How to Put a Two Year Old to Sleep

Once, you could simply rock your infant to sleep. Now your child is a squirmy, strong-willed toddler who simply hates bedtime. But don't despair: A few simple steps can really help make bedtime a more pleasant time of the day.


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    Determine a good time schedule. Allow plenty of hours between nap time and bedtime. If they are too close together, your child is unlikely to sleep.
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    On average, a two-year-old sleeps about 11 hours at night and two hours during the day, although this is not a solid rule.
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    Be sure your child has enough physical exercise. Two year olds have a lot of energy, and if it's not burned off, it may interfere with sleep later on.
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    Agree on a consistent word (preferably one word) that he/she can associate with sleeping. Examples would be "night", "nappy", or "la-la". If your child understands what's going on, there's a better chance of cooperation.
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    Plan out a routine for the child to wind him or her down with. Typical routines include a bath, a sippy cup, pacifier (if he or she still uses one), story time, or a lullaby.
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    Make your home quiet and dim lights an hour before bedtime to allow your child to transition from daytime to nighttime.
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    Prepare everything: the crib or bed, the child, and you. This is the time when you change their diaper, pull anything out of the bed/crib, and grab a book to read to him or her.
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    Instead of reading consider singing the same song every night or repeating the same poem every night as a sleep cue. This will streamline the routine to make it always the same and not having an extra-long book to read some nights.
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    Children love a schedule, so follow the exact same routine daily and soon they'll know exactly what to expect. They'll know that first comes a bath, then a story and song, then it's time to sleep.
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    Teach your children to stay in bed and lie quietly. You can practice this during the day.
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    You can also try rubbing his or her back. Many children find physical touch very soothing and reassuring. Even two year olds like a nice back rub once in a while.


  • Always keep the room cool and dark. If there's too much light, they will want to see what's going on!
  • Remember that they fall asleep better with a dry diaper.
  • Make time for bedtime stories, it is so important in the life of a child. Interact with them while reading. Allow them to look at the pictures or perhaps let them hold the book after you finish reading. This will not only help keep their attention and focus but also help their developmental skills.
  • Stay on schedule and put them to bed at the same time every night. Soon you will notice that your child starts to look sleepy shortly before bedtime.
  • Once you get the child on a good sleep routine, it is best not to sleep next to them since they will rely on you to fall asleep. Do this by slowly lowering the amount of time you spend next to them. The more gradual the better.
  • If you begin this routine, they will adapt. This is a good thing, but you'll have to adapt to it also. Children respond to routine and a stable schedule they can depend on. It helps them to develop trust.
  • Place a nightlight in their room. They won't feel so alone after you leave.
  • Once you've exited their bedroom after the last book never go back in unless the crying is uncontrollable. If you stick to this rule within a week, life becomes much easier!
  • You may want to consider using white noise or a sound machine to trigger sleep time and to block out external noises from their bedroom.
  • Don't put off getting into a routine. The older they get, the harder it will be to change their routine.
  • Lay down with them for about 10 minutes then when you get out tuck the blankets under the child then get an extra pillow a make it feel like you are still there to the child. That is how to actually put the toddler to sleep.
  • You can also sing them a lullaby.
  • Wrap them up in a nice blanket or perhaps their favorite one to give them a sense of comfort, and slowly rock with them and gently tap their backs or shoulder to assure them that you are there as they fall into a deep sleep.
  • Give them a bath and put scents or oil on their bodies. It's really soothing and it'll put them in sleeping mood.
  • Have him/her lay in bed with you. Watch a show or two of her choice, then when the shows over tell her it's bedtime, then turn off all the lights and put a lullaby on you iPhone for about 20 minutes. She/he should be usually asleep 10 minutes into the lullaby.


  • Remember to never let them fall asleep with their bottle/sippy cup in their mouth because later (after keeping that habit) it will affect the development of their teeth and cause "baby bottle rot".
  • Avoid letting your child skip naps. Skipping naps often throws the child's sleeping pattern off and he/she will not sleep when it is time.
  • Avoid letting your two year old watch TV before bedtime. Although he or she might look calm while watching, TV watching tends to elicit a "rebound effect" in which afterwards, the child to be wound up. This is especially true if the child is watching TV not rated for very young children.

Things You'll Need

  • Toddler music
  • Dark, quiet bedroom

Article Info

Categories: Toddlers