Back to top

11 Strategies for How to Get a Child to Sleep

11 Strategies for How to Get a Child to Sleep

As parents ourselves, we know first-hand the challenges of getting children to sleep. For a lot of children, they’ve got so much excitement and curiosity that it feels natural to resist naps and bedtimes. For the sake of their health, and yours, sleep is a necessity for every child. Even if they say that they are not tired, we still need creative ways to get a child to sleep.

If it’s time for sleep, here are eleven strategies any parent can use on how to get a child to sleep:

1. Dim lights

Getting a child to sleep shouldn’t be a stressful occasion. The closer you get to bedtime, keep activities more relaxed, lights dim, and environment relatively quiet. Any stress is going to release cortisol which is a hormone that will keep them awake. By dimming the lights, it’s a clear move to turn things relaxed, easy, and ready to eventually head to bed.

2. Lavender essential oil

A lot of the most effective ways to get a child to sleep is through using signifiers to the brain. Lavender essential oil is one of the better natural insomnia treatments out there. By putting lavender into a diffuser, you spread the scent throughout the home. This, along with dimming lights, puts a child in the mood for sleep.

3. Create a bedtime routine

For infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, a bedtime routine is a strong recommending in helping them fall asleep. It doesn’t have to be a complex routine. A bath or bedtime story works.

This routine, whatever it is, is to signal to the brain that it’s time to calm and sleep. As the routine becomes normalized, a child’s body will clue in and begin to feel sleepy the closer they inch to bedtime. The routine will help you to get a child to sleep.

4. Define a specific bedtime

The average child under the age of 11 requires 9-11 hours of sleep every night. Like adults, what a child’s sleep needs actually are can vary widely. Pay attention to what your child’s sleep behaviour is. It is a good child care practice to implement a standardized bedtime every night, whether that’s 8:30 pm, 9:30 pm, earlier in the evening, or later in the night. Get your child in the habit of going to bed at the same time every night.

5. Set a standardized wake-up time

Just like you set a time when they go to sleep, set a time for your child to wake up at. Every morning, get them up at the daily wake-up time. On weekends, you can let them sleep a little extra but not much more. Too much sleeping in can throw sleeping patterns completely out of whack. Remember, the longer they sleep in on any given day, the more difficult it will be at nighttime for them to fall asleep.

6. Address bedtime fears

If a reason your child is not falling sleep is because they are scared of something, don’t ignore it. Dismissing those fears may seem convenient in the moment but it’s a mistake. If you suspect a child might be frightened of something, talk to them about it. Reassure the child to get them to sleep.

If it’s needed, purchase them a night light, a toy, or an item that allows them to feel protected. Every child asleep should feel safe and protected. When that isn’t happening for whatever reason, any number of health issues can present short-term as well as later in life.

7. Slightly colder temperature

Our sleep is sensitive to temperature. When we fall asleep, our internal body temperature drops slightly. This helps to regulate our level of comfort as we sleep.

When you turn things a little colder, just by a degree or two, it encourages your child to go to bed and bundle up under blankets. They’ll feel more inclined to stay there, stay warm, and this approach to temperature will also help them in falling asleep.

8. Turn off TV, screens, and visual stimulation

Around an hour or two before bedtime, turn off the TV and shut down screens. Light from everything from computers to TV can interfere with melatonin production. This can keep a child awake longer than preferred. You want them to feel sleepy and not stimulated or excited with visuals.

9. Make the bedroom a screen-free zone

The bedroom has got to be a room strictly for sleep in the evenings. This means keeping TV, screens, and computers far away from it. A bedroom should be completely dark come bedtime.

Screens mean your child’s going to be involved in constant engagement, giving them less of a reason to fall asleep or feel tired. Before long, it’ll be 1 am and they’ll still be zeroed in on their screen. In order to get a child to sleep, make the bedroom a screen-free zone.

10. Bedtime stories

A nice way to wind down at the end of the day is through reading. This can be giving your child a book that’s interesting to them, involve a parent reading to their child, or be a story delivered orally.

11. Be quiet

After your child goes to bed, there’s some responsibility on the parent. You’ve got to be quieter than you normally would be. This means keeping the TV low or turned off, not banging around dishes or cooking meals, no music, etc. You don’t want the child to feel like they’re missing an activity or time spent with you.

If everything is quiet and it feels like the end of the day, a child won’t feel like there’s anything to do other than sleep. The silence is a good way to get a child to sleep.

Momma Bird

Contrary to popular speculation, the author behind The Momma Bird is not of avian extraction, but she's simply a stay-at-home mother living a quiet life in the Canadian prairies. Now that all her lovely little birds have left her nest, Momma Bird has a lot of free time to write, muse, and reflect on life.