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How to get your child to sleep: 4 tips from a professional

Registered nurse and sleep consultant Jillian Christjansen offers some tips on how to ensure your child gets a restful night of sleep.

Consistency is key, says registered nurse and sleep consultant Jillian Christjansen

Sleep consultant Jillian Christjansen says parents can ensure their kids get a good night's sleep by instituting early bedtimes and remaining consistent with their sleep schedules. (Shutterstock)

If you're a parent you've likely had some sleepless nights trying to get your child to bed. Registered nurse and sleep consultant Jillian Christjansen offers some tips on how to ensure your child gets a restful night of sleep.

1. Consistency

Babies and children thrive on it. When we are consistent in our responses to them they feel safe and secure. Try your best to make each sleep situation as consistent as possible, especially in the beginning when you're working to improve their sleep. Create and diligently follow a consistent bedtime routine, 20 to 30 minutes is a great length, so that it acts as a subconscious queuing system to prepare children for sleep, both physically and mentally.

2. Early bedtime

Maintaining an early bedtime, between 6 and 8 p.m. depending on age, will ensure your child gets enough sleep each night, avoids over-tiredness, and allows for a longer period of time in the 'deep sleep' stages of rest. Plus, it will allow parents to have some time for themselves in the evening.

3. Recognizing tired signs

Parents often don't realize their baby or child is tired until they are crying, whining and cranky and by this point, very often the child is approaching the end of their 'sleep window,' which is the period where they will most easily drift off to sleep. Once they become overtired we begin to see irritability, crankiness and crying, and very often if they become too overtired, children will begin to act hyper as their body responds to stress hormones that are secreted when we don't get the sleep we need. 

4.  Understand awake periods

  • 1-3 months - Can be awake about 45 minutes to 1 hour before they need to sleep again.
  • 3-6 months - Can be awake roughly 1.5-2 hours at a time.
  • 6-9 months - Can be awake roughly 2-3 hours at a time.
  • 10-12 months - Can be awake roughly 3-4 hours at a time.
  • 1-3 years old  - Can be awake roughly 4-6 hours at a time.

To hear the full interview with sleep consultant Jillian Christjansen, listen to the audio labelled Getting your kids to sleep.

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