What should I do about my toddler’s bedtime temper tantrums?

If pieces of the puzzle are out of place it can make it difficult to achieve the results you want.

By Pamela Diamond




My toddler is throwing a tantrum every night before bed. She sometimes doesn’t fall asleep until 10 pm (despite starting a bedtime routine at 6:30!), then she wakes at 4:30a.m. and is ready to start her day. What am I doing wrong?


Oh my, it sounds like you have a very tired household.

First, I always want to rule out anything physical or medical that may be going on. Please consult your pediatrician to rule out something that could be disrupting your toddler’s sleep.  

When I think of healthy sleep habits, I think of a jigsaw puzzle.

If pieces of the puzzle are out of place it can make it difficult to achieve the results you want. Since your little one is melting down at bedtime, it sounds like she may be already overtired. I wonder, is she getting enough daytime sleep? That might be a piece of your puzzle to consider. Also, what time is she getting her nap? You want to make sure there is not too much time between the end of her nap and bedtime. If she’s going down for bed already overtired, she may hit a “second wind” that makes it hard to fall asleep and hard to stay asleep.

At this age, having solid, focused connection at bedtime is important.

After all, we are asking our little ones to separate from us for 11 or so hours. Make sure your cell phone is put away and you leave the household chores until after you’ve done bedtime routines. Create a Zen-like atmosphere when you begin winding down for bedtime. Dim lights, put on soft lullaby music.

It’s important to look at what is happening before you begin bedtime routines? Is your little one watching videos? Screen time creates a false sense of restoration. She may zone out while watching her videos, but then it can backfire and have the effect of a power nap when you try to get her to sleep.

These tips should give you a good place to start when trying to piece together your healthy sleep puzzle.

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