Alanna McGinn: A Good Night's Sleep

Nov
09
2016

Why it’s Time to Fire the Boss at Bedtime

Strategies to Stop the Bedtime Battles with Your Toddler

Bedtime tips

When you’ve got a toddler and bedtime rolls around, it can feel like a job. Night in and night out, putting your toddler to bed can become more and more difficult. While your little one is developing their own personality, sleep and bedtime suddenly becomes a battle you’re losing miserably.

And because it’s tough on everyone when your little one isn’t getting the sleep they need, it’s important to equip yourself with the right sleep information. Here’s what you need to know to get the job done right.

1. Use props to help your toddler go to sleep without you.

Positive sleep props can go a long way in getting a good night’s sleep! Here are a few I like:

Toddler alarm clock: These clocks are great because they give your child a visual cue that it’s bedtime and they need to stay in their room. It also shows them when they’re allowed to come out of their room in the morning or when mom and dad will get them.

Bedtime routine chart: A simple routine chart can help organize your much-needed downtime each night and prepare your child for sleep. Make it fun! Craft a chart together (and even add all their go-to excuses at bedtime!)

2. Set limits.

This can be the toughest to implement – but necessary. It helps in your journey and should be established early on. If they come out of their room, lead them back again every time, with little-to-no engagement. You may have to do this over and over again throughout the night but provided you remain consistent in setting those boundaries, after a few nights they will get the message. It’s important to make sure it’s not your toddler that’s training you at 2am!

3. Keep your toddler napping – despite signs of a nap strike.

Naps can end as early as two years of age but they typically stop all together at 3 to 4 years. If you find your child is fighting their nap I recommend still keeping at least an hour of quiet time as long as possible. It’s a great way for them to recharge and it’s vital for parents, too. Fill a “quiet time” box with books, puzzles, and toys and let them play in their rooms. They may even end up falling asleep for a bit.

4. Try to avoid transitioning your toddler from crib to bed too early.

Transitioning your child from crib to bed can be a terrifying time for parents. Suddenly they’re free to escape and roam about your home. Making sure your child is ready and old enough can help make the transition a seamless one. If they’re not climbing out of their crib and you can leave them in it until at least 3 years of age, I recommend you do so. At this age, your child will understand the rules better. It’s also important that parents have a unified plan. Make sure you know what your plan of action is if your child calls out or comes out of her room. Before Night 1 of the ‘big-kid bed’, sit down with your partner and develop your plan for when things pop up during the process.  This will help you to be consistent in setting limits, which will help in a successful transition.

5. Make them feel safe and secure when they need it.

Nightmares tend to happen at the toddler stage due to TV shows they watch, books you read, or conversations they overhear. If your child is more sensitive and has a bigger imagination, they can be more prone to nightmares. The important thing is to offer a lot of comfort and reassurance. Hug and cuddle them and tell them everything is going to be okay and try to keep comforting in the bedroom. That way your child will know that their sleep environment is safe and secure. Stop nightmares before they happen and stay away from scary TV shows or books right before bedtime. If your child is having frequent bad dreams, you need to explore the source of fear or anxiety, and communication is key.

I provide free child and family sleep support on my Facebook page. I invite you to join our sleep community as I work towards Good Night Sleep Site's mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site and visit me on Instagram and Twitter. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.

 RELATED: Sleep Training Your Baby - How Soon is Too Soon?