The nice news in all of this: From early on, there is plenty you can do to help your kids grow up loving their zzz's.
Try not to let your infant fall asleep while eating, and put her to bed when she's still awake. By 3 months, you should slow your response time when she wakes up crying at night. By 6 months, when most babies typically sleep through the night, consider giving up the monitor if your room isn't very far away. Or you can turn the volume down. You'll be less tempted to rush to your fussing baby, and she'll be more likely to drift back to sleep on her own.
Children should have a consistent bedtime ritual by 3 months that lasts no more than 30 to 40 minutes, bath included. And for kids up to age 10, make sure bedtime is before 9 p.m. Children who go to bed after 9 p.m. take longer to fall asleep, wake more often at night, and get less sleep overall, so stick with the usual bedtime sounds, like recorded ocean waves or a fan, and favorite sleep-time objects, such as a special blanket or pillow.
Try to maintain the same temperature and level of light in your child's room, even when on vacation. Shut off screens too, because research is mounting about the light generated by computers and tablets: Just two hours of screen time right before bed is enough to lower levels of melatonin -- a chemical that occurs naturally at night and signals sleep to the body -- by 22 percent. Ditch devices after dinner.
You already know reading to kids helps them learn, but hearing storybooks is a great way for kids to head off to dreamland. Of all activities, reading printed books appears to be most relaxing.
It makes sense to periodically measure your child's sleep time, especially if you're seeing trouble signs. (Alas, you'll need to do it the old-fashioned way: Wearable trackers can make mistakes with anyone, but they're especially inaccurate on kids, who move around more in all stages of sleep. A study found that one such device underestimated kids' sleep by an average of 109 minutes.)
Parents may not identify a kid's daytime meltdowns as a sleep-related problem. However, when they track their child's sleep and make a consistent effort to get him to bed an hour earlier for a week, the problems get much better. This is especially helpful for preschoolers, who are transitioning away from naps. For older kids, each school year brings new activities and demands. Red flags include dozing off in front of the TV or in the car.