Is your toddler struggling at bedtime – Bedtime tips for 3- 5 year olds

My boys have been a nightmare at bedtimes the last few weeks, they were both in separate bedrooms and this was good for a while but lately they have been in and out of each other’s rooms at night.

I moved both beds into one room thinking this would help but it hasn’t. My 5 year old tells me that his little brother (3 year old) is scared of the dark. I started to leave a nightlight on to solve this problem but now it seems to be a mix of things that’s keeping them awake.

I’ve had excuses from I need a drink, i’m hungry to I am scared of the planets on my bedding… I have really heard it all. They have had a drink, are not hungry and have used the toilet before bed so what am I doing wrong?

Once again I took to the Welsh Government’s website to search Give it Time for tips that could help me out.

I have found a video and some handy tips on how to tackle those bedtime struggles.

The following may help:

  • Think about timing. If your child takes a long time to fall asleep you might be putting them to bed too early.  If they get too wound up to sleep you might be putting them to bed too late.
  • Have a bedtime routine. Do the same thing every night at the same time – drink and (non-sugary) snack – bath – pyjamas – teeth brushed – read a story – lights out. Find the routine that works for your family.
  • Let your child know bedtime is coming up. “When we have finished this game it will be time to get ready for bed”.
  • Avoid too much stimulation before bed. Try to avoid loud or boisterous play or screen-based activity like TV, computers, tablets or other handheld devices. Leave these things outside the bedroom at bedtime.
  • Check your child has done everything that might cause calling out later.Have they had a drink? Been to the toilet? Got their favourite teddy?
  • Give them a safe thing to take to bed like a teddy, or blanket. Leave a night light on or leave the door ajar. Then tuck your child in and say goodnight.
  • Don’t go to their room if they call out unless you think they might genuinely need something. Only go in if you think your child needs your help or something is wrong.
  • If your child keeps getting out of bed. Return your child gently and calmly to their bed without talking to them, making eye contact or telling them off. Do this as many times as it takes until your child stays in bed. You may have to be very patient.
  • If your child goes to bed without making a fuss, praise or reward them the next morning.

If your child keeps waking during the night try to work out why they are waking up:

  • Are they hungry? If your child is over a year old it may help to give them some cereal and milk last thing at night.
  • Are they afraid of the dark? Try leaving a nightlight on in their room or leave a landing light on.
  • Are they waking up because of bad dreams? Try to find out if something is bothering them.
  • Are they too hot or too cold? Check the heating in the room or add or take away a blanket and see if that helps.

Nightmares are quite common between the ages of 18 months and three years. Your child may be worried about something or might have been frightened by a TV programme or story. Comfort your child and reassure them.

You may want to try some bedtime colouring. Please click HERE to download.

Why not try a bedtime checklist. Please click HERE to download.

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