Stop Toddler Bedtime Battles

Sleep struggles are common among 2- and 3-year-olds, and when you take a look at the huge developmental changes they're going through, it's easy to see why. Use our guide to find out what's behind your kid's restless nights and to help get her on a saner sleep schedule.

Toddlers Like to Control Bedtime

Kids this age are learning that they have some power in the world, and they'll seize any opportunity to use it. So don't be surprised if your mini Trump says just about anything to stall his bedtime -- even if he's about to fall asleep mid-sentence.

Rest easier by... making small tweaks to your child's bedtime routine. You should still stick to the basics -- a bath, a story, some cuddling, then lights-out -- but let him make small decisions along the way, suggests Jill Spivack, cocreator of the book and DVD The Sleepeasy Solution. Your toddler may be less likely to balk at bedtime if he gets to call a few of the shots. (Red or yellow pj's? Three good-night kisses or four?)

If he cries when you leave his room, explain that it's time to sleep and say that you'll be back to check on him when he's calm, says Brett Kuhn, PhD, a licensed psychologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Children's Sleep Center, in Omaha. Return, as promised, but don't stick around. Or try mom Gina Beltrami's clever sleep strategy: After she tucked in her toddler, Sonny, she set a timer for five minutes. "I told him that I'd sit quietly at the foot of his bed until the timer went off, and then he had to rest by himself," says Beltrami, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "Stalling problem solved!"

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