How to Make Good Bedtimes a Habit

Every habit has three ingredients. They can help make bedtime more automatic

Scott Hanson


Dr. Craig Canapari has the kind of voice you’d expect from a doctor who works to help kids sleep better.  It’s youthful, friendly, approachable and knowledgeable. 

Dr. Canapari directs the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center, and we at Hush Buddy have called on him periodically for insights.

We spoke with him recently about sleep disorders, and what goes into changing bedtime behavior. What he told us will change the way you view your child when you struggle at bedtime.

“Frustrating as it is, parents, you can’t control the child’s behavior. But you CAN change the cue, or the consequence, or both.”


Dr. Canapari told us there are three parts to a habit:

  1. The Cue: For a toddler who struggles to go to sleep, the cue could simply be bedtime itself
  2. The Behavior: Often, this is the child choosing to crying and melt down
  3. The Consequence: This is how you as the parent react to the behavior—ignore it, lay down with them, bring them to your bed, whatever.
toddler sleeping

Frustrating as it is, parents, you can’t control the child’s behavior. You can’t MAKE them not cry.  But Dr. Canapari points out, you CAN change the cue, or the consequence, or both.

As we told him about our success testing the Hush Buddy sleep system with families, he pointed out Hush Buddy is changing two of the three ingredients of a habit.

First, our bedtime story, the arrival of Whisper the Hush Buddy, and the bedtime routine we recommend for parents changes the dynamic of bedtime for the toddler.  It changes the cue.

Then, the Hush Buddy device itself changes the consequences of the behavior by dimming briefly (to about half brightness) if the child cries or makes a ruckus.  Most kids want more light in their room, not less.  So calm quiet behavior has a very positive consequence it didn’t have before.

If you’d like to read more about the science of changing behavior and habits, by all means check out this article on Dr. Canapari’s blog.

As for us, we are so excited to be bringing a science-based sleep solution to help toddlers get more precious, healthy sleep.