View Full Version : Toddler Bedtimes

06-20-2008, 02:18 AM
I am writing an article about developing a bedtime schedule and routine for toddlers...sometimes it is so hard to get them to go to bed!

Do any of you have any stories you’d like to share for the article about how you struggled with this issue or how you developed a routine that worked.

Please email me at keathlow@aol.com (keathlow@aol.com).

Thanks so, so much! J

06-20-2008, 05:55 PM
That's it exactly for me, routine. The 2 hours leading in to bed are a strict schedule, and there's little arguing. The last hour, for us, is TV time. I'll put on the same shows each time and say "What's on after this?" They'll answer, and I'll ask, "and what's after that?" to which they'll respond "night night time!" I'll "quiz" them about every 15 minutes until they go to bed, which again, is a routine. 1) go potty 2) pick out a book 3) get into bed 4) read a story 5) hugs and kisses 6) love you, night night!

06-20-2008, 07:17 PM
I was always a night person, even as a little kid. I still remember being sent to bed at a (admittedly reasonable hour) and lying there for an hour or two, in the dark, bored out of my mind. I used to beg my dad for a sleeping pill, but of course, there were none for me. (Ha, ha!)

I also hated getting up in the morning. I was never that kid who woke my parents up at 5:00 am wanting to do something.

I don't know if any thing would have helped, since school schedules are based on morning people's cycles.

06-21-2008, 05:56 AM

What I do is bathtime, dinner, prayer, "see you in the morning", "I love you" and bedtime. :)

Appalachian Writer
06-21-2008, 06:36 AM
It's been a long time since I had a toddler, but I gave them their baths, put on their jammies, read them a story...and then light's out. AND after that, I breathed a long sigh of relief.

06-21-2008, 11:36 AM
I'm all about that huge sigh of relief, after!

I do cherish bedtimes. That's when the kids will sometimes open up to me more than at any other time. I suppose because part of the routine is that each kid gets lie-down time with me. And it's sacrosanct. No one is allowed to interrupt another kid's lie-down time.

Routine is a must. I don't give baths every night unless necessary; it's usually every other night. Pajamas, brush teeth, water cups filled (even if they don't drink from them, they want them), and each kid picks a story. My kids are six, almost five, and two. The girls share a room, and the youngest gets tucked in first, and the five year old waits (mostly) patiently.

Each child has picked his/her songs for bed, and each of their choices is as different as they are. Em, the youngest--her songs are simple. Twinkle Little Star, ABC's, You Are My Sunshine. And then kisses and goodnight.

Eleri has six songs, a mix of newer kid songs and the classics. And we always end with "Sunshine," and she always asks me "Why am I your sunshine?" Same questions, same answers. Same kisses (light, quick kiss on the lips, Eskimo kiss, her version of a butterfly kiss--a series of quick air-kisses). And lastly, a big hug.

Ethan gets the same song (Sing a Song) four times. Tickles on the first three rounds, then he rubs my arm gently as I sing him his last one.

Right before the last song, we review the day quickly and go over stuff that we liked. Sometimes I mention a few things that can be um, worked on. But nothing that would weigh too heavily on their minds.

Oh, and each room has a noise-maker in it. We have a small house, and noises can sometimes carry. Also helps when we stay somewhere else; we just take it with us and the kids feel like they're home.

I do this by myself most nights, since my husband is usually at work for bedtimes. Routine has helped take the headache out of it. The kids feel safe and comfortable with it, and I love how establishing it early makes it go so much more smoothly.

06-21-2008, 09:39 PM
You've all mentioned my 'tricks', the routine, the little ones being able to choose a song or story etc. The only thing I can think to add is if they do get up for some reason after they've been sent to bed, turn the lights off or low in whatever room you take them to.

I found that if they were awake long enough for their eyes to adjust to the light getting them back to sleep was much more difficult.

06-21-2008, 10:38 PM
recently I talked to my mom about my occasional bouts of insomnia and she told me that when I was about three years old I had trouble getting to sleep. She solved that by making a strict routine for the hours before bedtime (like others have suggested.) Dinner, then take care of the pets together (I loved feeding the animals at that age...still do!), then bath time, then quiet play time (I could play imagination games but nothing that involved a lot energy like chasing, hide-and-go-seek, etc.), then story time, then lights out. She said it worked within about a week, so I tried some strict night-time routines as an adult, and what do you know? Insomnia cured.

06-22-2008, 04:02 AM
My 5 year old has always been a great sleeper, but my 3 year old has never seemed to need as much sleep, and she doesn't fall asleep as easily. Since it's Daylight Saving Time (it gets dark so late) and we just got back from vacation (where the rules were relaxed), they're a little off their normal routine, but this is typically what we do:

