Caroline’s bedding and bed rails can be found at this post.
Getting your little kids to nap at the same time is such a luxury, yet also a complete necessity! We all know that as a mom we can be so much more productive with household chores when our little ones are sleeping. And in some cases, it may be your only opportunity to get work done without being interrupted 5 times a minute 😉 As moms, we may even need to use that time to squeeze in an at-home work out or simply take a rest.
While the kids sleep, it allows you to recharge as a mom!
By the way, I should mention that I am not a sleep expert by any means, but my kids (3.5 years and almost 2 years) have napped consistently at the same time for the last year and a half… and it’s been glorious! I should also mention that it can be tricky to have this happen until your youngest is at least 6 months old. That is when I found they really started taking more consistent longer naps at the same time. Before then you might catch a 30 minute overlap on naps, which is still a win!
Start with your oldest:
If your oldest doesn’t nap well yet (or maybe your newborn hasn’t arrived), you first need to focus on this piece of the puzzle. In an ideal world, you can get your older one on a consistent nap schedule prior to your newborn arriving. By 18 months, I would guess your oldest should be down to one nap and that it is likely best timed right after lunch (1-3pm). I found that time to be a sweet spot for my kids, and what is nice is that you can still go out to lunch and have time for activities post-nap.
Here are some tips to get your oldest napping around 1pm:
- Be consistent by creating a little routine similar to what you would do for nighttime, however different and more abbreviated
- At first, try to stick with a 1pm nap start time and don’t be too flexible on timing yet
- If your toddler wants to get out of bed, use the messaging “back to bed” and place him or her back in bed without smiling or too much cuddling (this may need to be repeated several times)
- Try a little book before nap and/or let the toddler keep books in the bed for reading during nap time
- Rub your toddler’s back for a minute to get them relaxed
- In a worst case, give your toddler a little reward if he or she climbs into bed and let them watch a 5 minute educational video as a treat, and tell them you will be back to retrieve the screen. This also works well if you are trying to get him or her into bed quietly while your younger baby is napping. It’s no fun if your oldest wakes up the younger one when giving a little protest about why they are not tired.
Train your youngest to get on a schedule:
It’s best to start training your younger one to get on a good “eat, play, sleep” schedule right after birth (if that method works for you). Once you have that roughly down, start trying to time the naps to overlap with your oldest. You can do this gradually, by adjusting the time up or down 15 minutes and sticking with that a few days, before trying another time adjustment. This may take a few weeks or a month, and like I said above, you may only have a short overlap window with a newborn not sleeping in long stretches yet. However, it is still a treat and a good time to catch up on everything else in life (perhaps even a shower). As time goes on, it will get better.
You may need to use an aid in the early newborn months to get those naps in. For Caroline, I used both the swing and the pacifier during naps, before she was fully sleeping on her own in the crib. Until she was about 3.5 months old, it worked better for me to have her in a swing close by (in the kitchen/family room) versus having to run upstairs to her bedroom every time she cried and felt lonely. By two months, she was in her own crib sleeping on her own, and then napping on her own by four months. Perhaps the napping on her own was a little tougher because she often had to take her naps in the car or have them be interrupted due to having an older brother’s schedule.
Be consistent while being flexible:
Once you have the 1pm nap down and consistently can get both kids to snooze at the same time, you are ready to be a little more flexible with your schedule. For example, if you are at a playdate or lunch and realize the time has gotten away from you, don’t worry. Your kids are probably having a good time and will be fine with a later nap time, as long as you don’t go too long over. By too long over, I mean more than 1-1.5 hours. You can also move the naps up a bit if you need to get out of the house sooner one day. This is a little harder to do, but just bump lunch up a tad as well to sort of trick them in to thinking it’s normal nap time.
- Try to avoid longer car drives leading up to nap time if you can. If your baby does fall asleep, train the baby or toddler to transfer to the crib. There are several ways to do this, but I like to pick the child up and tell/guide them to put their head down on my shoulder and say “shhh” the whole time until I gently place them down on their bed or a couch. It works well to have their favorite lovey or blanket ready to snuggle. If you have a really low crib, that drop always woke my kids up, so I’d just place them on a low couch/bed and put pillows around as a barrier. Obviously, make sure it is safe and that you know your child won’t fall if they roll.
- If you hit a rough patch with one or both kids (i.e. maybe a new milestone like pulling themselves up in the crib), just try to stay consistent and get back into a rhythm.
- If your toddlers aren’t seeming tired come nighttime, and their naps are stretching too long, I suggest waking them after a couple hours.
- If your oldest doesn’t feel like napping in his own bed/crib and is keeping the younger one up or you are worried about waking the baby, try appealing to your oldest by offering up your bed as a special occasion for nap time that day.
- If all else fails and you are about to lose your mind because both kids won’t nap, place the kids in the stroller and go for a walk. That way you get a workout and stress relief and I bet you the kids will fall asleep. Or you can try taking them for a ride in the car. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do as a mom 😉
I hope you find this helpful! I’m happy to answer any specific questions if you want to leave a comment or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Side note: My kids don’t normally nap in the same bed… I just thought it looked cute for the photos! 😉