Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert. I am simply a mom sharing tips I use and or find useful. The aim is to help other moms. All advice given in this and any other post on my website is to be treated as my opinion. My advice is not meant to supersede professional or medical advice.
Bedtime hacks for toddlers? Yes, please. Do you have a dominant toddler who seriously loathes bedtime? Are you stressed putting your toddler to sleep? Do you dread the moment when you have to tell your toddler it’s naptime or, even worse, bedtime?
I know I sound like an ad but if you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then mama I feel your pain. My toddler is a very dominant one and he likes to have his own way. I don’t know what it is about bedtime that always gets him riled up. I mean screams, tantrums, and just basically a big “NOOOO!” warfare.
Me: It’s bedtime baby
Me: Come on baby, let’s go.
Toddler: Noope! Stop it, mommy!
Me: *facepalm* Dear lord help me.
There are a few things I do to make the process smoother and though it’s still not perfect yet, it’s a hell of a lot less stressful than it used to be a few months ago. You see, I understand the trouble all too well and that’s why I want to share a few tips with you. Here are 5 bedtime hacks you can use to get your toddler to bed without pulling your hair out.
The first bedtime hack is to make it a routine
When I say make it a routine though, I want you to understand that I don’t mean that things have to go in a fixed and rigid order every night. In fact, that’s quite the opposite of what you want since they will most likely start protesting. And if you try to fight them, you won’t win. Because even if you do get them down, at what cost to their emotional health and your stress levels?
Related read: Morning routine: How to develop one that ACTUALLY works
You want your toddler to trust you. You want your toddler to feel safe and be able to predict what’s happening next. Routines help them to understand the sequence of events that lead up to bedtime.
A toddler’s bedtime routine doesn’t need to be extravagant: play, shower/bath time, drink water, put on sleep clothes, tell everyone good night, lights out then get into bed. Whatever works for your family.
Just be sure that your toddler can predict what comes next. It takes time to develop an effective routine and you may have to tweak and make changes over time, but if you are consistent enough (not perfect, just consistent) you will start to reap rewards in a short amount of time.
Measure their sleep in terms they can understand
This bedtime hack is something I came up with completely randomly. Toddlers and small kids don’t like bedtime because bedtime means the fun will stop. They don’t perceive time in the same way we do so to them, sleep is forever. This means every time you tell them it’s bedtime, they think “oh my God no! I’ll never get to play ever again!!”
What I have started doing with my toddler is simple: when it’s nap time during the day, I tell him he’s going to get a small sleep. He understands the concept of big and small so I use this to my advantage.
Sometimes I even tell him it’s gonna be a little finger sleep. He likes to measure his little finger with mine and see that his is smaller. This is good because he’s more likely to willingly choose to take a nap “the size of his little finger”.
I do the same thing at night, but this time I help him to understand that night sleep is a little longer than day sleep by telling him he’ll take a big sleep. Then I look at him sound asleep and go “mwahahahaha! I win!”😝
The third bedtime hack is to utilize toys
I know. It sounds weird, right? You are trying to get your toddler to go to bed after all. How can toys make it easier? Simple, you make the toys “come alive” and talk to him. For this bedtime hack to work though it has to be a toy that your toddler is attached to. Something he loves.
Take my toddler for example. He likes going to bed with his teddy bear. So when he resists bedtime, I just do a little ventriloquism, and boom! He’s engaged in a full conversation with Teddy. Teddy, I must say, is quite the expert negotiator. He is much more skilled at getting my little one to calmly accept that it’s bedtime and willingly go to bed than I am.
If you’re not the super perky or imaginative parent, this bedtime hack might feel a little awkward at first. But you don’t need to make up a silly voice or even act silly for that matter. You just need to speak in a higher pitch than your normal voice and “let teddy” do all the talking “for you”. Lol!
Simply tell your toddler what you want using your “Teddy voice” and sometimes let Teddy say a word or two to you too. Then shortly after that, let Teddy lay on the bed and “fall asleep”. Do a few snores to make it more convincing. You kid will follow suit. Hopefully. 🙂
There you go. Stress-free bedtime. You can thank me later.
Read more: Parenting advice: 5 ways to be a better mom
Use soothers to make bedtime go more smoothly
I like to call them soothers because I don’t have a better word for them in my vocabulary. Please enlighten me if you do. But basically, I’m talking about music, white noise and dim light.
Sometimes, the reason your toddlers don’t want to go to sleep is because they are simply afraid of the dark. This is due to the fact that they have started to develop an imagination. With an active imagination, they will start generating images in their mind.
This bedtime hack helps with that because playing soft music and having some white noise in the room allows their minds to be distracted by the “good” sounds. They focus on the music and the white noise instead of getting lost in their own thoughts. The music and white noise also helps to drown out any night sounds coming from outside.
Having a dim light on in the room reassures your toddler that they are not in the dark so they have nothing to be afraid of. You can also sing to your toddler for them to fall asleep.
If they fall asleep to the sound of your voice, they are much more likely to feel safe because they know “mommy is here”. And that’s what you want to create. A sense of security.
More bedtime hacks: Engaging Open-Ended Bedtime Questions for Sound Sleep
The final bedtime hack is for you to fall asleep with your toddler
I know what you’re thinking. How can this possibly be a good bedtime hack? You want your toddler to go to sleep so you can use the time to do important things before you actually turn in for bed right?
Or maybe you just want to have a few peaceful quiet moments to yourself, yes? And you really do deserve it. So when I say fall asleep with your toddler, I don’t mean that you actually go to sleep.
What I mean is that you lay beside your toddler and close your eyes too. Children do what they see us doing, not what we tell them to do. So if you tell your toddler it’s bedtime but you’re still on your phone, still watching tv, or just busy doing anything else, this sends mixed signals to them.
You see, you’ve just told them it’s bedtime but you’ve confused them because how can it be bedtime if the adults are still moving about? When you lay beside your toddler, you help him to understand that everything is slowing down now. It’s easier for him to accept it being bedtime if he thinks you’re going to bed too.
I know some moms will have a problem with this hack because “it’s lying to your kid”. Hold your horses Karen. I’m not telling you to lie to your kid. What I am telling you to do is to model the behaviour you want your toddler to mimic. You want your toddler to understand the concept of slowing down, laying in bed, closing your eyes and falling asleep so you show them how to do that.
If you still don’t like that then you can either move your bedtime to be the same as your toddler’s, deal with the stress and chaos that is bedtime, or use one of the other bedtime hacks I’ve already listed. You can also look up more hacks online because there are tons out there. These are just a few that have been working for me.
All in all, though, The number one thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to parenting. Just because these hacks work for me, doesn’t automatically mean they will work for you. If you do decide to give them a try though, let me know in the comment section below how it goes. Also, please share your bedtime hacks. Moms need all the help we can get so let’s help each other.
Till next time… Cheers! ✌🏽