How to Get a Toddler to go to bed and stay there

First, create a routine that’s the same every night. This will help your little one’s body and mind prepare for rest. Take a bath or read a book. Sing a quiet song with the lights out. If your child still resists, you might let her take a small toy to bed and play with it (in bed, in the dark) till she falls asleep.

If you’ve been lying in bed with your cherub till he falls asleep, transition yourself out of the process. Start by sitting at the foot of the bed till he falls asleep, then in the doorway or in the hall. If he cries when you leave, tell him you’ll come back to check on him when he’s calm. When you do come back, don’t engage in conversation. Give him a kiss and walk out.

If your babe wakes up in the night, don’t let her crawl into bed with you. Carry her back to bed and remind her that big girls sleep in their own beds. If she’s had a bad dream, help her think of a favorite movie or memory to change her thoughts. You might sing her a song or say a prayer to comfort her, but don’t drag it out. Show her you’re confident in her ability to put herself back to sleep.

Finally, if your toddler really has trouble falling asleep, it may be time to cut or shorten his nap. If you find you still need a break from each other, transition naptime to quiet playtime in his room.

Part of being a good parent is making sure your little one, and you, get enough sleep. A few simple changes can make a world of difference in how you’re both able to cope with the day. If your babe doesn’t take to the new routine at first, don’t give up. Be consistent; she’ll figure it out.

Here are a couple more resources you might find helpful:

The Sleepeasy Solution, by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack

The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years, by Harvey Karp

P.S. If you liked this article, you might like these too: Three things I wish I'd taught my kids when they were toddlers, making bath time family time, and tips for teaching your toddler to be a normal human.

Scroll to top