Toddler Bedtime Routine Chart

17+ months

Aug 20, 2020

Do you have a toddler who thinks that bedtime is the perfect time to recount every detail of the day? Or maybe you dread bed time? Perhaps the evening is coming and you know you’ll end up trapped in your child’s bed? If this sounds like your situation, this blog is for you! We can end the night in a fun way while also being able walk out the room and they are ready for a good night of sleep.


The bedtime routine that I’m teaching today actually applies from 13 months, all the way up to three years old, even beyond! You may not think of your 13-15 month old as a toddler, but they are! And this change of a bedtime routine is fun, easy and a treat for them to enjoy more freedoms that come with growing up. In fact, this is pretty much the same bedtime routine we do with our girls!

Toddler Bedtime Routine | Little Z Sleep Consulting


Step one is the bath. There’s actually a reason that we have bath time during your child’s bedtime routine.  For toddlers this is the time of day to clean them up! They have probably gone from playing outside or eating a messy dinner, or maybe be in a daycare. Getting a good clean in after a busy day is just…healthy!

Bath time is also an ideal time for the other partner to be involved in the bedtime routine.

Often I like to have the other parent involved if they’ve maybe been out of the picture for the day, or needing connecting time with their child.  It’s a great time to have that other parent involved and enjoy the bath time together.

In total bath is only 5-7 minutes. You could get into a longer bath if you have an older child or you’re bathing multiple siblings, but keep bath to a 5-7 minute routine so we have time for the rest of the fun coming up.

Remember bath time is not like lighting candles or playing soft music, it’s fun! They’re going to splash around, they’re going to have a good time. So enjoy it! Just have some splash zone towels handy.

Step 2: Get Your Body Ready For Bed!

All the things here! Brush teeth, comb hair, lotion on, go potty, diaper/undies, and into jammies!

Sometimes this can be the longest step, right?! A few simple tips to help this go a bit quicker include:

  • Bring the diapers, undies and jammies in the bathroom. This invites less movement after bath and keeps the child on task.
  • If your child is over 2 years old, consider using this Time Timer as a visual aid. Set the timer to 5 minutes, and let them know when it goes ‘beep beep beep’ we will go to your room and play!


Now, here’s the surprising step!! The third step in your toddler’s bedtime routine is play time. Yes! Play!

I want you to go to their room, sit down and say, “What do you want to do?! Play blocks? Knock over a tower? Have a dance party?” It’s only going to take them 2 seconds for them to make a decision, and then…have a blast with your kid!!

I love the idea of Playlistening that Hand-In-Hand Parenting speaks about. In this treasured time, your kid is the one who is in full control! They can decide what to play, what you will do, and how you will act. Just have a great time being invited into their world!


Inside by Toddler & Preschool Sleep E-Coaching Programs this step always surprises parents. Generally speaking we think, “Toddlers are really difficult to put down to bed. So why would I try to up the energy?” It may seem counter-productive…but this step helps in 2 ways:

  1. You and your child are able to have this last connection time for the day. The last one-on-one time before they get into their bed to sleep independently. It really helps them feel more secure in falling asleep by themself, because they were able to have your full attention just moments before.
  2. Allows your child the opportunity to get ALL the energy out! Unlike adults, toddlers don’t need a wind-down time like reading books for 20 minutes before bed. They need to get their last bits of energy OUT! This allows them to get into bed and fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly.

Remember that timer from step two? Using the TimeTimer for playtime is also helpful! I’ve never met a kid who would willingly put a toy down to get into bed (mine included!!) so having 5-10 minutes of play, listening to the ‘beep-beep-beep’…time for bed! Is a very helpful cue for all.


Step 4: Books

So we’ve done bath. We’ve done get their body ready for sleep. We now have our playtime, and then ding, ding, ding the timer goes off,  and then our fourth step is a book. So I want you to read one book, two books, whatever your house rule is. I don’t like to get past two books unless they’re super short.

Implement the rule of “Two books and we’re done!”

Enjoy reading books together on the floor, in a chair or wherever your child wants to read with you!


Conclusion & Free Download

That’s it! Four steps for a bedtime routine. From start to finish:

  1. Bath (5-7 minutes)
  2. Teeth, Potty/Diaper, Jammies (5-7 minutes)
  3. Playtime (5-10 minutes)
  4.  Books
  5. Into bed!

Did you notice that I didn’t say anything in that bedtime routine about, “Okay, now it’s time to get in your child’s bed and rub their back to sleep.” If you’re new to Little Z’s, I don’t believe and I don’t want you at this point to have your child conditioned that you have to help them fall asleep.

They can handle it on their own! They are totally capable of falling asleep independently.

So bedtime routine is this amazing opportunity for you to invest in your child, for you to do these routine and consistent steps that end with them getting into the bed.

I can’t tell you how many times families had then come back and said, “Oh my gosh, this is so much easier because my child knows the routine. They know the consistent path of what we’re doing.”

Even if these steps have been new for you, or this is like old news. You just kinda needed a refresher. We have a free routine chart for you!!

  1. Download the routine chart!
  2. Use a TimeTimer if your child has trouble with transitions
  3. Put your phone away and simply be there for 30 minutes with your child.
  4. Be consistent and keep practicing!

You could slip them and a little page protector and use dry erase markers or stickers!

If you’ve been feeling like things are falling off the rails, if bedtime takes over 30 minutes because this entire journey from start to finish is just 30 minutes, and this routine chart will help you really narrow things down. And a bonus of all of this is that your child is gonna love again, being in control of something. Being able to put those stickers on their chart and praise them along the way!

Comment below to let me know if you’ll be using this new routine and printing off the charts!!! Keep me posted on Instagram as to how things go!

Sweet Dreams,
Becca Campbell
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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