You’ve had a tough day, right? As the Dad of a toddler, all I have heard his my name, mentioned a thousand times. Dad, look at this…Dad, what are you doing….Where are you going, Dad?
Now you need a beer, or just to sit down and escape reality in front of the TV.
The best option for getting a kid to sleep is to invest in an awesome light projector. These captivate their minds as they drift off to see the Sandman.
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Sleep Time Battle Royale
Sometimes, getting them to sleep is easy (especially if they have not had a sleep during the day).
There are times when they will not want to sleep. They will want to stay up to frustrate you and to stop you getting things done.
Being tired, they will be even more demanding, and naughty. My Son lets us know when he is tired. It happens most days, between 16:00 and 17:00. He gets more agitated, more demanding and listens less than he usually does (Base rate is around 20%).
Unless he is ill, we will not let him sleep early. It sets us for an almighty battle when it is bedtime. Seriously, if the kid closes his eyes, even for a minute, you can add 2 hours onto his usual bedtime!
How is that possible??!
When it does eventually get to bedtime, we have a 50% chance of a battle. What you need, is some tools to help kids sleep!
Just like you have weapons in your battle to get them to eat, I want to give you some tips I have learned to make getting them to sleep a much easier task!
Tips To Help Get Your Kid To Sleep
So what are these tips to help get a toddler get to sleep then?
Before we dive into the tips, I want to re-iterate, these will not always work. There is no magic you can perform that suddenly makes a kid fall asleep. All we can do as Dads is have a list of stuff we can try.
Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes we do not. You will find that the nights where it is most difficult to get them to sleep are the nights when you really need them to sleep. Nights where you are planning, and nights where you have been waiting for AGES for this game…but they just do not want to settle.
I remember waiting for months for one particular live game on TV. Chances of getting him settled…..0%. I tried. I think he must have been picking up on my excitement, and that was keeping him awake. No doubt, I was my own worst enemy!
In the end, I bought him downstairs and we watched it together.
Anyway, enough about past struggles, here are the tips, enjoy!
1. Create A Sleep Routine
A routine is the number 1 tip. It is not just for sleeping either. You will need a routine to get them to eat, for waking up, even something simple like going to the supermarket (Which my child HATES) can have a routine to break them in gently each time.
Routines can be simple. I’ll give you a rundown of the routine I created:
- Meal Time – The last meal of the day
- Shower or Bath (Giving them the option means they know they have chosen)
- Drink (Usually milk)
- Settle on the sofa to talk about what we have done today
- Bed, with a story if they have been good
Psychologically, a routine will give you the edge. It prepares them for bedtime.
They know, as they have been through the routine enough, that bedtime is on the horizon.
That doesn’t mean they will accept it all the time, it just gives you the edge and minimizes any full-on, hate-filled toddler reaction.
Melatonin – Know Your Allies
Melatonin is the chemical in our bodies that makes us tired. It peaks in the evening, making us tired and then drops in the morning to wake us up.
A routine will kick-start the production of Melatonin and will prepare your child for a sleep.
Be like Mother nature! Or Father nature……just…..be nature.
2. Wear Them Out
Both physically and mentally!
This tip has a tendency to wear you out too, so use wisely.
If you have them all day, make sure you visit a local park for an hour or so. Make them walk there and walk back if you can.
If you have tired them out at the local park, or even in the backyard, then they will be asleep before the end of the routine in tip 1!
Many times has my toddler fallen asleep on the sofa during ‘settle down time’ if he has been suitably worn out during the day. It is a magic feeling.
Carry him to bed, grab the monitor, grab a beer.
3. Make Them Tell You A Story
I like this one because I don’t have to think too much.
Obviously, they need to be old enough and have a decent grasp of the language before you can try this tip. From about 3 years old, they can make up a story and they love using imagination, so take advantage.
It isn’t going to grip you, don’t go in there with any wild expectations that you are going to be blown away by a modern day Charles Dickens.
What I should have said, is don’t go there with ‘Great Expectations’. That would have been pretty funny. It’s a shame I didn’t think of that.
4. Soothing Music
Piano music, harp music. Something without any words in, because listening to the words may keep them awake.
You will get used to the type of music that sends your kid to sleep. I have found that Rage Against The Machine is not that great at sending a kid to sleep.
Everyone is different.
Use Spotify if you have it because some of the folks on there have done the hard work for you! Search for a sleep playlist. Hit play. Chill out!
According to my Parents, when I was a baby I would only go to sleep if I could hear the vacuum! Honestly, I would scream the house down until that thing was put on.
