Sleep. It eludes us parents as our kids do everything they can to keep from closing their eyes.
As we stumble through life wishing we could take a nap, we second guess our knowledge of how much sleep our children should be getting. So, here’s a cheat sheet.
1-4 Weeks (15-18 Hours Per Day)
Newborns have no schedule. There are no rules regarding when they should go to sleep or wake up, other than making sure they eat every 2–3 hours. There’s the irony for you, right? Some parents have to wake their newborns up in the middle of the night in order to feed them. It’s like a cruel joke as you spend the remainder of the year attempting to string at least three hours of sleep together, but I digress.
Essentially your job as a newborn parent is to snuggle your adorable baby and have milk at the ready.
1–4 Months (14–15 Hours Per Day)
Yes, that’s right. Your infant will be sleeping the day away while you attempt to get all of your housework done. Honestly, does anyone actually do that sleep-when-the-baby-sleeps thing? I never did.
Your baby is developing sleep patterns as he or she can distinguish between daytime and nighttime, but the longest stretch of sleep will be between 4–6 hours. Attempting to sleep train a baby of this age is futile — your baby is incapable of sleeping all night and is still developing the ability to self soothe, which happens between 3–6 months.
4–12 Months (14–15 Hours Per Day)
This is where kids develop their “sleep personalities” so to speak. Some children love to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere, unable to succumb to the drowsiness that overtakes them. Others don’t want to miss anything and fight naps tooth and nail. Varying degrees of curiosity and separation anxiety also contribute to fighting naps and bedtime.
Children on the younger end of this spectrum will take three naps per day: one short nap in the early morning, a mid-afternoon nap, and an evening nap. Your child will drop the third nap around three months.
For your own sanity, attempting to establish a nighttime sleep routine is good between 4–6 months of age. I, personally, grew more strict about going to bed at a designated time with each child.
- Child 1: Snuggled her all night in the living room until I went to bed
- Child 2: Snuggled him for a couple hours after my daughter went to bed so I could have some quality time.
- Child 3: Kept her to the rigid schedule of the first two kids … how else was I going to accomplish anything in life?
1–3 Years (12–14 Hours Per Day)
Rounding that first year, your child will transition to just one midday nap instead of a morning and afternoon nap. Hopefully – for your own sanity – you have a child who actually enjoys napping. If that is the case, dropping one nap will be a tough reality for you!
Your child will drop naps altogether around the age of three, though some kids who love napping may carry daytime sleep to age four. I’m jealous of these parents.
3–6 Years (10–12 Hours Per Day)
If your child is still taking a nap during the day, the length of that nap will get shorter and shorter until it goes away altogether by the age of five. Children often go to bed between 7 and 9 p.m. and wake up between 6 and 8 a.m.
7–12 Years (10–11 Hours Per Day)
As life gets crazier, bedtime gets later, though it varies greatly. Some kids still go to sleep as early as 7 p.m. while others don’t go to sleep until 10 p.m. While the 10–11 hour range is recommended, WebMD says the average for this age range is nine hours of sleep.
12–18 Years (8–9 Hours Per Day)
Sleep is just as important for teenagers as it is for young kids, but it isn’t the highest priority for many. Social commitments and pressures get in the way of quality sleep.
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