It’s 9pm. You’ve been trying over and over to get your toddler to sleep. But over and over, they refuse to drift off.
Internally you’re screaming “Why do toddlers get hyper before bed?!”
It’s awful. Exhausting. Draining. Infuriating even…
In fact, all you want is for your toddler to blissfully fall asleep so that you can have a moment of quiet to yourself in the evening… Is that really too much to ask?
Why Does My Toddler Get Hyper Before Bed?
Your toddler gets hyper before bed because they’re overtired or overstimulated. When your toddler is overtired, their body produces adrenaline and cortisol to help them stay awake… however, it simply results in them being hyper and agitated.
Causes Of A Toddler’s Hyperactivity At Bedtime
While you should not rule out ADHD as a cause of your toddlers’ hyperactivity at night, I would say that more often than not a child’s hyper behaviour at the end of the day is due to them being:
- Overtired or overstimulated.
- There is a lack of a regular bedtime routine.
- Your toddler is not getting enough daytime sleep.
- They are getting too much screen time before bed.
- They are having too much caffeine, sugar or artificial stimulants before bed (usually from their dinner)
- There are too many high-energy moments in the lead-up to bedtime.
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How Do You Calm A Hyper Toddler At Night?
Many children fall into a vicious cycle of hyperactivity before bed which can be very hard for parents to break. But it’s not because they’ve done anything wrong…
It’s simply a case that they didn’t know where to go next.
So, how do you calm a toddler who keeps getting hyper before bed?
1. Play Your Day Around Sleep
As I always say: sleep breeds sleep.
So if you manage naps correctly during the day, you will find your little one will go to bed far easier because they’re not pumped full of adrenaline.
Most toddlers still need at least one nap per day and some will still need two during the nap transition phase.
You will know what your toddler needs and this may take some adjusting before you hit the right balance, but investing time in getting this right will go a long way in helping reduce hyperactivity before bed.
2. Have A Regular And Healthy Bedtime Routine
If you don’t already have a regular bedtime routine then now is the time to get one.
Toddlers need consistency and they love routine. Having a solid bedtime that prepares your child for sleep will go a long way in ensuring they fall and stay asleep.
A simple book to help you through the bedtime routine and help your toddler wind down at the end of the day is Bedtime by Elizabeth Verdick.
3. Ensure That The Last Hour Before Bed Is Calm
Keeping things calm and simple at the end of the day can help with a child that is prone to hyperactivity.
Discourage lively activities in the last hour before bed and concentrate on lowering energy levels by going on a short calm walk, having a bath, reading a book or playing a calm game.
Another great tool for getting your toddler to calm down is to use a night light projector.
They will be spellbound by the moving reflections on the ceiling and the anti-blue light on LICKLIP’s toddler night light projector means it won’t be overstimulating.
Night light projectors also help with toddler separation anxiety and fears of the dark both of which can easily disrupt your bedtime routine.
There are a lot of night lights out there but I love this one. The perfect bedside lamp is easy to use and projects onto the ceiling. It comes in a range of colours, soft lighting and a timer.
4. Watch For Tiredness Cues
Your toddler’s tiredness cues will be different to when they were a baby. And missing these cues can lead to a toddler who will resist sleeping even when they are desperate for it.
Toddler tiredness cues can include:
- Demands for attention,
- Not wanting to eat,
- Wanting to be picked up,
- And yawning.
5. Ensure You Have The Right Nap Schedule For Your Toddler
As I briefly mentioned above, ensuring your child gets enough sleep over a 24-hour period is crucial to avoiding hyperactive toddlers at bedtime.
Here are some sample naptime routines to ensure your toddler’s sleeping habits don’t interfere with your bedtime preparations:
TOP TIP: Your toddler should be awake for at least 3 hours between their last nap and bedtime.
Schedule For 1 Nap Per Day
Here is a sample 1 nap schedule for toddlers:
Schedule For 2 Naps Per Day
Here is a sample 2 nap schedule for toddlers:
6. Limit Screen Time Before Bed
When asking “why do toddlers get hyper before bed?” you need to take a long hard look at your family’s habits in the evenings.
It is a proven fact that exposure to blue light from screens will inhibit your toddler’s melatonin production which interferes with their natural sleep patterns.
Therefore, it’s advised that you restrict exposure to screens in the run-up to bedtime with no screens at all for at least an hour before bed – and this is for everyone so you set an example to your children.
Instead, go for a calm family walk, read a book together or have a cosy bubble bath.
Another great option is to complete a puzzle together. Doing a puzzle with your toddler before bed is calming and bonding with the added bonus of refining their fine motor skills too.
7. Look For Hidden Caffeine In The Food And Drink You Are Giving Your Toddler Before Bed
Another trigger for hyperactivity before bedtime may be hidden in what your toddler eats at dinner.
