Why & How We Changed Our Toddler’s Sleep Routine With One Gesture

I must mention that I am in no way a sleep expert, nor do I believe every sleep routine works for every child. Every little one is different & unique. Our story goes from a screaming, anxious environment at bedtime to now what we can call a calming, soothing experience that allows Scarlett a good night sleep every night.

Right around when Scarlett turned two years old, a nighttime anxiety started. We had always stuck to the same bedtime routine and it had worked. We would say our goodnights, lay her down while she was tired & then leave the room for the night. But all of a sudden about five or so minutes later, little miss would be crying & waiting for one of us to come in.

For me as a parent, listening to my child cry for me gives me anxiety & does not let me concentrate, let alone not feel terrible. I do know she did it for a few reasons; to get our attention, to let us know she wasn’t tired or just because she wanted to be held & rocked.

She is two…no more rocking to sleep as much as I love you, my sweet girl.

How & Why We Changed Our Toddler's Sleep Routine - Tickled Scarlett Blog

We knew there had to be another option. The crying, the anxiety & the numerous times up at night needed to change for her health and ours. After talking one night about solutions with the husband & what it was that changed in her, it finally clicked. Children NEED & want many things, but one need that will never change is reassurance.

The reassurance that you are there, that you will always be there and of course, love them forever. With bedtime, Scarlett needed reassurance & to hear us say, “we are right here. Mama & Dada. We love you & will check on you in 5 minutes,”. At that point, one gesture changed it all.

We left her door open.

Remember as a child you used to ask your parents to leave the door open…just a bit? How did they make you feel & why did we ask that? For reassurance! Knowing our parents were there & having just that bit of the hall light shining in on our room helped sooth us to sleep. I know I did.

After about 10-15 minutes, if Scarlett isn’t already asleep, one of us will go in there & let her know how much we love her & that we are right here. This time, we add in, “let’s close our eyes please” to help her ease her even more into sleep.

Toddlers are quite intuitive to their surroundings, especially at night time. If you are having troubles, I assure you there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even if your little one can’t verbalize, they can understand you more than we know. Speaking at a medium tone & with lots of happiness will reassure them bedtime isn’t that bad at all.

This routine has worked for a few months and not one night have we had to go back in & out to an upset toddler. It makes me feel good knowing she is going to sleep and staying asleep peacefully & soundly.

Why & How We Changed Our Toddler's Sleep Routine With One Gesture

How & Why We Changed Our Toddler's Sleep Routine With One Gesture- Tickled Scarlett Blog

What bedtime & sleep routines work for your family and children? I cannot wait to learn more about healthy sleep habits for children & babies as sleep is so important for our little ones & us.

Take Care,

Katie B. logo tickled scarlett blog


  • Lacy Blanchard Ngo

    We leave the door open too. It seems to help

  • Firenze McCowald

    I am SO impressed that you-all were able to figure out this super hack that worked for you! This is not a problem we ever had in our house, but I suspect it would have taken us MONTHS of tears and frustration on everyone’s parts to figure this elegant answer out! Brava, parents, well done – and I am super impressed!

    • Thank you so very much for the kind words and taking a moment to comment. It took some time, but oh my could you see the weight lifted off of her shoulders when we finally mentioned leaving the door open. Who knew?!

  • Rose Mont

    What a sweet way to tuck her in. Reassurance sounds perfect. I would love some reassurance myself as an adult that everything is at least OK for the moment. I’m glad the works for everyone and she’s not crying anymore.

    • Thank you so much Rose for reading. Reassurance is crucial to life I believe and agreed, having it for just a moment is always lovely!

  • Winx

    Currently having trouble with my 3yo. He misses his afternoon nap, and what that means is that he’ll sleep around 7 in the evening. We try to stall him, just so he would sleep at around 9 so that he’ll sleep through the night. But nope. if he misses his afternoon nap…he’ll turn it into an evening nap. Then he wakes from it at around 11p.m. and joins our midnight shenanigans. He sleeps back at around 4a.m. and then the cycle goes on. Trying to figure out something here.

    • Those missed afternoon naps can make nighttime tough. My suggestion would be if he misses that nap, have activities like coloring, toys or anything to keep him active in the afternoon so that sleeping early isn’t an option. I am sorry that he is having a hard time staying asleep 🙁 I do hope it gets better Mama!

  • Kristie Cirak

    Im sort of going through something like this … during the day my daughter will sleep no problem. At night she wakes a couplf of times before midnight screaming for me. I go in and cuddle her and this week Ive had to stay in her room as she keeps an eye to make sure Im still there! I couldnt figure out what was wrong but i think she just wanted to know i was there !

    • Sounds like your little one is looking for just that …some reassurance! You got this Mama. Let us know how it goes!