What if I told you there are steps you can take to eliminate nightly bedtime battles before you even leave your child’s bedroom? Part 1 of Toddler Sleep Help explains how practicing an early bedtime and consistent bedtime routine can help eliminate common bedtime struggles associated with toddler sleep issues.
Early Bedtime is Necessary
It’s understandable in today’s society that we are putting our kids to bed later and later. Your picking up from daycare/preschool, coming home from work, sitting down to dinner and before you know it it’s 9:00 pm. It’s important though that we make more of an effort to get our toddlers to sleep earlier to avoid putting down an overtired child. Overtired children with too late a bedtime can give you bedtime battles, night wakings, and even early morning risings. Sometimes all it takes is shifting that bedtime 15-30 minutes earlier and suddenly your child accepts sleep much easier.
Practice Consistent Bedtime Routines For Your Toddler
Having a consistent bedtime routine where you practice the same thing every night helps prepare your child for sleep. Children thrive off of routine and this can be practiced at any age. Think about it for a minute – don’t you have your own nightly routine to help prepare yourself for bed? Give yourself 30 minutes before your child’s set bedtime to allow enough time to have a nice relaxed routine where your focus is to calm your child and get him ready for bed. This is a great opportunity as well to get some attachment time in with your little one that you may have missed out on during your busy day. Keeping the bedtime routine in a consistent environment, like his bedroom, will help in the preparation for sleep.
A typical toddler bedtime routine can include:
- Bath (doesn’t have to be every night.)
- Story time
- Diaper or potty
- Brushing teeth
- Bedtime song
Have your child pick out his own lovey or comfort item that he can bring into bed with him and then try and leave the room before he falls asleep. This way when he wakes up throughout the night he’s not wondering where you are. A fantastic sleep gadget which is a great introduction to any bedtime routine is a behavior modification light. It’s not only great for helping him get excited about bedtime but it encourages him to stay in his room until your set time to get up in the morning. Make it fun! Program the light and sit on the bed with him and wait for it to turn on. Communicate with him and get him excited about it.
Early bedtimes and bedtime routines for your toddler needs to be practiced consistently so that your toddler adapts to it easily and quickly. Here is your challenge, should you choose to accept it. For the next week – that’s 7 days, 6 nights – give my tips a try. Bump up bedtime 30 minutes earlier than usual and practice a nice calming bedtime routine, and report back here to let me know how it goes. Practice these steps consistently and you will see progress.
In Part 2 of our Toddler Sleep series I share how to help your toddler fall asleep on their own and stay sleeping throughout the night.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.