Healthy sleep habits
What is a normal amount of sleep?
The normal amount of sleep varies depending on the age of your child and, to some extent, from child to child. Typical amounts are listed in the following table. (After the variability of the first weeks of life, most children's sleep times fall within about one hour of those listed)
of Sleep (typical)
|Nighttime Sleep||Daytime Sleep|
Helpful hints for healthy sleep habits:
- After the first 3 months, children should be on a fairly regular schedule (bedtime, naptimes, and mealtimes)
- By 5 months of life or so, most full-term healthy infants should be sleeping through the night (or with just one remaining waking). If this is not happening, possible causes should be explored. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.
- Nighttime feedings are usually no longer necessary after 4-6 months.
- After the early months, it is good practice for a child to fall asleep at bedtime under the same circumstances that will be present later in the night at normal middle-of-the-night wakings; he/she should not fall asleep one way at bedtime--being held and rocked, for example--only to wake later to find everything has changed.
- A regular bedtime routine appropriate for the child's age should be part of every bedtime (song, story).
- Transitional objects (favorite toys such as a teddy bear or doll) are helpful starting at about 1 year of age, but exactly which object the child ends up choosing is up to him or her.
- It is never good practice for a child to fall asleep lying in bed or in the crib with a bottle; such patterns can lead to increased ear and dental disease, and dependence on the bottle (or pacifier) as an aid to fall asleep can lead to increased nighttime wakings.
- The television should never be used in place of a parent for the bedtime routine. Television at either end of the nighttime sleep period can interfere with good sleep; thus, children should not fall asleep watching television at night, and should not be allowed to watch television as their first activity on waking.