Why is a bedtime routine for toddlers so important? Indeed, why is bedtime so difficult when you have toddlers?
That’s easy. It is because they are toddlers. Nothing is easy about toddlers… by definition. So you need routines.
Most of them are picky eaters, fit throwers and boundary pushers.
It is a natural part of their growth process. Just with all the pushing of boundaries and attempts at negotiation, your kid is naturally going to give you pushback in regard to… well, life. That’s what kids do.
There is no time more dreaded for the parents of small kids than bedtime. However, when it comes to a child’s sleep it is really important to stand your ground because small children NEED sleep to develop properly.
Kids hate going to bed and parents hate fighting them to do it. Little ones will go to great lengths to stall, argue, negotiate and come up with reasons why bedtime is just not happening… or why it is not happening on your terms.
But, what if you don’t have to fight them, after all? OK, that’s fantasy talk, but what if you could fight them less? Here are 5 tips for getting your kiddo into a bedtime routine that will keep everyone sane.
1Rewards and Compliments
Toddlers thrive on compliments and positive reinforcement. Anyone who knows about little kids knows that. If you want your child to enjoy bedtime, make it enjoyable. While bedtime can be stressful for everyone, do your best to remain positive and reward them for following the routine. (The routine itself and the order in which you guys choose to do things is not important. It is the routine itself that matters).
Losing your cool will only amp your kid up and exacerbate the situation. Model winding down and relaxing in the evening and explain to them that sleep is very important for their health and growth. When they go to bed easily, tell them how proud you are of them for making good and healthy choices.
2Prep their Room
A bedroom free of devices and TVs is best. Make sure their bedroom is a comfortable space. Allow them to arrange their bedding just the way that they like before bed. Depending on your child, there are many different ways that the room can be prepped.
The point is for the kid to see that the room is now transitioning to night time… and so should they. You can even bring them in your room and model how you make your bedroom ready for sleep.
A five-minute warning will make a big difference. Bedtime is sometimes a power struggle but allowing the kiddos to get ready for the fact that it will be happening soon is a great way to stave off huge tantrums. If you can, leave a timer visible for the child so they can watch the time tick down.
4Let them make choices
Allow the child to make as many choices about their bedtime routine as is possible. For example, do they wish to use the potty or brush their teeth first? Does he or she want to sleep with a specific stuffed animal? Is there a certain song that he or she would like to hear as they get cozy? These choices are irrelevant to you but are huge for a child.
5Same time, same way, every day…
Routine, routine, routine. There is nothing more valuable when raising small kids than a routine that is identical each and every day. It’s best that the bedtime routine be a part of a larger daily routine that allows them to know what is coming next at pretty much any moment.
For bedtime, it is an ideal way to keep the evening time calm. Whether it is bath, brush teeth, potty, book, bed or brush teeth, potty, bath, songs, bed or song, book, potty, bath, bed makes no difference as long as it is the same every night.
Sample bedtime routine for toddlers
7:30 – five-minute warning
7:35 – bath
7:45 – brush teeth
7:50 – go potty and get on pajamas
7:55 – story time
8:05 – kisses from Mom and Dad
8:10 – lights out
It is our job to foster and support healthy sleep habits. That means not caving in to kids who hate to go to bed. Sleep is essential to the health of all people and is extra vital for kids. They need rest. A routine and a good attitude will make a huge difference. Ultimately, parents set the stage for how bedtime goes.