Get Your Child to Learn to Love Bedtime

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Three surefire ways to end evening battles.

Even when your toddler or preschooler is exhausted, he or she still may resist being put to bed. And you can’t blame tots: In their eyes, all the exciting stuff happens after the lights go out, and they’re not being included! Luckily, with a few small tweaks to your evening schedule, you can help make bedtime a fun part of your child’s day that he or she will actually look forward to.

  1. Be Consistent. Good sleep hygiene starts with consistency, which means that it’s best for your child to go to sleep at the same time every night, whether she needs to be up at a certain time in the morning or not. This helps set your child's body clock (a.k.a. circadian rhythm), so he or she is less likely to become overtired and cranky during the day and nighttime routines are less likely to become stressful or difficult.
  2. Create a Fun Routine. If bedtime is something that your child looks forward to—rather than dreads—he or she will be more likely to be on board with the idea of settling down at night. Create a relaxing routine as the time draws near that includes one or two of her favorite activities. Read stories together in bed, put on a shadow puppet show, listen to calm music, or give your child a bath.
  3. Provide Comfort. If you believe that your child has an issue with bedtime because of separation anxiety, give your kid a transitional object to help get him or her through the time alone. Transitional objects often take the form of something soft and cuddly, like a blanket or special stuffed animal. Nighttime can provide many difficult obstacles for small children (being alone, the dark, etc.), so providing something comforting to physically cling to can be a big help.

Of course, these three steps aren’t magic, and developing new habits take time. But once you create a consistent, enjoyable, relaxing routine, your kid is more likely to excitedly anticipate her sendoff to dreamland.