Babysitting: Bedtime

Babysitting: Bedtime

"I want a drink of water!"

"Just one more story, pleeeeaase?"

"These PJs are too small! I need to get bigger ones from my brother's room."

There's more to bedtime than just tucking kids in. For older kids, you need to know the difference between real problems and stall tactics. For babies, you have to be sure the sleep environment is safe.

Here are tips for making bedtime easier.


Safety is rule #1 when it comes to bedtime for babies. Here are two key things to remember:

  1. "Back to sleep." Use this phrase as a reminder to put a baby on his or her back to sleep, each time you put a baby to bed, whether it's for a nap or the night. Babies should always sleep on their backs to lower the risk of suffocation.
  2. The right place to snooze. Always put a baby to bed on a flat, firm surface like a crib or bassinet. Before you put the child in the crib, take out all pillows, stuffed toys, blankets, or bumper pads (padding along the sides of the crib). Babies can suffocate on these. Babies also can suffocate if they sleep on soft surfaces, so never let a baby sleep on a bed, sofa, etc. Infants should not sleep with anyone else, so don't lie down with a baby who is falling asleep. Don't let babies spend a lot of time sleeping in swing seats or car seats.

Here are some other things to know about babies and sleep:


Anyone who's been around kids knows that they don't like the day's fun to come to an end. That means you can expect that kids as young as toddlers will use a variety of bedtime avoidance tactics. Here are some ways to be prepared:

If a child won't stay in bed or wakes up in the night:

After the kids are in bed, you'll want to be alert and listen in case they cry or call for you. Keep music volumes low (and avoid using earbuds or headphones), but otherwise you can relax, watch TV, and get a little wind-down time for yourself. You earned it!

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: March 2013

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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