As any parent knows, getting kids to bed at night and making sure they stay there can be a struggle.

And with clearer evenings and brighter mornings this time of year, it can be an even bigger battle.

3Here, sleep expert Hannah Love discusses common bedtime problems and gives tips on how to get your little one to sleep like a dreamCredit: Shutterstock

Nearly 50 percent of couples say their kids’ bedtime triggers fights between them, according to a survey by Aldi’s baby and toddler brand Mamia.

And 47 percent say lack of sleep has affected their relationship.

One in four parents say that feeling exhausted affects their workday, with 31 percent blaming tiredness when they are late.

Pediatric nurse and parenting and sleep specialist Hannah Love says, “In 25 years of working with families, I have seen firsthand the toll a child who doesn’t sleep can take.

“Many parents accept it as normal, but there are things you can do to help your child sleep and get their life back on track.”

Here, Hannah, who runs, discusses common bedtime problems and provides tips on how to get your little one to sleep like a dream. . .


KIDS like familiarity and if they have always had a parent hugging them, holding hands or reading them a bedtime story, then that is what they will want.

It is possible to teach a child of any age, whether he is seven days old or ten years old, to sleep independently.

And you can do it in a kind and gentle way without letting them cry.

Take small steps so that the child can gradually adjust. So if you’ve been feeding your child to sleep, try cuddling.

Or if you’ve been cuddling them, try sitting next to them. Gradually sit further away from the bed until you are out of the room.

The families I work with typically see their baby or toddler sleeping in their own crib or bed within three weeks, but may need support for the first six weeks.


Hannah gives advice on how to calm a child who is having a bad dream3Hannah gives advice on how to calm a child who is having a bad dreamCredit: Getty

IF you hear your child scream or cry in their sleep, go inside and gently reassure them.

The biggest mistake most parents make is the “try everything” approach: give them a hug and offer them a drink, snack, or late-night meal. They could even take them downstairs and turn on the TV.

Instead, streamline your approach. Choose one thing that you know will calm you down. Perhaps offer a hug, play soft music or white noise, then sit with the child until she calms down.

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Taking them to your bed to calm them down is a personal choice. Some parents are happy to share a bed, but if you want to avoid this, go back to your regular bedtime routine to get them back to sleep.

If a baby or young child is not awake when they have a nightmare, this is called a night terror. This happens at a different stage of sleep and the young child is unaware of the terror. Usually his eyes will be closed and he won’t remember the incident when you wake him up.

Then, go back to your usual bedtime routine of putting him to sleep.


ABOUT 99 percent of the time a child wakes up early, it’s because they go to bed too early.

Sleeping from 7 pm to 7 am is completely unrealistic for most children if they still nap during the day.

Most children between the ages of one and three usually need 12 hours of sleep in 24 hours. If you take a two-hour nap and go to bed at 7 p.m., you’ll probably wake up around 5 a.m.

If they wake up early and are still sleepy, they may need more sleep.

Regular sleep routines are important, and that includes encouraging a child to calm down on their own. Otherwise, they will wake up from their sleep cycle very easily and have a hard time falling back to sleep.

Sickness, teething, and pain can also cause you to wake up early, but this will pass.

The best advice to help babies go back to sleep is to use whatever they rely on to go to sleep at bedtime.


FEAR of the dark is very common, especially in young children. Parents often close the door because they don’t want to disturb a child with noise, but young children often like to have the door left open.

Consider investing in a night light or just keep the door open and leave the landing light on.

Listen to your child, don’t be dismissive. Simply saying ‘there’s nothing there, go back to bed’ can make your child feel like you don’t understand. Allow your child to talk and listen and he should go back to falling asleep faster and easier.


SOME parents choose to sleep together and the Lullaby Trust tells you how to do it safely, including sleeping on a firm, clear surface without duvets or pillows, with babies lying on their backs and never unattended.

If you don’t want to sleep together, you have to be consistent with the rules. Some parents don’t care if a child goes to bed with them at 5 a.m. and goes back to sleep, but they don’t want to do it at 2 a.m.

The problem is that a small child cannot tell the time. Keep this in mind when you set rules that work for your house and stick to them.

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It is normal for children of all ages to wake up during the night.

Waking up regulates your oxygen levels and protects against sudden infant death syndrome.

