We need to stress time and again how much sleep is necessary for the overall wellbeing of an individual. This is especially true when it comes to babies and is an important part of their overall growth – both mentally and physically.
As infants and children, our sleep cycle tends to be longer and only reduces as we grow older and set a sleeping pattern. But how much sleep does a baby need? To give you a clear understanding, here’s the ideal child sleep chart below that breaks down the number of hours of sleep required per day for children at different ages.
Image Source: iStock
Recommended Hours Of Sleep
1-4 Weeks Old: 15 – 16 hours per day
As the child sleep chart suggests, newborns sleep for the longest hours about 15 to 18 hours every day. But do remember, babies, do not have an internal biological clock or circadian rhythm, and do not have a fixed sleeping pattern yet. That’s why the sleep cycle is completed in short periods of two to four hours, making the postpartum period particularly difficult for parents due to the erratic sleep timings.
1-4 Months Old: 14 – 15 hours per day
As your baby starts growing older, their sleep pattern begins to settle in. By the age of six weeks, you will notice that your baby is sleeping for four to six hours at a stretch, and more regularly in the evenings. By now, the baby’s internal clock has acquainted itself with day and night hours.
4-12 Months Old: 14 – 15 hours per day
Between four and 12 months-old, your child will go through a transformative development period and it’s necessary to establish a healthy sleeping pattern at this time. While about 14 to 15 hours of sleep would be ideal for your little one, about 12 hours of sleep would be equally effective.
The sleep cycle is also divided into smaller bursts of nap times. Babies at this age tend to take three to four naps through the day. This includes sleeping around 9 am or 10 am in the morning for about an hour. This is followed by an early afternoon nap at 2 pm, followed by a late afternoon nap between 4-5 pm. The child will sleep for longer at night during this period.
1-3 Years Old: 12 – 14 hours per day
As your child enters the toddler stage, you will find a lot of that sleep time being consumed for more activities. The naps reduce during these months with about two naps throughout the day.
Toddlers tend to sleep for about 8 to 9 hours at a stretch, with extended nap times of about three hours.
3-6 Years Old: 10 – 12 hours per day
Your toddler needs to have a set sleeping pattern by now and should go early to bed by about 9 pm. This gives them ample time to complete their sleep cycle, especially since your child would be ready to go to pre-school and have an active day.
By the age of five, your child is ready to start school and will have a schedule of his own. The naps usually tend to get shorter during the period, but you find kids squeezing in a short nap in the afternoon, usually after school.
7-12 Years Old: 10 – 11 hours per day
By the age of seven, your little child has a new life of his own involving his social circle, family, school, playground and more. However, it will be difficult to follow the child sleep chart with so many distractions. In today’s day and age, access to mobile devices has also widened the horizon for children when it comes to viewing content and staying up late.
It is necessary for the parents to ensure that their child follows a strict sleeping time at night. Children going to sleep by 9 or 10 pm, can still cover about nine hours of sleep at a stretch at night.
Image courtesy: iStock
12-18 Years Old: 8 – 9 hours per day
Long sleeping hours remain extremely important to teenagers as much as it is to children. However, the teenage years also see a number of distractions including social pressures, schooling, online social networks, gaming and more. It is vital that parents remain vigilant about their teenage child’s sleeping habits. It may go for a complete toss if not kept in check.
Much like adults, teenagers too need about 8-9 of sleep every day to function properly. Unlike kids though, naps times are nearly impossible given the busy schedule.
5 Ways To Maintain Healthy Sleeping Habits
Image Source: Pixabay
Now that you’ve seen the child sleep chart, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends these five ways to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern in the household.
1. Sufficient sleep time for the family
As a parent, you need to set a sleep time for the entire family and enforce it to make sure it is being followed. Make sleep a priority after a certain time at night. This includes dimming the lights, restricting the screen time, keeping distractions to a minimum. As boring as it may sound, it’s all about achieving a healthy lifestyle in your home.
2. Set a routine
A daily routine ensures that your kids are habituated to sleeping at certain times and the body automatically starts giving you those signs. This isn’t just about sleeping but also about studies, hunger, and playtime.
For young children, get them changed in night suits by post-dinner and ready for bed after brushing their teeth and a book to read. Meanwhile, use the day to plan activities, complete assignments, pick-up a new hobby and more.
Image courtesy: iStock
3. Reduce screen time
The black mirror really disrupts most routines and that’s why you need to reduce its invasion in your life. This means cutting the hours down that are spent watching the television, computer/laptop screen, tablet or phone and more.
The blue light from these devices is intended to disrupt your sleep. Switch off all screens at least two hours before your sleep to create a healthy environment.
4. Avoid solid foods before 6 months of age
The digestive system of a baby is not evolved enough to handle solid foods before the age of six months. This will affect their sleep cycle due to tummy ache. Ideally, stick to breastfeeding your child for the first six months and then gradually introduce solid foods to his diet. Make sure to speak to your paediatrician before making the transition.
5. Recognise sleep problems
Sometimes, doing all the right things may not be enough for a good night’s sleep. Some children may have sleep problems which could include finding it difficult to fall asleep, nighttime awakenings, snoring, sleep apnea, and heavy breathing while sleeping.
If your little one is exhibiting any of these problems, it’s important that you consult with your paediatrician for the same. Some children are nocturnal by birth and may have problems sleeping at night.