A question we hear all too often. When it comes to children and sleep, nearly every parent has had to deal with the difficulty of putting a child to bed at some point, and for a lot of parents, bedtime is a recurring nightmare. Children require much more sleep than adults do, yet so many kids put up a fight when it is time for bed. This can cause both parents and child alike to be drained, and lead to poor sleep for everyone.

After doing some research, we have found the some of the best tips to help with getting your kids to bed on time every night:

  1. Know how much sleep your child should be getting. Based on your child’s age, they will require various amounts of sleep. Understanding your child’s sleeping needs will help you set limitations and bedtime rules for your kids. Here is a general guideline to how much sleep your child needs based on their age:
    • 1 to 4 months old– Newborns sleep approximately 16-17 hours a day with periods of wakefulness lasting 1-3 hours. After their first month, their night/day sleep cycles begin to kick in, allowing them to sleep longer at night, although they still wake for feedings and changes.
    • 4 months to 1 year- Babies of this age still require between 14-15 hours of sleep daily. However, many of them are able to sleep through most of the night, and take up to 3 naps during the day and evening. During this period, it is important to really begin to establish healthy sleep habits for your child.
    • 1 to 3 years- Most toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep, but often get less due to the schedules of parents and older children in the house. They will more than likely lose their early morning nap and early evening nap and tend to only take one nap a day.
    • 3 to 6 years- Approximately 11-12 hours of sleep. Younger children of this group may still require a short nap during the day, but the need to nap usually diminishes by the time they enter the first grade.
  2. Make bedtime a routine. Creating a bedtime routine for children can take the stress out of bedtime for both you and your child. Kids crave and thrive on structure, as it gives them a sense of safety and security. Getting your child into a nightly bedtime routine helps them develop sleep associations that helps prepare them for bedtime.
  3. Create an ideal sleeping environment. Your child’s room should help promote sleeping. It’s best to keep their room dark, quiet, and cool. Some children (especially the very young) want at least a little light in their room, so a nightlight or a dim light is perfectly acceptable. Remember to turn off electronics. These devices promote wakefulness through both stimulating content as well as tricking the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake.
  4. Make sure they get regular exercise. It’s important that your children get plenty of exercise during the day which will help them wind down quicker at night. Just remember to keep their last playtime at 2-3 hours before bedtime or they may still be too stimulated for sleep.
  5. Avoid meals and caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and not very good for your child anyways. Make sure that they don’t have any drinks or snacks containing sugar and caffeine within 3 hours of bedtime.

These are just some simple tricks/advice that work for almost all children. Remember that every child is different, and you need to see what routine would work best for you family. Routines can be altered as you find what works for you and your child. It’s not so much the components of the routine that are important, but the consistency that is key.

by Gibeth Santana