One of the most essential elements in ensuring your child has a productive future is the amount of sleep they are having now. Lack of sleep during these childhood developmental years can significantly limit productivity, as well as mental and psychological well being.
To bring the importance of sleep full circle, children deficient in sleep were more than 200% more likely to develop ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), be irritable, cranky and lethargic during the day, and have a hard time recollecting small bits of information learnt in school.
The good news, however, is that sleep patterns can be cultivated easily, and with gentle guidance from parents, sleep becomes a non issue. Of course, the first place you need to start is by actually knowing the amount of sleep your child should be getting. Soon after birth, and throughout infancy, the amount of time spent sleeping is significantly more than hours awake, and for good reason; the vast degree of changes occurring in a child’s brain can only be efficiently carried out during sleep. With these things said, let’s move on to what your child should be getting about now; periods of sleep.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
Although these numbers are by no means exact, they serve as a good indicator for the majority of kids. However, if you notice that your child is functioning well, developmentally and physically; small deviations from “ideal sleep” should not be altered.
Sleep For Newborns
Newborn babies sleep about 16-20 hours on average, daily. This may be spread into small 2-3 hours periods, following which your baby will most likely awaken for a feed. Rarely, babies may sleep for periods of 8-10 hours here; however care should be taken to ensure your baby is getting enough feed to allow growth. If it does not look so, it is advised to wake the child after every 2-3 hours and give a feed.
3-6 Months Old
Between the ages of 3-6 months, it is normal for a baby to sleep 13-15 hours daily. You will quickly notice that the length and frequency of daytime naps have reduced drastically, while your child will sleep through significant portions of the night. While the child will sleep through most of the night, waking once or twice is acceptable for feeding or diaper changes. At this point, it is a good idea not to be hasty to comfort the child, as often they will go back to sleep.
If you must change diapers or feed, do it quietly and quickly, to give your child the impression that night time is for sleeping and not to play.
6-12 Months Old
Sleeping between 12-14 hours is a good standard at this point. By now, a waking in the middle of the night should be indicative of the need, as their cries may change enough to be noticeable. Also, babies are now able to comfort their selves to sleep, so it is not advised to run to your baby as soon as you hear their whims. This practice helps your child to not become overly reliant on your presence for comfort, as associations are being made at this point. A gentle pat and soft words are good reassurance to your baby.
Between the ages of 1-3 you can expect your toddler to sleep about 10-12 hours daily. At this point, a bedtime routine is advised to be enforced, to signal to your child the time for sleep is approaching. It is important to perform these ritualistically, to show your child sleep is must-have to end the day.
During these ages, need for sleep will decrease significantly, ranging from 10- 11 hours nightly. It is important to be mindful of school times in order to set a realistic bedtime.
During these years, rapid changes are occurring to your child, physically and mentally. While it is a good idea for your child to still get about 8- 10 hours during this period, the amount attained will vary wildly.
If you are concerned that your child is not getting enough sleep, first consider the obvious. If the child seems rested and does not demonstrate any cognitive limitations, then it would be ok to let it slide.
However, if you notice that your child has developed strange mental or psychological problems thought to be resulting from poor sleep, consult your physician.
Category: Sleep Disorders