Sleep is vital for your child’s development

Good sleep routines are important for your preschool child’s growth, development and concentration.

A good night’s sleep will help your child to learn at school, allow them to react more quickly to situations, have a more developed memory, learn more effectively and solve problems, plus it will make them less susceptible to colds and other minor ailments, less irritable and better behaved.

Whilst nutrition and physical activity are both important, sleep is vital. From an early age it's important to introduce a good sleep routine into your child’s life.

  • Set a bedtime routine and stick to a time that you aim for your child to be in bed for
  • Create a comfortable atmosphere that helps your child relax. Consider the temperature of the room, the lighting and any noises
  • Be consistent so your child knows the wind down routine for bedtime, this might be a bath, story and milk
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea or hot chocolate before bed as these may keep your child awake and stimulate their bladder
  • Ensure your child uses the toilet prior to bed, try before getting into bed and after a bedtime story, this can help avoid night-time wetting
  • Tidy toys away and ensure your child’s room is not over stimulating or too inviting to play
  • Talk to your child about the importance of sleep and how it helps them to be happy and kind the next day
  • Black out blinds can help to keep out any sunlight that may wake a child up early in the spring and summer months
  • It's good to limit screen time (TV and electronic devices) during the day, as this can cause a decrease in the amount of sleep hormone (melatonin). Try to make sure it is stopped two hours prior to your child’s bedtime to allow their body to start the relaxation process
  • Ensure your child isn’t hungry. Milk, banana or a light snack can help settle them. However, ideally serve dinner a couple of hours before bedtime to avoid any tummy upset from foods or bowel movements from digestion waking them up
  • Tell your child stories about characters that need sleep 
  • Get your children outdoors in the day, exercising can help with a more sound and better sleep
  • Ensure your child’s bed is comfortable and has appropriate bedding.  A calm, cool dark room will also help
  • Let your child know you're around, cleaning and organising for the next day. For some children the comfort of hearing you around the house can help, for others you may have to try a gradual retreat from their room as they build their confidence, and settle in
  • Try the sleep meditation music and story videos for children that can be found on YouTube

The NHS recommends the following amounts of sleep per each age group: 

  • 3 years - daytime: 0 to 45 minutes and night-time: 11 hours 30 minutes to 12 hours
  • 4 years - night-time: 11 hours 30 minutes
  • 5 years - night-time: 11 hours

Speak with your health visitor if you are having difficulties with your child’s sleep routine.