Five Toddler Sleep Tips to Try (From a Pediatric Sleep Consultant!)

A peaceful toddler sleeps soundly, nestled in soft bedding. The child, likely between two to three years old, is wearing a long-sleeved pajama set adorned with a cute, light-colored animal print. The youngster's cheek rests gently against a folded arm, while tousled hair adds a touch of innocence to the serene scene. A taupe pillow and light gray comforter offer a warm and comforting backdrop, evoking a sense of tranquility and restfulness.

As a pediatric sleep consultant, many people assume my job just involves getting babies to sleep. While I do help babies sleep, I have just as many clients who need TODDLER sleep tips!

Let me tell you…toddlers are a totally different ball game when it comes to sleep! They have their own opinions, agendas, and personalities now…and they seem to come out most at bedtime.

Whether your toddler once slept through the night and now is back to waking up multiple times a night, or they have never been a good sleeper, it can be equally as frustrating when they just won’t sleep

Oftentimes, it can feel like you have a newborn again! So, let’s dive right into the top five toddler sleep tips that can help get your toddler going to bed easily and staying in bed all night. 

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Toddler Sleep Tip #1: Get Your Toddler on the Right Schedule

If your toddler is going to bed too late or too early, or they aren’t getting the appropriate amount of daytime sleep in their nap (or lack thereof), it can cause them to protest more at bedtime and/or have some night wakings. 

Making sure they are following the right wake windows and sleep schedule for their specific age can solve a lot of these problems right off the bat.

Why trust us?

Alexa Martinez, owner of Mama Matters Too, is a pediatric sleep consultant with a focus on mama’s mental health.

If you’d like to get some help with your littles’ sleep, check out her website at, or listen to her podcast for even more baby and toddler sleep tips.

Toddler Sleep Tip #2: Don’t Move Them Out of the Crib Too Soon

Some sleep sources recommend that toddlers stay in their cribs until at least 2.5, but ideally, I recommend closer to 3.5-4. 

I had a client recently move her toddler out of the crib at age 2, and night time sleep was an absolute mess. We ended up moving him back into a crib, and back into a predictable schedule and routine, and within a few days he was sleeping perfectly for naps and bedtime again. 

Toddlers just really don’t have the capacity and self control to stay in a big kid bed all night before age 2.5/3! So, keep them in that crib as long as possible.

Toddler Sleep Tip #3: Give Them Some Sense of Control

Toddlers crave independence, and they are trying to navigate their world with so many boundaries! 

While they may not have a choice on when or where bedtime is, it can really help to give them some control where it doesn’t necessarily “matter.”

So for some examples, you can give them a choice on which stuffed animal they want to sleep with, which pj’s to wear, and if they want to hop or skip or be carried to bed. This can give them a feeling of being in control and having some independence surrounding bedtime. 

Toddler Sleep Tip #4: Incorporate Tools

Two of my favorite tools to use for toddler sleep are the OK to Wake Clock and the bedtime pass. Incorporating these tools into your bedtime routine can promote consistency and establish healthy sleep habits.

OK to Wake Clock

Product Features

  • Gentle colors and facial expressions teach bedtime and wake-up time
  • Offers 3 sleep sound options and 6 night light colors
  • Can be used as an alarm clock or timer as kids get older

First, let’s talk about the Ok to Wake Clock.  If you have a Hatch sound machine (2nd generation), you don’t have to buy a new Ok to Wake Clock. We use our Hatch sound machine for this, and it works so well! 

We implemented it while our son was still in the crib so that he got used to it. I made a big deal in the mornings when I would go in to get him and his clock was green (“Great job buddy, you stayed in your crib until your clock turned green! Green means go!” etc.) 

Now that he’s in his bed, we have the light on red all night long, and then it turns green when he can get up. I go way more in depth into this on this podcast episode. 

Using The Bedtime Pass

Another tool I love to use with toddlers is a bedtime pass. I have the parents give their toddler one printed out and laminated bedtime pass to use at any point during the night.

Most kids will use it at the beginning of the night to come out for another sip of water or to ask their parent something VERY important that just simply can not wait for morning….like for example, how many uncles do you have, mom? (true story🤦‍♀️) 

But some kids will hang on to it all night and not even use it; it just helps them to feel safe and confident knowing they have the option. This tends to work best with older kiddos, age 3.5 and up, who can fully grasp the concept and apply it.

You can download your own customizable bedtime pass for your own kiddo here!

Toddler Sleep Tip #5: Stay consistent!

Giving toddlers consistency, even if you aren’t giving them what they want in the moment, can help them feel so safe and secure, and they can trust that you will do what you say you will. 

If you do end up needing to use some form of sleep training, whatever you decide to do with your child (I like to use a modified chair method with toddlers), stay consistent! This is absolutely key. 

Giving in, even once, can backfire so quickly. Toddlers are so smart, and they can push those boundaries like no other! So stay calm and firm, give them a safe space, and continue to do what you say you will do

Above all, stay confident in yourself! You are an excellent mama, and you all WILL start sleeping again, I promise! 

And if you need some one on one help and support from someone who gets it, I would love to have a 15 minute discovery call with you so that I can go over how I can help your family. Click the link here to schedule. 

I also have a free guide on getting your little one to sleep through the night, and it can be found here.

And always remember…..YOU matter too, mama!

What toddler sleep tips am I missing? Drop your questions in the comments!

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