As a parent, the blissful and rejuvenating sleep you once took for granted becomes a precious commodity when you have both a baby and a toddler. Balancing the sleep needs of two young children can be a challenging task. I remember sleep training my daughter Evalyn was she was 6 months old and she slept like a champ after that. But when I gave birth to my son when Evalyn was only 21 months old, I got apprehensive about how we were going to navigate sleep with a baby and a toddler.
And as a baby & toddler sleep coach, I developed some sleep strategies to really help with bedtime in our home. And I’m going to share a few of those strategies with you so that you can create an easy evening with a toddler and a baby as well. Here’s how you can get a peaceful night’s sleep for both your baby and your toddler by syncing bedtimes, creating consistent routines, providing individualized attention, creating separate sleeping spaces, aligning naps when possible and maintaining flexibility.
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While your baby and toddler may have different sleep requirements, both of your children generally will need between 10 – 12 hours of sleep at night. And it’s beneficial to align their bedtimes as much as possible.
Aim for a bedtime that allows your toddler to wind down alongside your baby. This synchronization will not only simplify your routine but also foster a sense of togetherness and harmony among your children. I typically recommend a bedtime sometime between 6:30 – 8:00 for both babies and toddlers.
An early bedtime for babies and toddlers can be beneficial for both them and you as their parents. First, it promotes healthy sleep habits and ensures that children receive the recommended amount of restorative sleep. This, in turn, supports their growth, development, and overall well-being.
Second, an early bedtime provides us as parents with much-needed downtime and a chance to recharge after a long day. It allows for personal time, relaxation, and quality time with your partner. Ultimately, an early bedtime benefits the whole family by fostering a peaceful evening routine and setting the stage for a successful night’s sleep for everyone involved.
Establish a Consistent Routine
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine for both a baby and a toddler can be a game-changer for parents seeking to save time and provide flexibility in your evening schedules. By synchronizing your children’s routines, you can streamline the bedtime process and allow for either one parent or both of you to handle it, depending on their circumstances. Here are the steps that I used with my children:
Bedtime Routine with 2 Kids
Bath Time: First, you can begin the routine by giving both your baby and toddler a warm bath. This is such a great way for them to bond and signal to them that bedtime is approaching.
Into Pajamas: After the bath, you can give your toddler a choice as to which pajamas they want to put on. Get your baby dressed into their pajamas and their sleep sack.
Brushing Teeth: Once your children are dressed for bed, take a moment to brush the toddler’s teeth. If you have two parents doing the bedtime routine, one of you can brush your toddler’s teeth while the other begins feeding your baby. But if you’re doing the bedtime routine solo, you can put your baby in the bouncer, or somewhere safe while you
spend a couple minutes on your toddler’s teeth. Brushing teeth establishes good dental hygiene habits from an early age and also prepares your little one for sleep.
Feeding Time: While the toddler is getting their teeth brushed, one parent can simultaneously feed the baby. This multitasking approach allows you to attend to both children’s needs efficiently. But if you’re on your own, now is a great time to have your toddler sit next to you as you begin reading to them.
Reading to Your Toddler: With the baby still being fed, you can start reading bedtime stories to your toddler. Allow your toddler to chose two books for you to read to them.
One More Book: Once your baby is done feeding, you can pull out one more short baby story so that your baby can be involved with story time as well.
Putting Your Baby to Bed: After you’ve read a book to your baby, gently place the baby in their crib or bassinet. Turn off the lights and then bring your toddler into their room.
Story Massage with the Toddler: After you’ve put your baby to bed, bring your toddler into their bedroom and have them lay down in bed. You can spend another minute or two with them doing some story massage to help them settle and bond with you before going to sleep. If you’re not sure how to do Story Massage, check out Once Upon a Touch…it’s amazing!
Toddler’s Bedtime: Once the story massage is complete, tuck your toddler into bed. Give them a hug and a kiss and turn off their light as you leave the room.
Provide Individualized Attention
Despite syncing bedtimes, it’s crucial to ensure each child receives individual attention during the bedtime routine. It allows each child to feel seen, heard, and valued in their own unique way. Each child has different developmental needs and requires personalized interactions. By allocating at least 10 minutes a day for one-on-one activities with each child, you can nurture you bond with each child and meet their individual needs effectively.
For your baby, individualized attention provides a sense of security and attachment. Engaging in activities such as gentle play, talking, or singing to your baby helps build a strong parent-child connection. These moments of undivided attention contribute to the baby’s emotional well-being and aid in their overall development.
Similarly, spending one-on-one time with the toddler fosters a sense of importance and self-worth. Engaging in age-appropriate activities like playing games, crafts, or engaging in imaginative play helps stimulate the toddler’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. It also creates opportunities for you to teach and reinforce important skills, such as problem-solving, communication, and creativity.
