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Our Toddler Bedtime Routine


Our Toddler Bedtime Routine

I’m pretty much winging it in most parenting categories as we navigate toddlerhood but our bedtime routine is one of the few things I feel really confident in. We made it a huge priority from early on and have barely changed it since. Kids thrive on routine, and I think having a stable bedtime one was integral part in getting Arlo’s sleep on track early on, and getting him back on track when he has a sleep regression. So I was pretty pumped when we decided on this as the topic for this month’s Real Talk Real Moms installment! You can read my routine below and the other mamas routines, for various perspectives and different ages and sibling numbers, at the end of the post!

Studio DIY x Kip & Co

Bath Time

We don’t give Arlo a bath (well, shower! Working on a post about that, too.) every night, but we do most nights. It’s been a really great way to kick off and signify bedtime has begun. We usually start the bath shortly after dinner, depending on how late we eat. Typically Jeff handles bath time, though I sometimes take it over if I want to kill two birds with one stone and get a shower in.

Immediately when Arlo gets out of a bath he SCREAMS down the hallway for me while Jeff attempts to dry him off before he runs to find me and give me a giant hug. It’s so silly and random but so fun, I have no idea why he started doing this.

Diaper, Lotion, PJs

Jeff cleans up the bathroom and then comes to find Arlo and take him in to get him into his PJs. We put this lotion on him every night, too. There’s usually lots of singing involved here. Ha!

Our Toddler Bedtime Routine

Book Time

This is when I take over. I’ve read to Arlo every night since he was born. It’s my favorite time of the day and I almost never miss it.

He gets to pick out three books for us to read each night. Most of the time, he becomes obsessed with one or two books and we read those over and over for a few weeks at a time. If you’re looking for some great books, I’ve done a few kids book round-ups here and here with some of our faves.

Teeth Time

As soon as we close the third book, I say “Teeth time!” and we put our books back and head to the bathroom to brush teeth.

One of my favorite tricks to distract him is saying “We have to brush our teeth so they stay clean! Who else has clean teeth?” and then we start to list basically every person and/or Disney character he knows the name of. Ha! Whatever works, right!?

Lights Out

After teeth are brushed, I scoop him up and he shuts off the bathroom light. We play a quick game of “Where is Dada!?” which consists of him screaming “DADA!!!!” and looking up and down the hall until Jeff pops out from somewhere. He LOVES this, and Jeff will come running down the hall to join us for lights out. It always ends our night with a laugh.

After he has a final sip of water, he shuts the lights off (his favorite thing to do) and we usually do what has come to be known as the family “squeeze” hug, where Arlo counts down from three and we say ‘SQUEEEEEZE!’ and all hug. Haha! I’m a big believer in not making kids hug, kiss, etc. if they don’t want to so we give Arlo a choice of how he wants to say goodnight. Sometimes we don’t do the squeeze hug, sometimes we get kisses instead, sometimes just get a high five or even just a “bye!”

Our Toddler Bedtime Routine

Lullabies + Goodnight!

Jeff heads to clean dishes and I wrap up our routine with lullabies. The rest of the night is an almost exact script that I replicate every single night. He knows it by heart now and has recently started to try and sing along. So cute!

I wrote a post on lullabies here, but I sing the theme from that 90s show “Out of the Box” (NO idea why, ha!) while holding him. I give him a billion kisses and say “I love you so much, it’s time to be sleepy.” and lay him down in the crib.

Then we talk about what we did that day, and what fun things we have to look forward to tomorrow! My script is: “What did we do today? Today we __________ and tomorrow, tomorrow we ___________. But first! We gotta go to sleep, so I’m gonna tuck in these cute feet!”

Next, I sing his final lullaby which is a song Jeff made up just for him when he was born. A nurse in the hospital told us that running your finger down the bridge of a baby’s nose sometimes helps them close their eyes and relax and it worked like a CHARM when he was tiny so I STILL do it every night when we sing this song. He doesn’t close his eyes anymore, but it’s a clear signifier that it’s time to sleep.

Finally, I tell him goodnight, that I love him and that I’ll see him in the morning and then I flip on his sound machine and head out the door!

Our Toddler Bedtime Routine

And then Jeff and I high five that we made it through another day. Haha!

Anticipating some questions about what we do when we travel, we try to keep as close to this routine as possible so that he has some consistency to his schedule even when the rest of the day is totally different from normal!

After writing this out, it sounds kind of excessive but it really means a lot to our family and to me especially! I’m sure it will change as our family grows, but I’m cherishing every goodnight right now as a mama of one! Hope some of these scripts were helpful if you’re just starting to form a routine with your little one! Don’t forget to check out all the other mamas posts on sleep routines below!

Lovely Indeed | The Sweetest Occasion | Apartment 34
Freutcake | The Effortless Chic

We have a hard and fast no phones, cameras, screens, etc. at bedtime and wake up time so these photos are just a few from our Kip & Co shoot. He still sleeps in a crib, not in a bed! =)


  • Lauren

    Thank you SO much for this! My 20 month old has just starting fighting sleep again, so I’m going to work on a better bedtime routine 🙂

  • Marie

    Have you hit any bad sleep regressions? How have you handled those?

  • Ioana

    You have such a fun routine and not strict at all compared to ours. Our 2 boys have had the same routine since they were born. We have dinner then they play a bit while we clean up. Next comes bath time although, like you we are not giving them a bath everynight anymore. We sometimes hit two birds with one stone and give them their toothbrushes while in the bath. They are now 3 and 5 and a half and love to wash themselves. Next they pee, put on the PJs and we read a story or half of a book, the length depends on how late it is but we always let them know in advance. Then it’s lights off except for a small light and then we hug and kiss. One is a kisser and hugger the other less, we respect both their wishes. Their dad leaves, i stay with them, the youngest would Fall asleep holding my finger until a while ago but now I usually leave before they are asleep.

  • Michelle Gage

    I can’t find this amazing bed linked anywhere – am I missing it? Would love to know where it’s from!

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