Do you find your bedtime routines for your babies and toddlers to be an unwanted-challenge? If you have cluster babies, that is, siblings born close in age, you know it can be difficult to get them to bed by yourself.
Cluster babies (kluhs-ter bey-bee) noun – Siblings born within two years of each other. Synonyms: Irish twins, baby bunching, two under two, three under three, three under four, four under four, etc.
You can see the eyes of those babies start to glaze over, and you know it’s time to start the bedtime routine before they hit the wall. But there’s more of them than you. So how can you get them to bed quickly and without stress? Maybe even with no crying?
This is completely possible, and you can totally do it!
I always rely strongly on our bedtime routine. Our nightly routine generally goes, jammies, books, songs, prayers, hugs, bed. Using this well-practiced routine gives me the freedom to get the kids to bed quickly and with little fuss.
There are three ways our evenings typically go with our 3 year old, 1.5 year old, and 0.5 year old. These three strategies can be flexibly used for your family, too!
Before making any sudden moves, I take stock as to who is most tired and go from there.
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Tactic One: A bedtime routine for all the kids at once
Depending on the time and everyone’s tiredness level, I will sometimes opt for putting everyone to bed at the same time. This is a nice option to keep that family time going.
What you’ll need is all the jammies and diapers necessary, and decide which room you will be in to get the crew ready for bed. We go to my toddler’s room, because he will be the first one down. Because he is currently the busiest. And is still learning to understand directions. If you have a toddler, I’m sure you understand!
Anyhow, I hand jammies over to my oldest so she can start to get dressed.
Next, I diaper and dress the baby. Then, diaper and dress the toddler. You can read here about my tips for diapering multiple babies. Time for the rest of our bedtime routine: three books, three songs, prayers. We hug our toddler, put him in his crib, and head to my daughter’s room. I give her hugs, tuck her in, and go to the baby’s room. He currently still needs a book and song in his room, as well. As he gets older, the books and songs with the siblings will be sufficient. So I read him his one book, sing him one song, give some cuddles, and I’m done!
Tactic Two: Put each child to bed individually
I love to do individual bedtimes with each of my three kids. I love the one-on-one time it allows, even just for a couple minutes. It’s a sweet time that I just adore.
To successfully follow this tactic, I make sure I bring all jammies downstairs after nap. When it is time to start getting everyone ready for bed, I hand over jams to my daughter to get dressed while I’m dressing her brothers. I start with the baby. I do his diaper and jammies and then my toddler’s.
Once everyone is dressed, I have the older two say goodnight to the baby, then take him upstairs to do the rest of his nightly routine. Because he’s dressed already, this takes about three minutes total. The bedtime routine for baby is just a book, song, prayers, a little cuddling, and I’m out of there.
Next up is the toddler. I have his sister say goodnight to him. Before I head to his room, I’ll tell my daughter to go to the bathroom, which is a huge time saver! My son and I head upstairs, and finish off his bedtime routine. This is maybe five or six minutes. Three books, three songs, prayers, and out!
Last is my oldest. At this point, she has gotten dressed, and used the bathroom. We go upstairs to her room. Bedtime with her takes as long as the books we read. About ten to fifteen minutes. “We’ll” pick out quicker books if I see that she is getting fussy. The bedtime routine for my three year old is the same as the others, though: books, songs, prayers, hug, tuck in, then done!
Tactic Three: Put one child to bed, and then the rest
Again, I always take stock of who is the most tired. If one is about to lose it, I will quickly put them to bed and do the other two together. Sometimes the baby naps late, so then he is actually not ready for bed when the other two are. It all depends on the day.
I always bring down jammies after nap so I am ready to go.
I typically use this tactic with my toddler going to bed first. I’ll get him diapered and dressed downstairs. He’ll say goodnight to his siblings, then we head to his room to do books, songs, and prayers.
When I go back to the others, sometimes they are also ready for bed, but sometimes they aren’t. Often, my daughter and I will put away the toys and dinner dishes. On special nights, we’ll go for a little walk or play a little Hi Ho! Cherry-o or some Candy Land. (Again, always very conscious of how tired she is!)
When it’s time for bedtime, we usually get the pajamas and head to the nursery. While I’m dressing the baby, I’ll have her use the bathroom and come get dressed in the baby’s room as well. We’ll do his baby nightly routine with one book, song and prayers, and lay him in the crib.
We will head to her room for her three books, three songs, and prayers.
With a game plan and some jammies in hand, it is very possible to put your kids to bed quickly, on your own, and with no fuss! Just keep tabs on their tiredness level and decide which option works for you on any given day.
The Ultimate Guide to 2 under 2, 3 under 3 (and other Cluster Babies)
2 under 2, 3 under 3, & other Cluster Babies: 19 Tips for Surviving