5 Tips to Create a Painless Bedtime With Your Toddler

While there are many toddlers out there that can go to bed without a fuss and can sleep happily until morning, there are quite a few others who don’t. These toddlers try to negotiate, stall or delay every second they can before they actually fall asleep. If you’re struggling with your toddler’s bedtime process, these five tips will help create peace and even make you enjoy bedtime. Tip #1: The day affects the night:

If your toddler is hard to settle for bedtime or wakes up often during the night, their day may be the cause. Is he sleeping too much during the day? Try cutting back how long he's napping or you may need to drop the nap altogether (as long as he is at least 3 years old). Another reason can be he is not sleeping enough during the day? An overtired toddler can find it struggle falling asleep and staying asleep at night, so it's important that they get enough rest during the day. Is he getting enough attention during the day? Toddlers need a certain amount of attention and if they're not getting it during the day they have trouble letting go of the individualized attention they suddenly have as you are trying to put them to bed at night.


Tip #2: Teach your child what is expected of them:

It would be amazing for our little love bugs to just instantly obey us as we tell them to do something, but 9 times out of 10 their minds aren’t even grasping the idea of what you are trying to communicate to them. Be clear, precise, and fun. Think about it as they see it. Go through the bedtime routine as simple and fun as you possibly can. Get them excited about bedtime and teach them exactly what is expected of them during the night so there are no questions to be asked.


Tip #3: Routine, routine, routine:

I can’t say it enough. Routine is fundamental in creating a great sleeper. Kids love it and thrive on it. A nightly bedtime routine helps your child learn what is expected of them and their body. It allows their body to wine down and get sleepy. A solid routine during bedtime also creates a happy and enjoyable feeling for a child’s sleeping environment. It gives them security and sense of ownership.


Not every child has the same bedtime routine. But in general, your routine should include all the things that your child needs to do before going to sleep, including brushing teeth, taking a bath, putting on their pajamas, and having a snack or glass of water. Your child may want to be read to, talk about the day, or be told a story. Whatever you choose to do, keep the routine short (30 minutes or less) and be firm about ending it when it's time to sleep. No negotiating.





Tip #5: Let them give their opinion:

Eliminate the power struggle that often comes while you are trying to get your toddler to bed. Calm down, breathe and give them the opportunity to provide an opinion. You are the parent and you set the rules and the time that your toddler goes to sleep. But, giving options eliminates a full on power struggle and will make your bedtime routine much more enjoyable (for both you). Ask them if they would like to choose which pajamas they would like to wear? Which two books would you like to read tonight? Or what stuffed animal would you like to sleep with? These opportunities to allow them to make their own decisions, creates confidence and lowers the bedtime battles.


Tip #5: Give them praise:

Children need to receive words of affirmation after obeying things you have told them to do. Praise them for a job well done! Give them big hugs and tell them how cozy they looked while sleeping that night. Most parents use a sticker chart to help reward their child. Once they have received a certain amount of stickers, they receive a special surprise. Giving your child an opportunity to see their progress can help continue the process and get them excited to sleep in their bed without a huff and a puff.


About the Author:

Melissa Perry is the Founder and Senior Sleep Consultant of  Please stop by to learn more about the services they offer!


Dreaming of Sleep

Sleep issues are a big deal in our house.  Our first child has had a difficult time sleeping since day 1.  Maybe you can relate.  I could give you the background, but the general idea is that he is 22 months old, and I have haven’t slept through one straight night since he was born.  Some of you are in shock right now.

Sleep can fall under one of the controversial categories in the realm of parenting.  My husband and I agreed early on that we wanted to respect our children’s needs in the way that felt most natural to us.  We opted to never choose to allow our children to Cry It Out alone when dealing with sleep.  I feel that a child will learn to sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready.  Not everyone agrees with me, and that is perfectly fine.  This is how we have chosen to parent our children.  I truly believe there are a million ways to raise a child.  What works for one family may not work for another, and what works for one child may not work for another.

Way back when he was around 3 or 4 months old, I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  It is a fabulous book on sleep that didn’t really work for us.  One thing she wrote in the book is, “You can either have tears or take time.”  We have chosen the time route.  Well, I’m here to tell you that the time route can take its toll on a mama.  But nevertheless, we have stayed the course.

Some things we have worked through are bedsharing versus cosleeping; tandem nursing; night nursing; differing schedules; nursing to sleep; night terrors and nightmares; schedules versus routines versus child cues; and crazy nap habits.  Maybe some of you have had to work through one or all of these topics.  Maybe some of you can’t relate at all.  Maybe some of you are so sleep deprived that you can’t even read the words on this page.  I wish I could write that I have all of the answers, but I don’t.

What I do have is a few great resources to give you.

The first one is a book, Sleepless in America:  Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  I have found this book to be fantastic.  While other sleep books have been very helpful, most only cover the topic of the newborn or infant period.  Kurcinka covers so much more.  I highly recommend this book for any parent dealing with sleep issues, behavioral issues, grade issues or just issues in general.

Another good book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Weissbluth.  Now while I don’t ascribe to his every theory, he has a wide array of advice for many different parenting styles.

And when all else fails, come up with a good list of things to do when you are up all of those extra hours.  A good friend of mine wrote a great post about it here.  I have done quite a few interesting things in the middle of the night while waiting for certain little people to go back to sleep.  Unfortunately, I am so sleep deprived that I can’t really remember what most of them are.

What are some things that keep you going through the constant haze of sleepless nights?