Ensuring your child is getting enough sleep is important for their physical and mental wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown that children who regularly get enough sleep have improved attention, learning and overall health.
As a parent, it can sometimes be hard to get your little one into a consistent sleeping routine. They may even be refusing to go sleep or waking up in the night.
While every child is different, there are many things you can do to help them. Here are some of our top sleep tips for children.
Know how much sleep your child should be getting
Firstly, it’s important to know how much sleep they should be getting for their age. If your baby is 4 to 12 months old, the NHS recommend that they should get 12 to 16 hours including naps.
For toddlers aged 1 to 2 years old, the NHS you should aim for 11 to 14 hours including naps. Then as your child reaches 3 to 5 years, they should be getting 9 to 12 hours.
While these approximations aren’t set in stone, they are a good benchmark and can help identify if your child is getting too much or too little sleep. This could be making them cranky or struggling to get to sleep – every parent’s nightmare!
Create a consistent routine
One of the key things to consider when helping them get to sleep is their routine. Sticking to a consistent routine will help them feel secure and creates predictability in their day.
This means having a set bedtime and wake up time, give or take 30-60 minutes. Research has found that children with irregular bedtimes were six times as likely to display hyperactive behaviours.
Young children should have earlier bedtimes, ideally between 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm as they tend to have their deepest sleep between 8 pm and midnight. This allows enough time to get the sleep they need if they have an early morning rise for nursery.
Help them relax before bedtime
There are also many ways you can help your child relax and wind down before they go to bed. If you’ve been out at work all day, spending some quality time together can help them settle down.
This could involve reading to them, asking them about their day or running them a hot bath. By having an evening ritual, this will help them recognise when it is time to sleep.
Limit screen time
While electronic devices have their benefits, using them before bed can have a negative effect on a child’s sleep quality. This is because the light stimulates the brain and so makes it difficult to settle down.
You should aim to keep them away from any screens for at least one to two hours before bed. Also, avoid keeping any electronic devices in their room which might flash in the night.
Limiting their screen time throughout the day and encouraging them to be active and take part in other activities will help to burn through their energy. This will then make them more tired and fall asleep more easily.
Make sure they don’t nap too much
Since many toddlers don’t manage to sleep the recommended 11 to 14 hours per night, naps during the day are a must. If they don’t get their nap time in, they are more likely to be cranky and prone to tantrums.
However, you should ensure they aren’t overdoing their naps as this could be affecting their sleep. These should also be in either the morning or afternoon and not too close to bedtime.
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