Sleep is essential for your child's mental and physical health. However, sleep problems in children are not uncommon. An estimate from American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that sleep problems affect 25 to 50 percent of children.
The first step towards providing better sleep for your child is understanding their sleep needs. We suggest a checklist of sleep hygiene, and age-appropriate bedtime routines to help your child build a healthy sleep pattern.
Depending on their age, children need varying amounts of sleep. Newborns (0-3 months), for instance, require approximately 14-17 hours of sleep during the course of 24h. Infants and toddlers (4 months-2 years) need between 11-15 hours of sleep. Pre-school to early school-age children may sleep between 9-13 hours per day. Note that are broad recommendations for total sleep time including naps, and the appropriate amount of sleep may vary from child to child. If you are concerned about your child's sleeping pattern, we recommend that you consult with your paediatrician.
To help your child fall asleep and stay asleep at night, try following the checklist below.
- Promote sleep hygiene
- Pick a toy or blanket for the night
- Make the bedroom (especially the bed) a no-screen zone, even during the day
- Set the thermostat to a slightly cooler temperature
- Use dark curtains to block out light
- Use a nightlight if they're scared of the dark
- Let them take a warm bath or shower before bed
- Reading a light book, singing a lullaby or listening to a sleep story
- Provide a regular schedule
- Arrange a balanced schedule for their daily activities with interspersed periods of rest and play
- Put them to bed at a regular time
- No stress around bedtime
- Avoid conflict around bedtime
- Use low-affective strategies for dealing with your child