Life with a toddler can mean some long evenings fighting that same old bedtime struggle.
The key, however, to a good night’s sleep for you and your little one lies in one simple, yet hard to implement word, consistency.
Learning to wind down for the evening can be tough, but with a little planning and thought, you can start bedtime off with a few healthy habits, a little bit of bonding time, and some clever customizable bedtime activities whose benefits can last a lifetime.
8 Bedtime Routines to Lull Even the Most Tenacious Toddler to Sleep
Wash It Off – When it comes to bedtime routines, there are few more effective ways to get things kicked off on the right foot than a nice warm bath for your little one.
Run a tub of water before bringing in your toddler to make things easier on yourself, and make sure that any bathtime activities and toys your little one picks out are suitable for keeping to the subdued mood.
Little Tip: Add in some baby safe bath oils with a calming scent to make sure your little one is able to get the most out of bath time.
Food For Thought – Another great way to get your little one ready for sleep is with a last minute, late night snack to help calm things down as the night rolls in.
Pick out a simple food that’s quick and easy both to eat and make, preferably something warm to help calm the stomach, and if possible, get your toddler to help you make it to cement the routine in their mind.
Little Tip: Avoid anything with a high sugar content or a lot of caffeine, otherwise you could just be making the problem worse.
Brush Them Down – When it comes to self-care for your little, one of the easiest to teach practices is making sure that each day ends with some routine mouth care.
Having them brush before bed can help keep their teeth safe all through the night, and sets in a healthy habit that can last all through a child’s life.
Little Tip: Make sure that you’re using a toddler safe toothpaste when you’re having them brush. Adult toothpaste tends towards the harsher end of the spectrum, and an accidental swallow can mean a fairly heavy setback on the road to sleep.
Talk It Out – Winding down the day with a quick review with your little one can be a great way not only to get them ready for sleep but also to connect.
Talk your way through what happened today, answering any questions as you go, find out what they did and didn’t enjoy about the day’s activities, and go over any lessons learned from them.
Little Tip: Bookend the day by explaining what the plan is for tomorrow to help set expectations and give them something to look forward to.
Set The Mood – To get the most out of your nightly routine, spread it out over the course of your evening so that as the night winds on, your home winds down towards sleep.
Rather than simply designating a time to turn off all of the lights and head for bed, start gradually dimming the lights throughout the evening, turning off the ones you aren’t using, and replacing sounds from the TV and radio with calming songs or white noise.
As your child gets used to the routine, the gradually settling quiet can help them learn to move back towards bed all on their own as the night wears on.
Little Tip: If you’ve got a smart home device, a lot of these gradual changes can be set up in advance so that you don’t need to worry about manually managing them every day.
Story Time – One of the simplest, and perhaps oldest routines for helping your toddler get ready for sleep is a bedtime story, fostering a lifelong love of books and reading that your child can carry well into adulthood.
Be sure to pick something appropriate for both the child’s age and the time of night.
Remember, while an adventure is always great, too much excitement might stifle your cause.
Little Tip: While short stories can work wonders for getting your little one resting, a longer tale that stretches over multiple nights can help build out a more consistent routine.
Tone It Down – Adding a little soothing music to your standard bedtime setup can also be a fantastic way to help your little one tone back the excitement of the day and get ready for sleep.
Choose a soft and soothing melody, preferably one without lyrics, and start playing it during your late night routine.
Little Tip: Don’t wait until your child is already laying down to try out some soothing sounds, start playing them as you get ready for sleep and see the effect it has as the evening goes on. Try adding classical or jazz music to your playlist to help instill a lasting love of music and the arts that your children can enjoy throughout their lives.
Unplug To Unwind – If you’re looking to start curtailing the nightly struggle to get some shut-eye, long before it’s even time to lay down, try instituting a “no electronic devices after a certain time” policy in your household.
After that time, make sure that your little one is staying clear of the TV, laptops, video games, or any other electronic devices.
A little time reading or physically playing can do a lot when it comes to toning back the stress of the day, and getting your child’s mind clear before the normal bedroom routine starts.
Little Tip: If you’re not going to be reading, this is the perfect time to dim down the lights, set up a calming mood, and drain off the last of that seemingly endless supply of energy.