Many parents think that once babies are older, their sleep issues are over.
Unfortunately many toddlers, kids and even teens have sleep issues. Whether it’s a proper bedtime routine, getting in bed, or actually sleeping through the night, many moms and dads feel hopeless as their nighttime dreams are dashed (literally!).
Despite what might feel like a nightmare, even the most stubborn sheep counter can be lulled to sleep when parents are armed with the right information for their child. Here are a few things you need to know to help your child (and you) get a good night’s rest.
Proper Sleep Hours
There’s a wide range of times for babies, kids and teens to sleep. They include:
One – Two Years: Experts recommend toddlers sleep 11 – 14 hours each night. (Note: Some thrive on 9 while others need up to 16 hours.)
Preschoolers: Three to Five Years: Doctors recommend 10 -13 hours per night. (Note: This can range from 9 – 14 hours.)
6 – 13 Years: Activities or not, kids still need sleep. It’s best if they can get between 9 and 11 hours, but it can be as little as seven and as much as 12.
Teenagers 14 – 17: Teens might surprise you. While they don’t need as much sleep as infants and young children, the recommended hours of sleep are from 8 to 10 hours. 7 is the minimum, and some might need up to 11. (Note: If teens are sleeping consistently longer than 11 hours, pay close attention to too much activity or depression issues that might be cropping up. )
Dr. Beurkens Talks Mood and Sleep
Dr. Beurkens talks about sleep issues In her book, Life Will Get Better: Simple Solutions for Parents of Children with Attention, Anxiety, Mood and Behavior Challenges. According to Dr. Beurkens, a former special education teacher and clinical psychologist, “Sleep is essential for proper brain function. Before diving into medication for behavior and focus issues, there’s other routes to consider to get your child the restful night sleep he or she needs to thrive.”
Here are just a few tips Dr. Beurkens recommends.
The ABC’s of Wrangling the ZZZ’s
- The Value of Routine
Just like managing your child’s behavior, the key to success is in the routine. Babies and toddlers thrive on ritual. Even big kids tend to prefer and benefit from predictability, as it gives them a sense of comfort. A serene pre-bedtime routine is often a wonderful set up for a more relaxing bedtime experience, helping your child to fall asleep more quickly.
Consider incorporating into the bedtime ritual:
- Essential oils to promote relaxation
- Soothing music
- Dimmer lights
- Battery operated candles
- Epsom salt baths
- A book
- Meditation or prayer
- Quiet voices
- Be a Good Example
Kids are always watching what parents are doing. If you expect your kids to wind down for the day, consider setting the example yourself. Throw on your pajamas. Brush your teeth. Break out the slippers. Drink some tea. Talk low. While you might initially do this to be a good role model, you might quickly find that being comfortable unexpectedly lowers your own stress level. Your kids will feel this and subconsciously calm down as a result.
- Get the Whole Family on Board
It’s not enough for just one child to follow the bedtime rules – everyone must. This doesn’t mean that Mom and Dad are going to bed at 8PM on a Saturday, or that your teenager should be expected to soak in epsom salt baths at 7PM. It does mean, however, that the family should honor everyone’s bedtime by appropriately working around it. This sends the message to whoever is going to bed that not only do they matter, but they have lots of eyes on them to be sure there is consistency and follow through.
- Make Sleep Sacred
If bedtime is viewed as a power struggle, transition won’t be easy. But keeping in mind that nothing worthwhile comes without struggle, stay focused on the long haul. Consider buying them a special stuffed animal, new sheets or playing special music to create an inviting atmosphere for your child. While your baby or toddler won’t automatically fall into a deep sleep, they will quickly associate the items with the routine of rest and eventually find a rhythm.
Get Enough Sleep Yourself!
It bears repeating that caretakers need rest, too. If you’re low on sleep, you’re less likely to handle your child’s sleep issues with grace. Be kind to yourself and get the required seven to ten hours you need each evening to function optimally.
We’re Here for You
Raising kids is hard enough to keep anyone awake at night. We’re here to help you.
For more on sleep habits and your child, check out this post from Dr. Beurkens – read more….
What You Should Do Next:
Sign up for my Better Behavior Naturally community newsletter
Sign up for my newsletter to get tips, resources, and supports to improve your child’s attention, anxiety, mood, and behavior…while making your job as a parent easier.
Enroll in one of my workshops
Check out one of my many workshops where you’ll join my exclusive community of parents in a one-of-a-kind virtual resource accessible 24/7. Whether you’ve got a child with a diagnosis like autism or ADHD, or are becoming more and more frustrated with a child who struggles to listen and cope, these workshops are designed to give you the information, tools, and support you need…whenever you need it.