What is sleep hygiene for young children

Small changes in steps can help with sleep problems


Problems falling asleep and staying asleep are common in children. Even a baby can develop habits that lead to sleep problems without parents noticing. Gradual small changes can then help to change this behavior.

Ensure a quiet and darkened sleeping environment.

“If a baby has got used to only falling asleep when a father or mother is lying next to him, it will always call for this ritual - even if it wakes up in between. Here parents should 'wean' the child step by step. In the beginning, one parent should no longer lie in bed, but sit on the bed, then switch to a chair in order to finally leave the room and let the child fall asleep alone, ”explains Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Nentwich, pediatrician and member of the scientific advisory board at the Professional Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ) explained the procedure.

Parents should inform themselves about the need for sleep in the different age groups and seek advice from their pediatrician in the event of individual differences. Documentation of sleep behavior can provide information about the individual sleep needs of a child. For example, many parents don't know that it is normal for preschoolers to take about 20 minutes and elementary school children and teenagers to fall asleep in about 30 minutes. "With older children it is important, among other things, that they only use the bed to sleep and not for other activities such as watching TV or doing homework," explains Professor Nentwich. Relaxation can make it easier to fall asleep. In small children, a children's massage can have a sleep-inducing effect and in older children, progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson; sometimes cognitive behavioral therapy is also effective.

The following measures are part of good sleep hygiene:

  • Maintain regular sleep-wake times.
  • Maintain a consistent ritual before going to sleep (e.g. reading aloud, auditioning, etc.)
  • Reduce irritation in the last hour before going to bed (no loud noises, no bright lights, etc.).
  • Ensure a quiet and darkened sleeping environment. When children wake up at night, parents should also watch out for minor irritation.
  • From the age of five, children should no longer sleep during the day. If young people want to lie down briefly, they should not do so in the late afternoon and only for a maximum of 20 to 30 minutes.
  • If children suffer from long-term sleep disorders or / and display unusual behavior during sleep, parents should definitely take their child to the pediatrician.


  • Dorsch, W .: Natural help in case of difficulty falling asleep. Pediatrics 30 (5), 26 (2018).
  • Sauseng, W .: Problems falling asleep and staying asleep in infants and toddlers. Pediatrics & Pedology 2, 64 (2018).
  • Schlarb, A. A .: Sleep disorders in children and adolescents. Therapeutic interventions for insomnia. Pediatrics 30 (5), 14 (2018).

This is a press release from the professional association of paediatricians e.V. This press release or parts of the article can be reprinted from the following source: www.kinderaerzte-im-netz.de. In the case of publication in online media, the source must be linked to this home page or to a subpage of the BVKJ parent portal. Photos and images may not be used as a matter of principle.