Toddlerhood is a time full of changes and new things. Not only is your little one starting to better understand the people, places and things around him… he’s now experiencing happy dreams, night terrors, new emotions, understanding and forming fears, figuring out cause and effect… all things that can overwhelm a tiny little being; especially one that doesn’t fully understand that the monster in his dream is not real. Unfortunately bedtime challenges can come up during these changes, and shake some things up for your child, you and your family.
Here are some ways to help your toddler adjust and hopefully embrace bedtime.
1. Create a Routine
Creating and/or keeping an existing routine helps little minds and bodies adjust naturally and feel a sense of security. Your child will know what to expect, what is coming next, and probably will defy you here and there, but keeping to your routine (and talking through it or forewarning your child what is coming next) will most likely help you both in the long run.
2. Read “Happy Books”
Sometimes reading books (especially right before bed) that share the message, “Monsters Are Not Real” has a reverse effect. To a little guy, all he hears is the part about the monster. That can then become the main focus for the rest of the night.
3. Security Blankets
Allow your older toddler/child to select a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to join him in the bed. Sometimes the open space around the child, while in bed, can get scary… having a blanket or animal to snuggle with sometimes helps calm an anxious child.
4. Dim Nightlights
If your child is scared of the dark, use a dim nightlight to help ease fears. Look into dresser night lights (like the Boon Glo or Mobi GloMate). This is a good time to make sure your child’s dresser is secured to the wall– something shiny at the top of a dresser can prompt a child to climb.
5. Video Monitors
Video monitors are not just for infants! We use our video monitor for our preschooler, too. It’s a good way to see what he’s up to when we think he’s sleeping and a good way to check on him (instead of opening the door when he’s about to fall asleep).
6. Remove All Toys
We remove all toys and leave the books and a few stuffed animals in our children’s rooms. Having toys in a toddler’s room is a bedtime distraction that can easily be avoided.
7. Comfort your child
You know your child. You know his cries and sneaky ways and now that he’s a toddler, he’s using the cries and sneaky ways more and more at this stage… to get your attention. So use your instincts. Comfort your child when you feel he’s in need of some reassurance or just one more kiss and hug.