How to Relax Your Toddler Before Bedtime With Wind Down Hour
Bedtime can be a difficult time for both parents and toddlers. Toddlers are overstimulated from all of their daytime activities, and they often have trouble settling down at night. So how can you relax your toddler before bedtime?
In this post, we will discuss how to unwind your toddler one hour before their bedtime routine starts in order to help them fall asleep peacefully each night without any battles!
Before we jump into learning how to relax your toddler before bedtime, it’s important to talk about overtiredness because this can have a huge impact on how well bedtime goes!
Toddler Overtired Before Bed
If you’ve tried to put your overtired toddler to bed you know it’s not fun! After a long day of playing, they can’t seem to settle down and it is difficult for them to fall asleep.
This can lead to overtiredness which means that your child will be more prone to crankiness, whining, and tantrums.
Being overtired releases the stress hormone cortisol which causes adrenaline levels to rise and the body’s natural sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, to decrease. This is why it can be difficult for your toddler (or even yourself) to fall asleep when they’re overtired!
How To Prevent Overtiredness In Toddlers
The best way to prevent overtiredness in your toddler is to stick to a regular routine and bedtime.
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule for your toddler, including their nap times. (remember naps will change overtime so adjust when necessary)
- Create the perfect sleeping environment in your toddler’s room.
- Look out for signs of tiredness around nap times and bedtime, and bring them forward by 20 minutes if necessary.
- Make sure your toddler is going to bed at the right hour, usually around 7-8 pm for young children.
- Reduce screen time, and try to avoid all screens at least an hour or two before bed.
How to Relax and Wind-down an Hour Before Your Toddlers Bedtime Routine
2.5 Hours Before Bedtime Get Outdoors For an Hour
If you want your toddler to be sleeping by 7.30 pm then around 5 pm is a good time to get out excess energy and get some fresh air!
Fresh air is crucial for getting a good night’s sleep, so go on an outdoor adventure and explore the world, or take your child to the park to play for an hour.
1.5 Hours Before Bedtime – Dinner, and Atmosphere
Give your toddler their dinner and start setting the atmosphere in your home.
Switch off screens and devices:
Screen time has a negative effect on sleep, so make sure that your child is not looking at screens for at least an hour before bed. Screens emit blue light which can delay the brain’s release of melatonin and disturbs sleep.
Natural lighting is your best friend when it comes to bedtime, nature has designed our bodies perfectly to get sleepy when the night falls.
However, our modern-day artificial lighting and screens block this process making it more difficult. Thus, if you want the wind-down hour to be a success this one is crucial.
Note: Winter months when it´s getting dark before 5 pm make this a little harder, you can still use artificial lighting, but keep the lights dimmed if possible or use light bulbs that don’t emit blue light.
Put Away Loud and Electronic Toys
These days there are so many toys that flash, shake, jingle, and make very loud (and often annoying) sounds. While these toys can be a lot of fun to play with during the day, it´s best to put them away during this chill-out time.
Having a dancing dinosaur, with flashing eyes, roaring and singing ABC is not exactly encouraging your child to keep it calm. If your toddler still wants to play choose things like building blocks, or puzzles.
1 Hour Before Bedtime Routine
Connect With Your Toddler
Now is the perfect time of the day to connect with your toddler without distractions. Engage in a “mindful” activity like drawing, coloring, or puzzles.
Read A Story
Reading aloud to your toddler is a great calming activity. Don’t worry if your toddler is too wiggly to sit still, let your toddler draw or build with blocks while you read aloud, they will still benefit and soak up all the words you read.
Do a Calming Yoga or Stretch Routine
Take 10-20 minutes and do some stretching or yoga. Doing stretching and yoga before bedtime is a great way to prepare for bedtime and calm your nerves as well. Yoga is a holistic practice that will help your toddler release tension, ease stress, and bring about physical relaxation.
If your not in the mood for an all-out stretch you can practice some simple breathing exercises with your toddler.
Breathing is a great way to relax and calm down. Find a comfortable spot, close your eyes, take deep breaths in through the nose for a count of three, and then out through pursed lips for another count of three.
Breathe with your toddler, inhaling together and exhaling together. Take as long or short a break as you both need. Repeat several times.
Play Calming Music
The hour before bed is a great time to play some classical or relaxing music, nothing too hyper just tranquil and calming, listening to calming music can help calm your toddler’s energy level and help them relax.
Sleep Boosting Snack
Did you know there are foods that help toddlers sleep? These foods boost melatonin levels and make it easier for your little one to sleep at bedtime. Sometime in the hour before the bedtime routine starts give your little one a sleep-promoting bedtime snack!
Read Next: Foods to help toddlers sleep
Bedtime Routine Begins
If you give your toddler a quick bath every night try to keep it calm, one of these baths is great for your toddler’s skin and relaxation. If you don’t, just move right on to the next step.
Brush your toddler’s teeth and face, tell your toddler to use the potty, and then give them a quick but relaxing massage with their body lotion, get them changed in their pajamas.
Keep the lighting in the room dim, or with a warming tone set low, try to mimic the color and glow of a campfire, you want the room dark, but just enough warming glow to see.
Cuddle up and read a short bedtime story, say a goodnight prayer, and tuck them in. The whole process should take 15-30 minutes.
The Key To Helping Your Toddler Relax Before Bedtime: Be Consistent!
If you try this the first day and don’t see results right away be patient, it may take a few days for your toddler’s body to adjust, but consistency is key in any routine!
Your children may be young, but their minds work in powerful ways. They need the right atmosphere to wind down before bedtime so they can get some much-needed sleep and you don’t have a major battle on your hands when it comes time for lights out.
Remember: Make sure not to overtax your toddler by keeping an eye on their energy levels throughout the day and giving them plenty of opportunities outside during daylight hours as well as playing calm music, and setting the right atmosphere. Put away devices and distractions and connect with your child by reading or playing a quiet game. Breathing and stretching are great ways to calm down too!. Be consistent and say goodbye to bedtime battles for good!
Thursday 16th of August 2018
I have twin boys and it doesn't make a difference weather we have screen time or no screen time. I'm really finding it hard to stay patient when they are both up and down like yo yos. Any tips for me please I'm desperate?
Thursday 16th of August 2018
Hi Caitlin, :) How old are your boys and what is your current schedule like? If they are still napping in the day I would check to see if they need more awake time before bed as they may not be ready to sleep yet.
Friday 13th of April 2018
Friday 16th of March 2018
Thursday 4th of January 2018
These are excellent tips and I have to admit I'm guilty of occasionally allowing screentime before bedtime and totally notice the difference in how quickly my twins fall asleep. I will also be sure to try the sleep-promoting food tip. Thanks for much!
Friday 5th of January 2018
Your welcome! :)