6 Tips for Making Sure Your Kids Get a Great Night’s Sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is important for everyone, but for children, whose bodies are still growing and developing, healthy sleep habits are even more critical. The responsibility for that good night’s sleep often falls on the parent, but any parent will tell you that getting kids to sleep is easier said than done.
We’ve collected some tricks and best practices that can help. Here are six that are sure to get your kids sleeping soundly.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule for your children.
A regular schedule is important for promoting healthy sleep. Getting up at the same time every morning—even when there’s no school—helps establish a manageable routine for parents and a proper bedtime for kids. Going to bed at the same time every night is also important, as the dependable, nightly routine helps children to calm down and get their minds and bodies ready for sleep.
Bedtime routines should be filled with bathing, brushing teeth, tidying up bedrooms, and reading—nothing overly exciting, strenuous, or requiring too much thought. Screens should be avoided, as the blue light they emit can interfere with sleep.
2. Make sure your kids get enough sleep.
While every child has slightly different needs, there are some general guidelines to follow depending on the age of your child:
- 0 to 2-year-olds: 11 to 14 hours per day
- 3 to 5-year-olds: 11 to 13 hours per day
- 6 to 13-year-olds: 9 to 11 hours per day
- 13 to 18-year-olds: 8 to 10 hours per day
These are total hours per day, so they can be split between naps and regular bedtime. Some kids will get their full thirteen hours at night and not nap at all (sorry, parents), while others will only sleep 8 hours at night and make up the difference during the day.
3. Don’t let your kids go to bed hungry.
Hungry children have a harder time getting to sleep, so they are less likely to get the full rest hours they need. Let kids have a light snack before bed, like a piece of fruit or a small bowl of cereal. Try to avoid full meals, however, or anything heavy within a couple hours of bedtime—the digestive process can interfere with sleep.
4. Don’t let your kids have caffeinated products after late afternoon.
We all know that caffeine interferes with sleep, so it should be avoided in the afternoon and evening to make sure your kids’ bodies have processed it by bedtime. It’s also a good idea to brush up on the different foods that contain caffeine—there’s a lot more than just coffee, tea, and cola. Some clear sodas contain caffeine, especially ginger ales. Iced tea is another common drink that also has caffeine in it. Lastly, don’t forget that chocolate contains caffeine, too. it’s not just the sugar making your kids crazy.
5. Don’t let your kids nap too close to bedtime.
While many kids, especially younger ones, require naps during the day to meet their sleep quota, those naps should be timed carefully. Napping too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with the child’s ability to sleep at night. If your child misses their regular naptime, it might be better to just skip it for the day and put them to bed earlier.
6. Don’t force your kids to nap if they don’t need it.
Although the conventional wisdom is that children need regular naps, this may not always be the case. If your child meets their full sleep quota at night, forcing them to nap might make them unable to fall asleep at a reasonable time the following night. This, in turn, will cause them to sleep later in the morning, and before long their whole schedule will be off. Many kids stop needing naps around age 5, but it can occur earlier as well.
Sleep is important for kids, but it can often be a struggle getting them to rest well. But put these tips to use and your child will develop habits that may leave them resting better than ever.