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How To Get a Toddler to Sleep in Their Bed

Do you struggle with bedtime?  If so, know that you are NOT alone!  As a seasoned parent to five biological children as well as a foster mom to over 20 foster kids over the years, bedtime is not all sunshine and rainbows. 

We’ve been there.  The long drawn-out bedtime routines.  Dozens of bathroom and drink runs.  Sad faces with crocodile tears.  Toddlers that refuse to sleep in their own beds. The struggle is so real! 

But over the years, we’ve gotten into a groove that works.  So today I’m going to share ways to get your toddler to sleep better.  Because who doesn’t crave a full night’s rest?

Ways To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Better

Routine, Routine, & More Routine

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that most kids (and adults) thrive on routine.  They like to know what’s coming.  Knowing what to expect and what is expected out of them creates a calmer environment.

So come up with a bedtime routine that works for your family and stick with it!  Even if the bedtime changes, still go through all the motions of the routine.

Speaking Of Routine, Make It Enjoyable

Whatever you decide to do, make your bedtime rituals and routines enjoyable.  For BOTH of you!  A typical night in our home is:

  • Head upstairs and everyone brushes their teeth and goes potty.
  • We then head to the “boys room” while the kids play quietly as they wait for everyone.
  • Once everyone is there, my husband reads the Bible aloud.  The kids and I all sit quietly around him.
  • Then we all get on our knees and do bedtime prayers.
  • The girls and I then head over to the girls’ room where I read a couple of books to Lucy (the youngest). Then, if time allows, I’ll read a chapter from one of our 13-year-old’s books too.  (During this, my husband reads from a chapter book to the boys.  Typically Boxcar Children or Hardy Boys.)
  • Now it’s big light out for everyone.  Each of the kids has a bed lamp or flashlight though.  And they are now allowed to play or read QUIETLY (keyword!) for 10 minutes.  We set a timer so they know exactly when that time is up.
  • Kisses and hugs to everyone (my husband and I both go to each child).  And then we head back downstairs.
  • After the timer goes off, the kids all shut off their lights.
Ways To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Better

We RARELY have an issue!  Sometimes, we’ll hear someone take another bathroom break.  But they head right back to bed again without coming downstairs.

**Back when we first started this routine, we’d sometimes have a child come back down to be re-tucked in.  But once we made the rule that they’d lose their 10 minutes of quiet play or reading, they stopped.

Don’t Ever Threaten Their Bed Or Bedtime As A Punishment

Now hear me out.  I’m not saying that you can’t put your child to bed if they need it.  Just last week, our 3 year old, Lucy, was really crabby at about 10am.  However, I approached it by telling her that she needed a break and to go crawl in bed for a rest. 

I told her she could read a book or play quietly but I wanted her to stay in her bed.  A short 30 minutes later, I went up to check on her.  She was in such a better mood! 

After that short break, she was able to come back down and enjoy the rest of her day without any further issues.  Sometimes, kids need a break and that’s okay.  Just don’t threaten their bed or bedtime in a negative manner. 

Keeping their bed in a positive light is one of the great ways to get your toddler to sleep better.

Clear The Clutter

We try to keep the kids’ bedrooms fairly clutter-free.  Everyone seems to sleep much better when their room is orderly.  So even though they do have some toys in their bedrooms, we clean up every day. 

And at least once per month, we go through their rooms and take out anything that isn’t being played with or enjoyed.  Those items go down to the basement until the kids decide to get rid of them or rotate them back up.

Add A Fan

Each bedroom in our house has either a ceiling fan, standing fan, or both.  Ever since we bought the kids a fan for their rooms, they’ve started sleeping much better!  It occurred to me how much better I slept with a fan so I decided to give it a try for everyone.  So glad it works!

Night Light

We picked up a couple of cheap and really dim night lights for the kids’ rooms.  They add very little lighting.  But the important thing they do add is comfort!

Leave The Bathroom Light On

Our upstairs bathroom has a bright vanity light as well as a dimmer overhead light.  The kids sleep with their bedroom doors closed.  But we leave the dimmer overhead bathroom light on for those middle-of-the-night potty breaks!  The kids can get up and go without being afraid. 

And since the light isn’t terribly bright, it doesn’t fully wake them.  So not only does that mean they can get up and go potty easily, but they head back to bed and fall right back to sleep too!

Make Their Bed Comfy

Honestly, who doesn’t love a fun comforter?  Or comfy pillows?  Add some pizazz and comfort to their bed!  Let them choose a cute throw pillow.  Or a pillowcase with their favorite character.  Add a couple stuffed animals and small basket of books to the foot of the bed too!

Fun Beds Never Go Out Of Style

When I was a kid, I wanted a “Princess Bed”.  The kind with a canopy, frills, and lace.  Sadly, I never got it.  I always wonder if it would have helped me sleep better.  I struggled to fall asleep for years as a child. 

But I also had an old bed with a hard mattress.  So my husband and I have tried to get our kids fun beds that they would want to sleep in.  For example, our youngest son just got a truck bed that he loves!

Ways To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Better

Don’t Dawdle

Once your bedtime routine is complete, head out the door without dawdling.  If you hang around, it’ll give the kids an opportunity to stall!

Final Thoughts

And there you have it!  My tips for Ways To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Better.  I hope they help bedtime go a little smoother for you and your family! 

If you’re looking for ways to get your toddler to sleep better, make sure you give the list above a try. 


Saturday 30th of December 2023

Thanks for all the tips.

Ashley Parks

Monday 25th of December 2023

These are great tips! Leaving a light on and getting the room clutter free is a big help for us and our crew! We try to do bed time stories and our older daughter always wants to stay up late to read. She is usually tired in the mornings though, because she finds books so hard to put down. (I totally understand that!) I love the idea of the 10 minutes and lights out. I need to try that so she has time to read and time to rest!

Maria Egan

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

This has been such a challenge for my grandkids and many of these tips have been helpful. I think consistency is the key and rewards like these neat beds.


Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

I have been trying to find one of these beds. Anyone know where I can get one? Every where I look is sold out🤦‍♀️


Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

Hi Mindy,

On their website, they have a 'notify me' button so I'm assuming they plan to restock. Have you reached out to Step2 directly? I'd suggest emailing them and inquiring as I did a quick search and couldn't find them in stock anywhere either.

Karen A.

Tuesday 25th of September 2018

ART MASTER ACTIVITY DESK for my granddaughter.