How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
This is one of the most asked questions I receive from parents. How much is my baby supposed to be sleeping? Is he sleeping too much? Is he not sleeping enough?
I do have to say that this is one of the most confusing topics for caregivers everywhere! With so many mixed opinions on this topic how are you really supposed to know how much sleep your little one should be getting. Maybe you heard to keep your little one up later so that they will sleep in and catch up on some sleep but then your baby woke at 5 a.m!! (what the heck...) Or maybe somebody told you that once your little one turns a year they will only need to nap once or maybe not at all during the day!! All these different views make it difficult to know which information is best for your child!
The truth about sleep is that more often than not our children are not getting their recommended sleep requirements for their age. Naps are shorter or non-existant, bedtimes are pushed later, and morning wake times are earlier than what is recommended. All of these can be contributed to the busy lifestyles we all fall in to.
Another key factor for our children not getting the sleep that they need is we, as caregivers, tend to miss our child's sleep window....or the windows where the child can fall asleep the easiest and fastest. I have been guilty of this so many times because sometimes it is really hard to tune in and notice tired signals. Although it may seem like a given, below are a list of some common tired signals to watch for:
- Opening eyes wide
- Making squealing sounds or sounds like a creaking door
- Turning head away from objects or people
- Burying face in caregivers chest
- Rubbing eyes
- Redness under eyebrows or around eyes
- Pulling at ears
- Twirling hair
- Scratching face
- Decreased coordination, running into things
- Loss of interest in toys
- Arching back and leaning backwards
These are some common ones but of course not every child is the same. Some children may experience one of these, others many of these, and some children may even have their own tired cues that are not listed here!! However they express being tired is an expression that we, as parents, want to tune in to. We want to catch these cues as early as possible to get our child down for a nap before its too late.
Creating a daily log where you write down the times that you notice these signals will help you in developing nap and night time routines. We actually would prefer having our children down BEFORE these signals appear thus preventing at all costs our child becoming overtired :) A log will help you see patterns in your childs day and will build some predictability for sleep times.
So now that we know what to watch for....how much sleep does my little one need? Here is a chart that shows averages based on many research studies for how much sleep is recommended. This chart is a great chart to follow and see where you are at. If your child is not exactly in the "right" place on the chart don't fret, these are only guidelines. If your child is not in the "right" place on the chart but you feel that he should be getting more sleep then this is something that we could work with together!
"Happy Sleep Equals Happy Families" :)