How can I tell if my child is ready for bed?

Q: My toddler never gets sleepy. How can I tell when he's ready for bed?

A: Young kids don't show sleepiness the way grown-ups do (by becoming quiet and less active); in fact, they may do the opposite. When a toddler is worn out he's more likely to become overactive, cranky, and extremely talkative. Instead of waiting for your child to act sleepy, watch out for these behavioral cues that could indicate that your toddler should call it a day. Since it's also more difficult for a kid to fall asleep if he's totally exhausted and overwrought, it can be helpful to learn to predict when your toddler will be tired before the meltdown begins. You can do this by simply observing him carefully for about a week -- chances are his behavior will begin to deteriorate at or around the same time each night. Once you establish what his particular "witching hour" is, start the bedtime routine slightly earlier. You'll probably find that your toddler drifts off to dreamland more easily and wakes up less during the night.

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