Sleep is hugely important when it comes to our health and wellbeing and this is particularly true for babies, toddlers and children. Getting plenty of good sleep is vital for children’s physical and mental wellbeing, but parents know all too well the battle that often comes at bedtime with toddlers and children. Issues with relaxation and falling asleep aren’t just problems that adults have to deal with, children and toddlers can actually also have trouble with getting enough sleep and of course, when they can’t sleep, neither can you! 

If you’re constantly battling with your little one when it comes to bedtime, then it might be time to implement a new routine and try different things to find out what helps them settle down and fall asleep, rather than stay up fighting both you and your sleep. Thanks to a new-found confidence and individuality that comes with age, toddlers are especially averse to bedtimes, as almost any parent will tell you. With that in mind, here are 5 top tips for helping your toddler to sleep better. 

Create a consistent bedtime routine

Routines are hugely important for babies and toddlers, especially their bedtime routine. By building a good and consistent routine for bedtime, your toddler will soon begin to associate certain actions and activities with bedtime and feeling sleepy, meaning that they will naturally begin to wind down once started. After dinner, try to eliminate screen time and instead focus on gentle playtime, bath, putting pyjamas on and then brushing their teeth, reading a book and getting into bed. 

Try to stick to the same sequence each evening, starting at the same time and aim to create a routine which is both relaxing and comforting. Soon, your toddler will soon automatically relax and become sleepy at the beginning of their bedtime routine. 

Avoid screen time

Melatonin is a hormone in our bodies which is vital when it comes to sleep cycles and when they are at their highest, we tend to feel sleepy and ready for bed. However, the blue light which comes from TVs, phone and tablet screens and computer monitors disrupt the production of melatonin. If your toddler has their own tablet or likes watching TV, then doing so right before bed can keep them up for around an extra 30-60 minutes on average. Look at making their bedroom a screen-free zone, or at least avoid screens for the 2 hours before bedtime. 

Create a relaxing environment

In your toddler’s bedroom, aim to create an environment which is relaxing and encourages them to go to sleep. Think about the things you like to have in your bedroom, such as soft bedding, blackout curtains or blinds and nice, calm surroundings free from distractions. Creating a sleep-inducing environment is especially important for toddlers as it helps to set the stage for bedtime, so avoid piling soft toys onto their bed and make sure all toys are tidied away before dinner time, so they don’t get the urge to play again when going to bed. When we are calm and relaxed, we are much more likely to fall asleep quicker. 

Eat well 

If your toddler has a diet which consists of processed or sugary foods, then this will have effects on their blood sugar levels and may make them more hyperactive, especially if they have them at dinner time. Try to minimize the amount of sugar and processed foods your toddler is eating and instead give them a balanced and varied diet, full of fruits and vegetables and other natural foods. Keeping dinner times as calm as possible is another great way to help your little one sleep easier, especially if this is the start of your wind down and bedtime routine. 

Mealtimes can be messy with toddlers, but you also want to encourage them to eat at their own pace and get messy, so consider investing in some mealtime tools, such as bibs, cutlery and fun plates to make mealtimes less stressful for you and your toddler. If you don’t want to bath your little one every night after dinner, then baby washcloths can be used instead as a quick solution to getting them clean. 

Alleviate fears

Children and toddlers are innocent little beings and some things that they see during the day can then potentially manifest themselves into fears and worries when it comes to bedtime. The darkness we need to fall asleep can worry small children and this can then cause stress and upset at a time when they need to be calm and relaxed. Instead of dismissing these fears, talk about them instead, but avoid doing this at bedtime as you will just be encouraging the fears and worries to appear again and because children are very clever and will soon realise that bedtime can be stalled if they express their bedtime fears. 

If you find that simple reassurance doesn’t work, then you might need to get more creative with your approach! Use a special toy to “stand guard” during the night or use “monster spray” (this could just be water, or you could use a lavender sleep mist to help create a relaxing and soothing environment) to spray around the room before bedtime.