The holiday season can leave children with low energy from all the excitement. A great way to help them recover is to promote healthy sleep habits. Children need good sleep to continue to grow and develop most successfully. They can start the new year refreshed and ready to take on the challenges that 2023 throws their way!
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has guidelines for how much sleep children should get. The guidelines are updated with the latest available science and are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The current guidelines are:
- Infants (4 months to 12 months): 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- School-Aged (6 to 12 years): 9 to 12 hours
- Teens (13 to 18 years): 8 to 10 hours
If your child is not getting enough sleep, it can affect their ability to grow and learn. We have put together a list of healthy sleep habits to increase the amount of sleep your child gets each night.
Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Child
1. Keep to a Nightly Routine
One of kids’ most important healthy sleep habits is maintaining a nightly routine. Set a bedtime using the above sleep guidelines, and be consistent with it. Their routine should include bathing, brushing their teeth, quiet time (that may include a story), and getting into their own bed.
2. Put Them to Bed While They’re Awake
As part of your child’s nightly routine and sleep habits, he or she should be awake when they get in bed. Letting them fall asleep in front of the TV or your own bed is a difficult habit to break. We all have night awakenings due to the nature of our sleep cycle, and if the child doesn’t know how to fall back asleep on their own, the night awakenings become everyone’s problem!
3. Cut Off Their Screen Time
Research has shown that watching screens like TVs, phones, tablets, and computers can disrupt sleep even after they’ve put the device down. Putting a TV in your child’s room is highly discouraged, and you should have a curfew for older kids with their own phones and computers. All screen use should be stopped at least an hour before bedtime.
4. Schedule Quiet Time Before Bed
Since you’re already turning off devices an hour before bed, you can set aside that time each night for a calm-down period. This can create a smooth transition to bedtime. Screens are off-limits, but your child can read or listen to soft music on a low volume. Those with packed schedules may want to combine quiet time with bath time and other bedtime preparations.
5. Be Mindful About Drinks
Younger kids who are no longer in diapers may need sleep habits to limit how much they drink, starting a couple of hours before bedtime. This will limit nighttime bathroom trips and decrease the chances of bedwetting. Babies should never be put to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Water is fine for them to have, but anything else in the bottle can lead to baby bottle tooth decay.
6. Avoid Caffeine Later in the Day
It’s a good idea to limit caffeine for young children in general, but it is even more important later in the day because it can interrupt the sleep schedule. Watch out for products that contain caffeine after lunchtime.
7. No Going to Bed Hungry (Or Too Full)
Being hungry can interfere with sleep, but so can being too full. Offer kids light snacks like cereal or fruit before bed. Avoid heavy meals at least an hour before bedtime. Some children will use hunger or thirst as a stalling tactic to delay bedtime. To avoid this, make it part of your routine to ask your child if he or she is hungry before you start their bedtime routine.
Make an Appointment
Are your children struggling to find restful sleep? Our team at Carithers Pediatric Group is here to provide comprehensive care and sleep habits for your children at all stages of life. We can provide resources and answers to any questions you may have. Contact us and make an appointment to get started on developing great sleep habits.