How to Help Your Kids Keep a Healthy Sleeping Routine
Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for a kid’s immune system, physical growth, mental development and overall well-being. In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the National Sleep Foundation have recommended the following sleeping hours per pediatric age group:
|Age Group||Recommended Amount of Sleep Daily|
|Newborns (0-3 months)||14 to 17 hours (naps included)|
|Infants (4 to 12 months old)||12 to 16 hours (naps included)|
|Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)||11 to 14 hours (naps included)|
|Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)||10 to 13 hours (naps included)|
|Grade-schoolers (6 to 12 years old)||9 to 12 hours|
|Teens (12 to 18 years old)||8 to 10 hours|
Teach Them Young: Children’s Sleeping Habits 101
The reality is, convincing kids to sleep at the right hour can be very challenging, considering the gadgets, toys and all the other activities at hand. If you’ve struggled with this as well, one of the most effective solutions is to help your kids establish a healthy sleeping routine.
Below are some effective tips, separated by age group, on how you can encourage and help your children form and stick to healthy sleeping patterns. Besides, it’s always better to train them younger than later. Agree?
For Newborns and Infants
Infants have different biological clocks. They stay awake for several hours, then sleep for a few hours, regardless of the time of the day. This is perfectly normal, and you should allow them to stick to their usual drowsiness patterns as long as they’re getting the right amount of sleep.
However, to avoid disrupting your own sleeping patterns, you can put your child in sunny or lighter rooms during day time, and let him/her children sleep in a darker room at night. One of the best ways to stay within the 12 to 16-hour bedtime for this age group is to limit distractions and playing hours with visitors.
For Toddlers and Preschoolers
Toddlers and preschoolers are usually active and playful. They can also be bedtime-resistant, neither wanting to be separated from their parents and/or siblings nor miss out on the activities going on at home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you set up a quieter environment at least an hour before bedtime (and naptimes) to cool things down, and give your child an idea that it’s nearly time to sleep. You can use this time to give your child a bath, get into pajamas, read him/her a story and/or play slow music. Make sure to be consistent at the times you do these things to establish their sleeping routine.
Some other strategies to convince them to sleep and keep them in bed include turning off the lights and letting your child bring a favorite thing to bed, whether it’s a stuffed toy, a pillow or a special blanket.
After a full day of school activities and playing, grade-schoolers tend to fall asleep as soon as they get home. This isn’t very ideal as it can keep them awake later at night and disorient their sleeping hours. To fix this, try to keep your child awake by spending quality time, asking stories about school or allowing him/her to watch TV or use gadgets until one hour before bedtime.
Formulating a grade-schooler’s sleeping routine involves three to four things happening at the same order every night before they go to bed. You can experiment around finishing their homework, brushing their teeth, taking a bath/shower, reading a story, playing a specific song and saying good night to family members. See what works for your child best, and journey with him/her until the child can stick to the routine on his/her own.
Sleep deprivation is common in teens as they try to work their time around school, their hobbies, social life and family life. The sleeping patterns of this age group can also be all over the place because of school requirements and other tasks.
Some ways you can help your teens sleep for 8 to 10 hours per day is to teach them how to be more productive and how to prioritize their tasks. If your child is dealing with stress, you can suggest a hot soak before bed, meditation or a soothing night scent. Discouraging high-carb snacks and caffeine a couple of hours before bed can be of help as well.
These are just some of the common strategies you can try in helping your kids have enough sleep and develop a healthy sleeping routine.
If, for unknown reasons, your kid has been suffering from sleep deprivation, constant nightmares and/or other sleeping problems, then exploring the underlying causes with a physician would be your best solution.
American Association of Sleep Technologists