How to get your toddler to sleep

Jo's top tips for settling your toddler (12-48 months) 

Fiona Lumbers' bedtime illustration

The bedtime ritual is a soothing and loving period of time that sets up a child to have a healthy night's sleep. Your toddler will enjoy having a time when they have you all to yourself in a way they don't during the day.

To make sure your toddler has a good night's sleep, stick to a consistent bedtime. Toddlers need 12-14 hours sleep in a 24 hour period, including naps. Make sure that bedtime is 12 hours before they tend to wake up. If they're usually up at 7am, they need to be in bed at 7pm.

Preparation for your bedtime ritual is key. Prep as much as you can beforehand: put out their pyjamas, get the nappy ready, and pour the milk. That way, nothing will break the smoothness of the transition and your focus on your child from bath to bed. These tips will be a key part of how you get your toddler to sleep.


Bathtime is the beginning of the bedtime routine. It helps your toddler get out the last ounce of energy before you start to create an environment that allows your child to relax.

After the bath I create a peaceful and calm atmosphere by switching off all technology so there are no distractions. Ideally, there should be no TV in the bedroom. Or, if there is, ensure it's switched off.


Jo Frost reading with childrenGo into your child's bedroom and create a soft atmosphere. Pull the blinds, close the curtains, put the light on dim, put a night light on or a soft lamp and start to talk more softly and quietly. 

Children may have a favourite bear or blankie that they want to cuddle. They might have bedtime milk at this stage as well. If they do, they can lean against you as they have it which makes it nice and snuggly. 

Now, read a book or two - there are some perfect choices in BookTrust's Best Bedtime Books list. Or you can tell a story you make up and elaborate over time. Toddlers love stories that incorporate their names: 'There was a pirate ship, and Prince so-and-so was steering it...'

Don't worry if you don't feel confident making up stories - children will love listening to you anyway! If you can't think of what to say, just exaggerate what happened to you in the day. If you've played together outside, tell a story about going into a wonderful garden. Or, if you've been at work, maybe tell a story about how your train went into a safari park.


Toddler sleeping

Tuck in your little ones and leave them with happy, peaceful thoughts. Answer any questions they have and ask them if there is anything they want to ask you. It's important they feel as secure, safe, protected and loved as possible before you leave the room. And now - onto some 'you' time!

Not quite going to plan? If you can get your toddler to sleep but it's getting them to stay in bed that's the problem, check out my answers to frequently asked questions or my blog specifically on this topic.

BBB booklet

Advice from Jo Frost and Daddy Pig

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