Expert Opinion

Toddlers Fighting Bedtime

Do you know what I love about Toddlers? They are developing their independence, finding where they fit in their world and establishing how boundaries work. Their little brains are soaking in absolutely everything  – I like to call them Explorers.  

All these great attributes of toddlerhood can also be what frustrate parents the most.  When they want to be independent, it may mean battles occur, or things take longer.

Trying to work out where they fit in their work and establish how boundaries work can mean tantrums and tears. It is frustrating, to say the least.

This is all a massive push forward in development, and it can often mean that the most routine things that have worked in the past now become a battle – LIKE BEDTIME?

Bedtime battles are the worst; parents are tired and really craving some quiet time – we love our kids, but the days are busy, and toddlers can be hard work.

If your toddler is fighting bedtime and you are lost as to what to do, just STOP, take a deep breath and go back to basics.

  • Provide clear communication on your expectations.
  • Your mindset is FAIR BUT FIRM” – it is absolutely ok to say no but see if a compromise can be made. Expect rebuttal but stay FIRM.
  • Set your limits and stand by them – youre the parent
  • Understand that boundaries and limits we set actually tell our little ones we care about them; we want to keep them safe
  • Provide choice but not too much. This book or that one? These pyjamas or those?
  • Positive reinforcement and praise for their actions like ‘youre doing a great job of lying quietly’
  • Visual routine charts so they can see their life in picture form. Toddlers can find it hard to follow directions when tired, and they want to be in control of their work. A visual routine chart ticks both of those things off. They can see what they are meant to be doing, and they get to control how it happens, as long as everything gets done on the routine chart, and the final step is them lying in bed.
  • MEDITATION – slow down those toddler’s brains – I absolutely 100% love using childrens meditation tracks to help them settle to sleep
  • Beat them at their own game. If they make ten requests for different things at bedtime, ask them to do those things before they request it. Drink, toilet, one last cuddle.
  • Bedtime is allowed to be fun. We treat parenting so seriously, but for many children, they pick up on our stresses, which can definitely impact how bedtime goes. So, have some fun, a little game of hide-and-seek, putting pyjamas on your head instead of your toddler. We need to fill our toddlers’ connection cup before a long separation occurs, like sleeping all night.
  • Lastly, is it time to alter their routine, do you need to drop their nap or shorten it in length.

I hope these tips and tricks are helpful. Remember that consistency is key, and being calm and confident definitely helps as well.


About the author

Lisa is the founder of Cherish Your Sleep, Co-Regional Director (Australia/Pacific) of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, an experienced certified baby/child sleep consultant and a mother to 3 young children.
She has always loved children and has worked in the industry for over 20 years as a qualified child care worker, working primarily with children aged 0 – 3yrs.
A successful outcome is not only good for the parents and children, but also giver Lisa a sense of satisfaction and happiness – there’s nothing better than hearing from a parent who finally got their first full night sleep since having a child.
Becoming a mum and meeting and seeing other mums struggle with their babies and children’s sleep made Lisa really want to reach out and help. She doesn’t see that there is a one size fits all to helping families – sleep is almost like a Puzzle – you need all the pieces in place to achieve the full picture and those pieces are what she shares with families.
Lisa uses a holistic approach to sleep, focusing on emotional wellbeing of families and ensuring the parent child connection in not only maintained, but enhanced. She knows how easy it is to become overwhelmed and frustrated, so it’s her passion to help find solutions that will work for you, your baby and the rest of your family.
Photo by Gianni Orefice