Getting them back to sleep is a battle many parents face and one that needs to be worked on.

If they have a hard time going back to sleep, notice how they fall asleep at the beginning of the night and work on that.

If a baby is being rocked, fed, or snuggled, that’s what you’ll want every time you wake up.

Training a child to fall asleep independently is key so they don’t need you there to get them back to sleep at night. If a child usually settles down but begins to wake up more than usual, it could be due to teething, illness, pain, reflux, or stomach problems.


KIDS ages 14-17 only need 8-10 hours of sleep, but it’s important to try to keep a teen’s sleep routine consistent for seven days.

If they’re in bed until 11 am on the weekends after going to bed at 3 am, they won’t sleep well during the week.

It’s okay to let your teen sleep home on the weekends, but only if she works well with different bedtimes and wake times.

Blue light is one of the biggest sleep inhibitors for teens and it’s not uncommon for them to be on their phones until they go to sleep. Encouraging them to unplug an hour before bed, and keeping their phone out of their bedroom, will mean they get better quality sleep.

Also watch his diet. Drinking a caffeinated soft drink after 3:00 pm can affect sleep, as can eating candy and chocolate at the end of the day.

If your teen is having trouble sleeping and is sleepy or irritable during the day, then it’s a good idea to look for a more predictable and consistent sleep routine.


If you have a child who likes to share his worries at bedtime and it prevents him from falling asleep, try to schedule a time for him to do it earlier in the day.3If you have a child who likes to share their worries at bedtime and it’s keeping them from falling asleep, try scheduling a time for them to do it earlier in the dayCredit: Getty

PARENTS are often busy at night making tea, tidying up, preparing baths, and getting everything ready for work and school the next day.

It may arrive at bedtime and the child hasn’t had a chance to talk about things or process their day until then.

If you have a child who likes to share their worries and thoughts at bedtime and it prevents them from falling asleep, try to schedule a time for them to do it earlier in the day.


SLEEPING AWAY from home can make it difficult for some children to fall asleep.

Try to keep things as familiar as possible when children sleep in new environments.

Let them take a sheet or blanket from home, or create a playlist of music you play at home to take with them.

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Trying to keep bedtime familiar is really important, so be as consistent as possible.


PARENTS worry too much about children having a quiet routine to wind down before bed.

New research shows that endorphins released through playful or energetic play before bed can help you sleep.

Let them burn off that last bit of energy with you and when they’re no longer interested, it’s time to go to bed.

If you have a toddler who is still bouncing off the walls at 10 pm, you need to consider the routine as a whole.

Look at the times they wake up and if they are napping too long or too late in the day, and adjust accordingly.


THE NURSE Katie Hughes, 40, lives in Oswestry, Shrops, with her husband Alex, 29, a trucker, their son Marley, four, and twin girls Daisy and Rosie, two.

The couple turned to a sleep expert for help with their twins. Katie says:

6From the day they were born, both girls were hard to accommodate. He sounds crazy, but he would sleep upright between them, feeding and comforting them all night.

Then, when they were about nine months old, I hurt my back, so I bought a mattress and put it on their bedroom floor.

I would sleep in the middle with a chick on each side of me and feed them constantly. If I tried to move they would wake up and cry.

When the girls were one year old, I went back to work. I was so tired. He would come home and at 6:30 p.m. he would be on the mattress with the girls until 6:30 a.m.

I could have slept for six hours, but I was so broken. Tiredness was affecting my relationship as we didn’t spend time together.

I was never able to go out and do anything at night.

In May of last year we got married. Then we went on vacation with the kids and even then, we didn’t spend time together.

That’s when I realized we needed help.

I reached out to childhood sleep consultant Keri Rock ( for help.

I bought two travel cots and sat between them. I would nurse them as usual, being careful that they did not fall asleep while I fed them. I would lay them awake on the cot and sit next to them.

It was hard at first. Daisy was hysterical. Rosie was happier lying down as long as she knew I was there.

I slowly moved the chair in the middle of the bunks to the side, then turned my back to them.

Keri also helped me adjust their naps and combat excessive exhaustion to prevent them from waking up so early in the morning. In just three weeks, the girls were sleeping better.

It may sound dramatic, but the process changed my life. We are a much happier family now that we all get a good night’s sleep.

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