Check what is in the food and drinks you are serving up at tea time to ensure there is no hidden caffeine, excess sugar or artificial stimulants.
Sticking to wholesome homemade foods and water is best as it will help to ensure you are not accidentally giving your toddler a chemical energy boost at the end of the day!
8. Identify and Eliminate Tantrum Triggers
Children don’t like change, but bedtimes are full of mini-changes…
From putting away toys, having a bath, getting dressed, choosing a book and so on…
There are lots of points at which a tantrum or stubborn streak can emerge especially when your toddler is hyper, overtired or overstimulated.
Therefore, you need to be one step ahead of your little one and anticipate and divert from any bedtime battle triggers.
My course “Bedtime Battles” includes bite-sized videos ready for you to watch explaining the most common bedtime battles and the exact steps to stop them in their tracks.
All you have to do is implement the step-by-step strategies.
The Bedtime Battles Masterclass 👈
And if you think that your bedtimes are truly a lost cause, don’t worry. I’ll explain how to get back on track, no matter where you find yourself, too.
9. Stay Calm
I know… Handling a hyperactive child at bedtime is exhausting.
But not reacting to your little one’s antics will help to defuse the situation.
As long as they are safe then try not to respond to what they are doing by running after them or saying ‘no’ all the time.
They will get bored if they don’t get a reaction from you.
TOP TIP: If your toddler makes a mess, just ignore it for now and then clean it up when they’re asleep.
What Are The Differences Between A Hyperactive Toddler And A Misbehaving Toddler At Bedtime?
When asking “why do toddlers get hyper before bed?” you need to distinguish whether your toddler is hyper or simply pushing boundaries.
Therefore, ensuring they get the right amount of age-appropriate sleep will help you determine whether your child’s bedtime antics are due to lack of sleep and overtiredness or a desire to see how far they can push things.
- 1 – 12 months = 14 to 15 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- 1 – 3 years = 12 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- 3 – 6 years = 10 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
A hyperactive toddler will show an increase in energy just before bedtime. They will not be able to concentrate or sit still and will often be irrational, resistant and liable to meltdowns.
If overtiredness is not the issue and your toddler just wants to test the boundaries over bedtime or is experiencing some anxiety over separation or nighttime fears… then they will probably be very clingy.
It is very common for toddlers to go through this defiant phase and they will try stalling techniques such as wanting to read an extra story or needing a drink rather than have a hyperactive burst.
TOP TIP: If your toddler is misbehaving at bedtime, stick to the bedtime routine and do not give in to any bedtime resistance. If handled correctly, it will simply be a passing phase.
How To Handle Bedtime Battles If Your Child Is Misbehaving At Bedtime
Well, if your toddler is resisting bedtime, they are just testing the boundaries and seeing what they can get away with.
While it may be tempting to give in to your toddler’s demands to go to bed later, I would highly recommend that you stick with your normal routine and do not give in.
Remember that it is normal for toddlers to go through a phase of resisting bedtime, so it is how you deal with this behaviour that will determine whether this is a passing phase or an escalating problem.
You can always use a bedtime routine chart to help keep your toddler engaged in the bedtime routine too.
Why Do Toddlers Get Hyper Before Bed Conclusion
So if your kids get hyper before bed then ask yourself these important questions:
- Is your toddler getting enough daytime sleep?
- Do you have a regular and stable bedtime routine?
- Are you restricting screen time in the hour before bedtime?
- Are you looking out for hidden stimulants in food and drink?
- Are you lowering the energy levels an hour before bedtime?
If you address these issues and your toddler is still hyper before bed, then you may need to contact a medical professional to get your child assessed for ADHD.
However, this condition is rarer than you think and if your toddler is only showing signs of being hyper at the end of the day, then the reasons I have given are more likely to be the cause and can be remedied.
Here is a list of sleep schedules to help you establish healthy sleep habits in your little one to finally put an end to hyperactivity before bed, once and for all!
- 18 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 19 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 20 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 21 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 22 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 23 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- 2 Year Old Sleep Schedule
- 3 Year Old Sleep Schedule
Need More Parenting Help?
- Download our FREE Perfect Sleep Cheat Sheet. It’s a free, easy-to-use and proven formula designed for parents of 0-5 year olds to master the art of consistently undisturbed and restful sleep without the yelling, nagging or exhausting long-winded evenings.
- Check out our Parenting Toolbox. You’ll get access to expertly-chosen products that you can guarantee are the best for your little one and your wallet.
- Ready to create the calm, peaceful evenings you deserve? Then checkout our most popular course - The Bedtime Battles Masterclass
A bedtime & nap cheat sheet so good your little one will ask you to put them to bed...
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