Top Ten Sleep Tips For New Parents

Top Ten Sleep Tips For New Parents

The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for new parents, but it can also be tough on sleep routines. Adjusting to new demands on your time can be exhausting, but getting the sleep you need is just as challenging. By the time your baby is three months old, they can sleep at least five hours at a time. By six months, they could be sleeping for nine to twelve hours!1​ Until you and your baby are enjoying a good, regular snooze, we’ve gathered our top ten sleep tips for you to get a decent sleep.

Top Ten Sleep Tips for Better Sleeping

1. Sleep when your baby sleeps.

Although they may wake up often during the night, newborn babies sleep a lot during the day. Sleeping when they do will help you get caught up on missed sleep. Turn off the phone and leave the chores alone – although it’s tempting to get stuff done when your baby is sleeping, you need to sleep more than the floors need cleaned.

2. Try to keep your baby alert during the day and create a calmer environment in the evening.

Switch to lower lighting, quieter voices, and reduce background noises, such as TVs, to help establish the difference between day and night-time routines. This could promote longer periods of sleep throughout the night. Read more about this here.

3. Assign baby duties.

Split night-time baby duty so that you and your partner each get at least one solid five-hour block of uninterrupted sleep. One of you is on duty from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the other from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. You can adjust these times to your schedule. The parent who is on-duty can still sleep, but they’ll be the one who gets up when the baby wakes up. Consider pumping breastmilk so that your partner can feed the baby with a bottle of milk without interrupting your sleep.

4. Don’t keep the baby in bed with you.

It’s alright to bring your baby into your bed for feeding – but return them to their cot when you’re ready to go back to sleep. Keeping your baby in bed with you can seem like the easier option – especially when you’re exhausted – but this can create more problems in the longer run. Returning your baby to their cot can help them associate the cot with sleeping.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When family or friends visit during the first few weeks, don’t worry about small talk or social niceties. Ask if they’d mind watching the baby while you grab a quick nap. They’ll understand and will hopefully be happy to help.

6. Learn to accept help.

Everyone wants to prove that they can manage, but accepting help if people offer it doesn’t make you weak or a bad parent. If someone asks if they can help, give them a job to do – even if it’s just watching the baby while you have a quick shower.

7. Prepare for sleep.

Caring for a new baby can leave you feeling exhausted – perhaps even to the point that you expect yourself to fall asleep as soon as your head touches the pillow. However, sometimes you might instead find that you’re struggling to get to sleep. Make sure your environment is well suited for sleeping – your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. If you are still trying to get to sleep after 15 – 20 minutes, leave the room and do something relaxing elsewhere, like reading a book. If you stay in bed, your brain will associate your bed with restlessness. Only go back to bed when you’re feeling sleepy.

8. Get rid of electronic distractions.

Remove laptops, mobile phones, or tablets from your bedroom, and ideally avoid screen time for an hour before going to bed. If you have a TV in your bedroom, keep it off. The blue light that’s emitted from these screens disrupts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and will disrupt your sleep quality. You can read more about how technology affects our sleep here.

9. Make sure your bed is comfy.

When sleep is in short supply, it’s important to make sure that your bed is comfortable and supportive, and an aid to restful sleep. If your mattress is old and lumpy, consider investing in a new one. Browse our selection of mattresses here.

10. Watch your hormones!

Sleep deprivation can lead to mood changes, and your hormones are already in over-drive. This can lead to the ‘Baby Blues’, or even Postnatal Depression, which you can read more about in our article, ‘Postnatal Depression and Sleep‘. If you’ve got any concerns about your mood levels, or an ongoing sleep problem, consult your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying conditions will help you get the rest you need. Making sure that you get a good sleep is the best way to take good care of your baby.

Top Ten Sleep Tips For New Parents

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Teaching Your Child to Self-Soothe

Everyone has brief wakeful periods during the night between moments of deep sleep. While most adults aren’t aware of waking, because they wake for less than three minutes, a young baby who wakes up won’t know how to go back to sleep. Therefore, when they’re awake, you’re awake. The secret to your child sleeping through the night is for them to learn to soothe themselves back to sleep. Babies and younger children who can’t sleep without being rocked, cuddled, or having milk have developed an association between you and getting to sleep. Just as they’ve learned this association, they can learn to get themselves back to sleep without getting you out of bed, too. Helping your child learn to self-soothe is a great way to help them – and you – enjoy a good night’s sleep.

