So here you are... Struggling to get your toddler to sleep at a reasonable time...
You're tired, stressed out and in desperate need of a break...
On the other hand, your toddler is full of energy and seems ready to go for a 5k run!
Now, imagine what it would be like if you could get your toddler to sleep by 7.30pm and the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy and chill out in. Blissful, right?
Well, this article is here to break down why your toddler is not going to sleep early and EXACTLY what you can do to bring that bedtime back to a reasonable hour!
Before we begin, I am going to be honest with you. Dealing with sleep issues is tough.
Sleep deprivation makes all other aspects of parenting harder work so getting the whole family into a healthy sleep routine is vital. If your evening routine is getting disrupted by having a toddler who won’t go to sleep until late then thankfully there are things you can do to get back on track.
Read on to learn more and discover my GOLDEN FORMULA to earlier bedtimes!
Firstly, don’t feel guilty that you want your toddler in bed at a reasonable hour. You are entitled to your child free evening with time to invest in other relationships and yourself.
Although it may take some time and a lot of patience, there are things you can do to bring bedtime forward and restore peace to your evenings.
We all need sleep and toddlers need a lot of it. If they are not getting enough they will become irritable and less likely to learn and develop to their full potential.
An overtired toddler will find it more difficult to settle to sleep.
Is 10pm Too Late For Toddler Bedtime?
In my book, YES.
Now, it is OK to have the odd night when your toddler goes to bed late but I would not recommend making a habit of it.
If your toddler is regularly going to bed at 10pm, then continue reading to learn the Golden Formula to bring their bedtime back to a reasonable time so that you both enjoy your evenings again.
In order for your toddler to get the best out of their day, they need to have adequate age appropriate sleep.
So Your Toddler Won't Go To Bed Until 9/10/11pm...
So, if your toddler won’t go to bed until 9, 10 or even 11pm then you need to take action.
If your child is under 2 years of age, this can be fixed by teaching your baby to self settle. And you can learn more about teaching your toddler to self settle here -> My Baby Won’t Sleep Unless Held.
However, if you have an established bedtime routine and your toddler suddenly starts not wanting to go to bed, then you need to start looking for the cause of this change in behaviour.
- Have they recently transitioned to a bed?
- Have you given in when they started to object to going to bed?
- Have you moved house?
- Did you recently go on holiday where the routine changed for a while?
- Have they been unwell?
In all cases you need to stay calm and stick with the 3B's for a consistent bedtime routine no matter what! Keep reading to learn more about this!
Why Is My toddler going to bed late?
If your toddler is going to bed late you need to look at why they refuse to settle earlier. As well as the reasons above ask yourself:
- Are they watching screens before you try to get them to bed?
- Are you eating dinner late in the evening?
- Do they have older siblings who stay up later?
Now here's the truth... In most cases, your toddler is going to bed late because you are allowing it.
Of course, in your toddler’s ideal world, they want to be with you all the time and spend all day together! Therefore, it is up to you to implement strategies to get your toddler into bed sooner so that you can have some downtime too.
So, if your toddler has been going to bed at 10pm for a while, what are the first steps we can take to get your little one sleeping earlier and regain your evenings?
Establishing a Bedtime Routine
Well, the most obvious place to start is to look at the bedtime routine. I am a great advocate of a healthy and regular evening routine and when your toddler is not going to bed until 10pm, you need a bedtime routine now more than ever.
Having a regular bedtime will ensure your children are getting enough sleep and it will give you time to yourself which is your investment in your parenting for the following day.
A rested parent makes a better parent.
You can establish a bedtime routine from as early as a few months old and this will certainly help to avoid troubles with bedtime later on. However, if you are reading this… then chances are the bedtime routine has gone adrift or maybe you never had one….
Either way, it is now time to get back to basics:
The Three B’s To A Bedtime Routine
It’s as easy as that.
This simple routine should be the foundation of your bedtime routine for years to come and sticking with it will be a life changer.
It is never too early or too late to establish this routine.
The three B’s principle makes up the majority of a bedtime routine, however, you need to remember the following to really nail the evening routine fully.
- Eat dinner around 5-5.30pm
- No screens at all for an hour before bedtime. This includes background TV and your phone. Read my post about Too Much Screen Time to learn more about the negative impact of screens on kids!
- Lower the energy levels after dinner, meaning no energetic games
- Start the bedtime routine no later than 6.30pm.
- Do not stray from the routine as these are the cues for your toddler that bedtime is coming up.
- Make bath time enjoyable. Blow bubbles and play together.
- Give your toddler an incentive to get out of the bath like being able to choose what book you are going to read.
- Get cosy in their favourite pyjamas. If your toddler fights getting dressed, read my Toddler Runs Away When Getting Dressed post to learn how to manage this behaviour!
- Make their bedroom conducive to sleep. Have a white noise machine, keep the room dimly lit and at the right temperature.
- Cosy up and read a calm story together. I have a huge list of my recommended books here -> Parenting Toolbox: Books
- Aim for bedtime to be no later than 7.30pm and settle your toddler with a favourite toy.
It is important to remember that toddlers do not like sudden transitions but they do like knowing what to expect. I will explain more about this in the Golden Formula to shifting bedtimes later! So keep reading!
Bedtimes need to be consistent with your toddler's expectations but carried out at a pace they can cope with.
