The Great Sleep Debate
As adults, we long for the nap times of our childhood, while kids’ sleep patterns seem to be all over the map. Knowing and developing good sleep habits are not only essential to your child’s health and well-being, they are also key in helping prevent sleeping disorders.
So, how much sleep do children need? The answer varies depending on the age of the child:
|4-12 months old
||14-15 hours per day
|1-3 years old
||12-14 hours per day
|3-6 years old
||10-12 hours per day
|7-12 years old
||10-11 hours per day
|13-18 years old
||8-9 hours per day
By no means do these recommended hours need to occur in a row (although many parents would appreciate it), just within a 24-hour period. Keep track of how much your child sleeps, as consistency is just as important as the number of hours. For example: If your child sleeps only four hours three days a week and then sleeps 14 hours the four remaining days, the lack of sleep consistency could lead to a sleeping disorder.
If you notice sleep problems in young children, take action by findings ways to increase the number of hours your child sleeps at night or increasing the number of naps taken during the day. Here are a number of tips to get a few more zzz’s into your child’s schedule:
- If you have a child who tends to get out of bed, sit on the edge of the bed and read a book until your child falls asleep
- If you have a child in daycare during the day, ask your caregiver to track how long your child sleeps during naptime so you can adjust bedtime if necessary
- Does your child like milk? Warm milk releases a chemical during the heating process that can be soothing. If your child does not like milk or is lactose intolerant, warm apple cider might do the trick as well. Just make sure it’s sugar-free so you aren’t trying to ward off a sugar high at bedtime
Relax. Having sleep requirements for your children is not being over dramatic or heavy-handed—it is responsibly ensuring that your child is getting the sleep necessary for proper growth and mental health.