How Do You Teach Your Child To Self-Soothe?

Research shows that you can train your child to sleep on their own by gradually letting them spend longer amounts of time by themselves at night.1 Eventually, your child will routinely drift off alone. When your baby is between 6 and 12 weeks old, start putting your baby down to sleep when they’re drowsy but still awake. Occupy them with a favourite toy. This is the first step towards self-soothing. If your baby starts to whimper, they may settle down, but don’t leave them to cry for prolonged periods.

A few months later, you should have set a consistent bedtime routine – read more about this here. Once you’ve got this sorted, you can start teaching your child to fall asleep independently.

After the bedtime routine, say goodnight and leave the room. Remember that, the first few times your child notices a change in their routine, they’re likely to be upset. If they cry out, call, or scream, wait a few moments before returning to check that they’re alright. Gently but firmly tell them that it’s time to go to sleep, but do not pick them up. Don’t stay for longer than a minute, as staying too long could encourage your child to cry as they want you to stay. If your baby continues to cry, check on them again after a few minutes. Keeping your visits brief and boring will encourage them to just go to sleep.

How often you check on your child, and how long for, will depend on your child’s temperament and your tolerance for hearing them cry. If they’re comforted quickly, keep your visits short. However, if the visits themselves are unsettling, it might be better to leave longer gaps between the checks.

It’s typical for a baby to cry for around forty-five minutes the first night, and they’ll often cry for longer the second night. However, within a week, most children are starting to sleep by themselves – so remember to be patient and consistent.2

Gradual Self-Soothing

Most parents find it hard to hear their child crying so, if you’d prefer not to leave your child upset for too long, there’s another way to help them self-soothe. You could try staying in the room while your child sleeps, but gradually move yourself further and further away from them. Do this for a week or two, until they’re by themselves and you’ve reached the door. However, this method will take longer for the baby to learn to self-soothe.

Top Ten Sleep Tips For New Parents

The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for new parents, but it can also be tough on sleep routines. Adjusting to new demands on your time can be exhausting, but getting the sleep you need is just as challenging. By the time your baby is three months old, they...

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Everyone has brief wakeful periods during the night between moments of deep sleep. While most adults aren’t aware of waking, because they wake for less than three minutes, a young baby who wakes up won’t know how to go back to sleep. Therefore, when they’re awake,...

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Sleeping Tips for Children with Additional Needs

Sleeping Tips for Children with Additional Needs

When a child does not sleep well, the whole family can be affected. The child can be left either too tired to think, or they can be over-active. The parents could be exhausted and unable to think clearly. This could also lead them to feeling like they’re struggling to cope with their daily activities – including looking after their child with additional needs. Siblings can also be affected; they could be tired at school and unable to concentrate, or they could start behaving badly during the day. When everyone is lacking sleep, their health, wellbeing, and relationships will start to decline. Even though children typically start to sleep through the night before they are one-year-old, children with additional needs are more likely to have problems with sleep. In fact, 86% of children with additional needs have issues with sleep.1 So, if you’re finding bedtime tricky every night, you’re not alone.

Why Is Sleep Affected?

There could be various reasons as to why your child struggles to get a good sleep.

  • A physical disability could make it harder for your child to get comfortable at night. They could also be uncomfortable due to muscle spasms, incontinence, or breathing difficulties. It’s natural to wake up when in discomfort, but getting back to sleep can be the issue.
  • If your child cannot move independently, and needs to be turned in the night, this is likely to disturb their sleep.
  • A visual impairment could make it hard for the child to know when it’s day or night, and when it’s time to be asleep.
  • Hearing impairments could lead to children feeling anxious and isolated when hearing aids are removed at night.
  • Neurological conditions that affect the brain, such as cerebral palsy or epilepsy, can also affect the brain’s normal sleep-wake cycle. Find out more about the sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, here.
  • Prescribed medication might also affect a child’s sleep pattern. For example, medication for epilepsy and ADHD can cause sleeplessness.
  • Learning disabilities, or difficulty communicating, could make it hard for children to understand why and when they need to sleep.
  • Sleeping disorders can also make it hard for your child to get a better sleep. You can read more about common disorders in children in our article here.

Discover Asperger’s affect on children’s sleep here, as well as checking out our article, ‘Children with ADHD and Sleep Problems‘.

