Why your 1 year old needs a bedtime routine

why your 1 year old needs a bedtime routine; sleeping toddler

These 4 sample bedtime routines for a 1-year-old will help you get your toddler to sleep at your desired bedtime with fewer tears and anger. Find out why you need a bedtime routine and how to create one that works for your family.

why your 1 year old needs a bedtime routine; sleeping toddler

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Does your toddler scream and cry every night when it’s time for bed? He knows that he goes to sleep every night but for some reason it’s always a surprise. 

Trying to put my 16 month old to sleep whether for bedtime or down for a nap was like trying to help a drunk friend get into the car and put their seat belt on.  

Hands are flailing and slapping me in the face, there’s a foot in my spleen, and her body has mysteriously turned into Jell-O. 

Here’s the thing — bedtime doesn’t have to be a fight. You can put your 1 year old to sleep without having anxiety all day about the impending struggle soon to come. 

I’m here to help you take the stress and struggle out of bedtime with a quick and simple bedtime routine guaranteed to help your little one fall asleep if you stay consistent. 

Why your 1 year old needs a bedtime routine

A recent study found that “[A] bedtime routine resulted in significant reductions in problematic sleep behaviors for infants and toddlers.”

Having a routine for your toddler lets her know what to expect every night which results in less anxiety. 

The same study also found that “Sleep continuity increased and there was a significant decrease in the number of mothers who rated their child’s sleep as problematic. Maternal mood state also significantly improved.”

A bedtime routine isn’t only beneficial for your 1 year old, when you get a good night’s rest your mood will improve as well.

What time should a 1 year old go to bed (and a few subtle sleeping cues)

When choosing your 1 year olds bedtime, keep in mind he needs about 14 hours of sleep per day. An ideal bedtime is between 6-8pm. 

Pay attention to your toddler’s sleep signals such as yawning and eye rubbing with a curled fist to know when she’s ready for bed. 

African-American man with his cute baby lying on sofa

Is naptime making bedtime harder?

Taking a nap too close to bedtime can make getting your toddler down at night difficult because he’s not tired. 

My daughter started taking one nap a day around 11 months. At 16 months her sleep schedule looks like this:

  • Wake up: 8:30am
  • Nap: 12:00pm – 1:30pm
  • Bedtime: 9:30pm

Staying up later works best for our family because when I would put her to sleep at 7:30 or 8pm she would wake up around 5am (sometimes earlier) and everyone, including her, was grumpy and tired. 

I lay her down for a nap at 11:30am and she’s asleep by noon. Putting her down for a nap within 4 hours of waking up makes her well-rested and she falls asleep easier at bedtime. 

Since every toddler’s sleeping habits are different, play around with different nap times until you find the sweet spot. As long as my daughter is awake from her nap by 2pm she’s ready to go to bed at 9:30pm.   

Related: How To Create A Realistic Stay At Home Mom Schedule With A Toddler

The secret sauce for an effective bedtime routine [and 4 real-life examples]

An effective bedtime routine is all about consistency. If you know you can’t stick to an elaborate routine then keep it short and simple. 

Here are a few real-life bedtime routines for you to experiment with until you figure out which one you can stick to.

Bedtime routine for 14 month old:

  1. Bath
  2. Pajamas
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Read a book
  5. Hugs and snuggles
  6. Sleep

Bedtime routine for 16 month old:

  1. Pajamas and a fresh diaper
  2. Kiss family goodnight
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Put in crib with lovey
  5. Turn on white noise
  6. Leave and close the door

Bedtime routine for 19 month old:

  1. Bath
  2. Massage
  3. Book
  4. Nurse to sleep

Bedtime routine for 22 month old:

  1. Bath
  2. Massage
  3. Bedtime snack
  4. Brush teeth
  5. Quiet playtime
  6. Read a book
  7. Sleep

Your toddler doesn’t have to take a bath every night. As long as all of the other steps in the routine are consistent she’ll still know it’s time for bed.

How to make bedtime easier for your toddler…and you!

Your toddler can’t go from running around outside straight to bedtime. He’ll be too excited and won’t have enough time to calm down. 

A few things to do at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime to help him relax are: 

  • Dim the lights
  • Play lullabies or white noise in the background
  • Turn off the tv
  • Cool the house down to your toddler’s ideal sleeping temperature
  • Quiet playtime 

This will help him get sleepy which will make bedtime easier. 

Quick recap…

A bedtime routine will take the surprise out of bedtime for your toddler. To succeed with your bedtime routine you need to:

  • Be consistent
  • Be patient
  • Be flexible

Your toddler won’t start sleeping better the first night you start a new routine so give her time to adjust and figure out what’s going on. And remember to look for sleeping cues such as rubbing her eyes with a closed fist or yawning. 

A bedtime routine will help everyone wake up in a better mood. 

4 sample bedtime routines for your one year old toddler; toddler sleeping

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