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Everyone hopes their children’s bedtime will be a pleasant end to the day. Yet for young children, it can be difficult. Many bedtime hassles can be reduced by some common sense suggestions. Read on to find out how to beat the bedtime blues.

Why Children Struggle with Bedtime
There are many reasons why kids don’t want to go to bed. Some of the more common ones are:

  • They don’t want the day’s fun to end
  • They are afraid of their parents leaving and of ghosts and monsters
  • They can’t relax without help
  • They don’t recognize that they’re tired
  • They want more time with the parent
  • They are stressed

How Parents Can Help

  • Remain calm but firm
  • Allow 30 minutes to one hour of quiet activity before bed
  • Follow routines
  • Remember you can set the stage for sleep but you can’t force the child to sleep
  • Allow the child to read or play with a night light on

How Much Sleep?
Each child’s need is different. However, if your child is often fussy he or she may not be getting enough sleep. Here is a guideline for how much sleep the typical child needs:

 Age  Daytime Nighttime   Total Hours
 1 week  8-81/2 hours  9 hours  17-17 1/2 hours
 1 month  6 1/2 hours  9 1/2 hours  16 hours
 3 months  5 1/2 hours  10 1/2 hours  16 hours
 6 months  3 1/2 - 4 hours  12 hours  15 1/2-16 hours
 12 months  3 hours  12 1/2 hours  15 1/2 hours
 2 years  1 1/2 - 2 hours  12 1/2 hours  14-16 hours
 3 years  1 hour  12 hours  13 hours
 4 years    12 1/2 hours  12 1/2 hours
 5 years    11 1/2 - 12 hours  11 1/2 - 12 hours

Suggestions on Bedtime Routines

  • Give the child transition time.
  • Help the child identify time.
  • Make up a ritual song.
  • Make a chart of everything the child does before bed.
  • Allow some “unwinding” time.
  • Pray with your child or talk about things to be thankful about.
  • Make some rules about the number of stories or songs before bed.
  • “Stop the popping” – If children keep popping out of bed, say, “Stay in bed. I’ll be back in 5 minutes to check on you”.