5 Ways To Enrich Your Toddler’s Bedtime Without Books

Incorporating books into your nightly routine is a great way to not only wind down after a long day but also a great way to expand language. But- what do you do if your child is just not into a book every night? Here are 5 alternatives to a nighttime book that are calming AND still give plenty of opportunity for language development. 

  1. Sing songs with finger play.
Image result for finger play
10 fingerplay songs

Just like reading, singing familiar songs is a great way to expand language. Pick a handful of songs and sing them every night. As adults, we love variety but a child needs repetition to grasp the words and participate in the finger play. Remember- the motor planning for both singing and finger play takes time to perfect- slow your pace and rate to help with this. Any approximations should be rewarded and don’t worry about perfection. Your child may not participate at first but as with most things…practice makes perfect!! Here is a list of some great simple finger play songs. 


  1. Yoga

 I love to incorporate animals into my nightly yoga with my toddler. I have a simple song I sing: “ABC, 123 which animal will (insert your child’s name here) be? I put my finger on my chin like I am thinking and give him a few seconds wait time… then if he doesn’t answer…I give him a suggestion….”how about a cow?” I don’t wait for an affirmation-sometimes languages is cumbersome so I just go into cow pose. Animals are a great way to target language and also practice articulation (for example: “a cow says…moooo”- believe it or not…this simple sentence targets language and helps with motor planning needed for speaking) It is actually surprising just how many animals have yoga poses. Click on the picture for inspiration!

Yoga animals just not your thing? Try this more traditional calming sequence


  1. Massage
Image result for toddler massage
Massage technique from Oh Baby!

This is not only a great relaxation technique but also a wonderful way to help your child learn body parts! Put on some calm music and dim the lights. You don’t have to be a professional because this activity is really about relaxing and talking! Massage your toddlers feet and talk about feet! Ex: We are going to massage your little feet! We walk on our feet. What can we wear on our feet? Look at these little toes- let’s count them, ready? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 

Remember- you want your voice to be excited yet calm.


  1. Puppet show
Image result for flashlight puppet show
Click photo for a Youtube tutorial!

Two options here: You can use puppets that you have OR you can grab a flashlight and have a shadow puppet show! Incorporate songs into this activity or perhaps your puppet friend can tell a story. Talk about things you did that day. Increase sequencing skills by asking your child about their day, what did they do today? Give your child a few seconds wait time and then give two choices—did you go to the beach or go play outside today? Keep it simple and relevant. You know your child best.

  1. Pretend Play Bedtime Routine

A fun way to mix up the night without a book is to incorporate pretend play into the routine. Find some “friends” i.e. stuffed animals or a special toy. Take the “Friend” on a tour of your child’s bedtime routine. Have your toddler show their toy how they brush their teeth. Have your toddler read a book. Sing a bedtime song and tuck the toy into bed. Your toddler can be the leader during this fun take on a night time routine!

Enjoy these and more tips @nurturenotetakers

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