- How much sleep does a baby need?
- How much sleep does a 2-year-old need?
- How much sleep does a 4-year-old need?
- How much sleep does a primary school-aged child need?
- How much sleep does a teenager need?
- How to prepare your child for restful sleep
- How to prepare for restful sleep during the day
As a parent, your number one goal is to see your child happy and healthy. A huge part of that equation is ensuring they get enough sleep every night. Adequate rest is essential for your child’s physical and mental health, their academic performance, and of course, ensuring that they aren’t a moody menace to be around!
It can be challenging, though, to determine just how many hours of shut-eye your little one needs each night. As children get older, too, their schedules start to become busier, and getting them into bed at the proper time is a battle most parents are all too familiar with.
How can you determine how many hours of sleep do children need, and how can you ensure your own child gets the hours of nightly rest necessary? We’re here to break down the recommended sleep by age for every stage of your child’s development.
How much sleep does a baby need?
Babies don’t do much, but one thing they do is sleep! 😴 Their tiny bodies are rapidly growing and developing and need sleep to grow into healthy children. During sleep, a baby’s brain develops too, and rest is needed for your child to hit all their major milestones.
The specific amount of sleep a baby needs depends on their age. For newborns, ages 0-3 months, 14-17 hours of shuteye a day is normal. However, newborns often have very irregular sleep patterns, so don’t be alarmed if your newborn is sleeping differently than their older siblings. As babies get a bit older (ages 4 to 11 months), they begin to develop more regular sleep patterns, and 12-16 hours a day is the standard.
If you are worried about the quality of your baby’s sleep or concerned their sleep schedule is affecting your own, reach out to your child’s pediatrician. Coping with a baby’s sleep patterns can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a new parent, but you’re not alone in figuring it out! 👶
How much sleep does a 2-year-old need?
Once your child reaches early toddlerhood, or roughly one to 2-years-old, their sleep pattern will become more aligned with your own. Children this age need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep, including naps. A one-year-old’s sleep schedule may include two naps a day, but your child will start to only need one as they get closer to 2 years old.
However, there’s a reason that many call this age the “terrible two’s.” By now, your child has their own personality and is learning how to assert their own boundaries and limits. This may also mean a lot of tantrums and chaos at bedtime!
Now that your child is much more aware of their surroundings, creating a solid sleep routine is incredibly important. So far in their lives, they’ve been accustomed to mum or dad staying there as they fall asleep, so being alone and awake can be difficult for a toddler. Start by tucking your child into bed when they are sleepy, but still awake. This will help them learn how to fall asleep on their own. Additionally, ensure that your child’s daytime naps aren’t too long so that they will still be sleepy at bedtime. 🛏️
How much sleep does a 4-year-old need?
When your child is in preschool, they suddenly have to become acclimated to a whole new schedule, having to adhere to the timetable set by their school. Still, now that they are in school, sleep is even more important than ever. Experts recommend 10-13 hours of sleep per day for 3 to 5-year-olds.
However, starting school can cause some sleep challenges, as any previous flexibility around wake-up time is gone. Additionally, any nap times will now be scheduled into the day, meaning your child may not be able to nap at the times they are usually used to. To help alleviate this issue, start preparing them for this new schedule before that special first day of school. If possible, find out from your kid’s future teachers what times their naps will be, and start enforcing that same time for naps at home.
Ensure your child starts waking up at the same time they will need to for school, too, and begin to implement a morning routine. Get dressed and ready for the day as you would on a school morning, including leaving the house. You can just take your child to the playground or get a sweet treat at the cafe instead! 🍪
Likewise, a bedtime routine is more important than ever. Your child may have some anxieties about starting school, so be patient with them, as nightmares may be more prevalent. Understand, though, that they’ll soon become more accustomed to this new stage of life, and likely very excited for it, too!
How much sleep does a primary school-aged child need?
Once children have been in school a few years, they’re used to the rhythms of the school and workweek. As they get older, they may even start to look forward to sleeping in on weekends!
If you’re wondering how much sleep a 6-year-old needs and how much sleep an 8-year-old needs, the answers aren’t that different! From ages 6-12, children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night. It can become more difficult to ensure they get this sleep though, as by this age children are usually involved in many extracurriculars and start to have a social life of their own.
Be as consistent as you can with bedtimes, even when your child is putting up a fight. If you don’t know exactly what time should a 9-year-old go to bed, the answer is whatever hour will ensure they get those 9 to 12 hours. If your child insists that they really are not tired, let them know that they still need to go to bed. They can read in bed until they are sleepy, or play with their stuffed animals. If your children share a room, get them each a small reading lamp, so they don’t wake their siblings up.
By primary school, children can start to understand the consequences of their actions better, and they understand that if they don’t get enough sleep, they’ll be too tired to do the things they enjoy the next day!
How much sleep does a teenager need?
Teens often have remarkably busy schedules. Between school, homework, extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and socialising, it’s difficult for them to get the adequate rest they need! Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, but most don’t get nearly that much. Studies have found that 90% of British teens don’t get adequate rest every night.
Lack of sleep can influence everything from academic performance to family relationships. Very crucially though, teens are who sleep-deprived are at significantly higher risk of developing mental health issues including anxiety and depression.
