As most experts will tell you, the average adult needs roughly seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Well, try telling that to a parent. Anyone who has had to raise an infant will be more than eager to point out that sleep is a random factor, you catch it only when and where you can. Especially with babies, bedtime routines are hardly set in stone.
Difficulties in establishing a bedtime routine, however, aren’t confined to infants. It occurs with toddlers, seven-year-olds, and even with you, Mom and Dad. Not only a matter of easing frustrations, we know that without bedtime routines, inadequate sleep habits can cause serious biological problems.
Recent research has linked a lack of sleep in children ages 7 to 11 years old to more than a case of the grumpies. It can lead to serious emotional and developmental issues including greater susceptibility to anxiety and depression. It may also impact physical health issues including an increased risk of both obesity and diabetes.
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following guidelines are a rough estimate for children:
- Newborns (0-3 months old): 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months old): 12-15 hours each day
- Toddlers (1-2 years old): 11-14 hours each day
- Preschoolers (3-5 years old): 10-13 hours each day
- School-aged children (6-13 years old): 9-11 hours each day
Keep in mind that sleeping habits among infants and younger children can be more sporadic. Your 6-month-old may not have a solid 12-hour nap, for example. Instead, your infant may sleep for a few hours at a time, in total still approximating the hourly recommendation
Building A Better Bedtime Routine
If you’re looking to build a better bedtime routine for your kids, here are some tips that we recommend.
Early To Bed, Early To Rise
The older your kid is, the greater struggle you’ll have getting them to bed. There’s always going to be an excuse or a distraction. There will be one reason or another in which they’ll put up a fight. And while there are certain battles that you can pick and choose, bedtime should not be one of them.
If your child is having difficulty falling asleep, consider moving their bedtime up by 20-30 minutes. You can rearrange some of your daily routine to encourage an earlier bedtime. For example, having dinner at 5:00 pm instead of 5:30 pm. Remember that sleeping habits can be trained. The earlier they happen, the more regular they’ll become.
Routine implies regularity. It’s no good establishing a bedtime routine if you’re putting your kid to bed at 7:00 pm on a Wednesday and at 8:30 pm on a Thursday.
Consistency doesn’t only apply to timing. Routines need to be encouraged in order for them to become habitual. If your child’s typical bedtime routine consists of a glass of milk, a bath, and a goodnight story, then that’s a schedule you need to adhere to. It’s just as much psychological preparation as it is a biological reaction.
Don’t Overdo Naps
It’s tempting to let your child catch an extra half an hour worth of nap time during the day. Particularly if you are a new parent, you may need as much “me time” as you can get. And whether they’re five months old or five years old, it can seem like a vital habit. Understandably, crankiness is something no parent looks forward to.
However, too much nap time may interfere with sleeping habits at night. Recent research indicates that the impact on their behavior and development could also be disrupted.. Throwing your child’s sleeping patterns off-kilter by as little as twenty minutes can have dramatic effects on a bedtime routine. It will be much easier to get them relaxed and prepared for a good night’s rest if they haven’t snuck in a few minutes of extra “Zzzzzs” during the day.
Follow A Set Pattern
Any sort of bedtime routine should follow specific patterns to help your child wind down. This is particularly important if they are overstimulated from a hard day of play. In order for these patterns to be effective, they need to become ingrained and implemented regardless of how dull or exciting your child’s day may have been.
A routine pattern should consist of calm and relaxing activities. Television and other distractions should be avoided as they may leave your children restless and overly excited. A nice, soothing bath can cool down your child’s body temperature– sending signals to the brain that it’s time to wind down. A glass of milk, a massage, and a bedtime story are all examples of other soothing activities that can have the same effects on both one’sphysical and mental responses—both of which are critical for a good night’s rest.
Keep Your Bedtime Routine Simple
Too many steps in a preliminary routine can be confusing. It ends up taking far too much of your time than is necessary. Not only can it be a time constraint, but a stringent routine can cause your child to grow anxious.
It may take some time for your child to succumb to a bedtime routine. However, it should take no more than forty-five minutes, including bath time!Forty-Five minutes is more than enough time to slow those biological rhythms down to a snail’s pace. Your routine will then help to ensure a good night’s rest… for the both of you.
Need more parenting tips on how to raise a healthy kid? At My Quest Montessori, we stress emotional, physical, and mental development. Visit us today at My Quest Montessori or call (832) 481-4135 for more information.