We just welcomed baby girl #2 to our family a couple weeks ago! We're very excited she's here, but we're also a little nervous about what to do with naptime and bedtime when only one of us is available to help get the girls to sleep. Our older daughter is 15 months old and currently needs someone to rock her to sleep as a part of her naptime and bedtime routine. My MIL is staying with us right now, so she's taken over naptime for the 15-month-old now that I've returned to the office. When she goes home, it'll be my wife at home with the two girls. What strategies do you have for helping multiple children get to sleep with only one parent available?

asked 18 Nov '10, 15:39

Scottie%20T's gravatar image

Scottie T
accept rate: 15%

+1 Excellent question we will soon be in the same situation.

(18 Nov '10, 20:53) Tammy ♦♦

+1 Congratulations with your new addition :) Sorry no strategies but as a thought I wonder if this could this be a good time to try and change the sleeping habits of your 15 month old?

(19 Nov '10, 15:59) Emi

@Emi, that's certainly one thing we're considering. It would be much easier if she could fall asleep in her crib on her own.

(19 Nov '10, 19:23) Scottie T

Our bedtime routine starts with 2 diaper changes and into pyjamas. Then I read 2 books. They both get milk during this time. After this I put them down where they sleep one at a time. I just tuck them in, give hugs and kisses and say goodnight. We read books in my bed which is where the youngest sleeps until we go to bed so I just tuck her in on our way out of the room. She cries a little but by the time we are done with the oldest she is asleep. Our routine works if both of us are available to help or just one of us is.

So basically we do most of the routine with both of them together. My oldest just turned 2 and the youngest is 8mths. Neither of my girls liked being rocked after a certain age. They prefer to be able to fall asleep on their own so our routine really works for us.

Another way to do this is to give them bedtimes that are about half an hour off. Put the oldest to sleep while the younger one is content in a bouncy seat or cooing beside you. Then once she is asleep put the younger one to sleep. Or you can put the little one to sleep first if it works better. It does take awhile to get used to juggling two but eventually things fall into a routine that works for everyone.


answered 20 Nov '10, 16:19

nikjoyce's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

Well, if you've still got sufficient energy or willpower, you could look into trying some of the ideas that other people suggest here.

If you're in survival mode:

  • Lie down in double bed, one child on each side.
  • Wait until both are asleep
  • Attempt to escape unnoticed - (or make the most of getting some rest too)

answered 22 Nov '10, 06:13

Benjol's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

With my older 2 I got very good at rocking the bouncy seat with one foot while rocking the toddler in the rocking chair. I was also lucky that our rocker was big enough that my oldest could climb up with us while I was nursing if he was really tired. (He needed to be rocked to sleep, too.)

You just kind of juggle who's really tired right now and needs you the most, and hopefully the other will be able to hold on and not start crying until you have the first asleep.

My daughter was 17 months old and still nursing when my youngest was born, and for someone that little she actually learned really quickly that if she woke up the baby it would take longer for her to get her turn.

Edit: What Benjol said, if I needed a nap, too, that's what I did.


answered 22 Nov '10, 16:12

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

I've been lucky most of the time to have someone else available to distract the toddler while I put the baby to sleep at night. For naps, and when it's just me at bedtime, here are some things that work sometimes:

  • if the baby is awake, bring him into the toddler's room while I read stories and all that. not easy, as the baby gets fussy quickly if ignored, and the toddler does too! But the routine can usually be shortened. The toddler understands that I have to tend to the baby. I think. This works best for toddler's naptime, as the routine is abbreviated for that.
  • put the baby to sleep in a swing while putting the toddler to bed. Now that the baby is outgrowing the swing, this no longer works very well.
  • put the baby to sleep in his bed (in this case, our bed) while the toddler is busy playing, and hope that he doesn't run in screaming and wake up the baby. then put the toddler to bed.

When the baby was a newborn, I usually put him down later than the toddler, but now that he's 4 months old, he goes to bed first. It's a tricky time for shifting bedtimes. I find myself dashing between bedrooms quite a bit all night long. I go to bed as soon as I can so I can get enough sleep.

I just stumbled across this on Berkeley parents network which is immensely helpful. I think the most helpful piece of advice here is to relax. Bedtime will be chaotic and off schedule for quite a while.



answered 22 Jul '11, 12:44

Anne's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

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Asked: 18 Nov '10, 15:39

Seen: 4,976 times

Last updated: 22 Jul '11, 12:44