No-Stress Ways to Get Your Toddler to Bed
By the end of the day, you’re wiped out. But your energetic toddler is still up and about -- and fighting your every attempt at getting him to sleep.
It’s not unusual for toddlers to resist bedtime. But good sleep is essential to your toddler’s health, not to mention your sanity. It’s up to you to help him develop the healthy sleep habits he’ll need for the rest of his life. Here’s what to do.
Create a routine
Start each night with a relaxing routine that will set the stage for going to sleep. Changing into pajamas, brushing your child’s teeth, and washing his face every night will help establish that these are the things that happen before bedtime. Other ways to relax include listening to quiet music, reading a book, or giving him a bath. Resist the urge to play with your toddler at this hour, since it will only get him more excited than relaxed.
Stick with the same routine every night, so your toddler learns to expect that bedtime is coming. Soon he’ll know what’s expected of him, too.
Make it comfortable
Let your child take his beloved teddy bear to bed with him. Give him his favorite blanket, and allow him a drink of water. Turn on a nightlight before closing the door. Taking care of your toddler’s comforts will make it easier for him to relax -- and give him fewer excuses for climbing out of bed again.
Pause before answering every call
Children this age are likely to call out to you after you leave the room. Resist the urge to respond every time your toddler calls for you, and wait several seconds before answering. With each time he calls for you, wait a few seconds longer, which will give him the chance to fall asleep before you respond. When you do, remind him that it’s bedtime. If you go into his room, don’t turn on the light or stay too long. Engaging your toddler more than necessary will only wake him up more. As much as possible, stay farther away from his bed each time you go in.
Teaching a toddler good sleep habits doesn’t happen overnight. And it isn’t easy, since toddlers love your companionship. But keep doing the same thing every night. Eventually, your toddler will learn to go along with the plan and get the most out of this good night’s sleep.