6 Tips and Tricks for Getting Kids to Sleep at Night
Hint: Read them a bedtime story and they’ll be snoozing in no time
Getting the kids to bed on time and sleeping soundly at night is one of the biggest concerns facing parents. Almost every parent will have this problem at one time or another, and it can be an enduring nightmare for everyone concerned.
Getting them into bed is the first step, then getting them to sleep is the next hurdle. Since children need a lot more sleep than adults do, it seems odd that many kids will go to extremes to stay up at night. This causes a lot of stress, and lack of sleep for parents themselves, and means children are not getting enough sleep either so the whole household suffers.
So how on earth do you get your children to go to sleep at night and how do you get them to do so every night? Here are six tips that may help:
Know the Amount of Sleep Your Child Needs
Depending on the age of your child, his or her sleep needs will vary from the total hours they get every day, and the amount of time they sleep at night.
Your children’s napping habits also have to be taken into account so you can understand their sleeping needs and help you set bedtime rules. Here’s a general guide to the amount of sleep your child needs at each age:
- One to four weeks: Newborns will sleep around 17 hours a day in total and one to three hours in intervals awake. Most new bubs have yet to develop a night/day sleep cycle, so sleeping and wakefulness vary throughout the day and night. Parents generally adjust their own sleep patterns in this time.
- One to four months: By this age bubs still tend to sleep around the same amount of hours, but their day/night sleep pattern begins to develop, which allows them to sleep a bit longer at night.
- Four months to a year: Your baby will still need about 15 hours of sleep every day, but many can now sleep through most of the night, taking three daytime naps. Establishing healthy sleep patterns now is essential.
- One to three: Toddlers generally need 12-14 hours of sleep. They’re likely to drop the early morning and evening naps and just have one nap a day.
- Three to six: About 12 hours of sleep, but younger ones may still need a short nap during the day, but by the time they’re in first grade they won’t need one.
- Seven to 12: Around 10-12 hours of sleep at night, but they often only get 9-10.
- 13 to 18: Teens need eight to 10 hours of sleep, but rarely get it. Schoolwork, and after-school activities can rob them of sleep.
Set a Bedtime Routine
One way of easing the stress around bedtime is to set up a routine which will help parents and kids alike. Children feel secure when they have limits and structure, so a nightly routine or ritual, which includes reading their favourite story or a new one, will help them to develop sleep associations.
You can start with a wind-down period of up to half an hour before their bedtime routine which might include dimming the lights, switching off the TV, playing some relaxing music, moving slower and speaking softer.
These subtle cues will be noticed by your child as signs that it’s almost bedtime. Here’s a suggested bedtime routine:
- Relaxing bath
- Put on pyjamas
- Brush teeth
- Bedtime story
- Goodnight kiss
Make the routine flexible and find out which one works for your child.
Make the Sleep Environment Ideal
The room your child sleeps in should promote sleep rather than television watching or game playing. Keep it dark, cool, and quiet, but if they need a little dim light or a night light then use one. To drown out other noises, or if sleeping in silence doesn’t work, try white noise from a fan or something to create a steady low, rhythmic sound.
Switch Off the Electronics
Take TVs, games, computers, phones and any other electronic devices out of the child’s room because the light they emit mimics daylight, tricks the brain into thinking it’s time to wake up, and they’re too stimulating to promote sleep. Turn off the electronics an hour before bed.
Kids Need Regular Exercise
Making sure your child gets plenty of exercise in the fresh air every day will help them sleep at night. But exercise or play should be finished at least three hours before their bedtime routine.
No Meals or Caffeine Before Bed
Caffeine(1) isn’t good for children anyway, apart from it being a stimulant, so it’s a no-no. Many soft drinks and energy drinks contain caffeine so if you allow them one, make sure it doesn’t contain too much sugar or caffeine. So, don’t give them any food or drink containing sugar and caffeine three hours before the routine. Snacks are OK providing they’re healthy and not too filling. Warm milk, fruit or crackers are good.
Guest Author’s Bio
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as Acacia Pest Control, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.