Every evening, the battle of the titans begins: Toddler vs. Parent. It seems like almost every toddler has an extreme fear of missing out and sleep is the last thing on their to do list. However, sleep is important for toddlers; it helps them learn and makes them more pleasant people during the day. This makes it very important that the parents win, and get their toddlers to sleep. And one of their greatest powers is to use the power of rituals.
The importance of rituals
Daily rituals are important for children (it also works for adults). Doing something every day, in the same order just before bedtime, builds up sleep association. The predictability also gives a sense of security in a world still so big and unfamiliar for a toddler. It gives them comfort and control.
Another big plus about using rituals is it gives children time to wind down. It gives them time to process the day and get in the mood for sleeping. It is important though that bedtime rituals are calming and relaxing.
There are a ton of rituals you can try with your kid, but it is important that you don’t make the process of going to bed too long and ensure it is enjoyable for the both of you. So, choose a few rituals (don’t do all of them) you will do every day in the coming years. Here are a few rituals that can be calming and relaxing for your toddler, but be aware that it should fit their little personality and preferences:
- Bath time: A warm, relaxing bath can make your little one feel relaxed and wind down.
- Put on special sleeping clothes: If you let your toddler sleep in a PJ or night gown that is just for sleeping and very comfortable, it will help them through the association of sleep.
- Read a bedtime story: A happy and fun bedtime story helps your child get in a good mood for bed and reading to your child gives them a great advantage in their language development.
- A foot massage: Some children love a good foot rub. And warm feet make falling asleep a lot easier.
- Spraying a calming sent: Scents like lavender and jasmine are known for their calming abilities. Adding a scent in the mix can help difficult sleepers to sleep in quicker.
- Listen to relaxing music: Some toddlers benefit from listening to some calming music in their bed or before bedtime.
- Talk about their day: Talking about happy things that happened that day and things to look forward can help your child to process and get into a happy state.
- Cuddling: A minute of cuddling is very calming and comforting for both mom and kid.
- Nursery rhymes: A song or rhyme just before you leave is always a good idea. Kids love songs, and it’s a very clear end of the bed ritual.
Keep it predictable
The order of the rituals is also very important. This keeps it predictable, and your toddler knows what is coming. For anxious or very strong-willed children, make a visual schedule. Pictures with the order of the bedtime ritual give them a feeling of control. And even with no visual routine, the right order is essential for the little negotiators. Leave no room for discussion; keep it straight and simple. And when it’s all done, just say goodbye and leave them be.
A predictable calming bedtime routine filled with relaxing rituals is the key to overcoming bedtime struggles with your toddler. Some nights will go better than others, but keep hanging in there. After a few nights (or for some toddlers a few weeks) of persistence, they will learn that going to bed is inevitable, and they will get in the mood for sleep by sleep association. Good luck parents! Win the night time battle!
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