Help! My Toddler Won’t Go to Bed at Night
Is your kiddo bouncing off the walls at night? Are you living with a little energizer bunny and no matter how much exercise they get or how hard they play, they just never seem to get tired at night? So you find yourself constantly wondering when you should put them to bed. Wondering if maybe they don’t need as much sleep as other kids?
Let me help you figure out what’s going on and show you how to spot some secret sleepy cues that you may be missing.
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You’ve heard me say a million times that your toddler & preschool age child needs to be going to bed before 8pm. But for lots of families, their child just doesn’t seem tired before 9 or 10pm.
Kids 2-8 years old should be getting 10-12 hours of consistent sleep each night with no wake ups. And the younger the child, the more sleep they need at night.
When kids don’t get enough good consistent sleep every night, they get “overtired”. This is just a sleep coach term that means your child isn’t getting enough sleep and it’s set off a bad cycle of poor sleep habits. Late bedtimes can lead to overnight wake ups, getting up at 5am, skipping naps. LOTS of sleep problems occur because kids are overtired.
When kids are overtired, it can actually mask the feeling of tiredness. This has to do with the levels of cortisol that is released when they aren’t getting enough sleep.
So actually the MOST tired kids may show very few obvious signs that they’re sleepy.
But don’t worry, they’re probably giving off some secret sleepy signs that you can learn to spot which will help you pinpoint the right early bedtime.
Yawning & eye rubbing are classic signs of sleepiness. But there are many others….
Does their body start to seem heavy – are they holding their head up, do they get fussy, short tempered, stop engaging with toys or family members, zone out, get less talkative, twirl their hair?
One family told me their son was constantly asking questions and talking all day long and they learned that his biggest sleepy sign was simply talking less.
These are all signs that your child is tired – even BEFORE they start yawning and rubbing their eyes. When you see these early sleepy signs, your child should be heading to bed.
My Toddler Never Seems Tired
Lots of families with overtired kids won’t see any of these signs. Their child is just always going, going, going.
In this case, watch for a jolt of energy, a second wind. A time of the evening when your child gets extra hyper. Maybe after dinner or around bathtime. Or maybe it’s even earlier than this if your child has been going to bed too late or not sleeping well for a long time.
Getting that jolt of evening energy, getting extra hyper, is actually the primary sign of sleepiness in overtired kids.
So, watch your child in the evening. When you see this hyperness set in, it means you’ve actually missed their perfect bedtime. They should have been down to bed BEFORE the second wind hits. So, use the clock as your guide. The best way to avoid the second wind, is to put them to bed earlier the next night.
Use these tips tonight and watch your child to spot some secret sleepy signs that you may have been missing.
If this sounds familiar and you are ready for a change, the next step is to take my Toddler Sleep Masterclass. It’s totally free and you can sign up at a time that is convenient for you. See you in class!