How Can You Help Your Child Get A Better Sleep?

Lack of sleep can lead to aggression, depression, hyperactivity, behavioural problems, irritability, and difficulty concentrating at school. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for a child’s physical and mental growth. We’ve gathered some tips and advice for you to help your child with additional needs get the sleep they need. It’s a good idea to work these tips around your child’s needed hours of sleep, which you can find here.

Make the bedroom a relaxing space. Having a safe, calm, and pleasant bedroom will help your child relax. It’s also best that they think of their bedroom as comfortable and relaxing, so avoid sending them to their bedroom as punishment. The bedroom should be cool and quiet, so make sure TVs, iPads, or mobile phones are switched off about an hour before your child goes to sleep. It’s also better for the room to be dark but, if your child finds the bedroom too dark, try a small night light that glows softly.

Have a bedtime routine. Put your child to bed at the same time each night and wake them up at the same time each morning – including weekends! The routine should fit in with your everyday family life, and your child should find it enjoyable. Typically, the routine could be made up of four or five relaxing activities, such as colouring, doing a jigsaw puzzle, drinking a glass of warm milk, having a bath, and finishing with a bedtime story once your child is settled in bed. If your child communicates by using objects, pictures, or signs, use these to help them understand the bedtime routine. A favourite toy could also be used to act out the routine so that your child becomes familiar with it, and social stories may help children with learning difficulties understand the routine.

Keep a sleep diary. A sleep diary will help you find out what triggers poor sleeping, and what seems to help. As different children have different patterns, especially if they have additional needs, it’s a good idea to keep a sleep diary over a two-week period to better understand their sleep pattern. This information is also useful to show to a doctor, as they can get a better idea as to how to improve your child’s sleep in a way that works for them.

Help them get used to sleeping on their own. If your child is used to having you in the bedroom when they go to sleep, they can be distressed when you leave them. If they wake up during the night and you’re not there, this can also be stressful for them. Gradually getting them used to you not being in the room when they fall asleep will stop them from feeling like this during the night. Avoid getting into bed with them or cuddling them, and keeping eye contact to a minimum will help, too. If you find this hard, reading a book to yourself might help. Increase the distance between you and your child every three days. So, if you start by sitting next to the bed, sit a bit further away each time until your child no longer needs you there to fall asleep. It’s important to be firm and stick to this – changing bedtime habits might take some time but, if you persevere, it’ll have great benefits for everyone in the family.

The above are ideas for how you can help your child get a better sleep, but the best way to help them is to talk to a doctor. A doctor will better understand your child’s needs and will advise you on strategies or medication that is best for your child.

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Shedding a Light on Nightmares

Nobody likes them, but we’ve all had them. Nightmares that we can’t seem to wake up from and, when we do, we don’t want to go back to sleep. Nightmares can occur in older children and adolescents, but are extremely common in younger children, especially during the preschool years. They are part of normal development, as children’s imaginations develop and they begin to understand that there are things that exist that can hurt them. They might be scared to go to bed, which can be challenging when it comes to getting your child settled for a good sleep. However, finding out more about nightmares can help you and your child sleep easy.

What Causes Your Child to Feel Scared of Going to Sleep?

Sometimes, nightmares can seem like they come out of the blue. However, they can be a result of a frightening experience, or even from watching the news. Your child could also be affected by family conflict and parental anxiety. Anything that makes a child more upset is going to make their fears worse, making them feel more anxious and going to sleep more difficult. Children also tend to have different fears at different development stages. Younger children are more often afraid of monsters in the closet and other imaginary creatures. Older children are more likely to fear being hurt by more realistic dangers, such as burglars or a natural disaster.

Some children learn that saying they’re afraid is a great way to stall or avoid bedtime – watch out for this. However, some children with sleep issues really have an anxiety disorder; these are generally children who worry a lot during the day or have things they’re anxious about. Ask if there’s anything on their mind if they’re having trouble sleeping.

How Should You Respond to Your Child’s Nightmares?

Children need reassurance after having a nightmare – especially younger children. As your child gets older, though, you’ll want to start teaching them coping skills that they can use when they’re anxious or scared. This is great for when you’re not there for them if they have a nightmare, such as at a sleepover. No matter your child’s age, though, reassurance will go a long way to help them feel safe and secure. For younger children, a security object, such as a favourite stuffed animal or a blanket, can help a child feel relaxed and safe in bed. You could also leave a low nightlight on in your child’s bedroom. Having your child imagine a relaxing scene, like being on the beach, will help them relax after a scary dream.

