Tips for Keeping Toddlers Up Late WITHOUT Ruining Their Sleep Schedule
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my best advice is to put your toddler to bed early. The goal is to have them asleep before 8 p.m.
But I know every night can’t be perfect.
Halloween is right around the corner, and the holidays will be here before you know it. Events like these will likely keep your child up past their ideal bedtime.
To help offset the disruption as much as possible, here are 5 tips on how to enjoy your holiday evenings and keep your toddler up late without turning them into little monsters!
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Maintaining sleep schedules while staying up past bedtime
1. Follow the 90% rule
Your goal should be to keep your kid’s good sleep schedule consistent 90% of the time. Unless you’re a major party animal, you shouldn't need to be keeping your toddler up late every night.
Limit the late nights and disrupted sleep to only once a week or so. This makes it easier for your kid to bounce back when they do need to have a late night. And try to keep a nice early bedtime in the nights leading up to a late event.
2. Prepare your child
Let your child know that a special event is coming up (like Halloween) and they’ll be staying up later than normal. Explain that it will be fun – as long as they have good behavior. Outline your expectations for the night and emphasize that when you get home, it’s straight to bed. It’s even better if you can get them to agree to it.
Example conversation: “Halloween is on Monday. Is it okay if we stay up a little later than normal? (of course they’ll say yes!) Are you excited to wear your costume? If you’re a good listener, maybe you can eat a few pieces of candy, too. Would you like that? (yes) Once it’s time to go home, it’s going to be straight to bed, okay? Does that sound like a fun night? Why don’t you explain it back to me?”
3. Encourage a nap
Banking some daytime sleep will help with late nights. If your child still naps, let them sleep a little longer on party day. If your child doesn’t nap but you think they have sensitive sleep needs - meaning they seem to be thrown off easily with a late bedtime or skipped nap - encourage some quiet time on party day in hopes that they nap. Try taking them on a car ride if they’re inclined to fall asleep in the car.
4. Be ready for an early wake up
Be prepared for your child to wake up earlier than normal. Going to bed too late is the main cause of super early wake ups. You’ve been warned! If that does happen, encourage a nap on this day as well. But make sure they’re awake by 3:00 p.m., because they’ll need to get a good night’s sleep that night.
5. Early bedtime
Here we are, full circle, back to the main advice I always give you - early bedtime! Get your child back on their normal sleep schedule the next day. If they woke early, didn’t nap or seem generally fussy in the evening, get them to bed even earlier. Don’t be afraid to put a tired 2, 3, 4 or 5-year-old to bed as early as 6:15 p.m.!
Is Halloween over but you’ve still got a little monster on your hands?
If your child’s sleep is a disaster and you need help establishing a great sleep schedule and bedtime routine, join my next Toddler Sleep Masterclass. It’s totally free!