📚8 Ways to Make Your Toddler’s Bedtime Run Smoothly
If you have young children — or even older children if we're honest — bedtime is both your favorite time of the day and the period that you dread the most. Once your little ones are tucked snug in their beds, you can relax, have a glass of wine and unwind from your stressful day. It's getting them in bed that often presents the biggest challenge. If you're having trouble making the connection between bedtime and actual sleep, here are a few of my favorite tricks to make bedtime run a little more smoothly in your home.
1. Build a Routine
One of the most important tools in your bedtime arsenal is a routine. Kids thrive on routine, and if you're having trouble with bedtime, creating a routine is the best thing you can do. It sounds complicated, but all you really have to do is make sure you're doing the same thing at the same time every night. If bedtime is at 9 pm, start your routine at 7 pm with baths, bedtime stories, teeth brushing and eventually, sleep. Take the time to build it into a habit. It's not something that will take hold overnight -- pun intended.
2. Make It Comfortable
Kids aren't going to sleep well if they're not comfortable. If the households too loud or they've got a bright light streaming in from the hallway or their bed is too itchy or they can't find their favorite stuffed animal, they're not going to be comfortable enough to sleep. Make sure that everything is comfortable and getting your toddler to sleep becomes a little bit simpler.
3. Put Away the Screens
We often wonder how our parents managed to maintain their sanity without the use of iPads and phones. While they can be a valuable tool, if you're having trouble getting your little ones to sleep, you need to put away the screens at least two hours before bedtime. The blue light that these screens emit interferes with the brain's ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that tells you when it's time to sleep. Shut off the screens. Make that the first part of your bedtime routine.
4. Wear Them Out
When you have a toddler it often feels like they're siphoning your energy to keep going, which is why we're so tired at the end of the day and they're still going strong. Instead of telling them to run circles around the house, take a trip to the park in the afternoon and let them burn off some of that energy. Unstructured play has all sorts of benefits as well, helping them learn things like motor skills, cognitive abilities, and coordination without even realizing that they're learning.
5. Cool It Off
We all love snuggling with warm blankets at the end of the day, but if the room is too hot, you'll end up having trouble sleeping. The same thing goes for your toddlers. According to sleep experts, a cool room — around 65 degrees — is perfect. If your toddler gets too chilly, warm pajamas and fluffy blankets are always an option. They will sleep better if the room is cooler though.
6. Address Any Potential Problems
It might not be screens or the lack of a routine that is making it difficult for your toddler to fall asleep and stay there. Breathing issues like snoring, other problems like bedwetting, or nightmares could all be keeping your little one from getting a good night's sleep. Start addressing existing problems as you find them. You might find that all the other pieces fall into place as soon as you resolve them.
7. Draw a Bath
There's nothing more relaxing than a warm bath before you head to bed — and that applies to toddlers as well as adults. If you're having trouble getting your toddler to slow down, consider using a baby soap with lavender or other calming scents that will hopefully make it easier to get them into bed without too much of a fight.
8. Be Consistent
Finally, make sure that you're consistent with all of the things you're trying to implement. Depending on who you ask, it can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to create a habit. You're not going to create the perfect bedtime routine in a day or two.
Don't Give Up
Getting your toddler into bed might seem like you're fighting World War III every night, but it doesn't have to. Try something new and whatever you do, don't give up. Your little ones won't be toddlers forever, and it won't be long before they don't want you to tuck them in at all. Embrace your little ones while they're that way because they grow up way too fast. Don't let bedtime frustrate you -- and feel free to enjoy your me-time as soon as they close their eyes for the night!