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Establishing Sleep Routines for your Child


Newborn babies often sleep about 15 - 17 hours per day, but mostly for short periods of time, often in 2 - 3 hour stretches. 

While every baby has different sleep needs, by about 6 months, they are able to sleep for longer periods at night without waking to eat.  


To help your baby sleep better at night,
there are some things you can do


Bed Time Routine:  

Create some type of routine specific and unique to your family and what feels comfortable for you and your baby.  Routines provide your baby with sleep cues that help them understand that it will soon be time to go to sleep.  

For example, you can: 

  • bathe your baby

  • put on pajamas

  • feed them

  • brush gums or teeth 

  • read a story or sing a song

  • turn on a sound machine (white noise)

  • turn out the lights 

…..and then put your baby in their crib  

Try to avoid active play as this may stimulate them too much, making it difficult to fall asleep. 


Try to put your baby in their crib when they are drowsy but still awake:  

Although it may take some time for your baby to learn to fall asleep on their own, stick with it, because once they learn, they will be able to fall asleep and go back to sleep if they wake in the middle of the night. 


Safe Sleep Environment:  

  • Make sure it is not too hot or too cold in the house, to promote comfortable and safe sleep.   An optimal temperature is 68 - 72 degrees.  

  • Draw the curtains or blinds to block out light that may keep your baby awake.  A dim night light may help them feel more comfortable, if the room is too dark.  

  • The crib should have a firm mattress, with a fitted sheet, and nothing else in it.  

  • Your baby should be placed on their back to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  

  • You can use a sleep sack as a cover over their pajamas. 

* Safe Sleep Environment information from the National Institute of Child Health
and Human Development


Night Time Wake Ups

If and when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, wait a few minutes before rushing in, to see if they are able to fall back to sleep on their own.   

If they are not, go in, but don’t turn on the lights or pick the baby up.  

If they become panicked or unable to calm down, consider that they may be hungry, have a dirty diaper or be ill.  For diaper changes or nursing, try to keep it as boring as possible so they remain in sleep mode! 


Be Consistent!:  

Try to make bedtime around the same time every night, and follow your routine.  This helps your baby feel confident and comfortable with what to expect as they prepare to sleep. 


How much sleep does your child need?

Sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours
    (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

  • Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours
    (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours
    (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
    on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
    on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

In addition, the AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime, and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children's bedrooms. 

Healthy Sleep is vital to your baby’s health and growth!  


Children who get enough sleep have:

  • healthier immune systems

  • better memories and moods

  • better behaviors, emotional regulation and learning potential 

  • improved attention, mental and physical health

  • greater overall quality of life

Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.  


Establishing healthy sleep habits early will
benefit your baby for many years to come!



  • As soon as baby is born, you can start good oral health practices.  If possible, use a soft washcloth to wipe your baby's gums after feedings.  Remember not to put babies to bed with a bottle filled with milk. And, when it is time to introduce solids, choose healthy foods to reduce the risk of tooth decay

  • For children under age 3: As soon as you see a tooth in your baby's mouth you can start to BRUSH! Use a smear (size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste with fluoride 2 times per day.

  • For children ages 3–6: Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.  It is OK to let them practice with the brush, but be sure that you get your turn, too!


  • It is never too early to share books with your child. As your child ages, so will the      kind of books he or she enjoys. 


  • Do not wait for your child to start rubbing his eyes or yawning - that's probably too late. Putting your child to bed even 15 to 20 minutes earlier can make a big difference and ensure everyone has a good night's rest.




Worthwhile reading for new parents! 

Sleep: What Every Parent Needs to Know was written and edited by pediatricians, many of whom have been sleep-deprived parents at one time or another, and who have helped many families in their care.  They recognize that there is not always an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to a sleep problem. 

With these recommended strategies for establishing good sleep habits and parents' unique understanding of their child, this book can help ensure everyone in the family will get all the rest they need.


How can I reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)?  - NICHD


Jamie Fairgrieve is a Physician Assistant and mother of three young children.  Her bedtime routine from the time her children were infants has included a “white noise” machine.  Jamie says that turning it on still cues her older children that it is time to wind down and get ready for sleep!


Posted: 7/17/2019 6:52:16 AM by Jenae Grader | with 0 comments

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