Our toddler bedtime routine is one routine I started very very early on. In fact my son was still a newborn when I began to create it.
He is now nearly two and half and whilst we have tweaked it to accommodate it. Very little of the core structure has really changed.
When we started it was Winter ( he was an October baby). So we set a bed time of 7pm. This worked for us as a family. When I returned to work in the Spring. It also meant I could make it home in time to do the bedtime routine personally and not miss out on little man for the night.
The first part of the routine would be done by my mother in law. Who would have him until I arrived back. She would feed him his dinner around 5.30pm and then do bath time within him. Having him dried, dressed in pyjamas and ready for a feed by the time I got back at 7pm.
I was still breastfeeding up until my son turned 1. So I would come in, take him upstairs. Sit comfortably in the nursery and feed him in dim light. With a backdrop of humming and soft music before putting him down awake.
Bedtime got pushed out to 8pm as he grew. Something that I am still not 100% sure I am comfortable with. But that I have rolled with for now.
Living in Portugal the summers are hot and especially the late afternoon and early evening. It is still particularly the middle of the day at 7pm. So making bedtime 8pm meant that we could get him outside after the hottest point of the day. To play and get some exercise before starting the bedtime routine.
He still tends to eat somewhere between 5.30 to 6.30pm as lunch at crèche is 11.30am. However bath time now is closer to 7 or often after 7pm.
Whilst he is still napping in the day. I am happy for it to stay this way and with the arrival of a new baby in the next few months. Having a slightly later bedtime means that I am able to get the baby ready and down before turning my attention to my older son. Obviously we have yet to trial this. But my hope is that if my next son is as good a sleeper as my first. He will settle and I will get to have some quality one on one time with my older son. Still being able to read him a bed time story and have snuggles without baby.
This is important given that I am 90% alone for bedtime in our household. My husband works nights and my mother in law needs to leave to get her bus home before it stops running for the day.
I have remained strict at trying to stick to and in-still the routine. It’s something I strongly believe has helped us with transitions. Such as sleep regressions, a house move and a change from a cot to a proper bed. Because without fail nothing changes in our routine and my son knows what to expect.
I am so rigid that it’s an immovable object. If I did that the stress it could create would be a nightmare. However when there are times when we have to relent. Actually having a set routine has helped me to keep things as normal as possible.
We may be late back from an afternoon activity or an appointment or have to many things going on. But I can look at the clock and jump into that routine at any given time.
On most evenings my son will be bathed. However if we need to we will skip this and go straight to pajamas. He will get his nightly bottle of milk at the same time and his story read in the same way. It all helps even when things aren’t normal to keep them as normal as possible for him.
I know when our second son arrives later this year, it will be a challenge to keep to the routines we have and some things will need adapting. However I strongly believe bedtime will not be one of them. It will help us to create a new bond as a larger family and keep things normal at the same time.
The only change I foresee now. Or for the foreseeable future, is that I will pull my older son’s bedtime forward to 7pm. When the time comes for him to drop his day time naps.
From that point on, it will pretty much be the same routine and habits until both my boys are older and in school.
What time do you put your little one’s to bed? Do you follow a routine. I’d love to hear from those who don’t and how that works for them?