Ask the Domestic Life Stylist: How to Get Your Kids to Bed On Time

Ask The Domestic Life Stylistlisa-lifestyleexpert-265-110

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My kids are 3 years and 6 months. What advice do you have for getting them to bed on time?
~ Edna


If I could eavesdrop on moms having conversations all around the world, I would bet that this question consistently comes up time and time again. Besides the gift of good nutrition, one of the best gifts we can give our kids is the gift of sleep. Sleep gives our bodies the ability to reprogram and re-energize. Think of sleep as an outlet, an energy source that keeps small and large bodies running optimally from the cellular level.

Think about it. How do you feel when you don’ t get enough sleep? I tend to get cranky and impatient.  Luckily, I am an adult so my lack of sleep does not lead to full on tantrums.  Kids have not had as much practice controlling their emotions. A child that is sleep deprived is less likely to try new things, less sociable and tantrums are a “dime a dozen”.

Here are how many hours of sleep per day the National, Heart and Lung and Blood Institute recommends:

Newborns: 16-18 hours

Preschool: 11-12 hours

School Age: 10 hours

Teens: 9-10 hours

Adults: 8-9 hours


Keeping those guidelines in mind, here some things you can do to get your kids to bed on time:

Develop a Routine

Set a bedtime. It is inevitable that some nights (weekends, holidays, etc) may vary. But having a set bedtime and being consistent is a paramount step to getting kids to bed on time. In addition, having a routine is a great way to get kids in the habit of sleep. The routine can be as simple as this: dinner, bath, brush teeth, potty, story, prayer. Kids like knowing what to expect. Eventually, just starting the routine will make the child sleepy.

Limit Distractions

I know this will be tough for some but games, electronics and TV should be limited at least 2 hours before bedtime. These items are stimulating. Soothing activities like soft reading and lullabies are great at setting the mood for sleep. If you can, dim the lights as well. Make sure that your child is well hydrated before bedtime so they are not requesting water right before bed. On that note, limit liquids 2 hours before bed. Full bladders and dry beds don’t go hand in hand.

Be Consistent

Whatever you do consistency is key to getting kids to bed on time. A well rested child makes things easier for mom and dad.  5 Minutes for Mom writer Jennifer noted,

Our kids have always had consistent bedtimes. From infancy up to about 3rd or 4th grade, the kids were in bed by 8:00 p.m. My 9 1/2 year old is still in bed by that time most nights, though it’s stretched to 8:30 at times. Even my high schooler is up in her room by 8:45 or so. This leaves time for adult interaction without distractions.

For Infants

Infants require sleep training. To mommy’s dismay, one of the things that infants did not learn before coming into the world is how to sleep well. They require some direction. There are tons of books on infant sleep and sleep training out there. So grab your fill. Again, the key with infants, even newborn infants, is being consistent.

You won’ t see  the benefits right away but, adapting good sleep habits (by way of schedules and environment) from early on will save you lots of stress later. Make sure that your baby’s crib/bassinet is just for sleep. Carousels, rattles and toys can serve as distractions and send mixed messages that it is time for play.

Once you get  your child on a sleep schedule, there are little tweaks that take place here and there ( teething, illness, growth spurts etc) but overall you will have one happily rested baby/child.   As difficult as it is to get an infant on a sleep schedule at 6 months, once you get it, you won’t have to worry about it again for a long time. So, make the investment today for a more peaceful and restful tomorrow.


Come back on Thursday for another edition of “Ask The Domestic Life Stylist”.

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Lisa is passionate about fine living and sharing with others how to live life at home with finesse and style. If you want to do the same, follow her blog at The Domestic Life Stylist or Facebook page.



  1. says

    Great subject! Thanks for quoting my post. It’s something that I know helped me achieve balance in my life. My kids are older now (almost 10 and 15) but for my school-aged son, bedtime is still a thing, and when they were younger, it definitely was!

    Even though my husband didn’t get home until around 7pm, when they were little, they were still in bed by 7:45 or 8pm. I hear many people use this as the argument for why the kids stay up later, but we didn’t want to hang out with cranky kids! I know that even younger children have different needs. My kids happen to be kids who need lots of sleep.

  2. says

    Great article. As a pediatric sleep consultant I whole heartedly agree with all the tips here. Children need to be taught to sleep well just like being taught other life skills. I am true believer that a well rested child is a happy, alert, healthy child. They are ready to learn about the world around them because they are energized and rejuvenated from deep sleep. I have a 3.5 year old and a 5 month old who both go to bed at 7pm and sleep till 7am. When they miss out in their sleep there is such a huge change in their personality the next day (its not positive)!

  3. says

    I am with you 200%. My five-year-old recently stayed up an extra hour in his room (making rainbow loom bracelets :) a few nights in a row, and I can see a huge difference in his behavior. Thankfully, with a few nights of regular sleeping he always starts acting like himself again. Sleep is EVERYTHING. :)

  4. says

    Just coming through an incredibly difficult season of Mei Mei’s sleep issues post surgery…. this 45 year old momma of a busy BUSY BIIIIIZZZZEEEEE two year old NEEDS her sleep – it ain’t pretty when it ain’t happening. So thankful it’s only a season!

  5. Angie says

    My son slept in our bed until age 7 when I had the doctor tell my husband it was ok for him to sleep in his own bed!!!!

  6. Rebecca says

    As a mom of 6 (10,9,8,6,3, and 20 months) we have worked hard on bed times. All of our kids were in bed by 7pm when they were under 8. Recently we’ve found that with older kids, that we allow them to stay up a little longer. They are still upstairs in their beds by 7:30/8pm on normal nights, the exclusion would be when we have a family movie/game night. They are allowed to read quietly in their beds from 7:30/8 until about 9pm. The two little ones are in their own room and are asleep by 7:30. We decided that the evenings were important for my husband and I. We needed quiet time to reconnect and catch up from our busy days. Some days my husband doesn’t see them due to his schedule, but we made a commitment to have at least 4 dinners together a week as a family to talk/catch up. Th

  7. vickie couturier says

    IM going to send this to my step daughter,she has 3 kids ages 5,3 an 1 an they ALL sleep in the same bed together with her husband an her or the toddler beds next to it,,insane

  8. Karen T says

    when my son was young, I created a special routine where I would read to him, and give him a short massage. He looked forward to it, and I think it helped him transition to sleep easier. He’s grown now, but he still asks for a massage once in a while.

  9. Karen Glatt says

    I know how important it is to make sure that kids get enough sleep and that it is so important for health and school work. I know that my sister has had a lot of problems getting my nephew to sleep. He is a sickly infant and I think that this causes him to wake up more. I will give her these tips that can help him sleep.

  10. Cynthia C says

    I agree about the routine. Nothing works so well to get kids used to falling asleep at the same time every night.

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