Bringing a new baby into the family is an exciting but often overwhelming occasion. Trying to juggle two or more little ones at bedtime can be a terrifying thought. Feeding your newborn takes up so much of your time and the thought of being able to settle more than one child to sleep at bedtime might be filling you with dread. It’s a good idea not to worry or panic, it often goes a lot better than you think it will. With some practice and consistency, you will soon be a pro at bedtime multi-tasking!
Here are my top tips for settling more than one child at bedtime:
If your partner is at home and available to help at bedtime, split up the tasks and share the load. Try to alternate between children so they don’t get accustomed to only one parent putting them to bed. If your partner isn’t available one night it will avoid your little one having a wobble when things are a little different.
2. Allow more time
You may be used to a slick bedtime routine with your older child but it is very likely that it will take longer with two or more little ones. Take the pressure off yourself by starting the bedtime routine slightly earlier than usual. Bedtime routine are a great cue for your little one that sleep is coming helping them calm down to be ready to sleep. Try not to make the bedtime routine too long as it will lose its focus.
3. Decide which steps of your bedtime routine can overlap
Try a few different ways and find out what works best for you. Perhaps they can have a bath at the same time or maybe you can feed your baby whilst reading a story to their older sister. As parents we become the champions of multi-tasking so take up every opportunity to overlap or it will leave you completely exhausted.
4. Choose which child to put down first
There is no right or wrong here. You might decide to put the easiest one down first or the one who is the most tired. Aim to be flexible with this and this may change from time to time.
5. Save a special basket of quiet toys for your older child just for bedtime
This will give you extra time if you choose to tuck your younger one in if they are ready for bed before you go to finish off bedtime for the older one. Please do not be tempted to stick them in from of their favourite TV program as the blue light will be preventing melatonin production. Another option is to give your older child some ‘helper jobs’ which will keep them busy and give them a feeling of accomplishment. You could ask them to help get the nappy out the pack or get some clean pyjamas off the shelf.
6. Now is a good time to invest in a sling
Being able to wear your baby will free up your hands to deal with your older child. Having your baby in a sling might mean it is possible for you to bedtime stories and cuddles with your older child without constant disruption from an unhappy baby.
7. Stick to your guns
Children thrive on routine and predictability as it makes them feel safe and secure. Try to keep their routine and your expectations as consistent as possible. Toddlers love testing boundaries especially whilst you are distracted and not 100% focused on them. Bending the rules is likely to make them feel less secure and upset them more than sticking to the rules. It may be hard but try not to let your guard down and stick to the boundaries you have set.
Remember, it will not go smoothly every night. Don’t look at this as failing, life happens, but staying calm and level-headed will really help to stop the situation from escalating. Most importantly, once you’ve got them all settled in bed, take some time for yourself before you start the endless list of laundry, clearing up, replying to emails etc etc
I hope these tips help you juggle your children at bedtime. If you would like personalised advice and support with your little one, please get in touch with me or head over to my free Facebook support group or Instagram page for regular sleep tips and advice.