Sleep is something that most parents miss dearly after having a child. You expect it with a newborn, even with a 1-2 year old. But after 2-3 years you would think that your child would have figured out this whole bedtime thing. And yet, every night you dread the crying, tears, and tantrums that come with putting your toddler to bed. Check out these 5 simple steps to end the toddler bedtime battles for good!
How to end toddler bedtime battles for good
I know. That sounds like a completely crazy promise. And I’m not saying it will be fast, but these steps really do work if you stick to them. You want your toddler to get better sleep right? Of course, you do! And I know you want to have you evenings back and to get some solid sleep yourself. Follow these steps and your life is going to be so much easier!
5 simple steps to end toddler bedtime battles
1. create a bedtime routine
This does not have to be some elaborate plan that you make up with songs, tons of books, a long bath with fancy soaps, and a whole body massage for your toddler. It needs to be whatever works for your family and the child you are putting to bed.
In our house, it is relatively simple. We have dinner and then hang out together in the living room until bedtime. On bath nights the kids get a bath which usually takes 10-20 minutes. They get new diapers and pajamas and then my youngest goes to bed. We say goodnight to brother, daddy, and the dogs as we walk back to her room.
She has a nightlight and sound machine in her room that are both turned on. I sing her twinkle twinkle little star and lay her down with her favorite stuffed animal and blanket. Then I leave. When it is time, I repeat the process with my oldest. And both of them go straight to sleep and sleep through the night about 95% of the time.
Don’t think it needs to be elaborate. My kids like to just lay down and go to sleep when it is time. But if your kids enjoy more, then add it in!
2. Set the scene
I talked about this a little bit in building the routine. But I want to be very clear that this is a major part in ending toddler bedtime battles. Their bodies need signs that it is bedtime.
For my kids, putting on pajamas is the first sign. The next ones are saying goodnight to everyone. We don’t do those things at nap so it differentiates nap time from bedtime clearly in their brains.
The major thing for my kid’s sleep, the ones that I try not to make them do without, are night lights and sound machines. They create a consistent and predictable sleeping environment for my kids and it has helped them to sleep well in numerous hotels and homes that are not ours.
If you only do one thing off this list, I really think it needs to be this one to end toddler bedtime battles.
3. Watch for signs of sleepiness
Trying to put your toddler to bed before they are ready will make the entire night a struggle. So try to pay close attention to your toddlers cues. Look for things like:
- rubbing eyes
- irritability or crankiness
- twirling hair
Just like putting them to bed too early, you will also have a major toddler bedtime battle if you miss the window and put them to bed too late. Once they are overtired you really need to get them to reset before they can just go to sleep. That may mean some extra cuddles, some milk, or something else.
You know your kid. Do what you need to do.
4. Give your toddler a warning
Think about when you go to bed. You don’t just go from full speed to bedtime. You wind down. So why would you think that your toddler can go from playing and running around to going to sleep without a fight?
Let them know that the time is coming up. You can just tell them bedtime is soon. Or you can put them into their pajamas then let them play quietly for a short time. Another way is to read a book together before saying goodnight and moving forward.
We sometimes have a little pause in bedtime between putting on pajamas and saying goodnight where the kids get to play a little more. But they know that when I come to pick them up, it’s time for bed. So even though I didn’t SAY “it’s bedtime soon” they still knew because they got their pajamas on.
5. Stick to a bedtime
It doesn’t have to be exact. But it does need to be close. The biggest thing I have focused on is the length of overnight sleep they will do. My kids don’t sleep past 10 hours. And that means that if I don’t want to be up at an ungodly time I need to put them to bed at a certain time. Well, my kids also don’t really sleep past 6:30 and that is on a good day.
So you need to do what works for you here. But the key is consistency if you want to end toddler bedtime battles. Putting them to bed around the same time will cue their bodies to start producing melatonin around that time every day. Which will help them go to bed when you want them to! Yay!
So what time should you do? Check out the Resource Library to get your FREE printable sheet to decide when your child’s bedtime should be.
You will get a range of time that you should shoot for but how much sleep each child needs varies. So base what you go for off your experiences and adjust it as needed. Just try to keep it consistent for a bit to really see if it works!
Are you ready for your last toddler bedtime battle?
Of course you are!! So get a move on with these 5 simple steps and go have your last bedtime battle with your toddler!
I am so excited for your full night’s sleep I can’t even control myself. You deserve it, mama!