JK Newsletter

May 8, 2016

What about sleep?

Research has shown that lack of sleep is a growing issue for children of all ages. In our very busy world, it is hard to remember how important sleep is for all of us, but especially for our youngest ones as they are growing and developing so much each day. Here are a few tips and suggestions for sleep from Dr. Hattie Harvey:

Think of these strategies as a collection of related elements, all of which must be present to ensure healthy sleep habits.

1. Sleep Duration. Consider the total amount of sleep during both night and day: is your child getting enough sleep? The following table outlines basic recommended sleep durations by age.

2. Naps. Is your child taking naps or do you sometimes skip ? Naps lead to optimal daytime functioning. If you miss one, try to keep your child up until the next sleep period (or close to it) to maintain the child’s sleep pattern. Consider the following

  • By 4 months most children take three to four naps per day
  • By 8 months most children take two naps
  • By 21 months most children take one nap
  • By age 6 most children no longer nap

3. Sleep Quality. When sleep is continuous, your child can naturally learn to fall back asleep following a brief awakening. Too many awakenings fragment sleep, disrupting brain growth and the natural sleep cycle. After 4 months of age, naps of less than one hour do not provide enough time for the brain to benefit from the nap.

4. Recognize signs of drowsiness. Nap and bedtime should begin during your child’s stage, not when she is overtired. your child’s signs of drowsiness; they may include decreased activity, slower motions, drooping eyelids, yawning, and eyes that are less focused. children also may be less vocal, quieter, or calmer. Your child may have more difficulty falling asleep if she is overtired; signs of overtiredness may include fussiness, eye rubbing, , or crankiness.

4. Establish bedtime and wake-up routines. Your routines may be adjusted based on age or your family’s preference. Avoid stimulating activities such as watching television or playing video games prior to bed, choose calming activities like reading or storytelling. Whatever you choose, keep the sequence consistent! Doing so helps to maintain your child’s internal clock on a 24-hour cycle. Note that infants younger than 4 months have immature internal clocks, so this does not apply to them.

5. Be a team player and communicate! Communicate with those who are involved in your child’s life, such as another parent, child care providers, a nanny, or relatives. Share your strategies and your child’s signs of drowsiness, so that they can also support establishing healthy sleep habits for your child.