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How much sleep does your child really need?

Most parents would agree that managing their kids’ sleep schedule can be quite the challenge. Between family activities, sports, homework and other obligations, ensuring that they get the proper amount of shut-eye is often easier said than done.

As you plan out your family’s schedule, keep in mind what the National Sleep Foundation suggests is the ideal amount of sleep for each age group:

Newborns (0-3 months): 10.5 to 18 hours per day. While their sleep patterns will be irregular early on, encourage your newborn to get nighttime sleep. Dimming the lights and keeping noise to a minimum will help them fall asleep at optimal times.

Infants (4-11 months): 9-12 hours per day. Experts say that 70-80% of newborns will sleep through the night by nine months old. Whether or not this is true for your child, plan on giving them 30-minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day – fewer as they reach 12 months old. Remember, sticking to a sleep routine will go a long way.

Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours of sleep per day. As they approach 18 months, their naptimes will decrease to about once per day. Children in this age bracket are prone to sleep disruptions like nightmares or resistance to bedtime. To combat this, you should be diligent in making their bedroom a healthy sleep zone, free of distractions, allergens and other irritants. Consider using mattress and pillow protection to keep their bed dry, cool and comfortable.

Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours per day. Much like toddlers, preschoolers are prone to disrupted sleep due to their developing imagination. Having them stick to a routine will help them establish great sleep practices at an early age. As they approach age five, naps become less and less common.

School-aged children (6-13): 9-11 hours per day. This is the age bracket where “life” can get in the way of quality sleep. Between homework, athletics and even the exposure to caffeinated beverages, it’s quite common to see kids in this age bracket struggle with sleep deprivation. Limiting their screen time on computers, TV and mobile devices will help. But it’s just as important to monitor their caffeine intake and teach the importance of a good night’s sleep. It’s a habit they really should form.

Teenagers (14-18): 8 to 10 hours per day. While early school start times and continued emphasis on extracurricular activities often get in the way, it’s crucial for teens to amass around nine hours of sleep. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that a regular sleep schedule will help them maintain a healthy rhythm. Experts also say that, in addition to a creating a healthy sleep zone, teens should focus on a healthy diet and begin to wind down an hour before bedtime to help them rejuvenate properly. If nothing else, having them mix in a 20-30-minute power nap after getting off the bus isn’t a bad idea either.

No matter what stage of life your child is in, ensuring that they are getting the right amount (and right quality) of sleep is a vital part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Good luck!

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