Good sleeping habits are essential for people of all ages, but they are particularly important for children. Growing minds and bodies need plenty of time to rest and recharge and sleep helps promote physical and mental wellbeing from birth through to the teens and beyond.
But try explaining that to a child in the middle of a bedtime tantrum, right? Kids can take a while to get used to a bedtime routine and even those on their best behaviour will protest every now and then. However, there are a number of ways to help your child not only adjust to a bedtime routine but also get a restful night’s sleep.
Set a routine
A consistent bedtime routine can help children get in the right mindset for sleep, giving them a better chance for a full and restful sleep. Following a pattern like bath, story then lights out is a great place to start for the little ones, while older kids might prefer a chat or some time alone before bed.
Stick to a schedule
Children and adults alike benefit from waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. You don’t need to worry too much about minor variations, but do your best to keep it consistent and they’ll learn to feel more comfortable with bedtime. Try to keep it up on weekends and holidays, even if you allow a bit of extra time as a treat.
Allow for relaxation time
It’s best to avoid anything overly stimulating in your child’s bedtime routine, even if it seems like it might help tire them out. Switch off the screens at least an hour before bedtime and encourage relaxing activities like story time or reading, gentle music, puzzles or anything else that helps them wind down.
Start dimming the lights before bedtime
Transitioning from brightly lit spaces to the darkness of the bedroom can be a bit of a shock to the system for children, so it might take them a while longer to get to sleep. Try dimming the lights or using lamps for thirty minutes to an hour before bedtime to help them feel sleepy.
Know how much sleep they need
Children need a lot of sleep. There’s no secret number to the perfect night’s sleep, but knowing the general time to aim for can help you plan an effective routine. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends the following based on your child’s age, including naps:
0 to 3 months:14 to 17 hours
4 to 11 months:12 to 15 hours
1 to 2 years:11 to 14 hours
3 to 5 years:10 to 13 hours
6 to 13 years:9 to 11 hours
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