It has been stated over and over again by pediatricians and other doctors; children need routine, consistency and predictability in their lives. This comforts them and they know what to expect on a daily basis. A bedtime routine allows for the child to know that bed time is coming, and that they should expect it.
The fuss at bedtime may happen for many reasons. One being that they aren’t ready for bed. Maybe there isn’t a routine in place, maybe they haven’t had the chance to calm down for bed, and maybe they were just playing five minutes ago. In any case, the child simply isn’t ready for bed, and when that occurs, so does the fussing, fighting, and getting out of bed multiple times.
An easy bed time routine can be bath time, a drink of milk, brush teeth, go potty (if potty trained or in the process of training), then cuddles in bed with a story. Involve the toddler as much as you can. They can close the curtains or the blinds; they can turn on their nightlight (if it has a switch on it). The child can pick out the story, too. Once the story is done, give kisses and hugs turn off the lights and leave.
A simple example of a night-time schedule may look like this:
- 7:00 pm – bath and get pyjama’s on
- 7:30 pm – toddler in bed, bottle and story time
- 8:00 pm – lights out
For some parents, your toddler may refuse to go to sleep or comes out of his/her bed at night. Don’t get angry or fuss about it. Understand that your child is simply trying to adjust, especially if you just started the schedule or changed beds (from crib to toddler bed).
When your toddler does come out of his/her room at night, be calm and reinforce that it is bed time. Growing kids will push boundaries; it is part of their job of growing up. As parents, it is part of our job to help them understand why they need to go to bed. After the explanation, tuck your son/daughter back in, give him/her a kiss and leave the room.
Don’t be misled that any of these will work overnight. It will take a little adjusting, a few tries and quite a few tears before you get it right. But my advice to you is simple: Create some kind of night-time routine. Anything. Keep in mind that whatever you start today can be adjusted, so don’t get hung up on what your schedule is. Just try something.