Bedtime can be a battle between you and your children. To achieve more and better sleep for everyone in the household, we present 10 tips to help you win the war.
- Set a personalized bedtime
Sleeping helps children growth healthily; it helps the mind to settle down, allowing the brain to rest and protect the body from possible infections.
Depending on their age, little ones need a different amount of sleep during the day and night. Find out how many hours your little ones needs to wake up energized in the morning.
1 to 4 weeks: Newborns sleep between 16 to 17 hours, divided between 9 hours at night and the rest during the day. However, most babies still can’t tell the difference between day and night, which is why their sleep schedule can vary widely.
1 to 4 months: At this age, babies need approximately 14 hours of sleep, however they can take several naps of up to 3 hours during the day. This is the age to establish sleeping habits.
4 months to a year: By this age the little ones can tell the difference between day and night, however they still wake up hungry or because they need a diaper change. They should sleep approximately 13 to 14 hours.
Newborns born at term (0 to 28 days Very young babies (more than 28 days to 23 months)
Children (2 to 11 years old)
Adolescents (12 to 18 years old)
1 to 3 years: Babies this age need 12 to 13 hours of sleep.
3 to 6 years: Ideally, it is recommended that children this age sleep 11 to 12 hours, however school and other activities tend to interfere with this.
6 to 12 years: 10 hours of sleep.
12 to 18 years: Once children become adolescents, they don’t need as many hours of sleep. It is recommended they sleep at least 8 hours at night.
- Establish a bedtime routine
Routines are very important for babies, young children and adolescents. For example, a bath, brushing teeth, a bedtime story, relaxing music, and talking in a low voice are signals that indicate to your children what is to follow and they will automatically start to feel sleepy and will fall to sleep after your goodnight kiss.
- Create the perfect environment for sleep
Your child’s room should motivate him or her to sleep. A dark, cool, quiet place with soft sheets and a stuffed toy are ideal for falling asleep. Children, especially the youngest ones, often prefer to have a light on in the room, and a nightlight is acceptable for this purpose.
- Establish a wake-up time
If you already know how many hours of sleep your child needs to fully rest, and you have created the perfect bedtime routine, set a time to wake up! This can vary between school days and weekends, however it is advisable to not let it vary much, since those “extra” hours of sleep can affect your little one’s nighttime routine.
- Turn off the electronics
Televisions, computers, cellphones, electronic games and any type of electronic device should be removed from your child’s room since they cause insomnia and the light they emit imitate daylight, confusing your child’s brain and affecting his or her sleep.
It is also important that any electronic devices be turned off at least an hour before going to bed.
- Protect them from their fears
Rather than dismiss children’s fears at bedtime, face them. If assuring your little ones that there is no “monster in the closet” doesn’t work, you can try getting a special toy that guards the room at night, or spraying the room with “anti-monster spray” before going to bed. (A spray bottle with a creative label works well).
- Make sure they exercise
It is important that your children are physically active throughout the day, so they will be calmer at bedtime. However, it is recommended to not do any physical activity at least 3 hours before bedtime, or they will be too stimulated to fall asleep.
- Don’t stress “bedtime”
Just like adults, children can sometimes have problems sleeping, turning off their brains and simply resting at night. Instead of increasing anxiety by insisting its “bedtime”, try calming your child with relaxing ideas and activities. Try Storybook, an app that has stories and videos showing how to massage your baby. Not only will you help your child sleep, you will also strengthen your bond.
- Avoid food and caffeine before bed
It is well known that caffeine is a stimulant and is not good for children. Snacks are acceptable before bed, as long as they are healthy such as small amounts of fruits and vegetables.
If your child asks to eat before bed, it is recommended to offer a warm glass of milk and fruit or whole grain crackers.
- Be sure that your child does not have a sleep disorder
Pay attention if, after all your efforts, your child has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, falls asleep at inappropriate times, suffers mood swings or even sleeps too much (unusual for his or her age). Your child may have a sleep disorder. If you suspect anything, speak with your pediatrician or make an appointment with a sleep specialist.
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Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: A systematic literature review (2015).