Other Factors That Affect Toddler Sleep
Here are 3 extra factors that can affect how well your toddler will go and stay asleep.
1. Create A Healthy Sleep Environment
So, as I briefly mentioned earlier, having a healthy sleep environment will definitely help your toddler to sleep peacefully. Setting the perfect stage will give your toddler less excuses to complain that they’re too hot, too cold, afraid of the dark and so on.
Make sure of the following:
- Room is dimly lit with a night light
- The bedroom is the right temperature (use a mini room thermometer)
- Your toddler is wearing the appropriate pyjamas, sleeping bag and has appropriate bedding for the time of year
- Invest in a white noise machine
- Play an audiobook to lull them to sleep
- Let your toddler sleep with a favourite toy or blanket
- Use the same words and or sing the same lullaby as you say goodnight
2. Be Aware Of Day time naps
Sleep breeds sleep... so don’t be tempted to drop day time naps in the hope that your toddler will be ready to go to bed earlier.
Over tiredness will make it even more difficult for your little one to settle at bedtime so making sure they have enough daytime sleep is important. This is especially true when you are trying to get your toddler into healthy sleep habits.
3. Know The importance of daylight
Another thing you can do during the day to help your toddler be more ready for sleep is make sure you get outside in the fresh air every day!
Being out in the daylight taps into your little one's circadian rhythm which makes the body more aware of when they should be awake or be asleep.
Being outside means that your toddler can run around, enjoy physical activity and use up more energy all of which will help get your toddler into bed on time as they will not be so hyper.
Read this article to discover of my favourite Outdoor Activities For Toddlers!
How Much Sleep Does My Toddler Need?
Your toddler is a very busy individual and is learning at a rapid rate. Therefore, sleep is a hugely important factor to their healthy development.
The following guidelines are what sleep your toddler needs in a 24 hour period (including day time naps)
- Toddlers: 1-2 years = 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers: 3-5 years = 10 to 13 hours
What time do most 2 year olds go to bed?
I believe that ALL toddlers from 1 year up should be going to bed no later than 7.30pm.
This bedtime should remain the same for the next 5-6 years and even then, it should only be delayed by a maximum of ½ an hour on occasion.
The fact is that most toddlers are going to bed far too late.
The National Sleep Foundation in America has conducted surveys that have proven that about 30% of children under the age of 11 get less sleep at night than is recommended.
Despite many sleep experts suggesting that young children should go to bed between 6pm and 8pm, the fact is that half of American toddlers and preschoolers, go to bed after 9pm!
This is a very scary fact and as parents, we have a responsibility to ensure our children are getting the best start in life and getting enough sleep is a big part of this!
So how do we go about shifting to an earlier bedtime...?
The GOLDEN FORMULA For Shifting To An Earlier Bedtime
Now, before we begin... Know that shifting to an earlier bedtime will take time and patience from you.
But if you follow this formula, I PROMISE that it will all be worth it for those precious hours of calm in the evenings to come.
Ok... So, if your toddler has been going to bed at 10pm for a while, a sudden change to 7.30pm is NOT going to work. They will kick and scream and have far too much energy for you to handle. It will simply cause tears, tantrums and a meltdown....
So, here's what you do... Here's the Golden Formula to shifting bedtimes!
Start by implementing a bedtime routine which ends with them getting into bed 15 minutes before they would normally crash out.
For example, if your toddler normally crashes out at 10pm, aim to start your bedtime routine at 8.45pm so they are all clean, cosy and reading a book by 9.45pm.
Then reduce the time you START the bedtime routine by 15 minutes every other day.
Gradually, you will be able to work the bedtime back to a reasonable hour and if you've been consistent, your toddler will be well adjusted to the evening routine and will be asleep by 7 - 7.30pm.
It may seem like a simple formula, but it really is GOLDEN. If you can stick with this, you will have a 7.30pm sleeping toddler in no time.
This journey won't be without struggles and as I mentioned before, you need to be willing to sacrifice your time and be patient with your toddler for an earlier bedtime to be possible. A reasonable bedtime is so vital to your toddler and you, so stick with it and it'll all pay off in the end!
Whatever you do, try your hardest to not give into your toddler's demands.
It will only take longer for you to establish a reasonable bedtime down the line.
My Toddler Won't Go To Bed Until 10pm: FINAL ADVICE
So as a final reminder, remember that shifting to an earlier bedtime is HUGELY important to your toddler and should be a priority for you to establish.
Not only will it help them develop properly, it will also give you a couple of child-free hours to recharge your batteries and be the best parent you can be for the following day.
- Start as early as you can with a healthy bedtime routine
- Create a healthy sleep environment
- Be conscious of how many naps your toddler is having
- Appreciate that teething, illness and travelling may disrupt your bedtime routine but try and stick to your normal bedtimes as much as possible
- Get outside everyday!
- When an older toddler wakes up early, encourage them to stay in bed with a book or favourite toy until you say it is time to get up
- Utilise the GOLDEN FORMULA if your toddler has been going to bed late for a while.
Finally, be patient, praise success enthusiastically, be prepared for setbacks and try to stay consistent, calm and loving.
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If you have any further questions about toddler sleep patterns and routines, or if you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about, then please drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know! I love hearing from you!
As always, thank you for your continued support! And until next time, happy parenting!