Sleep has long been regarded as an influential factor in childhood development. Most parents would agree that getting a quality night’s sleep is crucial not only for their children but for them too!
A restless night in many households can throw off the entire routine for the following day, leaving both parents and kids grumpy and on edge. Unfortunately, sleep problems are very common in young children.
Adequate sleep is important for your little one’s physical development and cognitive learning.”But what is the right amount of sleep for your child?
Recommended Sleep Amount
According to the Sleep Health Foundation the amount of sleep children require depends on their age:
- 0 - 3 months = 14 - 17 hours
- 4 - 11 months = 12 - 15 hours
- 1 - 2 years = 11 - 14 hours
- 3 - 5 years = 10 - 13 hours
If your little one is struggling to get to sleep some nights or wakes often, there are some strategies your family can implement to try and help.
Limit screens before bed – No screens on bed
In today’s world of smart phones and tablets it may be difficult to cut back on screen time before bed. Although some educational shows may support cognitive development it is also important to monitor any negative impacts screens may be having on sleep patterns.
Whether it be watching TV right before bed or playing games on a handheld device, too much screen time before bed can impact sleep quality.
Create a positive bedtime routine – Bedroom for rest only at night
A bedtime routine may help your child wind down after a busy day. This could last 30-60 minutes and should include activities associated with rest. Bubble baths, quiet reading or gentle music are good examples of ‘wind down activities’.
A big part of this routine should include associating the bedroom with only rest and not play. Game consoles, computers and televisions in the bedroom can be a mental distraction even when not in use. Removing these items may make the bedroom a place associated with rest, rather than play, helping stabilize your child’s melatonin levels and induce a quality, sound sleep.
Identify behavioral issues – Utilize softly-lit night light
A common cause of sleep disturbances in children is behavioral issues such as not sleeping in their own bed, not settling, waking up during the night or struggling to wake in the morning.
A sleep specialist can help identify the causes of this but children generally grow out of these habits. In some cases they may be anxious about bedtime due to fear of the dark or nightmares. To assist with this try installing a night light. This can help children recognize their environment if they wake during the night and feel safe to fall asleep.
What’s more, for parents of newborns , multiple nighttime feedings and check-ins are a reality. The use of a softly-lit night light will keep you from tripping in the nursery, or unnecessarily waking your sleeping baby by having to turn on the overhead light.
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