Alexander asleep-Honest Mum

My kids, Oliver, 4 1/2 and Alexander, above, 2 have never been the greatest of sleepers (eldest had colic then chronic ear infections and second’s sleep deteriorated after teething and tonsillitis) but sleep patterns seemed to have gotten even worse towards the end of the summer. Lack of structure, late daylight hours, outbreaks of tonsillitis for my toddler and a period of nightmares (my eldest, and I to be honest) pre-school starting, all contributed.

We were all shattered!

Fast forward to Oliver starting and settling into school well (he’s so happy), a more structured routine and a few dietary changes and the boys are sleeping better than ever. So, I wanted to share what has worked for us.

I’m not a doctor nor a sleep expert (sadly) but I’m a mum of two who is grateful for a better night’s sleep so if you’re struggling too, do check out my tips below.

Please do remember however, that each child is different so what works for us might not work for you!

Here’s to some great sleep hey!

My Sleep Tips for Kids:


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

1. Diet
The kids have a pretty healthy diet but it did seem like they were having too many treats lately so I’ve really cut back on sugar and refined carbs and ensured meals and desserts are as balanced as possible.

This healthy crumble is a favourite in this house and I’ve got tonnes of healthy and tasty recipes HERE! And of course, they’re kids so are still allowed treats every so often just not close to bedtime and ideally on a weekend!

We also eliminated wheat a while back as rashes started to appear on Oliver which baffled the doctors. I read the book Wheat Belly, decided to try ridding the grain and he’s never felt better (rashes have all but disappeared) and we all feel great avoiding it too.

Rice and oats are staple carbs along with beans and pulses and thanks to Doves Farm gluten free flour, rice flour and rice pasta, we’ve not even missed it.

…Oliver has never been great with cow’s milk either (some research suggests limiting cow’s milk can help with those prone to ear infections as Oliver is) and I recently switched us all to goat (honesty doesn’t taste goat-y), oat and soya milk and this has also seemed to have helped.

Good digestion affects all aspects of health so it’s worth looking at your diet and researching what might work for your family.

2. Exercise
Despite being tired from school, we’ve all been doing more physical exercise to really feel sleepier come bedtime. This might mean us running around the garden for half an hour or more (weather permitting) or jumping on a mountain of pillows in the living room (lounge trampoling we call it) but physical fun really releases pent up energy and frustration, stops them fighting and means better sleep for us all!

3. Down Time

This exercise session is of course followed by wind-down time. So no TV or digital attention- draining, brain stimuli before bed.

It works for me too. I switch everything off at least 90 minutes before I sleep so I can fully switch off.

The boys then have another snack, maybe a small bowl of porridge (a great relaxant and filling too), some Ryvita with butter or an apple and yoghurt. Balanced snacks that will keep them full through the night.

4. Bath, Books, Bed
Bath time allows the kids to relax and I often jump in too (with just one, our bath isn’t that big)!

Then we read together in bed-sharing our love of Peter Rabbit, some of Roald Dahl (self-edited) and Horrid Henry.

Oliver is learning to read now so although I’ve read to him and Alexander since birth, it’s a real joy to see him recognising letters and words and equally funny to hear Alexander repeat them all as he pretends he can read himself!

My husband Peter then puts Alexander to bed in his bedroom and together they read some more while I put Oliver in his room. We rotate who puts who to bed but generally Oliver likes me to and as I’ve seen Alexander a lot more during the day.

5. Environment
As we co-slept with our kids a lot, when it was time to move them into their own rooms, they favoured big beds so each have a double. They’re at an age where that is safe for them and they are happy there.

It also means they can sleep together too if they choose to or one of us can sleep with them if they are ill or having a bad night.

…I make sure the room isn’t too hot or cold and as Oliver gets quite warm in the night I sometimes leave the top small window a little ajar. I have black out blinds but need curtains too to really block out all the light.  I have however found a way of placing ornaments by them safely to prevent most of the light.

I’ve also started to shut doors from the other rooms and have abandoned the night light in the corridor which streamed through his door even when shut.

…I usually lie with Oliver or sit on the bed stroking his hair so he feels safe and secure at night. We can’t expect our kids to immediately feel safe just because it’s dark outside and we all want to sleep. Plus it’s our special time together and we both love it.

And there you have it…so far, so good, two children sleeping through the night. Yes this can’t last every night- illness, nightmares, life can get in the way but it’s great to achieve it, to know what works (for now) so we can return to it after any bouts of the above return and are over again.

We are firmly back into a routine now but are not chained to it. If one night they kids are in bed a bit later, I don’t freak out but we aim to get them both asleep by 8 most nights and all the changes above seem to be working.

I hope they help you too.

Do leave comments and ask any questions you might have below,



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24 Responses

  1. Cathy

    I’m in the perplexing situation where one of my children sleeps brilliantly and the other sleeps TERRIBLY! Some children just seem to be ‘sleepers’ and others aren’t. Certainly with my older daughter I was convinced it was my great parenting that saw her sleeping through peacefully and contentedly from a very early age.

