Being a mom is a tough job. And it’s relentless. Because all the work and effort you put in during the day often has to continue at night, too. Now your thoughts are consumed with how to help your kids get to sleep on time and to stay asleep when they do. And there’s no one solution to this question that follows so many moms. So how much sleep should children have?
How Much Sleep Should Children Have? Recommended Hours for Every Age
Of course, you can start with the obvious things like making sure they don’t have sugar before bedtime – although a tasty treat now and then won’t do much harm!
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But what makes it trickier is that every child is different. Your first-born might love getting their snooze on, and be little sleeping angels. While your second might be a bit of a sleep demon; refusing to settle down in the first place, or waking up several times during the night. The thing is, sleeping patterns aren’t an easy thing to predict or to adjust to. And like any parenting tips, you need to see what works for you and your little one.
Still, here are a few general guidelines on how much sleep your kids should be getting at different stages of their development, plus a couple of sleep schedules for you to try out. Enjoy!
Most newborn babies sleep a lot. Like, a lot. You even have to wake your sleepy bubs up for feeds before they doze off into slumberland again without so much as a peep. Bliss.
Unfortunately, this sweet time is usually quite short – maybe only 2 or 3 weeks. After it, your baby might sleep in bursts of anything between 4 hours (if you’re lucky) to 30 minutes (if you’re not!) Daytime or night; it doesn’t make a difference, at least until your baby’s circadian rhythms have time to adjust. They should be getting 14 to 17 hours of sleep in total.
So here’s a recommended sleep and feed schedule for babies between 2 and 8 weeks old. Still, remember to look out for telltale ‘sleepiness signs’ (like eye rubbing, yawning or glazed expressions) and let these signs lead your sleep schedule. Otherwise, you run the risk of your baby becoming cranky and overtired – which no new mom likes to experience!
9am: Wake & Feed
10am: Nap (up to one hour)
11am: Wake & Feed
12.30pm: Nap (up to one hour)
1:30pm: Wake & Feed
3:30pm: Nap (up to one hour)
4:30pm: Wake & Feed
6pm: Nap (up to one hour)
6:30pm: Wake & Feed
7:30pm: Short nap (up to half an hour)
8:00pm: Wake & Feed
9:30pm: Short nap (up to half an hour)
10pm: Wake & Feed
11:30pm: Feed & Bedtime
3:30am: Feed & back to sleep
6:30: Feed & back to sleep
As your newborn grows, they might sleep more at night and less during the day. Which is good news because the more active babies are in their waking hours, the easier it’ll be to settle them at night.
They might only wake up once or twice during the night, so don’t worry about waking them up for multiple feeds. With that in mind, here’s a sleep schedule that includes a ‘fill-up feed’ before you put them down for the evening.
7am: Wake up
9am: Wake & Feed
11am: Feed & Nap
1pm: Wake & Feed
3pm: Wake & Feed
4:30pm: Feed & Nap
7pm: Short nap
9pm: Feed & Bedtime
10:30pm: “Fill-up feed” (at your own bedtime), then perhaps a feed or two during the night.
Let’s skip ahead to 6 months, where hopefully your baby will be sleeping through the night. He or she will probably be taking between 2 to 4 naps a day (totaling 2–3 hours of sleep). And they should also be getting between 11–12 hours at night, for them to get their recommended sleep quota of 12 to 17 hours over a 24-hour period. It’s a sleepy time in your little one’s development, and your chance to catch up on some much-needed rest!
Here’s a sleep schedule for this age:
6:30am: Wake & Feed
8:30am: Morning Nap (at least 1 hour)
10am: Wake & Feed
11:30am: Nap (usually half an hour to 45 mins)
1pm: Wake & Feed
2pm: Nap (usually half an hour to 45 mins)
4pm: Wake & Feed
4:30pm: Short nap (30 minutes)
6pm: Begin bedtime routine (bath, story etc)
6.30pm: Feed & Bedtime
7pm: Sleeptime (hopefully!)
The ‘toddler’ age span is pretty wide. So while a one-year-old might sleep 12 hours at night and take 2 naps during the day (for 3 hours in total), a three-year-old might stop daytime naps altogether and sleep for only 12 hours within a 24-hour period (although it's recommended to get anywhere between 11 and 14). This transition into no napping usually happens at around 15 months.
So it can differ depending on your child. But here’s a general toddler sleep schedule that you can use as a guideline:
7am: Wake up
9am: Light snack
12pm: Nap (at least 1 hour)
3:30pm: Afternoon snack
6:30pm: Begin bedtime routine (bath, story etc)
The following years
It’s important to pay attention to your children’s sleep as they grow. You’ve spent so much time on their sleeping patterns when they’re babies; don’t throw all that work out the window now!
Your kids still need plenty of sleep, and to have a better-quality sleep by being made to feel as comfortable as they can be. In fact, any problems with their health, their mood, their behavior or their performance, could be because they’re not getting enough rest.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that kids between 3 and 5 need 10 to 13 hours of sleep; while those in school (between 6 and 13) need 9 to 11 hours. So it’s probably more than you think!
Hopefully, these guidelines will help your kids get the proper, good-quality sleep that they deserve. Meaning that you can get the rest you deserve, too!
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