I often hear from clients that reading a book to their baby or toddler as part of the bedtime routine is a struggle. Some parents feel it’s an unspoken rule that they must read their baby a book at bedtime. Side note…I had to laugh when I selected this image…I think the title should be “Bedtime in a Dream World.”  I know that bedtime might look this snuggly 2% of the time, but it’s by no means the norm.

Bedtime reading, in the traditional sense of a child sitting in your lap while you read a book, is not age appropriate for young children.  As a former kindergarten teacher, I am going to encourage you to read to your child as much as possible ALL the way through school.  However, if books are a struggle, there are many great alternatives that all foster the development of language, attachment, and future academic achievement.  I have listed a number of them below.

Sit on the floor while you read and allow your baby or toddler to crawl around the room during the bedtime routine instead of trying to hold them in your lap.

Replace a book with the lost art of story telling.  Use different voices.  Feel free to tell the same story each night.  Children LOVE when parents tell stories.  (I do not have the gift of storytelling myself, so I am always jealous of those who do.)

Tell nursery rhymes or finger plays instead of reading.  The rhyming and and alliteration help young children learn about sounds and language, which later translates into reading.  The more children are exposed to rhyming and alliteration the easier it is for them to recognize sounds and sound out words when they enter school.

Sing a favorite song.  When my oldest was a tiny infant, I learned a song at a mommy group that I began singing:

Good night sweet Madeleine it’s time to rest… lay your sweet head upon our Savior’s chest.  I love you so, but Jesus loves you best. Good night sweet Madeleine, good night.

Here is another sweet simple song.  I require simple, especially in the lyric department.

Good night to you.
Good night to me.
Now close your eyes and go to sleep.
Good night. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams tonight.
Good night. I love you.

Don’t let bedtime become stressful trying to get your child to sit for a book.  Change it up, pick one of these options to see if your child enjoys changing up the routine.



Traveling with little ones this season?  Worried about your good sleep routines falling apart?  Don’t.

Children that have a predictable sleeping routine are often more flexible because they are not sleep deprived.  Enjoy your trip.

Starting your trip (notice I don’t refer to travel as a vacation 😉) with a well rested child always sets them up for success with the changes and unpredictability that travel brings.  That being said, if you can’t stick to your normal routine…

Pick one routine (bedtime or naps) to maintain as well as possible.  

If you stick to your bedtime routine, try to encourage naps on the go at your normal awake time interval.

If you choose nap routines, stretch naps when needed to adjust to a late bedtime.

AND give yourself and your little ones THREE days of strict routines (wake time, cues, awake times, and bedtime) when you get home to get back on track.

What to pack to recreate your sleep environment:

  1. Bring your Pack ‘n Play or rent one with a company like www.babierge.com.
  2. Pack your crib sheet
  3. Bring lovey (and backups if you have them)
  4. Bring a portable noise machine like the Dohm Portable found on Amazon.
  5. Portable blackout curtains like Gro Anywhere Blinds found on Amazon.

If sharing a room, it’s important to create a boundary between the parent bed and little one’s sleeping area.  Some rooms may have a living space or furniture you could place the crib behind.  For other rooms here are some options:

  • Snoozeshade Breathable Canopy found on Amazon
  • Create a DIY boundary by packing a dark sheet and clothes pins or command strips to hang a makeshift curtain as a boundary

And above all, have a great get away!!

One more tip for infants…because it is GENIUS!!!  Pack an air pump and an inflatable pool to provide a clean confined play boundary.

Packable Travel Play Pen

Update:  A Sleep Happy client recommends BabysAway.  In San Diego, she used Toddler Travels.  “Both companies have been excellent to work with, and everything we rented has been great quality.  The prices were reasonable too, not to mention the peace of mind that you don’t have to remember all the things!!”

Car rental companies (Dollar, Hertz, and Thrifty at the time of publication) offer car seat rentals with your reservation.  Car seats are an additional cost, but I have heard you can receive a free rental with AAA memberships and National PTA memberships.

For families that travel long distances by plain, these JetKids BedBoxes look amazing.

And just in case you need a little help getting everyone on board for holiday travel success, here is a little note to share…


Have more tips to share?  We would love to learn from you!  Please share!




Does your preschooler struggle to calm their bodies for sleep?

Does your preschooler sleep through the night but take forever to fall asleep at bedtime?

Here are some tips to help your child calm their bodies and prepare for sleep.

  1. Limit electronic screens 1-2 hours before bed.
  2. Incorporate specific play activities to help calm their bodies for sleep.  Playing  wheelbarrow or pushing a weighted laundry basket are examples.  For more calming play ideas, consider scheduling a Sleep Happy Phone Consultation.
  3. Keep a consistent bedtime routine (ex. PJs, activities, story or song before bed)
  4. Keep a consistent wake time in the morning

Does your child have more specific needs?  Would you like to talk about sleep in your house and get help creating a Sleep Plan that is specific for your child?

Contact Sleep Happy today for a Free 15-minute phone consultation by emailing jessica@sleephappyconsulting.com.