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Bedtime Routines For Toddler Sleeping


Here are a few of the bedtime ideas I have used in the past.  Although they may seem like common knowledge,  many parents seem to omit these key items in their bedtime routines.

Routines…Positive Interactions…Support for negative feelings…Clear Boundaries

1.Allow  the child to have some say in routines.  Allow them to make choices about how their night time routine will go.  Should we brush teeth first or put pajamas on first? Should we leave a hall light on or a nightlight? Should we have one or two stuffed friends in our bed? Notice all the choices are livable and ones that you can both agree upon.  Once you have settled on a plan set up a visual schedule or check list that is followed routinely every night and also at nap time.  Check it off as you go.  Your child will feel safe knowing the routine, you will have a boundary to set the tone of the routine, and your child will feel empowered and excited that they were able to choose what makes them feel comfortable.

2.  Use these key steps and routine moments to connect with your child  via calming interactions:  listen to their favorite calming music, recite or read prayers, tell or read a story, have the child tell you a story, recite rhymes or poems, help them to retell their day reinforcing all the “growing” and good things they did that day, sing songs about each step in your night time routine like: teeth brushing (ABC’s), getting pj’s on (It’s Pajama Time…).

3.  Connect to the child’s emotions and let them know you understand their fears and needs… “I know you like a light on, which light should I leave on for you tonight? “ Or “I know you feel alone which friend would you like to join you in bed tonight.”

4.  Set clear ending points, consequences, and boundaries and follow through by taking away something they want… “if you choose to get out of your bed tonight I will have to take “Bear” away because he is tired and needs his sleep.   Bear can sleep in another room if you cannot make a good choice and fall asleep without fussing”.    Notice the ownership of the problem becomes the child’s to solve not yours… Hmm? I wonder what they will choose… bear or fussing?

5. If you find yourself and your child in a “rut” switch up the routine.  Ask the child to help you form a new plan for bedtime, and then phase them into the new routine.  Phasing in and out items is the best options rather than quitting “ cold turkey.”  Focus on one thing to phase in or out and work through it at least three days before changing anything else.

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