Children can also use their imagination to help them settle down and fall back to sleep. Suggest to your child that they should imagine a different ending to the nightmare. Hanging a dream catcher over your child’s bed so that it catches bad dreams can also help to reassure them.

What’s the Difference Between Nightmares and Night Terrors?

Nightmares and night terrors are both scary and can disturb sleep, but they’re not the same thing.

Nightmares occur during REM sleep, when the brain is most prone to vivid dreaming. This means that they often happen later at night or in the early-morning hours, when the brain reaches that part of the sleep cycle. Night terrors, on the other hand, tend to occur earlier, during non-REM sleep.

Nightmares are vividly recalled. Someone who experiences a nightmare will wake up immediately with a clear, detailed memory of the bad dream. Someone who experiences a night terror may shout, sleepwalk, or appear scared for several minutes before relaxing back into sleep. Later, they’ll only have a vague memory of the dream. It’s likely that the sleeper won’t even remember it in the morning.

Night terrors are more common in children, especially if they’re between the ages of four and eight. Night terrors typically go away on their own as a child gets older, while nightmares can affect any age.

What Do You Do If Your Child Says They’re Too Scared to Go to Sleep?

  • Try to understand your child’s fears – don’t dismiss or make fun of them.
  • Reassure your child, and remind them that they’re safe.
  • Teach your child coping skills, such as thinking positive thoughts.
  • Make being in the dark fun – play flashlight tag, or have a treasure hunt and search for things that glow in the dark.
  • Use your imagination to fight imaginary fears, like monsters lurking in the closet or under the bed. You could have “monster spray”, or let your pet sleep with your child if you have one. When possible, let your child be actively involved in coming up with ways to help them gain a sense of control.
  • A nightlight can help – if they don’t prevent your child from falling asleep.
  • Leave the door open slightly so that your child doesn’t feel isolated from the rest of the family.
  • Keep your child away from scary TV shows, films, videos, or stories.
  • Teach your child relaxation techniques, like imagining a relaxing scene. This will give them something else to think about while lying in bed.
  • Talk to your child about their fears during the day and how they can be less frightened at night. This can help build their self-confidence; if they feel secure during the day, they will feel secure at night, too.
  • Encourage your child to stay in bed – this will help them realise that they really are safe and can overcome their fears. It’s much better for you to join them in their room than for them to join you. However, don’t stay with them until they fall asleep too often, or even two nights in a row – they may become dependent on your presence. If your child gets up in the middle of the night and comes into your room, take them back to their room and gently tuck them into bed.
  • Check on them – if your child’s anxious about you leaving, check on them frequently. It’s better to check on them on a predictable schedule (every 5 – 10 minutes), so that your coming and going is not based on them crying or calling out for you.

If frightening dreams are keeping your child awake at night for several nights, or weeks, in a row, consider talking to your doctor. Sleep disruptions can negatively affect daytime energy levels, and children need a good sleep every night. Your doctor can help find a solution to get your little one sleeping soundly.

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Sleeping Stages of Childhood

Sleeping Stages of Childhood

Just as everyone has different favourite foods, TV shows, films, and style, every child starts with a different natural sleeping pattern. This can be a challenge to adjust to, especially for new parents who are discovering their child’s sleep pattern for the first time. This is why it can be helpful to know the sleeping stages of childhood; as they grow, your child’s sleeping needs will change. Even though there can be a wide variation in sleep patterns and needs, especially in the first year of life, we’ve drawn up a handy guide for what to expect as your child grows.

Newborns: 0 – 3 Months Old

Newborns will typically sleep for 30 minutes to 4 hours at a time, adding up to 11 – 19 hours of sleep per day. There are usually no set patterns, and the unpredictability of when they’ll wake up can be challenging. It’s a good idea for parents to adapt their schedule to fit their little one’s needs for food, changing of nappies, and nurturing.

