Bedtime and toddlers mix as well as oil and vinegar most nights. Bedtime can be a time of frustration for many parents as toddlers escape their bed and sneak out of their rooms multiple times. Below you’ll find some helpful tips to get your child to sleep in their own bed without waging World War III:
Create a Routine: Kids feel safe with routines. Having a schedule they are familiar with lets them know what they can expect on a daily basis. Don’t rush the bedtime process as it is important to help them wind down and relax. After dinner have active play time to burn off excess energy. Consider using an egg timer to ring when it is time to head to the bath. Use bath time to transition them to a calmer state and prepare them for bed. Allow each child to select a book to read and gather together on a bed to snuggle and read. Include their favorite stuffed toy or blanket to be part of the bedtime ritual. After story time give kisses and hugs before tucking them in and turning out the light.
Be Strong: Toddlers will find a myriad of excuses to get out of bed. It’s important to be strong and not give in to their wishes. Each time they wander into the hallway, escort them back to bed and firmly say goodnight and tuck them in. It is important to continue the process with a firm calm voice until they stay in bed for the night.
Confront their fears: Children will sometimes get out of bed due to being afraid. Fear of the dark usually starts when kids are old enough to conjure up their own imagination. Normally, this fear will hit kids between the ages of 2 or 3. At this age, they can imagine things but they don’t yet have the cognitive ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. So it’s easy for a shadow of tree branches blowing in the wind to turn into a scary monster. Once lights go out, it’s easy for a child’s imagination to run wild. To help alleviate their fear of the dark, talk through what they are feeling and help them process what they actually see. Redirect their focus with a happy song or story.
Reduce Stimulation: Too much television can be over stimulating for small children, especially before bedtime. Limit the amount of time kids spend watching television as well as the types of programs they tune into. Shut off the TV early and focus on family time. Leave them with happy thoughts to ponder as they relax and fall asleep.
Review Sleep Schedules: If you’re having a continuous problem with getting your child to sleep at bedtime, review their sleep schedule. Your child might not be tired enough to sleep. Try setting a regular time to rise each day between 6:00 and 7:00 AM; schedule naps from 10:00 – 11:00 and again from 3:00 – 4:00. Set bedtime at 8:00 PM; and see if consistency makes a difference. If your child has a high energy level, you may need to plan for more activity throughout the day to wear them out.
Bedtime shouldn’t be just one more check on your daily “To-Do” list. Make this time special by creating your own bedtime rituals that help your kids feel safe and secure and ready to fall asleep. Dress them in comfy pajamas, let them sleep with their favorite toy or blanket and reduce stimulation before bedtime. Sleep training with a toddler is a like a marathon, be ready to endure multiple false starts before they finally make it to the finish line!
About Today’s Contributor: Vivienne Van Eijkelenborg & Difrax
Vivienne Van Eijkelenborg offers her tips to expectant and new parents. Vivienne is the owner of Difrax, a Dutch baby products company that pioneered a pacifier system designed to accommodate each stage of baby’s development as well as the smart s-bottle designed to reduce colic when feeding. Difrax offers innovative, stylish, and trendy products that make the lives of babies and their parents as convenient and as pleasant as possible.
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