When it comes to sleep, is your child getting enough?
According to James Kemp, MD, director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a Washington University pediatric sleep specialist, children should sleep between 10 and 12.5 hours each night during their first year of life, and this amount can lessen by one half hour each year until a child turns 4. School-age children should aim for roughly 10 hours of sleep, and teenagers should average 8.5 to 9 hours.
“Keep in mind that the amount of sleep children need varies from person to person,” Dr. Kemp says. “Parents shouldn’t worry if their baby is developing normally but doesn’t sleep exactly 12 hours each night. If children aren’t sleeping enough, you’ll likely notice warning signs, which, in older children, can include taking a nap every afternoon or sleeping for unusually long periods of time on weekends.”
Beating Bedtime Blues
If your child has difficulty falling asleep, proper sleep habits, such as going to bed at the same time every night and putting away video games and phones one hour prior to bedtime, may help ease bedtime woes.
“Bedtime should be relatively consistent every night,” says Caryn Garriga, MD, MPH, community developmental pediatrician with Caryn Garriga Pediatrics LLC. “If bedtime is 8 p.m., turn off the television, video games and iPads at 7 and help your child unwind by reading a story or playing a quiet game.”
During the unstructured months of summer, many children ask to stay up late. According to Dr. Garriga, adjusting summer bedtime isn’t usually a problem as long as bedtime remains consistent from day to day and children sleep-in accordingly in the morning.