Babies' and Kids' Sleep: Why Sleep is Important 😴
Deep dive with Little News: Sleep Series
Hello everyone! We are starting our sleep series deep dives. There will be a few deep dives covering babies’ and kids’ sleep, why it’s important, overview of “sleep guides and books”, sleep training methods overview, schedules for babies and toddlers and more! Please let us know if you have any suggestions and consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter about babies and kids.
A parent knows that it’s hard to be a good and engaged parent when one is sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation is a substantial risk to mental and physical health. Adults who are sleep deprived have a higher risk of developing depression, low marriage satisfaction and physical health problems. An unhappy parent may be detrimental to kids’ emotional and behavioral well-being.
More and more often we see research showing that sleep is also important to babies and kids. Sleep is an essential building block for the child’s health. Sadly, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that sleep problems affect 25 to 50% of children and 40% of adolescents.
The latest discoveries in neuroscience show that there’s much more to sleep than just recovery. Sleeping is critically important to the development of brain functions, such as learning new information and storing long-term memories. Recent studies have shown that sleep debt can cause ADHD-like symptoms, obesity, many behavioral problems, and sleep debt can make kids more likely to get sick. This article summarizes sleep research for kids and sleep deprivation consequences really well: https://bit.ly/3scYRIt.
National Sleep Foundation provides recommendations on sleep duration for each age group https://bit.ly/3IZNkTN
Ok, we got it, sleep is important. But how do you get your baby or toddler to sleep? We will discuss a little bit here and also in the future deep dives.
First of all, sleep environment is important. Is the room where they sleep completely blacked out? Is it quiet in it? Consider using white noise to to mask outside sounds. White noise especially helps newborns to sleep better - the sound is similar to how they hear the outside world while in the womb. We have shared some great sleep gear advice for newborns here:
Second, have a consistent bedtime routine. It may be different for your particular household but here is an example: bath, brushing teeth, PJs, reading a book, sing a song, night-night. With newborns it may involve diaper after the bath and a bottle / breastfeeding after PJs.
Lastly, know your baby’s wake windows. Newborns sleep a lot even during the day, then they consolidate their sleep and start napping 4 times a day, then 3 times a day, etc. and on average around 15 months old they drop their naps to one (some kids to that earlier, some later). It’s very helpful to know how much awake time your baby or toddler needs between their naps. If awake times are too short, the baby will be undertired and won’t sleep well at night. If the baby is overtired, same thing - they won’t sleep well at night. Basically, the wake window starts when the baby wakes up and ends when baby falls asleep. The recommended wake windows for babies and toddlers are as follows:
0-4 Weeks: 35-60 minutes
4-12 Weeks: 60-90 minutes
3-4 Months: 75-120 minutes
5-7 Months: 2-3 hours
7-10 Months: 2.5-3.5 hours
11-14 Months: 3-4 hours
14-24 Months: 4-6 hours
It may seem crazy but yes, in the first month, all you can do during the baby’s wake window is to feed the baby, change their diaper and put them back to sleep.
It’s also important to limit screen time just before bed for older kids, have a bit of a downtime just before bed (maybe read a book together or play quiet, low energy games).