Sleep is important to how your child learns, grows, and even behaves. Children who get enough sleep regularly do better in school and have fewer behavior issues. Discover how a regular bedtime routine can help your child get enough sleep. It can also make bedtime easier for you!
Ideas to Build Your Own Bedtime Routine
- Turn off screens.
- Take a bath.
- Brush our teeth.
- Take a bathroom break.
- Read stories.
- Go to sleep.
|Age Group||Hours Throughout the Day, Including Naps|
|Infants (0–12 months)||14–15 hours throughout the day|
|Toddler (1–3 years old)||12–14 hours throughout the day|
|Preschoolers (3–5 years old)||11–13 hours throughout the day|
|School-age children (5–12 years old)||10–12 hours|
How Do You Know When Your Child Isn't Getting Enough Sleep?
- "He gets really excited and hyper. He wants to run around and won't sit down, but I know he really needs to rest."
- "Her teacher says she has a hard time paying attention and doesn't want to join in or loses interest."
- "He will have a meltdown over something that normally wouldn't cause that reaction. It's because he either didn't get a good nap or didn't sleep well the night before."
- "Moody; he gets really moody. And I check in to ask if he's tired."
- "She just sort of falls apart when she hasn't had enough sleep and starts acting out."
If your child shows these signs, they may need more sleep or fewer interruptions at night.
Tips for Building a Bedtime Routine
- Set a regular bedtime, including the weekends.
- Start your child's bedtime routine about 30–60 minutes before their bedtime. This allows your child to recognize its time for bed and for you to spend quiet time together.
- Pick out clothes and other things your child may need.
- Provide an area that is safe, comfortable, and mainly used for sleep so there will be fewer interruptions.
- Offer quiet activities. Reading a book or listening to soft music helps if your child is struggling to fall asleep.
- Turn off the TV or video games. These make it harder for your child to fall and stay asleep.
- Limit drinks. Beverages high in sugar or caffeine, such as juice, tea, and soft drinks, should be avoided before bed.
- Offer time that allows for quiet conversation. Talk about your child's day, favorite things, or sing a quiet song together.
What Do You Like to Do with Your Child Before Bed?
- "We like to read a few books. Sometimes she will read them back to me."
- "We sing my favorite song from when I was a child."
- "We like to snuggle a few minutes before bedtime. It is my favorite part of the day."
- "He likes it when I scratch his back for a few minutes. It really helps him calm down."
Resource Type: Publication
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: April 1, 2022