The Ultimate Sleep Guide for 4-5-Year-Olds
At 4 or 5 years old, your little one is about to start, or already at, school, and getting into a good sleep routine is essential to ensuring they are healthy, happy and alert throughout the day – and not too grumpy when they get home to you!
If you’re looking for tips to help your child fall asleep faster and sleep better, you’ve come to the right place. As kid’s bed experts, we’ve helped many a parent create the perfect sleep environment for their little one (and we’ve been there ourselves!)
Read on for our 4 – 5-year-old’s sleep guide to discover everything you need to know about making bedtime better for everyone involved!
How Much Sleep Do 4 – 5-year-olds Need?
According to the Sleep Foundation, most 4 and 5-year-olds need 10 – 13 hours of sleep each day, including naps. 4-year-olds may still have a nap of 1 – 2 hours a day. As they get older, this may shorten, and by age 5, many children no longer need a daytime nap, with less than 30% still napping.
As with adults, every child is different, and the exact amount of sleep your little one needs will vary and change as they grow. It can also be affected by their activity level or illness. If your child seems consistently irritable, overly tired or unable to concentrate during the day, it may be a sign they need more sleep.
Best Beds for 4 – 5-year-olds
At 4 or 5, your child may still benefit from the security of a toddler bed with safety rails to help prevent them from falling out in the night.
A floor-level bed, such as our Jackson Toddler Bed, can also offer reassurance and will be easier for young kids to access independently, in keeping with the Montessori education method. Most toddler beds are suitable for children up to 5 – 7 years old.
However, kids of this age may also be ready for a standard single-sized bed, which are generally suitable for kids aged 4+. Choosing a larger bed earlier can offer you more longevity, as it could last your child into their teenage years. A low-height single bed is ideal, as mid or high-sleeper beds are generally not recommended for children under 6.
Dietary Recommendations for 4 and 5-Year-Olds
What kids eat during the day can impact not only their general health and energy levels but also their sleep.
As well as doing your best to give kids a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (we know it’s easier said than done!), try to avoid caffeinated drinks, such as hot chocolate, sugary foods and sweets. Along with not being great for their teeth, these act as stimulants and can make it harder for kids to sleep.
Additionally, try not to give them large meals right before bed. If your child is hungry at bedtime, the NHS suggests giving them a bowl of cereal and milk. You could also offer yoghurt, a banana, or a drink of warm milk, which can help kids to feel sleepy and get into ‘bedtime mode’.
Ah, the dreaded screentime debate! Screens are pretty much unavoidable in our modern world, but we all know that looking at them too much is bad for us, and they can be particularly disruptive to children’s sleep. That’s because blue light from screens can suppress the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which is needed to fall asleep.
To limit the negative effects, try to reduce kids’ screen time during the day and avoid screens completely for at least an hour before lights out. Fill the time with a relaxing bedtime routine and story instead.
Managing Bedtime Resistance
Young kids can find it difficult to settle down to sleep, particularly if they think there’s something more exciting going on in the rest of the house. Sometimes, they will strongly resist the idea of bedtime and try to find any excuse to stay up.
In this instance, it can help to give your child some say in what happens at bedtime to get them excited about it. For example, give them the choice of which pyjamas they want to wear or what book they would like to read – you may even like to involve them in choosing their bed, so they look forward to getting into it. We find house beds are usually a winner!
Top Tips to Improve 4 – 5-Year-Old’s Sleep
- Make sure your child has been active during the day, ideally outside. Outdoor exercise, especially in the morning, may help to bring the circadian rhythm forward, making it easier for kids to fall asleep earlier and stay asleep longer.
- Health services advise establishing a night-time routine for children with a consistent time to be in bed. This is particularly important on school nights!
- Do the same ‘bedtime’ activities each night, which might include a bath, teeth brushing and story time, so your child knows what to expect and feels more settled.
- Ensure your child goes to the toilet before getting into bed. If you’re reading a bedtime story, it might help to get them to go again afterwards to ensure their bladder is as empty as possible.
- Remove any highly stimulating toys, games or devices from your child’s bedroom that could distract them from the task at hand – getting to sleep.
- Make sure they have any favourite cuddly toys or comforting blankets close to hand.
- Using blackout curtains or blinds can help keep the room dark enough to sleep in the evening or morning – especially during summer.
- Make sure your child’s room feels as safe and comfortable as possible. This might be achieved with a low-height bed, cosy bedding and a night light.
- If your little one is anxious about being left, try reassuring them that you are only in the next room or will stay with them until they fall asleep.
- If they’re struggling, you may like to look into playing soothing music or a meditation video to help them nod off.
It is important to remember that every child is different and it might take a while to find a routine or technique that works for you – and what works might change as your child gets older. If you’re concerned that your child is not sleeping enough or could be suffering from insomnia, it is always best to consult your doctor or health visitor for advice.