Over 40% of childhood is spent sleeping, and so doing whatever you can as a parent to make that time as relaxing and as regular as possible will do wonders for your children’s well-being.
Getting the right amount and quality of sleep is incredibly important for a child’s development in terms of their growth, learning capacities, general health and emotional well-being. This is why one of the most important things that you can do as a parent is to get your child into a healthy sleeping pattern from an early age.
The amount of sleep that children need is dependent upon their age. Newborn babies are recommended to need between 11 and 18 hours of sleep a day, and during their first few months much of this will be obtained from two to three hour naps. Even from such an early age, however, it is well-worth developing a pre-nap routine that can be anything from singing them a lullaby to gently patting their back as you rock them back and forth.
Whilst babies aren’t able to settle into regular sleeping patterns until after they reach six months, it is important to do all that you can to encourage your child to be sleeping through the night when they are little older than 3 months. It is around this age that you should try to develop a pre-bedtime routine with your child.
There are many different types of bedtime routine, neither of which are any more highly recommended than the other. Many parents like to give their children a warm bath before bed and perhaps read them a bedtime story. Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to do your best to provide your child with a sense of regularity and security which will help them to sleep more comfortably; initially staying with them until they start to drift off is one of the best ways to achieve this.
From the age of nine months children are much more active and should be encouraged to have only one afternoon nap. The timing of the nap can have a very big impact upon how they sleep through the night. Unfortunately the ‘best time’ will differ between children, and so getting it right will need a mixture of parental instinct and trial and error.
It is recommended that children continue to have an afternoon nap up until the age of five. It is when you slowly wean your child off them that the benefits of having established a regular nighttime sleeping pattern will pay dividends, both for you and your children.
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