If you’ve ever tried to put a wired toddler to bed, you know it can be a pretty frustrating experience.
From stalling to downright refusing bedtime, what should be a relaxing time can turn into pure chaos.
LinnieLou spoke with pediatric sleep consultant Kristin Geifer to get her best toddler bedtime tips and tricks to help make sure your future bedtimes go off without a hitch.
Toddler Bedtime Challenges
What are some of the big challenges parents face when managing toddler sleep?
Kristin said it’s all about pushing limits.
“Toddlers are much more inclined to push boundaries and see what they can get away with, and it's harder to rein them in,” she said. “If they have been conditioned with certain norms involving sleep when they were a baby or infant, and parents seek to adjust or reverse poor sleep habits when they become a toddler, it can be very challenging.”
She also noted that, cognitively, toddlers are much more aware of their growing independence.
“Unlike small babies who still believe they are just another limb belonging to their mother, toddlers understand saying ‘no’ and wanting to do what they want,” Kristin said.
So what can you do?
“When sleep training or attempting to implement appropriate sleep hygiene measures with a toddler, consistency–200 percent of the time–will always do the trick!” she said.
Toddler Bedtime Tip #1: Give Choices
To help your toddler feel more in control, offer choices instead of demands.
For example, you could ask:
- “Would you like to brush your teeth or read stories first?”
- “Would you like to read ‘GoodNight Moon,’ or ‘Little Blue Truck?’”
- “Would you like to wear your pink or green pajamas?”
“Offer as many choices as possible. Just make sure you’ll be satisfied with whatever choice your toddler makes,” Kristin said.
Bedtime Tip #2: Make Their Bed Amazing
Help your toddler get excited about bedtime! Let your toddler pick out their sheets, blankets, pillowcase, and loveys.
An extra-special bed will help encourage your toddler to be excited about bedtime instead of dreading it.
Bedtime Tip #3: Implement a Reward System
If your toddler is old enough, implement a reward system.
For example, make a simple sticker chart.
Each morning, let your child add a sticker to the chart if she followed her bedtime routine the night before. After she’s filled up the chart, let her pick out a new book or small toy.
“Implement this with them so they’ll feel proud of how they’ve followed directions you’ve laid out for bedtime.”
Bedtime Tip #4: Teach Self Soothing Techniques
What happens if your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night?
Kristin advised teaching your child self-soothing techniques. Encourage them to …
- Make up a story
- Talk to their lovie
- Practice deep breathing
Bedtime Tip #5: Be Consistent
Kristin’s best piece of advice? Be consistent with your routine.
A typical toddler bedtime routine could look like this:
- Lights out
“Children crave routine because it makes them feel calm and safe,” Kristin said.
Bedtime with toddlers can be chaotic, but pediatric sleep consultant Kristin Geifer said there are a few ways you can make this time with your child fun and relaxing.
- Offer choices at bedtime.
- Let your toddler choose their bedding.
- Implement a reward system.
- Teach self soothing techniques.
- Stay consistent
To learn more about Kristin’s sleep training services, check out her website here.
And be sure to check out our Instagram, where we share more parenting tips, tricks, and stories!Photo Credit: @capecodmomma