Bedtime Battles

I’m sure that many of you have been there – struggling to get your toddler or young child into bed at the right time.

Toddlers can be kings and queens of procrastination – one more story, they’re thirsty, they need the toilet, they’ve lost their favourite toy. So many reasons to delay going to bed! For some of us, the battles are harder than this even, with little ones getting upset at you leaving them or constantly getting out of bed to come and find you.  Hopefully, this blog will help and give you some tips to help with bedtime battles.

This can all be really tiring for exhausted parents who have had long and busy days and have been looking forward to a bit of child-free peace that evening

These kinds of battles can be really difficult and hard to manage when your patience may well be at its limit.

There are lots of ways, however, to make these kinds of situations easier for both you and your little one.  Making a few simple changes can often make a big difference to how happy your child is to go to bed and go to sleep easily and helps to make the evenings more enjoyable for you as an exasperated parent.

Make sure that your little one’s bedtime is at the right time for them to be sleepy but not overtired. Often little ones seem hyperactive and “wired” during the evening but this is actually a sign that they are overtired. Look out for this sort of behaviour from your toddler and try, if possible, to start the bedtime routine earlier and then get them into bed and asleep earlier.  

Often people will tell you that keeping a child up later will mean they’ll sleep later the next morning but in the vast majority of cases, this will actually have the opposite effect. If your child becomes overtired, their body will produce a stress hormone that will make both falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult.

Once you’ve decided what time you want your little one to fall asleep, make sure you start your bedtime routine early enough so that they have enough time to wind down from the day. Start by dimming lights and drawing curtains at least an hour before you aim to start trying to get your little one into bed.  Try and limit screen time in this hour before bedtime too as the blue light from screens can inhibit the production of melatonin which is the hormone that our bodies produce to help us fall asleep. 

Have a consistent routine. Toddlers and young children thrive on routine and bedtime should be easier if it follows the same sequence every day. This helps to signal to your little one that it is now time for bed and sleep. 

I know it can be very difficult to resist the pleading for just one more story when you’re shattered at the end of a long day!  Be firm if you can though and it should reap rewards! Chat with your little one during the day and explain that at bedtime they will get two stories and then it is time for sleep. If you’ve already spoken about it before it’s time for sleep it’s easier for your child to understand and easier for you as well hopefully! Let your little one choose two stories, preferably with the first being a fun, interactive one and the second being a more restful and relaxing story.

More than anything, be kind and patient – with yourself and your child!  It can be really difficult dealing with a fractious toddler when you yourself are feeling exhausted and worn out. 

I hope this blog gives some help with bedtime battles – I know how tough bedtimes can be if you have a little person resisting all your efforts to get them to sleep.  Please do give me a call or drop me a message if you need some extra help at bedtime.

Caro Graham is a Certified Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consultant based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Caro can support families locally or around the world. Book a FREE 15-minute call. Just click HERE to book!