At birth, our circadian rhythm hasn’t developed, so most newborns won’t know the difference between sleeping during the day and during the night. It will take them a few weeks to get used to the idea of being awake when the sun’s up and sleeping when the stars are out. If, after a few weeks, your baby still seems to have days and nights mixed up, you can help set their internal clock. Do this by increasing playtime, social interactions, and household noises during the day. However, keep lights dimmed, voices low, and stimulation to a minimum in the evening and night. This will help your newborn adjust to the idea of relaxing in the evening before going to bed.

You can read more about circadian rhythm here.

Newborns also don’t have the same type of sleep as adults; they tend to be more animated. A newborn will spend about 50% of their time in ‘active’ REM sleep. This can involve smiles, whimpers, and movements. They’ll spend the other 50% in quieter, non-REM sleep, which can involve startle responses and sucking movements.1

Once your little one reaches 6 – 8 weeks, they will manage to stay happy and alert for only up to two hours at a time. By recognising early signs of sleepiness, you can start to put your child down to sleep while they’re drowsy – but still awake. This’ll help them become ‘self-soothers’, so that they’ll be able to fall asleep and put themselves back to sleep when they wake at night – so you don’t have to struggle out of bed in the middle of the night!

Signs of sleepiness can include:
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Crying or whimpering
  • Yawning or stretching a lot
  • Pulling or flicking of their ear
  • Getting faint circles under the eyes
  • Staring blankly into space
  • Quiet and content after a feed
  • Turning away from people and moving objects

After eight weeks, you should be noticing that your newborn is sleeping for longer during the night. However, for some infants, this can take several months.

Infants: 4 – 11 Months Old

Infants often take several months to establish a regular sleep and napping routine.

By six months, all infants are capable of getting through the night without a feed. So-called ‘good-sleepers’, who apparently sleep through the night, are actually ‘self-soothers’. They go back to sleep by themselves after brief awakenings. ‘Signallers’ will signal that they’re awake with a cry and may need rocking or nursing back to sleep. However, they’ll eventually learn to get back to sleep by themselves.

By nine months, around 60% of children take one nap in the morning and another in the afternoon, while over 70% will sleep through the night.2

Your infant will typically sleep in 60-minute cycles, so brief arousals during the night are common.

Toddlers: 1 – 2 Years Old

A toddler will typically need at least 11 hours of sleep every 24 hours. If your little one goes to bed between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., then they’ll wake up between 6.30 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Before they’re two-years-old, most toddlers will only have one nap per day. However, don’t go out of your way to stop them from napping – sometimes, even a three-year-old will benefit from two naps per day.

As toddlers become more active and their language skills develop, they are better at resisting bedtime. They’ll even express fear or separation anxiety, but it’s important that you don’t give in. A good way to help your toddler feel better about being left alone is to leave their favourite toy or blanket with them, as this might help them fall asleep. Even better, it could comfort them if they wake up during the night and will help them go back to sleep without waking you up.

Reinforcing good behaviour with a consistent approach, and a regular schedule, will be increasingly important at this stage.

Pre-Schoolers: 3 – 5 Years Old

After their third birthday, many children will start to give up naps during the day – but let them nap if they’re sleepy. A good routine at this age is to get them to bed between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at night, and they’ll get their needed 12 – 14 hours of sleep.

Remember, pre-schoolers can be very stubborn when they don’t want to go to bed – so it’s important that you maintain a consistent approach! Keeping to a regular bedtime routine at this age can help your child accept bedtime. Include things that your child enjoys, but make sure they’re relaxing things, like reading books, playing with quiet toys, or even a bath. You can read more about establishing a regular routine so that your little one gets the best sleep here.

School Age: 6 – 12 Years Old

Your child’s wake up time will be dictated by the time they need to get ready for school. Children in this stage of their life need 9 – 11 years of sleep each night, though some children may need more.

Sleepiness during the day, mood swings, and behavioural problems could be signs that a child isn’t getting enough sleep. Keep an eye out for these, as lack of sleep can lead to difficulty concentrating. This can make school even more challenging for children adjusting to the new routine.

When school starts, your child’s sleep will have a new threat; homework. This will take up your child’s time and may even make them feel anxious. Encourage your child to finish their homework early in the evening, so that they have plenty of time to wind down and relax before bedtime.

At this stage, your child will also be spending much of their free time on phones, watching the TV, or using the internet. Watching TV and looking at their phones around bedtime can make them resist going to sleep even more, and it’ll also make falling asleep difficult. If your child isn’t sleeping well, it’s a good idea to limit their time watching TV or looking at their phone. Your child may benefit from quieter activities, such as taking a bath, reading bedtime stories or making up stories, drawing, or colouring.

