Babies & Children, Sleep Patterns


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Many parents worry about how many hours sleep their child should have.  This is probably one of the most difficult of areas for parents to find answers to. Especially for new parents, as the average hours of sleep recommended can often become disconcerting, worrying and often lead to parents panicking that their child is not receiving enough sleep. As with every adult, every child will be different, and it is just a case of finding what is right for your child. Some children will happily sleep through the night, whereas some will sleep for less time and still seem just as alert and refreshed. Children’s sleep is vital to their growth, and it is important that they receive as much as they need.  To help recognise any lack of sleep, monitor your children’s behavior both during the day and at night.

Newborn Babies & Sleep

For newborn babies, as we all no doubt know, their sleeping pattern is the least predictable with every baby differing. However, babies normally sleep for up to 18 hours a day, or sometimes as little as 10. Evidently, this 18 hours is not just slept at night on most occaisions, but throughout the course of the 24 hour day. There is much different advice given to parents with newborn babies, but one that could reduce later difficulties in sleep, is to put your baby to bed when they are getting sleepy, not when they are asleep. This then encourages the baby to go to sleep on their own which is what we do as adults.

Young Children & Sleep

Young children up to the age of five, will generally sleep for up to 12 hours a night, and will often have naps during the day of up to 3 hours a day. Once the child reaches the age of five these naps normally stop but up to 12 hours of sleep at night is often still needed. This sleep pattern then lasts up to the age of 12, with the amount of sleep needed dropping to around 10 hours. However, there tends to be a wider variety with this age group depending on individual requirements. Equally, due to the increased stress and franticness of society this is where sleep disorders can commonly develop (read Common Sleep Disorders in Children & Adolescents).

Don’t Worry about ‘Average’ Hours of Sleep

Please remember that the above figures are subject to wide variation and parents should not worry if their child is not getting the “average” night’s sleep for their age group. If you are concerned about your child’s sleeping pattern then monitor their behaviours during the night and day and should this give you cause for concern, consult your doctor.


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