Does my toddler need a regular bedtime?
Real Mom Problem
“My toddler has no set bedtime which makes me a terrible mom! We have tried everything with him.”
- 1. A consistent and pleasant routine can help your toddler establish a set bedtime
- 2. Consider adjusting the time for bed or eliminating late naps if your toddler doesn't seem ready for sleep
- 3. Bedtime doesn't have to mean sleep. Think about laying your toddler down at the same time every night but allowing books, soft music or stuffed animals until they fall asleep
- 4. If your toddler doesn't have a set bedtime, and it's not affecting their health or behavior (or your mood), that's fine too!
Real Mom Solutions
Should toddlers be allowed to fall asleep when they're ready or do parents need to set a consistent bedtime? See what the moms of CafeMom have to say!
Toddlers Need Strict Bedtimes
I am very strict with bedtimes. In my experience kids do very well when they know what to expect. My kids don't always seem tired but they fall asleep right away. They are not half as cranky when they have a set bedtime. Mine go to bed at 7.
I have learned that a bedtime routine helps my kids during the day. If the schedule is missed they have problems the next day. It is nice to have them in bed at the same time so I can have at least 2 hours of me time.
Bedtime has been 8pm since the girls were born. Our pediatrician said that having a regular schedule for all kids in the house from zero on up is much healthier than just letting them sleep when they drop. So far it has really made a difference in our marriage too, because it gives us time to be together.
Bedtime is the only thing that I am absolutely set on and everyone thinks I'm nuts. Bedtime in our house is 7 pm, and that's final!
My son goes to bed at the same time every night (unless we have plans, which is rare). We read a book or two of his choice and by 8pm, it's bedtime. He knows the routine and seems to look forward to it all. I think the predictability of knowing what's going to happen next is good for him, especially at bed time. There are no fights or issues from our son and my husband and I are ready for a break by 8pm.
Children on inconsistent sleep schedules have poor sleep habits in adulthood or have trouble getting proper sleep in general. This will definitely affect their health (we all know how horrible sleep deprivation is on the body and mood) and will also affect his ability to learn because he'll be too tired (especially if this continues into school-age). Children need predictable schedules. Their bodies are still growing and learning and therefore, it's up to us to teach proper sleep habits.
It's Good to Be Flexible
We never believed in any rigid schedules, just general routines. Therefore, as preschoolers, they were up pretty late most nights. Almost always after 10:30 pm, sometimes much later. It did not matter, as they did not have places they had to be in the morning, so they could sleep in, or just take a nap whenever needed. I consider myself so fortunate that my children have always been so flexible. We never had any "tired cranky" times and never any issues with rigidity due to schedules. I have known moms who will go out with us somewhere and their children would be BEASTS because they were 30 minutes later than usual for their nap or something. My kids were always flexible.
I am not strict with bedtime. My husband usually gets home somewhere between 6:30 and 8:00 pm. I know they need that time with their daddy, so if that means they get to bed at 9:00 or 9:30, that is ok. It works well for us.
I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and he sleeps with me, but he won't sleep alone so he goes to bed when I do which is usually around 11 pm to 12 am.
A Bedtime Convert Shares Her Story
About a year ago we didn't have a schedule at all. They would go to bed when I did or I would just wait for them to fall asleep. I am so happy I changed that! I love having time alone to think and ponder and just chill out after the day I had with them!
Tips for Establishing a Bedtime
Letting my daughter watch a movie on a portable dvd player in her room worked great for us to get a bedtime established.
Start a routine and stick to it. With time she will get the hang of it but you have to stick with it she may not like it at first and may cry but hang in there.
I know that if you are extremely consistent, it can work. You have to take her back to her room each time she gets up, and the first time you tell her its time for bed, second time same thing, third time & every time after that say nothing at all. It will take a few days, maybe longer.