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Why is my toddler’s bedtime such a battle?

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Is your little one fighting the bedtime routine? Tantruming as soon as they go upstairs? Making excuses to prolong bedtime by asking for water or needing a trip to the loo? You need our top tips for helping the run up to bedtime go a lot more smoothly!

The toddler years are full of excitement and discovery and pushing the boundaries – and your buttons – is a huge part of that, as your little one finds out your limits and theirs! And from a developmental viewpoint, this is all totally typical. But how do you beat those bedtime battles. First, work out why your little one is fighting it. This could be down to:

  • Screen time – banning screens before bed is a good idea because it’s incredibly stimulating, so while your little one looks like they’re zoning out, their brains are working overtime. And that’s not going to help with your lead up to bedtime.
  • Overstimulation – if it’s been a busy day with the childminder or at nursery, or if you’ve just had a lot on at home, little ones can be quite stimulated by bedtime, so factor in some down time.
  • Energy levels – did your little one have a good run around at the park, have you been outside and got some fresh air? Make sure your little one has had a chance to burn off their energy over the day.
  • Being over tired or under tired – did nap time go on for a little longer, or a little later than it should? Or was it earlier in the day than usual? Either way, your little one is going to fight bedtime more if they are over tired or under tired, so keep an eye on those awake windows before bedtime.

So you’ve worked out why your little one is not keen on going to bed, but they still don’t want to budge an inch on it? Then it’s time to have a couple of tricks up your sleeve:

  • Talk to them about what’s happening and what will happen next. Toddlers love to have a heads up on what’s happening.
  • Give them a choice over which story to read, or which pjs they want to wear – but only a choice between 2, otherwise you might find yourself entering some tense negotiations, which is the last thing you want!  
  • Get them involved in the bedtime routine by closing the curtains together or putting the bubble bath in.
  • Get ahead of the game – get that loo trip in before going into their bedroom or have a beaker of water on hand to make any objections or excuses easier to deal with.

All of these suggestions will help, but don’t forget that your little one will also need a calming and predictable bedtime routine too. Some hand eye coordination activities like a sticker book or Duplo is a good way to start. Followed by a bath, pjs on, once they’ve chosen which ones, a story or two and then a cuddle before tucking them in and saying goodnight.

If you’re still having trouble with your little one fighting their bedtime, whatever age they are, please get in touch, we’d love to help!

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