Nothing prepares you for the fact that bedtime can (and likely will at some point) become one of the most difficult experiences for a parent and/or guardian. Whether it's a regression that hits your child like a wall of bricks or a stubborn child who is filled to the brim with energy, helping your toddler settle before bed can be absolutely wild... to say the least.
Along with the repetition of a good and solid schedule before bed, at times parents and/or guardians can feel a bit lost when sudden difficulty arises. Don't worry, though: we've got some great tricks and tips to help settle a toddler before it's time to hit the sheets.
10 PHYSICAL TOUCH
We know the day's exhausting whether you're home with the children or not. But, at the day's end, your child may be just as tired. The toddler stage is an interesting one: some give up napping before the age of two, while others nap well into their fourth year of life.
Depending on those factors, your child may be over-tired and over-stimulated. This is where the power of hugs, cuddles and back rubs comes in handy. Physically being held and comforted by the parent can lower stress hormones and relax the toddler before they fall asleep. We can't promise you it will only take a minute, but it will likely help calm them before bed.
9 A (NOT TOO HEAVY) WEIGHTED BLANKET
Weighted blankets are all the rage for people who suffer from mental health issues. They can also assist in keeping someone with insomnia asleep for longer. Weighted blankets come in various weights, and you will absolutely need to be sure that it's at a safe weight: one that allows your toddler to move it away from their face if it comes in contact with their nose.
If a weighted blanket is not something you are comfortable with, purchasing an incredibly soft and cozy cover can be just enough to settle your toddler before they embrace a good night's sleep.
8 A SUPPORT PLUSH
Many children will form a loving and inseparable relationship with a particular stuffed animal and/or doll. Others prefer to sleep with a whole bunch of their cuddly friends.
Encourage your toddler to have a "sleeping buddy," something that is with them each and every night. A plush that does not leave their crib or bed, so the toddler knows it's time to sleep when they see their buddy. Having a toy to return to after a long day is comforting. As a visual signal of bedtime, a consistent reminder of "sleepy time" will be helpful for you and the toddler.
7 A BEFORE-BED BATH
This may seem like a no-brainer, but often we are simply too busy to give our toddlers a bath each and every night. Children (as early as the new born stage) thrive off of schedules and repetition.
It is vital to stick to your night-time bath routine. Not only does the warm water release the stress of the day, but it's also great quality time (with little distraction) for both the child and parent. A night-time bath is a great thing to practice each and every night.
6 A WHITE NOISE MACHINE
If you are an adult that has discovered the power of white noise, you will understand the necessity of this machine. Whether it's to block out the city's noise or to signal bedtime for your little one, a white noise machine can produce anything from rain sounds to projections of colorful light in their nursery and/or bedroom.
A white noise machine can range in prices and quality, but all you truly need is a consistent sound or song that the child recognizes when it's time to go to bed.
5 A BEDTIME STORY OF TOMORROW’S ADVENTURES
Children love to get excited about adventures and fun. Even if it simply means a morning play date with their cousin before lunch tomorrow morning, explaining to the toddler tomorrow's plan will get them excited for the next day. By creatively sharing a story about tomorrow's adventures (even if it means just going to the grocery store), incorporate reasons why this adventure will be so fun for them.
Perhaps they'll be able to pick out a special treat or get to see a friend they haven't in a very long time. This may even influence them to fall asleep sooner if they know tomorrow will come faster if they do.
4 LISTING REASONS WHY THEY’RE THANKFUL
An incredible way to tone down the night's mood is by getting your toddler to reflect on their gratitude. Ask them for 5 things that they are thankful for. They may simply say, "today's snack" or "my pet dog". They may even surprise you with some pretty deep ideas.
Whether you take this in the way of prayer or simple conversation between the two of you, listing out things that your child is thankful for each and every night is a beautiful and calming practice to settle their little brains before bed.
3 A STORY BOOK (OR TWO)
A classic way to settle your toddler before bed is a calming yet intriguing visual aid. Allow your toddler to choose 2-4 books before bed. Depending on their lengths, the books should be bedtime-themed to encourage the sleepy mood.
Reading story books will also encourage your child to enjoy literature; it will likely teach them how to read at an earlier age. Getting in the habit of reading books before bed each night is incredibly rewarding for both the parent and toddler.
2 VIDEOS OF FISH
Calming videos are used by many adults before bed or even during a stressful situation, so why not for young kids?
During bedtime, it's important to keep your phone or computer's screen dimmed low to ensure they're not getting too much screen light. Opening up a very simple video such as this one allows the toddler to calm down, and also be amazed by nature's wonder.
1 LAYING WITH THEM UNTIL THEY’RE ASLEEP
Whether you agree with sleep training or not, sometimes your toddler needs the comfort of a loved one.
Do not punish yourself if, on occasion, you need to lay beside the toddler until they're asleep. Looking back on the power of touch, anything that will comfort your toddler to bed is healthy and important for the developing child.