Children’s Sleep Guide
Like adults, children need sleep to feel their best. But also like adults, it’s not always easy for kids to get the sleep they need. Family schedules, poor sleep habits, even sleep disorders can interfere with healthy sleep. For healthy development and happiness, parents should support healthy sleep habits in children of every age.
There’s no denying that healthy sleep for children can be tough at any stage. Perhaps the hardest thing about children’s sleep is that it’s almost always changing. What works for newborns may not work for a six month old, and preschoolers sleep much differently than teenagers. All of these changes can leave parents confused and frustrated, especially when children experience sleep difficulties.
But even though healthy child sleep is sometimes difficult, it’s important that parents and caregivers work with children to develop good sleep habits. Without enough sleep, children suffer. They experience moodiness, decreased cognitive ability, difficulty at school, even behavioral and health problems. There is no substitute for healthy sleep habits and adequate sleep.
In this guide, we explain everything parents and caregivers need to know about sleep for children at every stage. You’ll learn about appropriate sleep times for children by age, find tips for supporting healthy sleep, and learn how to develop a good bedtime routine. There are also resources for learning about sleep disorders and discovering the best books, music, and videos for helping children sleep soundly.
Ultimate Children’s Sleep Chart
Use this children’s sleep chart to see sleep details for every age from newborn to school age. Find your child’s age to see how many hours of sleep they need overall, during the day, and at night, along with helpful tips for each age.
|→||Newborn-2 months||2-4 months||4-6 months||6-9 months||9-12 months||12-18 months||18 months – 2 years||2-3 years||3-5 years||5-12 years|
|Total sleep||16-18 hours||14-16 hours||14-15 hours||14 hours||14 hours||13-14 hours||13-14 hours||12-14 hours||11-13 hours||10-11 hours|
|Nighttime sleep||8-9 hours||9-10 hours||10 hours||10-11 hours||10-12 hours||11-12 hours||11 hours||10-11 hours||10-13 hours||10-11 hours|
|Naptime Sleep||7-9 hours||4-5 hours||4-5 hours||3-4 hours||2-3 hours||2-3 hours||2 hours||1-2 hours||0-1 hours||0|
|Sleep Help/Tips||-Most newborns sleep for two to four hours at a time. -Swaddling and white noise may help soothe your baby to sleep. -Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back to help prevent SIDS. -Talk in low, soothing tones to avoid stimulating your baby in the middle of the night. -Never fall asleep with your baby on a couch or chair, as there is a risk of falling as well as suffocation and SIDS. -Don’t change nighttime diapers except for poop. Changing your baby every time he or she wakes up isn’t necessary and may keep them awake longer.||-Set up a soothing nighttime routine with a bath, book, or lullabies to teach your baby how to relax before bed. -As soon as your baby seems sleepy, put him or her down for a nap. -Don’t respond to cries immediately. Give your baby a few minutes to try and get settled without you. -Avoid placing blankets or toys in your baby’s crib, as they can be a suffocation hazard and a SIDS risk.||-Babies are capable of sleeping 8-12 hours at a time each night at this age, though some may not be ready to do it just yet. -Consider dream feeding before you go to bed to help your baby sleep for a longer stretch. Keep the lights down and gently feed your baby without waking him or her up fully. -Transition your baby out of swaddling blankets at this age, especially if they begin to break out of it often. Start the transition by wrapping your baby without their arms in the swaddle, then remove it altogether.||-Lay your baby down to sleep while drowsy, but still awake. -Lower your baby’s crib to the lowest position if your baby can stand. At this age, they may be able to climb out. -Avoid overstimulation. Though babies at this age enjoy playing, encourage relaxation time before bed.||-Don’t add cereal to your baby’s bottle. Although your baby may be eating solid foods now, cereal in your baby’s bottle won’t help them sleep through the night and may cause indigestion. -Be prepared for separation anxiety, giving your baby attention and reassurance that you’ll always come back when sleep time is over. -A well lit room is good for naps, but your baby’s nursery should be dark at night. Never carry your baby into a brightly lit room at night, as this tells your baby’s brain it’s morning and time to wake up.||-Maintain regular bed and nap times for consistency. Keeping your child in a predictable sleep routine makes it easier to get them asleep. -Don’t allow toddlers to nap late in the day, as this may interfere with bedtime. -Keep a consistent bedtime routine with calming activities for 30 minutes before bed. Consider taking a bath, reading a book, or singing lullabies.||-Don’t skip naptime. Even as your toddler becomes more active, naps are an important part of their sleep needs. -Toddlers may resist sleeping especially in this stage when they don’t want to miss out on fun. Be gentle but firm in enforcing naps and bedtimes. Avoid threats or yelling, as this will make them feel insecure and make them too excited before bedtime. -Ask your toddler to help you pick out pajamas and a stuffed animal to take to bed. This will help them feel more secure, in control, and comforted. -Inspect the area around your toddler’s crib for anything they can reach from a standing position, such as curtains, window blinds, or art on the walls||-Your toddler may be ready to transition from a crib to a bed at this age, especially if they are active or frequently attempt to crawl out of their crib. -Limit food and drink right before bed, especially if you’re potty training. -Do not allow screen time in the bedroom or for at least an hour before bed to avoid overstimulation. -Avoid large stuffed animals, toys, or bumper pads in the crib, as they can be used to climb out.||-Preschoolers usually stop napping by age five. During this age, give your child an hour of quiet time during the day and allow them to play quietly in their bed or room if they are not sleeping. -Be ready for nightmares and nighttime fears. Allow your child to come to you if they are scared in the night, but insist that they return to their own bed once they’ve been comforted. -Be patient and prepared with nighttime potty training. Avoid drinks right before bed, make potty time part of your bedtime routine, and place a protective mattress cover under your child’s sheets.||Respect your child’s sleep needs. Avoid letting family or extracurricular activities interfere with giving your child enough time to sleep at night. -Watch for signs of sleep deprivation which can include irritability, frustration, hyperactivity, and decreased cognitive ability. -Set clear limits on bedtime, including when lights are turned off, how many bedtime stories you’ll read, and when screen time stops. -Continue to maintain a consistent bedtime routine at the same time every night with calming activities.|
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Thank you Stephanie Linder at Sleep Help for sharing this information!