Bedtime for Toddlers

After a full day of activity and adventure, it’s not easy for your child to gear down and get ready for bed. With a simple plan, a lot of patience, and some persistence on your part, bedtime for toddlers doesn’t have to be a hassle.

Setting the right atmosphere helps prepare your toddler for bedtime. Once your child’s teeth are brushed, pajamas are on and a sip of water is given, turn off any lights that shine into his/her room. Leave a night-light on if needed, and – for your use – use a soft lamp in the background or in the hall.

Spend a few moments talking softly, then give a gentle hug and a goodnight kiss. Next, explain that it’s time for some “quiet-listening time.” This means you have already chosen a book that has a calming story line, one you’ve read at least a few times so your child can picture it in his/her mind.

Move to the doorway or even into the hall while you read. This helps form a visual separation – another way of saying goodnight – and yet you remain nearby. Keep your voice calm and low as you read, helping lull your child further into a relaxed state of mind.

As children learn to lie quietly and visualize a story in their minds, they develop important listening skills. If you allow your child to pop up and down to look at the pictures in the book, you defeat your purpose. Remind them that they already know what the pictures look like and to “just think about them.”

If your toddler begins to talk and interrupt the story, stop and explain that you are sorry, but quiet-listening time won’t work if he/she talks. After this warning, read a bit more. If interruptions occur, shut the book and calmly tell your child, “We will try this again some other time. Right now it’s time to go to sleep.” Have a book or magazine handy and read long enough to let your child settle.

Playing soft instrumental music helps settle many children, and using the same CD every night becomec a quiet “trigger” that promotes relaxation. Tell your child, “Sometimes we will have a quiet-listening story, and sometimes we will just have music at bedtime.” Until the habit is firmly established, stick with story time and background music. Slowly choose shorter books so you spend less time reading aloud to your child.

Once in awhile, just play the CD while you read your own book. This helps prepare your toddler for the day when story time is no longer necessary to settle for bedtime. It also helps in case something unavoidable comes up and you aren’t able to have your quiet-listening time. That’s when a familiar CD takes over and lulls your toddler to sleep.

Bedtime for toddlers can be a challenge at times. Toddlers don’t come with inborn switches labeled “on” and “off.” If they did, their parents could simply flip the off switch, slip them into bed and kiss them goodnight.

A calm routine helps make bedtime for toddlers less stressful. Quiet-time listening, soft music and low lights help stage a soothing atmosphere. Hang in there. With a simple plan, a lot of patience and persistence on your part, bedtime for toddlers will soon be an enjoyable routine.