Setting a Bedtime Routine for Your Strong Willed Toddler

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Category | BABY

  1. Image by Cafe Moms

    As a parent, care giver, baby sitter, older sibling or just an adult who’s been around young ones – we can understand how sleep is vital it is to our health and happiness. When there are little ones around, sleep goes out the window and we can be left exhausted, frustrated, and out of patience. The thing is that we may be failing to see how the littles ones aren’t actually trying to ruin your night’s sleep or your day at work but rather having difficulty or experiencing a challenge that they need help overcoming.

    If we look at things differently we may be able to approach sleepless nights with a gentler voice and open heart rather than some less than kind words, tones or brash threats. See children don’t set their own schedules and if they are left to do so will not be consistent or reasonable. And nor should they be. This is the adult’s job and sometimes these jobs are very difficult – or almost impossible to do – for the adult caring for the young one. What we all need to remember is that most children thrive off schedules. Predictability is important for littles ones and helps to set healthy habits for their future. We hear many parents say they child will not go to bed despite all the efforts they’ve put forth. The cold hard truth is that this is usually a result of the parent’s short comings. Not the child’s. We say this with no disrespect but most parenting professionals would be able to pin point weaknesses in the parenting front long before pointing the finger at the child. So how can we move forward and set ourselves up for success? How can we try yet another way to finally get our children to sleep through the night without disturbing you, bringing us sanity and peace of mind?

    Set Aside Time for an Evening Routine

    This means to be there fully, wholeheartedly, and entirely. Do not bring your phone, if you can avoid it, or any other electronic device. Expect that this routine may take upwards of a few hours in the beginning until a routine is properly set in place. Do not sit your child in front of a TV, ipad, or screen at all after dinner. This is because screens can greatly affect the brains ability to shut off and allow sleepiness to take hold. Toddlers under the age of 5 can be in bed by 8:30pm every night if the family find this time suitable. Many families have the young ones in bed even earlier. To start – after dinner, tell your child that there will be no ĵelectronics until tomorrow and they have amount of time to play with their toys or read some books – whatever they choose make sure to be positive about it. Don’t entertain whining, complaining or tantrums. Just give them a hug and let them work it out. At 7:20pm start reminding the child that in 10 minutes it will be bath time. Remind them every 3 minutes until 7:30pm. If they are still kicking and screaming, lovingly pick them up and physically bring them upstairs for bath. Use a hands on method as much as you need – this does not include excess force by any means. Be firm but LOVING. This may not be necessary for many children but there are always difficult times for parents so we wanted to include this in case you’re faced with a strong willed child.

    Have a Warm Bath Every Night

    If this is possible for you, do it. Children love water and will usually calm down in the bath! Try to get a dim light in there to avoid the bright lights and play some relaxing music. Add some bubbles and a few toys and let your child bathe for about 20 minutes or so. Remind them they have amount of time until the bath is all done. Again, remove them physically if they refuse to do it themselves. Do not explain anything to them, just be firm but LOVING. Simply carry them to wherever they get ready for bed at 7:45pm. Be sure all the lights are dimmed, and there aren’t any major distractions for them in the room. This will take some prep work on the parent’s part. If you have to remove bins of toys or whatever else, do so for now. Get your child ready for bed and under their covers. Snuggle up and give lots of hugs and kisses throughout this entire process.

    Here are some awesome toddler bath time products that may help you out:

    Little Ones Bedtime Wash Lavender from for $2.99. This soothing wash works for babies AND toddlers alike. Calm their senses and get them ready for bed quickly with this affordable bedtime wash.

    CVS Health Baby Lotion from for $1.87 is a wonderful way to bond with your toddler and soothe them before bedtime. Help them massage it into their skin and watch them enjoy every minute of it!

    Equate Pure Cornstarch Baby Powder from for $2.96 will prevent moisture and smell from keeping your little one awake at night.

    Read Bedtime Stories

    Have a few purposefully chosen books for bedtime. Read in a very low, calming voice and make sure your child is comfortable. Maybe get them a special night light or book light so that they have the option of quietly reading books after you leave if they still cannot get to sleep. Always have options for your children that are appropriate for you, the parents. Example: “Joseph, it’s time for bed but I can see you’re having trouble falling asleep. You can either read Lullabies for Kids OR Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. You choose”. And let them choose. After they choose tell them after they are done it’s time to close their eyes and go to bed.

    Be Consistent

    Go into the bedroom as many times as necessary to grab your child, put them back in bed, tuck them in but do not make eye contact or speak a word other than “it’s time for bed”. Leave the room immediately. Repeat this 500 times if you have to (and you may need to depending on the type of child you have). But once that message is received by your child that “wait, mom and dad aren’t entertaining any of my demands, requests, pleas, excuses, cries, etc.” They will finally go to bed and SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. Be consistent. Be strong. Have a partner to switch out with because this can prove to be difficult at times and hey, we all need a break sometimes.

    Check out methods specific to your child or situation from other parenting resources and talk to other parents who have been through it. Trust us, this too will pass.

    For more mommy (and beauty) tips & tricks visit The Savvy Beauty.