“My toddler won’t sleep!” Every mother in the history of time has been there before and it sucks. All the tell-tale signs are there to indicate your toddler’s ready for bed. His eyes glaze over and turn red from tiny fists rubbing them. He looks at you forlornly, almost pleading for sleep to come.
Yet, the sandman is late to arrive to put your little darling to sleep.
Kids sure do have a funny way of showing their tired. Soon he’s stumbling around the house. Every object is a distraction from bed time. From his favorite toy to a left over cheerio he’s found on the floor.
Anything to distract from the inevitable… sleep. You take away toy’s that distract your toddler. Provide a calm, quiet environment. Wrap him up into your arms to rock him to sleep. And…
Two minutes later, he’s squirming out of your arms trying to escape sleep. As your toddler runs away laughing at your failed attempt to get him to sleep, all you want to do is sleep yourself.
Toddler’s are notorious for fighting sleep. Sleep patterns are sporadic around my house. Some days my son sleeps like a little angel. Other days, he fights sleep hours past his bedtime.
To gain patience with a toddler read my article on 5 Ways To Gain Patience With Toddlers.
What’s a mom to do just to get some sleep? Let’s look at five ways to help your toddler get to sleep.
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Stick To A Bedtime Routine
Children are creatures of habit. They don’t deal well with change.
To successfully have a child go to sleep at a decent hour, you need an established routine. By established I mean you’ve implemented the bedtime routine into a nightly schedule. Consistency is key.
Find what works best for your family. For my son and I have the following bedtime routine…
5:00 pm: Dinner
5:30-6:00 pm: Playtime
6:00 pm: Lights down low; TV turned down low or off; Pajama’s on
Between 6:00-7:00 pm: Brush teeth; Read books; Play quietly; Practice ABC’s
7:00 pm: Diaper change; Bedtime
Notice how I don’t give night time baths? That’s because my child views bath time as playtime. Not a relaxing soak in the tub. So we skip night time baths and I give baths in the afternoons.
Like I said, whatever works best for you and your children.
By no means do we always stick to the bedtime routine. However, we come as close as possible. Dinner is usually on time. But it is an absolute must the lights and TV are turned down low at 6 pm. No exceptions.
In order for my child to be in bed by 7 pm, I have to create an environment of relaxation. This is achieved by lowering lights and decreasing the TV volume. If this doesn’t happen, chaos ensues. My child goes from a loving toddler to the energizer bunny who doesn’t need sleep.
To avoid a monster toddler who refuses sleep, try to maintain a bedtime routine to promote a quiet environment.
By establishing a relaxing and quiet bedtime routine, you can lower your child’s stress and cortisol levels. If a child’s cortisol levels are too high, they are not able to wind down at night.
A plus to an established bedtime routine… You help your child learn how to appropriately transition from a busy day to bed.
Related Articles: The Best Self-Care Tips For Tired Moms
Don’t Put Too Much Stress On Bedtime
Children don’t care it’s bedtime. They will think of every excuse in the book to avoid closing their eyes and going to sleep. From extra story time to the distraction of endless toys, children know how to procrastinate when it comes to sleeping.
Once bedtime rolls around and the clock strives seven or eight, we as parents are so ready for bedtime. Our lives as adults revolve around a clock.
A clock tells us when to go to work, when to eat, exercise and much more. Children could care less about a clock chiming to signify bedtime.
To them bedtime is when they are so exhausted they can no longer stand or keep their eyes open.
Children don’t run their lives off clocks. Their routine throughout the day is created by you, not a clock. Therefore, stop reminding your child it’s “almost bedtime.”
If your child feels tired at all and you mention the word “bedtime,” they will abort the mission of sleep. Take my advice, stop putting so much emphasize on “bedtime.” Just stick to a bedtime routine to signal a natural progression to sleep for your little one.
Don’t Play With Your Child Close To Bedtime
I know, it sounds cruel, but hear me out. I try to provide a nice, soothing bedtime ready environment for my child. That can easily be ruined by my husband coming home late from work and wrestling with my son.
I know they’ve just missed each other and want to spend time together, but can’t they just snuggle instead? If my child get’s to running around the house, a bedtime routine is pretty much out the door.
To combat hyping your child up before bedtime, try quiet playtime instead. Such playtime activities as coloring, quiet independent play and reading books are fun, yet not overly stimulating for a child.
Try A Late Night Snack
Toddlers are raging, hungry beasts. Just when you thought they’ve had their fill at the dinner table, they always come back hungry for more. A late night snack before bedtime might just be the ticket to ensuring a goodnight sleep.
A simple solution of offering your child a healthy night time snack could fill his or her belly enough to induce a restful state of sleep.
Providing a protein and carbohydrate rich snack before bed could suppress the hunger sensation throughout the night.
While this can provide a deeper sleep, a bedtime snack can also help your child sleep in later.
This gives both you and your toddler some much needed sleep. Instead of waking at 6 am, your child might sleep into till 8:00 with a full bedtime tummy.
So, what do you give a toddler to snack on before bed?
Here are a few healthy options:
- Fruit- kiwi, banana, cherries, apples, pineapple, etc.
- whole grain bread with peanut butter and applesause (My son’s favorite)
- Nuts- pumpkin seeds, almonds, hazelnuts (Depending on the age of your child)
- Ham, turkey and cheese sandwich
- Banana and peanut butter
- Blueberries with greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Hard boiled eggs
- String Cheese
- Granola bars
Try Essential Oils To Promote Sleep
While this may not be the cure for your child’s sleeplessness, essential oils could provide a state of calmness in your crazy house.
We have all heard of the calming properties associated with lavender. Lavender is found in a multitude of baby products like lotion, hair and body wash. Each product boasts about lavender’s calming effects and is labeled as a “bedtime” product.
That’s because each company promotes and sells lavender scented products aimed toward inducing a calm and restful sleep.
Although I have used both the baby lotions and soaps with added lavender scent, I feel lavender as an essential oil works best in my household.
With lavender oil being admitted through an air diffuser, my son is more relaxed when it comes time for bed. I use a combination of methods to reap the benefits of sleep. I still use a lavender scented lotion from Earth Mama Organics during my son’s bedtime routine.
But, I don’t stop there. An hour before my son’s bedtime I turn on the oil diffuser to ensure a calming environment with lavender.
Of course like any mom, I have mom brain. Meaning I forget. A lot. So sometimes the bedtime routine doesn’t always include the oil diffuser. When the oil diffuser isn’t turned on, there is a notable difference in my house.
With the essential oil of lavender being diffused, my son is more relaxed and the bedtime routine goes smoother for all of us.
Although I prefer the scent of lavender throughout the house to promote a restful sleep for my little one, you don’t have to stop there. Based on personal preference there are many essential oils you can use to promote sleep for your busy toddler.
I have also used a combination of scents with lavender and other essential oils by themselves. Although I am partial to lavender, I use other essential oils such as:
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to mix a combination of oils to find a perfect blend that works best for you and your family.
While some combinations go well together, other’s do not smell as good. With much experimentation, I’ve found the following combinations for sleep, relaxation and a great smelling house work best:
Such essential oils as Hawaiian Sandwood and Geranium smell perfect by themselves. The choice is yours. Go crazy with essential oil combinations and reap the benefits of a restful sleep for your children.
Ready to get your child to sleep earlier tonight? Then take action on what you just learned from these sleep tips- you’ll be glad you did!