Sleep(Children 3-6 Years)

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Sleep cycles are most times a dilemma for parents. Wondering how much sleep your child needs and how to monitor them can be tough, but we are here to make things easier for you.

How much sleep?

Many children of this age need 10-12 hours to sleep at night. Some have a daytime sleep as well, but only a few children still need this by preschool age.

Getting ready for sleep

Talk to children to prepare them for going to bed. Let them know in advance that bedtime is coming, eg ‘Just one more game, and then it’s time for bed’, and mean what you say. This can prevent them from pressuring you to stay up.

Work out a pattern that is special to you and your child. It may be a bath, drink, teeth cleaning, cuddle, story, song, kiss goodnight. It might be a quiet time to sit on the bed and talk about the day. This is not the time to tickles, wrestles, quarrels, TV, or other excitement.

Stressful events can sometimes mean children extra time and quiet attention, eg starting school, being unwell, family disruptions. Reassuring words, a longer cuddle or relaxing music can help. Older children may talk to you about what’s bothering them

Leave a night light on if your child likes this

Leave them a favourite toy as long as it’s safe and won’t disrupt their sleep.

Night Waking

Night waking is common in these years and there’s no right way to solve it. Some children can resettle themselves, while others need more comforting.
The inner confidence to feel secure when parents are not there is still developing in 3 to 4 year olds. If night waking is caused by separation anxiety, it usually happens less after 4 years of age.

Changes in your child’s life may be causing stress, eg moving house, separations, family tension or starting preschool can be factors in night waking. Things that seem minor to you can be major to your child. When children are sick, lonely, sad or frightened they may need more help to sleep. Staying close to them.

Children are also awake due to sleep disturbances such as nightmares or night terrors, or other problems such as snoring. Talk to your doctor if these are happening.

Settling Ideas

If you child gets out of bed, gently lead them back and resettle them in bed
If they wake at night, go to them, comfort and resettle them. It is not the time to play or do anything exciting. Quietly reassure them that everything is OK. Say something like ‘Sleep time now, I love you’, then walk out of the room. You may need to return and repeat this.

You could put another bed for yourself in your child’s room. You can be comfortable and rest while they need you close.

Some parents allow their child to come into their bed in the early hours of the morning. If this happens, one parent may be willing to sleep in another room or the child’s bed, so everyone gets better sleep. Try a small mattress and a sleeping bag or blanket next to your bed for your child to use if they wake and come to your room.

TIP: Ask your children what would help them sleep. Some children can tell you, others may not be able to.

Issues at Bedtime

Some reasons a child may not want to go to bed are:

Having to go off on their own and leave people or interesting things that are happening in the house.

Being frightened of being left alone. Whatever time you put them to bed, with fear or worry they will still be unhappy

Not being tired yet. They may go bed more happily after
A very busy or exciting day, or too much excitement just before bed

No night time routine to help them wind down

TIP: Children sleep can be challenging at times. If you feel upset or angry, make sure your child is safe then take a short break. You could go outside or contact a friend.

Remember, never shake a baby. It can cause brain damage and some children die.


  1. WebMD. Sleep Children. Accessed on 13th October 2018
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