I’d like to share what works for my toddler (20 months old) at bedtime. After much trial and error, I’ve learned that a routine is simply the easiest way to transition into bedtime. I use the term “routine” loosely; I don’t always put my little one to bed at exactly the same time, but the process remains consistent.
I look to her to know when the time is right. By this I don’t mean she runs the show, but it will only take longer if I try to put her down too early. Sometimes we have a busy day with less napping, this usually leads to an earlier bedtime. Other times we have a low key day with a good nap, that means a bit later to bed. Regardless of the time, I can tell when she starts to rub her eyes a lot that she’s pretty tired.
I let Dad get involved. When I know our little one is definitely tired, I will say “Come on, Daddy’s going to brush your teeth!” She loves to be in the bathroom, so this usually gets her interested in the process, plus I use those few minutes to pick up her room or make sure her favorite stuffed animal is in her bed.
I get her involved. Once her teeth are brushed, she gets to do the next 2 simple things, which she seems to really enjoy. We use a noise machine, so I say “Time to turn on your machine!” and she will run over and hit the button. Then (after giving us hugs & kisses) one of us will lift her up so she can reach her light switch to turn it off.
After that, I put her in bed and tell her I love her and will see her in the morning. Sometimes she will babble for a bit, but she’s usually asleep soon after this process.
I realize this may not work for everyone, but I spent months making bedtime harder on myself than it needed to be! When she was first sleeping in her own room I would hold her hand and wait for her to fall completely asleep (I know, crazy new mom). That worked for a while, but sometimes she would wake up as soon as I pulled my hand away, which meant I started all over again until she fell back to sleep.
How do you put your little one to bed?