Is your kid immune to Samuel L. Jackson screaming, “go the f–k to sleep?” Does their seven-step bedtime routine still leave them restless? Has the eternal bedtime struggle returned? If your bedtime stories aren’t cutting it when it comes to getting your kid to sleep, consider letting your iPhone intervene. Although screen-time before bed can disrupt sleep, it also can be a source for meditative and calming apps meant to soothe babies to sleep. Some work as a sleep aid through white noise, some play drowsiness inducing nursery rhymes and bedtime stories, and others guide kids through age-appropriate meditations. Whether your kid needs white noise, soothing stories, or calming sleep music, there’s a sleep app for kids that can help. Because when the kids are well-rested, everyone fairs better.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Sleep
Sleep Apps for Babies
If you’d rather not have your top played song on your Spotify Wrapped this year be White Noise, this app is for you. Babies respond well to white noise, particularly being shushed. This sleep app will go lung-for-lung to match a baby’s volume when they start crying and allows parents to record their own shushes. Plus, the Baby Shusher doesn’t do its white noise thing in the same passive-aggressive manner of an overtired parent.
Stop belting out terrible lullabys and just get the Sleep Hero app. You can select from a list of pre-recorded sounds, or upload your own nursery rhymes, sleep songs, and stories. When your baby starts wailing, the sleep app responds by playing your selections. One downside: If they start getting bored listening to the same tracks over and over again, there’s pressure on you to record a follow-up album. And you know those are never as good as the debut.
About $2.78 (iOS)
Remember those Pink Floyd laser shows at your local planetarium? If you can, this sleep app will bring back memories. Sleepy Sounds not only lets you play lullabies and soothing nature sounds on a loop, but it also displays an animated mobile to light up your kid’s room. Whether or not the sleep music syncs up with The Wizard of Oz remains to be seen.
Free (iOS) (Android)
Sleep Meditations for Kids
Calm for Kids
If you can’t decide between a sleep story or meditation app, this could be the app for you. Yoga and Montessori teacher Christaine Kerr, founder of Calm for Kids, takes your kid through a story meditation with soft, sleep-inducing music playing in the background. It’s meant for kids ages 12 and below, but you may find yourself falling asleep to the app, too.
Headspace For Kids
A meditation app might sound like some Eat, Pray, Love BS, but research shows it’s an incredibly powerful tool for reducing stress, anxiety, and insomnia, and there’s nothing ridiculous about a mentally mindful, calm kid. Headspace now offers kiddie editions of its popular meditations and breathing and visualization exercises. There’s an entire sleep section with kids sleep meditations, soundtracks, and white noise. Customized for kids five and under, six-to-eight, and nine-to-12, former Buddhist monk and professional calm person Andy Puddicombe will talk some sense into your preschooler.
Free (iOS) (Android) (Amazon)
RELATED: Does Meditation Work for Kids?
Sleep Stories for Kids
Everyone knows books would be better if music played behind the narration just like the movies. Well, practice your best Don LaFontaine, because this sleep app plays original music and sound effects to go along with select children’s books. Just choose a book in the app and start reading. Its voice recognition software will pick up where you are in the story and start playing tunes. Books on the app include Where the Wild Things Are, Cat in the Hat, and Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.
Designed by Oscar-nominated animator and illustrator Heidi Wittlinger, Nighty Night is a narrated sleep story app about what barnyard animals do when the lights go out. (Like stage an allegory about the 1917 Russian Revolution?) As your kids watch the animals fall asleep in their stalls, they’ll hopefully follow suit. And, just like on a real farm, they’ll also be up with the rooster.
$3.99 (iOS) (Android) (Amazon)
Sleep Apps for Kids
Daniel Tiger’s Night and Day
Bedtime preparation is about routine. This sleep app from PBS Kids helps your kid develop the habit of getting ready to sleep and go to school in the morning. With songs and games, your kid helps Daniel Tiger take a bath, brush his teeth, and pick out what PJs to wear before he hits the sack. There’s also a calming bedtime story, told and sang to your kid as they assist Daniel with floating through the clouds.
This all in one app contains soothing audio stories (with narrators like Goldie Hawn), meditations, music, and white noise. Each audio journey is carefully designed with sleep in mind. As stories progress, they’re read slower and sleepier and background noise quiets, and music tracks gently fade to avoid abrupt silence. It’s free to download, and a premium subscription unlocks new and additional content and allows users to download tracks and use the app on up to three devices.