Guest post by Alanna McGinn, Sleep Consultant and founder of Good Night Sleep Site.
Are there bedtime battles around your house? Practicing a consistent bedtime routine with your toddler can be key in making the fights disappear and transitioning your little one to a seamless slumber. It helps them to feel more comfortable in knowing what’s expected of them and what’s happening next, and provides some great one-on-one attachment time with mom and dad.
When you’ve got a toddler, promoting a calming bedtime routine is still important but you may have to shake things up a little bit and include some special tricks of the (sleep) trade! Getting fun and creative with sleep training a toddler can help make going to bed a lot easier for everyone.
Something I recommend most parents to own with a child 2+ years of age is a toddler alarm clock. These clocks work great in allowing your child to visually see that it’s night time and time to stay in bed. And for the early risers, it tells them when it’s morning and the right time to get out of bed.
When introducing a toddler clock try the following:
- Make it fun! Wrap it up and give it as a gift or have your toddler pick it out at the store. Communicate how it works and make it an exciting addition to their routine.
- Set the clock at the appropriate bedtime and sit with your child in excitement while waiting for it to turn on. Your child will love the build up and the time together and they’ll be excited to follow the bedtime rule of heading under the covers. In the morning when it’s time to get up, go in their room and if they’ve waited patiently then praise, praise, praise!
The biggest issue at bedtime is the “forever” routine. “Can I have another glass of water?” “One more kiss!” “I have to go to the bathroom again.” “One more story!” Suddenly, what should be a calming 15-30 minute routine turns into hours of back and forth. When the toddler clock isn’t enough, why not include a bedtime chart? It’s a fun and creative way for your child to visually see his routine in steps.
You can involve your child and get them excited about the whole experience by bringing your little one with you to buy the supplies and let them decide how it will look. After explaining your sleep rules, use the chart to show your child when the step in the routine has been completed. Now when they pull out the usual excuses to delay bedtime all you have to do is point to their chart and remind them it’s been done. This is an easy trick with a positive result. We incorporated Mabel’s Labels “Write Away!” Labels to our chart as an added personalized touch and allows us to change our routine slightly when need be.
Or, instead of a routine chart, try this fun idea! These personalized door hangers were super fun to make and a great way to cross off the list as you go through the routine.
Some more Good Night Sleep Site tips to help make bedtime less of a battle:
- Preschoolers up to Grade 2 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. We want to aim for an earlier bedtime, therefore start your bedtime routine early enough so that you’re able to have a relaxed routine and you’re not rushing through everything. I always recommend starting at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Children thrive on consistency. Choose your bedtime activities and stick to it for the most part. Bath, PJs, brushing teeth, drink, potty, and reading a book are all things you can include to help cue your child that bedtime is coming.
About the Author:
Alanna McGinn is a mother of three (1 + twins!), Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC). When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. Follow Alanna on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.