As a parent, this can be particularly stressful. Your child is too old for an enforced bedtime, but you still feel a responsibility to make sure they get enough sleep. One way to do so is to help your child learn proper time management skills. This way, they won’t find themselves up until 2 A.M. completing an essay they had a month to write! It’s also important to ensure your child doesn’t over-exert themselves. You want your teen to be set up for success at university and beyond, but a too-packed and stressful schedule will impede your child’s rest time, hurting them more in the long run.
Additionally, if you feel your child’s homework load is unreasonable and impacts their sleep, don’t be afraid to speak with their teachers or school counsellors to share your concerns. It’s likely you aren’t the only parent worried about how much your teen has to do in the evenings, and the school staff is there to help!
How to prepare your child for restful sleep
Whether you have an 18-month-old or 18-year-old at home, there are things you can do to ensure your child has a restful night’s sleep.
Make the room comfortable
A dark, cool room is ideal for sleeping, as you’ve likely found yourself! If you live on a busy street, install blackout curtains in your child’s bedroom to eliminate light from street lamps or passing cars. If your child is scared of the dark, a nightlight is perfectly fine but just make sure that it isn’t too bright. 💡
Make sure your child’s bed is comfortable too. Children, especially those with sensory issues, can be quite sensitive to different fabrics. Stick to all-natural fabrics, like cotton and linen, which are more breathable than synthetics like polyester. This will help your child from getting overheated.
Nighttime noise can often be very disruptive and make it difficult for children to sleep. A white noise machine will cover outside noise and keep you from being too worried you’ll wake your child during your precious child-free hours! If you don’t have a white noise machine, a fan can also provide the same kind of ambient noise to keep your child sleeping well.
Ensure your child feels safe and secure
Young children often have fears about going to sleep, and being frightened of the dark and the silence. Having a special stuffed animal or blanket to sleep with can help make your child feel more secure. 🧸 If your child is really struggling to sleep, you can play them an audiobook to listen to as they doze off, or a relaxing classical music playlist.
Your young child may want you to stay with them until they fall asleep. Try to encourage your child to self-settle instead, so as to not create a pattern. However, if you want to stay with your child until they fall asleep, that’s also perfectly fine! Those special moments can remind you of how precious your child really is, and can be very important for bonding.
Limit screen time
Perhaps your child ends the day watching their favourite Netflix shows. This can be a great treat. However, ensure that all tablets and TVs are off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Screens are harmful to sleep, as you likely know yourself, and children’s young brains are even more susceptible to the stimuli from television.
Limiting screen time, however, is much more difficult for older children. Try as best you can to make bedrooms a screen-free zone. Encourage everyone in the family to leave their laptops and mobile phones in the kitchen or living room so they don’t disrupt sleep. Follow this rule yourself, too, and set a good example for your child!
Your teen may object to this rule. Try to enforce as best you can, but also recognise that they have their own lives and have people they want to talk to at night. (This is especially the case for teens in romantic relationships, as you may remember yourself!) You already know as a parent you need to pick and choose your battles. Instead of confiscating your teen’s phone every night, encourage them to use the screen-time limiting functions on their phone. 📱
If you’re really concerned your child’s scrolling and texting is getting in the way of their sleep, have an open conversation with them about it, and talk about what lifestyle changes you can make to ensure they get the adequate rest they need.
How to prepare for good sleep during the day
Getting your child set up for a restful night’s sleep doesn’t just start when the sun goes down. There are habits you can implement during the day to help your children sleep properly.
Physical exercise during the day is important to help your child get enough sleep. They need the activity to tire out both their brains and bodies enough so they feel prepared for rest. As you likely already know as a parent, there are few things better than a child so exhausted from a day of fun that they want to go to bed early! Enhanced sleep quality is one of the many benefits of participating in sports.
However, your child doesn’t need to sign up to the local football team to get the movement they need. A walk outside in the fresh air can really help prepare the body for rest. If it’s too rainy and cold to play outside, try a guided family yoga class at home, or invest in some fitness video games you can do as a family. However, try to avoid too much physical activity close to bedtime, as it will rile up your child and make it difficult for them to go to sleep.
Don’t eat too close to bedtime
Going to bed with a too-full belly can make falling asleep unpleasant! Try to schedule your family suppers a few hours before your child’s bedtime. If eating so early in the evening isn’t possible for mum and dad, allow your child to eat alone, and instead ensure that family meals happen on weekends. If it’s close to bedtime and your child is complaining of hunger, offer them a glass of milk to help settle their tummy. 🥛 Likewise, don’t allow your child to drink too much liquid close to bedtime. This can disrupt sleep with bedwetting incidents or simply having to get up to go to the toilet.
Limit your child’s caffeine consumption as much as you can. This includes sodas, teas, coffees, and energy drinks. 🥤 It may be more difficult to limit what your teen drinks, but you can help cut down on caffeine consumption by not allowing caffeinated drinks to be had at home after school. Limiting caffeine consumption might be something you want to work on yourself, too! You and your family don’t have to give up your morning coffee, but set a family rule that no one has caffeine in the house after 2 pm. This will help you all sleep much better!
Getting enough sleep is challenging for adults and can be even more so for children. However, it is possible for your child to get enough shuteye. By sticking to a proper bedtime routine and adequately preparing the body for sleep during waking hours, you can ensure that your child gets the rest they need to be happy and healthy.
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