Making a Bedtime Routine Chart for Your Toddler

Father reading to his son at bedtime

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There’s no question that toddlers thrive on routine, which not only helps the whole household stay sane but also helps a toddler build healthy habits and understand expectations. Unfortunately, toddlers are also notorious for testing limits and boundaries with mom and dad. No matter how hard a parent tries, as a toddler enters new stages of development, routines are bound to go awry.

The bedtime routine often has its own special challenges. No matter how down pat a parent may think they have it, toddlers can get cranky and stubborn as they get more tired during the day. The result? Getting through the bedtime routine can be a struggle.

One way to encourage your toddler’s compliance is to make the routine fun by visually reminding them of what the routine is as well as rewarding them when they follow the routine. A homemade bedtime chart is super easy to make, can be decorated, and you even can engage your toddler in the process.

What You’ll Need to Make a Chart

Making a bedtime chart doesn’t have to be complicated, require much creativity, or an art degree. You’ll want to purchase a piece of poster board, have double-stick tape or glue on hand, and a pair of scissors. You can always draw the pictures of the bedtime routine activities yourself, but if your art ability leaves a little something to be desired, search the internet for free photos or clip art that you can download and print off of your home computer. If you want to make the chart double as a reward system for your child when he or she follows directions, you’ll also want to purchase small stickers, like stars or smiley faces.

Items to Include

Include photos or drawings of anything depicting your child’s normal bedtime routine. Typical toddler bedtime routines include bath time, teeth brushing, putting on pajamas, songs and/or stories, getting into bed, and a goodnight kiss and hug from mom and dad.

Putting the Chart Together

It might help to draw a grid with two columns on your poster board to get started. You’ll want the same number of rows as there are steps in your toddler’s bedtime routine. In the first column, paste or tape the photos or drawings depicting the routine in order from top to bottom; leave the second column blank.

Involve Your Toddler in the Process

Toddlers are often more on board with an idea if they feel they had some control over the decision-making process. Get them excited about the bedtime routine chart by letting them help make it. You can have them color in the pictures, add glitter, or paste the pictures onto the board. That way, they’ll feel invested in “their” bedtime routine chart.

Making the Most of the Bedtime Chart

Use the bedtime routine chart to help your toddler smoothly get through the steps of going to bed. On the right side of the chart, where you left blank space, let your toddler add stickers for completing each step of the routine. If that becomes too cumbersome, have your toddler add one sticker a night to the chart to show that he or she successfully completed the routine. Use the chart as long as your child seems interested in completing it, and it seems to be making your routine go more smoothly. 

By Louisa Fitzgerald
 Louisa Fitzgerald is a writer, digital content strategist, blogger, and recovering marketing professional. Her articles focus mainly on content about parenting and healthcare.