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Sleepy Time: Getting Kids to Go to Bed…And Stay in Bed!

By Becky Danielson
In regard to attitude, health, and general well being nothing beats a good night sleep. I know at my house when we are not getting enough of the old shut eye things deteriorate quickly; tempers are quick to flare, work doesn't get done and we all usually end up sick. Bedtime is important!

How much is enough for our kids? Generally speaking, babies need 14-15 hours of sleep per day, with sleep patterns beginning to be established at 4-5 months. Your baby's three naps a day will decrease to two afternoon naps around 6 months.

Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep per night with one nap during the day. Work your schedule around naptime. Ten to twelve hours of sleep are recommended for preschoolers. As with many aspects of parenting, consistency helps. Determine a bedtime and try to stick to it. Your child's internal clock will develop a pattern, which is exactly what you want.

As children grow, a proper amount of sleep is necessary. Bodies are growing! Elementary school age children should be getting 10-11 hours a night and your teen still needs 8-9 hours to be fully rested and sometimes even more. If you have teens, you know exactly what I mean!

Here are tips regarding bedtime for little ones.

• Develop a routine and keep it consistent. (Jammies on, teeth brushed, reading time, prayers, and kisses.) Include a time for quiet activities 30 minutes before bedtime to "set the stage" for bedtime.

• Stick to a regular bedtime.

• Make your child's bedroom a quiet and comfortable place to sleep.

• Use the bed only for sleeping. Do not put a TV or computer in your child's bedroom.

• Limit food and drink before bedtime.
• If your child is afraid of the dark, use a nightlight. If "monsters" are the problem, check under the bed and in the closet to reassure your child.

• Play soft music to mask other household noise and is soothing.

There's some psychology involved in bedtime too! Announcing that your child gets to go to bed rather than has to go makes the time of day much more enticing. A small mug of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey or a cup of chamomile tea may help set the stage for bedtime too. Cozy jammies, a comfortable bed, soft lighting, and a quiet time with Mom or Dad makes bedtime more of a pleasure!

Finally, tuck your child in securely and kiss him goodnight. Tell him you'll see him in the morning when the sun comes up, setting the expectation that he stay in bed. Then…enjoy the remainder of the evening.


Becky Danielson, M.Ed., is wife and mom of two teenagers. She is a licensed Parent & Family Educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. Becky is the co-author of EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First and Parenting Prose, a regular column in Marriage Magazine. She and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  www.beckydanielson.com & www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com. Back To Top

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