Perfecting a bedtime routine can feel pretty stressful, no matter how old your child is. If you're looking to get more proactive and deliberate about the toddler's bedtime routine (and avoid any potential fights), these tips will make it easier to get them to sleep.
1. Potty Talk
Because bedtime is always fraught with emotion, start bringing up potty training about 90 minutes before it’s even happening. Begin by chatting about the routine and try going to the potty chair. This helps eliminate the shock factor, which makes things a whole lot smoother in the end. Need more help? Try these great potty training tips.
2. Allow Plenty of Downtime
If daycare runs late and you don't get home until 6pm, it may feel like a rush to start your child's bedtime routine. Moving quickly from one thing to the next isn’t something toddlers generally jive with; they’d likely prefer to be on their own timetable which, of course, isn’t always a luxury we can accommodate. But allowing a little more time to unwind and relax at home before being raced to the bathtub can help a great deal.
3. Consistency is Key
We hear about the importance of consistency all the time as parents and it couldn’t be truer than when talking about a bedtime routine. Structure and instilling cues (bath time, dim lights, pajamas, books) that can associate the time of day with bedtime is critical.
4. Give Choices
Although they may be arbitrary choices, there’s nothing toddlers love more than feeling like they’re getting their own way. Giving a lot of choices is a great distraction tactic when it comes to getting situated for bedtime: Do you want to brush your teeth while standing on your step stool or sitting on the counter? Do you want your blue cup or green cup in bed tonight? Not only will this take your toddler's mind off of the fact that we’re actively getting ready for bed, but it will make them feel a part of the process.
5. An Element of Surprise Never Hurts
While it’s critical to stick with a bedtime routine, it's important to occasionally shake things up. Surprise your toddler with a new toothbrush with a cartoon character they love or a special cup for big kids. These little things add an element of surprise and delight to the otherwise occasionally monotonous bedtime routine