Mastering the Evening Routine with Your Toddler: A Guide to Creating Calm and Connection

Home Occupational Therapy Mastering the Evening Routine with Your Toddler: A Guide to Creating Calm and Connection
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toddler wearing a blue top sleeping on the couch

10 tips to help you master the evening routine with your toddler

Parenting is a beautiful journey filled with joy, laughter, and the occasional challenge. One of those challenges, familiar to many parents, is navigating the evening routine with a toddler. As the day winds down, tiredness and crankiness can set in, making it crucial to establish a soothing and predictable routine. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 10 practical tips and creative strategies to help you master the evening routine with your toddler, creating a harmonious environment for both you and your little one.

1. Set a Consistent Schedule:

Toddlers thrive on routine and predictability. Establishing a consistent evening schedule helps signal to your child that bedtime is approaching. Start by setting a fixed time for dinner, followed by bath time, and then quiet activities leading up to bedtime. Consistency not only helps your toddler understand expectations but also aids in regulating their internal clock, making it easier for them to wind down.

2. Create a Relaxing Bath Time Routine:

A warm bath can be a soothing and enjoyable prelude to bedtime. Make bath time a relaxing ritual by using gentle, calming scents, dimming the lights, and playing soft music. This can help signal to your toddler that it’s time to unwind. Incorporate bath toys to make the experience fun, turning it into a positive association with bedtime.

3. Choose Comfortable Bedtime Attire:

Selecting comfortable and cozy pajamas can contribute to your toddler’s comfort and relaxation. Opt for breathable fabrics and ensure that their sleepwear is appropriate for the current weather conditions. This small step can make a big difference in your toddler’s overall sleep quality.

4. Foster Connection Through Storytelling:

Bedtime stories are not just a delightful tradition but also an excellent way to foster a connection with your toddler. Choose books with engaging stories and colorful illustrations. Make it a special time for bonding by reading in a soothing voice and allowing your toddler to participate by turning pages or pointing to pictures.

5. Limit Screen Time Before Bed:

Minimize exposure to screens in the hour leading up to bedtime. The blue light emitted by devices can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Instead, opt for calm and screen-free activities such as reading, drawing, or listening to soft music.

6. Establish a Calm and Dimly Lit Environment:

Create a tranquil atmosphere in your toddler’s bedroom by dimming the lights as bedtime approaches. This signals to their body that it’s time to wind down. Consider using a nightlight to provide a soft and comforting glow, reducing any fear of the dark your toddler may have.

7. Encourage Independence with a Bedtime Routine Chart:

Empower your toddler by creating a visual bedtime routine chart. Include simple tasks like brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and picking out a bedtime story. Allowing your child to check off each task as it’s completed gives them a sense of accomplishment and control, making the routine more enjoyable for both of you.

8. Be Mindful of Bedtime Snacks:

While a light, healthy snack can be beneficial before bedtime, it’s essential to choose foods that won’t disrupt sleep. Opt for options like a small piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Avoid sugary treats or caffeinated beverages, as these can lead to restlessness and difficulty falling asleep.

9. Practice Relaxation Techniques:

Teach your toddler simple relaxation techniques to help them wind down. This could include deep belly breathing or gentle stretching exercises. Incorporating these practices into your evening routine can help your child learn how to self-regulate and manage any anxiety or restlessness before bedtime.

10. Be Patient and Flexible:

Every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Be patient and observant, paying attention to your toddler’s cues and adjusting the routine as needed. Flexibility is key in parenting, and understanding your child’s individual needs ensures a more positive and successful evening routine.

Occupational Therapy at Transform Life

In conclusion, mastering the evening routine with your toddler is a journey that requires patience, consistency, and creativity. By incorporating these practical tips and nurturing a positive and calming bedtime environment, you can create a routine that benefits both you and your little one. Remember, the goal is not just to get your toddler to sleep but to foster a sense of security, connection, and well-being that will contribute to their overall development and happiness. Sweet dreams await as you embark on this journey of mastering the evening routine with your precious toddler.

Occupational Therapists play a vital role in supporting parents in mastering the evening routine.

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Transform Life is an NDIS registered organisation that provides support for your autistic child, as well as support to you as a parent to best navigate the challenges your child and family face on a daily basis.

Book your consult with an experienced Therapist at Transform Life to explore how OT can support you and your family.


Transform Life is an Australian owned provider specialising in evidence based therapeutic support including Positive Behaviour Support, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Speech Therapy and Behavioural Interventions helping transform lives and families across Australia.

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