by Jody B. Miller MA, CCC-SLP Integrated Pediatric Interventions at JCFS Chicago
Every living creature needs to sleep. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Changing the clocks back or forward can disrupt a child's sleep cycle, which can affect the entire family.
"They may be harder to put down at bedtime, or awake when they're not supposed to be. When toddlers or older kids get off-schedule or their routines change, they may exhibit 'testing' behaviors," says Angelique Millette, a family sleep consultant in San Francisco. (as written in The Bump)
It is important for children of all ages to have consistent bedtimes and relaxing sleep routines.
For better sleep, try these suggestions from our therapists-
- Give your child a warm bath
- Engage in quiet activities such as reading or listening to a story
- Keep a visual schedule of your child's bedtime routine
- Show pictures of each activity (i.e. eat dinner, take bath, brush teeth, read story, go to bed)
- For older children, write out a checklist
- Make your child's environment conducive to sleep
- Darken the room (dim light for children scared of dark), keep cool temperatures, choose comfortable pajamas, snuggle with a favorite "lovey"
If your child is waking up in the middle of the night and there is no obvious distress, try to avoid rushing in to him. If you check on your child, try not to talk loudly or encourage play time. Quietly tell him "it's time for sleeping" or don't speak at all. Habits are quickly formed when children receive attention from parents or caregivers. You don't want them to start waking up for the purpose of getting mommy or daddy's attention!
Recommended Hours of Sleep for Children
(According to the National Sleep Foundation, recommended hours of sleep vary by age)
- Need between 10.5-18 hours of sleep per day, but are on an irregular schedule
- Babies are usually awake for periods of 1-3 hours at a time
- Important to try to identify signs of sleepiness and put baby into crib when drowsy and not sleeping
4-11 Months Old
- Need 9-12 hours at night
- Take naps ranging from 30 minutes- 2 hours anywhere from 1-4 times per day
- Parents should encourage self-soothing and falling asleep independently
1-2 Years Old
- Need 11-14 hours of sleep in 24 hour period
- Approximately 18 months of age- usually begin taking 1 nap per day anywhere from 1-3 hours
- Don't nap too close to bedtime or falling asleep will be delayed
3-5 Years Old
- Need 11-13 hours of sleep per night
- By age 5, most children do not nap anymore
6-13 Years Old
- Need 9-11 hours per night
- Avoid screen time too close to bedtime, it tends to be associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep and sleeping fewer hours