“How many hours of sleep should my baby get?”
It’s a question you will ask as a new parent but the questions around sleep and how many hours of sleep is healthy for your child don’t stop once they reach toddlerhood.
That’s because sleep changes more than you might think as your child grows. You take them to the park in the hopes that running around will knock them out just in time for your favourite show, but this rarely happens. On the other hand, naptime at preschool may be interfering with their nighttime routine. Nonetheless, sleep is critical to their development, so knowing how and how much they should get is equally important. Getting your child to accept that it’s bedtime can be a huge challenge, and it’s not for the faint of heart. They may require a lengthy routine to finally fall asleep, ranging from nonstop storytime to tickle fights. Even the most patient parents can become frustrated.
How much sleep do you need?
As you’ve definitely know by now, sleep is extremely crucial to ensure a happy and healthy child. Not only does it aid their development but it also balances their mood. We all know how negative we feel when we wake up on just four hours of good sleep. From there, their eating, attitude and behaviour, and potential to focus can become strained. In order to have a well-functioning and happy little one, getting around 11-13 hours a night is necessary (what a life!) So, having good sleep habits is crucial to getting this much time.
They’re not tiny adults
We may all love routines, but there will always be occasions or events when we have to be flexible, and that’s totally ok! Your child will become more adaptable to stretching their routine as they grow older, but planning ahead of time can be really helpful. If you know they will be out past their regular bedtime, encourage them to take a nap during the day or plan a quiet day the next day for them to rest.
Be flexible on naps and sleep
Most children tend to drop their nap around 2.5-3 years, however, some may still want or need one. Be flexible and focus on what your child needs, it might mean they nap only on certain days, eg. if they had a big day or night beforehand and they are struggling they will probably need a nap (or an earlier bedtime). If they do nap, try and ensure it’s short and around midday if possible, as having it too late may affect bedtime.
Be consistent with bedtime
Children thrive on routine, so set their bedtime for around 7 pm (sometime between 6-8 pm is ideal) and try to avoid changing the bedtime as much as possible.
Keep screens out of the bedroom
Screen-time can make bedtime an absolute nightmare. So, make sure they know that screens never go into the bedroom and stop using them 60 minutes before sleep.
Assess what their sleep problems might be
If they’re waking frequently during the night or can’t sleep until very late, there could be completely different reasons behind them. Figure out what could be the problem and look into what might be causing it. It could be napping during the day for too long, screen time or other sleep anxieties.