How much sleep does my 4-year-old need?
As your little one is growing up, sleep changes more than you might think. You take them to the park hoping that running wild will make them pass out just in time for your favourite show, but it often goes the other way. On the other end, naptime at preschool could be affecting their night-time routine. Nonetheless, sleep is super important to their development, so knowing how and how much they should be getting is key!Getting your little one to accept that it’s bedtime can be a very big challenge, not for the faint of heart. From the non-stop storytime to tickle fights, they may require a pretty long routine to finally fall asleep. Even the most patient parents can hit their wit’s end.
How important is sleep?
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
It’s no secret we love a routine but there will always be occasions or events when this needs to be flexible, and that’s ok. As your child gets older they will become more adaptable to stretching their routine, but where possible it can be helpful to plan ahead. If you know they are going to be out well past their regular bedtime, maybe encourage a nap during the day or make sure you have a quiet day the next day for them to have some extra downtime 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.