Navigating the Toddler Bedtime Odyssey: Crafting a Peaceful Routine

Welcome, all you tireless toddler tamer and bedtime champions! If you’ve ever embarked on the epic quest of putting a toddler to bed, you know the odyssey that it can be. From the dinner dilemma to the battle of bath time, the constant one more book requests, the bedtime routine often feels like an adventure of epic proportions. But fear not, brave parents, for we’ve uncovered the secrets to creating a bedtime routine that even the trickiest of toddlers will adore!

Dinner with No Screens

Our journey begins with a feast fit for tiny kings and queens. Dinner time is the place where the culinary magic unfolds. It’s crucial to keep screens far, far away from this sacred hour. Let’s face it, who can resist the mesmerizing allure of screens? We’ve all fallen into that rabbit hole, but for the sake of bedtime tranquility, it’s time to unplug. Offer screen time (if you choose to) prior to dinner.

Sitting down together, as a family, around a table adorned with colorful plates and tasty morsels, can make all the difference. Engage in conversations about your day, the dinosaur adventures, or the latest crayon masterpiece. The absence of screens fosters connection, preparing your toddler for a calm bedtime journey ahead. Your toddler also learns to be a more adventurous eater with you modeling that behavior for them!

Bath Time Bonanza

Bath time- As you conclude your dinner banquet, it’s time to prepare for the great water adventure. Bath time can be more than just a chore—it’s an opportunity for excitement and play. Get your toddler excited by letting them choose their bath toys or bubble bath fragrance. Create a watery world of fun!

Pro-tip: brush teeth as bath is filling to avoid teeth brushing struggles after bath, its time to stay calm.

But remember, the key to a smooth bedtime voyage is keeping bath time shorter rather than an endless voyage. Just enough splish-splashing and sudsy laughter will do the trick, readying your tiny captain for the next chapter. After the splashing has commenced, transition to spa-time.

Spa-time- The last 5 minutes of bath build a tranquil spa retreat for your little one. Add warm water to the tub, dim the lights or turn lights off and use a night light, talk less in a hushed voice, and make it feel like a relaxing yoga class or massage. You can even go all out and light some out of reach candles and put on relaxing music. This is the opportunity to teach your little one what calm feels like. From here, drain the tub and keep the energy nice and calm.

Pro- tip: To avoid the run around energy burst after bath, bring pjs in the bathroom at the start of tub time and get dressed in the smaller space, then carry or hold hands to go to the bedroom to read books. Keep everything dimmed and calm from spa-time on.

Books: The Bedtime Bridge

Now that your little explorer is squeaky clean, it’s time for a storytelling sojourn. The bedtime stories are the glue that binds the day to dreamland, and you have a choice to make. Two short stories or one long tale—either can be the path to sweet slumber.

There are two types of books: bedtime books, and dramatic books. Dramatic books are books that teach the love of reading. Dramatic books are interactive, might make noise or be silly, have vibrant pictures, and are best read with silly voices for characters and asking your child questions along the way. Bedtime books are relaxing, calming, and usually about sleep, dreaming, or bedtime. These books should be read in a very hushed and slow voice. This is the time to help your child calm and relax. Always stick with two short or one long book- no more.

Lights Out: The Lullaby of Darkness

With stories complete, it’s time to turn off the lights and let the lullaby of darkness embrace your little one. Hold your child and snuggle for a minute or two while their eyes adjust to the darkness. A completely dark room with no night light is typically best for children under age seven. While snuggling your child, say all of your “I love yous”

The Silent Back Rub: A Tender Goodnight

The final step on this bedtime quest is the silent back rub. Sit on the floor next to their bed and offer a soft, soothing back rub. This is the moment where you connect in silence, transferring your love and care through touch. This is ideally 2-3 minutes where they are relaxing and getting comfy in their bed. Then, leave the room in silence while your child settles to sleep. Ideally- they take 5-10 minutes of adjusting, snuggling their lovey, and relaxing to sleep independently.

And there you have it, dear parents, the recipe for toddler bedtime bliss. A journey that begins with dinner, transforms into a watery escapade, winds through the pages of captivating stories, and finally ends with the tender touch of a silent back rub. Embrace this routine, and you’ll be well on your way to a peaceful, screen-free bedtime haven for your little one. Sweet dreams! 🌙💤✨

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About The Author

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Jennie is a certified sleep consultant with a background in Child and Adolescent Studies who specializes in teaching toddlers and children to choose to stay in their open bed, fall asleep independently, and sleep through the night. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Studies, and spending time in the classroom, she decided to follow her passion and move to New York City to become a professional theatre actress. Between shows, she worked as a nanny. One family had a toddler that couldn’t fall asleep without help, he refused to nap and would wake-up multiple times a night. Frustrated by the lack of resources for toddler sleep issues she became a certified sleep consultant. Relying on her education and experience, she then created Week to Sleep geared for toddlers in an open bed.

Jennie has helped so many families across the country make bedtime easy and enjoyable. She has been featured on Mommy Mingle, Parentville, corporate Google, and buybuybaby. Jennie’s favorite part of working with families is when a toddler runs to their parents in the morning exclaiming, “I did it, I am SO proud of me!