Mother reading a bedtime story to her daughter

A Better Bedtime - Healthy Sleep Tips for Kids

Author: CHKD Medical Group
Published Date: Monday, September 04, 2017

By Dr. Christopher J. Meeks, Pediatric Associates

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but like adults, many children don’t get enough quality sleep. Healthy sleep helps a child function better physically, emotionally and metabolically. It helps them form memories and has a direct effect on their attention and behavior. Establishing good habits while a child is young can promote a healthy sleep routine for the rest of their lives. Here are some healthy sleep tips to encourage your child to fall asleep faster and sleep well.

  • Start a quiet time at least 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime. No screens, including TVs, tablets or phones, should be part of the bedtime routine.

  • Create a consistent routine for quiet time so that your child knows what to expect before bedtime each night. For instance, always have him put on his pajamas and then brush his teeth before reading a bedtime story.

  • Help children learn to fall asleep on their own. It is important for children to be put to bed while they are still awake so they learn to fall asleep alone in their own bed. Allowing them to fall asleep elsewhere will make it harder for them to build a healthy sleep routine.

  • Create a sleep-supportive bedroom. Dim the lights prior to bedtime and control the room’s temperature. Don't fill your child's bed with toys, but instead allow one or two items, like a favorite doll or bear, to reinforce that a bed is for sleep rather than play.

  • Be mindful of your child’s food and drink intake before bed. Sugary snacks and drinks that contain caffeine should be avoided, stick to healthy fruit and water when it's close to bedtime.

  • Learn to recognize sleep problems. The most common sleep problems in children include difficulty falling asleep, nighttime awakenings, snoring, stalling and resisting going to bed, sleep apnea and loud or heavy breathing while sleeping.
  • Talk to your child's pediatrician about their sleep habits, as most sleep problems are easily treated. They may ask you to keep a sleep log or have additional suggestions to improve your child's sleep habits.

  • Getting the right amount of sleep is important for a child’s healthy development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following based on age:

    • Infants, 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
    • Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
    • Preschoolers, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
    • Grade-schoolers, 9-12 hours
    • Teens, 8-10 hours

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    About CHKD Medical Group

    Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.