As parents, we all want our children to get a good night’s sleep. As adults we know how important sleep is, how essential it is to good health and vitality. I am a big believer in bedtime routines and ensuring my children maintain a predictable and calming bedtime. As I mentioned before in 18 ridiculous reasons why children wake at night my children have followed the same routine since they were 6 months old. This does not mean they are little angels and that they happily drift off to sleep each night. It also does not mean that they stay asleep all night, but it does mean that bedtime struggles are far less frequent and my children have little to no fall out from late nights.
It also doesn’t mean that they don’t “try it on” at bedtime. Even though they know the routine, they know what’s expected, they understand what is expected, they still like to delay bedtime if they can. Why they do this is a mystery. I think it is a fear of missing out, the allure of what might happen while I’m asleep, the intrigue of what do grown ups do when I’m asleep…
After chatting to some other parents, I found that we all have had similar excuses for not going to sleep from our children. Below are reasons my own children have given me over the years.
Some of these seem funny when written down and others just plain annoying, but all result in negative emotions at bedtime. To stop this from becoming a daily problem, I have taken the time to explain to my children the effects that a lack of sleep has on their emotional , social and physical well being. We’ve had talks about how sleep improves mood, how it helps our memories and improves concentration. We’ve discussed how our bodies grow and repair themselves while we sleep and that it gives our bodies a chance to de-stress.
I often remind them of these when they are playing up at bedtime. So often in fact, that my 5 year old will say I’m going to sleep mum, I want to grow a bit more so I can be taller or I’ll be told…I did hard work at school, so I’m going to sleep so my brain has time to organise the new information and can help me remember it in tomorrow’s lesson.
Sometimes it is helpful to know about the average baby’s sleep requirements so that you can stop comparing them to friends children and wondering if your little one is different or abnormal. Sleep researchers have discovered that babies sleep needs differ at different ages and of course that babies are individuals, just like adults and have different personal sleep needs.
This list is meant to be a guide, so when looking at it, bear in mind that babies differ greatly and that it does not necessarily mean there is something wrong with your baby if he sleeps much more or much less than the average.
A healthy baby will take as much sleep as she needs, so don’t worry that she is coming to harm.
Average Number of Hours Needed:
Age During the DAY At NIGHT
1 week 8 hours 8hours 30 min
4 weeks 6-7 hours 8-9 hours
3 months 5 hours 10 hours
6 months 4 hours 10 hours
9 months 2-3 hours 11hours
12 months 2 hours 30 min 11-12 hours
2 years 1 hour 15min 11-12 hours
3 years 1 11-12
4 years none 11-12
5 years none 11-12
Notice that as they get older the daytime nap gets shorter and sometimes fall away completely. However, if your 4 year old needs a nap, it is fine to continue to do so…just because the average child may not need it, you should look at your own child’s individual needs. If she is happy, alert and thriving, then the amount she is taking is sufficient. If she seems grumpy and irritable, then perhaps she needs more.
If your child doesn’t want to go to bed, take the time to talk about sleep and how good it is for them, especially at their young age. You’ll be impressed with how much they understand and how they take it on board. If you can get them to see how sleep will make them more clever, stronger, healthier and less moody, I guarantee you they’ll soon quit their bedtime shenanigans.
Good luck and let me know if your children have some fantastic reasons for not going to bed. I’d love to hear about them and how you deal with them.
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