I’ve been doing a lot of googling and talking to other parents about bedtime tips for 3 year olds lately. My 3 year old has always been a pretty good sleeper, but we’ve been having a few sleep challenges recently. 3 year olds need about 10-12 hours of sleep per day and will usually still have one nap a day. Here are my 10 bedtime tips for 3 year olds:
1. It might be time to phase out the nap. When my 3 year old naps too late, it really throws off bedtime. There is always an excess amount of energy and bedtime tends to get pushed back later and later, which throws off the next day a little bit. It’s a terrible cycle! I usually try to keep the nap shorter and if it’s 3 pm, I just skip the nap. I do give some down time and quiet time where we will read books or do some yoga stretches if we end up skipping the nap.
2. Get a nightlight. This was a tremendous help for the “It’s too dark” phase. We let our 3 year old pick one out and we also got our 3 year old this cool turtle that has constellations that project onto the ceiling. It’s a pretty cool night light and a great combo for us!
3. Use your monster spray. I have a spray bottle with some water and lavender essential oils that I turned into a “monster” spray. We squirt the monsters away in the closet, under the bed, and anywhere else that we think monsters might be. Lavender is also a great natural relaxing smell – perfect for bedtime.
4. Make a nest. Now that my 3 year old is in a big kid bed, I think he sometimes misses being all cozy in the crib. We use a some pillows, a blanket, and some of his favorite stuffed animals and make a nest around him. It’s a fun activity to do together and keeps him nice and cozy, even though all of it is usually on the ground the next morning!
5. Yoga stretches are a great way to channel extra night time energy. I am a big fan of doing yoga stretches with the kids! This is a great way to release some of that extra energy and to get into a calming and relaxing mindset for bedtime. A few baby, tree, and downward dog poses will help to ease into bedtime.
6. Limit water and liquids after 7 pm. If you are in the midst of potty training or if you just have a 3 year old who likes to delay bedtime by saying they have to go pee, limit water or any other liquids by 7 pm. My 3 year old also likes to let me know that he needs another drink of water and I will let him have a sip from a water bottle, but I usually don’t engage him. He gets the drink of water and then I say, “Good night again” and I point towards his bedroom and it is off to bed.
7. Read a few books. What kid doesn’t love getting read to? Sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s my oldest who will read books to the younger ones. It’s a sweet time and a great way to focus on a calming activity before bed. There are some nights that my 3 year old is asleep before the book is even finished!
8. Take a walk after dinner. During summer time, this is one of my favorite things to do. Since it’s still light out after dinner, we take a walk together as a family when the weather is nice. It’s a great way to expend energy, digest dinner, and have one more last hurrah before bedtime.
9. Take a warm bubble bath. Well, have your 3 year old take the warm bubble bath. It’s soothing, warm, and fun way to end the day.
10. Let them make their own bed. Sometimes, it just takes a change of scenery. I’ve pulled out some floor cushions and covered them with sheets to make a new “nest” for my 3 year old to sleep on. One time, he wanted to sleep in a cardboard box that he had decorated and put blankets in. So, I let him – he slept great and straight through the night with no wake ups!
I hope you get some good zzzzzz’s and that these bedtime tips for your 3 year old will help them to get good zzzzzzz’s tonight as well!
*This post was originally written for and published on BabbaCo.com prior to their acquisition by Barefoot Books.