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We all know that adequate sleep is crucial for our child’s physical and mental development but how much is adequate sleep?
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We all know that adequate sleep is crucial for
our child’s physical and mental development but how much is adequate sleep? For
us adults, the recommended 7-8 hours of nightly sleep is a pretty clear and set
standard. The sleep routine and requirements for children however, change as
they grow and develop.
Based on the guidelines for child sleep
requirement provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and advice from top
sleep experts, we have put together a brief guide for the ideal sleep patterns
for your children based on their age group as a bonus we’ve rounded up the best
tips on how to help your child achieve it.
0 - 4 Months
Newborns sleep can sleep for up to a whopping 18
hours a day! They sleep around the clock and have short frequent sleep wake
cycles. The reason that they do not follow a day and night pattern is that they
have a tiny stomach and need to be fed and changed every 2-3 hours and also
because they are still developing an internal clock. This can be challenging
for parents but managing their sleep routines is important to establish good
sleeping habits earlier on. Here are a few tips:
Most newborns cannot go to sleep on their own
and you will have to help them fall asleep. They will express their need for
sleep in different ways such as rubbing eyes, pulling ears, fussing, staring at
objects and yawning.
Gradually teach them the difference between day
and night by exposing him to bright light and playing with him most during the
day. At night try to interact less, keep the environment calm and the lights
dim so your baby can learn that night time is for rest and daytime is for play.
After nursing or rocking your baby, place him in
the crib when he's drowsy but not asleep so he can learn fall to sleep on his
Infants 4-12 Months
For infants aged 4- 12 months, the recommended
hours of sleep are 12- 16. At this stage the baby begins to develop a sleep
pattern, their daytime naps decrease and nightly sleep increases. After 6
months, night time feed is not a necessity, so babies can learn to sleep for up
to 7 hours at a stretch. Most babies learn to sleep through the night by the
9th month and you can help yours achieve that routine with the following tips.
Just as with newborns,
give babies at this age a chance to sleep on their own by putting to bed drowsy
but not sleepy. This way children become self soothers and can go back to sleep
easily if their sleep is disrupted during the night instead of crying for their
parents to help them fall back to sleep.
Establish a regular,
consistent and enjoyable bedtime routine which can include activities such as
giving the baby a bath and changing him into comfortable clothes.
Also, keep the environment sleep friendly by
dimming the lights and avoiding any noise such as that of a TV near the baby's
Children 1-2 Years
Children of 1-2 years of age require 11-14 hours
of sleep. When they reach about 18 months, they will only take a nap once
during the day. Make sure your child takes a nap in the afternoon and doesn't
nap close to bedtime, or else he won't be tired enough to fall asleep during
his actual bedtime.
You can add reading a book to your child to make
their nightly routine more enjoyable.
At this stage your child may begin to experience
a different set of sleep problems such as resistance to sleep and having
nightmares. Talk to your child about his fears and reassure him by telling him
that he doesn't need to be afraid and that you'll be around. Also, encourage
the use of a security object such as blanket or a stuffed toy.
Set limits that are consistent and enforced so
your child knows that once he is in bed, he has to stay in bed. If your child
gets out of bed, calmly take him back without overreacting. If you argue or
give in to requests you're giving him the extra attention he wants to avoid
Children 3 - 5 Years
Children in this age group should sleep 10-13
hours a day. This is the time when children start preschool so it's even more important
to have regular daytime and bedtime schedules.
Starting school and interacting with the outside
world further develops their imagination, which is why preschoolers commonly
experience nighttime fears and nightmares. You must reassure them and provide
them with a sense of security. An effective way to help them deal with this is
to guide with your own example, tell them how you would cope with such fears.
This is also the time when children begin to
take interest in tablets and iPads. Limit the exposure of these electronic
devices. No screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
Don’t give your kids any sweet treats such as
candies, ice creams or chocolates near bedtime because the high sugar content
in these can disrupt their sleep.
Children 6-12 Years
For children aged 6 -12 years, the ideal amount
of sleep is 9-12 hours. At this stage children hardly nap during the afternoon
and become increasingly busy with homework from school, extracurricular
activities and playing with friends.
Also they become more interested in TV and video
games. The light from these devices can prevent your child from sleeping so
it's best to avoid the use of any electronic devices close to bedtime and keep
them out of your child’s bedroom.
Also avoid giving caffeinated drinks such as
soda to your child close to bedtime as the caffeine can have negative effect on
your child’s sleep.
Teach your child the importance of sleep and
help them understand that sleep is not a form of punishment but an essential
part of their growth and development.
Sleep deprivation among
children is very common and according to the National Sleep Foundation a lot of
children are getting lesser sleep than experts recommend. It's advisable to
compare your child's sleep time with this guide to make sure that your child's
getting adequate rest. Remember the sleep habits that you establish now for
your child will last a lifetime.
is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it
relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Getting Better Sleep. You can follow him on
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