Managing Multiple Sleep Routines

Photography: Fran Jorgensen Photography

By Elizabeth Pantley

I remember the days of trying to coordinate my older children’s bedtime routines with the non-schedule of my new baby. I remember how hard bedtime was when the baby needed my attention, and the other two thought that bedtime meant playtime.

Coordinating sibling sleep routines can seem like a monumental task, but the key to it is planning. Simply going with the flow every night will not help anyone. The kids will be running in different directions, you’ll be stressed, and your kids will be staying up too late.

The first place to start is setting up with a plan. Consider each child’s individual needs, think about your own needs, and then keep in mind that this initial plan is just a starting point. You will likely need to make some adjustments as you go along and discover what is working and what is not.

The first place to start is setting up with a plan. Consider each child’s individual needs, think about your own needs, and then keep in mind that this initial plan is just a starting point.

Children are unique in many ways, and these different needs become a challenge when biological bedtimes and tendencies differ from child to child. Many families find that juggling a few different bedtimes is too difficult and time-consuming, and ends up turning the entire evening from dinner to bedtime into a challenge. It may be helpful to choose one bedtime that comes close to meeting all your children’s biological clocks. Then, arrange naptimes and mealtimes to coordinate with that chosen bedtime. This helps because you can consolidate your efforts – I  did everything in sets of three – I made snacks for three, put on three pairs of pajamas, brushed three mouthfuls of teeth (actually, two plus gums), and read bedtime stories with one nursing on my lap and the others on either side.

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