Toddlerhood is such a time of wonder and delight, blended with an emerging sense of self. As a toddler finds out more of how they fit into the world, they look for independence to discover and grow.

The downside to that wonder and excitement in life, is not wanting it to stop. There are very few toddlers who actively instigate sleep time.

Toddlers love being around ‘the action,’ so the notion of leaving the fun to meet sleep needs, can result in challenges. Remember at all times, toddlers love positive attention about what they are doing, their achievements and their abilities. When a toddler is happy with an achievement, their behaviour says it all.

So firstly, notice the good behaviours in preparation for quiet time and resist the negative statements which are common for adults experiencing frustration and despair. If your toddler takes some time to calm, start preparing for sleep time well in advance of the actual sleep, to prevent overtiredness.

As much as it would be great if overtired toddlers just fell to sleep, they don’t. In fact, many toddlers wind up and up, and it all ends in tears. Toddlers are known for their inability to self calm, especially when tired so they require assistance before sleep time for the essential wind down time. A quiet environment is a great start, away from that action and activity of the world. Wind down is not the time for computer or phone screens, it is the time for a quiet book read, a cuddle and maybe a swaying rhythmical snuggle or a massage. It is helpful to have a rhythm to sleep preparation so your toddler can anticipate and even participate in the preparation. It may be helpful for you to begin, and then involve your toddler in activities, such as packing up the toys into the toy box, to show sleep time is imminent.

Watching your toddler participate in the ‘sleep time’ preparation can be soothing for you, and in turn, be a positive experience for your toddler.

If, despite all your efforts, your toddler becomes overtired, you will need to offer more comfort and support to help them calm for sleep. We live and learn, so next time you might consider starting sleep preparation a little earlier to avoid the challenges that can be associated with overtired toddlers.

Safe Sleep Space www.safesleepspace.com.au

  • yep so true. calm baby is a sleep baby.


  • Love this thank you! We used to struggle with my son getting to sleep will keep this in mind for when my daughter is a little older and is over tired


  • They sure are hard to handle when they’re tired. Getting over tired also prevents sleep for them. Lots of handy hints here


  • you have to find the way that calms them down again and reduce stimulation


  • A good read thank you for sharing


  • Over tired baby = over tired mum, these are great tips and advice you have shared, thanks.


  • We’ve all learned the hard way haven’t we, that delaying normal bedtime because there are visitors or we are visiting friends, rarely ends well. I have been at family gatherings where parents stay on until their exhausted children are being a pain to everyone. At that point screaming kids are bundled into the car by their stressed parents.


  • Thanks for sharing was a great read.


  • I used to have a cuddle and a book with my toddler.


  • Few things can be more frustrating than an over-tired toddler who desperately needs sleep, and yet fights it every step of the way. Patience and persistence with settling them is the key, although it’s not always as easy as we’d like it to be.


  • my toddler is the crankiest when overtired!!! a walk in the pram or a sit in the garden usually calms her right down


  • My toddler has just started fighting sleep. I’m finding it very challenging so thank you for the advice


  • Thanks for sharing a very valuable article


  • Stop resisting arrest! funny how they all do the same resistance, then they become teens…and wont get up!


  • thank you sharing this article good read


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