5 creative ways to beat your toddler's bedtime battle

Posted 03/08/2015 in Life with a toddler
Establishing a good bedtime routine is a fantastic way to help your toddler wind down at the end of the day. Toddlers thrive on routine, they feel much more secure if they have a good idea of what's happening around them and what's going to happen next.

A bedtime routine can consist of anything you like, as long as it is done in the same order at roughly the same time each night. An example of a basic bedtime routine is to give your toddler a bath, put their pyjamas on, read them a few story books and give them a kiss goodnight. If this general routine works well for you and your family, that's great!

Unfortunately, bedtime routines didn't work so well for our first son. He was a poor sleeper from day one. As a baby (and by baby, I mean all the way up until one year old!) he woke up every few hours at night, and often wouldn't go back to sleep at all. This anti-sleep trend followed him into early toddler-hood, but to our exhausted relief, somewhere between 18-20 months old he suddenly started to sleep! And not just sleep - he slept a serious and consistent 13+ hours every night.

Eighteen months is a long time to battle bedtime - and trust me, I tried every trick in the book! It's also plenty of time to get creative in your sleepless desperation, and I did manage to come up with a few different tricks that helped.

If you've tried all the basic bedtime routines and your toddler still wants no part of it, try out a couple of these different tricks:

  1. Hide your toddlers bedtime items and help them look for them - when they find their toothbrush, they can go brush their teeth and start looking for their PJs. Once those are found and they're dressed, start looking for their favourite bedtime book. This helps the bedtime routine become fun for them, and not something to fight against.
  2. Think of new and interesting ways to get your toddler into their room and then into bed - "today we will crawl into bed" (spin into bed, hop into bed, roll into bed, etc).
  3. Bedtime is so final! Your toddler may be fighting it because they feel they have no say in anything, and are having everything forced upon them. Create some simple bedtime decisions for your toddler to make - "do you want the blue PJs or the red ones tonight? Which book will we read before bed?". This will help them feel that they are in control of the situation.
  4. Tell them a story in bed about themselves doing all the things they did that day. You can add in as much extra adventure as you like, but by including the highlights of their day you will capture their attention so much more.
  5. Shadow puppets in bed - once your toddler is snuggled up in bed, lie down with them and turn on a torch or phone light. Take turns making shadows on the walls while your toddler gets comfy and settles in for the night.

If you are blessed, as I was, with a toddler who has little regard for this whole sleep caper, try to remember that it definitely won't last forever. It's quite unlikely that you will have a 13 year old waking in the middle of the night crying for a drink of water, another story, or the 100th goodnight kiss. I wish you the very best of luck!




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