Kids, parenting

Tried and True Toddler Bedtime Routine

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How to Establish a Toddler Bedtime Routine that Works!

Structuring a bedtime routine for our toddler has made a world of difference in our home!  It may look a bit daunting, but I assure you that these aren’t long drawn out steps. They are short, simple, and easy for our young toddler to understand, remember, and implement. Consistency is truly the key.

  1. Clean Up Time

Start things off by getting the house in order so that everyone can have a clear mind.  At our house, our living area also doubles as our play area so getting it cleaned up gives us a good starting point.

  1. Get Ready for Bathtime

We have our kids put their dirty clothes into the hamper while we prepare their shower or bath.  Something that we like to implement with our kids is how to sort. We have three separate baskets. One for whites or lights, one for dark clothing, and one for towels. I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old that have it mastered and that also help the younger ones.  This makes my life so much easier on laundry day!

  1. Baths and Pajamas

Each of my kids takes a bath every night, so we make it fun! I invested in some good bath toys that I can’t rave enough about. We have some little boats and caterpillar stacking cups. Bubble bath is always a hit too! While kids are bathing, one parent stays and makes sure everyone gets all washed up and the other one lays out pajamas so that kids can quickly dry off and get dressed.

  1. Go to the Bathroom and Brush Teeth

Once everyone is settled and warmed up from bath time, we send our kids off to brush their teeth and go potty. Something we have struggled with in the past is making sure our kids actually brush for a good length of time, so special toothbrushes are always given as fun gifts for holidays. And just to be sure there isn’t any fighting, they also have separate tubes of toothpaste that are only theirs to use. Trust me, you will thank me when your kids aren’t yelling at each other in the bathroom over something silly.

  1. Story Time

My kids love to read!  We all pile on the couch with a huge comfy blanket that we can all fit under. We have always made time to read at least one family favorite story each night.  Some of our favorite books are Goodnight Gorilla, Spot Goes to the Library and Brown Bear Brown Bear. But we have a large collection that our kids can choose from. It can get a little out of hand, so we try to limit our book reading to 2 or 3 books per night and let the kids take turns picking. 

  1. Prayers and Kisses

After we all have story time, we have a family prayer and then send our kids off to their own rooms to do their individual prayers. If our kids request it, my husband and I switch off with which kid we accompany and then tuck them in.  We give goodnight kisses and hugs and have cuddle time if some special one-on-one time is needed.

Expectations of staying in bed and sleeping all night are always gone over as well, especially if it’s something we are working on or struggling with. If you struggle with your kids staying in bed be sure to read How to Get Your Toddlers to Stay in Bed. My husband and I like to give our kids fun little quizzes of what is appropriate to come to mom and dad for and what is not.  

So I would say something like, “What if you feel like you need a drink?” and they would respond with, “Nope!”  or “What if your tummy is hurting?” they would say, “come and get you!” I like to think that if you make it fun, the response from your kids is more positive.

  1. Praise

For our younger kids, we always let them know how proud we are of them the next morning after staying in bed!  Having a sticker chart where my son gets to put a star on himself for each day is something we have done for each one of our kids. As they get older, we also work toward a bigger goal where they can earn something special of their choosing.  

There you have it 7 steps to a successful Toddler bedtime routine!

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~Written by Shiree.

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7 thoughts on “Tried and True Toddler Bedtime Routine”

  1. Rewards for staying in bed has always worked well for my kids. It’s just finding what reward motivates them the most that can be tricky. For my oldest, if she stayed in bed then the next morning she got to have a piece of sugar free gum. She loved it and we were happy too!

  2. This is such a great straightforward routine – nice work! I like that you keep each step short and simple. And the praise afterward for a job well done is SO important! #wanderingwednesday

  3. I needed to read this today! My almost 2 year old is being hellish at bedtimes, but I’m being strict and implementing a routine whether she likes it or not. She keeps getting out of bed too but I’ve found that the key is to take her back to bed silently, tuck her back in, and for me to go back downstairs. It’s so much easier having 2 parents around though! My husband always did bath and bedtime and now that he’s on tour I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all!!! I’m sure we’ll get there in the end!

  4. Great routine here! I feel like knowing what to put in a bedtime routine makes it so you know how many minutes ahead of time you need to start. I know we can get overwhelmed when kids are not in bed and it’s 8:30, an hour past normal, but really it’s because we didn’t “start” the routine on time. Great tips!

  5. Great suggestions! We have a similar routine but sometimes it feels like it takes FOREVER! We’ve started putting on what we call “pump up music” to try and help the kids stay on task at some stages, which helps a bit!

  6. This is an awesome bedtime routine! I need to work on getting ours to be stricter. We let them get away with too much after all the routines are done with! Tonight, my husband did get the four year old to go to bed before midnight so I’m going to call that a win- haha. Great post! ❤ Jamie

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