As a mother to children of various ages and stages, I have studied and dealt with various aspects related to children and sleep. My nannying experience with kids of varied ages also contributed in that regard. So, how much sleep do babies and children need and are your kids getting enough sleep? Read on to find out.
How Much Sleep Do Newborns Need?
A newborn baby may or may not form an exact pattern at the start. It may even out more after a couple weeks. It is true that newborns are likely to spend around 16 - 20 hours of the day sleeping. But, keep in mind that those hours are not always consecutive and shouldn’t last more than 3 hours at a time. Newborn babies need to eat often, at least every 3 hours, sometimes sooner. Do not skip any feeding times.
Sleep Tips and Advice For 3-6 Month Old Babies
From 3 to 6 months, a baby may sleep 5 hours all together during the day and 10 at night. 6-8 of the night-time sleep hours might be consecutive. From 6 - 12 months, a baby should sleep around 3 hours during the day and 11 (in total, not consecutive) at night time.
To encourage good sleeping habits from the beginning, wait just a couple moments after babies (older than 3 months) cry to respond. The reason for this is that the baby may not always need you. The crying may be occurring in the baby's sleep. If after a couple moments the baby is still crying, then check the basic needs, such as diaper changing, feeding, burping, or replacing the pacifier.
Try not to turn on lights or play with babies too much when checking on them at night. Too much stimulation can cause babies to think that bedtime is still playtime. You should instead be teaching the baby that night time is bedtime, so it’s clear that time slot is for sleep. This will help your baby sleep better. If your baby is crying more than a few moments, be sure not to ignore him or her. This is a sign that something is needed.
Sleep And Babies 6 Months and Older
If the baby is over 6 months, there should be no feedings in the middle of night. Simply comfort the baby for a couple minutes at the crib-side so the baby can ease him or herself back to sleep. Comforting might be patting or rubbing the baby's back. Remember not to actually pick the baby up (unless they are in distress) or it could set a pattern of the baby wanting to be held and played with by you every night.
This can be difficult to do, but isn't good for a baby's sleep habits. A baby needs to be able to sleep soundly. Change the diaper or replace the pacifier if necessary. Also, of course, keep an eye on your baby for safety purposes. Never let a baby cry longer than a few moments, as crying is an indication something is wrong, even if you can’t figure it out. Remember that this is a baby’s only way to communicate.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Ages 1 - 5 Need?
By this age, you should have a bedtime routine established for your child, such as taking a bath, brushing teeth, and then reading a story. If the routine, whatever it is, is followed every night, bedtime should run fairly smoothly. The exact routine is not important, as that will vary from family to family and maybe even child to child. What matters is that you have some routine and that it is followed at a certain time each night.
Kids ages 1 - 3 sleep around 10 -14 hours. Some of those hours may be during the day for certain kids, while others may sleep all of them at night and skip a nap. Not all kids need a nap during the day, so if your child does not seem to easily fall into a nap routine, consider taking away nap time altogether and possibly opting for an earlier bedtime. Neither way is the best way for every single kid. All kids are different.
From ages 4 - 5, 10 -12 hours of sleep is average. Like the younger set, what time those hours are received is not as important as the fact they get them. For instance, one of my kids at age 4 would take 3 hour long naps, while another, when 5, didn’t nap at all. Not all kids are the same in this regard.
As long as a routine is established, it matters not whether kids have a daily nap for some of those hours or the hours are all taken at night. As long as kids are getting a normal average of sleep hours, there should be no concern. However, if kids ages 1 - 5 are awaking several times at night, the pediatrician should be consulted.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Ages 6 - 10 Need?
Elementary-aged kids need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep. An exact number of hours can be established by paying attention to your child. Irritability or hyperactive behavior may indicate the need for more sleep. Not enough sleep can actually worsen conditions such as ADD or ADHD. For this age, most of those hours would occur at night.
Don't forget that even kids beyond the toddler stage will need some quality time with parents before bedtime. Even though children can read on their own at this stage, they might still like a bedtime story. Some may prefer to read to you. Others may prefer to play a game of some sort with you before bedtime. All of my children liked to play games before bed at this age, but two always preferred to read to themselves, rather than be read to.
The activity itself matters not as much as the quality time and the routine. It's also a great idea to have little talks with kids before bedtime. This can be a good time for private one-on-one discussions about any worries on the child's mind or just wishes the child has, or anything else he or she wants to say. This can relieve tension, which is a great mood relaxer for bedtime. If your child has problems falling or staying asleep, be sure to contact the pediatrician.
How Much Sleep Do Older Kids or Teens Need?
Most teens need about 8 or 9 hours of sleep. The problem with that is that they may not get it. Some may be up doing homework late at night. Others might be talking on the phone, emailing friends from the computer, or texting friends from their cell phone. Also, during adolescence, the body goes through physical and hormonal changes that may cause lack of sleep. If your teen seems restless or unable to sleep, it is best to see a doctor to determine if there are any sleep issues that can be resolved.
To ensure that they get their sleep, you may have to establish rules about appropriate times for homework, computers, and phones. Sometimes you'll have to do this more than once. Since teens are almost adults, they may feel as though they can do what they want. However, until they are 18, you are still responsible for their well-being. Be sure they get adequate sleep. It is essential to their grades in school, as well as their overall well-being.
Figuring Out Individual Sleep Needs
Each child's sleep requirements will depend on more than one factor. For one thing, not all of them will have exactly the same requirements because each person is different. However, there are ranges or average amounts of time that each child will likely fall between, depending on their age and other variances. Sleep patterns for children should also be discussed with the child's pediatrician.
If your child is having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting too much sleep, try some of our other info on sleep and contact your child's pediatrician.
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