9 Best Natural Sleep Remedies For Children
Sleep is important for every human being, but it is really, really important for children. Their growing bodies and expanding minds desperately need extra time to rest and recharge.
The more they sleep, the better chances they have at keeping a healthy weight, fighting off any bug, and paying better attention at school.
So when your child is having sleeping troubles, I know you are worried about them. Plus – when the kids can’t sleep, mom and dad can’t sleep either.
But know you’re not alone. Somewhere around 20% to 30% of kids struggle with their sleep.
I have 9 all natural, kid-safe solutions that can help you remedy your child’s sleeping problems.
Sometimes they are just wound up or stressed and need some help relaxing. Sometimes their diet is harming their sleep. And sometimes too many screens means too little shuteye.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
Here’s a helpful guide to show you just how much sleep your child should be having based on his or her age:
- 0 to 3 months: 10 ½ to 18 hours each day
- 4 to 11 months: 9 to 12 hours at night, plus naps
- 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours a night
- 3 to 5 years: 11 to 13 hours a night
- 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours a night
- 14 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours a night
9 of the Best Sleep Remedies For Your Kids
If your child has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep – or if you know they are not reaching the recommended hours above – here are 9 sleep remedies you can try:
1. Aromatherapy for Better Sleep
Study after study has shown just how effective certain scents are at relaxing people into a peaceful sleep. Kids are no different. Diffusing essential oils and making pillow sachets are both great ways to offer a natural remedy without taking a pill.
Great choices for sleepy-time aromatherapy include:
- Roman Chamomile
- Sweet Orange
- Clary Sage
2. Say No To Bedtime Screens
Light plays a dramatic role in the way we sleep. In fact, our sleepy brain chemical Melatonin actually responds to light. So when we fill up our night with too much light, our natural rhythms get out of whack.
One of the worst culprits is screen time. If your child finishes his or her evening on a screen, they are not only messing with melatonin, they are actually stimulating their brain. In fact, kids with electronics in their bedrooms get around 1 hour less sleep than their peers without electronics.
SEE ALSO: 14 Ways To Sleep Better Naturally
Quick note on light: if your child needs to sleep with a nightlight, aim for a warm glow instead of a sharp blue-tint light. My favorite method is a Himalayan salt lamp.
3. Sleep Sounds
Listening to calming sounds can help soothe an anxious child, and it can help drown out any noise you or your other children may make throughout the night. You can add this to your child’s room in three ways:
- Buy a sleep sound machine
- Download a free sound app onto a phone or tablet
- Play a free audio video on YouTube (but make sure the screen is completely black). Here is one 2-hour clip – perfect for naptime.
If your child has any issues with wetting the bed, choosing sounds with water may not be extremely helpful. Try soft classical music, white noise, or forest sounds.
4. Make A Sleep Routine
A routine can absolutely help your child be able to fall asleep easily each and every night. And when you always start this routine at the same time, their official bedtime stays the same from night to night as well.
Give your child a heads-up warning that bedtime is coming in 10 to 15 minutes, so they can finish up whatever they are doing.
Then start your routine with calming activities without screens or much noise:
Make sure you offer a snack or a sip of water so they can feel fully comfortable once they get into bed. And make a bathroom stop mandatory.
5. Add Kid-Safe Herbs for Better Sleep
I’m going to start this point with a big disclaimer: just because something is a natural sleep aid does not mean it will be safe for your child.
Never ever give your child a supplement or herb without first consulting with their pediatrician.
Plus, you will want to get a precise dosage for your child’s age and size.
But if you do get the go ahead from the doctor, there are some natural herbs for sleep that have the reputation of being kid-safe. Two of the most popular are chamomile and catnip.
If you are nervous about offering herbs your child, making a warm mug of chamomile tea after dinner (but not too close to bed for potty reasons), can be a great choice.
Somewhere around 20% to 30% of kids struggle with their sleep.
6. Get Them Moving
One study showed around 75% of kids between 5 and 10 are getting under an hour of physical exercise each day. About the same percentage of parents say their family time is spent in front of a TV.
And the American Academy of Pediatrics reports the average child spends 7 hours a day in front of a screen.
As you can imagine, there is a long, long list of negative effects from this sort of behavior. And sleep issues are certainly topping that list.
Your child needs to expend energy during the day so he or she can sleep well at night. So get them moving, and then join along. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Go on a family walk each night after dinner
- Do a pre-bedtime stretching routine
- Fill up your weekends with activities like swimming, sports, bike rides, rollerblading, sledding, and hiking.
7. No Caffeine/Reduced Sugar
73% of kids have caffeine. You know how much caffeine is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics? None. Zero.
What your child consumes all throughout the day will affect them all throughout the night. Two major culprits of sleep problems are caffeine and sugar.
If your child has any issues sleeping or calming down, caffeine should be the first thing to go completely.
Then comes the sugar reduction.
Dessert before bed is providing that sugar high that keeps them from falling asleep. Even too much sugar early in the day can mess up their blood sugar levels for extended periods.
Cut out desserts as a whole family. Replace them with berry smoothies (not made with juice; made with unsweetened nut milks or water) or apples and nut butter.
8. Offer More Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium is such a powerful mineral for sleep. In the attempt to limit (or entirely avoid) giving kids supplements of any kind, we can thankfully alter their diet to increase their magnesium consumption. Top magnesium-rich foods include:
- Leafy Greens (If they hate them, add them to their smoothies or puree them and add them to any sauces you cook with)
- Black Beans
- Almonds or almond butter
Keep in mind that many people are actually magnesium deficient, which can lead to a large variety of problems outside of sleep troubles, including digestive issues. If your child suffers from any sort of stomach upset, a magnesium-rich diet could aid in that as well.
9. Visit Their Doctor
If you have tried all of these natural sleep remedies for children, but your little one is still having a difficult time each night, it may be time to visit a doctor.
A thorough checkup can figure out if any medical issues are causing the insomnia.
And your doctor can confirm or deny whether or not it is safe for your child to consume any natural sleep aid.
Helping Your Child Sleep
Every child is different. So one thing that works wonders for one may be entirely ineffective for another. This means you may have to try quite a few things before finding the miracle.
In the mean time, focus on a healthy diet and active daytime lifestyle. These two factors will be the biggest helps. Before too long, you will find a remedy that helps your child (and then, you!) sleep through the night in blissful peace.