The Toddler Bedtime Routine


Ah, bedtime.  A toddler parents worst nightmare and best daydream all rolled into one. Soon, your “terrible twos” year old or “threenager” will be sleeping soundly, and you can finally get some peace and quiet. But first, first, there’s a battle to get there.
A long one.
Tossing a toddler in the bath, praying they don’t soak your entire bathroom, wrangling them into pajamas, pinning them down to brush their teeth, catapulting them into their bed, wrestling them under the covers, reading them a book while they screech, giving them goodnight prayer and kisses, saying your goodnights and closing the door behind you, breathing a sigh of relief, and praying they fall asleep.

Only to hear the sound of their little feet hitting the floor, pattering over to their door, opening it and saying:
They want a glass of water
They want another story
They want another kiss
They want a cup of milk
They want a hug
They want a hug from Daddy
And on and on and on it goes until finally they succumb to sleep. And hopefully, so do you.
The toddler bed time routine is not for the faint of heart. It’s a battle almost every night but my husband and I have it down to an exact science. We try every night to be done in 30 minutes or less (including getting the baby to sleep too!). And we have some tricks up our sleeves to convince our conniving tot that bed time isn’t actually so bad.
First, we have the dreaded pajamas. However, we make a little reward for him that once his pajamas are on, his Dad (or grandparents if they’re around) will make him “Superman” by picking him up by the back of his onesie sleeper and flying him around the house. He looks forward to this every night!
Second, the milk. Sawyer always gets a cup of milk at quiet time (RIP nap), and bedtime. He loves his milk, and will do almost anything in exchange for it. We also get fun cups with characters from his favorite movies and TV shows on them to make it even more convincing. We love Horizon Organic Grassfed Milk from Walmart.
This milk is all organic and comes from 100% grassfed cows. Grassfed dairy is so much better for you! Grassfed cows are usually healthier, which makes their meat and milk more nutritious and can contain more omega-3 fatty acids which can help prevent heart disease! It often tastes better too. Right now you can even get a $1 rebate on Horizon Grassfed Milk at Walmart from Ibotta. Head here.
Third, the teeth brushing. Always a battle but we’ve found things are a little easier when you make them fun. Sawyer has a Paw Patrol toothbrush and Paw Patrol toothpaste. He’s not allowed to touch them when not in use and we keep them out of sight. This makes them kind of a “rarity” that he only gets to see twice a day and loves seeing Marshall on his toothbrush. We still brush his teeth for him so it takes some convincing, but Marshall is an excellent assistant negotiator.
Fourth, story time. We try to be sure to constantly be purchasing or borrowing new books from the library so he has something new and exciting to read to help him look foward to bedtime. When he does find a “favorite” book (most recently: Pout Pout Fish) that he wants to read over and over again, we embrace it, but limit the reading to only bedtime so, again, he has something to look forward to. It’s also so beneficial to spend time reading to your children and my husband and I cherish that time with him every night.
Fifth, prayers, hugs and kisses, tucked in! We always say a prayer for him and then give him his hugs and kisses goodnight and tuck him in. He is obsessed with cars and the movie Cars so he has a corvette shaped bed with Lightning McQueen sheets and blankets. He calls it his “bed car” and is so proud of it! Guests always have to see his “bed car” immediately and he takes such pride in it. We can ease the pain of bed time slightly by reminding him how cool his bed car is, and he’s usually so excited that we love his bed car too, that he hops right in and starts telling us about all its features (it has real working headlights- nbd).
We also try not to take things too seriously. He’s 2 and 2 year olds have a hard time understanding bedtime and why he can’t be with us. If he gets up a million times to ask for water and more kisses, we give him water and more kisses because he’s only little once and before we know it, he’ll be way too big for a “bed car” and kicking us out of his room. But don’t get me wrong, the nights where the routine works like a charm and he goes right to sleep are pretty nice too.

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