Benefits One on One Time
Moreover, individualized attention helps prevent feelings of jealousy or rivalry between siblings. Both your baby and toddler benefit from knowing that they have their parent’s undivided focus and affection during their dedicated time. This reduces the likelihood of attention-seeking behaviors or conflicts arising from perceived favoritism.
During this one on one time, it should only be one parent with one child. If you have a partner, you can each take turns spending that one on one time with each child. Say you have the baby for 10 minutes while your partner plays with your toddler. Then you switch while you get that undivided quality time with your toddler. Of if you’re by yourself with the two of them, you can do that one on one time while the other child is napping or is content playing on their own in a safe place where you can watch them.
Create Separate Sleeping Spaces
Providing separate sleeping spaces for a baby and a toddler offers numerous benefits for both children’s sleep quality and overall well-being. Ideally, each child should have their own bedroom, allowing for individualized sleep routines and minimizing disruptions. However, even if they must share a room, creating separate sleeping spaces is still advantageous.
Firstly, separate sleeping spaces promote better sleep for both your baby and the toddler. Each child has unique sleep patterns and needs, and sharing a sleep environment can lead to disturbances that affect their rest. Having their own space allows for a consistent sleep schedule, reduces noise interference, and provides a comfortable environment tailored to each child’s preferences.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing between parents and infants for at least the first six months. This close proximity enables easier nighttime feeding, monitoring, and decreasing the risk of SIDS. However, you can still create a separate sleeping space for your baby within your own room. You can have your baby sleep in their own bassinet or crib in your room. This provides a safe and separate sleeping area while still maintaining proximity and accessibility for the you as their parent.
In cases where your baby and toddler must share a room, establishing separate sleeping areas within that space is essential. Using room dividers, curtains, or furniture placement can create a visual separation, giving each child their own defined sleep zone. Ensuring that each child has their own crib, bed or sleep surface helps maintain a sense of personal space and reduces disturbances between the two.
Having separate sleeping spaces also promotes independence and healthy sleep habits. This fosters a positive sleep association and helps both children learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently, which is beneficial for their long-term sleep habits. And finally, it also helps establish boundaries between the baby and toddler, reducing the likelihood of accidental disturbances or interruptions during sleep.
Align Naps When Possible
Nap times are essential for both your baby and toddler. Coordinate their nap schedules to the best of your ability, aiming for overlapping periods of rest. This will allow you to have some downtime for yourself or engage in activities that require a quieter environment.
Syncing nap times can be a juggling act and it’s not always going to work because of the timing of your baby’s awake windows as they get older. But if you’re able to make it work for a while, take advantage of it!
And if you’re not sure how many naps your children should be taking or what their awake windows are, check that out in my free sleep resource guides.
Download Your Free Sleep Guides
As a parent, it’s crucial to embrace flexibility. It’s is absolutely fine if every night doesn’t go as planned. That’s okay. Life as a mom with more than one child is HARD! But you’ve got to get out of the house and enjoy your time with them too. So don’t be stressed if your baby needs to take a nap on the go so that you can get your toddler to swim lessons to have an outing at the zoo.
And if bedtime gets pushed back because you went out for dinner that’s fine. You children will be able to adjust for these disruptions. I like to follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to sleep. Try to be at home for naps and on time with bedtime 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time you can get out and live life!
Help Adjusting to Sleep with 2 or More Kids
As a mom of two myself, I understand what a challenge sleep can be when you have two of more kids. Your toddler who once used to be an amazing sleeper, may all of a sudden be regressing once the new baby arrives. Or your baby just won’t sleep no matter what you try. What worked with your toddler may not be the right approach for your baby.
And as a sleep consultant specializing in newborns through children up to 8 years old, I can provide valuable assistance to your family if you’re struggling with sleep. I provide tailored guidance and step by step strategies to help establish healthy sleep habits for both children, ensuring that everyone in the family gets the rest they need.
How A Sleep Coach Can Help
One of the key ways I can support your family is by developing personalized sleep plans. I will take into account the unique sleep needs, developmental stages, and temperament of both your baby and toddler. By understanding their individual circumstances, I can create a comprehensive plan that addresses specific challenges, such as bedtime battles, frequent night waking, or difficulty with naps.
Furthermore, I provide ongoing support and troubleshooting throughout the process. Adjusting to new sleep routines and learning how to self soothe can be challenging. But I will be there to answer your questions, address concerns, and provide reassurance along the way. I understand that every family is unique, so I will work collaboratively with you to adapt the strategies to your specific circumstances and parenting style.
Let’s chat about your family’s sleep struggles. I provide a completely FREE Discovery Call so that I can learn more about your children’s sleep and walk you through how my sleep coaching program can help. I can’t wait to get your children sleeping well!