toddler doesn't listen at bedtime

Getting your little one to sleep at night can sometimes be like a sleepytime puzzle. If your toddler doesn’t listen at bedtime, it can feel like a tricky adventure. 

Bedtime is when we say goodnight to the day and hello to dreams, but toddlers sometimes have their own ideas!

In this story about bedtime, we’ll figure out why your little explorer might not be ready to sleep when you say it’s time. 

We’ll also discover some easy ways to make bedtime a cozy, happy routine. So, parents, let’s snuggle up and find the secrets to a good night’s sleep for your tiny dreamer! 

toddler reading a story at bedtime

The reasons your toddler doesn’t listen at bedtime

Now let’s explore the reasons why your little one doesn’t pay attention to your words when it’s bedtime.


You know, when your little one is bouncing around like an energetic bunny at bedtime, there’s a good chance it’s because they’re feeling overtired. 

Unlike grown-ups who might get a bit sleepy when tired, toddlers can go into super hyper mode. It’s like they’ve got a burst of bedtime energy, but it’s not because they’re not tired—it’s because they’re too tired! 

Imagine their little bodies saying, “I need to sleep, but I don’t know how to stop being so bouncy!” 

So, when your tot is hopping around and not quite listening, it’s like their way of saying, “I’m exhausted, but I’m not sure what to do about it.” 

Helping them wind down with a calming bedtime routine can work like magic to settle those bedtime bounces.


Imagine if your little one takes a nap later in the day. It’s like they get a mini energy boost right when it’s time to wind down for bed. 

So, when you ask them to come to bed, it’s not that they’re ignoring you on purpose. It’s more like their engines are still running, and they’re not ready to hit the sleep button just yet. 

Shifting the nap schedule a bit or making bedtime a little earlier can help them be more ready to snuggle up when you say it’s sleepy time.

The sense of independence

Bedtime can turn into a quest for independence. Toddlers want to feel like the boss of their sleep adventure. 

When they resist, it’s not that they’re ignoring you; they just want to do things on their own. Offering them small choices can make bedtime a cooperative journey.

Overstimulation in the evening

If they’ve had a lot of exciting activities or screen time just before bed, their little minds might be racing with all the fun stuff. It’s like trying to switch off a bright, buzzing light before falling asleep.

When they don’t listen at bedtime, it’s not because they’re not interested; it’s more like their minds are still in play mode. Creating a calm, quiet routine before bed, like reading a soothing story or having a snuggle, can help dim that buzzing light and make bedtime a peaceful landing.

Fear or Anxiety

Sometimes, bedtime becomes a little scary for our tiny tots. Imagine if your little one is afraid of the dark or worried about bad dreams. 

It’s like bedtime becomes a mysterious land, and they’re not sure what might be hiding in the shadows.

When they don’t listen, it’s not because they’re being stubborn. It’s more like they need some extra comfort. 

Offering a cozy nightlight, a favorite stuffed friend, or a reassuring cuddle can make bedtime feel safer and less spooky. It’s like giving them a little courage to face the night with a smile.

Physical Discomfort 

If a toddler is uncomfortable due to issues like teething, illness, or an uncomfortable sleep environment, they may resist bedtime. 

Ensuring that the child is comfortable and addressing any physical discomfort can help improve their sleep.

Developmental Milestones 

Toddlers go through various developmental stages that can impact their sleep patterns. 

For example, the emergence of new skills, like walking or talking, can affect sleep. 

Patience and understanding during these phases are crucial.

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Strategies to get a toddler to listen at bedtime

Here are some mommy tips to get your toddler to listen to you at bedtime (no yelling! I promise)

Change the phrase

If your toddler doesn’t listen at bedtime try changing your words. Instead of announcing “It’s bedtime,” try saying “It’s storytime!”

When you make it sound exciting and fun, your toddler might be more willing to join in. It’s like turning bedtime into a special moment filled with stories and imagination. 

So, when you say, “It’s storytime,” it’s like you’re inviting them on a fantastic journey to Dreamland, making bedtime a whole lot more appealing!

Introduce a bedtime lovey

Introducing a bedtime lovey is like giving your little one a cuddly friend for the night. It could be a soft blanket, a plush teddy bear, or any cozy companion they adore. 

When bedtime comes, you can say, “Let’s invite your special friend to sleep with us tonight!” It’s like creating a tiny sleep team, making bedtime feel extra comforting. 

This lovey becomes a cozy companion, and when your toddler snuggles up with it, it’s like they have a little piece of comfort right by their side, making bedtime a warm and fuzzy experience!

Make them incharge

Instead of just telling your little ones what to do, you can make them the boss of bedtime choices. It’s like turning bedtime into a super fun adventure that they get to lead!

So, instead of saying, “Are you coming to bed or not?” you can say, “Guess what? It’s bedtime adventure time! Which teddy bear is joining our sleep party tonight? The fluffy white one or the cuddly brown one?”

And for stories, it’s like you’re the bedtime DJ: “Tonight’s sleep soundtrack is a tough choice! Are we going for the quacking ducks or the tweeting birds? You get to decide!”

Even toothpaste becomes a bedtime treat: “Time for sparkling teeth magic! Strawberry flavor or mango flavor today? Your call!”

And when it’s pajama time, it’s like they’re the fashion designers: “Green or yellow – which color is rocking the bedtime runway tonight?”

By giving them these choices, it’s like you’re letting them be the captain of their bedtime ship. They’ll hop onto the bed with a big smile, all ready for their very own fun time adventure in Dreamland!

Positive Reinforcement

Make bedtime extra cozy with cuddles and hugs. Turn it into a special time for love and warmth, so your little one looks forward to those bedtime snuggles.

Strict Schedule and Routine

Stick to a regular schedule and routine. This helps toddlers know exactly what to expect, making bedtime more predictable and less confusing for them.

Create a Dreamy Environment

Set the mood for sleep by creating a calm and dreamy atmosphere. Dim the lights, use a nightlight, and maybe add some soft music. Turning their sleep space into a dreamy haven can make bedtime a more peaceful experience.

Try glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars

Using glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars is like bringing a piece of the night sky into your toddler’s room. When they hop into bed and the lights go off, it’s like a magical star show begins right above them.

It’s not just bedtime anymore; it’s a little stargazing adventure! The excitement of watching those twinkling stars can turn bedtime into a joyful experience. 

It’s like saying, “Look at the stars in your own room! Let’s count them and make a wish before drifting off to dreamland.” 

Turning off the lights becomes a moment of wonder, and your little one might just hop onto the bed, eager for their nightly sky spectacle.

Manage screen time

Limit screen time at least 4 hours before bedtime. Screens can be like little bedtime troublemakers, so giving them a break helps your little one’s brain get ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Use the magic of Chamomile

Pro tip: Harness the calming power of chamomile by using a diffuser or gently massaging your little one’s feet with chamomile-infused oil. It’s like turning bedtime into a spa-like experience, filling the room with tranquility and making those sleepy moments even more serene.


In the world of toddler bedtime, a touch of creativity and a sprinkle of routine can turn each night into a magical adventure. With positive vibes, dreamy surroundings, and thoughtful tips, bedtime becomes a cherished journey for both parent and child.

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