Let’s face it: toddler bedtime is often a battle for many parents. In fact, it’s one of the many dilemmas that parents face regularly. Trouble tucking your little one into bed each night can be attributed to things like overexcitement, poor sleep cues, or stubbornness, among other factors. The good news is that with a little preparation and planning, your toddler’s bedtime can be smoother. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine helps toddlers wind down from their busy day and ensures that they get enough sleep at night (which means less crankiness for everyone). A consistent routine also helps to instill healthy sleep habits that will last them throughout childhood and beyond.
Let’s talk about how you can create a consistent bedtime routine for your toddler.
Set up an evening ritual
Ideally, your toddler’s bedtime should occur about an hour after the sun sets. Because toddlers tend to wake up early each morning, it’s essential that they get adequate rest each night before their busy days begin again. Consider starting your toddler’s bedtime routine around 6 pm. And remember that every toddler is different, so adjust according to your child’s sleep needs.
Try creating an evening ritual to help signal to your little one that it’s time to get ready for sleep. Your ritual can include a bedtime snack, a warm bath, and a favorite book before bedtime. It also helps to start dimming the lights, engaging in quiet play, and turning off the TV and other electronic devices.
Help your children associate their bedroom with sleep and rest
It’s helpful to reserve your toddler’s bedroom primarily for sleeping or naptime. Doing this helps children make a connection between the bedroom and bedtime, which makes the transition from daily activities to settling down a bit smoother each day. Try to keep other activities like meals and playtime out of your toddler’s bedroom to avoid confusion.
Put away distracting items
Many toddlers can be particularly prickly when it comes to bedtime. They’ll do anything to stay up longer. It helps to remove any distractions that tempt your child to stay awake longer, like toys or electronics. Turn off the TV at least an hour before your little one’s bedtime. If your child is particularly distracted by certain toys or activities, be sure to put them away when it’s time to start getting ready for bed. For instance, if your toddler loves playing with cars, make sure they’re all picked up and put away before the bedtime routine begins.
Adhere to a consistent bedtime
Toddlers thrive on routine and structure. Setting a specific time for bed helps your toddler gain a better understanding about when it’s time to sleep. This can help lessen resistance and make the bedtime routine a lot easier.
Your child’s bedtime may vary depending on your family’s routine and lifestyle. However, it’s important to stick to a consistent bedtime for your child each night. Observe children’s cues when they start to feel sleepy, and do your best to start the routine around the same time each day.
Let your child engage in calming-down activities before bed
Establishing a bedtime routine is also about teaching your toddler how to wind down. It’s best to offer activities that help quiet their bodies and minds as they start preparing for sleep. These might include reading, cuddling, doing some light crafts, or playing quiet games. It’s beneficial to read a bedtime story or sing a lullaby to help your little one head off to dreamland.
Limit screen time
Spending too much time on electronics and screens can overstimulate young children’s brains, which can keep them awake longer. Your toddler’s bedtime routine should be relaxing and spent away from the TV and other electronic devices. It’s advisable to limit children’s screen time at least an hour or two before bedtime, so they don’t get too revved up right before sleeping. More importantly, do not allow gadgets in children’s bedrooms. Toddlers should not stay up watching TV or playing with electronics when it’s time to go to sleep.
Create a comfortable sleep environment
Everyone needs certain conditions to help elicit sleep each night. Ensure that your child’s room is well ventilated, not too warm or cold, and free of any clutter that might cause discomfort. Let children pick out their favorite comforter and pajamas to make their room feel more conducive to sleeping.
Adequate sleep is crucial when it comes to every child’s healthy growth and development. Creating a consistent bedtime routine for your toddler can help ensure that your little one gets adequate rest needed to stay healthy and happy.
At Children Central, we provide daily, themed age-appropriate activities that help toddlers learn about themselves, and how they fit into the world around them. Learn more about our toddler program by visiting our website.