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How to get kids to sleep




Counting Sheep

Each day, in child care centers all across the country, teachers put groups of kids to sleep at nap time. So why is it so difficult with only one or two at home every evening? Is it those day care naps? Child care teachers everywhere would suggest that it’s not the nap at day care. So this page gives some tips and info on how to get kids to sleep.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

Research shows that preschool children need 10-16 hours sleep every night. If they get 8-9 hours at night at home they’ll still need 2-3 more hours of sleep sometime during their day. Some kids do get their 10-12 hours of sleep at night though this is fairly unusual.


American Association of Pediatrics

Sleep habits begin in infancy. Parents can affect infant’s sleep patterns with things like night feedings, diapering, noise levels, room temperature, and light levels. So beginning early with bedtime rituals that are conducive to sleep is very important. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP)  recommends babies sleep on their backs, on a firm mattress,  in a room with a cool temperature. These simple measures along with others found here can help reduce the risk of SIDS death.  These recommendations can save lives and help a child avoid sleep problems throughout their life.

Home and School Connection

Nurseries and child care center infant rooms are careful to follow these recommendations and take other measures to help babies get the recommended  amount of sleep. If the napping area is near a common hallway teachers might put a cd player on and play soft music or white noise. Mobiles and light projectors might help very young babies settle in for a night’s sleep. At home you might try these ideas in addition to your pre-bedtime rituals. Learn more about infants sleep patterns here.

Bed time/nap time  rituals might be a little different at home than children experience at day care. Children at home can brush teeth, get a warm soothing bath, and cuddle time with stories and books. These rituals, whatever you choose, should follow the same sequence every night.  Over time you will see that, because children need structure and to know what to expect next, bedtime and nap time will be less of a hassle. When you must deviate from the routine expect an unsettled, overtired kiddo.

Helpful Hints and Products

Rocking helps, even bigger kids like to fall asleep being rocked.

Active kids will sleep. Keep in mind, if kids have been passive, indoors all day they won’t be as tired as on days spent outside.

Routine, routine, routine. Even if the child (or chridren) try hard to disrupt the routine, keep it. They will test you in their efforts not to go to sleep.

Calm quiet activities in the evening will send the message that bed time is near.

These products are offered as part of our affiliate program and may help your child sleep better.

Following these recommendations will help get the kids to sleep, and prevent nap/bedtime issues and everyone can get a few zzz’s.

Check out the How to get babies to sleep page.