How To Put A Toddler To Bed

This is one of the best techniques I know of for putting a toddler to bed and for keeping them in to get toddler to sleep

Step 1 – Establish a bedtime routine – I can’t stress enough how important this is.  What time you put them to bed isn’t near as important as what steps you take to put them to bed.  Toddlers have a difficult time with transition.  When you give them a routine, it helps them know what’s coming next.  BE CONSISTENT with this – do not deviate.  For example:

  • pick up toys
  • take a bath
  • get jammies on
  • have a glass of milk
  • go potty
  • brush teeth
  • read two books – not one, not three, not okay just one more this time (you pick it, one or two, but be CONSISTENT)
  • night, night kisses
  • tuck into bed and say goodnight

(this is just an example of a routine – whatever your routine is, is fine, just be as consistent with it as possible)

Step 2 – Stay very close by.  If your child gets out of bed, quietly say ‘it’s bedtime’ and put them back into bed.

Step 3 – If your child gets out of bed again, repeat step 2

Step 4 – If your child gets out of bed again, this time don’t say anything, don’t make eye contact, just put them back into bed and walk out.

Step 5 – If your child gets out of bed again, repeat step 4 as many times as is necessary.

If bedtime at your house has gotten out of control, you may find yourself in step 5 for an hour, or maybe even two, with lots of crying, pleading, and clever tactics coming from your toddler.  Stay the course – BE CONSISTENT!!  DO NOT DEVIATE no matter how long it takes.  I promise you, if you will stay consistent, tomorrow night will take less time, the next night will be even less, and before you know it your toddler will have a wonderful, peaceful ending to his day and so will you.

By the way – do the exact same thing for naptime.  Just make sure to establish a routine for nap, and then follow the same steps.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Supernanny Jo Frost – watch these short video clips to see how she teaches these two families to put this technique into action.

how to get your toddler to sleep

Just curious – what’s the bedtime routine at your house?

This entry was posted in Effective Parenting, General, Parenting Tips, Sleep Issues, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How To Put A Toddler To Bed

  1. I LOVE the idea of a goodnight song – which one do you sing? Sounds like you have a good routine at your house – that kind of consistency makes all the difference in the world, especially for toddlers. Because they have a hard time with transition, knowing what to expect – what’s coming next – really helps them make the transition. Thanks for the info about ‘This Mom’s Guide’ – I’ll check it out!

  2. Hey Michelle – children between the ages of 3 and 5 should usually be sleeping about 10 -12 hours a day which usually consists of about an hour or two nap in the afternoon. Your two year old needs more like 12 – 14 hours including nap time. Not too surprising that your daughter doesn’t want to take a nap – only about 50% of kids after the age of 3 are still napping. As long as she’s getting a good nights sleep, I like just a little ‘down time’ in the afternoon – maybe looking at a book quietly in her bed or even watching a video.

  3. Emily says:

    We have a goodnight song we sing every single night with our kids, from the time they were infants. It’s a nice, consistent part of their evening right before bed. We also read a bedtime story and say bedtime prayers. And we didn’t do this so much with our first child, but with #2, I think it’s helped that we included him in a regular bedtime routine even as a baby. I actually wish we would have been better at brushing his gums as a baby, as part of the routine, because I think it would have made tooth-brushing struggles a little easier when he got a bit older. (This Mom’s Guide has some helpful info on that.) Good tips. I especially liked the guidance for getting kids back in bed. Thanks!

  4. Michelle says:

    My daughter is 3 1/2 and my son is almost two. How long should they be sleeping at night? I’ve heard 12 hours, could that be right? No way mine are sleeping that long.
    And what about naps? I usually have a hard time getting my daughter to take her nap and my son sleeps almost 3 hours every day.

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