Establishing Children’s Sleep Routines

By Denise Rennekamp, M.S.
(Oregon Parenting Education Week Newsletter – 2015)

Adequate sleep is important to your child’s overall health, growth, and development. Children who do not get enough sleep are less mentally alert and easily distracted. Lack of sleep can also cause a child to be more physically impulsive. Establishing a calming naptime/bedtime routine can help your child get to sleep faster and awake rested. Although each child and family situation is unique, the following ideas may be helpful.

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGive children some transition time. Say, “it’s naptime in 10 minutes” or “after I read you a story, it will be time to go to sleep.” It may help to use a timer so children will know when time is up.
  • Set rules about number of stories, drinks of water, getting out of bed, etc.
  • Plan a wind-down activity. Read a story, turn down the lights, play quiet music, or just talk. TV, movies, screen time, roughhousing, or active games are not good choices prior to naptime or bedtime.
  • Provide children with security. Let her have her favorite stuffed animals, blankie, night light, flashlight by the bed, or the door open.
  • Talk about fears and anxieties. Do a “monster check” if that seems to be a concern.
  • Avoid activities that compete with resting or going to sleep. Have adults and older children observe similar quiet time. This will encourage the little ones to go to sleep.
  • Decide on a regular bedtime. Set bedtime 10 to 12 hours before the child needs to get up. If a child is getting up too early, he may be going to bed too soon. On the other hand, if a child is grumpy or drowsy, he may not be getting to bed early enough.

“Consistency is key to success. If you are co-parenting, discuss bedtime routines and work as a team. A well-rested child equals a more rested parent.”

For more parenting tips contact your local OPEC Parenting Hub!

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