Bedtime for many parents can be deemed a hassle, if your toddler is anything like mine bedtime is a full round of tag, questions and negotiating before laying down. I have put together some simple steps to follow to ease the bedtime stress.
Start naps early- I have made the mistake of letting my child take naps around 6pm and she would not wake up until 9:00pm and she would not go to bed until 11:00 or 12:00pm. So the earlier the child takes a nap the better, because it will not interfere with bedtime. The latest that you should let your child nap should be around 5pm. Many say that naps should last no longer than an hour but I have to disagree, because if your child is an early riser and spends her mornings playing and running around she’s going to eventually wind down and need at least three hours to be fully rested. My child wakes at 10:00, and naps at 3:00-5:30pm and sleeps at 10.00pm.
Establish a routine for your child to follow and follow it; this routine should prep your child for bedtime for instance, your routine might include; a bath at 6:00pm, dinner at 7:00pm, 15 minutes of free time at 7:15pm, brushing teeth around 7:30, a short story, and then bedtime at 8:00pm. This routine should be consistent and specific. A child with a bedtime routine knows what to expect. Every child is different so don’t feel guilty if your child goes to bed late, as long as your child gets 10 hours of sleep. Generally toddlers need 14 hours of sleep, but the majority of toddlers only receive 10 hours.
Before your child falls asleep, make sure that she is fed and full, if your child refuses to eat dinner try to give him a snack like yogurt, juice, and a few crackers.
Place some water or a little orange juice by your child’s bedside to prevent him/her from waking in the middle of the night asking for juice.
Say goodnight with a song or read two books, kiss your child, and say I love you, I will see you in the morning time. If you have a fun day planned the next day, tell your child about it before he goes to sleep.
Minimize all distractions by turning off the television, computer, and light. Purchase a night light to put in your child’s room, and crack the door. Try not to have the hallway dark, keep it dimly lit, so that the child will not be frightened. Do not allow your child to fall asleep while watching t.v., it is unhealthy and it keeps children’s brain wired. If you want, purchase your child a tape or c.d. with natural sounds like the ocean, or nature.
Leave your child- you must leave your child’s bedside, you must not make yourself available for all of his inquires, if you keep coming back every time your child makes a request, he will repeat this behavior. You must make your child understand that bedtime means bedtime. After you read a book or sang a song inform your child when the last song or story is, so that he will not keep asking you.
If your child does keep getting out of bed, you must observe him and find out if anything is wrong, is he cold, wet, scared? If anything is bothering your child help him and then escort him back to bed, use a firm voice if you have to, to show the child that you are serious about bedtime. If your child keeps waking up and getting out of bed, then you will have to repeat the process of making sure he is okay, walking him back to the room, putting him back to bed, and leaving the room. Repeat this process and your child will eventually get the hint.