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Managing bedtimes with a young baby and a toddler

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Bedtime routine, bedtime, toddler sleep, baby sleep
Managing a baby and a toddler bedtime by yourself has to be one of the most challenging jobs for a parent. You have to feed your toddler, bath them and get them ready for bed and your young baby is demanding an equal share of your attention. You feel torn. Which one to see to first? How can you manage this time optimally without a total meltdown from all 3 of you?!

Many parents don't have the luxury of having two parents home at bedtime. Often one parent is working late so you need to manage bedtime by yourself. It demands a whole new level of skill and endurance. It's the most challenging time of the day!

Toddlers need regular food and fast. Without that a meltdown is a dead certainty. Too often we think that dinner must be home cooked and we need to slave over a hot stove! I'm going to lower the bar here. I remember my mum feeding us on baked beans on toast with a poached egg or even Weetbix at bedtime. Did we complain? No, not at all, we had food so all was good with the world. Add a bit of Avocado to that poached egg and beans and wholemeal toast and you've got an optimum meal that also promotes sleep. Whilst they're getting fed try and grab a bite to eat too. Toddlers love to share plates of food. So why not make enough for two. After all modelling behaviour i.e. eating with them means they will eat up to 25% more food and you're giving them a bit of me time. Whilst you're doing that see if baby needs a feed to help avoid a clash of bedtimes.

Bath-time or not is really up to you. If your toddler is overtired that's a disaster. If that's the case, just get them straight to bed after dinner. You may decide to bath both together to save time. Bath baby whilst your toddler is having fun in the bubbles and get baby out, dry off, dress for bed and put in a bouncy chair (strapped in of course) nearby. Or you may find a bath in the mornings after breakfast is a better way to start your day.

It's good for your toddler to have one on one time and at least a story or two before bed. To achieve this can be a big juggling act! You may need to top baby up again with another feed before attempting to settle. Try and put baby down awake then race off to sit with toddler. Having that special time at bedtime can be just the thing your toddler needs to have a good nights sleep. Going off to bed happily with all your emotional needs met can lead to a peaceful night. It may take a bit of practice to achieve but you'll get there. Rome wasn't built in a day! Read my sister's story on life with two kids under two: Now breathe and relax. Hopefully you'll get a bit of me time and sleep before you're off feeding bub and it all starts again!


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