We all know that routines for moms are important to everyday life. The good news is that the younger we introduce routines to our children, the easier they are to stick to.
You can use a bed routine for toddler to help your toddler settle down at the end of the day and transition into bedtime without a big fight. For toddlers that are always afraid to fall asleep thinking they may miss something big, this can be a vital tool for helping make your evenings easier.
Should a toddler have a bedtime routine? Why is a bedtime routine important for a child?
Toddlers are creatures of habit. Providing your children with a solid routine for different parts of their day from morning to bedtime can help them cope with everyday life.
When you set a bed routine for your toddler and stick to it, you are signaling to them that it is bedtime and helping them to settle down so that they can sleep better.
A bed routine is one of the best ways to help your child know what is expected and calm down for bed rather than the shock of being told it is bedtime without plenty of warning.
What is a good sleep routine for a 2-year-old?
A bedtime routine for toddlers should include things that help them relax and give cues that bedtime is approaching.
Many parents use a warm bath as the start of their babies’ bed routine. This is because warm water can help relax the body. Using lavender soap can help calm and relax your baby with the use of aromatherapy.
After your child’s bath, you can make the most of a good bedtime routine with warm, comfortable pajamas that both signal to your child that it is bedtime soon and simply help to keep them warm and comfortable while they sleep.
To Snack or Not?
A bedtime snack can help make it easier for your toddler to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Baths help us to relax but tend to make people hungry as well. Toddlers are growing fast and tend to get hungry really easily.
Using foods that naturally help induce sleep like turkey or cherries is a great way to not only help your toddler feel full so they can sleep better at night but also to help them fall asleep faster.
Avoid sweet, sugary, and high-carb snacks like cookies and cereal that tend to have the opposite effect on children.
After snack time you can help your child settle in with basic hygiene like brushing their teeth. This will help to build a lifelong routine of brushing teeth after they eat at the end of the day.
Story Time and Cuddles
Settle in for a quiet, relaxing activity like bedtime stories. This can help settle your child by keeping them still for a while to help them relax and fall asleep.
If your child still struggles to sit still while listening to a story, try a simple and quiet hands-on activity like a bedtime busy book filled with little activities your toddler can do while you read to them.
Remember that toddlers are not made for sitting down for long periods of time, so be patient while you find something that works.
Add in plenty of cuddles. Cuddles are important for calming young children. Snuggling before bed helps keep your kids calm and helps them feel safe and secure.
Spend some time snuggling with your little one, be it while reading them a story or afterward before they fall asleep.
How do I get my toddler into a bedtime routine?
The hard part of starting a bed routine for toddlers is enforcing it. Toddlers like to test boundaries and fight back when we tell them it is time to go to bed.
Instead of fighting with your toddler, you can simply move into your routine and let things progress into bedtime seamlessly.
If you have a stubborn child that doesn’t like to listen to you, one trick that often works is to set alarms and timers and tell your child that the alarm says it is time for the next task.
In my house, we use Alexa for both our morning and evening routines. Alexa announces that it’s time to start the routine, then asks if specific things are done, and then announces “good night” when the routine should end.
Both of my kids have the kids’ Echo dots (the kids’ Echo also comes with a year of Amazon Kids+) in their bedrooms, and we also have one in our living room to announce the start and end of the routines.
Blaming the choice on an alarm your child can’t fight with is often a great way to get them to follow directions because Alexa, not the parents, is setting the rules. Toddlers often tend to rebel against their mothers because their mom is their safe space, but an alarm or timer is an objective thing.
Toddlers cannot read, but they are able to comprehend routines and photos. Building a visual schedule for your child that lays out the steps of their bed routine is a great way to make it easier for your toddler to feel secure in knowing what is coming up next and what is expected of them.
Eventually, your child can use this visual schedule to help you know when they are getting tired and ready for bed even when it is a bit early.
Download the free printable bedtime routine chart below, or get the physical SchKIDules visual routine chart to create visual cues for your child.
What should a toddler bedtime be?
Toddlers need a lot of sleep, so base your bedtime on the total amount of sleep that you want your toddler to get. Start with your child’s normal wake time, add the amount of sleep that your child normally gets during naps, and work backwards to determine a good bedtime.
A normal toddler bedtime is between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
As you set your child’s bedtime, be sure to include enough time to finish your routine and allow your child ample time to fall asleep.
Some children fall asleep as soon as they hit the pillow, while others tend to roam the house. If your child is a “roamer,” simply build extra time into your bedtime routine so that your child is getting to bed at a decent time, regardless of how long they tend to get out of bed.
Bedtime routine chart
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I laminated my bedtime routine chart and hung it on the fridge.