Saturday, December 11

Toddler Won't go to Bed at Night

Question:  My toddler doesn’t want to go to sleep at bedtime, and when she finally does, it’s 1am.  How can I get her to sleep by 7pm or 8pm?
Answer: 
The main thing you need to do is have a very strict, structured bedtime routine.  For example:
7:00 bath
7:20 out of bath, brush teeth, get P.J.'s on
7:30 two books with Mommy
7:40 lights out

You can change the times as you need, but it needs to be the same activities, every night, at the same time.  You cannot do three books instead of two, you cannot let her play longer in the tub, and you cannot let her get her way when she screams to stay up longer.  She needs serious routine because toddlers thrive on knowing what will come next and what to expect.  She will push and push to make sure you mean what you say, but she WANTS you to stick to the routine because it gives her security. 

She needs to feel secure in your love for her, and she needs to learn how to comfort herself to sleep.  If (for example) she only goes to bed cuddled up with mommy, then that is what she has "learned" as the correct way to go to sleep.  You have to teach/show her a different way.  This is all explained in my book and it gives you tons and tons of strategies to create a positive environment and stop reinforcing behavior you don't want to see.

So start with a strict routine and make sure you stick with it every single night.  When bedtime comes, she goes down.  Period.  Don't let her talk you into four more books, or three more glasses of water.  Make sure she has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, and project your love and security on to her.  Stay firm and loving.  

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