When a child has a bedtime routine, they know exactly what to expect and can mentally prepare for it to be time for bed.
Our first child often refers to her bedtime routine, and I love that she knows it so well. I also love that she uses the terminology “bedtime routine”.
She’s had a routine since she was a few weeks old. It’s changed over the years to make sense for her age, but it’s always been a constant and always included a few basic bedtime staples.
As a result, we’ve had minimal bedtime issues, and she loves her routine.
When our son was born, we were able to easily continue her bedtime routine without any interruptions (Caroline was newly 4 at the time).
William was just a few weeks old and going to bed at 9 pm. This allowed us plenty of time to get Caroline to bed and stay consistent with her bedtime routine at 7:30 pm.
Now that William is 2 months old, we’ve transitioned him to his ideal bedtime, which is much earlier than 9 pm.
The goal now, is to start his bedtime routine at 7 pm and have him in bed by 7:30 pm.
As a result, it forced me to reevaluate our bedtime routines for both children, and figure out how to manage both routines at the same time of night.
Caroline’s Bedtime Routine
Caroline is 4 years old, and this has been her bedtime routine for as long as I can remember.
We keep bedtime routines SHORT and sweet!
We’ve changed up the order here and there, and even the location, but the heart of the routine remains…
- Clock turns blue to indicate bedtime
- Brush teeth and hair
- Go potty
- Get jammies on
- Read a book (at one point this was 3 books)
- Hugs and kisses
- Tucked in
- Turn on sound machine
- “Boo” (Daddy came up with this when she was first standing up in her crib)- He leaves the room, and then pops his head back in and says “boo”. It’s evolved into much more, but it’s a staple for the bedtime routine!
Note: We do not include a bath time every night. We do this for a couple of reasons:
- We want a short bedtime routine that we can do anywhere anytime
- She doesn’t need a bath every day. Baths dry out skin, and wash away oils and bacteria that are much needed. She’s healthier as a result!
Since Caroline was 3 months old, her bedtime routine has been around 7 – 8 pm. This time changes every so often when her naps change, but the early bedtime really works for all ages.
Now that William is old enough, we’ve started a consistent bedtime routine with him as well.
William’s Bedtime Routine
William is 2 months old. Even at 2 months it’s important to have a bedtime routine.
In fact, I’d say it’s one of the most important ages to establish the routine.
Babies don’t understand what you are telling them. But they do understand patterns and routines.
They can easily learn that if they are swaddled, and the sound machine goes on, it’s about to be time for bed.
This helps tremendously when it comes to creating healthy sleep habits.
For William, we keep the bedtime routine super short.
He is eating every three hours during the day (you can see his full 2 month schedule here). 6 pm is his last feeding of the day before his bedtime routine starts.
He then stays awake from 6 pm to bedtime at 7 pm. Since he’s been up for an hour already, it was important to keep his bedtime routine to a minimum.
- At 7 pm I take William up to his room.
- I change him into his nighttime diaper.
- The lights are turned off.
- William is then given his bedtime feed.
- When he’s about 3/4 of the way done, I read him a book. For now, we use the same book every night to help in really establishing a good routine (Guess How Much I Love You).
- He is then burped and held upright for a couple of minutes.
- I then put him in his Love to Dream Swaddle Up.
- The sound machine is turned on.
- Hugs and kisses
- He’s put in his crib for the night
Now that we have to do multiple bedtime routines for kids at the same time, it was important to reevaluate a few things…
Questions to consider when doing bedtime routines with multiple children:
- What can the older child do on her own to free up our time to help the baby?
- How can we incorporate family time into the bedtime routine?
- How can we still give each child individual time?
- How can we get them both to bed at the times we WANT and that are ideal for their individual schedules, without compromising the other child’s routine?
Caroline is capable of brushing her teeth by herself, brushing her hair by herself, and going potty.
I have a direct view of the bathroom where Caroline is, from William’s room.
Quiet time can happen in William’s room while I am feeding him. We can incorporate a family story time during this time.
We’ve settled on a bedtime routine that is working very well for everyone.
Both children get to bed at the time that is ideal for their schedules.
We get family time and individual time incorporated into both routines.
This family (with 4 children) also strives for bedtime routines that are ideal for everyone and individualized as well.
Our Bedtime Routine with Multiple Kids
- 7 pm I change William into his nighttime diaper.
- I turn the lights out and sit down to feed him for his bedtime feed.
- The whole family joins me for quiet time and a family book.
- When William is on his second half of the feeding, I read him his bedtime book.
- During this time, Caroline goes to have her last little bit of playtime in her room. She occasionally chooses to stay for this book as well.
- When William is done eating, it’s time for just the two of us.
- This usually happens a little before or right at 7:30 pm.
- Everyone gives hugs and kisses before Caroline and Daddy leave the room.
- I get William changed into his swaddle, turn his sound on, and hold him for a couple of minutes.
- While I’m with William, Caroline brushes her teeth, brushes her hair, goes potty and gets her jammies on (with Daddy’s assistance) and reads another book.
- I lay William down in his crib and help settle him for the night.
- He needs some extra settling lately, so I switch with my husband after a bit.
- I say goodnight to Caroline, give her snuggles, hugs and kisses. If my husband is still busy with William, I do “boo” for Caroline and send him in after for one last hug and kiss goodnight.
There are nights that I get to read Caroline her book, and nights that my husband does it. Nights that I do “boo”, and nights he does it.
The routine has to be a bit flexible in that way so we can help prioritize getting William settled and to sleep.
With Caroline being 4, she’s perfectly fine with the added flexibility, and just concerned with the fact that her entire bedtime routine is completed- which happens easily.
As William gets older and needs less and less assistance, we’ll settle into a routine that is more consistent with who’s doing what.
In the above scenario, we are done with bedtime routines around 7:40 pm. William eventually goes to sleep no later than 8:30 pm. He is usually pretty calm and just needs our help a couple of times
This schedule and the bedtime routine will change slightly as we need to adjust it.
For now, I love that we’ve been able to incorporate a family aspect, and give each child some individual time as well.
The flow and timing is working perfectly for us.
We are really big on family time during the day. I’ve been starting to think about prioritizing some individual time as well, just as we are doing for bedtime.
I see the need already to give Caroline some dedicated Mama time, and I know she’d love the same with Daddy.
I think it is important to have one on one time with our children. Time to connect and talk and grow our relationships.
If that is in the form of an outing, or just at home away from the chaos of every day life, it can still happen effectively.
If you are looking to set up bedtime routines that work for your children, this will also be a useful tool in deciding what aspects to incorporate –> Bedtime B’s.
Immediately! Start as soon as you bring baby home. It will be simple at first: swaddle, turn on sound machine, and turn lights off. As your baby grows and can handle more awake time, you can start incorporating a book.
When baby is eating around the clock, bedtime should be around 9 pm. When they start sleeping through the night more, you want to put them to bed closer to 7 pm. I consider 9 pm bedtime until around 2 months, when I switch it to 8 pm, then 3 months it should be 7 pm.
Give them each independent time with you, and incorporate family time as well. Try staggering the times a bit to help you achieve this. Prioritize the younger child’s sleep time.