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newborn bedtime routine vs toddler bedtime routine

Newborn Bedtime Routine vs. Toddler Bedtime Routine

How to successfully negotiate bedtimes when you have a toddler and a new baby in the house.

As your family grows, your bedtime routines change - and for many, this can mean that a huge upheaval is on the cards. But don't fear! Lots of families find the transition tricky at first but that doesn't mean it will always be hard work. In this post, we're looking at parents of toddlers who have just welcomed a new bubs, how the newborn bedtime routine differs from the toddler bedtime routine - and how to adapt each one to make them work together. It can be done!

A good bedtime routine is important

A good bedtime routine is SO important if you want to have some order in your home. When it comes to sleep, little ones need to know what's expected of them and a good solid routine helps immensely. A good routine helps to show your child that it’s bed time and therefore time to sleep and if you already have a good routine with your toddler then it shouldn't be too difficult to get one going with your baby too.

What a typical toddler bedtime routine looks like

Mum of three, Sarah, told us: "Before his sister came along, our toddler would share a bath with his elder sister at around 7pm. They would then both snuggle in our bed for stories and then settle down for sleep in their own rooms. My eldest would never be seen again until the morning but my son was a different story. He liked to 'stall' for time quite a lot! He'd need a drink. He'd need to be tucked in. He'd need more plushies. You get the idea. But he did stay in his room and he did always fall asleep easily. Staying asleep was not on his agenda but that's a different story. So, his bedtime routine was:

  • 7pm bath
  • 7.30pm story
  • 7.45 bed
  • 8pm sleep

What a typical newborn bedtime routine looks like

Sarah also told us: "My son had just turned two when his little sister was born. She was breastfed, so immediately our routine needed tweaking. Often, she wanted to cluster feed at bath time, so I wasn't able to be there for the others. Luckily, Daddy was able to take over and some nights I was able to stay for stories but mostly I had to stay away to tend to the baby. As she got older, she started to have baths with the older two, so we could adapt the bedtime routine a little for her too. We started having shorter stories all together and individual stories in their own rooms so that my son still had some alone time with one of us. The routine changed quite frequently though, because the baby was so unpredictable. So, the newborn’s bedtime routine looked like this:

  • 7pm bath
  • 7.15pm out and pyjamas on
  • 7.30 feed

What the family routine looks like

It took us a while to get into the swing of a newborn / toddler bedtime routine. Most nights the toddler went to bed first, having his bath and story as he had done before the baby came along. Some nights, they all bathed together, then had stories separately. On a typical night, the bedtime routine looked like this:

  • 7pm bath
  • 7.15 pm baby out
  • 7.30 baby feed, older ones out
  • 7.40 older ones’ story time
  • 8pm bed
  • 8-10 baby feed on and off

Maintaining the bedtime routine with a newborn

It’s important to try to keep your usual routine going with your newborn so that the newest member of your family can simply fit in with what already works with everyone else. Based on the routines above, your new routine might look like this:

  • 6.15 bath
  • 6.45 pyjamas on
  • 7.00 baby feed and bed / older two stories

It's not always easy. Make a point of regularly assessing your routine to make sure it’s still working. As your children grow older, their needs change and so do their habits. Go with the flow, let your children lead you but do remember that the best foundation is always a consistent routine, no matter what.

Best of luck!

How did you manage your children’s bedtime routines when a new baby came along? Share your story and tips with us.

Free baby sleep tips according to your baby's age

Further Reading:

The Importance of a Good Sleep Routine for the Whole Family
10 of the Best Baby Sleep Books and Apps
Three Baby Sleep Problems and How to Fix Them

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