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Six ways to make toddlers' bedtime a little easier for all

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[March 15, 2014]  CHICAGO Toddlers. We love them. They are active, sweet and special, and they amaze us and melt our hearts on an hourly basis. But, wow, some of them love to test us and fight sleep.

While there are many toddlers out there who go to sleep happily and you don't hear from them until morning, there are many other toddlers who try to negotiate, stall or delay like the best lawyer in town. There are many parents who are struggling with their toddler's bedtime process, so Susie Parker, certified child sleep consultant and founder of Sleep Baby Love, shares some helpful information to create a solid bedtime process to help your toddlers go to bed and stay in bed.

Tip 1: Teach your child what is expected of them.

As parents, we sometimes expect a lot from our children. So much, that we forget that a few short years ago, they were just a tiny little newborn that you were rocking to sleep. We have to realize that as much as we would like love for our kids to oblige everything we do and say, they are just young kids whose minds run a mile a minute. By understanding that going through a bedtime routine isn't always fun or easy for some toddlers, we can help make it easier and more fun by thinking about things from a child's perspective.

Tip 2: Make your bedtime routine fun.

Be careful not to rile up your toddlers before bedtime. Do things that will help them enjoy the bedtime process.

Try having fun throughout the bedtime process:

  • Sing silly songs while brushing teeth.

  • Have a race to get into pajamas.

  • Play a game for fun as part of your bedtime routine I Spy, Simon Says or rhyme words.

Tip 3: Eliminate the power struggle.

You are the parent, and you set the rules and the time that your toddler goes to sleep. But, by giving options and picking your battles, you eliminate a full-on power struggle and will make your bedtime routine much more enjoyable for both you and your child. Provide options throughout the bedtime process to help empower your child:

  • Would you like to wear these pajamas or these?

  • Would you like to brush your teeth before or after bath?

  • Would you like to pick your books or should I?

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Tip 4: Set sleep rules.

Does your toddler really know what it means to go to sleep? Ask them. It would be great to hear the different responses. Assuming your toddler is out of a crib and transitioned to a big bed, your child's room allows a lot of freedom, and of course some would choose to play rather than go to sleep. If you are struggling on a nightly basis to get your child to sleep, get back to basics. Have a family meeting and explain the rules of sleep and how sleep works.

"You lie down in your bed, shut your eyes and go to sleep" (yes, that simply).

Explain in your child's language the benefits of sleep and how it helps them grow big and strong so they can spend more time playing at the park, running fast and so on.

Tip 5: Offer rewards for following the sleep rules.

Use a sticker chart to help reward your toddlers for following the sleep rules. Have they stayed in their bed the whole night? Could they earn a shiny sticker? Get your child invested in the process by having them help make the chart, or pick out an online printable. Include them in shopping and picking out the stickers.

Tip 6: Blame somebody else.

"Going to sleep is not always your toddler's favorite subject, and if your child is still resistant to the act of going to sleep, I give you permission from this point on to blame me, Sleep Susie," says Parker. "Tell them that you have a friend that is going to help you follow your sleep rules. This will help you not look like the bad guy, and hopefully your child wants to do what Sleep Susie says."

Share your success!

So who's ready to make some changes to help set the framework for your toddler's sleep? Following some of these tips will help with implementing changes so your toddler can sleep better at night without the battles. Good luck!

[Text from Sleep Baby Love news release received from MyPRGenie]

Susie Parker is a certified infant and child sleep consultant and the founder of Sleep Baby Love. To find many other sleep tips, tricks and advice and coming soon, more posts about toddler sleep like Sleep Baby Love's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sleepbabylove. Parker offers many sleep consulting services via phone, email and Skype aimed to help your child love sleep. For more information, she can be reached at susie@sleepbabylove.com or 847-834-9216.

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