Bedtime routines should be a peaceful affair.
But keeping bedtime relaxed can be pretty much impossible when you have two under two.
I love that there is a small age gap between my two children.
When my baby is walking and talking, I hope they will play together. It will be lovely to see their relationship evolve.
But that small age gap presented big challenges in the early weeks, and one of the toughest was bedtime for two.
I found it really stressful and very noisy. If you can accept early on that it’s going to be like this and you just need to find a method that works for you through trial and error, you will feel much better about it.
I read Gina Ford’s bedtime routine tips for two small kids. At no point does it mention what to do when the kids are both screaming the place down. It’s written as if they would both be completely well behaved. Maybe she’s only dealt with angel babies, but my two get testy at bedtime, however well they have napped. It was at its worst in the early weeks of having my baby.
One thing to remember is, it does get better and easier. Most babies are fussy in the evenings and this makes bedtime particularly tricky. But they won’t always be like this.
Bedtime for us normally starts at 6.30pm and the kids are in bed by 7.30pm.
My tips for a good bedtime routine for two under two:
Bathe them together
Get an Angelcare baby bath seat or similar so you can be handsfree. This means you can wash toddler’s hair first, and get that trying bit out of the way, then wash the baby while your toddler is playing. I always get my baby out first and let my toddler splash about while I’m dressing her.
Have their bed clothes ready
I bring a changing mat into the bathroom with me along with nappies and PJs for both kids. That way I can get the baby dressed while still watching my toddler in the bath. Then I leave my baby kicking about on the changing mat so I can get toddler out of the bath. I wrap toddler in a towel, give her a cuddle dry and dress her while she is standing. You can always bring two changing mats into the bathroom to make this easier.
Find a distraction
Give your toddler a few toys to play with on the baby’s bedroom floor. Or stick the toddler in front of a TV upstairs for a few minutes. This can be a real lifesaver in the early weeks, when breastfeeding is tricky and you’re struggling to get a good, non-painful latch.
Have a decent chair in at least one of the children’s rooms
We have a pullout sofa bed in our baby’s room. It’s been a lifesaver. It means I can sit with both children comfortably when reading to them. Plus I can sleep there in the middle of the night when baby is up constantly.
Feed the baby
Give your toddler their cup of milk (if you trust them not to spill it) and feed the baby. If the baby is being really difficult, pop her down to kick about on the floor. If she’s not happy with this hold her in one arm while you read a bedtime story to your toddler. If you haven’t managed to get a full feed in the baby, read bedtime stories and clean your toddler’s teeth. Put her down for sleep and then go back to feeding the baby.
Don’t stress the order
Sometimes I put the baby down for sleep first, sometimes the toddler. It all depends who is whinging most, who is the most tired and if the baby is being funny about feeding with her sister in the room.
Accept there will be tears
You only have one pair of hands. Sometimes you will have to focus on one while the other is crying for you. Try not to let it bother you too much.
Have something to help you relax afterwards
It helped me to have something to calm down in the early weeks as I was always frazzled from all the screaming! Chocolate, a glass of wine, a shower. Whatever it is, find a way to destress.