Bedtime Stalling 101 (As Taught By A Toddler)

Bedtime Stalling is something every toddler should master by age two. If you use my personally-tested strategies, by the end of this post, you should be able to push your bedtime a full forty-five minutes. With a little practice, you’ll be eating midnight snacks, watching horrible skits on SNL and ordering Slankets off late night infomercials in no time.

Run around the house at full speed. If a parent catches you, go completely limp so that you weigh 1000 lbs. If mom or dad succeeds in getting your clothes off, do not let that deter you from making a quick getaway and running around fully naked.

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This tactic is best carried out if you have a long established behavior of “not eating”. This way, when you show a sudden interest in nourishment at exactly the same time your parents start the bedtime process, they are genuinely torn between their desire to get you into bed and their fear that you might starve to death.

Brush your heart out. Ask for more toothpaste. Ask to use the Dora toothbrush and then change your mind and ask for the Thomas one. Run your brush under the water for an inordinate amount of time. Decide your teeth aren’t quite clean enough and start over. You get the idea.

Establish the need for as many security items as possible. I suggest a blankie, a stuffed animal and a sippy cup. About an hour before bedtime, hide these items around the house. Precious minutes will be awarded when your parents are forced to go on their nightly security item search, knowing full well there is no way you will go to bed without them.

When it comes to selecting books for bedtime stories, try standing frozen in front of your bookshelf, unable to make a decision. You can also attempt to renegotiate your allotted number of books. If your parent says you can have two, ask for three. If they say three, ask for four. The important thing is to never be satisfied. Lastly, pick the longest book possible or if you are feeling extra daring, pick the book with 100 “look and see” flaps. Those things take FOREVER.

All day, your parents have been trying in vain to talk to you, to get you to smile for the camera, to count to ten, etc. but you have ignored them. Now is your time. Put on your most devoted smile. Conjure up every word in your vocabulary and try to start an actual conversation. Sing a song. Say “I love you”. Your goal is to make it as tough as possible for your parent to walk away.

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If your parent picks you up to place you in your crib, your stalling minutes are numbered. You can try to make a break for it— arch your back, kick your legs, protest, etc. But the way I see it, you’ve got two options— lie down and accept the inevitable or scream their name as they walk out the door.

My suggestion is not to fight it. You’ve done excellent work and there’s always room for improvement tomorrow.

Sleep tight, class!

Related post: You Are Never Going To Sleep Again

About the writer

Ilana Wiles is the blogger behind Mommy Shorts, a humor blog that aims to deliver parenting information similar to how Jon Stewart delivers the news. Or, at least, that's what someone told her once and she liked it. You can also find her on her facebook fanpage.


Betty 10 months ago

All on point! I would add “water” to the list. When my twins ask for it, I can’t say no! What if they are thristy and can’t sleep because of that? argh. They have me pegged.

Heather McMahan Davenport 10 months ago

I pretty sure my 5 year old wrote this blog! For years this has been our bedtime routine. I have nicknamed her “Delay Fish” which is what Merlin called Dory in Finding Nemo. It makes me want to read the Go the &$:@ to Sleep book narrated by Samuel L. Jackson!

Helen Russo 10 months ago

no shit! “Just one more” was a common theme in our house, but I stuck to my guns, 2 bedtime stories , max!

Magdalena Grabowska-Stopyra 10 months ago

Aaaaahahaaaahaha that is our fight every night

Jewell Nettles 10 months ago

Now that look would erk the face of God. Cynthia would always have to inspect her food three times before deciding to eat.

Lori Randolph Ball 10 months ago

Lol. This is my life every night!

Melissa Pukajlo Brumbaugh 10 months ago

this is one area, that SO FAR has not been too bad with my nearly 4 year old son (from what I hear from others) We’ll see how my 17 month old does lol

Shannon Day-Cheung 10 months ago

This is classic. So funny!

Jen Sowden 10 months ago

My 9 year old FINALLY figured out that the easiest way to anger me is to give me a hard time at bed time.
He FINALLY has his routine of going to the bathroom, refilling his cup and brushing his teeth before he turns off his light.
My 4 year old, on the other hand, has not.
She figures out she’s hungry, thirsty, is missing some long-lost stuffed animal, is wearing the wrong pajamas, didn’t bring security blanket when she brushed her teeth and the 40 minute hysterical sob fest commences. She turns into a red-faced pile of drippy-faced girl.
I’m tired.

Patti Perich 10 months ago

Ha ha ! Hilarious !!

Denise Louise Stewart 10 months ago

Or a near 9 year old

Heather Scott 10 months ago

I’m wondering if our 5 year old will ever grow out of this nightly routine! Last night he came up with a business plan for an ice cream parlour that he wanted to talk through and detail his every last idea. What parent can get cross and tell their child to sleep when their little mind is securing our future! Russell Scott

Jennifer Donohoe 10 months ago

Missed – going to the toilet ( not actually doing anything on it, just sitting there for 15 minutes, accompanied of course), drinks of water or milk, turn the fan on/off

Vanessa Sanders 10 months ago

My 8 yr old does this too! Lol

Lynn Fletcher 10 months ago

I love these articles! My kids are well out of the baby and toddler stages but between the two I can always check off almost every thing you say. And reading them always takes me back to when my babies were that age :-)

Holly Buckle 10 months ago

Haha my daughters last night was I’m going to try do my tomorrow poop….ten minutes later surprise surprise no poop!

Veronica Swinney Powell 10 months ago

Always have the “its time for bed” with the response of “I’m hungry” lol

Veya van Noort 10 months ago

Ha, my almost-three-year-old often wants to go to bed early. No stalling, no fussing.

Brianne McNally 10 months ago

A new one for me, tonight my toddler insisted I sew a hole in her jammies. A change of jammies would not do, neither would living with the hole for a night.

Catherine Hallada Nohr 10 months ago

Lesson four: hide security items. I SWEAR every night it’s something new, but my daughter always asks for something that is missing!!!! I spend 10 minutes looking for something I haven’t seen in weeks. Ugh.

ketchup 10 months ago

Ours is an odd duck. Instead of stalling she often goes to bed early herself. She’s almost three.

Belinda Ashford 10 months ago

We have all been there… So true

Lauren Gardin 10 months ago

Miles for sure

Kristen Chambers 10 months ago

Yessss! !!

Jenn 10 months ago

How could you have left out the tactic of waiting until lights are out and the door is finally closed to announce that you need to have a bowel movement?

Carrie Pena 10 months ago

Tonight we had a trial run of poop? My unpotty trained toddler knows a poop means getting to stay up… Lots of pointing and saying poop, even a please thrown in there… Tricky little bug!

Valerie Tobgi Organ 10 months ago

More water!
Rub my back!
Are two other popular ones at our house. Lol

Missy Carter 10 months ago

Bedtime is a easy peasy now. I think it was just a phase. (Thankfully)


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