top of page

Help, My Toddler Won’t Go to Bed!

Using Visual Cues to Help Your Toddler Get Through Their Bedtime Routine

It’s super common for toddlers to begin testing boundaries at bedtime.

You’ve been doing a bedtime routine for a while, and they’re used to it. In fact, I’m willing to bet they feel uber-confident because you’ve provided this routine for them. They know what happens next, and they’re self-assured enough with this routine to test the waters with you, knowing you're their safe space. It’s kind of a compliment!

If you find yourself in this predicament, you’re not alone. This is a very common behavior for toddlers to begin to exhibit.

I’m also willing to bet most of your difficulties are with transitions. You can read more about that here.

Today, though, I want to focus on using visual cues to help your toddler (or preschooler if you’re having these same issues) get through their bedtime routine.

Using Bedtime Cards

Bedtime cards are just that - cards that help your child transition between the activities of their bedtime routine. For all of our clients, we provide bedtime routine cards showing the following:

  • Clean up

  • Take a bath

  • Put pajamas on

  • Brush teeth

  • Read books

  • Lights off, white noise on

  • Songs, cuddles, prayers

  • Get in bed

You can also easily make your own if you’re more of a DIYer.

There are two different ways you can use these:

  1. Keep the cards with you and have your child identify what’s next in the routine, carrying them along with you as you go.


  1. Keep the cards in their corresponding places and have your child find them as it comes next up in the routine.

Either way works great!

Using a Toddler Clock

I love providing cues for my boys with our Hatch okay-to-wake clock. Not only do we use this machine for white noise, but we also use the lights as our bedtime cueing system and our okay-to-wake clock.

Here’s how I would recommend programming yours: