Are you ready to switch up your little one’s bedtime routine? Does it need to go from baby to toddler? Maybe you just haven’t needed a bedtime routine, but now you are seeing the need for one with your toddler.
We have broken down why it’s important for toddlers to have a bedtime, what activities are in a good bedtime routine, and how to put your bedtime routine into practice.
Why Is A Bedtime Routine Important For Toddlers?
You know that feeling when you’ve had a super busy day, and even though you may be tired, you’re still wired from the day? It may take you a little while to wind down and finally fall asleep.
Now, imagine that feeling for a little toddler! They spend all day running, playing, and learning, and they may get over-stimulated. A bedtime routine helps them make a transition from an active day to a restful night.
Bedtime routines can also help bedtime be less of a fight. When your little one knows what to expect, they’re more likely to go along with the plan. We aren’t promising they’ll never fight bedtime. We all know “I’m hungry!” and “Can I have water?” shoutouts aren’t going away, but bedtime routines do help settle toddlers down and encourage sleep.
What Can Be Included In A Toddler Bedtime Routine?
When thinking about what can be included in your toddler’s bedtime routine, think of things that aren’t overly stimulating. Bedtime routines should be about 30 to 40 minutes, which is just enough time to help your little one ease into sleepy time.
Here are some of the most common activities during a bedtime routine. You can include these or include others that are specific to your family. The best bedtime routine is one that works for you and your toddler.
Take A Warm Bath
One way to help wind down from a super active day is by taking a warm bath. The reason warm baths are so helpful during bedtime is the bath warms them up, and then when they get out of the bath, their body temperature cools down. This cool-down can help trigger sleepiness.
For some families, giving a bath every night doesn’t work out. While a bath at night does help to relax and help your toddler get more sleepy, it’s not the only way. Baths can be a part of your toddler’s bedtime routine on “bath night” and not on the other nights. In order to make this a seamless transition, maintain the bedtime routine minus the bath every other night.
If your toddler is potty-trained, don’t forget to have them go potty. We probably don’t need to go into too much detail as to why this is an important one, but let’s just say nobody wants to wake up in wet sheets or clean wet sheets in the middle of the night!
Put On Comfy PJs
Whether it’s a bath night or not, changing your little one into comfy PJs can help them know bedtime is coming. You’re taking off their clothes from the day that they played hard in, and changing them into something that they only wear at night. While you’re changing them, dim the lights to help set a sleepy environment.
Brush Those Teeth
Just like the big kids and the grownups of the house, a toddler should be brushing their teeth twice a day. Adding this activity to your bedtime routine can help you remember to help them brush their teeth to remove all the food from the day.
Brushing regularly also helps toddlers to be more comfortable with oral health. Once they’re a little older, you can start letting them brush their own teeth without your supervision.
Read Stories Together
One of our favorite bedtime routine activities is reading together! On the Caribu app, we have tons of books to choose from. You and your toddler can cozy up and read books about Angelina Ballerina and all the places she dances, learn all the different baby names there are for animals in Animal Babies and their Names, and you can meet a little kid who isn’t ready to give up his binkie in Binkie Not for Sale. Whatever your little one is interested in, we likely have a book for them! From storybooks to learning books, they can take their pick.
If your little one is missing their grandma and grandpa, you can include them in the bedtime routine too! Just give them a Caribu video-call, and they can read a story to your child. This can be a fabulous bonding experience for them, especially if they aren’t able to visit as much as they would like.
Snuggle And Sing Songs
Who doesn’t love a good snuggle? Whether you still have a rocking chair in their room from the baby days, or you just climb up with them in their bed, giving them snuggles can really help them relax and feel loved.
Pick songs that you both like that are a little less exciting. Maybe skip “If You Are Happy and You Know It,” and stick to songs like “Rock-A-Bye Baby” and other lullabies you love.
How To Setup A Bedtime And Stick With It
Knowing what activities are part of a solid bedtime routine is only half of the equation. If you haven’t really had a bedtime routine, it may seem like a big change for both of you. Don’t worry! You don’t have to make a huge change all at once.
Think of the changes you want to make, and make them as slowly as you need to. Start with one activity for a day or two and then add in the next one. The best part, your toddler will most likely love the extra attention they are getting before bed, and they’ll probably not fight you too much.
Think About Your Family’s Routine
Before you set a bedtime routine, think about the everyday family routines you have. If everyone gets home at 6:30 pm every day, you may need to shorten your bedtime routine to be able to fit in everything else you have in the evenings.
If you have other children in the house, you may want to think about how you can do some of the activities as a family, but others as a one-on-one bonding opportunity. For example, if you have two kids, you can read together as a family, let them go to their separate rooms, and when it’s time, tuck them in separately.
This will give them both some special time with you each night. This can take five minutes to tuck each of them in; it doesn’t have to be a long process. You are probably ready for your own PJs and bed by this time of night!
Set A Bedtime
Once you have thought about your family needs, set a bedtime. The bedtime you choose should be kept as consistent as possible. When their bedtime is set, think about how long their bedtime routine starts and take that amount of time away from bedtime. That should be when you start the bedtime routine. For example, if bedtime is at 7 pm, and their bedtime routine is 30 minutes long, start their routine at 6:30 pm.
Of course, there will be one-off nights where you stay out later than normal, but for the most part, you should try to stick to the bedtime you’ve established. This helps your toddler adjust to the routine easier. As they get used to this bedtime, they’ll likely be tired at that time every night, whether you are at home for bedtime or out later than usual.
Tuck Them In And Say Goodnight
Once you have completed their bedtime routine, it’s time to tuck them in and say goodnight. Since you have already done the snuggling, reading, singing, and anything else in the routine, this should be a quick process. Your toddler should stay in their room, but we all know sometimes toddlers have a mind of their own!
If they’re always asking for water every night, add a sip of water into the bedtime routine. The same goes for if they’re always hungry. Before they brush their teeth, offer them a healthy snack. This way, they won’t be able to fall back on the tried and true “get out of bed” tricks.
Now that you know why a bedtime routine is so important for toddlers, you can use our tips and tricks to establish the best routine for your little one! We hope this brings you many happy, easy bedtimes to come, with sound, restful sleep…for everyone in the house!
At Caribu, we get so much joy in bringing families together through their love of books. What better way to get kids to develop a love of reading than by having their grandpa read them a story before bed, even if they aren’t even in the same place?