My toddler's night routine is a nightmare - what do I do? Five easy ways to beat the bedtime battle

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Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in their journey to better sleep.
Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in their journey to better sleep.

Getting your toddler to go to bed can be a struggle. On the one hand, your toddler is learning to assert themselves and their newfound independence and control of the world around them.

On the other, they do need routine and sleep, so as parents, it's up to us to ensure this happens sometimes. This is no easy feat! Here are some tips to help nip these bedtime battles in the bud!

Early bedtime 

As your toddler gets older, we are often tempted to move bedtime later, assuming your toddler is just not tired enough for bed; however, this can actually exacerbate the problem. If your child is overtired, they are more likely to fight sleep. Remember, up until the age of 5; they still need 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep!

Also see: My child struggles with day-to-day tasks like brushing his teeth 

Give them a pre-warning

Your child has no concept of time; this is why routines are so important as they give the day structure and help your child feel secure by knowing what is coming next. Give them a pre-warning of what is going to happen. For example, "we have 10 min of playtime left, and then we will be going to bath" help them conceptualise the time by using a timer with an alarm, so they know when it goes off, it's time to get ready for the bath.

Work with their emotions

Toddlers are emotional little people, not logical little people, and we cannot expect them to follow the rules or just lay down in bed if their emotional needs are not met during the day! Find out your little ones' love language to help fill their emotional cup and get that quality one on one time! 

Make it fun! 

Often bedtime signals the end of playtime, which is why your little one might be showing so much resistance. A good idea is to make a sticker chart of the steps in your bedtime routine hang it beside your child's bed that outlines each step of the bedtime routine. Let your toddler put a sticker or a checkmark beside the completed steps as you go through the routine. All the toddlers I've met love this, and it helps them develop a sense of independence and control over their bedtime routines, and it makes it FUN. Offer choices to add to the sense of fun and independence, for example, "do you want bubbles or bath salts?" or "choose two stories we are going to read tonight."

Make sure all bedtime needs are met

Make sure that all your little one's bedtime needs have been met before you put her in bed for the night. Ensure that everyone who needs to be kissed goodnight has been kissed, they have had their water or sleep comforter, or whatever it is that makes your toddler feel comfortable, safe, and secure. This way, they won't be able to use these things as excuses to call you back into the bedroom or get out of the room!  

These are just small things you can do, but remember all children are different, so sometimes we need to think a bit out of the box or take a different approach. Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in their journey to better sleep.


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