Growing Up

The EVERY Night Toddler Sleep Solution

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toddler sleep solution - this trick works! And it is so simple, I don't know why I didn't think of it1

We have tried it all…all of it.  We have tried singing lullabies. We have tried the Jo Frost solution – um…sorry that one really didn’t work.  We have tried punishments (oh, that one is awful!).  We tried essential oils.  We tried massage.  We did it all.

A. L. L.

We even tried that new “magical” book  – the second night she refused to listen to it.  And nothing helped our oldest toddler get to bed easily.  She is a fighter.  She is always up and ready to go.  She’s the one who gets a full 40 minutes and is ready to go for the rest of the night.  So, I am always on the hunt for the next toddler sleep solution.  And I will try just about anything.

But, I finally came up with a sleep routine that helps my toddler wind down enough to be still and [most nights] get to sleep quickly.

I am a problem solver by nature, so coming up with solutions to the common problems we face in our home is my jam.  And this is what was going on in our girls’ bedroom every night.  You will notice my oldest is the entertainer on the left.

fed up with all the "sleep solutions" out there, one mom came up with something to get her little one to go to sleep, and it WORKS!

 

So one day I was ruminating on the sleep situation that would work for our oldest and started connecting some dots.

Allow me to give you a peek into my cranium:

G likes to be in charge.

G doesn’t like it when we are in charge of her sleep.

G doesn’t go to sleep until she has decided she wants to go to sleep.

When G is exhausted, she will go to sleep, even if I am talking to her.

G won’t be still.

Could G just BE STILL?

And then…

I happened upon this idea:

Get her to be in charge of her sleep and her body and then capitalize on that to lull her into sleep. 

toddler sleep solution - this trick works! and it is so simple, I don't know why I didn't think of it!

The Every Night Toddler Sleep Solution

So, here’s the routine we walk through before I pass the torch to G, so she can be in charge of her sleep.

Upstairs, bedclothes, brush teeth, pray with Daddy, lights off.  (She likes all these things and does them pretty willingly)

And then I sneakily and calmly say,

“It is time to talk to our bodies.” 

And then I lead G slowly through a conversation with her body in which she tells every part to be still.  It goes like this:

Me: “Legs be still”

And the repetition:

G: “Legs be still”

{Pause}

Me: “Feet be still”

G: “Feet be still”

{Pause}

Me: “Toes be still”…

We work through the whole body in the same order every night (legs, feet, toes, bottom, tummy, arms, hands, fingers, head, mouth).

And then we end with:

Me: “Eyes close.”

“Eyes close.”

The Result

By the time we have gotten to the top of the head, G is usually settling in and has started to yawn a few times. As you know, yawning is contagious – it is a sign that your toddler has empathy – so I can’t be sure if it is me or her that starts the yawning at night, but we both get to yawning quite a bit.

On the off nights that G is still wound up and moving around a lot, I play my trump card:

G, did you talk to your body and tell it to be still? (Yes.)  Is your body being obedient to you? (No.)  Do we need to talk to it again? (stillness resumes)

I then start reading a book to her that is above her reading level – chapter books.  That way it is not grabbing her attention and keeping her awake and interested.  And usually, within 5-10 minutes she is sound asleep!  SUCCESS!

toddler sleep solution - this trick works! and it is so simple I don't know why I didn't think of it!

So, why does this work for us?  Here’s what I think:

  • She is in charge of her body.  She likes to be in charge.  It is not another thing in her day that Mama tells her to do.
  • It is a routine done the same way every.single.time.  It has a calming effect because we talk quietly and slowly (and yawningly).
  • She really is tired, but she has to have time to wind down from the day.  This provides a cushion between getting in bed and getting to sleep that is softer than my (previous) demands that she get in bed and stay in bed.
  • Stillness leads to sleep.  There is a reason I created a routine that tells our bodies to be still: if she stops moving long enough, she will go to sleep.

Will this solution work for your kid, too?

I honestly don’t know, but it is worth a shot, right?  It is kind of related to the sleep solution technique of self-hypnosis and it really does work for adults, so why not for kids, too?  I would love to hear your feedback if you try this with your kids for a few nights.

Happy sleeping!

