Three melt-downs, two bouts of crying, and several hours past bedtime, your little bundle of joy is finally in their pajamas and has gotten in bed. You take a deep breath and tip-toe down the hall, ready to collapse into your relaxing, cozy bed. You have high hopes for the morning; a tasty breakfast, a solid workout, and maybe even you’ll get a little laundry done before heading to the office.
But then it happens. You hear the soft pitter-patter of your darling angel’s feet racing towards you until finally, they’re at your bedside chatting up a storm about Pokemon cards or, even worse...Baby Shark.
As you walk them to their room, it may seem like your early morning hopes of a productive morning is nothing more than a pipe dream, but what if it didn’t have to be?
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to help get your kids to fall asleep and stay asleep. So wipe your eyes and take a deep breath because tonight, your wee ones are sleeping — and you are too!
But First, How Much Sleep Do Kids Need Anyway?
A healthy sleep pattern plays a fundamental role in attention, emotional regulation, learning, and memory in early childhood. And although your baby’s needs tend to change as they grow, a good night's sleep for older kids is no less important to their physical and mental health.
That being said, recent research shows that a whopping 36% of school-aged children and 32% of teens aren’t getting the restorative sleep they need to function optimally. This is a huge problem because poor sleep patterns in kids have been linked to so many different problems, such as behavioral and mental health issues, weight gain and obesity, poorer academic achievement, and a higher risk of injury.
Simply put, sleep is a vital part of growing up. And if you don’t help your kiddos to get on a consistent sleep schedule each and every night, the hard truth is that you’re doing them a disservice.
Granted, getting the little monsters to drift off to dreamland can definitely be much easier said than done, but knowing the risks associated with poor sleep, it’s a battle most parents are willing to endure.
Based on extensive research, experts recommended children receive the following hours of sleep:
- Newborn 0-3 months old: 14 to 17 hours of sleep
- Infant 4-11 months old: 12-15 hours of sleep
- Toddler 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours of sleep
- Preschool 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours of sleep
- School-age 6-13 years old: 9-11 hours of sleep
- Teenagers 13-17 years old: 8-10 hours of sleep
What Are Some of the Most Common Signs That Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep?
Just like adults, when kids are sleep-deprived, they have trouble controlling their moods. Sleep, or lack thereof, affects so much of our children’s behavior and state of mind.
If your tiny tot doesn't have healthy sleep habits, they may:
- Sleeps deeply while riding in the car
- Often have cranky, over-emotional, or irritable episodes
- Have difficulty waking up
- Often become drowsy or “crash” much earlier than their regular bedtime
- Appear to struggle following conversations
- Experience sleep terrors at night
If you notice any of these symptoms in your kids, it might be time to change up their bedtime routine. This could help them achieve a much better slumber so that they feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, ready to take on the day. It's time to put this literal night terror to rest.
So, Without Further Ado, Here Are the Best Tips and Tricks To Get Your Kids To Sleep
Tip #1: Avoid Screens in the Bedroom
TVs, smartphones, and other electronics can greatly affect how easily kids get to sleep. Not only can the blue light emitted by these electronic devices disrupt their sleep/wake cycle, but teens may even stay up way past their bedtime or even wake in the middle of the night to scroll through social media.
That bright light stimulation isn't helping anyone. Too much blue light causes a reduction in melatonin (the special chemical that helps us transition from awake to sleepy).
Try to keep your kid’s bedroom a screen-free zone, and get them to charge their devices in another room like the kitchen or living room.
Other things that are important to avoid are sodas and bedtime snacks. This can contribute to hyperactivity and insomnia.
Tip #2: Try Calming Essential Oils
If your little one appears to be restless, try calming essential oils like lavender, peppermint, orange, and ginger. Add a few drops into a diffuser or humidifier and allow the power of plants to work its magic to relax your child.
Essential oils are made with all-natural ingredients and absolutely no icky chemicals, so you can help your kids get to sleep naturally. Essential oils almost act as a comforting object, like a stuffed animal, that can be part of a calm, consistent bedtime routine.
Tip #3: Pay Close Attention To Napping
Kids typically need at least four hours between sleep periods before they are tired enough to doze off to snoozeville again. Although nap needs may vary, it’s important that you pay close attention to napping and make sure your kiddo isn’t asleep for too long or too close to bedtime.
Tip #4: Connect With Your Favorite Mini Human
Sometimes, kids keep hopping back out of bed because they love you and simply want to spend more time with you. Spending a few extra minutes together in your PJs before it’s time to hit the hay can provide a connection boost that will help your little one feel loved, secure, and much more comfortable snoozing on their own.
As part of your kid's regular bedtime routine, tuck them in their blankets, rearrange their toys, and read them a story. Good sleep habits start young.
Kids' Sleep Matters
Up until the age of four, parents really do have to teach kids to sleep. This means gently taking them back to their bed when they get up at the incorrect time and helping to soothe their fragile mind after a nightmare. That being said, if you find yourself needing to use a reward system at this age, don’t worry — it’s just a phase, and you will make it through soon enough!
Here at The Natural Co., we understand the importance of good quality sleep. We are big believers in using natural, safe, and nontoxic products to help everything from preventing bug bites to stopping sleep-disrupting itchy bites. Play happy and healthy to sleep well!
National Sleep Foundation's updated sleep duration recommendations PubMed
Racial disparities and sleep among preschool aged children: a systematic review | PubMed
A Negative Association Between Inadequate Sleep and Flourishing | PubMed
Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for Healthy Children | PubMed