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Home Daycare

10 Surefire Ways To Put A Little One To Sleep

Whether you’re caring for just one child or many children, you will at some point deal with an overtired child who can’t seem to calm him or herself down enough to fall asleep.


Running a home daycare has given me the opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve put combinations of 6 babies and toddlers to sleep at once in my own daycare everyday, and at the daycare center I worked at many years ago, I was able to put 10 toddlers to sleep everyday, all at the same time and in the same room on cots.

I’m going to let you in on some top secret, surefire ways to put your little ones to sleep (… and NO, it doesn’t involve medication or tablespoonfuls of whiskey!).

A few things to keep in mind:  Create a consistent routine.  From day one, children should know what to expect and when.  Provide a dark, calming environment.   Draw the blinds, play quiet lullaby music and make sure they have age-appropriate blankets.  With multiple children, start with the one that’s most likely to fall asleep first and work your way through to the one who will take the longest to fall asleep.

If the baby or toddler is overtired and fussing or crying:

1) Wrap them in a blanket and cradle them belly to belly.

2) Wrap them in a blanket and lay them on their cot or in their playpen on their belly or side.  Rub their back with a flat hand in large circles, becoming slower and more deliberate with your movements as they start to calm down.

3) Lay them on their cot or playpen and run your fingers through their hair.

4) Lay them on their cot, sit with your face close to theirs, and maintain eye contact for an extended period of time while whispering quietly to them.  There’s a good chance they’ll stop fussing to hear what you’re saying to them.

If the baby or toddler is simply fighting sleep:

5) While they’re laying on their cot or playpen, stroke your fingers gently down their face, starting at the hairline and gently brushing over their eye lids.

6) Lay the child on his/her side and pull the blanket up over the side of their face like a hood.  It will block out any visual distractions and muffle any noises.

7) Gently draw swirls and circles on their forehead.

8) Gently breathe air into their eyes from about a foot away.  Make sure you do this so gently that they don’t realize what’s happening.  Their already-tired eyes will have a hard time staying open.

9) Play a slow motion version of “Round and Round the Garden”, while drawing circles on the back of their hand. (The rhyme goes like this: “Round and round the garden like a teddy bear.  One step, two step, and we’re almost there.)

10) Give them a foot rub.

And if you have more than one child, numbers 2-10 can all be done while cradling a second child in one arm, and rocking a third child in your lap or between your outstretched legs — just make sure you’re sitting on the floor first!

I’d love to hear your tips for putting little ones to sleep.  What are your secrets?

Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!


  1. Jessica Harlow

    I was lucky that my kids were all good nappers! I can’t imagine trying to get the many babies and toddlers to all sleep at the same time! lol These are really good suggestions. I especially like the physical reassurance ideas!
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  2. Audrey

    Great article, My sister is expecting her first this coming month…I am gonna show her your blog. My oldest son was one who, hated all types cuddling etc when needed to go bed. You just put blanket around him and put him down..he fussed a few mins then went to sleep.
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  3. Sarah

    Where were you when my kids were tiny!!! Great advice and a lot of what I learned the hard way. Sending to some friends with babies on the way.

  4. Kita

    My kids fought sleep for a while even now they have to have millions of gallons of drinks and I am over it like go to bed. We are getting back on a routine around here because school starts and I have a rising 4th grader and 1st grader it’s time to go to bed.
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  5. Ourfamilyworld

    These are great tips. With little ones, having a routine always works. My kids never liked napping, so I just make sure that they always go to bed an hour and a half after supper.
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  6. Chantal

    These are great tips, it can be very challenging to put an overtired baby to sleep, especially when they are fighting it! Most times this also means that parents are getting over tired as well, I think this will be very helpful to many parents!
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  7. Tara Jensen

    I’m pretty sure any of us could use one of these tips at one point or another. We are pretty strict on our bedtime to avoid over tired blow ups, but I’ll be remembering these just in case!
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  8. tammileetips

    Kids can be so different when it comes to sleeping habits!! These are great things to try on them to see if it helps them sleep! I know routine for me even as an adult is the most important one.
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  9. Carolyn

    I cannot think of ANYTHING more essential in the lives of babies and their parents then sleep. GREAT tips!

  10. Dia

    I think these tips are great and I really agree with that babies need to be put on a sleep schedule, this will give them a sense of structure and it will get their bodies on a routine.

  11. Adrienne

    I don’t have any little ones yet, but I’m always so fascinated with how helpful tips like this are to my friends with kiddos. Like drawing circles on the baby’s forehead – I would have never thought of that! Genius! Thanks for sharing!
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  12. Nickida

    These are some great tips. I always rub my babies scalps when they are having a hard time falling asleep. It works like a charm.
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  13. Carin

    Learned the hard way with the first and ended up Ferberizing. The second was a breeze. I remember using many of these tricks on my two- although I must admit I didn’t try the leg rocking lol.

  14. Joanne T Ferguson

    What great ways to get children to go to bed! I think too many parents over stimulate the child and it is always better doing calming activities so they can dream the night away!

  15. LaShawn

    My son fought sleep up until about this year. he is 5 almost 6. I found that with him, it was all about the routine: bath, storytime, cuddle time. As long as all of those things happen in that order, we do fine. LOL

  16. Miranda (Myrabev)

    i love this article! the one thing ive taken from this is to set a routine. this post is so handy for anyone in the position to care for their children or someone else’s. next time am with my nephew ill be sure to try all these because they seem as though theyd do the trick
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  17. Melissa Roy

    These are all great tips and I’ve also used many of them through my mommying and childcare years! Another one that I love is gently stroking down their nose from the middle of the forehead, down the bridge between the eyes and to the tip, then repeat. Also when out with a little one, movement is always helpful but also facing them into the sun (shaded) or bright light will make them squint and eventually fall asleep! Thanks for linking up with #BeyondMommyingSiS

  18. Jane Collins

    So awesome! I’ve tried. Great ways to get my son to go to bed.

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