The electricity bill must have been high! I am sure if Ewan The Dream Sheep was available when I was a youngster, my Dad wouldn’t hesitate to part with his money! One of the sounds to soothe your child is a vacuum cleaner! It’s a common thing y’know, honest.
5. Soothing YouTube Videos
Yeh I know, you can’t let YouTube bring your kids up, but you can let it help to get them to sleep!
For this one, you will need a TV with the capability of watching YouTube videos. It cannot be used on a phone or tablet because they will want to get involved.
Give them the phone or tablet and they will be flicking through channels like a seasoned pro.
Before you know it, you will be watching a video of some weirdo dressed up as Spider-Man, walking around their house, shooting Aliens with Nerf Guns.
There are loads of videos on YouTube that can really help you out.
You can watch their eyes, they are transfixed, then the eye muscles give in and they close…and fall asleep.
On my Son’s 1st birthday, he was suffering with Chickenpox. For obvious reasons, getting him to sleep was a HUGE challenge. Before we tried YouTube, he would only sleep if I was holding him, standing up, bobbing up and down on the balls of my feet.
Clearly, I couldn’t do that all night. But I couldn’t let him scream the house down either!
6. Be Boring!
Kids feed off you and your mood. If you are excited about something, they will be excited. If you are happy, they are happy (ish). When you are angry, they are….annoying…..yeh, it doesn’t work all of the time.
If you are in the mood where you want to play, they are not going to go to sleep. They will also want to play!
So the tip is, be boring. Be really, really boring. Talk in a slow, monotone voice.
I am getting tired just thinking about it.
Sometimes, I will let my Son fall asleep on the sofa. For this to be successful, I start to take the volume of my voice down to almost a whisper. Then I will close my eyes and pretend to fall asleep. He will look up at me and realize I am asleep, so he might as well close his eyes too.
On occasion, I open up my eyes to see him staring right back at me! And my heart sinks…..
Yeh – now we are talking! Get me some more gadgets!
Nowadays, we have an app to do most things. We also have a gadget to do most things.
There are plenty of gadgets out there that will help get your tot off to the land of Nod.
Let’s take a look at the two that I used when my Son was a baby:
Ewan The Dream Sheep. I bought this before he was even born. The fantastic sounds send my Son to sleep easily. The noises mimic the sounds a baby hears in a womb, like a heartbeat, pink noise etc.
8 Blanket/Cuddly Toy
I have left this as one of the last because I am sure you are not going to forget it! But just in case they have burnt you out so much during the day that you forget your own name:
Don’t forget to give them their favourite blanket/cuddly toy!
When I was a child, I needed my cuddly toy Cat with me to get to sleep – along with the hoover noises I mentioned above!
My Son has his blanket and has only ever fallen asleep once without it. Believe it or not, that particular night, he didn’t want his blanket, in its place he opted for the new set of children’s boxing gloves I recently bought for him!
Whatever relaxes them, do your best to provide!
9 The Car
This one goes against the bedtime routine I talked about in tip 1, so use it wisely!
Works every time, without fail. Take your child out for a drive around bedtime and they are sure to fall asleep pretty damn quick!
The danger is that if you keep doing it, the drive will form part of the bedtime routine. That will be a particularly difficult one to break too.
While I am on the subject, there is a time period that I refer to as the Golden Hour. This the time when car travel must only be completed if necessary! The reason is, this is the prime time for them to take a nap….and you are helping push those Melatonin levels up by gently rocking them to sleep as you take a ride in your car!
Golden Hour – The time between 16:00 and 17:00 each day where your child is most likely to fall asleep. The result is a wide awake kid when it really is time for their bed!
I mentioned above that if my Son sleeps, even for a few minutes during the day, getting him to sleep at his regular bedtime becomes a battle of wills. I have been known to fall asleep before he does….although I can still hear him talking to himself as I sleep!
There you go, now you know 9 tips to help you get your toddler to sleep! I really hope they will help you out when you really need them to go to sleep.
Some of the tips need to be carefully planned, and some you can spin off whenever you need them.
Sometimes, one of the tips will work and sometimes it will not.
If one doesn’t work, then move on to the next.
Kids are spontaneous, and that means you have to think on your feet.
The more tools you have in your ‘sleep now, you little…….’ toolbox, the better chance you have of getting your kid to sleep when they really do not want to.
When you are desperate for a beer and some wind-down time, you need all the help you can get!
If you have any more tips or suggestions for tricks that you use to get your kid to sleep, feel free to get in contact or leave a reply below.