Toddler bedtime tips: setting a good sleep routine
A concern and frustration that most parents of toddlers face is sleep and sleeping patterns. If you're a parent who is troubled by your toddler's sleep, it may help to know that you're not alone. Between the ages of two and three, it's predicted that around 40% of toddlers are waking once or twice a night, with some waking even more often.
How much sleep does my toddler need?
Many parents worry that their child is not actually getting enough sleep. Most toddlers need about 10 - 12 hours of sleep overnight, with many toddlers requiring a nap during the day of an hour or two. Toddlers tend to get their best quality and deepest sleep between 8pm and midnight, so it's important that they are settled and asleep by this time. For most toddlers, they will have had their required amount of sleep between about 5.30am and 6.30am.
A good toddler sleep routine
Many parents often struggle getting their toddler to bed at night, and trying to settle a reluctant toddler can be traumatic for families, and may even result in a tantrum. A simple bedtime routine or ritual, which can be started very early on, helps a toddler to know what's expected and encourages him to settle down easily for the night. To create a truly effective sleep schedule, it's important to ensure your toddler's pre-bed routine happens at the same time each night.
Even as adults we have routines that help prepare us for sleep, such as having a warm drink or reading a book. Experts say that this is part of good sleep hygiene and can make a big difference to how you sleep. The same is true for routines for toddlers.
A toddler bedtime routine to encourage sleep
- Warm bath
- Milk drink
- Quiet song or story
- Getting into bed with a special toy or blanket
Try not to make your toddler's sleep ritual too complicated - or your may spend half your night trying to wind down!
"Help! My toddler keeps waking up."
If your toddler wakes up, gets up out of his bed or keeps calling out at night, simply put him back in bed and tuck him in again. Keep words to a minimum. Toddlers may often want you to be near while they go to sleep.
Tactics for helping your toddler settle
- Sit near and relax yourself, read a book or listen to music. Each night you can move further towards the door until you're out and your toddler can settle on his own.
- Your toddler may want to snuggle with something of yours, like a T-shirt.
- Tell your child you're not far away and keep coming back and checking on him.
- If you say you'll stay with him, don't sneak out or this may make your toddler more anxious.
How a toddler's day can affect sleep
If your toddler is hard to settle at night, has restless sleep or wakes up often during the night, there may be something happening during the day that's affecting his sleep routine.
Things that can affect toddler sleep
- Is he sleeping too much during the day? Try cutting back how long he's napping or you may need to drop the sleep altogether if he's around 3 years old.
- Is he not sleeping enough during the day? An overtired toddler can find it hard to sleep at night, so it's important that they get enough rest during the day, especially a younger toddler.
- Is he getting enough attention during the day? Children and toddlers need a certain amount of attention and if they're not getting it during the day they make wake at night.
More articles on sleep and moving to a big bed:
- First time with daylight savings
- Toddler night waking
- From cot to bed
- Transitioning to a bed
- Toddler bedtime tips
- My toddler won't stay in bed
More toddler firsts:
- Recipes for toddlers
- Toddler nutrition
- Moving to a big bed for the first time
- Solving tantrums
- Toilet training tips and tricks
- Resolving problems
- Activities for toddlers
- Toddler grooming tips
- Toddler development
- Toddler first steps
- Toddler teeth and dental care