The sleeping schedule of your child can be distressing, problematic and stressful. Early risers and nightmares can cause problems for both the parent and child, with bad habits beginning to show from just a few months old.
The irregular sleeping of children can often lead to bad sleeping habits, which can impact their sleeping schedule for the rest of their lives.
Here are some of the most common child sleeping habits depending on their age group.
Newborns: 1-3 months
Out of all the people in the world, newborn babies love sleep the most. They need between 10 ½ and 18 hours in a 24-hour period; with their sleep being broken into several minutes or hours – (they don’t often sleep 18 hours in row – if they did, you’d be a very well-rested parent!).
Babies of this age often develop their own sleep gestures, including fussing, crying and rubbing their eyes. Your baby will use what works for them and figure out what gestures to use in order to grab your attention.
Babies of this age are usually risers, which can be pretty problematic when it comes to the energy levels of a new parent. Straight away you should try and develop a sleep routine that works best for you and your little one, trying your best to follow this every day.
You never appreciate sleep so much until you have a newborn ?
— Carys (@__preecey) October 6, 2015
One solution for early-rising youngsters is to encourage your baby to sleep at night time and less during the day. Put the baby to bed when he/she is drowsy but not asleep. Doing this will teach him/her to get themselves to sleep without a parent nearby, decreasing the likeliness of separation anxiety when they get older.
Letting your baby sleep in a quiet, dim room will decrease the chances of them being woken up in the early hours of the morning. Try and add some white noise (a quiet, constant noise in the background of a room) to reduce the chance of morning traffic disturbing them and in turn, disturbing you.
Infants: 4 – 11 months
According to this study from the Sleep Foundation, the average amount of sleep needed for infant aged 4 -11 months is around 9-15 hours. Night time feedings are not necessary after 6 months of age so they can begin to sleep throughout the night, finally resulting in the full night’s sleep you’ve been dreaming of for the past 6 months!
This age is when bad sleeping habits start to develop but it is still easy enough to change them before they progress even further. Nipping these habits in the bud is essential to make sure you and your child get a good night’s sleep for the rest of their childhood journey.
This age is when children tend to start refusing sleep. Sleep refusal can lead to a number of problems including sleep walking, sleep talking and behavioural problems, impacting on their daily life.
In order to avoid your infant refusing to nap or sleep, enforce a strict sleep routine that you follow daily, regardless of the circumstance.
Create a sleep-friendly environment for your child, possibly with white noise as a distraction for noises happening in the house. White noise is great for kids of this age as it provides them with a small, constant noise for them to drown out the silence.
Dark curtains and blinds are also a great idea during the summer when your little one refuses to sleep through the light nights, making them believe that it’s dark and time to sleep.
Toddlers: 1 – 2 years
With toddlers rapidly gaining more skills and experience every day, they tend to still need a lot of sleep to catch up with their energy levels. The recommended amount for a child of this age is 11 – 14 hours per night and this is where more bad sleeping habits tend to progress.
I love being up for the sunrise, but I also love my sleep. Toddler- not so much.
— Cassie Skidmore (@CreatingCassie) April 19, 2015
Scared of nightmares and the dark
The chances of nightmares in children at this age begin to rise. If your child has frequent nightmares, it may scare them into sleeping and develop habits to avoid bedtime, leading to more sleep refusal.
If your child is scared of the dark and nightmares, try to make sure that they feel super comfortable. Give them a comfort item like a stuffed toy or snuggly blanket for them to feel ‘extra protected’ and reassure them that you are nearby without being in the room.
Preschool: 3 – 5 years
Pre-school children need around 10 – 13 hours of sleep in any 24 hour period for a good, healthy mind and attitude. Many bad sleeping habits peak at this age, with this research from Healthline showing that children aged 4 to 8 sleepwalk the most.
Sleeping-walking and difficulty falling asleep
When a child is woken up from a sleep-walking episode, they tend to have difficultly falling back to sleep. To ensure that your child doesn’t sleep walk as much, make sure they’re getting enough sleep and they’re following a healthy diet.
Allow between 10 -13 hours for your child to sleep every night with the same bedtimes and waking-up times. Routine is key for children – without that routine they get confused.
When your child refuses to sleep at this age, try and get them to help themselves fall back to sleep. This reduces the amount of separation anxiety your child will have and helps make sure they’re a self-soother.
If you’re worried about the sleeping habits of your child, grab them a comfy mattress, snuggly toys and blankets. Before you know it, they’ll be a sleep teenager and sleeping through both day and night in no time!