I spend a lot of time in nurseries/children’s bedrooms with my work as a baby & toddler sleep guru.
Parents often find choosing a good bedtime book a bit difficult.
Reading a book as part of a bedtime routine is really important. Reading helps the winddown process and is a great sleep cue. It’s a transition from a busy day to the land of Nod. And as we know routines reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and increase endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
Babies and toddlers appreciate a bedtime story and you can read to a baby from 6 weeks old.
Boys in particular need story books in their day. Redoing to your baby boy from a young age (6 weeks onwards) will help instill a love of books from a young age.
It’s also good to think about your bedtime routine and what it should look like. Maybe a bath, massage and a milk feed. Try and do most of it in the same order and keep away from the TV as this interferes with the neurotransmitter, melatonin that helps your toddler get to sleep and stay asleep.
My preferred routine is …
Evening meal at 5 pm, bath at 5:30-6 pm.
One story, milk feed and then a second storybook and then down to sleep sometime around 6:30 pm but responding to tired signs.
I find a book just before bed separates out the feeding and sleeping and reduces the chance of your toddler falling to sleep before being put in the cot.
By having a regular bedtime book that helps the process. Babies and children learn by repetition. It’s really important that the story is not too long and not too many words. Babies and toddlers have a low boredom threshold! Maybe only a sentence or two each page with lots of pictures and not too long, 10-15 pages. Limit your bedtime books to a maximum of 3 to prevent bedtime delay, toddlers become an expert in this as you will find!
I like to point to the words as I’m reading, so putting your finger underneath the words as they’re being read really helps your toddler and learning. It’s also good to point out a few other things on the page and talk about them.
It’s also helpful if sleep is a theme in the book.
My favourite toddler bedtime books
- Goodnight goodnight construction site – by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? – by Jane Yolen
- Where do diggers sleep at night? – by Brianna Caplan Sayres and Christian Slade
- The Goodnight Train – by June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith
- The Going to bed book – by Sandra Boynton
- The Gruffalo – by Julia Donaldson
- Room on the broom – by Julia Donaldson and Josie Lawrence
- Where the wild things are – by Maurice Sendak
- Llama Llama Red Pajama – by Anna Dewdney (3 years plus)
- Goodnight Moon – by Margaret Wise Brown
- Giraffes Can’t Dance – by Giles Andreae
- Owl Moon – by Jane Yolen