Getting Kids to Sleep
For those of you with young children who need to get their sleep, the late sunset or a particularly exciting day can make even the most tired child resist going to bed. Summer’s later, lighter evenings make it hard to convince the kids that it’s bedtime.
Here are some strategies for getting a reluctant sleeper to bed:
Maintain a sleep routine
Develop a routine that you can keep all year long. Bath, pajamas, brush teeth, grabbing a favorite stuffed animal, and then a book or song – the familiarity of each step will ease the transition to bedtime.
Have fairly heavy curtains
Blackout blinds aren’t just for babies. Room-darkening curtains to block out the light may make all the difference in helping your child settle down for the night.
Listen to an audio book
Find a quiet audio book that your child can listen to. The soothing voice might relax them and lull them to sleep. Plus, as an added bonus, audio books might spark an interest in reading the books themselves during the day. Depending on the book, it may trigger a few strange dreams so choose carefully.
Find some quiet music (don’t rule out classical!), or create a playlist of some of your child’s favorite songs. Even if your child’s not actually asleep, if they’re in bed while listening to music it will help them drift off eventually.
Allow resting in bed, even if they’re not asleep
You can’t force a child to go to sleep, but you can insist that they stay in bed. If your child is a real fidgeter who has trouble setting down, give them a small toy to hold, or a special cuddly to talk to when in bed, and this will focus their energy and help calm them down.
Make the day more active
Sometimes the solution to getting your children to sleep is to tire them out during the day. This is the perfect season for a trip to the park, a bike ride or swimming. You might even exhaust yourself to the point where you need a little nap and the kids have to wake you up.
Consider a later bedtime
Every child is different in terms of sleep needs, and if your child’s bedtime has been the same for years, perhaps it’s time to consider a later bedtime. The key question is whether they seem like they’re well rested in the morning. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed recommended sleep guidelines for children of various ages.
- Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours.