Bedtime is the most treasured time of day by parents and most hated by toddlers. If we could go back in time and tell our toddler selves to stop fighting the sleep because it will become a thing of the past when you get older I’m sure most of us would! I’ve read a ton of articles, received advice from seasoned mamas, and tested a few methods. Through trial and error I’ve learned that every bedtime routine should be tailored to the child. I wanted to share with you some tips on how you can create a bedtime routine that works for YOUR toddler.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
Research shows that toddlers age 1-2 should receive around 11 to 14 hours of sleep, while preschoolers should aim for at least 10-13 hours. (Source: Sleepfoundation.org) Take a look at the infographic below to find out how much sleep your child should be getting. Using this as a baseline you can determine when you should start your toddler’s bedtime routine. For example, my 3 (going on 4) year old wakes up around 7 am most mornings and no longer naps during the day. Once the nap was dropped we compensated with a little extra sleep by bumping up her bedtime by a half hour making it 8:30 pm. We know that any later she will be even more tired and most likely have a meltdown.
As a working parent I would love to keep my children up a little longer at night to spend more time with them, but the risk of experiencing tantrums and poor sleeping habits just doesn’t make it worth it in my mind. Plus there is plenty of research that supports the idea that sleep is good for brain development and healthy immune systems. Related Post: 6 Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy
CREATE A REALISTIC SCHEDULE.
Realistic is the key word. Take emotion out of the equation and factor in your daily schedule. For example, if your family doesn’t have dinner until 7 pm and baths, etc. still need to take place you can’t expect to send your child to bed at 7:30 pm. Next you will need to allow time for your toddler to wind down. This can include a soothing bath, calming bedtime stories, and while the experts say TV shouldn’t be allowed an hour before bedtime it is the one guaranteed activity that stops my toddlers in their tracks and helps them to unwind.
Here is a look at our bedtime routine for two toddlers:
You can download and print the graphic above or grab one of these premade signs: Bedtime Checklist Routine Reward Chart for Toddlers and Autism or Bedtime Dry Erase Chart.
INCORPORATE VISUAL AIDS.
Feel free to print out the infographic above to hang in your child’s room or somewhere visible to them. Schedules really help toddlers learn what they can expect next. We recently found a product that visually helps toddlers know what is happening next in our daily routine. Hatch Baby Rest is a nightlight, sound machine, and visual tool that can be programmed to fit your child’s routine. Take a look at the program we have set up for the oldest toddler.
Each time has it’s own color and sound so your child knows what’s to come. My daughter picked the color pink for bedtime. Associating a favorite color for bedtime is a good way to go! Her ‘OK to Wake’ signal is when the white noise sound turns off and the color changes to yellow – like the sun. She declares every morning that “It’s a sunny day!”. For naptime, which is now non-existent yet we still enforce quiet time, the color turns on again and we have a soothing lullaby playing to help her relax and play/read calmly in bed.
What you need to operate Hatch Baby Rest:
- smartphone or tablet (supported by Apple & Android)
- the FREE app
The Rest can be turned on manually from the device and/or your smart device. It was designed for babies and toddlers, but can also be used for adults. While we keep the sound portion on all night long, you can set the sound to turn off after a certain period of time. The app supports multiple devices for more than one child. The amount of light is perfect for nighttime changes and feedings. Coverlets are available in sets of 3 to dress up your device to match the decor of the room.
OFFER REASONABLE OPTIONS.
Children like to feel like they’re in control. We all know they’re not. YOU are the parent. But they’re developing their place in the world and like to feel some type of control over the things they do. While bedtime is out of their hands, a comforting object may just help them accept the terms. Allowing your child to take their favorite stuffed toy and/or a book to bed just may help them accept their bedtimes. There are far worse battles to pick. 😉 Here are a few questions you can ask your child before bed.
- Would you like the light on or off?
- Shall I keep the door open or closed?
- Which book would you like to take to bed tonight?
I hope these tips were helpful in thinking about your child’s bedtime routine! If you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comments section. As always, shares are always welcome. Feel free to pin the image below on Pinterest and share with your friends on Facebook!