Hands up if your toddler takes more than half an hour to fall asleep at bedtime (at least).
Now put the other hand up if you struggle to get them into bed in the first place.
Both hands up? Yep, me too! Now here’s the clever trick that parents have been waiting for. It’s called bedtime fading. It’s from the great minds at Flinders University. And it’s bloody brilliant.
How to stop bedtime toddler tantrums
More than two-thirds of toddlers and pre-schoolers aged 18 months to four years take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, studies show. And around one in five take more than an hour!
And you can bet these little ones aren’t lying quietly in bed for the sleep fairy to visit and throw some sleep dust in their eyes. Oh, no. They’re jumping up and down, in and out, and making the whole bedtime process exhausting – for us parents.
And all it takes is one very simple step.
Bedtime fading – the sleep solution tired parents have been waiting for
According to the experts, bedtime fading is a technique that involves putting young children to bed while drowsy. It’s so easy, anyone can do it.
The aim is to gradually diminish the parent’s presence over time, which kind of makes sense. I know if I make a stealth-like exit from the room when my small person is drowsy, my escape is generally easier.
Flinders University sleep psychologist Dr Michael Gradisar says that parents who have tried bedtime fading report immediate improvements.
But he says the key is to wait until the kid is actually tired before putting them to bed. Parents can start bedtime fading simply by putting their child to sleep later than normal and then gradually adjusting the bedtime according to the child’s response.
Less time awake during the night
The results of a sleep clinic trial of 21 kids with sleep issues showed a reduction in the amount of time taken to fall asleep, less time spent awake during the night, and the number of tantrums just before bedtime.
Even better, the bedtime fading study found that the improvements to each child’s sleeping woes were still there two years later.
Dr Gradisar says “parents commonly try a variety of treatments and strategies to resolve their children’s sleep problems”, including punishment or medication.
“Parents admit they are often at the end of their tether by the time they seek professional help – but behavioural solutions tend to be the best answer to sleep solutions,” he says.
So, there you have it. Got a difficult sleeper? Try waiting until they’re drowsy and give bedtime a red hot go!
I know I’ll be trying it. Better late than never, right!
While you brush up on your sleep fading technique, take a look at our hilarious guide to putting a toddler to sleep – in only 87 steps!