Your child's sleep

Daytime sleep

Many children keep having a daytime sleep until they’re 3 or 4 years old. When your child stops, you may like to give them a rest time instead.

Children can learn to look forward to a daily quiet time in bed or some other regular, snuggly place in the house. They could have some books, quiet toys, or perhaps a CD of children’s stories or songs to listen to.

Night time sleep

Some children find it hard to settle to sleep at night. If this is a problem for your child, you may like to try some of the following:

  • A happy, regular but short routine before bedtime such as a bath, a story or a quiet relaxing time talking in bed.
  • A night light (a small, low, dim lamp) and a familiar toy.
  • Books and toys in bed may help, but some children might keep themselves awake playing.

If your child comes out of their room, go back and resettle them in a calm, business-like manner, paying little attention to the crying or what they say. Then leave the room. You may need to repeat this.

  • If this continues, you might choose to shut the door. Explain to them that if they stay in bed the door will be open but if they’re out of bed the door will be closed.
  • If your child has problems settling you may like to tell them you’ll come back after doing a job (such as putting the washing on), then pop back in. Tell them they’re being good for staying in bed. Gradually increase the time you’re away until they’re settled or asleep.
  • Give your child lots of praise when they sleep well.


Older children can wake with nightmares or night terrors. Nightmares tend to be more common for children than adults.

To help your child go back to sleep they may like a cuddle and being talked to quietly and reassuringly. After a while they may relax and go back to sleep.

Nightmares can be caused by scary TV programmes, so avoiding TV before bedtime may help. Talk to your Plunket nurse or another health provider if you’re worried about your child’s sleep.

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