Unfortunately, many children sleep less than recommended. Children often develop sleepproblems when they are very young. Since sleep is very important for a child’s health and growth, parents should start with a bedtime routine as soon as their child is able to sleep through the night. It is important to establish a relaxing bedtime routine when children are little so that it becomes a habit by the time they are in school. A good night’s sleep can prevent some childhood sleep problems such as nightmares or bed wetting and helps avoid sleepiness during the day.
Establishing a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
It is best to begin your night time routine at least one hour before bedtime. Many parents find that 1 ½ hours works best to make sure there is no need to rush. Choose what time your child must be in bed and then work backwards, allowing enough time for each step of bedtime preparation. At least one hour before bedtime, discontinue use of electronic devices and turn off the television. Studies have shown that use of electronics immediately before bedtime stimulates the mind and can delay restful sleep. Additionally, avoid sugary foods and caffeinated beverages in the evening, as these can affect the body’s ability to rest and relax.
Recommended Amounts of Sleep
Following are the recommended hours of sleep for the typical child at various ages. Remember that each child is different; you want to consider your child’s needs.
- 0-2 months old – 10.5 to 18 hours
- 2-12 months old – 14 to 15 hours
- 1-3 years old – 12 to 14 hours
- 3-5 years old – 12 to 13 hours
- 5-12 years old – 10-11 hours
You also need to consider what time your child needs to get up in the morning. A school age child needs to have enough time to have breakfast and get ready for the day without rushing.
Suggested Bedtime Routine for Children
Although the individual needs of children and families vary, the following bedtime routine works well for many families.
- 7:00 p.m. – Get dressed and ready for bed; have a healthy snack (optional); brush teeth
- 7:30 – Snuggles, read stories, chat; last visit to the restroom if necessary
- 8:00 – Lights out and a last good night kiss
- 8:30 – Peek in on your child to make sure they are sleeping (optional)
Take some time out from what you are doing in the evening to give your young child the attention and guidance they need while establishing a bedtime routine. Eventually, your child will be able to adhere to your bedtime schedule without supervision.
Once you have established a bedtime routine, make sure you stick to it. Also, make sure your children get enough sleep on weekends and holiday nights. Establish a regular positive and relaxing bedtime routine to ensure your children get enough sleep. Doing so not only helps your child physically and emotionally, but also can help everyone in the family have a calmer, happier evening, and a relaxing night’s sleep.