For both girls, we usually take a bath after dinner (they take LONG ones and need time for their hair to dry), then pajama time and tooth brushing before reading books. They each get to select one book, then we all meet on the couch and read them together. After reading it's straight to bed, but they each have a lamp on the nightstand (separate bedrooms) that they can leave on for 15 minutes. Both have a basket of books beside the bed and like to look at those by lamplight, but they usually prefer to look at a book we just read or at a Look and Find book (they're the greatest--no reading required). Both of them have "noise makers," those little sound machines that have effects like ocean waves, chirping grasshoppers or rippling creeks. These noise makers have timers that you can set to 15, 30 or 60 minutes, so when we tuck them in and kiss them goodnight, we set the timer for 15 minutes and tell them they must turn the lamp off when the crickets stop chirping. They've both tried to outsmart Mommy and Daddy by pressing the button again to restart the 15 minute cycle, but we try to get them to bed promptly at 8:30 and usually double check about 8:45 to make sure the lamps are off. Having the lamp on is treated as a privilege, and if you abuse the privilege, your lightbulb is removed from the lamp (Hot! Hot!) They can press the button on their noise maker as often as they want but it will keep turning off after 15 minutes (some studies have suggested that constant white noise could have adverse effects on concentration, learning, etc.) The oldest daughter always goes right to sleep, but our younger will usually stays awake for about an hour, singing songs to herself or playing with toys in bed. But she must stay in her room and leave the door closed.

Anyway, I found that giving them a little control with the lamps and noisemakers makes them happier to go to bed, and they both enjoy their alone time. It seems to help them wind down and prevents the screaming and crying fits some kids have at bedtime. It also really seems to help both of them to have nightlights and some of those string lights in their room so they can see in the dark without it being too bright.

06-22-2008, 04:23 AM
the schedule always worked for my own kids and now works when i have my grandkids. there is another option--this is only a cautionary tale: when i used to stay with my great grandmother she would give me a couple of ounces of mogen david wine at bedtime. i drank it up like a good little girl and boink! i went right to sleep instead of crawling out of my crib and prowling the house which was my usual habit. of course grammy minnie would be arrested for this abusive behavior nowdays, and rightly so. in fact my mother was horrified when i learned to talk well enough to tell her the secret behind my peaceful sleep at grammie's house.

i look at it more tolerantly--the poor lady was 74 and saddled with a toddler, a kid she loved dearly but by bedtime she was too tired to cope with my arguing and prowling. grammy minnie was born in a sod house in 1884 and had some novel approaches to child rearing. this was only one. ever hear of coal oil and sugar for a sore throat?---s6

06-22-2008, 04:37 AM
I don't remember many details since my kids are 19 and 17, but I do remember lying alongside them to read a story together.

My daughter wasn't a good sleeper and had to be reminded to go back to bed, but my son (the younger one) slept like a log once asleep. He often insisted on wearing his lucky Oakland A's hat (we live near Toronto - what the heck?).

06-23-2008, 12:21 AM
wait...toddlers sleep?

06-24-2008, 11:01 PM
Hey thanks guys...
These are all great! :)

06-25-2008, 06:03 PM
I see nobody mentioned the way lazy moms like me do it...story, teeth brushed, and then into my bed and stick a boob in his mouth. Slip out three minutes later and the evening of writing begins! Lots of snuggles all through the night.

Oh, and about that "he'll never learn to soothe himself" stuff? Tell that to my 4 y.o. who gets one story, one song, one "I love you as the stars love you..." (from I Love You, Little One, by Nancy Tafuri) and then he's asleep before I'm out of the room. Oh, and lately we have added to our routine telling his stuffed lion, "Iy-Iy, don't jump out the window. And just roar if you see anything suspicious."

Sorry, I know your article isn't about co-sleeping, and we really do much of the same stuff everyone else is talking about. Except nobody in this family is really all that great with strict routine. I mean, life gets in the way. I can't have every night locked into a two hour holding pattern of preparing for bedtime. Luckily, so far my kids have been flexible and have enjoyed bedtime for the most part.

Good luck with your article! :)

06-25-2008, 06:09 PM
When my baby momma talked about breast feeding, I thought "that's so hot!" until I actually saw my child getting nourishment. My mind, completely on it's own, took the sexuality right out of it! And I've seen other moms nursing here and there, ever since. Not sexual. Then you come along and say

and then into my bed and stick a boob in his mouth.

... and you put it right back! :hooray:

06-25-2008, 09:28 PM
When my baby momma talked about breast feeding, I thought "that's so hot!" until I actually saw my child getting nourishment. My mind, completely on it's own, took the sexuality right out of it! And I've seen other moms nursing here and there, ever since. Not sexual. Then you come along and say

... and you put it right back! :hooray:
The good little lactivist part of me is shaking her finger at you in righteous indignation, shouting, "Breastfeeding is not a sexual act!"

The good-natured, reeeally difficult to offend part of me with a sense of humor is snickering.

Sorry for the thread hijack!

06-25-2008, 09:36 PM

Ours goes to sleep at about 9:30 p.m. She wakes up later, too. About 7 a.m. It makes it harder to get out the door in the morning with two jobs.

We've tried to get her to go to sleep earlier. There's no incentive to go to bed eariler.(especially since the sun doesn't set until about 8:45 p.m.) So, we try to fill the time with learning opportunities (reading books with her; watching Noggin programs with her. Sometimes, we just let her play.

We only 'struggle' with the bedtime when she won't come around in time and we're a little late getting out the door. And over the long haul, it hasn;t proven itself a deterrent to her growth or ours. It's not a discipline issue. She's just not tired.