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Bedtime routines for toddlers

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Real mum's tip

"Keep them in their bedroom, and don’t give in! And get good blackout blinds so the room is nice and dark!"

Carla Louise Unsted - mum to Mia, 2, and Lucy, 16 months

Lighter evenings can make it tricky to persuade toddlers that it’s bedtime, so this is when good habits are essential. Three Tesco Loves Baby Club mums describe their bedtime routines.

We wind down quietly

Emanuela and Frédéric Chevarin - parents to Lorenzo, 5 and Alessio, 2

Our routine

"Our children go to bed slightly later than most British kids I think, because we always have family dinner together. The boys have their bath before we eat, to save time later. After dinner, we have a quiet time, then they get ready for bed at around eight. We give Alessio milk, they have a story each, then go to their own rooms – they sleep better apart. Alessio is still in his cot bed and has a baby music player – he likes to drift off to the sound of waves. He’s usually asleep by 8.30pm and Lorenzo not long after."

Nap or not?

"Alessio always naps between 1-2pm, for two hours or so. Having a nap means he isn't overtired at bedtime, but still tired enough to fall asleep."

Exhaust them before bedtime!

Suzanne Briscall - mum to Eliza, 13, Naia, 11, Jayden, 3 and Alyssa, 1

Our routine

"My younger children have tea together, then half an hour of madness to work off some energy. Next it's up to 45 minutes playing in the bath together. The Johnson's Baby Bedtime range makes a massive difference to how well they settle.

“Once bathed, it's downstairs for milk, then a 10-minute ‘bedtime warning’ and a final countdown – Jayden needs a warning so he can handle something changing. He has a story, while Alyssa potters. Then they lie down – Alyssa in her cot and Jayden in his bed – and I sit with them for five minutes. Although we aim for lights off at 7pm, our real cut-off is 7.30pm. Having a routine makes everything much easier. I can leave them with a babysitter, and so long as they follow the routine, they’re happy."

Nap or not?

“No, they’ve dropped their naps now. It's all go till bedtime.”

Make them feel secure

Carla Louise Unsted - mum to Mia, 2 and Lucy, 16 months

Our routine

"My girls have had a very settled bedtime routine since they were born: bath, cream for their eczema, night clothes and maybe some children’s TV. I take Lucy to bed first, then come back for Mia. She gets straight into bed and lies down while I read her a couple of stories, then I say goodnight and leave the room.

"Having a stable routine makes the girls feel secure. It’s always worked well, apart from when Mia moved to a big bed. She was fine for two weeks, then started having terrible tantrums when I tried to leave her. Controlled crying didn’t work but following the advice of a friend, I reassured her that mummy wasn’t leaving, and sat with her until she fell asleep. Soon, she'd do this pretty quickly, and after a couple of months was fine for me to leave after the story. She has a baby gate on her door now, and when she occasionally gets out of bed it reminds her to get back in."

Nap or not?

"Yes, the girls both have a nap around 11am. It fits with the little one and means I get a break!"

Ideas to help sleepyheads go to bed