Welcome to Joyful Toddlers!

This space is about increasing our enjoyment of the young children in our lives through concrete action and by adjusting the lens through which we view them. My work comes out of LifeWays, which is inspired by Waldorf education. I welcome your comments, and questions about increasing your enjoyment of the children in YOUR life.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Discussion: Bedtimes


Hi All,

This will be a first stab at a discussion forum. I'm not sure how it will work, but lets try by adding "comments" below:

What experiences, both positive and negative, have you had with your child around bedtimes and/or naptimes? What "tricks" have you tried that have worked really well? Are there things going on now that you'd love to hear input from other parents? What else?


  1. I have a question to post here. I have a son who is almost four. We have a a good bedtime rountine, and up till now he's always gone down fine. But lately every time we finish the story and it's time to climb into bed, he throws himself onto the chair and whines about wanting another story, and it takes five minutes to get him into bed. This started about two weeks ago and it's driving me crazy. I only read one story and I have always only read one story. I'd love to hear ideas from other parents. I'm ready to try anything!

  2. Hi there!

    Thanks for starting out this discussion! You might try changing things so that you read the story in bed, so he's already there and under the covers when it ends.

    Other ideas/input?

  3. Thanks Miss Faith. I tried reading his story in bed and that helped a bit. He has also recently stopped napping every day and I think that has affected things. I moved his bedtime 20 minutes earlier and things have really settled down. Sometimes it's so hard to guess what they need when they cant tell you.

  4. Hi All,

    I can see from my tracking software that this post gets lots of views, but very few comments! Don't be shy! Let us know what you've done that's worked, or hasn't worked. Or, if you have an idea of a better format for a discussion, let me know. I'm not terribly computer-savvy, but I'm getting there, bit by bit!

  5. My four year old has been throwing tantrums at bedtime, not wanting to go to bed and demanding food after we have finished all the reading. She often asks me to 'snuggle' for a while. It's interesting because she chose to start putting herself to bed (with us checking on her) about 5 months ago, after nearly 4 years of us lying with her until she was asleep. Not sure how to make it smoother actually but suggestions would be great!

  6. Hi! Bedtimes can be so nice when they work, and so frustrating when they don't! One thing to consider is that if she's going through a growth spurt, she may need more sleep than she's getting, and would benefit from you moving her bedtime 15-20 minutes earlier.

    Another thing to do is to turn out all the lights (and close the curtains if it's still light outside) as you're getting ready for bed, start moving more slowly, and whisper to one another. This will help her body get ready for sleep. If she asks for food or drink, it's OK to tell her that the time for eating is done, and she can have food when she wakes up in the morning.

    And now for the trump card: tell her you have something very special for bedtimes from now on, but she can only see it after she's in bed and the lights are turned out. Once she's all tucked in, light a candle on her dresser or somewhere she can see it. We had a candle holder that hung on the wall above where kids could reach it. Candles in the dark are real magic. You might want to sing or hum a soft lullaby, then sit quietly by her bed until she's almost asleep. Then whisper "good night" very softly, blow out the candle, and tiptoe out.

    And good luck! Let me know if you try it, and whether it works. The great thing about candles in the dark are that 1) they are mesmerizing, and 2) they provide an incentive for kids to want to get into bed and turn out the lights. They really are magic!

  7. I have a question about bedtime. I have 3 yr old and almost 5 yr old boys. They share a bedroom and generally go to bed very nicely after our routine. After dinner I remind them of what we do. Clean our dishes, wash our face and hands, brush our teeth. Then we usually snuggle after a bath and read 2 stories. Once story time is over they find their favorite stuffed toys and climb into bed. After kisses and hugs and sometimes a short song, they lay quietly and sleep. Now... here's the problem.

    My husband works out of state and can be gone for 3-5 weeks at a time and home for 2-3 weeks at a time. I have noticed the boys just will not settle down at bed when he's home. Sometimes it takes well over an hour to get them to settle down and sleep. When it's just me, they do great. Are there any tips/suggestions for making things smoother when daddy is home?

  8. Hi Stephanie,

    That certainly makes it hard to establish a rhythm, with dad having such an irregular schedule! There was a woman in my LifeWays training from Alaska whose husband was a trucker, two weeks on and two weeks off. She struggled with many of the same issues. She said that for her, the key was to realize that her home had two schedules, one when dad was home, and one when dad was away. Once she stopped wishing they were the same, things went more smoothly.

    It sounds to me like your boys are really excited to have dad home, and it takes them a longer time to settle. I would just acknowledge that, and on days when dad is home, start your bedtime routine 15-20 minutes earlier. Start moving more slowly, talking more softly, pulling the curtains and dimming the lights.

    Does dad help with bedtime when he's home? Either way, get him on board with the 'bedtime energy ramp-down.' If he doesn't help with bedtime, have him go into his room and read a book, to take his energy out of the equation as much as possible. If he does help with bedtime, maybe there's something he can do to really help the boys settle down, like massage their feet, or rub their heads, imagining that sleepy energy is pouring out of his arm and filling them up. If he is consciously helping the boys settle down, it may be a different rhythm than when he's away, but it may turn into a special time that dad and the boys have together.

    Are there any other readers out there who have a similar situation? What have you tried? What works or doesn't work?