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Juggling Bedtime Routines With Toddlers And Newborns

After those first magical sibling moments and all the adorable photos, comes the reality of juggling everyone’s sleep routines. As your new family member begins to settle in, some very real issues begin to surface, like: How to get baby to sleep with toddler around? Who do you put to bed first? Or, what if you have a toddler to take to childcare and your newborn is due for a nap?

It takes planning, asking for help (if it’s available), being a bit flexible and sometimes thinking outside the box, but it is still possible to lay the foundations for your baby’s sleep while looking after the needs and routines of your other kids.


Tips on how to get 2 under 2 to bed

Managing the bedtime routine with toddler and newborn, could be considered by some as an Olympic event. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Use some of the handy tips below to help ease the chaos at bedtime with 2 under 2.


Invest in managing your toddler’s sleep routine before baby arrives

If you can manage to get your older child into a solid sleep routine before baby number 2 arrives, it will go a long way to helping you manage double-bedtime. This is where establishing sleep routines early will pay dividends. Invest in getting your toddler to follow their bedtime routine consistently.

Beware the trap of providing your toddler with hands-on settling at bedtime, or sitting with them while they fall asleep on a nightly basis. This will put extra pressure on a household with a new baby.


Keep to your schedule

Being consistent in your approach to bedtime can save your sanity. Keep your toddler in their established sleep schedule. Your infant will follow their own Sleep-Feed-Uptime cycle, but before long should fall into a predictable pattern at which time you will be able to have a nightly schedule.

When bedtime rolls around, it’s a good idea to put your toddler to bed first. Your newborn’s schedule will likely be a bit more fluid. Once your toddler is off to sleep, you will be free to focus on your newborn.

It’s ok to have flexibility within your schedule, if things go a bit loopy, you have your schedule to help re-establish consistency and give you a framework to work from.


Create a consistent sleep schedule

When your baby is old enough to have established some consistency with their nap times, it’s a great idea to create a consistent sleep schedule for both children. A schedule will help give you markers in your day. There’s no need to think of this schedule in military terms. It can simply be a tool and a foundation from which to build and create consistency, and help form good sleep habits for the future.


Praise appropriate behaviours

Reinforcing your toddler’s good behaviour by offering them praise when they help with baby or play quietly by themselves, is often far more effective than scolding them for doing the wrong thing. Enlisting your toddler as a helper in the process rather than seeing them as a hindrance can help change the dynamic in the home from being a daily struggle, to something lighter and more rewarding.


Ask for help

When support is available, consider reaching out to your family, friends, other mums or dads at school or day care to help you with pick-ups and drop-off’s while you stay at home with your little one who’s sleeping.  It doesn’t have to take a village to raise a child, but it certainly helps!

If you’re doing it on your own, or there’s a day when you don’t have the luxury of someone helping out, just do your best. If you have to wake your little one from a nap or two, it’s okay. See if they can make up their sleep at other times throughout the day or if it’s been a bad day with lots of broken sleep put them in bed that night a little earlier than normal.


Use help if you have it available

If help is available to you, use it. Wherever you can, let your partner, a grandparent, an aunty or uncle assist you if they are there. Why not let someone else give your bub a cuddle while you put your toddler to bed. Or perhaps someone else can take your toddler through their bedtime routine while you feed your baby and put them down to bed. Hands free time is invaluable when doing double-bedtime.


Common FAQ’s from parents on juggling older kids and baby sleep

Many people experience the emotional and physical merry-go-round of double-bedtimes. These frequently asked questions below may help provide some clarity.


What to do with a toddler when putting baby to sleep

Generally speaking you have two options here if you’re by yourself.

  • Your toddler can sit somewhere nearby and do a quiet activity, or
  • You can involve them in the process as a helper (or a combination of both)

Enlisting your toddler to be a helper in the process can be an effective way of engaging their attention. Assign them simple tasks, like passing you baby’s sleep suit, or turning on baby’s white noise, to help buy you time when settling your baby.


How do I get my baby to sleep with a noisy sibling

Young children make noise. It’s hard to be ok with this though if you’re sleep-deprived and have just got your infant down for their nap. The best thing to do to save your toddler from waking your baby with their noise, is to engage them with other activities. Offer them quiet activities to do while baby is sleeping. These could be:

Distraction is a helpful agent to help avoid sudden and loud noises that can wake your baby. It’s not the end of the world if you have to use a bit of screen time for your toddler, to give you some time to get baby to sleep. You can still control the program selection and duration, but when everyone in the house needs a rest (including you) there’s no shame in using an episode or two of a favourite tv show as a tool to help ease the stress.

White noise machines in your baby’s room are also a useful tool to help diffuse loud external noises.


How do I keep my toddler quiet while my baby sleeps?

Rather than trying to accomplish the almost impossible task of keeping your toddler quiet while your baby sleeps, perhaps strive for the more manageable goal of keeping the noise to a dull roar. Baby can become used to ambient sounds and likely sleep through them. If you aim for complete silence, you may essentially be helping to create a light sleeper.

Within a family home, it’s important to still be able to function as a family with a reasonable sound output.


How do you manage naps with 2 under 2?

If you are by yourself and having to put both your children down for a nap during the day you may be wondering how to put baby and toddler to bed, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Involve your toddler as a helper in the process of putting your baby down to sleep, get them to help change a nappy, dim the lights or help swaddle your baby
  • Remind your toddler their nap time is approaching while you’re putting your baby to sleep
  • To keep your toddler occupied while you’re settling your baby, you could consider a giving them a snack, offering some safe, quiet play, or using a distraction like screen time to ease the stress of settling baby
  • When you have your baby to sleep, stick to your toddler’s nap time routine
  • Try to put your children down to sleep in different rooms if it’s possible

Things don’t always work out perfectly. If things go pear-shaped with putting both your children down for a nap, as they will from time to time, take a deep breath and do what you can to get each to take their nap when you can. Be flexible within your plans and ask for help if you need it.


Juggling the sleep needs of young children can be exhausting, especially if you are on your own. The good news is, the clichés are true. It will pass. The trickiest of times will before long be replaced with clearer skies. So, in the meantime accept all the help you can and create a daily schedule to help give you a stable foundation when life seems chaotic. If you need support, reach out to friends or one of the trusted services in our Support Directory.

At Love To Dream™, we know that every child is different, and we’re committed to helping you to find the right solution for your family. With you at every step, Love To Dream™ believes today’s little dreamers are the shapers of tomorrow. For further advice from our experts, visit our Sleep Library.