Expert Parent Advice

Putting Nighttime Battles To Bed

Any parent who battles bedtime with their kids knows that exhausting feeling. It’s the tiring, frustrating, we can’t go through this another night antics that turn the bedtime routine into a nightmare.

I’m Amy McCready with Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series. Today, I’ll share strategies to put the nighttime battles to bed at your house.

Parents often wonder if bedtime battles are just a normal stage kids go through or if it’s something they should proactively address. Sleep experts report babies of healthy weight and normal development should be able to sleep through the night by six months of age.  If your child is older than six months, and there are no medical or developmental issues at play, ask yourself the following questions to determine if it may be time to address your child’s sleep routine:


• Is your child’s bedtime routine and/or sleep pattern creating stress for you?

• Do bedtime issues negatively impact time or intimacy with your partner?

• Do you feel sleep deprived or irritable during the day?

• Do you dread the bedtime routine?


If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions, it’s probably time to address the Bedtime Blues!

There are a number of triggers that make bedtime battles more likely, and you can find those in the interactive that goes along with this video.

Once you understand WHY bedtime battles are occurring, you can implement the following strategies to put nighttime battles to bed. 

1. Fill the Attention Basket.Remember your kids get a giant dose of attention as you jump through hoops for another drink of water or one more story every night.  Your kids will be less likely to demand your attention at night if you proactively and positively fill their attention baskets during the day. Just 10 to 15 minutes of undivided time and POSITIVE attention will do wonders to minimize negative demands for your attention at night.

2. Implement a CONSISTENT bedtime routine.Emphasis on the word consistent! Determine your ideal “lights out” time, and work backward. What do you want to include in the nighttime routine and how long will that take?  For kids who are verbal, solicit input from your child about the bedtime routine, but be realistic about how much time you are willing to spend. 

For younger children, it’s best to follow the same routine every night so they know exactly what to expect.  If the routine is to read one book consistently every night, they will learn there’s no point in negotiating for “one more book.”  If you’ve been lying in bed with your child until she falls asleep, include five minutes of “snuggle time” as part of your routine.

“Lights out” time is always the same.  Plan to leave the room while he is still awake. Be clear that once you leave the room, the bedtime routine is over and you expect him to stay in his room until morning. 

3. Practice the new routine. During the DAY, practice the new bedtime routine from start to finish.  Role play the full routine INCLUDING the part where you walk out the door while she’s awake. Then – this is the important part – switch roles. Practice the routine with you playing the part of your child and your child playing your role. Have her practice tucking you in and leaving while you’re still awake.

You’ve set the expectation and practiced the new routine – now it’s time to put your bedtime training to the test.  For tips to make sure she stays in bed and goes to sleep, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

Rest assured, a peaceful night is within your grasp. Teaching kids to sleep on their own and stay asleep during the night is an important part of your child’s growing sense of independence, not to mention your sanity.

For ongoing solutions to your parenting challenges, visit us often at

I’m Amy McCready for Kids R Kids, and I’ll see you next time.