The prospect of having both a newborn and a toddler can be daunting. The stress of it starts while you are still pregnant. You have no idea how you are possibly going to juggle two different schedules and keep both kids happy. The key is finding a daily routine.
Kids thrive on routines, which will be especially important for the toddler, who will no longer get as much of your attention. Your toddler will go from being the sole focus to coming in second in many cases. Newborns are demanding and time-consuming, but you still have another child that needs time and attention too. It can be hard to conceptualize how to find a balance, but we’re here to help!
How to Create a Daily Routine
Tracy Hogg’s book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, outlines the E.A.S.Y. routine, which helps you to juggle the needs of your baby and toddler. Her “Eat, Activity, Sleep, You” philosophy is easily adaptable to you and your baby. I usually had two-hour increments where my baby could stay awake, and I did fall into nursing him back to sleep, which was rough when I had a toddler who wanted attention.
The E.A.S.Y. method is a great place to start, and you can use it on a loop throughout your day. The routine below is a rough idea of how to structure your day that includes both your newborn and your toddler.
Daily Routine Sample
Between 6 and 7 a.m.
E – Wake Up and Eat Breakfast
The first thing that everyone needs is food. If you have a partner, have him get food ready for your toddler and you while you feed the baby. My son was exclusively breastfed, so this would often keep me from making my own food. By having your partner help, you can get everyone fed sooner.
Between 8 and 9 a.m.
A – Activity
This is an excellent time of day to get your toddler and yourself moving. I liked using this time for a walk around our neighborhood. If the weather is bad, you can still get moving with a dance party while holding your newborn.
Around 9 a.m.
S/Y – Baby Nap/Play with Toddler
My baby would often fall asleep after nursing, despite the goal being to have him fall asleep on his own. If the baby falls asleep on you, you can have your toddler watch a show or set up another activity for her to do in the meantime. You should try to put the baby down if possible to spend some time with your toddler. It won’t be easy to carve this time out, and it is important to find it where you can.
Around 10 a.m.
Snack and Playtime
Once the baby is up from his morning nap, you can feed him and get your toddler a snack at the same time. Then, after this is a good time to play. Here is an excellent resource for daily activities based on age.
Baby Naptime and Toddler Lunch
The baby will be ready to go down again close to your toddler’s naptime. If you can get your toddler to eat lunch and go to nap about the same time, you can get some of that elusive “me time.”
Around 12 or 12:30 p.m.
Toddlers will still need one nap per day, so try to get naps to overlap as best you can to get a break. It took me a while to perfect this, but once I did, it was so helpful. Read here for more tips on keeping your toddlers sleep on track after having a new baby.
Around 1 p.m. or 2 p.m.
Snack and Play
The kids will be up early in the afternoon, which is a good time for another snack and playtime session.
Around 2:30 p.m.
Baby Nap/Toddler Play and Snack
Your newborn will need to go back down again in the afternoon. This is another excellent opportunity to spend some time with your toddler without the baby. Make sure to get your toddler a snack and do something fun.
Around 4 p.m.
Baby Feed and Toddler Play or TV Show
Once the baby is up, he will want to eat again. This is a good time of day to let your toddler watch a show or do another activity while you feed the baby.
About 4:30 p.m.
After the baby is done eating, make sure to get your toddler some food and maybe even have some yourself!
About 5 p.m.
Baby Naptime and Toddler Playtime
Most newborns will need another short nap around early evening. This is another good opportunity to play with your toddler. Calmer activities such as building with blocks or coloring are great for the end of the day.
About 6:30 p.m.
The baby will eat again before bed.
Around 7 p.m.
Bedtime Routines for Both
Starting at about 7 p.m., you will be able to go through bedtime routines for both children. This routine may include baths and books to help them calm down for the day.
Daily routines are so important. A daily routine will help your toddler understand the day’s structure and can anticipate how things are going to go. The routine above is a good way to start. The biggest key is trying to get one-on-one time with your toddler while your newborn is napping. Remember that babies change so fast, and your schedule will need to be adjusted as they both grow.
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