ONE Simple Trick to Make your Toddler Go to Sleep EVERY Night

Fed up with all the sleep "solutions" for her wild toddler, this mom came up with a bedtime routine that WORKS!  It is so smart!  I love it and I think my kids will, too!

Nothing helped our first toddler get to bed easily.  

She’s a fighter – always up and ready to go.  Her superhuman confidence that she is the smartest, fastest, awesomest thing on two eighteen-inch legs powers her days and half of her nights. She’s the one who gets a full 40 minutes at 5 PM – also known as the worst possible time for a nap – and is ready to go for the rest of the night.

You can imagine I am always on the hunt for the next toddler sleep solution.  I will try just about anything.

Lullabies, essential oils, massage, the Super Nanny’s solution. We have tried it all…all of it. A. L. L.  Even that new “magical” book ?  Tried it – the second night she refused to listen to it.  

Sadly, every single one of the supposed toddler sleep “solutions” simply didn’t work for our girl. Instead of restful nights, we worked the night shift, pleading, begging, bribing her to simply GO TO SLEEP!

After months of late or sleepless nights, I finally came up with a sleep routine that helps my toddler wind down enough to be still and succumb 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.  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 – I think in bullet points (doesn’t everybody?).

  • 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 trick…er…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”


Me: “Feet be still”

G: “Feet be still”


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.

Then we end with:

Me: “Eyes close.”

G: “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?


Is your body being obedient to you?


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!

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

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Heather H

    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 🙂

  2. Wendy

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

  3. Kathleen

    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.

  4. Crystal Green

    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.

  5. Julie

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

  6. Ahh I love htis! I have a terrible sleeper – he finally started sleeping htrough the night at 18 months! He will stay up 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!!

  7. 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!

  8. Becky

    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.

    1. ussleah

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

  9. J

    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.

    1. Leah Hudson

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

  10. Tesse @ Task Mum

    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!

    1. Leah Hudson

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

  11. K

    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?

    1. Leah Hudson

      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.

  12. mary

    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.

  13. Emily

    I am definitely trying this tonight. From the time we go to bed to the time my 2 yr old falls asleep is anywhere from 1-2 hrs. Ever since he was born he did not want to go to sleep in case he missed anything. I agree if he would just be still he’d pass right out. Fingers crossed for tonight.

  14. Myra

    Ingenious… this has got to be next level psychological parenting. lol I have a routine with my 3 year old that still results in singing and most of the time rocking to sleep only to result in him sleep walking and ending up in our bed. Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Leah Hudson

      I hope this works for you!

  15. Katherine

    My 3 year old answers yes every time we ask if he needs to tell his body to be still again (in order to prolong bed time). Do you have any advice to combat this issue? He is very much a control freak and straight up refuses to go to bed. We put him down at around 7:30 and he is up ’til nearly midnight every night. He won’t lay still or be quiet and keeps getting up/waking up his sister (who is now picking up his bad habits). Please help.

    1. Leah Hudson

      hmmm…I am wondering if a “consequence” similar to what his usual consequences for disobedience would be in order. So, he has told his body to be still his body is not being “obedient,” he could tell his body to be in a time out (or something similar). My theory is he in charge of this process, so when it doesn’t go according to plan, ask him what he thinks should happen.

      Also, reminders that he has told his body to be still and quiet are good. Along with the admonition, “It is time to be still and quiet.” We say that ALL. THE. TIME.

      Sticking with the routine and pushing through the hard nights is the key for us.

      I truly hope this helps!!!

  16. Lindsey

    I’ve read a lot about sleep and this is he first time I’ve heard this idea. I love the concept!

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