5 Steps to the Perfect Bedtime Schedule for Toddlers

5 Steps to the Perfect Bedtime Schedule for Toddlers

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Our society is obsessed with sleep. I think it’s due to the fact that parents can’t really control when their kids go into deep slumber, but one thing we do have some say over in regards to sleep: toddler bedtime schedules!

By customizing those final few hours before lights out for your little ones, it will help them get ready and feel more peaceful about transitioning from play time back home after school or daycare ends–a chaotic experience turned tranquil all thanks to this small change you make around 6 o’clock at night.

Toddlers are notoriously hard to put to bed, but it doesn’t have to be that way! With these five toddler-friendly steps, you’ll soon find your toddler snuggling happily into their comfy pyjamas and getting some well-deserved rest. This is the perfect toddler bedtime schedule for those nights when they refuse to go down without a fight – enjoy!

Create the perfect toddler bedtime schedule for those nights when they refuse to go down without a fight.

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perfect bedtime schedule for toddlers

What Is A Normal Bedtime For A Toddler?

Most toddlers 1yo-4yo will go to sleep between the hours of 7pm-9pm.

Where your toddler falls within this spectrum depends on many factors involving their predisposition for being an early bird vs a night owl, the general energy in the household, and what type of bedtime routine you have for them.

Another huge factor is what time they nap. Most 1 year old’s start to nap 2x / day, then transition to 1x by the time they are 2. Once they are 3 years old many toddlers will sometimes go without napping during the day. This makes for a fairly easy bedtime as they are tired and ready to collapse.

In reality, though, 3 year olds can benefit from a daytime nap, making an earlier bedtime more challenging. If your toddler is in preschool , they will still be napping with their class. Our toddler is alittle over 3.5 years old at the time of writing this and will normally fall asleep around 8pm-8:30pm if he napped wakes from his nap by 3pm.

Why Does My Toddler Go To Bed So Late?

There are many reasons toddler’s don’t have an easy time settling down at night. The most common one is that they are either not tired enough or overtired, which can lead to a toddler having meltdowns or tantrums when its bedtime. The tricky part is it’s not easy to identify one from the latter.

–>This is How I survived my 3 year old’s sleep schedule<–

Here Are Some Of The Common Reasons Your Todddler Is Going To Bed So Late:

  • They woke from their nap too late. My toddler needs at least 4-5 hours wake time between nap and night.
  • The rest of the house is up. Your toddler might be feeling left out if older siblings are staying up later.
  • Your desired bedtime for them is generally too early. You’ll have to feel this out.
  • Their wind-down routine is too short. Have a cut-off for all activities when wind-down starts so their body has a chance to decompress.

Getting Your Toddler To Bed At A Decent Hour Can Be Hard

We all know that getting enough sleep is important for toddlers, but it’s also very difficult. Most parents don’t have the time or energy to plan and execute a complicated bedtime routine each night.

This free printable will help you create a visual schedule for your toddler’s bedtime routine that they can follow along with every night.

5 Steps To The Perfect Bedtime Schedule For Toddlers:

  1. Start To Wind Down At Least An Hour Before Bedtime
  2. It’s Ok To Repeat Transitions Over And Over
  3. Make Sure They Eat Something Before Brushing Their Teeth
  4. Spend 1:1 Time With Them In Bed
  5. Don’t Check The Clock Too Much

 

#1 Start To Wind Down At Least An Hour Before Bedtime

Set yourself up for success by giving your toddler adequate time to get ready for bedtime. It’s not only about teeth brushing and PJ’s; they need time to decompress and unwind after a busy day of adventuring.

Toddlers are learning so many new things all day which can easily bring them to sensory overload. This is also why toddler meltdowns are so common at the end of the day.

–>Learn the difference between meltdowns and tantrums<–

A great way to help your child transition from their activities to their bedtime routine is having a time-timer. This awesome visual time -keeper is great for teaching children how much time they have left to play. The best toddler bedtime schedule will give your toddler ample warning of what’s coming next and this one does just that!

–>Learn more about the toddler timer here.

Tips For Winding Down At Night:

  • Turn screen time off
  • Dim the lights in their room and do what you can to reduce noise levels.
  • Prepare for tomorrow by talking about what they will do.
  • Use a time-timer to help transition to their bedtime routine.

#2 It’s Ok To Remind Them Multiple Times Of Transitions

While you might be eager to get them in bed so you can relax, they probably don’t feel the same and the only way they know to express that is by stalling.

This toddler bedtime schedule is not about speed, but about finding a rhythm that is comfortable for both of you. It is about getting them to bed with as few meltdowns from them and you!

–>5 Tips To Stop Feeling Like A Mean Mom<–

A great way to help encourage any necessary transitions at night is using a visual schedule with pictures of each step of their toddler bedtime routine.

