Parents who bring their children to my pediatrics practice often ask me how much sleep their kids need. Medically speaking, it’s an important question to ask, because sleep is a vital restorative process that can affect overall health, daytime sleepiness, behavior, and development. So, you do need to be mindful of whether your child is getting enough sleep. As a mom of three boys, however, I know it’s not as simple as laying your baby or toddler or even big kid down at night and willing him to fall asleep right away and stay asleep as long as you want him to (wouldn’t it be amazing if that’s how it worked?!).
Every child develops at her own pace, but the key to helping her get the rest she needs each night is to be consistent with bedtimes and routines. Of course, there will be days or weeks when your child’s sleep will be off, due to illness or vacations or other disruptions to your regular routine. It’s okay if you get off track for a little bit; if you have been consistent with sleep patterns and cues previously, it will be easier to get back on track. To help determine whether your child is getting enough sleep, check out these guidelines from The National Sleep Foundation…
Newborns to 4-Months-Old
Sleep 14 to 18 hours a day (*but on a very irregular schedule). The sleep periods can be varied ranging from a few minutes to hours. Newborn sleep can be very fitful seeming with lots of movement and grunting.
4- to 11-Months-Old
12 to 15 hours a day, with about 10 to 12 hours at night and 2 to 4 hours during the day. Starting at 4 months, you can start sleep training to help regulate your baby’s sleep (if you wish to).
1-Year-Old to 3-Years-Old
11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, including one to two naps. Most children continue to take two naps a day until around 15 months at which many will start to transition to one nap a day.
3- to 5-Years-Old
10 to 13 hours at night (and, hey, if they’ll still nap — go for it!).
6- to 12-Years-Old
9 to 11 hours at night
13-Years-Old (and beyond)
8 to 10 hours at night; with early school starts and rigorous school-work this can often be hard to accomplish. It is important to limit screen time before bed and not allow children to have screen in their rooms.
More Sleep Tips:
- How to Stick to Your Kid’s Bedtime Routine, Despite Your Relaxed Summer Schedule
- 7 Things I Learned While Sleep Taining My Baby
- How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night at 6-Weeks-Old