Getting your kids to bed can be tricky business. Getting a toddler to bed can get even trickier. You’ll teach your toddler a ton of stuff every single day, but I think the most important thing you could teach them is to have a good bedtime routine. It makes life much easier on you, the parent, and much easier on your child as well. A good bedtime routine ensures that your child knows exactly what to expect before bedtime and therefore there really won’t (maybe sometimes… toddlers are toddlers) ever be a fuss about going to bed. Here is some of my best advice for a solid bedtime routine for a toddler.
Learn Your Process
My five-year-old son has always been pretty easy to get to bed each night. He thrives on the routine and he really doesn’t deviate from it much. My three-year-old? Not so much. It’s always a work in process. But we are getting there. Working on his nighttime routine is what has inspired this blog post!
Stage the Rooms for Extra Success
I have a few tricks up my sleeve in each of the kid’s rooms. First, each room has a ceiling fan, which we run on low – medium each night. It’s better to have air circulating for babies and little kids. We learned that in our birthing classes for our first child. According to this article on The Spruce, it can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 72%. So, we were all about the ceiling fans.
Stand Up Fan
Each child also has a standing fan in their room (Actually just outside their door where they can’t really reach it, little baby finger safety!). It’s not pointed at their bed, but it just further helps circulate the air in their rooms. And more importantly, it makes ambient noise. It helps drown out any house noises that might wake up the kids. I can vacuum or open the garage door and it doesn’t seem to bother them at all. It lets me still move around the house freely and not have to tiptoe around and be quiet all the time.
Each child also has a noise machine in their room. They have multiple different noises they can choose from, but both of ours are on the rushing water setting. I don’t think that it really eliminates any household noise. But what it does do is make a relaxing sound that is duplicated anywhere we go when we take the noise machine with us! So, a hotel room or beach condo will feel and sound much more like home if you have your noise maker with you! I totally swear by this!!!
Our Bedtime Routine for Our Toddlers
Let me give you a glimpse of what our Bedtime Routine looks like at our house:
6:00 – 6:30 – Dinner
6:30-7:15 – Playtime
7:15 – 7:45 – Bath Time (One in the bath at a time, and the other gets to play in their room with toys and books while they wait their turn for bath.)
7:45 – We FaceTime our GG to say Night Night, especially if they didn’t see her that day. They love doing that!
7:45 – Snack, Milk & Movie – We are all clean from the bath, all pj’d up, smelling oh so sweet and ready to roll. Each child picks a snack, gets a cup of milk, and we pick a very low key 20-30 minute show to watch. Usually Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We all sit down together and snuggle up and it’s a great wind down for the end of the day. Sometimes the
Here’s where we split the routine:
8:15 – Baby Boy #1 To Bed
I head upstairs with our oldest and we brush teeth, go potty, get all comfy in the bed, sing our night-night song, and I leave him to fall asleep on his own. And he is a good little fella, he rarely gets out of bed again, he settles in and is usually asleep in 3-4 minutes. He’s wiped out from his day and makes no fuss about it.
8:30 – Baby Boy #2 – The Attempt Begins
Now comes baby boy #2 – the child that fights sleep to the very last minute!
Our second child is three and has been the challenging child to put to sleep since he arrived in this world! But even this guy is relatively tamed by a consistent bedtime routine. It took a while to figure out what worked for him, and as he’s getting older, it’s ever evolving. However, I think he’s doing really well. We are working towards getting him into his own toddler bed, and I think we are almost there.
Cry it Out?
Baby Boy #2 has never been one that would lay down and go to sleep on his own. He’s getting big enough that I think we will get there soon, but we decided not to rush the process. This baby has done things in his own time since the beginning, and that’s just how he rolls. So, we have learned a lot, especially not to try to impose a strict routine on him, but rather to make the routine fit around what works for him.
We probably could have let him fuss it out and eventually gotten through this maybe a year back. However, his room is right next to the now blissfully sleeping 5-year-old. And if you let him fuss it out you’ve 100% certainly now awoken said 5-year-old. We were not for that. 5-year-old’s little routine is solid gold, and we were not going to rock that boat at all!
So, what do we do?
After I come back downstairs from putting Baby Boy #1 to bed, I sit back down on the couch and turn the lights down. I turn the TV onto “Night” mode so it’s not very bright and I turn on a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that is specifically about going to bed. It’s really soft-spoken and has really soft music playing. And usually, within a few minutes, Baby Boy #2 will gravitate to the couch and snuggle up with us.
Up The Stairs We Go…
After a few more minutes (Usually when he’s about to fall asleep) he will get up (cause… he fights sleep) and he will usually pull on my hand and say “up, night night” for me to pick him up and go “night-night.” He gives his good night kisses to Daddy and he and I head to his room. I already have everything going (fans, noisemakers, etc) and we curl up in his rocking chair with his blanket and rock for a few minutes together.
We don’t really interact, no talking, no singing. I just snuggle him up. After a few minutes of snuggled up rocking, I slowly stop the rocking to where we are just sitting in the chair and then almost always, he drifts right off to sleep. I give him a few minutes to get good and asleep and then I lay him down in his bed (which is still a crib at the moment). Most of the time he stays asleep and is snuggled in and out for the count. If he wakes back up and fusses, sometimes I can rub his back and he will settle, and sometimes not. If not, we start again in the rocker and try again.
Do What Works For You
There are probably people that would say I shouldn’t rock my child to sleep, that it will spoil him. And to that I say, rocking my baby to sleep is a super sweet moment of the day. If being snuggled up with me in his rocking chair gives him the comfort he needs to fall asleep, I’m ok with that. I love it and would never trade it for anything. We won’t always rock to go to sleep, so I do soak it up every time I get to do it.
This sounds long and drawn out, but it really only takes 20-30 minutes to get the littlest guy to snoozing. My biggest challenge is staying awake myself to get him in his bed. I fall asleep in the chair with him in my lap a lot too!
Graduating To A Toddler Bed
How will we eventually get from the crib to the toddler bed? I’m not sure. I’m also not all that worried OR in any particular hurry. Stay tuned for that update later down the road. A bedtime routine for a toddler requires flexibility!
So, that’s how we get both of our kids to bed. It sounds long and drawn out, but usually it’s done from beginning to end in less than an hour and a half (and that includes baths, snacks, etc). And honestly, it’s a really sweet time of day. I love it.
The trick for you is to establish your OWN bedtime routine for a toddler and be consistent. Decide what works best of you and your children. Don’t be afraid to try out new tactics either! And above all be flexible. If it’s not working, change it! What works for one of your kids may not work for another of your kids. They are each their own little people. Remember that little nugget and you will be well on your way to a solid bedtime routine for your toddler.
So you’re using some kind of white noise machine or is this something else? If something else – that’s super interesting! Maybe I should check those out. Although classical music works for us pretty well lately. Also I’m following tips from this Toddler Sleep Training book from http://www.parental-love.com and it looks like it’s going to work!
Hi Jodie! We have white noise machines but I also use a stand fan in each kid’s room. It helps with noise and with just a little more airflow! It works well! And the bonus is if we travel we can just take the stuff with us and they have the noise they are used to when they are sleeping!