Older toddlers and bedtime routines

Most toddlers will try to come out of their room when they have been put to bed. Your older toddler can learn that she needs to stay in bed so that she can go to sleep.

She may want to get out for all kinds of reasons (e.g., she's more independent, wants more control of her life, anxious about being away from you). She may beg to stay up, refuse to lie down or even have a temper tantrum. Stay calm - especially if she is not.

You can promote peaceful bedtimes by providing warmth and structure.

  • Provide warmth.
    • Realize that many children find moving to a bed both exciting and scary.
    • Reassure your child that you are near and will keep her safe.
  • Provide structure.
    • Keep bedtime calm and quiet.
    • Close her door, but don’t lock it. Most fire departments recommend closing all bedroom doors at night to protect your family from fire and smoke. Locking her door can frighten her and can be dangerous.
    • If she comes out of the bedroom after you've put her to bed, take her hand, walk her back to her room, remind her that it's bedtime and tuck her in.
    • Avoid arguing. Simply say “It’s time for bed". You may have to do this many times for several nights before she accepts it.
    • Be kind and firm. By being kind, you let her know you understand she would rather stay awake. By being firm, you let her know that it really is bedtime.
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