It’s 9:12 pm and your toddler is screaming crying while refusing to lie down for bedtime. You are running on fumes and close to a breakdown after a long exhausting day. Stop the tears for both yourself and your toddler by following these useful and healthy bedtime tips from Lauren, founder and owner of Peachtree Pediatric Sleep Consulting.
If you have a toddler then you know that these incredible little humans can be a bundle of hugs one minute and then have a total meltdown the next minute. A day with a toddler is both predictable yet unpredictable so a stress free bedtime is what parents need after a long day. Their toddler nature can make bedtime extremely frustrating but it doesn’t have to be with a consistent sleep routine.
Here are 6 easy ways to make putting your toddler to bed less frustrating and more peaceful.
1. Nail down your toddler's bedtime routine
Your bedtime routine does not need to be fancy. It does need to be consistent. Why? A great bedtime routine acts like a trigger for your toddler’s brain that says “get ready to sleep!”.
Aim for your toddler’s bedtime routine to be 10-30 minutes long. For an example, here is an easy bedtime routine:
Read 2 short books
Sing a song
Leave the room
Super simple, right? When your toddler knows what to expect at bedtime, the transition from play to sleep is less frustrating.
2. Make sure bedtime is not too late
Most toddlers do best with a bedtime between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM. They need an average of 11 – 12 hours of sleep at night! While it can be a challenge for busy families to have an early toddler bedtime, a well-rested child is worth it!
Plus, as a parent, having some peaceful time in the evening is huge for your overall well-being. It allows you to refresh and reset. I personally love taking a peaceful shower to relax. If you want to really pamper yourself, pick a Body Souffle from Skin Deep – I love that they are both affordable and natural. You don’t find that combination in very many products!
3. Be consistent
Toddlers thrive on routines and having firm boundaries. They don’t always love our rules, but they thrive when healthy boundaries are in place. When parenting a toddler, this means that bedtime is bedtime. It doesn’t get pushed around based on the whims of your toddler.
4. Provide a warning
Nobody likes a surprise bedtime! Remember, time is an abstract concept to a 2-year-old. Instead of saying, “Bedtime is in 10 minutes.” Say “2 more puzzles, then it is time for bed.”
5. Provide reassurance
If your child doesn’t want you to leave them, promise that you will come back in 5 minutes to check on them. Then keep your word. Keep your visit short and sweet, but keep checking in until they fall asleep.
6. Praise good behavior!
If your toddler did a great job of going to bed and following their sleep rules, let them know! Say something like: “you did a great job falling asleep last night. Your body will have so much energy to play today!”. If bedtime has been frustrating, you can also use a sticker chart or other small reward system.
To wrap up, toddlers are like adults. They like to know what is expected of them. We do this by using routines, providing verbal cues about upcoming transitions, and being consistent. These simple steps can make parenting during bedtime much less frustrating for you and much more peaceful for both of you.