This post on our toddler bedtime routine is created in partnership with Bumbo, one of our favorite baby brands!
If I were going to give new parents only one piece of advice, it would almost certainly be around developing routines for your babies. The most important one we’ve focused on with both kids is their nighttime routine because it helps babies and toddlers sleep longer and go to sleep more easily.
Now, with a 14 month and a 2 1/2 year old, both of our kids are technically toddlers and our night routines have adapted a little bit.
Even though the routines are not as elaborate as they were when our first was a baby, I still try to hit the same set of sleep cues each night so that sleep comes easily for everyone.
Toddler Bedtime Routine
The bedtime routine starts with bath time. Now, admittedly, baths don’t happen every night around here lately because we’ve been traveling for the summer. But, when I am consistent about bath time, I can tell my kids settle down for the evening better, and it is a great way to fill the time between dinner and bed with some constructive 1 on 1 (or 2 on 1) time.
Recently I’ve added Bumbo’s Elipad to our bathroom here in Boston and it solves the problem I’ve been complaining about for YEARS! Bumbo is one of our favorite baby brands (we even haul our bumbo seat to restaurants on occasion -see this post).
If you’ve ever bathed a child you know you spend long amounts of time kneeling on the hard bathroom floor, probably reaching for the nearest towel to help make yourself a bit more comfortable. The Elipad, which doubles as a toddler pad/ seat, gives some extra cushion while you’re kneeling without getting another towel dirty in the process. It also keeps your knees dry if your toddler is splashing water on the floor that you then have to kneel in.
After we’ve played and washed (when we’re bathing every night I don’t wash the kids each night, only using soap 2-3 times a week), we towel them off on the floor of the bathroom.
Having the Bumbo changing pad on hand makes for an easy comfortable place to dry + dress babies and toddlers. It’s also been super helpful in our new place when one baby is sleeping in the nursery and I need a make-shift diaper station.
In comparison to other changing pads, I love the contoured design that fits to baby for comfort but mostly I love how it doesn’t need a cover and you can easily wipe it down.
While I’m drying off my toddler I like to rub in a little lavender lotion. It supposedly helps calm children before bed, but mostly I do it for the bonding time + skin hydration. Any additional benefits don’t hurt 🙂
Once the kids are in pajamas, I’ll usually put Adelaide to bed first and then Lincoln, but they both have a similar routine at this point.
In the crib
When we head into bed we say goodnight to everything as we pass it (like an ever changing version of “Goodnight Moon.”
“Goodnight Daddy, goodnight bathroom, goodnight lights (as we turn the light off or shut the blackout curtains), etc.”
Because my 14 month old goes to bed first, the toddlers say goodnight as she is heading into her room for the night.
I turn on their white noise (both sleep to the ocean sound on the Sound Sleeper app) and sing a song as I lie them down in their crib.
My 14 month old uses and a pacifier and my 2 year old sleeps on his stomach. They both have a favorite security blanket that I tuck into their hand as I place them in the crib.
Bedtime Routine Summary: Sleep Cues
- Verbal Cue: saying “goodnight”
- Visual Cue: complete darkness (blackout curtains are our best friend and we’ve been known to travel with them occasionally)
- Audio Cue: white noise + song
- Physical Cue: security blanket
We also try really hard to have bedtime be as close to 7pm as we can each evening. My 14 month old usually can’t last that long and is asleep by 6:45 and we’ll often read stories between bath and bed with my 2 year old so he’s in bed closer to 7:20. If we’re adding in stories he gets to pick all but the last book which is always “Goodnight Moon,” “On the Night You Were Born,” or “It’s Time to Sleep My Love.”
I love that so much of the bedtime routine can be recreated wherever we are and take as long as an hour or as little as 3 minutes while still hitting all the major sleep cues. It means that if a toddler isn’t ready for bed he might fight bath time, but by the time we’re putting him in a crib, he’s settled in for the night.
Now, I’d love to hear: what are integral parts of your sleep routine? What do you do every night with your toddler?
**update // I documented our routine before we put the kids in the same room two weeks ago and started putting them to bed at the same time. It means a lot more playing in their cribs before bed and less 1 on 1 time with Lincoln before he goes to sleep. I put them both in their cribs between 6:30 and 7 and they are usually asleep by somewhere between 6:45 and 7:30, depending on how tired they are and how long they play. We’re still using all the same sleep cues and use the Bumbo changing pad regularly in their room now because we don’t have space for a full changing table. It slips conveniently under Lincoln’s crib when not in use.