    Turns out it wasn’t 🙂

    That aside, some things do help. I’ve been struggling recently with them both being high as kites before bedtime. Particularly during solo bedtimes, they go bonkers the second they’re out of the bath and calming them down enough to even get their PJ’s on let alone settle for stories and cuddles is a major effort as they both work each other back up!

    Getting the physical activity in earlier, then a wind-down, might help. As might a healthy snack after bath. We don’t really do telly *middle-class face* and certainly not on a daily basis, but I’m definitely guilty of doling out too many treats at the moment.

    All good food for thought and glad you’re getting a better night’s sleep. I’m hoping mine is just round the corner x

  2. Franglaise Mummy

    Some great tips there, I’m so glad they’re sleeping better as I know you’ve had some ups and (quite a few) downs with their sleep in the past – I love the double beds, we put ours in double beds first of all too, and it does mean less falling out of bed 🙂 Happy zzzzzzs xx

  3. Fiona @ Free Range Chick

    I’ve been meaning to read and comment on this post for ages. As you know, I used to have sleeping children. But that has all changed. Like you, I swear by bath, books bed. All about routine – they know what is coming next. Physical exercise is so important, they need to burn that energy and use their bodies as they’re supposed to be used. I encourage horseplay. Diet is a big thing. I’m a bit obsessed with them getting enough protein, and will often give them milk with peanut butter on wholemeal toast (there’s your complete protein right there), before bed. I used to be able to turn off the lights and leave the room, but now, I sit with them in the dark room until they’re asleep. I always wait for a good 15 minutes after they’ve fallen asleep, as they will hear me creeping out of the room if I go straight away. I’ve been really toying with the idea of getting a double in there for them, so they can sleep together (and be comforted by each other) and so that I can get in there with them, instead of them coming in with us. I worry about Ian’s sleep being disturbed, as he drives many miles each day and works as an electrician – he needs to be rested to stay safe.

    With all this in mind, my elder son Finley has recently become obsessed with a variety of monsters/creatures coming to get him. These monsters are everywhere, particularly the usual place: under the bed. So I have started telling him this shocking story (you can read it on my blog if you get a minute), but basically it is about the ‘sleep monster’ who only gets kids that are awake at bedtime. I think I may rot in hell for telling him a monster is gonna get him, but it has worked in calming him right down when he’s lying in bed and blabbering on about everything, repeatedly checking under his bed, and jumping up and down (after all aforementioned relaxing, routine activities).

    Anyway, your tips are spot on. The sleep experts probably couldn’t have said it better! x

    • honestmum

      Aw thanks so much darling and I read your post and think you are a genius lady, I think kids’ sleep can change at any point and really does with illness or new fears like it sounds your son is going through. All normal and formative as they come to terms with this world I suppose. You are a wonderful Mum doing what you can to make them feel secure, thanks for your lovely comment x

  4. Kiran at Mummy Says

    I think we are on the same page with sleep lovely. The things that have worked for you really work for us too – although I’d never considered big beds. Actually they make so much sense. Perhaps when Jasmin is bigger we will move her from cot to double. She likes to be with me if she has a bad night so this could be a good solution. So glad you are all getting more sleep – doesn’t it make a huge difference! xx

  5. Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper

    Found myself nodding along to all of these, Vicki! We’ve definitely found that Freddie’s sleep is SO much better since we’ve gone cow dairy-free, and also cut down on telly-time. When they’ve been watching so much telly they’re both a nightmare to settle and they’re behaviour is worse! x

  6. geo

    My twins , 2years old, also keep on waking up during the night and ask me to sit next to their bed or to touch their hands..sometimes I find myself sleeping over on the armchair or worse, on the floor…So I think your suggestion about the big beds may be a solution for my back pain at least:) !

    • honestmum

      I think we have to do what we need to do to survive and sleep and kids just want to feel safe at night don’t they, good luck-we love our big beds x

  7. Dominique SImpson

    Thank you for sharing this, we have sleep issues in our house with G getting up in the middle of the night. Will definitely try the healthy snacks at bedtime as we eat lots of food like this but generally not close to bedtime.

  8. Donna

    These are some great tips, I think that wind down time is so important for children to switch off properly before bed x

  9. Maria (notyouraveragebaby)

    What a brilliant list! My daughter hasn’t evening started weaning yet but I’ve heard quite a few people speak negatively about wheat so I’m thinking i might omit it from the very start? I also agree 100% about the importance of down-time. It’s just so difficult sometimes but I am going to make more of a conscious effort from now on. Love this post. x

    • honestmum

      Thanks darling, we all feel so much better without it and other far healthier cultures don’t eat it. Check the book out chick, thanks for your lovely comment x

    • honestmum

      Oh you are lucky and yes early mornings are tough too, sure they will, maybe try getting them to bed an hour later to see if they’ll wake later? x


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