7 ways to help your kids fall asleep on Christmas Eve - and #5 can help parents relax too

A child sleep expert has shared her tips

A young girl asleep in front of a Christmas tree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Make bedtime easier on Christmas Eve with these expert-approved child sleep tips - they might even help parents get a good night's rest too.

Christmas Day is almost upon us and no doubt kids will be buzzing with anticipation at the thought of unwrapping some of the top Christmas toys this year - so much so that it might be keeping them up at night. And while getting a baby to sleep can be helped by investing in a baby sleep aid, it's not so simple for older kids, and most parents will know that getting children to sleep on Christmas Eve is not an easy task.

Fortunately, greeting cards marketplace thortful has spoken to a child sleep expert about ways to get sleep fast before the big day. If you're a parent looking for some tips to make bedtime easier on Christmas Eve, Joanna Rammell has shared her seven top recommendations right here.

7 ways to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve

1. Countdown

To encourage your child to get into bed and asleep in the first place, Joanna suggests doing a countdown throughout the day.

"Spend the day making Christmas Eve bedtime positive, rather than a punishment. Countdown the hours throughout the day until everyone gets to go to sleep so Santa can deliver the presents. Have a little family dance on the hour, celebrating one hour closer to bedtime and Santa’s arrival."

2. Santa's 'bedtime' letter

Small additions, such as a letter from Santa, can make bedtime more exciting, says Joanna.

"Write a special letter from Santa and his elves reminding children of the importance of an early bedtime to make sure they get their presents. Reading this earlier in the evening can motivate them to get to bed on time."

A close up of a person dressed a Santa writing a letter

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Santa's sleep potion

The food that children eat or drink before bed is vital for a restful night, and Joanna encourages tryptophan-rich foods, saying "they make serotonin and then melatonin - a hormone that helps children's bodies know when it's time to sleep."

She suggests creating a special "sleep potion" together with lots of tryptophan-rich foods. Tell your kids it’s a secret recipe shared only with excited children who need help falling asleep so Santa can deliver the presents. 

"Milk, oats, peanut butter and banana are all high in tryptophan, and blended together they will make a delicious sleepy potion," says Joanna.

4. A 'picky' Christmas Eve tea

"Another perfect opportunity to get some tryptophan-rich foods into your children and boost their melatonin levels is dinner time," says Joanna.

"Cheese, tuna, turkey, tofu, yoghurt, eggs and bread are all great sources of tryptophan and make a delicious picky tea."

Check out this list of expert-approved foods for sleep for more Christmas Eve dinner ideas.

5. Mindful breathing

Spending Christmas Eve trying out some mindfulness activities for kids is another great way to make bedtime easier.

A useful tip to calm both children and parents is mindful breathing. Joanna explains, "Add an extra relaxing element into their bedtime routine to help calm your excited little ones. Teach them 'Santa's chill out method' - encourage them to take slow breaths in and out, imagining they are helping Santa relax before his big night of delivering presents."

A woman hugging a sleeping young boy on a sofa in front of a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Santa's little helpers

Incorporating small gifts or personalised treats is a great way to encourage your child to get to bed, according to Joanna.

"Try a special reward system just for Christmas Eve, where kids earn 'Santa's Little Helper' points or stickers for getting ready for bed quickly and getting into bed on time. These points could be exchanged for a small reward or privilege on Christmas Day."

7. Christmas Eve bedtime chart

A festive-themed bedtime chart can help with the Christmas Eve bedtime battles and children who are stalling to avoid getting into bed. 

"Decorate your chart with glitter, stickers, pom poms, or anything to make it personal and Christmassy for your little ones," says Joanna.

"Set out their bedtime steps on the chart to encourage cooperation and reduce power struggles. If they get to add a festive sticker each time they complete a step of the bedtime routine, it’s fun, not a chore."

If you're still struggling to get the kids to sleep despite Joanna's tips, Goodto Family Editor, Stephanie Lowe, offers some advice. "If your little one is still resistant to bedtime, it could be down to separation anxiety. Being apart from you - their safe space - can be overwhelming and if they've not really struggled with this before, it could be happening because at Christmas everything is different. Maybe you're at a family member's house and your kids are sleeping in a different place.

"Don't be afraid to mention the festive elephant in the room and say 'Our bedtime looks different today, huh? This isn't normally what we do...' Then take the time to talk through what's different and why, reminding them that they're still safe and loved. Some kids don't love change and it will show up in their behaviour. Yes, it might take a little longer but it might also help."

Looking for more sleep advice? We've asked the experts how much deep sleep you need and delved into sleep affirmations too. Parents might also want to know more about the four-month sleep regression, eight-month sleep regression and the ten-month sleep regression too.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.