How to get kids to fall asleep seems like a well guarded mystery. They are so excited and full of energy. ALL DAY LONG. Go for a nap? Bedtime? No thanks Mom!
I bet your kids come up with a million reasons to delay bedtime. Here are some common excuses in our house:
I have to go to the bathroom… again.
Mom, I need a drink of water.
I forgot to brush my teeth (of course you did!)
Wait, I need to tell you something very important. Aka I’m going to make up something and talk about it as long as possible. Hopefully Mom will forget about bedtime.
I’m hungry. (Hint hint – if you eat your dinner you won’t be hungry)
It’s exhausting! After a full day, you just want 15 minutes of downtime before you pass out on the couch. Maybe a little alone time with your husband. Or a few minutes to pick up the tornado that your little ones created during the day. (You can get my daily cleaning checklist here so you always have a clean home, which includes a daily pick up)
Whatever the reason, bedtime is often the most stressful part of the day.
It’s a struggle to get kids to fall asleep. I get it. The struggle is real.
I bet you’ve already done your homework and tried a few things. It’s frustrating. Beyond frustrating when you spend 2 hours trying to get kids to fall asleep. Night after night. Been there done that. It’s not fun.
Here are some bedtime basics to get kids to fall asleep:
- Keep a consistent bedtime – same time every night
- Don’t skip naps, it can mess up sleeping schedules
- Create a bedtime routine – bath, books, snuggles, and prayers in our house. Here’s the
- all natural baby shampoo we use.
- Put a drink of water or sippy cup by the bed to prevent the “I’m thirsty” routine
- Use the bathroom before bed
- Play sleepy time music. We’ve used a sound machine since my kids were infants. My 10 year old still asks for it to be on at bedtime. Plus it helps to drown out any noise in the house – ahem – one of their siblings getting up in the middle of the night
So what happens when the bedtime basics are a big FAIL. Keep reading this post, so you know what to do to get kids to fall asleep.
I’ve been there. I didn’t always do it right. With 4 kids, I’ve tried A LOT of things! A lot. Some worked, some didn’t. Some worked for some kids and not others. There is not one size fits all.
Today I’m going to share 3 natural hacks to get kids to fall asleep.
You should check out how I prevent the stomach flu from spreading in our house once one kid gets it.
3 Natural Hacks to Get Kids to Fall Asleep
You’re child is still struggling to get to sleep…. despite using the basic sleepy time tactics above? It’s all good We’ve got you covered!
Let’s dive into my 3 natural hacks to get kids to fall asleep.
Hack #1 – Magnesium
Magnesium is a miracle mineral. It helps you sleep and calms frayed nerves. Which is often a big part of the problem of going to sleep.
I give my kids magnesium as a part of our bedtime routine. Within 15 – 30 minutes they are ready to drift off to sleep. We use Calms Magnesium. It’s a powder that is easily dissolved in warm water. There is even a version that has calcium and magnesium in one!
I just discovered a kids version of Calms Magnesium that’s flavored so you can skip the juice. Plus is has other vitamins in it to help calm anxious kids. Calms also introduced a gummy version for an even easier way to get magnesium in your kids.
When magnesium dissolves in water, it has a slightly salty taste. I add some orange juice to the mix and it’s a tasty treat since we typically skip the juice in our house..
My kids call it their sleepy juice. I give it to my kids most nights before bed. They call me out on it if I miss a night. As a bonus, magnesium helps to keep their bowels moving. Say goodbye to constipation!
Magnesium = easily get kids to fall asleep
The Importance of Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in your entire body. Without it, your body does not operate properly.
Unfortunately, most people are deficient in magnesium. Less than half of the population consumes enough magnesium on a regular basis. Magnesium deficiency is hard to diagnosis. Only 1% of your magnesium levels are in your blood.
Magnesium deficiency is often diagnosed through symptoms alone. Making it easy to overlook. Especially since magnesium deficiency mimics so many other diseases.
“Low magnesium intakes and blood levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer.” Source: NCBI
Magnesium deficiency can also cause lots of problems in your body. Problems like: depression, diabetes, stroke, migraines, headaches, cramps and more. Read more at the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
You can easily tell if you’re getting enough magnesium based on the firmness of your stools. Again, magnesium is great for constipation. If you take a little too much magnesium your body will expel it with loose stools.
You can easily change your child’s dose of magnesium with more or less powder. It’s one of my favorite ways to kids to fall asleep
Magnesium Pros and Cons
- All natural mineral that your body already needs
- Restores proper magnesium levels
- It’s a powder that is easily disguised in orange juice.
- Kids like it
- Works quickly
- Helps relieve constipation
- If you take too much, your body just expels it
- Can cause diarrhea if you take too much
- Slightly salty taste so you’ll need to disguise the taste in juice
Magnesium is my first solid go to when my kids have a hard time falling asleep.
Hack #2 – Essential Oils
Essential oils help kids fall asleep and stay asleep.
