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The best routine for a newborn baby and toddler

Are you struggling to find a good routine for your newborn baby and toddler?

You may have had your toddler in a great routine for a while, so introducing a newborn baby and all of those feeds and naptimes can be a bit stressful. 

Best routine for a newborn baby and toddler

It is a big change, there’s no denying that, but you will manage to find a new rhythm and routine!

To help you figure out the best way to schedule your newborn babies feeds while still pleasing your energetic toddler, here is a brilliant sample schedule for a newborn baby and toddler. 

Before I carry on, it’s worth checking out these 10 play ideas for a baby and toddler, so that you can entertain them together!

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Baby and toddler schedule

This is the tried and tested schedule that worked for me with my baby and toddler!

This routine is what we stuck to for the first three months. After this we simply adapted it as the baby dropped her naps. 

7amWake-up & feedWake-up & play
10amFeed then playSnack
12MiddayStill nappingNap
1pmFeed & playNap/play
2.30pmNapPlay & snack
5.15pmShort napPlay

The EASY routine

It’s worth mentioning right now that this is not a rigid routine. Based on the advice of the Baby Whisperer, who created the E.A.S.Y routine, I worked to a three-hour loop all day. 

This loop involved the same things for my baby on repeat: 

  • Eat – This would happen as soon as she woke up. My second daughter was exclusively breastfed, so while breastfeeding her I would entertain my toddler with either the TV or have an activity set up for her to play with. 
  • Activity – After eating we would then play or go on an outing together. In the mornings especially I would make sure we got out for a walk, even if it was only a quick 10 minute stroll to the park and back home again. 
  • Sleep – A baby aged under eight weeks will only have a short awake window. Generally a newborn will only cope with around 45 minutes or less of awake time. As they get older this will reduce. The printable routine assumes your baby is around one to three months old and features an awake time of around 90 minutes. Some babies will do well with this amount of awake time, while others will want longer naps and less time spent awake. It’s about finding out how your baby operates best so that they aren’t cranky. 
  • You – The best part is the You time. The trouble is, you have a toddler now, so it’s really their time! When your baby is asleep, this is when you spend quality time with your toddler. If you’re exhausted, keep this time relaxed with simple games and reading at home. If your baby naps well in the buggy then you could go for an outing with your toddler. 

What’s great about the E.A.S.Y routine when compared to other parenting experts’ advice is that it’s way more flexible. You adapt the timings to fit your routine!

Sample schedule for newborn baby and toddler

When dealing with a baby and a toddler with very different sleeping and eating habits, it’s important to maintain your eldest child’s routine. 

This will make life much easier for you, as your toddler will be more manageable on a familiar and natural routine for them. 

In order to do this you may have to let your newborn nap on the go when in the car, buggy or in a sling. Most newborns are happy to nap in these places, so you shouldn’t have too much of a struggle getting them to snooze while you’re out and about entertaining your toddler. 

If you can, try to get your two children to overlap their post-lunch nap. This will give you at least a short period of time where you can just rest. 

You may find this tricky, but persevere to get them on roughly the same sleep schedule around this time. 

How to cope with a toddler and a newborn

There’s a printable version of that newborn and toddler schedule at the end of this post, just save the image and keep it for future reference!

Let’s take a look at the daily routines for two under two a little closer: 

