From bedtime battles to easy evenings:
Five steps to making your toddler a bedtime rockstar!
Resistance to bedtime is common for toddlers, especially between the ages of 3-4, when they are often going through big developmental changes, and learning how to exert independence and opinions. Believe it or not, it IS entirely possible to make bedtime a fun, enjoyable time of day in your household; but, it is going to take a little time, a lot of patience and – the key! – tons of consistency.
Here are five helpful tips to a smoother bedtime for your little staller!
No TV within an hour of bed: Many of us feel that television has a calming, relaxing effect, which is why parents often include an episode of their kiddo’s favourite show as part of their child’s bedtime routine. Unfortunately, TV before bed has quite the opposite effect! Viewing TV or other electronic screens before sleep tends to rev up our brains, delaying or disrupting our sleep, and may even cause nightmares, particularly for toddlers and preschoolers.
Consistent bedtime routine: Babies and toddlers LOVE consistency. They love predictability. They thrive in situations where they know what is coming next. A consistent bedtime routine – EVERY night (bath, PJs, stories) – will help your little one to feel comfortable and familiar with the process of going to bed. If you have a little staller on your hands (One more sip of water! One more hug for dolly!), then a visual bedtime chart is a great idea – get your little one involved in making the chart, and have him check of the items with you as you go through them each night.
Decisions, decisions: Toddlers and preschoolers also love to be given choices and to make decisions. At bedtime, keep things brief but also give your child decision-making power by offering two options for PJs and allowing him to pick one; offering four options for books and allowing him to pick two, etc. This sense of empowerment for your little one is likely to go a long way in fending off bedtime tantrums.
Snuggly buddy: Our little ones have BIG imaginations, and being in their room alone can be daunting at times. A snuggly buddy (often referred to as a transitional object or lovey) is a great idea to help your child feel safe, comfortable, familiar and secure when drifting off to sleep or when she has a partial waking during the night. Ensure that the buddy is small and soft and poses no choking hazards. And consider getting a spare for the wash cycle, as your toddler is unlikely to want to let it go for naptime or bedtime!
Sleep phrase: Pick a key sleep phrase, and say it to your little one EVERY time you put her down to sleep (naps, bedtime, during night wakes if those occur, etc.). A phrase as simple as “It’s night-night time Benjamin, we love you” will become a ritual that you conduct each evening, signalling a sleep cue and the end of your child’s bedtime routine. He will begin to associate this phrase with sleep and will help him to understand clearly when the bedtime routine is over and the time for sleep has begun.