It’s easy to take routine things for granted when it comes to our health – especially sleep. However, this is an area where little changes can go a big way toward promoting children’s health and well-being.
We all know that it just doesn’t feel good to go through the day tired. Lack of sleep can also affect health in many other ways. For young brains, sleep is a crucial time for development and learning. There’s a reason why babies sleep so much! As kids get older, sleep has a big impact on mood, behavior, and performance in school. Over the course of our lives, poor sleep habits can contribute to obesity and some chronic diseases. Getting enough sleep shouldn’t be a luxury – it’s a cornerstone of health.
So how much sleep does your child actually need each day? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
-4-12 months: 12-16 hr (including naps)
-1-2 years: 11-14 hr (including naps)
-3-5 years: 10-13 hr (including naps)
-6-12 years: 9-12 hr
13-18 (8-10 hr)
How can you actually make this happen? It’s mostly a matter of turning good habits into a routine. For all ages, doing calming things at the same time of night every day signals our brains that it’s time to sleep. Try to keep lights low in the evening. Turn electronics off at least an hour before bedtime. For younger kids, think about starting a Brush/Book/Bed ritual. For older kids, get electronic devices out of the bedroom. This can’t be stressed enough- it’s critical. Remember that we can set the stage for a good night’s sleep early in the day by making sure kids are getting regular exercise, putting healthy limits on screen time, and avoiding caffeine. Lastly, make sure infants are sleeping safely – Alone, on the Back, and in a Crib.