Toddler Sleep Training Tips For Bedtime Battles
It’s the end of a long, busy day and you find yourself struggling to get your toddler into bed. Even if they are exhausted, they always manage to get a burst of energy when they need it the least. You find yourself losing your patience and bedtime ends in tears for everyone. How can we make bedtime easier and reduce toddler bedtime battles?
If you get them into bed at a reasonable time you may avoid any toddler sleep training altogether.
One reason why many children fight bedtime is because they are overtired. Once a child enters the overtired stage, their bodies release adrenaline and cortisol, giving them that second wind. It can sometimes take two hours for their bodies to relax and get drowsy again, so we really want to make sure we avoid letting them get overtired. If you get them into bed at a reasonable time you may avoid any toddler sleep training altogether. In my house, my three year old twins go to bed no later than 7pm every night, otherwise the battles begin.
This should be a relaxing time for both of you and if Mom or Dad is getting anxious and uptight, he will too.
Part of toddler sleep training includes a nice relaxing bedtime routine to give your child enough time to wind down before bed. Choose relaxing and fun activities that you can both enjoy, like reading in Mommy’s big bed, singing songs together, or talking about your day. This should be a relaxing time for both of you and if Mom or Dad is getting anxious and uptight, he will too. Once you’ve got a great bedtime routine in place, keep it consistent. Children love routine and consistency, and it will help your child relax before bed if everything is predictable.
Using a timer shifts the blame from you, and there is less room for negotiations.
If you’re finding that the bedtime routine is taking longer than 30 minutes, you may need to set a timer to ensure your child is in bed with the lights out before he gets overtired. Allow your child to set the timer to help him or her feel invested in the bedtime process. Using a timer shifts the blame from you, and there is less room for negotiations.
By anticipating their requests, you will be able to reasonably ignore their curtain calls.
Before the timer goes off, anticipate what your child may ask for and include it in the bedtime routine. Offer them a drink, take a bathroom break, give them plenty of hugs and kisses, and make sure you ask them if they would like to tell you anything else before you go. By anticipating their requests, you will be able to reasonably ignore their curtain calls.
Depending on the age of the toddler, it’s helpful to talk about sleep and why sleep is so important. Your child will be able to run faster, jump higher and they will feel good. When your child has had a good night sleep, you can say things like “doesn’t your body feel good after having a good night’s sleep? Now you have the energy to play!” This gives your child a positive feeling about sleep, rather than feeling like they have to sleep because you said so.
- Choose a relaxing bedtime routine
- Keep bedtime consistent and predictable
- Use a timer to keep bedtime <30 min
- Anticipate your child’s delay tactics
- Talk with your child about why sleep is so important for their mind and body
Jenn Kelner is a mother of three children, including twins, and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz. Just as every family is unique, Jenn supports many different sleep methods and works directly with families to design a solution that will help them become well-rested, happy families.