Overcoming Baby's Bedtime Battles

Toddlers (18 months to 2 1/2 years)

Any toddler worth her froggy boots will try her best to avoid bedtime. Even if she's been a good sleeper, your toddler's newfound sense of independence is going to interfere with calling it a day. There's too much going on in the world that she doesn't want to miss, even if it's seemingly dull things like you vacuuming and doing the dinner dishes. But even though they're hard-wired to be contrary, toddlers need routine more than ever.

Typical Bedtime Battle #3: Your Tot Won't Stay in Bed

family in bed

These are the years when children typically transfer from the crib into a big-kid bed. A big deal, to be sure. But it can be an even bigger headache for parents hoping to get some much-needed shut-eye.

Solution: Consider holding off on the big-kid bed. Developmentally, some children are simply not ready for a bed until the third birthday. They might not even understand the idea of staying put. Kids who were great sleepers in a crib often fall apart when expected to stay in a bed with no restraints. Of course, if he's climbing out and you're worried about his safety, or you need the crib for number two, well, you have to do what you have to do. Expect that the novelty of being in a big-kid bed will cause some after-bed activity. How do you keep a toddler in bed? The answer may depend on what he's doing out of bed. If he leaves her room, you'll need to calmly escort him back, giving as little attention as possible. (Any excitement will cause him to keep doing it.) If he stays in his room, pulling out books and toys, you may choose to ignore it, depending on how long he stays up. Jodie Mathies, of Oakland, California, says that when her daughter was 2, she let her play after her official bedtime as long as she was quiet and stayed in her room. "I would generally check on her an hour or so later. She would be asleep, often wearing different clothes and sometimes fairy wings."

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