What’s it like in your house when it comes to your toddler’s bedtime? Do you find they suddenly need a drink? Want ANOTHER story read? They can’t possibly sleep without George the Giraffe?! Cue one frustrated parent and one tired, but not admitting it, toddler!
Your little ones reluctance to go to bed and stay there is just another way for them to assert their growing independence ( yes- another way!) and is also because they really, really, don’t want to be separated from you or the action! Just as much as you long for a spot of inaction....
So what can you do to encourage your toddler to go to bed and stay there?!
Reassurance is key! Some babies and toddlers simply do not want to be left alone as they are worried you will disappear and not come back! Help to reassure them by telling them you are nearby and that you will come back and check on them. Top tip! DO make sure you pop back if you have said you will, otherwise you will break their sense of trust in you.
Let them master the art of sleep! (When they reach teenage years, you will realise what a good job you did, as they never get up!) Jokes aside, it is really important you teach your child how to go to sleep by themselves. If you always stay with them until they fall asleep, you will find it a very hard habit to break later on. Reassurance is again the key, tell them you will pop back and check on them, as they will safer and more relaxed if they feel they are not being left for too long.
Anticipate their needs! Toddlers are very adept at finding reasons to delay doing anything they want- and that includes going to bed! Build extra time into your routine, so they can get special toys together, have one last drink etc.
One last request! Allow your little one the chance to ask for one last thing before they go to sleep, this will help to make them feel independent and help you set limit to the number of their requests!
Involve your toddler in their routine! You can do this by asking them what story they would like you to read for example, or what PJ’s they want to wear ( depends on how you feel about endless washing!) This will help to make them feel part of the decision making process. Top tip- avoid giving them too many choices and do not ask whether they feel it’s time to go to bed now ( they will invariably say no!)
Create a calm atmosphere in the run up to bed time. It will be difficult for your toddler to fall asleep if they are overtired or overstimulated. This is where bath times can be useful, think about adding some lavender oil to the water, which has a calming effect. Top tip! If you are having trouble putting your little one to bed, think about the time- it could be they are going to bed too late for them and are overtired as a result.
Lights on? Some children are scared of the dark and would sleep better with a nightlight or landing light on. Top tip! Why not let your little one choose their own night light, it’s another way of making them feel involved in their bedtime routine.
Keep calm and carry on! It is very hard at the end of the day to feel patient with a toddler who simply won’t stay in bed. Above all, do not give in! You must return them to bed straightaway. Top tip! First time talk to your child and tell them it’s bedtime, second time just take the by the hand and put them to bed but do not say anything. And so on..! Your little one needs to know getting up does not result in extra time and interaction with you. They will soon work out they have nothing to be gained by getting up!
Have you any tips or suggestions you could share?