How to change toddler’s bedtime
Parenting a toddler comes with its challenges, especially right before bedtime. Whether they’ve taken a later-than-average nap, or they’re pent-up with energy, or they’ve exhausted themselves after a long day of playing, it turns into a full-blown cry-fest before they eventually fall asleep.
Nighttime does not have to be an everyday battle.
The key to making it easier for you and your toddler is to have the right bedtime routine. Here are some tips for adjusting your toddler’s bedtime routine in a gentle way.
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How to get a toddler to sleep?
Sleep or the lack thereof is the bane of every mom’s existence. Whether you’re dealing with a newborn or toddler, bedtime can be the source of a lot of stress especially if you can’t get your toddler on board. I always joke that motherhood doesn’t come with a parenting guide but in the instance of sleep and getting your toddler to sleep for bedtime and naps, that’s not quite true. There is a toddler sleep guide!
If establishing a bedtime routine or creating a toddler sleep schedule has been a struggle for you, you absolutely need this guide. It has everything you need to get your 5-month-old to 5-year-old child asleep including sample routines, daily schedules, and activities. It’s a game-changer for sure. Grab yours and thank me later!
How do I establish a bedtime routine
1. Take note of waking and sleeping time.
The first step to adjusting your child’s bedtime is to recognize how long your kid sleeps. How many hours do they actually rest at night? How long are their naps during the early morning and afternoons? You can build an ideal wake/sleep routine for your toddler once you answer these questions.
A toddler needs to sleep for at least 10 to 14 hours per day to keep them growing healthy and active. When you log their sleeping habits, you’ll begin to understand what habits to change and improve. By better understanding your child’s overall outlook when they play, nap, and hit the hay, you’ll have an easier time implementing these strategies.
2. Don’t make sleepy time a punishment.
Now that you have created a sleeping routine (and if you haven’t, we will go through how to do this further down), you need a way to follow through without making it emotionally exhausting for your child. When your child can look forward to resting, it makes it less stressful for both of you.
Some parents make the mistake of turning sleep time into a form of punishment. When a toddler is a little too rowdy or destructive, the first thing parents may say is, “That’s it! Playtime is over. Go to your room and sleep!”
Doing this will only make your child think of sleep as a punishment and not something they truly need. These situations may shape bedtime into an enemy and not something they feel is necessary for their health. Your toddler may begin to resent you for putting them to bed when they don’t understand what they did wrong.
So, if you’ve been using bedtime as a punishment, it’s time to stop.
3. Schedule naptime far away from bedtime.
Naptime is essential for most toddlers. When your child’s naptime is scheduled too closely to bedtime, they’re not likely to have a restful sleep.
Try to set a time in the day when your toddler must wake up from a nap. This will help them fall asleep not too late, but not too early during the day.
According to Sleep.Org if your two-year-old is sleeping 10-12 hours a nap, they only need an hour and a half nap. Because of my early work schedule, my daughter’s day starts at 5:45 AM and she naps at noon. Her nap is 2 hours to accommodate the early hours.
Once you decide the right time to end naptime, gently wake your child when the time is right. If done too abruptly, a meltdown of epic proportions will ensue. To prevent an after-nap-meltdown, plan ahead, and make it exciting for your child every time they wake up. Make these moments something they can look forward to, like offering their favorite snack or joining them during playtime.
4. Plan for an active day
Your toddler will grow more active with each passing day. All their pent-up energy has to go somewhere!
Kids need to exercise for their body and mind to develop and grow. To help your child spend all their energy, plan on time-blocking solely for active play. This means no T.V for a good chunk of the day and instead, do things where your kid is constantly active.
Plan fun activities in between naptimes. Once it’s time to rest, your child will feel much more relaxed and willing to get some sleep for tomorrow’s busy day.
If you need help coming up with ideas to keep your little one busy indoors, this is what I use.
5. Snacks are okay, but sugar is not.
Sleeping on an empty stomach can make it difficult for anyone to fall asleep. It’s a given you’ll have a grumpy toddler if their tummy is growling before bed.
Provide your toddler a healthy snack 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime. However, there’s one condition to snacking before bed; no sweet treats like candy, over-processed foods, and sugary drinks. A toddler hyped on a sugar rush before bedtime is the worst fear of every parent. Instead, offer food that helps your child feel fuller for longer, such as apples, a banana, or a sliced mini-bagel spread with cream cheese. Don’t forget to help them brush their teeth!
6. Make bedtime fun for your toddler.
Truthfully, bedtime should be an exclusive time of your day to bond with your toddler. By creating a happy and relaxed atmosphere, sleepy time can be a fun yet calming activity for both you and your child.
There are many ways to gently wind down the day’s activities. You can play soft music to listen together, read a bedtime story or two, and give each other some warm snuggles. Have a good laugh with your toddler before turning the lights off will encourage them to happily sleep the night away.
Some days and nights feel longer than others with a busy toddler. If adjusting your toddler’s bedtime if proving to be difficult, you might be feeling exhausted, too. Every parent faces bedtime woes when putting their kid to sleep, some more than others.
The moments you share before bedtime will only last just a few more years. As a parent, you should try to absorb every ounce of joy that sprout from these memories. Connect with them and encourage healthy sleeping habits for their growing body and brain. Remember, it’s one of the few things they will remember as a child. Make the most out of it. Remember that your child won’t stay little forever.
How to change sleep schedule for toddlers
I hope these tips have helped encourage you to adjust your toddler’s bedtime in a gentle and fun way. Toddlers are so much fun and quick learns when they’ve gotten adequate rest. Changing your toddler’s sleep schedule to provide them with the optimal hours of sleep is one of the best things you can do for them in terms of growth of development.
Remember, you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself, grab the toddler sleep and activity guide so you and your toddler can both get the sleep you deserve!