It can be hard to convince a persistent toddler to get in bed AND STAY IN BED. Strategies such as using visual bedtime routine cards and reward systems will help your toddler at bedtime.

Here are some tips to help your child’s bedtime go smoothly:

  1. Allow your child to make as many choices as possible at bedtime. When they feel like they are in control, they will be more likely to comply at bedtime.

    Which pajamas does your child want to wear?
    What bedtime books does she want to read?
    What are two of her favorite songs she might ask you to sing?

    Allowing your child to make these choices will increase the likelihood that she will comply when you say it’s time to go to sleep.
  2. Invest in a TOT CLOCK: https://amzn.to/2Btr2wf
    Teaching your toddler the boundaries at bedtime and during the night is important in establishing healthy sleep habits. A toddler clock is a great investment that will last for YEARS.


    All 3 of my kids have a tot clock and within 2 weeks they learned the boundaries at bedtime.

    I do prefer the My Tot Clock brand because it also has a “time out” feature as well as an “encouragement time” feature, so the uses go far beyond just bedtime and naptime. Of course, there are other options as well. Here are my other top recommendations:

    Mella: https://amzn.to/303S73s
    Hatch: https://amzn.to/2Xtlo5L
  3. When I first received our My Tot Clock, I filmed and posted a comprehensive demo and review on my YouTube channel. Feel free to check it out for more information!

    MY TOT CLOCK DEMO AND REVIEW VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6Af8DcmiGU
  4. On top of allowing your child to make their own choices at bedtime, I always recommend implementing the use of visual bedtime routine cards. These should be placed at your child’s eye level so that s/he can see them and point to them and increase their independence in the bedtime routine process.

    When using these bedtime routine cards, your child knows the order in which the bedtime routine should be conducted, but they’re also able to make the choices that were discussed in point number 1.

    I have made this really easy for you! Click the link to download my FREE BEDTIME ROUTINE CARDS: https://www.subscribepage.com/bedtimeroutinecards

    As a bonus, I’ve also included MORNING routine cards so that your mornings can go as smoothly as your nights.

  5. I think it’s important to have a reward system. Implementing a sticker chart with your child is always successful. You can even go as far as bringing your child to the craft store with you so that s/he can pick out the stickers that s/he wants to earn.

Here’s how I usually implement a sticker chart:

Talk about the sticker chart during the day, during non-sleep times. Tell your child that s/he is a big kid and that they GROW AND GROW SO MUCH while sleeping. You want to make sure your child is getting lots of sleep so he can grow a lot and wake up bigger- and able to run faster and jump higher! Then, tell your child that to help encourage him to get a good night of sleep, you’ll let him pick a sticker for his chart in the morning, IF he stayed in bed ALL NIGHT.

Do you need more formal sleep training methods for your toddler?

There are several sleep training methods that can be used for toddlers and they don’t involve CRY-IT-OUT. I will cover some of the basics here, but if you need more in-depth information on these methods, consider downloading my Toddler Sleep Guide.

The Chair Shuffle

Once you’ve gone through your entire bedtime routine, lay your child down in her bed and sit in a chair beside the bed so you are close to her and she knows you’re there. If she gets out of bed, silently return her to her bed and sit in your chair. If she begins crying, you can comfort her.

You will stay in the room however long it takes for your child to fall asleep. You will continue to give her some space by sitting in the chair, and then if she cries go and comfort her.

Move your chair further away from the bed every few nights. When your chair is in the hallway, you will know that your child is now ready to fall asleep on her own.

The Kissing Game

  • Say goodnight to your child and tell him that if he stays in bed without crying, you will be back in X minutes to give him another kiss. Next, leave the room.
  • Commit to a waiting period before going back to his room. You may choose the amount of time, but be sure to watch the clock and remain consistent.
  • Once the time is up, and if he is still in bed, quietly walk back in his room, give him a kiss and leave the room again. Tell him that he is doing a great job and you will be back again to give him another kiss if he continues to stay in bed without tears.
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 until he is asleep. If he gets out of bed and throws a fit, tell him the game is over and you will return to kiss him when he is asleep.

Bedtime Pass

Once your routine is over and your child is in bed, he may try to negotiate one more hug, one more drink, another trip to the bathroom, etc. The bedtime pass is a gentle way to limit his requests while allowing him the power to choose what is worth getting out of bed for.

It is important to only use one pass and to only allow him to redeem it ONE TIME each night. Not following through or giving in more than once will teach him that he can still negotiate at bedtime. It is also important to discuss the consequences of getting out of bed after the pass has been redeemed and also talking about the rewards of not turning in the pass all night!

Not sure if your child needs sleep training? Take the quiz to find out!

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Need a sleep coach NOW?

If you’re ready to start sleep training, let’s set up a time to chat! Some things to think about when deciding when you want to start sleep training your baby:

  • Ensure it’s the proper timing- make sure your baby isn’t sick, you aren’t traveling, or you don’t have any big life changes coming (new baby, moving, switching jobs/childcare, etc.).
  • Be prepared to put in the work. Consistency will pay off in the long run. Sleep training isn’t an overnight success; it takes many nights and dedication to help your baby learn to sleep.
  • Create a plan or hire me as your sleep consultant for one-on-one help.

Sweet Dreams,
 Missy Yandow


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