Now that school has started, your child’s day is brimming with activities. Whether your child is involved with after-school sports, dance classes, or music lessons, staying active and engaged is important to their learning, growth and happiness.
With all the extra stimulation of the school year, hopefully your kids are still getting free time to play, and also plenty of sleep each night. In fact, sleep is so important that, without enough of it, your child’s performance at school can begin to slip. Even her health and happiness can start to suffer.
To help you make sure your child gets a full night’s rest, here are the recommended amounts of sleep according to age. Also included are some tips for getting them to bed on time and helping them sleep throughout the night.
How to Get a Baby to Sleep
When your baby is a newborn, she will be asleep most of the time (10 to 18 hours a day). It usually takes a few months before her sleep schedule becomes regular (resulting in many sleepless nights for you). These sleepless nights will most likely have you asking how to get a baby to sleep.
You can help your baby adapt to sleeping through the night by playing and interacting with them throughout the day, then keep the nights calm and relaxing. Developing a regular sleep routine early on can help you get your baby to sleep and help you avoid sleep problems later.
Bedtime routines for infants do not need to be elaborate; the idea is to establish consistent cues that let your baby know it’s time to sleep. You might do this with bathing, gently putting on pajamas or rocking your baby while you sing, or read a short story. It’s also helpful to minimize stimulants such as loud noise, excessive brightness and toys.
Toddler Sleep Training
One to three year olds need 12 to 14 hours of sleep, with naptimes supplementing what they don’t get at night. That’s a lot easier said than done so that’s where toddler sleep training comes in. Once your child reaches preschool age, she’ll need 11 to 13 hours of sleep, with fewer naps. Most kids will have stopped taking naps altogether by the age of four or five. To hit these goal amounts of sleep it can take a fair amount of sleep training for your toddler.
Again, developing a regular routine is the best way to train your toddler to get to bed on time each night. Toddlers will want to express independence, and they may also experience separation anxiety. A routine (including brushing teeth, getting dressed in pajamas, and a bedtime story) can help your child’s body prepare itself for sleep. By the time lights go out, she’ll be ready to nod off.
How to Get Elementary Aged Kids to Sleep
Your 5 to 12 year old children need at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. All those extracurricular activities have a way of intruding on sleep time, so it’s important to make sleep a priority for your children.
Media is another challenge—children this age usually want to watch TV, play video games, etc., and these activities can easily create enough stimulation to keep them up well past their bedtime. It’s best to keep all electronic devices out of their room, especially when it’s time to fall asleep.
How Much Sleep do Teenagers Need?
For most parents the teenage years are uncharted territory. With all the new issues that arise with teenagers it’s hard to remember that they are kids too. If you’re still wondering How to Get Your Kids to sleep and you’re kids are now teenagers, you’re not alone. Most parents find themselves wondering, “How much sleep do teenagers needs?” The answer to that question is that most teens need at least 9 hours of sleep each night, but as your children get older it can be difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m.
Talk with your teenaged children about the importance of sleep. There are many great resources that you can share together, such as sleepfoundation.org. This is also a time when sleep disorders can pop up, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy—all of which are treatable, so seek help from your family doctor if your teenager is having trouble sleeping.
Don’t forget to make sleep a priority in your life, too! After all, sometimes the best way to encourage good sleep habits for your children is to lead by example.