Creating a Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine helps your child relax and calm down, making falling asleep much easier. Taking the same steps each night will help her understand when it’s time for sleep, making bedtime easier for you and her.

Bedtime routines work best when they are short (15-30 minutes) and have activities that happen in the exact same order every night. It also helps if the bedtime routine moves towards the bed or crib, instead of moving back and forth between different parts of the house.

Some families use a chart with pictures so that your child can see what comes next in the bedtime routine. For example, that might include:

  • Laying out clothes for the next day
  • Going potty and brushing teeth
  • Reading one book
  • Saying goodnight

Activities that she finds calming might change over time. For example, if reading a story seems to keep her awake now, try singing a soft song together, or maybe saying goodnight to her favorite toys.

Having a Bedtime Wind-Down Window

Some toddlers need help winding down so that they can be ready for the bedtime routine.

During the two hours before bedtime, you can help your child’s body and mind get ready for sleep. This is a good time to turn off the TV or other electronics and to slow down the day.

You know your child the best, so watch for what helps her calm down and what seems to excite her.

Many families find that mornings are a better time for new toys or roughhousing. The evening can be a great time to read books, color pictures, and play with puzzles or other quiet toys.

Making Choices in the Bedtime Routine

Many parents find that giving their child some choices can make things more fun.

With bedtime, though, it’s important to give choices with limits. This means that you decide on the order and time of the bedtime routine, but he can help make choices about which story to read or which pajamas to wear to bed.

It can help to give him options to pick between to avoid distractions or power struggles.

So instead of asking, “Which book do you want to read?” you can show him 2 or 3 books and ask, “Which one of these books would you like to read?” It is best to limit choices to 2 or 3 options.

Q & A

Q: When I ask my son to put on his pajamas at night he runs away and cries because he doesn’t want to go to bed. How can I make it easier to get him changed into his pajamas?

A: This is a common struggle with toddlers. For some, it can help to have a favorite part of the bedtime routine come right after a task like pajamas that can cause some battles. That way, you can remind him that “After we get your pajamas on, it will be time for a story. I wonder which book we should read tonight?”

For other toddlers, it can sometimes be best to take the battleground task (pajamas, brushing teeth, etc.) and move it to earlier in the evening, such as right after dinner. Not only will he be less tired and cranky then, but putting on pajamas might go more easily if he doesn’t think of it as part of going to bed.

Remember that whichever approach you take, try to keep your voice calm, and that will help him stay calm as well.

Do you like this article?
[Total: 1 Average: 5]