Getting Into A Routine
As many parents know, toddlers thrive on routine. They like to be aware of what their day will be like. And going to bed is no exception. Establishing a sleep routine can help your toddler feel more relaxed and comfortable about going to bed. And feeling more relaxed will help her get into bed and fall asleep sooner.
Establishing a routine is beneficial not only to your toddler, but also to you. It allows you to set aside some special time every day to spend with your child. Having a routing may also help minimize any sleeping problems your toddler might experience.
It’s up to you how long your toddler’s routine will take. Some parents may only need to spend five minutes preparing their child for bed while others like to spend an hour with their toddler before bedtime. Whatever you decide to do, you should start the routine at about the same time and stick as close to it as much as possible every night, even when you’re traveling.
The main focus of a bedtime routine is to get your toddler to relax. So playing games that will get him worked up is not the best idea. While a bedtime routine can start in the kitchen, living room or bathroom, it should always end up in the bedroom. You want to encourage your toddler to like his room and enjoy sleeping in there. If he has been sleeping in a crib or in your bed up until now, don’t be surprised if he resists making the change to a “big kid” bed at first. Once he feels comfortable in his room, though, he will settle into the routine with no problems.
When deciding on what will become a part of your toddler’s nighttime routine, keep in mind her temperament. Some toddlers are independent enough to only need a story and a kiss good night while others need a good cuddle and a song along with a story before they’re ready to say goodnight.
Here are some activities that you might want to include in your toddler’s bedtime routine:
- Make sure there’s no excess energy left in your toddler
by giving her some time to run around. Once she’s spent, helping
her calm down shouldn’t be too hard.
- A warm bath can help your toddler feel calm and a bit sleepy
but put only a few toys in with her. Otherwise she might start having
too much fun and will get all riled up.
- While you’re in the bathroom, make a point of always brushing
your toddlers teeth. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging good
oral hygiene habits during his nightly routine.
- Play a quiet game with your toddler or do a quiet activity, like
- Talk to your toddler about her day or discuss any fun events
coming up the next day.
- Read a story (or two or three…)
- Put on some soft, calm music. Have it playing while you read
your toddler a story and then leave it on as he drifts to sleep so he
doesn’t feel so alone.
- Make a game out of putting on pajamas. The Hokey-Pokey can easily
be adapted for this purpose.
- Sing her a lullaby or some other song the two of you enjoy.
- And don’t forget to make time for a cuddle!