It’s up to you to establish the right atmosphere for your toddler to go to sleep. It is very important that your toddler have the same routine each night before and at bedtime.
During your little one’s bedtime routine is not the time to yell or talk loudly, be on the computer, tv or long phone call, or do anything but focus on your toddler.
The more you focus on your child’s routine, the more likely it will be that he or she will go to sleep. If your child feels anxious, unhappy or feels that he is being ignored then the likelihood of him going to sleep like you want him to is not high.
Establish a bedtime routine as soon as possible. This is THE number one thing you can do and is best for you and your toddler.
Do the same thing each night at bedtime. For example:
Bath time, Brush your teeth, get into bed, dim the lights, read 2 stories, leave the room.
It really helps if you make one of the stories the same ‘go to sleep’ story every night. That will eliminate the ‘just one more story’ whine that kids are good at and it will also prepare the child to sleep. A good book for this is It’s Time to Sleep by Kiplyn Garrett. It helps prepare the child to stay in bed and sleep by letting him know everyone else goes to sleep too.
A routine is the most important thing to establish sleep time for your child. Remember: what is ‘routine’ for you may not seem routine for your child if anything disrupts it. For example, if you get a phone call during story time – that may just be a momentary diversion for you but it can be very disruptive for children. Be patient with your child if that is the case. It’s easy for adults to get impatient in those situations which the child picks up on and becomes ‘difficult’ which makes sleep difficult for him or her.
Also, one last tip – make your toddler’s bed a happy place. Let them have their favorite toys with them. Tuck the toys in at night and so forth. Never use the bed for punishment (ex: don’t say “sit on your bed for 5 minutes” as punishment when the child doesn’t behave well.)