12 Tricks Real Parents Use To Get Their Toddlers To Sleep

by Fiona Tapp

When my son gave up his mid-afternoon nap, I grieved. I'll admit, I may have even shed a tear or two. Those naps was my reprieve from non-stop toddler nonsense so I could catch up on my adult life and take a much-needed break. Although the loss of this downtime was difficult to bear, it did have one unexpected bonus: my little boy would be exhausted by the end of the day and, as a result, wouldn't fight sleep.

It turns out, there are a range of tricks real parents use to get their toddlers to sleep. Why? Well, because for reasons that cannot be explained (because, honestly, who doesn't like sleep?) sometimes toddlers fight sleep as though it were an enemy, rather than the sweet treat tired parents everywhere know it to be. When my little one was still enjoying naps during the day, bedtimes were often comical. He would spring up after just a few moments and declare it was "playtime," or ask for "just one more" story, song, sip of water, or any other delay tactic he could employ.

It can be hard not to get frustrated when you just want your toddler to go to sleep so you can finally get some precious alone time (or time with your partner) before the next morning, when it all starts over again. So, with that in mind, why not try a few of these tips and tricks that real parents have actually used?


"I noticed my toddler slept much better during the week, when he went to preschool, compared to the weekends. I asked the teacher for her game plan and she said, 'Two hours of outdoor play and no daytime nap.' I followed her suggestions and found my son was falling down by the end of the day."


"I have three kids. What I have learned is every kid is different. What worked with one didn't work with the next. But, on the whole, I found audio story books were awesome. They can go to bed awake but by the time the story is done, they're asleep."


"It sounds strange but we just moved to a house near a railway track and the sound of trains seems to soothe my kids to sleep."


"It's nonnegotiable in our house. You brush your teeth, put your pajamas on, and go to sleep. That's it."


"I read about three stories before bed and my voice gets progressively slower and quieter until my toddler starts yawning. That's when I know it's working!"


"We have a dance party before bed. It wears them out and the last song is a slow dance. I get a good hug and it calms everyone down."


"My kid loves carbs, so if I am worried she won't sleep, I load her up with pasta. She always sleeps well after a big Italian meal."


"I am often still working when my toddler is going to bed. I'll get on the phone and sing some lullabies, and it works every time."


"We go and pick his dad up at the train station every evening. I put him in his sleeping clothes with a blanket and he is always asleep by the time we get home. Then we just have to carry him to bed."


"I co-sleep and my daughter loves to chat, so I put on the news or another 'boring' show she won't like and she zones out and drops off to sleep."


"We have a picture chart that shows all the steps before bed, like a story, bath, etc. We point to each picture and the last one is a little girl sleeping. She loves the predictable routine."


"We all have a bedtime snack then brush our teeth. He sets his clock himself and then he's done for the night."