Tips to get your kids to sleep—so you can too

Tips to get your kids to sleep

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Last updated:
04/19/2021

It’s normal for kids to have a hard time falling or staying asleep sometimes. But it can be very frustrating for your child and you—especially if it happens often.

How can I get my child to sleep?

There isn’t a cure-all or magic fix but there are things you can do to help you and your children have a better night’s sleep.
The key is to find a comforting bedtime routine and consistent bedtimes that work for your child at each stage of development.

  1.  A cozy, consistent bedtime routine can help your kids feel relaxed and ready for sleep. Toddlers and preschoolers usually find a routine comforting.
    You may want to start with a bath or shower together, followed by some quiet time with books or songs. It’s also helpful to have the same rituals—like brushing teeth or putting on jammies—every night before you tuck children in bed.
  2. Sticking consistently to a regular bedtime can help your child sleep better at night, but it may not always be easy to follow through on that plan.
    A good, realistic goal is to have your child go to sleep within 30 minutes of when you tuck her in at night. And if she wakes up and wants to be in bed with you, try to limit it to just a few nights.
    And when there are time disruptions like bedtime or nap time that don’t happen at regular times—like on the weekends—help your child adjust by gradually moving bedtime earlier or later during the week.
  3. Reading a book before bed is a special time for parents and kids, but don’t keep it up too long.
    Most kids can’t stay focused on a story for more than 15 minutes. So try to stick to that limit.
  4. If you have more than one child, it can help to let them take turns going to bed first or last each night.
    But if your older children are reluctant to go first and your younger ones want to stay up later, try linking the kids’ bedtimes together instead of forcing them into a set order each night.
  5. You might want your kids awake earlier in the morning on their school days, but don’t try moving their bedtime too early unless they sleep late on weekends.
    Moving bedtime early means that your child will be tired in the morning and more likely to have trouble getting to sleep at night.
  6. If your children have trouble staying asleep, try not to check on them too often or make too much noise when you walk by their room.
    If they feel like you’re nearby, they may get up and come looking for you or wake up even earlier than they normally would

If your kids are still having trouble sleeping well after trying these tips and strategies, it could be a sign of a sleep problem that’s out of your control—like a cold, ear infection or other illness bothering them at bedtime.

Does your baby, child, teen or you having trouble sleeping? Try these techniques Helping Your Children—and Yourself—Sleep Well