Toddlers are sweet, active, special, and they amaze us every day. But some of them love to test us and fight sleep. For every toddler who goes to sleep peacefully there are a handful who try to negotiate, delay, or stall. There are so many parents who struggle with the bedtime process that I’m here to share some helpful information with you. Use these six tips to help create a solid bedtime process so your toddler will stay in bed.
Tip #1: Make your bedtime routine fun:
Be careful not to rile your toddler up before bedtime, but do things that will help them enjoy the bedtime process.
Try having fun throughout the bedtime process:
- Sing silly songs while brushing teeth.
- Have a race to get into pajamas.
- Play a fun game as part of your bedtime routine (I Spy, Rhyme words, Simon Says).
Tip #2: Teach your child what is expected of them:
As parents we sometimes expect a lot from our children. So much, that we forget that a few short years ago, they were just a tiny little newborn that you were rocking to sleep. We have to realize that as much as we would like LOVE for our kids to oblige everything we do and say, they are just young kids whose minds run a mile a minute. By understanding that going through a bedtime routine isn’t always fun or easy for some toddlers — we can help make it easier and more fun by thinking about things from a child’s perspective.
Tip #3: Set Sleep Rules:
Does your toddler really know what it means to go to sleep? Ask them. It would be great to hear the different responses. Assuming your toddler is out of a crib and transitioned to a big bed – your child’s big room allows them a lot of freedom and of course some would choose to play rather than go to sleep. If you are struggling on a nightly basis to get your child to sleep, get back to basics. Have a family meeting and explain the rules of sleep and how sleep works.
“You lay in your bed, shut your eyes and go to sleep.” (yes that simply)
Explain in your child’s language the benefits of sleep and how it helps them grow big and strong and spend more time (playing at the park, running fast, etc.).
Tip #4: Eliminate the power struggle:
You are the parent and you set the rules and the time that your toddler goes to sleep. But, giving options and picking your battles you eliminate a full on power struggle and will make your bedtime routine much more enjoyable (for both you). Provide options throughout the bedtime process to help empower your child:
- Would you like to wear these pajamas or these?
- Would you like to brush your teeth before or after bath?
- Would you like to pick your books or should I?
Tip #5: Offer Rewards for Following the Sleep Rules:
Use a sticker chart to help reward your toddler for following the sleep rules. Have they stayed in their bed the whole night? Could they earn a shiny sticker? Get your child invested in the process by having them help make the chart (or pick out an online printable). Include them in shopping and picking out the stickers.
Tip #6: Blame Somebody Else:
Going to sleep is not always your toddler’s favorite subject and if your child is still resistant to the act of going to sleep, I give you permission from this point on to blame me. Tell them that you have a friend that is going to help you follow your sleep rules. This will help you not look like the bad guy and hopefully your child wants to do what Sleep Susie says.
Share your success!
So who’s ready to make some changes to help set the framework for your toddler’s sleep? By following some of these tips they will help with implementing changes so your toddler can sleep better at night (without the battles). Good luck!
Guest Blog by Susie Parker, Founder of Sleep Baby Love
Susie Parker is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and the founder of Sleep Baby Love. Make sure you like Sleep Baby Love’s Facebook page to find many other sleep tips, tricks and advice (and coming soon more posts about toddler sleep). Susie offers many sleep consulting services (via phone, email and skype) aimed to help your child LOVE sleep. She can be reached for questions at email@example.com or 847-834-9216.
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