Sleep Hygiene for Kids

Can you believe it is already time to discuss establishing good bedtime routines to prepare children for returning to school! While it feels like summer just started, sure enough it is time to start thinking about how to get our families schedules back on track. This season of staying up late and sleeping in is coming to a close and it can be helpful to start adjusting back to a normal sleep schedule a few weeks before the first day of school. I recommend adjusting to an earlier bedtime and earlier wake time slowly over the course of a couple weeks to allow your child’s natural rhythm to catch up. Abruptly initiating an early wake time can be a shock to the system.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends following the 4 B’s of bedtime to help children wind down for bed. Setting up a consistent bedtime routine when your children are young and then sticking with it through out their childhood can set you and your child up for easier bedtimes.

  1. Bathing: Baths are a soothing way to start to prepare your child for sleep. The warm water will signal to their brains that bedtime is approaching. You also can utilize scents such as lavender or chamomile to help kids feel relaxed. Starting bedtime with a bath is not only hygienic but also offers the perfect opportunity to get kids into their PJ’s when the bath is over.
  2. Brushing: After bathing and getting into pajamas kids should brush their teeth. Having a toothbrush be the last thing in a child’s mouth at night (other than sips of water) is not only another signal that bedtime is approaching but a way to prevent tooth decay.
  3. Books: Reading books together is the perfect cue that its time to cuddle up and go to sleep. Reading to your child is great for their brain development and is a calming activity that can be done in bed and does not require any electronics.
  4. Bedtime: Once you have set the stage that bathing, brushing, and books signal bedtime you should be able to allow your child to fall asleep independently.


We all know that kids can be master manipulators, especially when it comes to prolonging bedtime, but having the safety net of a consistent routine can help parents from letting bedtime get out of control.  Some other tips for successfully falling and staying asleep include: a cool sleeping environment, a completely dark room, eating dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime, and avoiding blue light (tv, phones, tablet) for at least one hour before bed.


Hopefully, these tips for sleep will having your family conquering bedtime in time for the start of the school year. If you have additional questions or concerns don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss a personalized sleep plan for your child.

Sarah Elliott PNP-PC Sarah Elliott Pediatric Nurse Practitioner specializing in primary care. Practicing in Nashville, TN.

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