Sleep – Tips and tricks for getting your children to sleep

Sleep trouble is not just an adult thing. Don’t get me wrong; it very much becomes largely an adult thing when we can’t get our much needed shut eye, but nearly every parent, or carer, has had some difficulties with putting their children to bed.

We can all attest to a child’s need to do absolutely everything they can think of, before they go to bed. A drink of water, the toilet, another kiss goodnight. I mean the list of excuses can go on and on, and they do!

Then there are children who have overactive minds which turn to night terrors. This was me with baby numero uno. Did not sleep the night through for 3 years! Which turned out to be largely attributed to how we put her to bed, keep an eye on step 3 for this one.

So working with KP, who as we know has years and years of experience with children from the outside, we set to work researching and using both our experience to put a little guide together to help you make bedtime easier.

1. How much sleep?

I’ve always wondered how such little bodies need so much more sleep in comparison to us adults. But the truth is they do and I think that is the first step to a smooth bedtime. Understanding how much sleep your little one should have is very important because too little causes one to be over tired and cranky which then affects bedtime next time.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the below listed in the table.

AgeRecommendedNot recommended
0-3 months
14 to 17 hoursLess than 11 hours
More than 19 hours
4-11 months
12 to 15 hoursLess than 10 hours
More than 18 hours
1-2 years
11 to 14 hoursLess than 9 hours
More than 16 hours
3-5 years
10 to 13 hoursLess than 8 hours
More than 14 hours
School-aged Children
6-13 years
9 to 11 hoursLess than 7 hours
More than 12 hours
14-17 years
8 to 10 hoursLess than 7 hours
More than 11 hours
Young Adults
18-25 years
7 to 9 hoursLess than 6 hours
More than 11 hours

You as the parent, or carer, always know what is best for your child so use this as a guide, but do try and get pretty close. I know my Miss Ten needs 10 hours otherwise the inner b!+@# comes out the next day.

2. When to go to bed?

Once we have figured out the time frame our child needs we then need to work back to a realistic bedtime. It’s always good to be one step ahead and take into consideration that a child will never go to sleep straight away.Give yourself a 20-30 minute leeway for the ‘I need a drink of water’, ‘I need to pee’, ‘I need another kiss goodnight” and every other excuse kids are great at coming up with at bedtime. So if you want them to be asleep by 7.30 they should go to bed at around 7.

It is also important to be realistic about the time they need to rise. If they need to be up at 7am, for whatever reason, and they need 12 hours sleep, maybe putting them to bed at 8pm isn’t gonna work.

3. Before bed

This is key! A lot of children have very active imaginations, some are even overactive. This means that any activity before bed needs to be as low key and calming as possible. As ridiculous as it may sound, Goldilocks and the Three Bears could be absolutely terrifying to the overactive mind. I mean c’mon… she steals their food, she breaks their stuff essentially they try to eat her!

So pick your audience. If you know the kid is an over thinker, I suggest to stick with something tame.

Before I sign off I would like to say that babies are a whole other kettle of fish. I’m a firm believer in letting them guide you for the first year so please don’t think that this blog is tell you that you and your newborn need to stick to the above!  I’m not telling you and your newborn that need to stick to the above!


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