I put some essential oils in our diffuser and to get the oils in the air at bath time. That way my kids are inhaling the essential oils during the nighttime routine. It helps them calm down leading up to bedtime.
We typically keep it simple and use lavender or a sleepy head essential oil blend. I only used lavender only when my kids were infants. Edens garden has blends formulated for little kids. No more looking up each oil for safety. Instead Edens Garden has done the leg work for you with their kids essential oil blends.
There are two main ways to use essential oils to help your kids fall asleep:
- Dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil (grapeseed oil is my favorite). Then rub the mixture on their tummy and the bottom of their feet. When the oil is on their tummy, your kids will inhale the essential oils all night. The bottom of the feet is a quick way to get the essential oil absorbed by the body and into the bloodstream.
- Add a few drops of -the essential oils to a diffuser. This is the diffuser we use.
Essential Oil Pros and Cons
- Safe and natural
- Safe to use nightly
- Lavender is safe for infants
- Use in a diffuser or dilute and rub onto the bottom of feet
- Use the diffuser to diffuse essential oils when your kids are sick too
- Everyone has a different preference of which scents they prefer
- It works best if you use a diffuser. So the cost to buy a diffuser is a con. Good news is the one we have was around $20.
Essential oils are a solid standby solution when sleep struggles strike. It doesn’t work as well as magnesium, yet it sets the stage for a good nights sleep.
Hack #3 – Melatonin
Melatonin is my fall back when all else fails. It helps kids fall asleep fast!
What is Melatonin? It’s a hormone secreted by your brain telling you when to wake up and sleep. And Melatonin supplements work!
Melatonin is my favorite when we are traveling. We travel in our camper during the summer. You’d think our kids would pass out from sheer exhaustion. NOPE!
Maybe you’re lucky – you go on vacation and you’re kids pass out from exhaustion.
My kids just keep going and going. We have a 7:30pm bedtime that we keep while on vacation (for the most part). There were many nights I’d still be up with cranky kids at in the camper until 11pm. And you’d think they would sleep in. NOPE! Up at 6am.
When we discovered melatonin, our camping bedtime routine transformed. Kids would get a gummy 30 minutes before bedtime and when it was time to go to sleep. They would actually sleep!
Melatonin is my fall back when all else fails.
There is some debate over melatonin’s safety in children. You can read more on that here. I’ve done the research and decided I was comfortable using it on an occasional basis. We even break the rules on the package that says for kids 3 and up. I give it to my 2 year old.
- Gummies are easy to get kids to take
- Works very consistently to help kids fall asleep
- Naturally occurring hormone already found in the body
- No High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Natural Colors
- Keep gummies out of the reach of children so they don’t accidentally take too much. There are also melatonin drops if you prefer to skip the gummies.
- Bottle cautions to use on children 3 or older. Our pediatrician recommended them for our 2 year old son. Do your own research and ask your physician.
- Only take as needed. The longer you take it, the more melatonin it will take to help you sleep.
Sleep Success Tips
These 3 natural sleep hacks will help kids fall asleep. Stop the bedtime struggle.
I’ve done a lot of research and feel comfortable that these solutions are safe and the best choice for our family. I encourage you to research each option and make the best decision for your family.
I found another article on helping little ones get to sleep from Lauren at the Military Wife and Mom. I’ve been experimenting with this method on my 2 year old.
Do you have any sleep success tips to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
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Hi there! Great article on getting kids to sleep! Mine are 4 and 2 and both struggle to wind down at night. We have a very consistent routine and still end up taking over an hour to fall asleep. I’m hoping Clam magnesium helps us put! I was wondering how much you put in your kids drinks? My kid are 45 and 35 pounds. Thanks!
Hey there Katee!
Thanks so much for posting. I actually base the dosage on their poops. As weird as that sounds. If they are a little constipated I give a little more. I start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust from there. If they aren’t constipated it’s probably 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per day. Otherwise it might be a teaspoon or more. Probably way TMI but there ya go! 🙂
Any tips for younger children? I have an over-tired nine month old who is teething and refuses to wind down at night.
I feel you Annabelle!! It’s so hard when they are so young. I will say there is no magic bullet, BUT many of the suggestions would still apply.
As much as possible, don’t let your little one get overtired. So much easier said then done, but try to stick with nap and bedtime schedules.
Try diffusing lavender before bed. I like to add a few drops of lavender in the bath too.
And a sound machine was a huge save for our family. My kids still use them! It helps settle them down and keep them asleep to drown out outside sounds.
And make sure to keep yourself calm too. They can sense your stress, so tag out with your spouse if possible. That makes a huge difference.
Stay strong – I totally hear you!! This is only a season, enjoy those extra snuggles
Wonderful suggestions and I never would have thought of magnesium to help fall asleep. We use essential oils in our home and they seem to help too.
Thanks so much for taking time to comment. Magnesium is awesome stuff! Glad you can add it to your nighttime arsenal.