know… they are so quiet and peaceful when the TV is on. But screens are wolves in sheep’s clothing. That peaceful time is exposing your child to blue light, which stimulates cortisol, the hormone that has the opposite effect of melatonin. It wires your child up and they won’t be able to settle down right away.
9. Hiccups will happen
Everything isn’t going to go smoothly every bedtime. If things do start to unravel, it’s not failure on your part. Kids are unpredictable. There will be tough nights and a few bedtime battles here and there. Just stay calm and stick to your routine.
10. Embrace the peace and quiet
Once everyone is down, take 5-10 minutes to yourself. Don’t check your email or start the dishes. Just unwind. Take a breather. Parenting can be stressful, so take a moment to celebrate that you made it through the day and are teaching your kids to be sleep champions.
Have you tried these tips and still struggling to make it work? A sleep coach can help you develop a plan customized to your family’s needs. We’d love to chat with you.
We want to know what you or your baby/child are struggling with so let’s chat! We bet we can help. Schedule your free, no-obligation 20-minute phone call to see if we are a good fit.
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