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What To Do When Your Toddler Says They're Not Tired

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It's no coincidence that kids start becoming cute around the same time they start dipping their toe in the rebellion pool. They are beginning to discover many things about their world; learning which foods they prefer and how much fun it can be to play with a certain toy, to name a few. Every parent knows it's important to have a few solid tricks up your sleeve around this age. For example, knowing what to do when your toddler says they're not tired can save your day from the disasters that no napping or late bedtimes can bring.

Protesting to sleep with the ole, "I'm not tired," is the oldest excuse in the kid book. Your child holds tight to the hope that this phrase will provide them with the magic of staying up late or skipping an afternoon nap. But even though you know better, you may not be sure what to do in the situation, because no one wants to get into back and forth match with a 3-year-old about how tired she really is. So what options do you have?  

In order to get your kiddo into bed, you're going to have to tire her out, then soothe her to dreamland. Try out some of these ways to get your toddler to sleep, even when they say they're not tired.

1. Attempt A 30 Minute Activity

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If you're child says they're not tired come bedtime, wear them out with some physical activity. Everyday Family suggests that 30 minutes of active play for your toddler can wear them out and prepare them to sleep.

2. Tuck Them In With A Stuffed Animal

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I tried this with my kids and had a pretty steady success rate. The key is to make it a game. Have them gather their most beloved stuffed animals and tell them they need to put the stuffies to sleep. Have your child tuck the stuffed animals into bed, sing a lullaby, and cuddle with them. Soon your toddler's eyes are closed as they rest in a pile of teddy bears and elephant pillows.

3. Keep A Routine

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A child's body can adapt to a sleep schedule and recognize when it's time to get some shut eye. As Parents magazine pointed out, keeping naps and bedtime consistent for toddlers is key to getting them to sleep when you want.

4. Go Up & Down

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Get your kid moving with nothing but a simple set of stairs. What To Expect suggested you wear your toddler out by making a game of walking up and down the staircase multiple times, as . Just stay close by incase there are any slips.

5. Put On Sleepy Songs

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It's easy to find lullaby stations on any music streaming app, so find your fave and let the slow jams roll. It's a good idea to start this up to an hour before you want your child to sleep. This trick still works for my son, even though he's seven. And if you're worried that the lyrics will keep your kid up, try white noises to put them to sleep.

6. Give A Gentle Massage

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Even the tiniest of tots will find a massage relaxing, and as Mayo Clinic pointed out, child massage promotes sleep as well as relaxation. Use a gentle touch, but not so much that it tickles and sends them into a giggling fit.

7. Get Them To Stop Moving

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I am constantly jealous of the energy toddlers have — it just doesn't seem fair. When they are on the move, they may not realize how tired they truly are, so getting them to sit helps the message to be received. Try puzzles, board games, or books to help your little one make their body still and the the drowsiness kick in.

8. Start The Countdown

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Instead of springing bedtime on your child, start a countdown a few minutes out. Let them know sleep is coming soon by giving them a five minute warning, as Parents suggested. This will prepare them as well as work on their concept of time.

9. Turn Off The TV

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Watching a show may initially slow your toddler down and get them to be still,  but TV too close to bedtime can make falling asleep tougher for little guys. As Healthline reported, "the light from a television screen (or computer monitor) can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin." So turn off the tube at least two hours ahead of bedtime.

10. Set The Scene

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Start making the house dim around the time you want your child to sleep. Darkness prompts sleepiness, because your brain interprets less light as time to close your eyes, according to the website for the National Sleep Foundation.

11. Give Them A Sleepy Snack

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It's possible what your child chows on could affect their level of sleepiness. As Reader's Digest pointed out, many foods contain ingredients that make you sleepy. Opt for some toddler faves, such as pretzels and yogurt, to get the job done.

12. Chill Out

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Yes, literally chilling out may help your child get tired. Melatonin is effected by temperature as well as light, so set the thermostat to a sleepy temperature as Healthline suggested.

13. Fake It 'Til You Make It

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Getting two toddlers to nap at the same time was a challenge for me many days, so I had to get pretty creative. I would invite them on to my bed, and as we would read books, I would yawn and yawn (many forced) until soon my boys were yawning too.