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Published on August 17, 2022

Sleep Training: How Much Shuteye Should Your Child Get and Why

baby boy sleeping with teddy bear

By Cody Miller, EvergreenHealth Staff Writer

One of the most important parts of child development is establishing healthy habits that will carry on throughout the “growing up” stage and as a parent, you are the key to teaching healthy habits, routines and behaviors to your little one.

On Check-Up Chat with EvergreenHealth, Dr. Poornima Ramadas shares information you need to help you sleep soundly, knowing your little one is getting the rest they need with adequate naps and tips on sleep training.

For parents, especially new parents, their child's sleep can be a frustrating conundrum, but it plays a crucial role in the mental development in your child. Sleep training involves setting healthy routines and habits for getting quality shuteye.

Sleep not only makes your child happier, but it also impacts:

  • Alertness and attentiveness
  • Cognitive performance
  • Mood
  • Resiliency
  • Memory and learning

If your child doesn't get the proper amount of sleep or poor-quality sleep, it can lead to:

  • Allergic rhinitis, which is inflammation in the nose that causes congestion
  • Issues with the immune system
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

While it's nice to know the benefits of good sleep and the side effects of poor rest in our children, it can be difficult to find information about how much sleep our kids should be getting.

Let's break down the daily number of sleep hours and the number of naps your child should get depending on their age.

Age Total hours of sleep per day with naps Average number of daily naps
2-12 months 12-16 hours 2 at 12 months old
1-3 years 11-14 hours 1 by 18 months old
3-5 years 10-13 hours 1 at most (50% of children don't nap by 3 years old)
5-12 years 9-12 hours Roughly zero (95% of children stop napping by 5 years old)
13-18 years 8-10 hours Zero (Napping at this age could mean your child isn't sleeping enough at night; consult your doctor)

As you watch your child grow through each of these exciting stages, you may have to try different things to get them settled in a consistent sleep routine. Here are some tips based on age from AAFP:

Newborn up to two months old

  • Put them in their crib when sleepy (fussy, crying, rubbing eyes), not after they're asleep
  • Lay them in their crib on their back
  • Expose them to sound and light during the day, but lessen light and sound levels at night

Infant from three to 12 months old

  • Try to have a soothing bedtime routine by the time your infant learns to sleep through the night
  • Put them to bed when they're sleepy so they learn to soothe themselves to sleep
  • Don't overfeed them or put them to bed with a bottle in their mouth
  • If they wake up, keep any feeding brief and keep the lights and sounds low
  • By nine months old, they can sleep through the night without feeding

Toddlers one to three years old

  • Make sure you have a pleasant bedtime routine, which can include a bath, reading a book or a lullaby
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time
  • Limit exposure to electronics and the T.V.
  • Avoid too much food, drinks or vigorous activity before bed
  • Encourage them to fall asleep on their own
  • If they wake up in the middle of the night, calmly help them back to bed.

School-age children

  • Maintain pleasant bedtime and wake-up routine with consistency during the week and weekend
  • Avoid electronics, T.V. and vigorous activity before bed
  • No caffeine or food in the hours leading up to bedtime

Teenagers

  • During this stage, teenagers should be getting more sleep, not less
  • Encourage consistent bedtime and wake-up time on weekdays and weekends
  • Discourage electronic usage before bed
  • If you recognize your child is having a hard time falling asleep, is snoring, sleepwalking or cranky and hyper during the day, consult a doctor.

Remember that many adverse sleep behaviors and changes are part of normal development. If you notice a pattern and are wondering what to do, try the tips for teaching healthy sleep habits. Most unhealthy sleep patterns can be associated with one of the common inhibitors such as screentime, sugar intake, etc. If you're still concerned about your child's sleep pattern, bring it up to your pediatrician or primary care physician.

Also, don't forget to look after your own sleep, too! Poor sleep for adults can lead to a lot of the same issues and can trickle down to your children. Rest well, knowing your child is well-rested.

Poornima Ramadas Meet the Expert

Poornima Ramadas, MD

Dr. Poornima Ramadas is board-certified in family medicine as well as fellowship-trained and board-certified in obesity medicine. She specializes in family medicine, preventive medicine and obesity medicine, and performs a variety of primary care-related procedures, including skin biopsies, minimally invasive procedures and birth control insertion.

Read Dr. Poornima Ramadas' full profile

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