Posted June 13, 2011on:
It was my pleasure to be around families with infants recently. As a young dad looked at his baby girl sleeping soundly in her little chair, he asked me “When will she stop taking naps?” We both laughed when I replied “Probably never. I know I could go for a little nap right now. How about you?”
Of course what he really was asking was when she will not sleep as much as she does now, as an infant.
When will her naps be part of her day and not most of her day?
Development, routines, schedules and the family life of a child will dictate and become the rhythm of his or her sleep patterns. By the time children are 6 – 8 months they will be on a predictable morning and afternoon nap rhythm which will become very important to their night sleep. Around 12 months children will be able to manage with a solid afternoon nap often eliminating their morning nap. This usually will be a “built in” part of their day until they are 4 – 4 ½ years old. School age children will require solid sleep and a critical rhythm and routine to the time they go to bed and wake up.
Babies need to sleep – they have the enormous job of growing every single system in their body. These systems need to work in tandem with each other and be successful independently as well as in a unit. They are building the foundation for their life. It’s exhausting.
Toddlers & preschoolers need to sleep – their brain (and all of its abilities), all other muscles, skin, nails, teeth, hair and every internal part of their being are being fine tuned to match the requirements of their life and its station. Now that they know they’ve “got it”, they are figuring out how to “use it!” It’s exhausting.
School age children need to sleep – they expend incredible amounts of energy in school, play, sports and the many tasks in a home. Even when they say they are not tired – they are. This age group often finds sleep “a waste of time”. There are too many other things to do. And doing all of those other things is exhausting.
Sleep deprivation is a true cause of emotional and physical concern. It is often a contributing cause of serious medical conditions. Sleep patterns and a healthy attitude for sleep develop early and over time. Make sure that your children – and you – get enough sleep. You will feel better and so will they.
Pediatricians (AAP) recommend:
Infants: 16-19 hours of sleep a day.
1 Year olds: 12-14 hours/day
Toddlers: 10-12 hours/day
Preschool children:10-12 hours a night
School age children: 10 hours a night
“My life’s motto is simply this, Never wake a sleeping child”
M. Daley mother, grandmother, great grandmother