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How to Put a Toddler to Sleep: The Complete Guide

Having a toddler is a joyous time of parenthood. Your little one is old enough to run and play, but young enough that they still love to cuddle.

But no stage of parenthood comes without difficulty, and the toddler stage is no exception. For many parents, one of the toughest parts of having a toddler is bedtime.

Whether you have occasional trouble getting your child to sleep or fight a nightly battle at bedtime, knowing how to put a toddler to sleep effectively can be a lifesaver.

Stalling at bedtime is normal for toddlers, but there are things you can do to make it easier for both you and your child. To learn everything you need to know about putting your toddler to bed without a fight, just keep reading!

How to Put a Toddler to Sleep

If your toddler is resisting bedtime, it’s likely due to one of a few common roadblocks. Knowing how to tackle each is important, as the sleepier your toddler becomes, the harder it will be to put them to bed without a struggle.

Outlined below are the bedtime issues parents most often encounter and how to overcome them.

Create a Routine

People of all ages thrive with routine, and it’s important to establish these habits at a young age! By creating a routine, your toddler will become familiar with the time of day he goes to bed, and the time he wakes up. Before long, his body will naturally get tired and wake up at the appropriate times.

Babies and toddlers need more sleep than any other age group. Between the ages of 1 and 2, your child needs between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per night. Ensure that they go to sleep and wake up within 30 minutes of the same time every day.

For example, if your child wakes up at 7:00 in the morning for daycare or other activities on Mondays and Wednesdays, they need to wake up at 7:00 am every day of the week. In order to get the proper amount of sleep, they should be going to bed at 8:00 pm at the very latest.

Lastly, be sure that nap time isn’t too close to bedtime, as this can interfere with their sleep schedule and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

Make Bedtime Cheerful

Bedtime can be stressful for small children. Whether they suffer from nightmares, separation anxiety, or fear of missing out on the action, bedtime should be made as fun and cheerful as possible.

Never use sleep as a punishment. Instead, make it a special time that they get to spend with mommy or daddy. During this time, stay away from any stimulating activities like roughhousing or TV.

What soothing activities does your toddler enjoy? If they love bath time, try diffusing some essential oils that promote sleepiness or use a lotion with lavender for relaxation. After the bath, read a few books with your child or listen to soft music.

Let your child choose everything. Their pajamas, the books they’re read, the music you listen to, etc. Allowing your child to feel that they have some of the control is a great way to prevent tantrums.

Limit Snacks Before Bed

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is giving your toddler sugary foods or drinks too close to bedtime. Sugar is a major stimulant and will have your child bouncing off the walls and nowhere near ready to go to sleep.

If your child is thirsty before bed, stick to water. For bedtime snacks, give healthy options, and stay away from junk food. Fruit, peanut butter, cheese, or hard-boiled eggs are excellent options that won’t keep your toddler up all night.

Keep Screens Out of the Bedroom

Toddlers and adults alike can benefit from this tip. Screens on tablets, TVs, and other devices emit a light that can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm. At bedtime, your toddler’s bedroom should be calm and dark.

Put screens away at least an hour before bed to avoid the negative side effects. A small nightlight and soft music are perfectly fine, but the bedroom environment should promote sleep.

Stick to the Program

Even if you become an expert on how to get kids to sleep, you’re going to experience setbacks. Nightmares, toddler sleep regression, and the occasional tantrum are more than likely going to get in your way at some point or another.

When this happens, do your best to stick with the program. It can be tempting to give in to a crying or screaming child, as all you want to do as a parent is comfort them (while saving your sanity). But this is a mistake.

Yes, you should comfort a scared or distressed child, but do so in their room rather than your own. And while you’re soothing them, you should also be trying to get them back to bed.

Remind your child that it’s bedtime, surround them with any items that bring them comfort, and tuck them into bed before leaving the room.

Use This Guide to Make Bedtime a Breeze

Remember, it’s important to exercise as much patience as possible when dealing with your toddler. Bedtime can be scary and toddlers’ brains are far from fully developed.

If your little one fights bedtime, don’t worry, it’s a common issue! But knowing how to put a toddler to sleep through preparing for bedtime properly, bedtime will be a breeze before you know it.

For more tips for honing your parenting skills, be sure to take a look at our blog!


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