It seems like some toddlers never want to go to sleep. They keep making up excuses right before bed to prolong having to go to sleep. From “Can I have a drink of water?” To “Just one more hug.” We have heard it all.
Procrastination at bedtime is very common in young children. There are a few reasons why your toddler may not want to go to bed, such as: wanting more time with you, fear of going to sleep, or not wanting to be separated from you. In today’s society we are more “go, go, go” and typically do not have as much time as we would like, so our kids try to get that attention at night. During their bedtime routine this may be the only time they are getting full undivided attention. I know it may be hard not having them go to bed when “you” are ready, but try to enjoy these golden hours.
There are many things you can do to help your child to go to bed when they do not want to. Having a consistent bedtime routine, such as a bedtime story, a gradual dimming of the lights, a warm bath, and/or a back rub. Start bedtime early, around 7 o’clock and avoid very active play. Use an alarm clock, egg timer, or sand timer to signal how long before bed, such as “Once the last bit of sand falls it is bedtime” or “We are going to bed in 5 minutes when the timer goes off.” Lie down with your child and read a story or listen to a calming audio book. Listen to calming music during the bedtime routine and after lying down. Lastly if you consistently notice that your child isn’t truly tired try having an hour or earlier in the day (3-4 pm) have exercise time.
If you have tried all of the tips and are still having issues there may be something else causing them not to sleep. In this case I would recommend scheduling an appointment with me to discuss your child’s daily schedule, their diet, and exercise.
-Dr. Kenneth Akey