The last step in “Putting a toddler to bed” is how to keep them there.
As you have already learned from the prior chapters, toddlers are clever creatures, capable of every devious tactic available for foiling your bedtime attempts. In review, we covered topics such as, “Why immediately after dinner is the best time to begin putting a toddler to bed”, “How to lure a toddler to her bath”, and “Never, ever, threaten the toddler within earshot of a non-family member”.
In chapter three, we briefly discussed the tactic of the bedtime story. Let us now cover the topic in detail. By this time, the toddler should be clean, changed into pajamas, brushed their teeth, destroyed the bathroom and are under the covers in bed. A well-prepared parent/guardian would have selected a book, age appropriate, from the aptly stocked arsenal of reading material stored neatly in the child’s bedroom, as outlined prior to Step Two of “Putting a toddler to bed”. The last thing we wish to have to do is fetch a story elsewhere in the house and leave the toddler unattended.
Rule number one of Story Time is never ask the toddler which book to read. They have a favorite story, repeatedly read to them so much they can recite the tale from memory. If such books, are demanded at a high pitch scream then resort to Rule number Two; never alter the story, especially once the toddler’s eyes have begun to close. This will cause a sudden and sometime violent reaction, resulting in the springing upright in bed and loud protesting of “that is not how the story goes”.
Use calm, soothing voice while reading the tale. Suppress the urge to add enthusiasm of any type as this will only engage the toddler but instead drone on in a monotone level causing the heaviness of sleep to settle in on the young one. After completing half the book, resist showing the pages prior to turning them, to the child. Instead, allow the toddler to imagine the story as it unfolds in the early onslaught of dreaming. This is also a good time to complete the tucking in of the toddler by slowly bringing the blanket up to the neck.
By this time, you should have slowed the reading of the story. You never want to finish the tale before the toddler has fallen asleep. Most toddler stories consist of few words and many pictures and can work against you in your efforts. Timing of the story reading is imperative and needs to be controlled, unless the selection is “War and Peace”.
Room setting is an important element to keeping a toddler in bed and is essential to Story Time. The rooms’ main light should be off and a dim bedside lamp is to be used. This will aid in lulling the toddler to sleep and yet enable you to see the words. Remember, no adlibbing or altering the story. The small cast of light will encapsulate the environment creating a safe haven for the toddler and a barrier for you to prevent an escape. A modern touch lamp is perfect, as a simple and QUIET touch will extinguish it.
Having made it past Story Time, and with the toddler comfortably sound asleep, you can carefully loosen, then remove the restraining straps from across the bed and child. It is suggested the tightly tucked in sheets and blankets remain so, in case the toddler should stir during the night. In their haze of sleepiness, they will simply fall peacefully back to sleep believing they are still restrained.
In the next chapter, “How to avoid middle of the night bathroom trips and calls for water” we will expand on in-depth tactics and the skills to master them for your getting a full nights rest.