 

toddler sleep solution - I had never heard of this solution - but it is perfect! I love it and my kids do, too!


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17 Comments

  • Reply Heather H February 8, 2016 at 8:27 AM

    Brilliant idea! I love it, and wish I’d had it in my toolbox a few years ago (my youngest are 6) Thanks for linking this up on Everything Kids this week 🙂

  • Reply Wendy February 10, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    Thank you! I am looking forward to trying this tonight!

  • Reply Kathleen February 14, 2016 at 2:59 PM

    You are a patient mom, that is for sure. I’m so glad you found something that worked.

    Thanks for linking up to Tips and Tricks.

  • Reply Crystal Green February 24, 2016 at 5:43 AM

    First off, thank you for sharing this post on my Facebook page!

    Here I thought I had tried every method under the sun to getting a child to sleep, but this is a new one! I’m glad you shared it because it’s definitely another idea to consider.

    I FINALLY got all of my kids on a routine of going to bed without much fuss and complaint. It took A LONG time to get my last child to sleep like she should at night. I can feel your pain even though I’m not living through it now.

  • Reply Julie March 12, 2016 at 6:01 AM

    This is a great idea! When my toddler starts talking and understanding more concepts we will try this talking to our bodies tip.
    #sitsblogging

  • Reply Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood March 12, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    Ahh I love htis! I have a terrible sleeper – he finally started sleeping htrough the night at 18 months! He will stay up for.ev.er if I let him and even if I put him to bed exhausted, 2 hours past bedtime, he’ll talk to himself for an hour. I can see this working on him in the future!!

  • Reply Heather @ Viral Upcycle March 12, 2016 at 6:30 PM

    Thanks, I can’t wait to try this out! I was crackin’ up over your little acrobat, I thought she was mine for minute. I still haven’t gotten my three year old on a regular schedule. Completely different than my son. Any tips for when uncontrollable schedule conflicts arise? Thanks!

  • Reply Becky April 21, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    I wish this worked on kittens. I’ve got 4 kittens that are 6 weeks old and my going to bed apparently is the secret signal for their Pounce Parties.

    • Reply ussleah April 21, 2016 at 12:13 PM

      They are nocturnal creatures! Have fun with those sweet kitties! I wish we could have kittens but we have allergies.

  • Reply J August 23, 2016 at 10:01 PM

    Leah, your idea sounds amazing but I can’t help but notice in the pic of the cribs side by side, that you have an entrapment situation. Top rails should never be close to anything else because if a child climbs over the rail, their body can slip thru, but head cannot, posing extreme danger.

    • Reply Leah Hudson August 23, 2016 at 10:46 PM

      Oh, WOW! I had never thought of that. Our girls now have twin beds, but thank you for the tip! That would be awful!

  • Reply Tesse @ Task Mum September 9, 2016 at 3:01 PM

    This is a great post! I’m always looking for solutions to get my toddler to bed before 10:00 every night! She doesn’t want to wind down so maybe this can work. I might try this at nap time too. Thanks!

    • Reply Leah Hudson September 9, 2016 at 8:46 PM

      I hope it works for you! We do it every single night and it does work for us!

  • Reply K September 19, 2016 at 9:59 AM

    I love this idea, what great way to help your toddler learn to be mindful and relax. I will try this with my daughter. I notice that you have your daughters room sharing, I have a 3 year old and 8 month old that we are trying to get to room share out of necessity. Any tips on getting them to sleep together/ shared bedtime routine?

    • Reply Leah Hudson September 19, 2016 at 10:30 AM

      Patience! It took us months to transition our girls into sharing a room. And they still have a tendency to wake one another up in the middle of the night for a late night party play session. I will have to think about this some more and maybe write a post about it. Because they are now on a similar schedule. They go to sleep within minutes of each other and wake up within minutes of each other, too.

  • Reply mary December 8, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Hi there. Thank you for great post. Few weeks ago we sleep trained my 2 year old daughter as I stopped breastfeeding straight after her 2nd bday my husband is the patient one and funny enough he spoke softly to her guiding her on laying still put arms down close eyes and rest then it happens . Will try your version when I need tuck her in.

  • Reply Regal Region December 10, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    Trying this tonight. Great concept!

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