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If your toddler won’t sleep, and you’ve tried every trick in the book, then bedtime fading could be the answer to all your problems…

For many parents, putting their kids to bed is the hardest part of their day. If you manage to survive the tantrums and tears, you could still be in for a night of broken sleep and hourly wake-ups, as your toddler resists their basic need for sleep. Researchers at Flinders University, however, have developed a strategy that can help parents manage their child’s sleep regressions and reduce the nightly struggle.

Keeping It Simple

Bedtime fading refers to a process by which parents adjust their child’s bedtime by 15 minutes each night for a few days. Through this parents are able to establish the time where their child falls asleep with the least amount of fuss and is tired enough to remain asleep.

“Select a consistent time (7 days a week) you would like your baby to waking in the morning (eg. 7 am)” the university’s document says. “For a few nights, delay your baby’s bedtime by 15 minutes (eg. from 7 pm to 7:15 pm). After a few nights, if your baby is still taking a while to fall asleep, delay their bedtime by a further 15 mins (eg. 7:30 pm). Continue this process until your baby falls asleep more easily.” Sounds almost too good to be true!

It Actually Works!

A study conducted by Flinders University tested the effectiveness of bedtime fading with 21 children of preschool age. It was found that the process reduced tantrums and improved both the time it took each child to fall asleep and how many times they woke during the night. Not only did bedtime fading have immediate results, but the positive benefits continued, evident in the follow up two years later.

We definitely think bedtime fading is worth a try. It sounds like such a peaceful and mutually beneficial process, and while we know that it isn’t a one size fits all solution, it seems to have great potential!

Have you tried ‘bedtime fading’ with your baby or toddler? Let us know in the comments.

  • Very interesting. I tried earlier sleep on days of childcare as he’s usually so overtired by home time.
    Bed time fading great term. More like bedtime fighting haha.

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  • I used to do this with my youngest when he was little. Didn’t realise it was an actual thing though.

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  • Every child is different.This really works for my girls.

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  • Had never heard of ‘fading’ before. Fortunately, we set good routines and rules and really did not have any issues with sleep by the time he was a toddler. We did sleep school, sought and managed colic and health issues, and realised how important sleep was to the mix.

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  • Sounds worth trying. Any strategy that gets your kids to sleep at night is worth trying.

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  • Sounds to good to. Be true

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  • My toddler falls asleep with the least fuss at 1am!!!
    It’s alright for now as I’m not at work but when I go back next year it will be a nightmare.


    • Oh that is too funny! Yes, mine drifts with a bottle in hand or breast after 9… It used to be much later when she was younger. Always had a good routine, it’s just that she won’t stick to it

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  • I have never heard of this technique, but it sounds very effective.

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  • I’ve never heard of bedtime fading … sounds great.

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  • Yes I’ve done this with my youngest who has Down syndrome and sleep apnea. At age 7yrs her bedtime is around 9pm and she awakes between 4 an 5am…still early but better then it was.

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  • That’s quite interesting! I feel like I’ve been doing this without realising and can say it works

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  • We do this at the beginning of every school term to get our kids back into school sleeping hours.


    • Oh man, my teenagers will struggle to go back to school sleeping hours, correction school waking hours ! They’re at the age I can’t apply bedtime fading anymore, lol ;)

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  • I’m lucky my 3 Lil men have all been great at going to sleep but waking up early at 6am is a different story lol

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  • Heard about it before. Didn’t try it

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  • I’m lucky both my kids have been great sleepers and still are at 6 and 8

    Reply

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