Getting Children to Sleep Without a Bedtime Battle

Those bedtime battles. Believe it or not, there are ways to tuck in a tired toddler without it turning into a power struggle.

Most of us have been through those bedtime battles, when tucking in a tired toddler becomes a power struggle between our kids and ourselves. Question is, are they unavoidable? In other words, how do we ensure that bedtime doesn’t lead to battle time? Pediatrician Dr. Marvin Gans says the secret is in finding a bedtime routine that works for your family and then sticking with it. “I personally don’t recommend a certain bedtime for any particular age. Every child is different and a bedtime is often dependent on what is going on within the home such as, what time dinner is, and how many other kids there are. Establish a pattern that fits for your family and stick with it.”

Once it is bedtime, how do we convince our toddlers that when the lights go out they should too? Dr. Gans says that to begin with we should avoid getting into a dialogue with our child at bedtime. “There’s no point in debating with your 18 month old child what is an appropriate bedtime. Just say, “This is it! Good night”.

Helping a child prepare for separating from parents will help a child go to bed without a battle. Creating a bedtime routine is an important part of this. An example of a bedtime routine may include bathing the child, putting on their pajamas, saying good night to the rest of the family, reading a story and then kissing them good night. Some experts recommend leaving a small night light on and keeping the bedroom door slightly ajar so the child doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the household.

Once you’ve put your child to bed and have said good night, Dr. Gans believes the parent’s responsibility ends. Instead of battling with your toddler and insisting they shut their eyes and go to sleep Dr. Gans suggests that you “let them read or play while in their room, as children will always get enough sleep. Just put them to bed at the proper hour and leave. They’ll go to sleep when they’re tired.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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