One of the top questions we get from patient families at Mountainland Pediatrics is, “How do I get my child to fall asleep?”

For many, bedtime can be stressful, especially if you’d like your children to go to bed at the same time each night. Even with the packed schedules and hectic daily routines, many kids resist bedtime- despite their need for more sleep than adults.

To start, it is important to know how much sleep your child should be getting, and this largely depends on their age. Babies who are 1 week to 4 months old typically need approximately 16-17 hours of sleep per day, whereas at 7-10 years old they need 10-12 hours of sleep. Click Here to learn how much sleep your child needs.

Once you’ve determined the amount of sleep that’s appropriate for you child, you can create a bedtime routine accordingly. Little kids need structure to feel secure day to day, so a bed time routine can help them develop a healthy relationship with sleep and bed time.

It’s a good idea to choose a bed time routine that’s relaxing to promote ending the day and going to sleep at the appropriate time.

Bedtime routines can include activities such as:

  • Turning off electronics
  • A bubble bath
  • Brushing teeth
  • Putting on pajamas
  • Reading a book together
  • Singing a lullaby
  • Bedtime hugs/kisses
  • Turning on a night light or sound machine

Bed time routines depend on the family and what works best for them and their child. It is important to provide an ideal sleep environment for your child that’s dark and quiet.

If your child has nightmares, they might be afraid to fall asleep. It’s important to avoid watching scary or violent TV shows or movies before bed. Instead, encourage your child to think of good things by reading a peaceful book, or playing soothing music before bed.  Sometimes, a comforting object like a blanket or stuffed animal can help children with a lot of worry or stress feel safe. 

For anxious children, Mountainland’s Early Childhood Therapist Kellee Clark has a few suggestions. “It’s helpful to try making the unknown known, meaning if there is a change in the bedtime routine, letting the kids know quickly. If there is a sound outside or the phone goes off, it helps to let them know as soon as possible.”

Additionally, Kellee suggests creating a worry box where kids can write down their worries before bed and place them in a box. “Containment can be helpful for worrying children. Parents can tell a little story about how the worry box keeps their worries at night. Having a trusted adult validate their worries at bedtime might be all they need to sleep soundly.”

If you ever have a question about your children, want to schedule a check-up appointment, or are looking for a Denver-area pediatrician and want to learn more about our practice at Mountainland Pediatrics, call us at 303-430-0823.