From:  Tracey O’Hare

Tip:  Time for Bed Time Toddler!

We often get asked if have any words of wisdom when it comes to sleep and naptime from our parents, as most of our team are parents themselves, we know how important getting those hours of shut-eye is for child and adult alike!

Sadly, there is not one miracle cure for a non-sleeping child but starting a good bed-time routine from a young age can help towards a better night’s sleep for all the family.

Here are some top tips we have learnt and used for toddlers over the years, and we hope they in some way might help.

What are the basics of a good bedtime routine?

The important thing is that you do the same thing every night so that your child learns to associate particular activities with bedtime.

If you’re not at home, try to follow your routine as much as possible. The familiarity may make it easier for him to settle down in his new and different surrounding. Children find comfort in routine.

Your child’s routine should always include spending a little time in his/her bedroom. This will teach them that their room is a nice place to be, not just where he’s sent at the end of the day.

Once you’ve tucked your toddler in for the night, give them a kiss and leave the room. If they grumble, tell them that you’ll be back to check on them in five minutes. In all likelihood, they’ll be fast asleep by the time you return. If not, do the same thing again until they settle.

What does a good routine look like?

What you include in your toddler’s routine is up to you, every family is different so make it work for you and your children. Just make sure you choose activities that help calm your toddler, rather than excite them. Here are some ideas for you to try:

Bath Time
A nice, warm bath is a soothing experience, and getting your toddler clean and dry is a great way to ease him into bedtime.

However, if your toddler is averse to baths, or if they make them too excited, it’s probably better to leave them for the morning. Give their face and hands a wash instead.

Teeth Time
Your toddler’s routine should always include brushing their teeth. It’s important to start the habit of brushing as early as possible so that they learn to look after their teeth properly.

PJ Time
Change your toddler into a fresh nappy or encourage him to use the toilet if they’re already potty-trained. Then help them get changed into their pyjamas. We often say to parents to offer them a choice of two pyjamas so that they can exercise some of their growing independence, we know that this can be a battle so sometimes, so a choice of just two – can help create a calmer bedtime.

Play a quiet game

Having a calm game on the floor of your toddler’s bedroom is a great way to spend some fun time with them before bed. Older toddlers may enjoy simple puzzles or card games, and younger ones are always entertained by peek-a-boo. Remember this needs to be a calm game – if your toddler gets too excitable – maybe it’s not one for you!

Your game doesn’t have to be big or special. It can be as simple as taking turns saying the alphabet or counting to 10. Anything that entertains your toddler without over-stimulating them is fine.

Chat Away
Whether or not your toddler’s talking yet, bedtime is a perfect opportunity to have a quiet chat. Of course, if you have a young toddler, you’ll have to do most of the talking yourself, but they’ll still love getting your full attention. It’s also another way for you to wind down after a busy day too.

Talk about everything you’ve both been doing throughout the day, and how it may have made them feel. If your toddler’s old enough, ask them to tell you about the best things that happened today, as well as anything that’s worrying them. This may help him to work through any anxieties or fears so that they get a better night’s sleep.

Story Time
Cuddle up for some cosy storytime. Your toddler will love spending time with you, and hearing you give all the characters silly voices. It’ll even help him learn new words and encourage a lifelong love of reading. We always say this is a nice time to swap over roles for parents, if daddy is now back from work he can do the story – or if mummy wants to take over she can now sit and spend some quality time together.

Give your toddler a choice of books from a small selection each night. They will enjoy getting to have their own say. You may end up reading the same few books for week or so, but repetition is a key part of your toddler’s learning. While it may be a tad frustrating for you, it’s great for his development, so be patient.

Sing a song
A soothing lullaby or nursery rhyme is a classic way to help your sleepy toddler drift off. Your voice and your partner’s voice are your toddler’s favourite sounds.

Say goodnight 
Your toddler may enjoy going around the room saying goodnight to their favourite toys. Don’t let them take advantage, though. If they insist on saying goodnight to every single stuffed toy in his bedroom, they may just be trying to delay bedtime – make sure you’re not being conned into a few more minutes before its time to sleep!

Bear in mind that anything can occasionally throw your toddler’s routine off for a few nights. So, don’t be alarmed if your new routine goes out of the window. Often illness and growth spurts can make sleep more broken, and/or feel like it takes an age to achieve bed time. We’ve been there when your child wants to sing ‘Ba Ba’ instead of drift off, just make sure they are comfortable and feeling well and sleep will soon come.

We really would love to hear if you find our tips and advice useful, and/or you would like a certain topic covered – just let us know, please contact Ian on hello@firststepspoynton.co.uk or call 01625 859867.