How to Create a Toddler Sleep Routine
If you’re having problems with your little one and sleep, and you’re looking for some high quality information, advice and resources, then you’ve come to the right place. I know exactly what it’s like when you are permanently sleep deprived and dealing with an overtired baby or toddler. It’s not much fun!
Lack of sleep can spoil your enjoyment of parenthood and put an unfair strain on your relationship with your partner and child. Luckily, almost all non medical sleep issues can be resolved by applying the correct principles, techniques and methods.
If you don’t have a structured bedtime routine for your child, then you are making a mistake. Research has consistently shown that children with a bedtime routine fall asleep faster, experience fewer night wakings and sleep for longer. Both babies and toddlers benefit greatly from having a familiar set of activities that gently lead them step by step into a relaxed state. The same set of actions performed at the same time every night is comforting to a child and leads to a feeling of security that helps them sleep well.
If your child is a toddler, he or she will be continually testing the boundaries that you have set them and trying to assert their own will on every situation. If you are consistent in your routine then your toddler are far less likely to be battling you at every step.
Toddlers often find it easier to grasp a new concept if it is explained visually. If you are introducing a routine for the first time then you may wish to draw up chart with each activity represented by a picture. Ask your toddler what activities they want to include in their routine and allocate a time for each activity. Do not include too many activities as you do not want the routine to become a chore. Make sure that each activity is progressively more soothing and depending upon the total time that you have available, try to keep the routine to between 30 and 60 minutes.
If your toddler is not used to a bedtime routine, he or she is unlikely to successfully complete the chosen routine on time from the start. Don’t be too hard on him or her and praise your toddler for each step successfully completed on time. You may wish to give a star for each activity with a reward for further levels of success. In time your child will come to welcome the routine and will even enjoy anticipating the following step.
If your child is still a baby, the most important thing is to provide consistent cues that signal the onset of nap time or night time. Try to be consistent: lower the lighting, use a soothing tone of voice and use a consistent bedtime location.
Suggested Bedtime Routine:
18:30 Have a bath
A bath can be a wonderful way for your child to unwind at the end of the day. If you don’t have time or don’t wish to bath your child every day, then do not include this activity in the routine.
18:45 Pajamas and Brush Teeth
Let your toddler choose which pajamas to wear (try and offer 2 choices only) and get them in the habit of brushing their teeth every night.
18:50 Story Time
Even babies enjoy having a story at night. The tone of voice and undivided attention is always appreciated. Avoid scary or upsetting stories though.
19:00 Say goodnight and go to sleep
Say goodnight. Explain that once you have said goodnight that signals the end of the day and that they must go sleep. Give a kiss goodnight, tuck your little one in.
Dealing with Toddler Sleep Training Battles
In the meanwhile, the first thing you must do disassociate your toddler sleep bedtime routine with her sleep time.You can move the bedtime later. Get her to agree to the exact routine and plan it out with her. Do some drawings with a box for each stage and tick it off together when you have done each stage.
Complete as much of the routine as possible in her bedroom and do not let her go back downstairs once you have started. If she does not want to go to her room, try and make the first activity in the routine something that she really enjoys doing. Be patient.
She will resist at first and it may take a few days but if you are 100% consistent she will soon get the idea. Do not negotiate with her and ignore any tactics that she tries.
As far as signs of tiredness go, if she starts to get hyperactive, you have let things go too late. Start the routine when she is still calm.Do not let her watch television in the evening. Studies have shown that it will reduce the quality of sleep and make it harder for her to fall asleep.
Bedtime battles with toddlers are very common and I hope this brief post helps if you are in the same position. You would also be wise to make sure that your toddler does not nap late in the afternoon and that he or she gets plenty of mental and physical stimulation during the day.
It will also help if you can manage to get your toddler to agree to co-operate. Sometimes giving your toddler some control like choosing their story or pajamas can make them feel more co-operative and less like doing battle.
Toddler’s Bedtime too Late?
Is your toddlers bedtime is 9pm or 10pm then you may be wondering if you need to do anything about it. Even if you do decide to make some changes, you may be looking for some advice on how to do it without World War 3 breaking out.
First let me point out that a well rested toddler will be alert and will be receptive to, and interactive with, his or her environment. In this state your child is much more likely to be calm, attentive, pleasant and socially at ease. On the flip side, children with sleep problems will be less alert, less attentive and will have much
Surprisingly, they may also show signs of hyperactivity. This is because children often try to fight their fatigue, and in doing so produce adrenaline. This in turn leads to an exhausted child that is wide-awake, fussy and irritable. Interestingly, children that go to bed when they are over exhausted are more likely to wake up during the night.
The solution is to watch for signs that your child is getting tired and to then implement your bedtime routine to match this natural tiredness. After about a week, your child will start to form a strong association between sleep and the bedtime routine. You can then start to move the bedtime routine 15 minutes at a time until you have arrived at a more suitable hour.
Studies have shown this method to be equally as effective as “Cry It Out” when it comes to reducing tantrums.