By O’hara Kydd – Good Night Consultant
Getting your toddler to go to bed can be a struggle and in some cases an all out war. Your toddler on the one hand, is learning to assert themselves and their newfound independence and control of the world around them. On the other hand, they do need routine and sleep so as parents its up to us to ensure this happens, sometimes this in no easy feat! Here are some tips to help nip these bedtime battles in the bud!
Early bedtime – as your toddler get 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 going to sleep. Remember up until the age of 5 they still need 11-12 hours of night time sleep!
Concept of Time – your child has no concept of time this is why routines are so important as they give the day structure and also help your child feel secure by knowing what is coming next. Give them 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 its time to get ready for the bath.
Emotions – toddlers are emotional little people not logical little people and we cannot expect them to follow rules or just lay down in bed if their emotional needs are not met during the day! Find out what you little ones love language is to help fill their emotional cup and get that quality one on one time!
Make it fun! – often bedtime signals the end of play time 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. As you go through the routine, let your toddler put a sticker or a check mark beside the completed steps. 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 ones 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 to 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.