Bedtime with your toddler can look very different from what you experienced when they were a baby. Are you suddenly struggling with bedtime battles? Trying to negotiate for hours with your toddler? Bedtime is now taking forever to get through? Tantrums and meltdowns when it comes to bedtime?
Toddlers are wonderful but bedtime can often present as problematic. Everyone is tired at the end of the day and the last thing parents want is a struggle. Here are some of my favorite tips to incorporate into your bedtime routine that can help decrease the tears (from both of you) and make bedtime a breeze!
Toddler’s love to be independent and have input in decision making. Get them involved in bedtime by offering choices. “Do you want the jammies with stripes or polka dots”? “Do you want to brush your teeth in 2 minutes or 4 minutes?” Utilizing “this” or “that” statements can help them feel in control and less likely to lead to a power struggle.
Fill their “cup”
No, I don’t mean a literal cup. We want to ensure we are filling their emotional cup before bed! Try and focus on some one on one time with your toddler before starting your bedtime routine. Put away your phone, turn off the TV and enjoy some uninterrupted play time together. This might be reading books, singing songs, colouring or building a block tower! Spending quality time connecting before bedtime can make it easier when you say goodnight and leave the room.
Introduce a lovie
Lovies, bonding dolls, comfort items… There are so many names! A lovie is typically a small, soft, stuffie or blanket that your toddler uses to help build attachment and feel secure. They are often safe to introduce after 12 months old. Lovies can provide support and reassurance to your toddler when they are alone in their sleep space. Toddler doesn’t have one? Get them involved in picking their new friend for bedtime!
Take your time
Toddlers often need more time to “wind down” before settling into sleep for the night. This might look like a slightly longer bedtime routine to ensure they get all their wiggles out so they are calm heading to bed. I find 45 minutes to be a good amount of time for most toddlers to get through their bedtime routine. This allows time to get them involved with some of the tasks and not be rushed through.
Create boundaries, schedule and routine
Having a bedtime routine in place can be very helpful. It creates clear expectations of what comes next and prepares your toddler that sleep is coming. Incorporating bedtime charts are also great visual tools to help with bedtime. As parents, it is important to have flexibility but it is also important to create boundaries as toddlers are the masters of stalling. Has anyone else struggled with “just 1 more book!” that turned into 5 or “just sit with me for a few more minutes” that turned into sleeping on the floor. Find a routine that works for your family.
Avoid screen time
Light emitted from the screens can impact melatonin production. This is our sleepy hormone. To help this, avoid screens (phone, TV, etc.) at least 1 hour before bedtime. Instead, try offering books, toys or role playing games with your kiddo. This is also a good tip to remember as parents because who isn’t guilty of using their phone before bed?! I know I am!
Having a toddler is very fun. They are busy, really showing their personality and learning so many new things everyday. When making changes remember that it can take older kiddos longer to settle into new routines. Be patient with them (and yourself) and remember if you ever need more support for sleep with your toddler just reach out to The Mama Coach team… we would love to support you!