Bathtime is over. Book(s) are read. Dinner and bottle devoured. All that’s left before hitting the sofa is bedtime. But your toddler has other ideas. And they involve a lot less sleeping soundly and a lot more pulling every stuffed animal off the shelf than you had planned.
If you are struggling with the fine art of getting your toddler to go to sleep, then we have a step-by-step plan that is sure to suit both you and your stubborn sleeper!
Here’s our tongue-in-cheek guide for how to put a toddler to bed (and stay there) in 23 easy-to-follow steps.
STEP 1. Tuck toddler in.
Offer a kiss, a cuddle and a stuffed animal to sleep with. Leave the room.
STEP 2. Get called back by toddler.
Return to room to discover you have given toddler the wrong teddy. Toddler cannot sleep without the right teddy.
STEP 3. Scour the house looking for the ‘right’ teddy.
Give up and offer to buy a new teddy tomorrow. Repeat step one.
STEP 4. Attempt to count to ten. Make it to four before toddler calls out again.
It’s too dark in the room. Turn on the night light.
STEP 5. Be informed by toddler that now it’s too light.
Dig out the camping gear and give your tot a torch to sleep with. Watch toddler turn torch on and off 85 times. Regret decision instantly. Leave the room while toddler is entertained by the torch.
STEP 6. Make it halfway down the hallway before being requested to return to the bedroom.
What could possibly be wrong this time? “Me thirsty.” “Me hungry.” “Me hot.”
Oh, and the blanket is itchy. Offer water. Cut up a banana. Change tot’s pyjamas. And spray the blanket with a magical ‘itch-be-gone’ solution of air. Repeat step one.
STEP 7. Arrive in the living room.
Get cosy on the sofa and put your feet up. You’ve earned it.
STEP 8. Hear pitter-patter of little feet coming from behind you.
Look up to see your wide-eyed, wide-awake wee one grinning from ear to ear.
STEP 9. Listen to your child’s convincing argument about why “me not tired”.
Deny toddler’s request to watch TV with you. Walk tot back into the bedroom and repeat step one.
STEP 10. Wait in the hallway.
At this stage, it’s probably best to give up on the idea of actually making it to the lounge.
STEP 11. Watch toddler open the bedroom door.
Quickly shoo tot back into bed in your firmest voice possible.
STEP 12. Return to your position in the hallway.
Possibly doze off for a few minutes. Notice toddler hasn’t attempted to escape.
STEP 13. Peak into the room to see if tot is finally asleep.
Discover your completely naked child playing blocks on the floor. Torch still on. Oh, and the main bedroom light too.
STEP 14. Redress tot and return to bed.
Make a promise with yourself to start the bedtime routine two hours earlier tomorrow.
STEP 15. Listen to toddler cry out “Mummy” in that oh-so-angelic voice.
Attempt to ignore the sounds and pray that perhaps tonight is the night your cheeky cherub learns how to self-settle. Wait five minutes before admitting defeat and going in.
STEP 16. Bring out the bribery.
Negotiate that if toddler goes to sleep now, then they can skip a nap tomorrow. And have a treat. Pray that toddler is too exhausted to remember the conversation in the morning.
STEP 17. Assume hallway position.
Consider getting a pillow to sit on.
STEP 18. Return to toddler’s room yet again.
This time it’s too quiet. Offer to sing a song.
STEP 19. Discover that you are singing the song wrong.
Change tone and lyrics to suit toddler’s requirements. Finish song and notice toddler’s eyes are FINALLY shut.
STEP 20. Attempt to get off the bed.
Watch toddler’s eyes snap back open. Re-sing song 18 more times. Make a mental note to learn some new songs.
STEP 21. Close eyes for a moment…
Wake up to see toddler sitting up in bed, staring at you.
STEP 22. Make a deal with toddler.
You will stay until your tot falls fast asleep… but this means lying down now and closing those little eyes. Thank the sleep gods when toddler complies.
STEP 23. Wake up six hours later, still in toddler’s bed and with a leg draped over your body.
Wedge yourself out from under your tot, crawl across the carpet to avoid any creaks and make a mad dash for your own bed. Freedom! And all it took was 23 super simple steps.
Now that you’ve got your little one to sleep, prepare for another day of contented chaos with our step by step guide on how to get out of the house (and almost on time) with a tot in tow.