Toddlers are my favorite age to work with. They are so full of life, speak their mind, say the craziest things...but the best part is that it's easier to communicate with them.
Communication is so important when it comes to establishing a bedtime routine, especially with a toddler who has a lot of feelings and needs. As a parent we communicate through our words AND actions, so it's something that can make bedtime go a little smoother.
The first thing you want to do is to make sure your toddler has the bedtime that THEY need. Every toddler is different but usually for ages 2-4 years old, a wake window of 4-6 hours is common. Bedtime will depend on if they take a nap or not, the time they take a nap, and their nap length.
Next, let's talk about room environment. The right environment is important to sleep. We want them in a calm space rather than an overstimulated space. A dark room, white, pink, or brown noise running all night, a room temperature between 68-72 degrees, and if they need a nightlight, a red or amber bulb.
Now that that's established let's talk about the actual routine. Here a few tips:
Keep it to about 20 minutes or less (bath not included)
Keep it simple so anyone can follow it
Get them involved with it
Make it realistic to what works for them
Some ideas for bedtime routine are:
Child led play (at the start. Then give them wind down time)
Not even toddler needs child led play, so only use it if your toddler needs it
A book that they choose
Pajamas that they choose
Asking them about their day
Some sort of affirmation
I usually tell parents to do about 4 things if what they want to do is lengthy and about 5-6 if it's short.
Here's an example of a longer routine after they've brushed their teeth and are in pajamas:
Mark things off their chart
Asking about their day
Here's an example of a routine that goes quicker because of what a family does (after teeth are brushed and in pajamas:
Words of affirmation
Always end your night with a kiss and a "goodnight."
If you're having bedtime battles, you can find more information on my guide "Ending Toddler Bedtime Battles for only $10 and you can download it here.
If you're needing something specific to your toddler, you can schedule your free consultation here.