As parents, we know the importance of making sure our children are given a healthy diet consisting of plenty of vegetables, fruits, and proteins. We know the importance of teaching our children good activity habits and how to be active in order to take care of our bodies. But one very important health aspect that unfortunately some parents are not as aware of is the importance of quality sleep for our little ones. Healthy nighttime and daytime sleep is just as important for our children as eating, playing, and teaching appropriate behavior. As a Certified Sleep Consultant, I get to experience the joy of watching children with poor sleep habits transform into SuperStar Sleepers every day once they are given the proper tools and guidance. I truly believe that any child can be taught to sleep well, and the difference good sleep makes on a child as well as the rest of the family can be life changing!
In order to set children up for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits, starting good routines and habits at a young age is the key. A baby is never too young to start guiding them towards learning internal sleep skills that can then be reinforced as they get older and understand more. If started during the first several months of life, many of the later “sleep regressions” and problems that may arise can be avoided right from the start. Making sure your baby or toddler is getting adequate sleep is critically important for proper mental and physical development. Sleep gives our bodies the chance to restore our energy, increase blood supply to our muscles, release essential hormones for development, and grow! Lack of sleep over prolonged periods can lead to increased illness, depression, and lack of function. We might not see signs of sleep deprivation in our babies or children right away, but slower development and increased irritability as they get older can definitely be attributed to not getting enough sleep during their younger years.
Consolidated nighttime sleep is the most important for our babies and toddlers, but we cannot accomplish this goal without having quality naps during the day. Sleep begets sleep; so better naps during the day will often lead to better sleep during the night. By age two, most children have spent more of their life asleep than awake! This means that a good portion of that sleep time needs to happen during the day. All children under the age of 2.5 years (and preferably closer to 4 years old) need some kind of daytime sleep. This varies of course by age, but it is very important to realize that having a child who struggles to sleep does not mean that they don’t need the sleep! If naps are difficult for our baby or toddler, it can be easy to interpret this as a sign that our kiddo doesn’t need to nap, but this is certainly not true.
All children have different personalities and this absolutely affects the routines and methods we might use in order to teach them to sleep, but it does not change the amount of sleep they need.
From a newborn to 3 months of age, 4-5 naps per day is common, with this transitioning to a solid 3 nap per day schedule between 3-6 months old.
Between 7-13 months old is when we see 2 naps per day being adequate, and then a child transitions to just one nap per day between 13-18 months of age.
This afternoon nap should stay until a child is at least 2.5 years old and hopefully much longer! Nighttime sleep for all ages should generally be between 10-12 hours. Of course we know that every child is different, but it can definitely be helpful to have guidelines throughout this journey of parenthood.
I know how it feels to be completely exhausted and at the end of your rope when your little one isn’t sleeping well. I know the mental fog and frustration that can cloud your days and nights. I also know how joyful and fulfilling raising little ones can be when you have had a good night’s sleep! I know the peace of mind received from knowing your little ones will wake up happy, well rested, and healthy after a quality night of sleep. And I know this is possibly for you, too!
If you have questions about your child’s sleep or are seeking tips on how to get a little more shut-eye for your entire family, please reach out for help! You can find more information on my website at www.thesleepnook.com or sign up for a Free 15-minute Discovery Call to chat more about how I can help. You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. I wish you all health, happiness, and rest!
Sweet Dreams & God Bless You,
Certified Sleep Consultant, Owner of The Sleep Nook