Help! Why Won’t My Child Sleep?

Help! Why Won’t My Child Sleep?

If you are reading this, you probably don’t even remember your last night of good sleep. At this point, you’d probably be satisfied with some just okay sleep if it was for more than two-three hours at a time.

We wish we had a magic formula that would turn all babies and children who have trouble getting to sleep on their own, or staying asleep, into perfectly lovely little sleepers. Sadly though, we don’t. We do have suggestions that can help.

Create conditions that encourage sleep:

  • Create a bedtime ritual that includes some quiet time such as a warm bath, a massage, or cuddling while singing or reading.
  • When creating your nighttime ritual, try to do most of it in the room where your child is sleeping.
  • Keep the same daily routine as much as possible: wake up at the same time, keep meals and snacks at the same time, and make bedtime the same time so your child knows what to expect.
  • As it nears naptime or evening bedtime, keep lights dim to signal your child’s brain that it is time to sleep. Make sure that her room is not too bright and if using a night light, it gives off a dim light.
  • Try to keep a consistent nap and bedtime. Infants who do this seem to have less trouble falling and staying asleep, and older children appreciate a consistent routine too.
  • Try nursing or bottle feeding your baby right before naps and bedtime. If she begins to drift off, then place her in bed and then quietly leave the room. For older children, a light snack before bed can help them but stay away from sugary foods and caffeine.
  • Adjust your sleeping arrangements, if needed, by having your infant and young child sleep in your room so that you can comfort her before she is fully awake.
  • Lots of babies love “white noise” that drowns out distractions and simulates the sound they heard in the womb. This sound can be from a vaporizer, a fan or even a sleep machine.

Some habits not to encourage:

  • Don’t put your child to sleep in a bed full of toys. It’s dangerous for babies, and distracting for older children. Plus, beds are to sleep in not for play.
  • Don’t soothe your child to sleep by placing a bottle of juice, milk or formula in bed with her. These liquids can cause tooth decay as well as sleep onset associations that increase sleep problems.
  • Don’t let your child use screens two hours before bedtime and keep screens out of bedrooms. The lights from the screen interfere with her natural melatonin production.
  • Don’t punish your child by sending her, or threatening her with going, to bed.


Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions your family will make. You can begin your search by calling CCRI’s Child Care Search at 704.348.2181 to let trusted experts help you.