Getting A Great Night’s Sleep With … Sue Radford

We understand the importance of getting a great night’s sleep and, as such, over the coming weeks will be bringing you a series of features with some of the UK’s leading sleep experts. We’ve got all sorts lined up including a ‘sleep doctor,’ a nutritionist and even a qualified counsellor to offer you tips on clearing your head before bedtime.

To kick things off, however, we’re pleased to introduce Sue Radford, mum to Britain’s biggest family, the Radford’s. You may have seen Sue, her husband Noel and their family on Channel 4’s 17 Kids & Counting and we thought she’d be the perfect person to kick off our series of #LoveSleep features!

We caught up with Sue this week and had a chat with her on what it’s like to manage the bedtime routines of 17 children and to quiz her on her top tips for families to ensure they get a great sleep!


1. As Mum To Britain’s Biggest Family, Bedtime Must Get A Little Chaotic At Times! What’s Your Top Tip For Getting A Large Family To Bed Without Difficulties?

My top tip for getting your children to bed is “Routine Routine Routine.” Not only do the children like it but it will also make your life a lot easier when they start to get a little bit older.

Also, do you remember being given supper before you went to bed as a child? To us, this is important as the children always seem to be hungry and they won’t want to go to bed feeling that way. Just a small snack (i.e cereal) will help them have a full nights sleep in our experience.


2. So You’d Definitely Agree That Having A Strict Routine Helps?

Yes! Not only do we run a routine at bedtime, but also our meal times, getting up times and playing out times have a routine. It does make us sound very boring but its really not as strict as dinner time must be on the table by X o’clock. Having a routine definitely helps and the children know when bedtime is approaching.


3. How About ‘Screens?’ In Your Opinion, Do They Help Kids To Wind Down Or Are They A Bedtime No-Go

Our eldest two boys have a TV in their room but other from that none of the other bedrooms have TV’s, laptops, tablets etc as going to bed means going to bed to sleep not watch a couple of hours under the duvet watching a film.


4. How About Bedtime Stories? Do They Still Have A Place In The Modern, Digital Age Where Tablets Are The ‘New Book’?

Why should having a bedtime story be any different today as it was 20 or 30 years ago? I suppose the only difference is you can access a library of books on your Kindle or iPad but I do think picking up a book and reading it to the children is much better.


5. Lastly, How About New Parents? What Top Tips Could You Give To Them To Get A Great Night’s Sleep!

First of all, it’s important that you accept that you aren’t likely to get a good full nights sleep for a few weeks, so be prepared.


My top tips would be:

  1. Try and feed baby just before you go to bed.
  2. Try and share night feeds with your partner.
  3. When baby does wake up, just have a dim light on to keep the mood very calm and quiet.
  4. We have started to use a co-sleeping cot with Hallie as sometimes your baby may not want feeding they just need reassurance that you are there. With co-sleeping cots, you are able to put your hand on them or hold there hand. A great solution!

So there you go! We’d like to take a moment to thank Sue for taking the time out of her (very) busy schedule to speak with us and share what we think are some fantastic tips!

Why not leave us a comment with your own top tips for getting a great night’s sleep, especially relating to managing the sleep in a busy household or let us know what you think about Sue’s tips! Do you agree? Do you have any you could add?