Is Your Child Sleeping Enough? Know For Sure

on Friday, 26 August 2011. Posted in Parenting, Kid's Health Written By: superadmin

Sufficient sleep is important; is your little one getting enough?

Is Your Child Sleeping Enough? Know For Sure

Sufficient sleep is vital for the physical and psychological development of all children. It is therefore, only natural to find most mothers concerned over their child’s sleep patterns.

Sufficient sleep is vital for the physical and psychological development of all children. It is therefore, only natural to find most mothers concerned over their child’s sleep patterns.

Should a new born be sleeping continuously for hours or should an infant be woken up for feeds? Is your toddler too excited to sleep? Is your teen oversleeping or is she sleep deprived? Are only few of the many sleep related questions we have tried bringing an answer to.

Right from infancy to a child’s teens, sleep patterns keep changing and are perpetual cause of worry for mothers. While lack of sleep shows obvious symptoms in adults like tiredness, lethargy and lack of energy; kids can display a range of behaviors from hyper activity, to being cranky, demanding and even aggressive.

Based on various researches in the field, doctors and pediatricians today are able to guide parents on desirable sleep hours for a child through the various developmental milestones. It is however, important to understand that each child is unique and has distinct needs for sleep. Therefore, one can easily leave some scope for deviations based on individual body metabolism of the child.

Given below is a compilation of sleep patterns observed in kids of various age groups. We have also tried to put together some tips parents might find helpful in cozying up their little ones for bed.

Infants (0-6 months):

A new born baby has absolutely no sleep pattern. While one mom might find her baby sleeping blissfully for 14-18 hours at a stretch; struggling with getting her to feed on time; there might be a mommy barely managing a wink for herself, thanks to her bundle of joy deciding to wake up every two hours. Both cases however, are perfectly normal.

Patterns begin to emerge only after the first couple of weeks. That’s when a four to five hour sleep pattern usually emerges, interrupted by feeding and changing times.

At two and a half months old, night time feeds usually get spaced out as the baby begins to enjoy nice long periods of sleep. This might also lead to frequent day time feeds and an average of eight to nine hours sleep at night, with one or two breaks.

By four months a baby establishes a sleep pattern. With a total of at least 13 -14 hours of sleep, a baby below six months sleeps uninterrupted at night for at least five hours and in the daytime for at least three hours.

Tips for mommies:

  • At this stage it is important to be vigilant in case of disturbed sleep. Many things bother a baby’s sleep. Some of these are - hunger, colic pains, wetness, cold or sickness.
  • Make sure the baby’s tummy is full; neither should she be overfed nor, underfed to ensure a good sleep.
  • Uninterrupted sleep ensures better growth and weight gain in new borns.
  • Make the night time nappy changing and feeding times as quiet and brief as possible.
  • If you want, then this is the perfect time to establish bedtime routine with your child. Singing a soft lullaby and a little stroking on the back can be some things the baby can associate with sleep time each day.

Babies (6 to 12 months)

It is normal for a six to 12 month old baby to take just one or two short three hourly naps during the day and then have an extended eight to 11 hour sleep at night. Also, this the stage when babies learn to put themselves back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.

Tips for mommies:

  • Babies need not be fed or picked up every time they wake up and cry at night.
  • It is best to pick up and comfort only if the baby is sick.
  • The more you talk, sing or attend to your baby during mid night awakenings the more you keep her from learning to go back to sleep on her own.
  • It will not only encourage her to wake up more frequently, but will also hamper her sleep pattern.

Toddlers (1-3 year old)

A toddler usually sleeps for 10-12 hours every day. It is the age when the need for parental security is still there; however, curiosity too begins to show. A two year old would not like to blink and miss even a single thing, thus, postponing or preventing sleep. It is also the age when the excitement of new discoveries and new found independence take their toll on diet as well as sleep. A tired toddler finds it even harder to sleep.

Tips for mommies:

  • Establish nap times and sleep times and be firm on them.
  • Bed time routines help. Warm water bath and brushing; soothing massage, back rub or soft story telling might interest your toddler. Make sure the routine is brief and the same each day or else you might end up exciting the little mind instead of calming it.
  • Daytime naps are vital for a healthy sleep pattern in toddlers. Staying awake during daytime does not ensure that the little one will sleep better or sooner at night. Even if your child does not want to sleep make sure there is a ‘relaxing time’ fixed.
  • Nap times and sleep times should never be forced. Try to ease your little ones into them by giving them time to choose the night wear and the teddy for bed.
  • Remember, this is the age when teething, bedwetting and nightmares might disturb your little one’s sleep.
  • Calm, patience and comfort are the keywords.

Pre-schoolers (3-5 years):

A pre-schooler easily sleeps for 10-12 hours every night. The reason is simple; as school starts daytime naps are replaced by ‘rest time’. The school routine tires the child and so in order to compensate for the noon time naps, night time sleep gets extended.

 Tips for mommies:

  • Routine will be the key word for moms of pre-schoolers.
  • Make sure your kid is well fed when she reaches home after school. Do not rely on the tiffin alone.
  • Having sufficient rest after lunch is vital after the day at school. Teach her to lie down calmly and rest for at least half an hour.
  • There are lots of new experiences your little one is going through during this stage. It is important you get to talk to your child before he or she goes to bed. Calm all anxieties and address disturbing issues at school.
  • Pre-pone the bedtime to compensate for lost hours of sleep in the afternoon, so that your child gets ample rest for the next day.

 School-goers and preteens (6-12 years):

This is the age when there are lots of activities going on in your child’s life. There is school, homework, sports, extracurricular activities and television. While school going kids need at least 10-12 hours of sleep, they might not actually get them. This is the stage when kids want to do everything and be everywhere, with lots going on in their minds.

Tips for mommies:

  • Be firm on the bedtime routine, as nap or rest times will be forgotten by now, due to extended school hours and tight schedules after school.
  • Keep relaxed bed times for week-ends and holidays.
  • A little chat before bed time might help and so will a story especially for the six to nine year olds.
  • You will have to monitor television programs before bedtime in order to make sure your child sleeps with a calm mind. Saying a prayer or a few minutes of meditation before going to bed can be some valuable tips you can pass on.
  • Kids tend to get irritable and moody due to lack of sleep in this age. Consistency in sleep pattern and routine is the keyword.

Teenagers (13-19 years):

Teenagers should ideally be sleeping 8-9 hours every night. They however, have loads to deal with in terms of busy school and college schedules, peer pressure, activities, physical and psychological changes; that they largely suffer from lack of sleep.

While sticking to sleep patterns is most important for teens, they are the group of kids having most problems actually doing so. Weekdays find them staying up late finishing assignments and meeting deadlines and weekends find them over sleeping to make up for lost hours.

This topsy- turvy sleep routine takes a toll on their health and alertness.

Tips for mommies:

  • While being firm is required, patience and understanding will be the better keywords for this stage.
  • Refraining from over indulgence is advisable. Still an occasional head massage with a little pillow talk as a friend might help calm your teen.
  • It is smart to be alert and sensitive to changes in your teen. A sleep deprived teen will show signs of inconsistency in performance, decrease in attentiveness and short-term memory; in addition to delays in response time.
  • Teens need facts as they relate to them better. So read out some sleep related facts to them from the text box above and you might find them hitting the bed in time.

‘Snooze and you lose’ does not always hold true after all!


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