Calming and Rest-Time Activities

Your toddler needs his rest. It is recommended that your toddler get twelve to fourteen hours of sleep in a twenty-four-hour period. It is often very difficult for young children to shift gears. They are unable to go from being active and wound-up to calm and restful without a transitional time. In other words, it is unrealistic to expect that your toddler will be able to go directly from chasing butterflies to a long and peaceful nap. Try to have a set routine with calming activities in place to assist your child in unwinding and preparing to rest.

Back Blackboard

Try this to help calm your child before bedtime. You can also massage your child's hands and feet this way.

  • Ask your child to lie still on his stomach. Direct him to pay attention to what he feels.

  • Use your finger to draw on your child's back. For younger children, make shapes and spirals. For the older child, you can draw specific shapes, letters, or numbers and ask her to guess what they are. Use lotion for a variation.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 10 minutes

Body lotion, if desired

Roll Up

Tucking in your child at bedtime can be part of a soothing ritual.

  • Spread the blanket out on top of your child's made bed.

  • Have your child lie on top of the blanket on one side of the bed.

  • Tuck the near side of the blanket over him and gently roll him across the bed until he is wrapped up in the blanket roll. Unroll your child before you leave him to go to sleep.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 5 minutes


Extra blanket

Monster Spray

Help your child use his imagination to conquer his fears and get a good night's rest.

  • Have your toddler decorate the can.

  • Tell the child that this is now a can of monster repellent. Let him spray wherever he thinks there could be monsters lurking!

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

1 empty aerosol can or spray bottle

Materials for decorating (markers, stickers, etc.)

Counting Sheep

Counting sheep is a well-known way to cure insomnia. Try this cute game to help lull your toddler to sleep. Supervision is needed if your child is still prone to putting things in his mouth.

  • Tell your child that the cotton balls are little sheep. Show him how he can herd them all on the pillow one by one. Perhaps they can hide under the covers, too!

  • Be sure to remind him that sheep are timid and that if he gets up or makes noise, the sheep will be frightened. If you are ambitious, you can use craft pompoms and draw on eyes for more realistic sheep.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 30–40 months

Duration of activity: 10 minutes

8 to 10 cotton balls

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