How to Establish a Sleep Routine for Your Toddlers

How to Establish a Bedtime Routine for Toddlers

If you are hoping this is going to be a foolproof instructional guide on how to train your toddler to sleep, you might as well click away now because as you will find out very quickly (or recently have discovered) every child is different.

Different doesn’t always mean difficult. It can simply mean that what worked for one child will not work for another. In which case, it is always good to have a few backup ideas that other mums and dads have tried and tested with their toddlers when establishing bedtime routines.

Toddlers, routine, sleep – can they be successfully combined?

You often hear horror stories of toddlers that once slept great and now they flat out refuse to go to sleep at a reasonable hour before your eyes are hanging out of your head or you’re sleeping on their bedroom floor patting their bottoms intermittently. These are unfortunate circumstances and thankfully it doesn’t always last long. The key to making a bedtime routine work is simplicity.

Bath time

Dinner time is finished and your little one has a full belly and is covered in food, whether your toddler prefers the bath or shower this will become the start of the end of their day. Bubbles and a fresh face will provide many smiles but more importantly, it will also begin to relax them from their very busy day.

Brush your toddlers’ teeth

If you don’t brush your little ones teeth while they are in the bath, do it before you dress them, just in case they spit or dribble toothpaste down their pyjamas. This is also a great habit to get them in because they will be doing it for the rest of their lives. Start young and they will learn how to do it correctly to look after their teeth!

Pyjama time

Just like you, they love the feeling of fresh pyjamas on their clean body. If they are at the age where they are growing their independence, let them have a choice of which pyjamas they would like to wear. In my experience, if they feel like a ‘big kid’ it will also encourage them to act a little more grown up and if you are lucky, they will also stay in their own ‘big bed’ all night.

Read books or lullabies

So your toddler is now fed, bathed and dressed. It is time to kick the relaxing mood into gear with some softly sung lullabies or by reading a few of their books. Just like adults, you don’t feel like doing the same thing every day so sometimes they may prefer one over the other. You may opt to have a song player softly singing in the background or you may favour singing to your toddler yourself, either way it is guaranteed to calm them.

If reading is more their thing don’t be tricked into reading 30 books, stick to a number that is practical or better yet decide on a time limit (depending on the age of your toddler 15-20 minutes should be sufficient). Reading is great for encouraging their imagination and is also fantastic for bonding with your child.

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It is now time for bed. If your toddler has a bottle of milk give it to them while you tuck them into their bed. Give them their teddy, blankie, security toy and kiss them goodnight.


At such a young age predictability offers toddlers a sense of security which is important in establishing a sleep routine. Consistency allows them to know what happens next in their day and helps them to understand why certain activities are taking place.

Avoid stimulants

It is easy to fall into the trap of letting your child stay up late one night and watch a bit of TV with you but for the sake of keeping their sleep routine on track, consider opting for cuddles instead. Who wouldn’t prefer cuddles and bonding anyway!

You may have been very casual when they were younger and now realised they are a nightmare come sleep time, but I have some good news for you. It’s never too late to start a bedtime routine for your toddler.

Put an end to the bedtime struggle and put these ideas into action.

Do you have any suggestions for parents struggling to establish a bedtime routine for their toddler? Help another tired mum out and share your tips below!

Kell Kelly


Tags: Parenting
Kell Kelly

Kell Kelly is a mum, a wife to her childhood sweetheart and a writer. She shares her home in the picturesque Hunter Valley wine region with her husband and 4 children. When she isn’t working at home, folding laundry or chasing the kids to put on their shoes; she enjoys discovering her surroundings, taking in the great outdoors and spending some much needed time with her husband. Prior to...

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