Toddlers who have trouble transitioning from one activity to the next will often start a meltdown when faced with doing something else they don’t want to do. Be reminded to give many reminders of what is next. The best way to move forward is to keep your cool mama!

–>Read About Toddler Tantrums And How To Deal With Them.<–

Tips For Toddler Transitions:

  • Use a toddler bedtime schedule or visual routine to help with transitions.
  • Don’t give up if they refuse the first couple times, just keep reminding them of what is next in their toddler bedtime schedule.
  • Give many reminders about what comes next in the toddler bedtime schedule until it starts to become automatic for them too!

Getting Your Toddler To Bed At A Decent Hour Can Be Hard

We all know that getting enough sleep is important for toddlers, but it’s also very difficult. Most parents don’t have the time or energy to plan and execute a complicated bedtime routine each night.

This free printable will help you create a visual schedule for your toddler’s bedtime routine that they can follow along with every night.

#3 Make Sure They Eat Something Before Brushing Their Teeth

My toddler is notorious for skimping on dinner because he is too busy wanting to do other things and then as soon as we are in bed he realized he is STARVING. Sometimes he is not really hungry but uses it to stall bedtime.

It makes him nervous to fall asleep, but I’ve been down that road of running back and forth getting him food in bed, and I have finally come to my senses.

Before brushing our teeth I ask him, are you hungry? I then remind him: remember, after we brush our teeth we will not be eating any more food. He has a water bottle in bed though for drinking.

Tips to reduce bedtime food requests:

  • Offer a small snack close to bedtime.
  • Ask them if they still need to eat something before brushing their teeth.
  • Make sure they have water by their bed.
  • Keep the boundary when they start asking for food when in bed.

#4 Spend 1:1 Time With Them In Bed

This toddler bedtime routine is about having fun and getting your toddler excited to go down for the night. It’s all about building up a positive association with sleep so they start looking forward to it instead of dreading it!

We always lay in bed together and read books. He will often share a moment from his day at preschool that I would have otherwise never been privy to.

This is where I am different from mainstream parenting. I will lay in bed with our now 3yo until he is sleeping. Many sleep consultants talk emphatically about reducing sleep associations, but I don’t agree with that parenting style at all.

–>Read About Our BedSharing Journey<–

It is true that if your baby/toddler falls asleep without you, they are more likely to fall asleep alone again in the middle of the night. However, this is not always the case.

Many parents in the Facebook parenting group I am in are having a very hard time now that their toddlers are no longer restrained by a crib. They are experiencing multiple wakings and requests to join them in their family bed.

Tips for creating a positive association with bedtime:

  • Read a book together.
  • Spend time cuddling and laying side-by-side.
  • Listen to what your toddler has to share with you about their day.
  • It’s ok to stay with them in bed until they fall asleep. (ours will remain in bed until the morning without force).

#5 Don’t Check The Clock Too Much

This is just setting yourself up for failure, toddler bedtime schedules are not about getting them to sleep by a certain time of night. It’s more about spending quality time with your toddler and helping them feel safe during what can be a scary transition for toddlers.

This is easier said than done. If there is ever a time of day where I lose my temper, it’s at bedtime. When he gets that burst of energy, doesn’t listen at all, and won’t settle, my blood starts to boil. It’s no coincidence that it’s also when I am at my most tired which is why I get so easily mad.

I won’t lie, I have had a coffee in the past right before bedtime, just to make it through without losing my temper. I don’t suggest it though as it’s hard to go to bed later!

Tips For Staying Calm With Your Toddler At Night:

  • Don’t get upset when met with bad behavior. This will fuel their anxiety about leaving you to sleep.
  • Avoid getting too caught up with the time. You can’t make them sleep, only help them through the transition.
  • Be aware of your own emotions and take a break if you need to before things escalate.
  • Have some coffee if you feel too tired. (but only if you are prepared to stay up a bit later!)

Don’t Underestimate The Power of Flexibility

Creating a bedtime routine for your toddler that gets them into bed and sleeping at a decent hour can be tough. We’ve compiled some tips to help you get through the night without ripping out all of your hair in frustration!

One important thing to remember is to be flexible, so don’t let yourself or your child get too stuck into doing things always the same way. They are developing so fast their needs change all the time.

A visual schedule will also help reduce anxiety about not knowing what’s next and prepare children for when it’s time for lights-out; we’ve included one below as well as an accompanying checklist (which can make things less confusing). If you’re still struggling with toddler sleep, our toddler bedtime routine checklist might be of help.

Getting Your Toddler To Bed At A Decent Hour Can Be Hard

We all know that getting enough sleep is important for toddlers, but it’s also very difficult. Most parents don’t have the time or energy to plan and execute a complicated bedtime routine each night.

This free printable will help you create a visual schedule for your toddler’s bedtime routine that they can follow along with every night.

Good night! Remember to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more useful tips on Motherhood and Gentle Parenting!

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