Baby schedule

  • 7am – Baby wakes up and feeds. Of course this may vary day to day, and you might be unlucky enough to get 5am wake-ups. In this case, bring the morning nap forward a little and try to go back to bed before your toddler wakes up. 
  • 7.30am – Play. Part of the magic of the E.A.S.Y routine is that it aims to separate feeding from sleeping. When babies feed to sleep they can come to rely on it as an easy way to nod off. Where possible, you want to encourage them to fall asleep on their own, so that they don’t need to feed at 3am just to get back to sleep. 
  • 8am – Nap. Babies have a very short window of time when they can cope with being awake. Some may be 90 minutes by around eight weeks, while others may struggle to stay awake longer than an hour. Watch your baby for signs of tiredness and if you think the sleepy cues are there, then put them to bed. 
  • 10am – Wake-up and feed. 
  • 10.30am – Play. This is a good time to go out for a walk with your children. This will be a short outing, unless you take lunch for your toddler out with you. Some fresh air is brilliant before the afternoon nap as it makes everyone that bit more tired, so your kids should nod off a little easier. 
  • 11.15am – Nap. 
  • 1pm – Wake-up and feed then play. 
  • 2.30pm – Nap. 
  • 4pm – Feed. 
  • 4.30pm – Play. Around this time your toddler may be having dinner. This is a good time to sit your baby close to the dining table where they can see eating going on. It’s nice to get them involved in family meals so that it’s part of their routine before you start to wean them. 
  • 5.15pm – Short nap. Many babies need a short cat nap at this time of day to help them get through to bedtime without being too tired. An overtired baby will really struggle to go to sleep and may be very tearful, which makes the experience much more stressful on you. 
  • 6.30pm – Feed. 
  • 7pm – Bath. Try to have a joint bath if you can. Having a bath seat for your baby will make this much easier, as you can bathe the kids with both hands free. 
  • 7.30pm – Bed. 
  • 10pm – Feed. Some babies will wake up naturally at this time, but you may want to get them up for a dream feed. The theory behind this is that they will sleep for longer through the early hours if your tank them up with some milk at 10pm, when you go to bed. The dream feed works for some better than others, but give it a try if it appeals to you. Your baby is likely to be awake for more feeds through the night too. 

Toddler schedule

  • 7am – Wake-up and play. Let your toddler play or watch TV while you breast or bottle feed your baby. 
  • 7.30am – Breakfast. 
  • 8am – Play. Your baby will go back to bed at this time, so have some fun with your toddler. You could go out for a short outing, and put the baby in the buggy for their nap. It depends whether you are able to get everyone to go out for this time! 
  • 10am – Snack. Your baby will have a feed at this time so it’s a good moment to let your toddler have a snack such as fruit, breadsticks or carrot sticks. 
  • 11.30am – Lunch. 
  • Midday – Nap. If your toddler still naps then they will most likely go down for a sleep after lunch. Try to time it so that the nap time overlaps with your baby and it gives you a little me time. 
  • 2.30pm – Play and afternoon snack. This could be a good time to go for an outing with your children. Your baby will be napping on the go, so try a sling if you want to be hands-free to play with your toddler. 
  • 5pm – Dinner. 
  • 5.30pm – Play. Your toddler will be winding down for bedtime around now, so keep playtime calm. Do simple activities that require concentration, but not loads of action and shouting. Building with blocks or colouring and sticking are great pre-bedtime activities. 
  • 6.30pm – Cup of milk. 
  • 7pm – Bath. 
  • 7.30pm – Bed. The first few times you do a joint bedtime with your two children will feel underwhelming. They may both be very tired and so you will feel like you can’t please both of them. Try to remain calm and deal with putting the toddler to bed first of all, while carrying your baby in your arms or in a sling. If they are happy to be put down, put your baby on a play mat on the floor of the bedroom while you read a bedtime story to your toddler. 

Remember that this routine should be adapted to what works best for you. If you always keep in mind the length of time your baby can cope with being awake, then you should be able to adapt the timings to keep everyone happy. 

Bedtime with a baby and toddler

Nervous about doing a dual bedtime with a baby and toddler?

If you can, I recommend splitting bedtime between you and your partner so you each take one child.

But if you’re on your own do not panic! Doing bedtime for both kids at once feels daunting in the early weeks but you soon get used to it.

I have an entire post on bedtime with a newborn and toddler right here.

The best newborn and toddler routine

Having two under two might feel exhausting, but you will get used to this new routine!

Best of luck mama!

Newborn baby and toddler daily routine

And I’ve got another version of this schedule where there are smaller gaps between naps for your baby – which may be useful for very tiny newborns with a short wake window.

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Routine for a baby and toddler
Simple baby and toddler schedule

Vicky Smith is a mother of two daughters and a journalist. She has been writing and vlogging about parenting for over five years.