 

Teenagers: 13 – 17 Years Old

 

Teenagers need 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night, but very few will get this long in bed. Recent studies suggest that most teenagers are getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep.3 Lack of sleep can affect mood, concentration, risk-taking behaviour, diet, and immunity from illness. If your older teenager drives, make sure they get their full hours of needed sleep each night.

Sleep deprivation in this stage is likely a result of a conflict between a teenager’s internal body clock and school schedules. At or around puberty, teens naturally become more alert late in the evening. Their body clocks shift a few hours back, so they might only become sleepy at midnight. Teenagers will juggle exams, homework, extra-curricular activities, having a social life, and even having a part-time job, so most older teenagers will only sleep after 11 p.m.

This means that, as they need to get up early for school, their sleep time is put under pressure. Many teens will gather a sleep debt during the week, so the weekend is the perfect time to catch up on this missed sleep. However, sleeping in on the weekends isn’t the best idea – they’ll disrupt their sleeping pattern, and this keeps them sleepy during the week.

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Create A Daily Schedule

Children don’t need to know how to tell the time to learn a daily schedule. A daily schedule helps to set their internal body clock, encouraging sleep at the same time each day so that they – and you – can get a good night’s sleep. From as early as six to eight weeks, it’s possible to introduce a set bedtime and a set time for waking up. You can even add set nap times to their routine. Naps for very young babies could be every two hours from waking, whereas toddlers can follow set clock times. Planning their feeding times will also help to reinforce this daily schedule.

It’s important to remember that, during the first year, things are often unpredictable, so you’ll need to adjust the schedule when needed. Start with a morning or evening routine and build on that. Incorporate things that your child does naturally, but try to keep a consistent order.

If you find that your child is still sleeping when they should be waking up, it’s fine to wake them in the morning or after a nap so that you can keep the schedule on track – but only if they’re getting enough sleep overall.

For toddlers, it’s a good idea to schedule nap times and playtimes. Frequently remind them what is going to happen next in the day, especially as you lead up to bedtime.

Remember that daily schedules rely on consistency, so that both children and parents know what to expect. You might need to try your new schedule for several weeks before you see signs of improvement.

How Much Sleep Do Babies and Toddlers Need?

Newborns sleep up to twenty hours per day in their first two weeks of life. Trying to establish a napping schedule right away for your little one is a futile effort. This could also interfere with breastfeeding by affecting your milk supply. Once your baby graduates from newborn status, you can start to make naps part of the rhythm of your day. Babies need 12 – 16 hours of sleep daily until they reach their first birthday, so naps are an important part of their life.

Most children aged 2 – 3 need about 12 – 14 hours of sleep per day. Some toddlers may sleep more during the night and have shorter naps, while others may sleep less at night and have a longer nap.

Here’s a basic break down of napping by age:

  • 3 – 6 months: three to four naps daily
  • 6 – 9 months: two to three naps daily
  • 9 – 12 months: one to two naps daily
  • 12 months to 3 years: once per day

Is There an Ideal Wake Up Time and Bedtime for A Toddler?

As your toddler needs about 12 – 14 hours of sleep per day, you’ll need to find the best bedtime and wake up time for you. For example, if your toddler needs to wake up at around 6 a.m. to go to day care, then it’s best that you try to get their bedtime as 6.30 p.m. If your toddler can sleep in a bit later in the morning, such as 8 a.m., then their bedtime can be adjusted to 8 p.m.

Respect Routine Bedtime Rituals

A consistent bedtime routine, or setting specific ‘rituals’ before the lights go out, will signal to your child that it’s time to sleep. Just as the daily schedule keeps their body clock on track, your child will learn to associate a bedtime routine with sleepiness.

It’s important that a bedtime routine is calming, and you and your child end up where your child goes to sleep. The routine should end with a favourite part, such as hearing a favourite bedtime story. For example, the routine could begin with a bath, and then changing into pyjamas. You could add in a snack, and then read a bedtime story in bed.

If repeated in the same order every day, the pattern will be recognisable. For toddlers, a routine that includes bath time and books might take up to forty-five minutes. Time the routine well so that it doesn’t have to be rushed; if it’s rushed, it’s not calming.

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