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

My toddler never gets sleepy. How can I tell when he's ready for bed?
Submitted by Parents.com Team

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.

Copyright 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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My husband and I noticed that our son started running circles in the living room about 30 minutes before his usual bedtime. I made the mistake at first of thinking he wasn't tired. I learned the hard way....being up all night...that he was actually fighting sleep. I just set a bedtime, give or take 30 minutes depending on the days activities, and make him stop and go to bed. It seemed to work pretty well.
Submitted by abpete001
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