Getting babies and kids to sleep

Waking up

Getting children to sleep can be a challenge, whether they are little babies or older children.

This section will offer some techniques to help settle children and send them off to dreamland!

Different parents have different rules about bedtime and the rituals for getting ready for bed.  Be sure to ask parents and follow their suggestions for peaceful sleep time.

Set the mood

Follow these tips to help create an environment conducive to sleep:

  • No TV, loud music, or extra noise before and during bedtime
  • Be sure the room temperature is not too cold or too hot
  • Dim lighting
  • Soft, peaceful music or singing lullabies
  • Comfortable, clean bedroom – put away toys, books, and other disturbances before going to sleep


For children in the toddler years and up, the main steps for getting ready for bed are usually:

Bath (or at least washing hands and face)

  • Brush Teeth
  • Pyjamas
  • Storytime (read a favourite book or tell a story)
  • Lights out!

 Favourite snuggly

little girl and teddy bearSome children sleep with a special toy or blanket so be sure to have that on hand.  This can help ease the anxiety of not having mum and dad home at bedtime.

Some children sleep with soft music or a nightlight on in their room. Other children need an extra cuddle before going to sleep.

You can do this if it seems appropriate.

Encourage children that when they wake up, their parents will be back at home. No worries!

If a child puts up a big fuss and doesn’t want to go to sleep, use your judgment to possibly allow the child to read quietly in their room.

If it is more appropriate to stick to the rules and enforce a particular bedtime, do so and be strong!


Girl Jumping on BedPreschooler challenges

Sometime between the age of 2 and 3 years old, most children will make the transition from a cot to a “big kid bed”.

This can be an exciting step but also presents the challenge of little ones coming out of their beds and finding it difficult to settle at night.

Discuss with parents the strategies they are using to encourage good sleep patterns for example:

A reward chart with stickers for staying in bed

Closing the bedroom door or using a gate to keep the child in his/her bedroom

Consistently walking the child back to their room if they come out after bedtime

Giving or taking away of favourite toys, blankies, etc.

Purple_bed with babySettling a baby to bed

Putting a baby to sleep is much like an older child. Create a quiet atmosphere, make sure the room is darkened and try soft light gentle rocking and a lullaby.

It is also important to wrap or swaddle a baby in a blanket until they are around 4 months of age (there is more information on this later in this section).

What to do if a baby is crying

Knowing if a baby is tired, hungry, uncomfortable, or sick is important since they can’t communicate with words.

Whatever you do, don’t blame the baby or get frustrated.

Purple_calming baby


Keep calm and know that crying babies eventually stop crying. It is better to put the baby down safely in his or her cot and walk away for a few minutes until you are calm and collected again.


And remember sometimes they might just “miss their mummy” and want a cuddle.


 If you’ve tried feeding and changing a baby and you know they don’t have a fever or any other discomfort like a tummy ache, try some of the techniques in this video:


Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network

Sleep cycles

Babies’ slWaking_Baby_cartooneep cycles are much shorter than those of older children and adults.

If you are caring for a baby you should know that in the early months, they can wake around every 3 hours for a feed, but the parents will surely give you guidelines of what to do to feed and resettle the infant.

It is important that babies do follow this sort of routine (or another specifically requested by a parent) so everyone gets to sleep at night and the baby learns to follow a routine for making his own sense of the world.

If you do need to wake a baby from a sleep, make sure you do it appropriately.

Here is a guide to a newborns sleep routine:


Babies and SIDS

The occurrence of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants (SUDI) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) around the world have dropped by as much as 82% since the 1990s. A baby can die of SIDS at any time of the day or night, but most cases of SIDS occur in sleep before the age of 1.  There are very specific guidelines in regard to safe sleeping for babies in order to reduce the chance of SIDS. It is critical that you know what to do to help prevent SIDS. Organisations such as www.sidsandkids.org are a great resource to help understand how we can protect babies from SIDS.  Please view their information below:

1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side

2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered

3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after

4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day

5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months

6. Breastfeed baby




Swaddling can be very comforting to a baby, who feels safe and warm in a cozy blanket – just like the womb! Try swaddling baby in a blanket when putting a newborn down to sleep.

Swaddling is also recommended as a way to prevent entanglement with a baby’s blanket. Please note that babies older than 4-6 months should not be swaddled, as they can usually roll over by this age and get tangled in the blanket.

This short video demonstrates various methods of wrapping or swaddling a newborn baby.



Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network


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