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Good, sound sleep is vital for babies, children and teens. It’s just as important as a healthy diet and exercise in order for a kid to grow both physically and mentally. But establishing a consistent sleep routine can be challenging. You might wonder just how much sleep does my child need? How many hours are appropriate for what age? How can I get my kid to sleep – and get them to stay asleep?

I look forward to talking about kids and sleep, and answering your questions at the “Good Night, Sleep Tight” blogging event next month. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help prepare your kids for a good night’s sleep:

  • Watch out for sneaky caffeine! Caffeine can lurk in lots of surprising places, including bottled teas, chocolate, and coffee-flavored ice cream. It can also be found in over-the-counter medications so scan the active and inactive ingredients lists for caffeine before you give your child one of these medications.
  • Reduce stress before bedtime – if a child is stressed, their body will release high levels of the hormone cortisol and their body won’t be able to “shut down” to go to sleep. Keep pre-bedtime activities calm and the lights dim to help keep cortisol levels low.
  • Turn off the TV and other electric devices at least two hours before bedtime. The lights from computer screens, smartphones and tablets emit light of all colors, but it’s the blues that pose a danger to sleep. Blue light is especially good at preventing the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with nighttime.
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