How to Put a Toddler to Sleep?

Bedtime, you’ve got it down by toddlerhood, or it’s suddenly become a complete nightmare, we’ve heard it go both ways. My husband and I have gone through some tough times getting our daughter to consistently sleep through the night, but finally at 17 months we are confident in our plan of action.

Our routine has been successful for several months now and we wanted to share that routine with all of you. I will say that each night is not a smashing success with those one off evenings that she is teething, and that’s normal. Don’t expect your toddlers sleeping routine to be perfect because it will end in disappointment. I say shoot for the 80/20 rule. 80 percent success and 20 percent…not.

How to put a toddler to sleep?

In order to put a toddler into a deep sleep it’s vital to prep for bed early, offer a snack, have time to relax, and ensure that the toddler pajamas are comfortable and cozy. Now it’s time to brush their teeth, offer a snuggly friend, and cozy in for story-time.

Now it’s time to nail down each of these tips effectively, continue reading for the full scoop!

The Winding Down Hour

6:00 PM is when our family starts winding down for bedtime. We turn off the TV and ditch devices (cell phones, iPad’s). At this hour it becomes family time. Typically we will read books together, but every once in a while when it seems that our daughter has a lot of energy we may play some light music and dance a bit, or play hide and seek to use up some of her energy. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you are giving your toddler your pure undivided attention.

Snack Time

During the toddler stage we have found it helpful to give our daughter a few bites of whole grain rice cereal before bed if she has not eaten in a couple hours. Some days she is really into a bedtime snack, and other days she isn’t and that’s perfectly fine. We just watch her signals and she decides if she’s in need of a bedtime snack or not. Toddlers may no longer enjoy plain rice cereal, so I will add a little bit of peanut butter or a little bit of an organic squeeze pouch into her cereal for flavor. Once her tummy is satisfied she is ready for bed. If your toddler is restless at night try giving them a bit of food before bed, it can make all the difference.

Bath Time

The next step in our bedtime routine is bath time. Every other evening we give our daughter a bath. We do not bathe her daily because she still suffers from a slight case of Eczema and bathing every night really dries out her skin and irritates it. On the evenings when we bathe her, we let her really relax in the bath to wind down for bed. We use a lavender bubble bath which really gets her in the mood for bedtime.

After bath time we lotion her up and give her a soothing rub, which she gets very excited about. Baby massage is a very helpful tool in getting your little one to bed, if you’re interested in more information on baby massage check out Baby Massage: The Calming Power of Touch, it’s a powerful tool to use.

Brush Hair

My husband and I will then brush her hair until it’s dry before putting her to bed

Its Pajama Time

Next step is putting on pajamas. The clothing your toddler wears to bed has a lot to do with how well your little one sleeps. During the summer our daughter will wear shorts and a short sleeve top and we wrap her lightly in a breathable blanket. In the colder months she will wear a light long sleeve footie pajama and a sleep sack. Typically she will not need a blanket. But on the rare occasion, when it’s really cold we may drape a light blanket on her.

My husband and I swear by using a sleep sack, even at the toddler stage they are entirely helpful. Majority of children move around a lot while sleeping, using just a blanket we found that our daughter would quickly wiggle out of the blanket and then become cold and wake up crying. A sleep sack eliminated that issue for us and as a result we have a much deeper sleeping little one. We swear by this Gunapod fleece sleep sack, it works wonders!


Take a sippy cup up to the nursery with you. Keeping your toddler hydrated before bed is important. We offer her several sips before we officially put her down for the night.

Brush Teeth

The next step is brushing teeth. Gosh, we really struggled in this department for months. Our daughter hated having her teeth brushed until we found a gentle vibrating tooth brush, it made all the difference and now without any struggle we can brush her teeth successfully. If you have any struggles with brushing your little ones teeth check out the Brush-Baby Baby Sonic Electric Toothbrush, it may just save you a lot of heartache.

Stuffed Animal Time

We give our daughter her favorite stuffed animal to sleep with. We got the okay for our daughter to sleep with her stuffed moose when she was 12 months old. Make sure to get the okay from your pediatrician before allowing your toddler to sleep with a stuffed animal.

Story Time

Now it’s onto the final step, story time. Typically we like to be very interactive with story time, but at bedtime our daughter is too tired to interact. We just find an easy light read and by the time we are through she is nearly out!


Lastly, you can either softly lay your little one into their crib or rock them off into a deep slumber. My preferred method is still rocking my daughter to sleep, I know that rocking her to sleep is coming to an end in the near future, and I as a mommy am just trying to soak up those last most precious snuggles. Any other mothers feel the same way? This raising a baby thing goes by way too fast, and I need those moments to really love on my daughter. However you decide to put your baby to sleep officially is perfectly acceptable in my book. Sweet dreams little angel!

Helpful Tips

  • Noise and light dampening blackout curtains: the best money we’ve ever spent. If there is noise outside your toddler’s window, get some curtains.
  • Turn off the lights: For the longest time we kept a night light on in our daughters room.When she was an infant she had no issue with the light, but at about a year old she began being very restless at night. Finally, we decided to try turning off her night light and it worked like magic, she slept like a rock. Give this a try if your toddler is restless and there is a night light in their room, it may be your solution.
  • Turn off Music: As an infant our daughter slept much better with a bit of white noise or light music, but as a toddler it became a nuisance and would keep her up at night. Try turning off all the noise and see if this helps your little one sleep more soundly.

Every toddler is different, you may need to tweak this routine, or maybe add music if you didn’t have it already. I just know from experience how challenging bedtime can be. If I can help even one family master bedtime, then that will bring me a world of joy. We’ve got to work together because we have a big job on our hands. We all deserve to have some rest at the end of a long day, because every day is long when you’re raising a toddler!