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7 Tips for a Better Toddler Bedtime Routine

SleepingToddler_400Successful bedtimes require routine. Think of the routine as going from the day’s active pace to a more calm one, so that by the time your toddler is in bed or her crib, she is ready for sleep. From How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success.

• Monitor baths: For some children bathtime winds them up. If that is the case, do it earlier in your routine, or leave it for the morning. For others, it is calming.

• Avoid electronics and TV, which can have a reawakening effect on many children. They seem calm and cozied in as they watch TV, but then they are excited when the video is done. Best not to use electronics or TV close to bedtime.

• Keep routines short and simple. They should take no more than an hour (at most, if you are including the bath), and thirty minutes is even better. Lengthier routines get children stirred up as they have extra time to anticipate the inevitable separation.

• Let them have simple choices. “Would you like to read Curious George first or Goodnight Moon?” Such simple questions give them some, but limited control and keeps you moving forward to bed.

• Sing or listen to a lullaby—either can be soothing. Some parents like to add prayers or a quiet review of the day.

• Try to create a cozy corner in their room for sleep once your child moves to a bed. Make sure the bed is against a wall, ideally in a corner, and feels like a comforting place.

• If one parent is coming home late, do your best not to have it during the good-night routine. For many children, the return of that parent stirs them up. Better that they see you, when they are refreshed, in the morning.

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