Sleep is a vital need, essential to a child’s health and growth. Sleep promotes alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioral problems and moodiness. That is why it is important for parents to start early and help their children develop good sleep habits.
How Much Sleep Should My Child Get?
Each child is different and has different sleep needs. Below is a chart which states recommended hours of sleep for children and this includes naps for children up to five years of age.
0 – 2 months – 10.5 – 18 Hours Of Sleep
2 – 12 months – 14 – 15 Hours Of Sleep
1 – 3 years – 12 – 14 Hours Of Sleep
3 – 5 years – 11 – 13 Hours Of Sleep
5 – 12 years – 10 – 11 Hours Of Sleep
Children need and thrive on routine – The #1 tip for good sleeping habits in children is to follow a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for children to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night.
Typical Bedtime Routine
1. Have a light snack
2. Take a bath.
3. Put on pajamas.
4. Brush teeth.
5. Read a story.
6. Make sure the room is quiet and at a comfortable temperature.
7. Put your child to bed.
8. Say goodnight and leave.
• Make bedtime the same time every night.
• Make bedtime a positive and relaxing experience without TV or videos. According to one recent study, TV viewing prior to bed can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Save your child’s favorite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last and have them occur in the child’s bedroom.
•Keep the bedtime environment (e.g. light, temperature) the same all night long.
Encourage Children To Fall Asleep On Their Own
Have your child form positive associations with sleeping. A child should not need a parent to help him/her fall asleep. One recent study demonstrated that having your child sleep in your bed puts them at risk for suffocation or strangulation. The child who falls asleep on his or her own will be better able to return to sleep during normal nighttime awakenings and sleep throughout the night.
Discourage Nighttime Awakenings
When you go to your child’s room every time he or she wakes during the night, you are strengthening the connection between you and sleep for your child. Even babies who are held and cuddled when they wake in the middle of the night soon learn to expect this and do not learn to go back to sleep on their own. Except during conditions when the child is sick, has been injured or clearly requires your assistance, it is important to give your child a consistent message that they are expected to fall asleep on their own.