Toddlers: Masters of Stalling Bedtime

by | Jun 7, 2022 | bumps in the road, Toddler Sleep Tips | 0 comments

Toddler Stalling at Bedtime?

Toddlers have very little control over things in their life.

They have complete control over 3 things: eating, toileting, and sleeping

For this reason it is a good idea to let your toddler have control over the things in life that are appropriate.  What they want to wear, what they want to eat, what activity they would like to do next etc…. It is helpful if they are provided options when making these choices.


Toddlers stalling, protesting, or all-out refusing bedtime is so common that this phase is expected.

So what can you do?

Toddlers need to know exactly what is coming next, so it is very important that you tell them what to expect at bedtime, and be sure to be very specific!

For example:

We are going to read two books, sing one song, turn on the sound machine and then you’re going to get into bed.  Once you’re in bed I will give you one hug, three kisses and then I am going to leave.  If your toddler wants to know what you are going to do, I suggest telling them something boring, something they wouldn’t be interested in joining you for.

It is important to make the expectations things that you know you can follow through with completely.

If you don’t follow through then your child will believe that they have control over your response.


Something that is extremely helpful through this process is the use of social stories.

I HEART social stories so much!  I have had many of my clients with toddlers add them to their bedtime routine and it always go great!

If you are not familiar, a social story is a book that you make about your child’s bedtime routine using pictures of your child.

So take a picture of your little one:

  • Brushing teeth
  • In pajamas
  • Picking out a book
  • Reading a book with you
  • Cuddling with you
  • Turning on the sound machine
  • Turning off the lights
  • Laying in bed


Be sure to include every step of the bedtime routine.


I promise your child will love this!  After all, it is a book about them, with pictures of them, doing things they are familiar with, and don’t forget they even helped to make it.

These little books can be made at most pharmacies for a very nominal cost.  Of course the process will vary from store to store, but generally you upload pictures to the store’s app and chose to have it bound.  It looks real book!

That being said, you can keep way more simple and it will still work.  Take a few pictures of your tot, tape them to construction paper and ta-dah… you have a social story.  Your little one will still love it!

I have had a few clients whose toddler has responded so well to them that they make a new one to help through all different types of situation such as going on a vacation or staying at grandma’s house over night.  


Most importantly, keep in mind that this type of process takes time.  Like all things in the toddler world, patience is a big piece.

So make your social story, set very clear expectation for bedtime and try it tonight!

With patience, clear expectations, and consistency your toddler’s bedtime will improve in no time.

Your Sleep Bestie,

Feel like you could use more help with your toddler’s sleep.  Click the link below to schedule a free consultation.  I’d love to chat!

AM Smiles is a highly effective baby sleep coaching service designed for busy families.

I help you harness the power of sleep training to improve the spirits and lives of you and your family through proper rest. I’d love to talk to you about your little one and help you get back to living life well rested! ❤️