Isabella is on the floor screaming having a major tantrum. She is so tired that she is becoming delirious. Why doesn’t she have an OFF button? The neighbors are probably wondering what is going on. Terrible twos? Probably. But this time it’s worse. She didn’t sleep well last night. So I decide to take her to her crib for an early nap. She takes a long nap and when she wakes up, she is back to her normal self. She needed sleep. How can lack of sleep make my little girl so moody, irritable, irrational?
One of the biggest questions parents, particularly new parents, ask themselves is “Is my child getting enough sleep?” I asked this question when my kids were babies, and now with my almost 2 and 5-year old kids, I find myself in a similar conundrum. When they start acting moody and cranky, I know they are tired. And I ask myself the same question – are my kids getting enough sleep?
Sleep is vital for a child’s physical and emotional health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep needed by age, experts have agreed upon “rule-of-thumb” amounts for different age groups. The amounts provided below are ranges, as every child’s sleep needs vary, but can give us an idea of how much sleep our kids should be get in a 24-hour period.
Sleep Needs for Newborns (0-2 months)
Newborns’ sleep needs are approximately 12-18 hours. Newborns have irregular sleep patterns that are not related to the daylight and nighttime cycles. They need to be fed every 3-4 hours and you will be up several times during the night feeding and changing your baby. Their sleep needs will be fulfilled in multiple intervals throughout the day and night. This unpredictability won’t last long, but it does seem like eternity for sleep-deprived parents!
Sleep Needs for Infants (3-11 months)
Infants should get an aggregate of 14-15 hours of sleep. At around four months, your baby should be sleeping for longer periods at night (4 to 6-hour stretches). At about 6 months, most babies are physically capable of sleeping through the night and have a more structured nap schedule (one nap in the morning and one nap in the afternoon).
Sleep Needs for Toddlers (1-3 years)
Toddlers should get approximately 12-14 hours of sleep. After 18 months, toddlers will probably lose their morning nap and will only take an afternoon nap. They should sleep approximately 11 hours straight at night.
Sleep Needs for Preschoolers (3-5 years)
Your preschooler should get about 11-13 hours of sleep. At this age, afternoon naps are getting shorter and most kids around 5 years old stop napping.
Sleep Needs for School-Age Children (5-10 years)
School-age kids should get about 10-11 hours of sleep. The older they get, the later they want to go to bed. Try to make bedtime no later than 9 pm as kids need plenty of sleep to do well in school.
Again, these are just averages, not magic numbers. The best way to recognize if your child is getting enough sleep is by observing how they act during the day. Talk to your pediatrician and seek help if you think your child is sleep deprived.
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