How to Instill Good Sleep Habits in Children

Being a parent is hard enough without dealing with years of sleep deprivation because your kids don’t ever go to sleep when they are supposed to. We expect babies to wake up multiple times in the night because that’s what babies do. It is even less fun when your baby becomes a toddler and they are still waking up two or three times a night, or refusing to go to bed full stop.

The occasional night of disruption is acceptable. After all, children sometimes get sick or have a bad nightmare and don’t sleep as well. When this happens you comfort them, let them come and share the bed with you, and just suck it up. You know you can catch up on your sleep in a night or so, so it isn’t the end of the world. But if your child hardly ever sleeps through and is a permanent night owl, it can be really hard to live with; especially if you work full-time and have to leave the house at the crack of dawn.

The best way to prevent this type of scenario is to instill good sleep habits from the very beginning. That way your child will grow up with a regular bedtime routine that never deviates except on holidays or special days. So if you are having problems persuading your child that bed time means time for bed, here are a few tips to help you reclaim your evenings and get a good night’s sleep.


Daily Routines

Children need routines. Without the framework of bedtime, mealtimes and playtimes, children soon start to push the boundaries of what is, and what isn’t, acceptable. An appropriate bedtime routine will help them get enough sleep at night, and since sleep is extremely important for a child’s development, it is absolutely vital that you develop an effective bedtime routine from a young age.

It’s Time for Bed

An appropriate time for bed will depend on whether it’s a normal week or you are staying somewhere different, but in general, most young children and toddlers should be in bed around 7pm. Older children can stay up a bit later, which will allow you to have some special time practicing reading or helping them with homework, but up to the age of 10/11, kids need to be in bed before 9pm.

Bedtime Routines

The idea of a bedtime routine is to calm a child down and prepare them for bed. This would normally include taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story. Allow around half an hour for the wind down to bed and make sure you stick to the same routine every night so that it becomes “normal”.

How to Juggle Multiple Kids

It can be hard when you have several children of different ages. Babies are the most demanding, so you will have to cater for their feeding schedule first, but in the case of other children, try and stagger their bedtime routines so that each child has some one-on-one time with you. Partners and grandparents can help in this regard, as can older siblings, but make sure you swap duties regularly so each person gets to spend special time with each child.

Create a Relaxing Bedroom

Children will be more inclined to go to bed without a murmur if they like their bedroom and it is a quiet, relaxing place. Choosing the right bed is important. Toddlers are ready to make the move to a bed when they are able to climb out of their cot. Look for special toddler sized beds with a mattress protector and guard rails on the side to prevent falls, and then once they are older, you can buy them an adult-sized bed.

Younger children might want a night light if they are fearful of the dark or the bogeyman living in the closet. This is fine. Let them have a night light or leave the light on outside their bedroom for as long as they wish. Most kids do grow out of their fears within a few years.

Say No to Smartphones in the Bedroom

With older kids, remove electrical devices from the bedroom at bedtime. No child will sleep well if they have access to their smartphone, tablet or computer after dark. Instead they will spend way too much time checking up on social network accounts or messaging friends instead of sleeping.

Establishing a cast-iron bedtime routine from a young age will help to prevent bedtime problems later on. You may still have nights where your child refuses to go to bed or has a screaming fit when you try to leave them, but stick to the routine and this phase will soon pass.

What are some bedtime sleep habits in children that you’ve used?




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I'm Crystal. I'm married to Dale, and mother to Johnny.Some might say that my life is perfect because I get to do all the cliché wife things like cooking, cleaning, and decorating - but there's more! I also have many hobbies including needlework (crochet), sewing, and reading. My son's education is important, so we homeschool him together.

15 comments on “How to Instill Good Sleep Habits in Children”

  1. My youngest rarely slept well. It took him the first year of his life to sleep through the night (long year for his mama!) Despite routine, comfortable room and a pleasant sound-maker, he was still a disruptive sleeper in his toddler years. Today he’s better and only awakens occasionally from a bad dream. Praise God! Now I can catch up on my sleep 🙂

    • I can feel your pain. Zeva took until she was almost 3 to sleep through the night by herself. She still fights going to bed on several nights especially if there were any changes made or heaven forbid we let her have a sleepover with the in-laws. She still wakes up with nightmares too from time to time, but not often. I still don’t get much sleep, but that’s a personal issue versus her keeping me up.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope to see you again soon.

  2. Awesome tips. I find that reading to children before bedtime is relaxing for younger children. Also, allowing older children about 7 and older read to themselves quietly before bedtime helps their bodies to wind down.

    • Reading before bed is such a great thing to instill in kids. I have started that with my two youngest this past year, and we’ve all grown to treasure that time together. I can remember my stepmother reading to my brother and I growing up and how much I treasured her doing that.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope to see you again soon.

  3. Children getting enough sleep is so, so important! We’ve struggled in our home, to find the sweet spot for bedtime. You know, the time where if they are in bed then, they will sleep blissfully all night long…we find it, and then find ourselves having to change wake up time or whatever. 😉 Another thing that we’ve done in our home, is to keep toys out of the bedroom. The bedroom is for sleeping, and sleeping only. I’d rather trip over toys in the living room any day than to have everyone sleeping poorly.

    • I completely agree that sleep makes a huge difference. Finding that happy medium is difficult for sure. I’m finding that to be more of a struggle with my oldest than I have with my two youngest.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope to see you again soon.

    • I think it’s a pipe dream worth making a reality. Although, that is the pot calling the kettle black!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope to see you again soon.

  4. I agree that these tips work very well. We love them here at our house. One of the things we do after dinner is dim the lights in the house and pull all the curtains shut. It helps the entire family get into “sleepy” mode.

    Thanks for linking up with the FrugalMommas team!

    • That is such a wonderful idea. That’s one of the primary reasons why I love daylight savings time because my kids are more willing to go to bed at their bedtime.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope to see you again soon.

  5. Great tips! I have also seen recommended eliminating not just Smartphones but computers, toys, tablets and anything electronic. What do you think? Visiting as a co-host from the #HomeMattersParty

    • Jeanne,

      I personally watch a movie/TV show with my kids before they go to bed and have found that works for getting my kids on bed on time. However, I can understand that logic too.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

    • I agree that without routine everything goes haywire.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope to see you again soon.

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