My two year old granddaughter was staying overnight a few weekends ago. All was going well, until it was time for bed. Even though she was showing the standard signs of fatigue (a slowdown in activity level and eye wiping with the back of the hand), she insisted she wasn’t tired and DID NOT want to go to bed. We put her to bed anyway. What ensued was an extended period of coaxing, singing, talking and stroking of her back, on my part, in an attempt to get her to sleep. She lovingly responded to my efforts with whining, crying and yelling. My rusty toddler parenting skills were challenged. After an emotionally exhausting hour went by, she finally went to sleep.
Not looking forward to this type of episode repeating itself, at least not on a regular basis, I decided to do a little research on managing over tired toddlers. I found out a few errors we had made and some tips to help make bed time easier to manage.
- Start the transition to bedtime 30 to 45 minutes before it’s actually time to go to sleep.
- No video watching (if you allow that) including educational type videos like Sesame Street before bedtime.
- Give them a nice warm bubble bath. Wash them up and then let them play for a few minutes. This doesn’t have to take all night, allow 10 minutes to splash around.
- Put them in their pajamas. Having designated PJ’s for sleeping also helps to signal that it is almost time for bed.
- Snuggle on a chair or the couch and read them a book or two. Let them pick out a couple short ones to read. If they don’t like to “snuggle” then let them sit quietly and look at a few books. Give them a specific limit, for example, this is the last book or five more minutes.
- Have everything ready in their bed (crib) like a stuffed animal they may sleep with or their favorite blanket. Dashing around looking for these items last minute could mess with the calm atmosphere you are trying to create.
I had an opportunity to try out these steps recently. I am happy to report that they worked. I had great success getting her to go to bed and to fall asleep right away. No fuss, no yelling or crying.
I am sure there are more great tips out there to get a toddler to sleep without a fight. Let us know what they are.
**This post linked to the GRAND Social