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Is your toddler resisting bedtime? Try this!

Toddlers will push the boundaries at bedtime over and over again. It's just in their nature to test the boundaries every so often.

So bedtime has been going well for a while (or maybe it hasn't) and all of a sudden it's getting very difficult. Your toddler is saying things like " I don't want to go to sleep!" or "I'm not going to my room!". How do you get your toddler to go to bed?


First of all, always remember where your boundaries are.

Which rules have you set out from the start, that you will not budge on? For some parents it's not reading more than 1 book, or never laying in bed with them until they fall asleep. Remember where your boundaries are and make sure you don't cross them for this one difficult night. This will not help.

Second, try not to make up new boundaries just because you're frustrated.

I think we've all been here ( I know I have!). Your toddler wants to wear their favourite t shirt to bed and you say no. They start crying and asking "why?" and you say "because it isn't pajamas!" or whatever your excuse is. Hear me out. What if we let them wear their favourite t shirt to bed? What if we stopped fighting them on things that really aren't that big of a deal? Take a step back and double check why you're arguing with your kid and if it's really that big of a road block.

Third, go back to the basics of sleep.

Are they tired enough? Or are they too tired? Think of increasing daytime activity to increase sleep pressure just like we would lengthen a wake window for a baby. Think about moving the bedtime forward if you think they've been staying up too late and getting overtired (it's not as easy to spot in toddlers as it can be in babies). Are they still napping? Is it time to shorten the nap or drop it all together? (Hint: this doesn't typically happen until after age 3)

Make sure you're taking time to wind down in the evening. Turn off the TV, darken the room and take some time to connect with them. Often times when toddlers are pushing boundaries it is attention seeking behaviour. So get down on the floor with them and play, or snuggle them and talk about their day, whatever will help them feel seen and connected to you. Then start the bedtime routine.

Fourth, make sure you're doing the full bedtime routine.

I know sometimes it's easy to shorten the routine on busier days, but try to make the time to do a full routine without rushing through it. You might find extra ways to make it exciting like a new book to read, or turning it into a game of who can put their pajamas on the fastest. Get silly with them!

For more tips and advice follow @thatsleepmama on Instagram or contact me for 1:1 sleep support!


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