admin 2 - 3 years

Bedtime can be a headache for many parents. Many parents get impatient and sometimes feel distraught when their child tries to put off bedtime for as long as possible or gets up several times a night.

Why do some children have bedtime problems?

Sometimes, the problem is short-lived:

  • Your child is teething
  • Your child is unwell
  • Her bedtime routine has been changed because she slept away from home
  • Etc.

But sometimes, despite our best efforts, we may encourage poor sleeping habits in our children.
William is in bed.
His father says goodnight and leaves the room.
William starts to whimper and gets out of bed.
His father comes back.
William learns that by whimpering and getting out of bed, his father will come back.
The next night, he’ll do the same thing: unwittingly, his father has just encouraged an undesirable behaviour.

4 Steps for preventing bedtime problems

Step 1. Set up a bedtime routine.

A bedtime routine helps reassure and calm children before they go to bed. Make sure the routine is followed every night, at the same time and in the same order.

Sample routine:
Announcing that bedtime is close: “Rose, another 5 minutes and then it’s bath time”
Taking a bath
Putting on pyjamas
Having a drink of water
Brushing teeth
Going to the toilet
Reading a bedtime story
A kiss goodnight

Step 2. Opt for quiet games before putting your child to bed.

Avoid games and TV shows that are likely to stimulate your child before bed.

Step 3. Put your child to bed.

When it’s time to put your child to bed, check with her to make sure all the steps in the routine have been followed: “Are your teeth brushed? Have you had a glass of water?” This will prevent her from getting out of bed.

Step 4. Kiss your child goodnight and leave the room.

Useful tips

  • Avoid associating bed with punishment: don’t send your child to think or calm down on his bed; instead, use a stool or the first step of a staircase The bed should remain a pleasant place to be.
  • Be firm but gentle: almost all children try to put off bedtime at one point or another.
  • Pay attention to your child’s emotions. Maybe he’s really afraid of the dark. Using a nightlight will help reassure him.
  • Take care of yourself. Rest when you can and take time to do things you like, even if only for a few minutes.
For more information
Watch the videos by Naître et grandir (French only) on bedtime routines based on children’s ages
Baby sleep and nap routine
Sleep Routine of a Preschool-Aged Child

Easy to say but not always easy to do? A little help could be useful?
Find out about the Triple P activities that are offered near you.


Naître et grandir. Le sommeil : aider son enfant à s’endormir