Toddler Bedtime Makeovers
Put three common sleep battles to rest with these expert strategies.
Situation: Your toddler always throws a tantrum at bedtime.
Solution: "Your little one is simply trying to take control of the situation," says Dr. Brown. "So let him make some decisions -- like which pajamas he'll wear. If he feels he has a say in the process, he's more likely to go with the flow." Another idea: Save a favorite activity for bedtime. "I worked with one father and son who fought about bedtime every single night," says Dr. Mindell. "Then they added five minutes of playing together in bed with G.I. Joe before they turned the lights out. Now the son can't wait for bedtime."
Situation: You go to bed with your husband and wake up with your little one wedged between you.
Solution: Be consistent about returning your child to her bed. (If you sleep through these visits, install a bell on your bedroom door to wake you as she enters.) "Pick her up and put her back into bed," advises Dr. Weissbluth. "Since companionship is what she's looking for, don't talk to her." Or install a safety gate to your child's bedroom. (If your kid is a good climber, you may need to use one on top of the other.)
Situation: Your child keeps waking up at 5 a.m.
Solution: Whatever is waking him up may be fixable, such as too much early-morning light (try room-darkening shades) or garbage trucks outside (think white noise machine). That said, some kids are just early risers, and there's not much you can do to change an internal clock. If your child rises early and also doesn't sleep well at night, you may want to gradually push his bedtime earlier.