6 Sleep Hacks for Kids That Really Work
Sponsored by Vicks PURE Zzzs Kidz
The crying, the screaming, the wailing, the squeals… it feels as if it'll go on forever. And let's be real: sometimes it does. Ask any parent and they would give anything—and do everything—to help their children catch Zzzs at night. Considering the vast majority of moms and dads are severely sleep deprived (especially when they have more than one child), it's no surprise so many report trouble with memory, creative function, and ya know, keeping their eyes open.
Depending on what parenting school of thought you subscribe to, there are countless solutions, from crying it out to the Ferber Method. However, these expert-recommended techniques aren't always successful. Or effective. And sometimes, when you'd really, really, really like to have more than two hours of consecutive sleep, you throw it all out the window and do whatever it takes. Every once in a while, pigs fly and dreams come true, and your crazy solution works. Here, parents share what they did—that you could try, too:
Jostle your baby 10 minutes into their nap.
Sleep coach and mom Erin Hill's kids used to take what she—not so lovingly—referred to as 'crap naps.' They'd usually last 15 to 20 minutes, or 30 minutes at the most. Considering a full sleep cycle is 45 minutes, she knew her baby wasn't getting the full effect of a good nap. Of course, when this happens, moms can anticipate a rough night ahead, which isn't fun for anyone in the household. Hill decided to try something crazy, and jostle her child 10 minutes into the nap, only until eyes start to flutter. "You do not want to wake the baby fully, but this gentle disturbance carries them past the normal point of wake up and they sleep deeper for 45 minutes or more! No more 'crap naps' and no more cranky baby," she explains. "Sounds crazy, but it works!"
Use a sleeping canopy.
Rose Morris's son, Abram, is on the autism spectrum, and like most children with special needs, he suffered from severe sleep issues. When Abram transitioned from a crib to a big-boy bed, he would constantly wake up, pound on the walls, wander around his room, and often times, hurt himself. Morris was so worried about her son's sleep habits that she would spend countless nights sitting up outside his room.
"The home remedies I saw people trying out—nailing lattice boards to bunk beds or turning a pack n' play upside down so your child is unable to climb out—seemed too scary or like I would be caging my son, and Abram broke through the crib tent," she shared.
With nothing working, she made her own Safety Sleeper: a medical-grade, enclosed canopy system. It's made a difference not only for Abram, but for plenty of kids, offering protection and rest-eye in a safe, secure way.
Give electronics a bedtime, too.
It may be hard to peel your older child away from the TV or video games so they can hop into bed. But it may be essential to help them get enough sleep at night. "For older kids, excessive use of electronic devices may worsen insomnia," says Cindy Jon, M.D., a pediatric sleep expert with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and UT Physicians in Houston. "The artificial light from the electronic devices that are positioned closely to the eyes may disrupt the child's natural circadian rhythm. Artificially bright light late in the day may lead to "resetting" of the circadian clock to a later time."
If your older child has significant issues falling asleep even without screen-time stimulants, speak to their doctor about natural sleep aids, like Vicks PURE Zzzs Kidz, which are gummies for kids ages 4 and up that contain a blend of Melatonin and botanicals like Lavender and Chamomile.
"Melatonin is naturally secreted from our brains during dim light conditions to activate sleep," explains Dr. Jon. "Melatonin supplements should only be given at a stable bedtime. Do not give melatonin more than once during the night, since it also regulates the circadian rhythm."
Create a party in their bed.
Mom and author Carol Tuttle's fun-loving daughter was notorious for resisting going to sleep. She would always find a reason why she needed to be awake. Tuttle would fight like crazy to keep her daughter in her bedroom and decided her girl had a severe case of FOMO. So, she brought the fun to her: "We created a party in her bed with lots and lots of stuffed animals that were all waiting to help her go to bed," she explained. "She could talk to them, play with them, and feel their company as she started to relax and go to sleep. It worked like a charm."
Find a song that does the trick.
Some parents will drive for miles around their town or sit in their car in the driveway for an extra hour, all to keep their baby sleeping. Others stumble across their wild solution unintentionally. Such is the case for mom Marika Lindholm. When her daughter was a newborn, she had severe colic, crying non-sleep and absolutely refusing sleep. On her third night with her baby, Lindholm happened to turn on Sheryl Crow's 'Can't Cry Anymore'—and ironically, her baby went to sleep. "After, that we were able to count on that song to settle her—but only that song. Nothing else by Sheryl Crow or anyone else," she explained. "I still get stressed when I hear that song because it reminds me of how many times we played it over and over to stop our tiny baby from screaming her head off."
- RELATED: The Best Bedtime Songs for Kids
Listen to your child.
A loud, stimulating environment is definitely unexpected for a date with the Sandman, but Lindholm followed her youngest daughter's lead when she was struggling to get her to sleep. At first, Lindholm encouraged her other children to remain quiet around the baby. "But no matter how quiet the kids were, she wouldn't sleep! I soon figured out that she would only sleep when there was lots of action around her," Lindholm shared. "We would find her asleep on top of her toys in the midst of kids squabbling and shouting. So after that, nap time wouldn't require a quiet bed but rather a room full of playing children."