A good night’s sleep for kids

How much sleep do kids need? A recent study has found that children who don’t get enough sleep in their day not only become irritable but are also at greater risk of getting hurt unintentionally.

The National Centre for Injury Prevention and Control in the United States talked to 300 mothers about their children’s sleep habits and tracked their injuries. What they found was that toddlers and preschoolers who didn’t get enough sleep were twice as likely to get hurt accidentally. And all parents know that a tired child is more likely to play up, either becoming irritable or hyperactive and giving in to extremes of behaviour.

Here are some tips for making sure your child is getting enough sleep:

  • Don’t be in a hurry to end your child’s nap as they approach the age of four. oany children will still benefit from some quiet time in their rooms in the afternoon with a good book. And if you encourage them to have a nap earlier in the day, say around 2pm, it won’t interfere with their normal bedtime. If the nap goes on too late, don’t be afraid to wake them up to ensure they will be tired again by bedtime.

  • If you are going out as a family and you know that your child may get home late, insist on an afternoon nap, even if your child is already 10. You will have a much happier child who won’t become irritable at the barbecue, due to the fact they have clocked up some sleep earlier.

  • Don’t make nap time a battle. It’s okay if your child just has some quiet time and reads a book. It’s not as good as a nap but it’s better than running around the garden being exhausted and there’s always the chance they’ll nod off.

  • Keep kids’ bedtimes regular and to a routine right into their teenage years.

  • Don’t let your child exercise vigorously right before bedtime.

  • Look out for signs that your child is tired. If you have to physically drag them out of bed in the morning, this means they need an earlier bedtime.

Sleepyhead stages Some children need less sleep than others but these are the recommendations for how much sleep your child should get:

  • Newborns – At least 16 hours or more daily (sometimes up to 20), often for three to four hours at a time.

  • Two to four months – About 15 hours each day, including two or three naps. By two months of age, babies are staying awake for longer periods, are more alert during the day and sleep longer at night. By three months, most babies sleep for stretches of at least six hours at night.

  • Six to nine months – About 14 hours a day, including two naps (usually one in the morning and one after lunch).

  • 12 to 15 months – Approximately 13 to 14 hours daily, including one or two naps.

  • 18 months – About 13 to 14 hours, including one nap. oost toddlers give up their morning nap at about this age.

  • Two years – About 13 hours each day, including one nap.

  • Three years – About 12 hours a day, including one nap.

  • Four years – About 12 hours a night. By this time, many preschoolers won’t want to nap but they still benefit from some quiet time every day.

  • Five years – About 11 hours a night with no nap. But to help these preschoolers get enough rest, you may need to make their bedtime a little earlier.

  • Six to nine years – About 10 hours a night.

  • 10 to 12 years – A little more than nine hours a night.

  • 13 to 18 years – Between eight and nine-and-a-half hours a night. Teens go through a natural change in their sleep patterns – their bodies want to stay up later and wake up later. Make sure they catch up on their sleep during the weekend if they need to.

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