Bedtime Routine for My Toddler

I’ve gone over how I put my one year old to bed on this post linked here, and I think it’s worth a post of it’s own to discuss how our three year old handles his bedtime routine as well.

With the development of his language ability, he’s become much more vocal about how bedtime should go- and rightfully so. It’s his night, too! For a long, long time- until he was about 18 months old- his bedtime routine was the exact same as his sister’s. We have adjusted and added to his routine as he needed to grow with his needs. This was mentioned in the book, The Happy Sleeper. This book has really worked for our family, and I can’t recommend it enough. I know everyone has their own special sleep book, but for us, it’s been a game changer and worked with two different babies, so…

We eat dinner at 6 PM- and I know, it’s really hard to stop life to make dinner. This is something that’s really important to my husband and I, however, so we eat together most nights as a family. As the children get older and activities are added, I’m sure this will have to be adjusted, but I think time spent around the table is a good way to reconnect as a family at the end of each day, so every day at 6pm, you’ll find us around the dining room table.

Some nights he isn’t interested in what we are cooking, and that’s fine- he can pick at what he likes, but he STILL has to sit at the table with us. He isn’t a very big fan of this, but table manners are important, and I think this is an age appropriate one for him.

After dinner, we take a bath. This is definitely his favorite part, there’s a lot of splashing and laughing. He might fight us when he gets in, but it always ends with a smile. Sometimes it’s hard getting him out, too. (Hellooooo, three- an opinion on everything!) It’s helped us tremendously to use sand timers so he can see his time pass by. Three year olds can struggle with transitions, and these little sand timers from Amazon have helped us all so much! He can see the time lapse, and we don’t get a meltdown- win, win. Best $6 I’ve spent in a loooonnnnngggg time!

We apply his body lotion- Eucerin Eczema Relief has been a life saver for him and his dry itchy skin, and it doesn’t have a strong fragrance- comb his hair, brush his teeth [and man, this is a post in and of itself- he fought tooth brushing for ages!!!!] and put on clean warm jammies.

For a long time, David would go straight to his room for story time after finishing up his bath, but recently, he’s seemed to need a little personal unwind time, so we now give him 10 minutes to play with his toys- again, using those sand timers make the end of play time much easier.

We clean up all of our toys, and then we head to his bedroom. We turn on his white noise machine, his Benjamin Bunny alarm clock {again, another post- this is more for the morning wakeup stuff}, read a book, and sing Twinkle Twinkle. I’m not lying when I tell you that some nights, he’s so tired he asks to go to bed and skip story and song time. He climbs into bed, I tuck him in, and turn off the light.

He’ll lay in bed and talk for awhile, but there’s no screaming, no fighting. He asks to go to the potty and for a glass of water, but he isn’t stalling, he’s just getting needs met.

I don’t think this is the end-all be-all routine. I think the reason it works so well is because we are very consistent with bedtime, even when we travel. Even with our move and all of the emotions he’s experiencing, he doesn’t fight getting into bed… I wish I could say the same with all of the other steps, but that isn’t our truth right now. I know this is just a phase, however, and he’ll go back to normal, because we’re consistent and he’ll adjust to this new normal.

What special things do you do for your kid’s bedtime?



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