Your evening routine doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it does need to be consistent. The predictability of a toddler bedtime routine helps your child prepare for bed. There isn’t much power in a night time routine that constantly changes.
12 Step Toddler Bedtime Routine for a Perfect Night
- Warm Bath or Face Wash: Keep things calm. You can dim the lights and incorporate candles to establish a calming atmosphere.
- Use Quiet Voices: Maintain the calm atmosphere throughout the rest of the routine by using your quiet voices up until bedtime.
- Pajamas: Allow your child to choose their own bedtime pajamas. Show some enthusiasm over their decisions.
- Brush Teeth: A must in any toddler bedtime routine. Keep the calm atmosphere from their bath going for this step (low lights and/or candles).
- Water: One final chance to quench their thirst with a small amount of water. Make sure they know this is their final opportunity for a drink.
- Potty Time: Final opportunity to use the potty before bed.
- Yoga/Stretching: Add a few calm, sleep friendly stretches or yoga poses to your toddler’s bedtime routine.
- Reading Time: Let your toddler choose two or three books for you to read. Explain to them that reading time is over once the books are complete. Do not give into their “one more book” requests.
- Prayer: Say a short prayer with your child.
- Relaxation Technique: You can read up on this technique further but it is a great way to relax before bedtime. Instruct your toddler to tighten and then relax each part of the body, one at a time, starting from the toes and finishing with the face.
- Bedtime Lullaby: Lower your voice to a whisper and quietly sing your toddler’s favorite bedtime song.
- Goodnight: One final chance to say goodnight and express your love. Finish your toddler bedtime routine with a hug and kiss so you can both go to bed feeling wonderful.
Bedtime Routine “Do’s”:
- Begin the routine at roughly the same time every night.
- Make sure your toddler has an appropriate bedtime.
- Have a positive attitude to keep the mood calm, warm, and relaxing.
- Include activities in the toddler bedtime routine that prepare your child physically for bed. Give a bath, put on pajamas, offer a drink, brush teeth, etc.
- Include at least one calming activity to prepare your tot mentally for bed. Read a story, sing a song, pray, etc.
- Leave music playing quietly in your little one’s room for bedtime only if the music relaxes your child (some toddlers actually find music stimulating which would be counter-productive).
- Give hugs and kisses, and remind your little one how much they are loved by you!
- Always leave your child’s room on a positive note.
Bedtime Routine “Don’ts”:
- Don’t let your toddler watch TV until they fall asleep. This will not help them to develop good sleep habits!
- Don’t expect your toddler to go from a very boisterous activity to getting into bed without a routine to calm them down in between.
- Never rock your child to sleep if you want them to learn to fall asleep on their own.
- Don’t lack confidence when putting your tot to bed. Young children are highly sensitive to our emotions, whether we realize it or not. If your attitude conveys that you think your child needs your help to fall asleep, your toddler will believe it too!
- Don’t leave your child’s room on a negative note.
- Don’t offer any drinks but water at bedtime!
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A Final Word on Toddler Bedtime Routines
Having a nighttime routine helps prepare toddlers for bed and often makes falling sleep and staying asleep easier for them. Having a routine with fun, calm activities also changes bedtime from being a time children dread to a special time children anticipate. Soon you and your toddler will begin to enjoy the structure that comes from following a toddler bedtime routine!