Bedtime battles with your child are more than just an unpleasant way to end the day.
Research shows that not getting enough sleep can cause problems with attention, behavior and even learning difficulties. Lack of the proper amount of sleep can increase a child’s risk for accidents, injuries, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and even depression.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers ther following sleep guidance for children. Here are the recommended minimum and maximum hours each age group should regularly sleep during a 24-hour period for optimal health:
Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
There are many schools of thought on how to get a child to sleep well. What works best for each child and family is a personal decision for the parents and caregivers to make. Still, general recommendations include:
- Creating a progressive plan to get your child into better sleep habits
- Creating a nightly sleep routine with your child with the goal that the child falls asleep on his own
- Having everyone in the family and all caregivers agree to stick with the nightly sleep routine
Here are some recommended reading options for parents who are looking for help, depending upon the approach they most favor.
- Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition by Dr. Ferber. This is the origination of the “Cry It Out” method and is designed for parents who can tolerate a few nights of crying and going “cold turkey” with bad habits at bed time.
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night’s Sleep, 3rd Edition by Dr. Weissbluth. This offers various approaches varying from “crying it out” to more gentle and gradual changes for your child’s sleep routine. (Bacharach’s Pediatrics coordinator Mora Pluchino, PT, DPT likes this book best.)
- The Happiest Baby on the Block; Fully Revised and Updated Second Edition: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Dr. Karp. This book focuses on soothing the fussy baby.
- The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy by Kim West and Joanne Kenen. This book offers a gentle approach and explores topics like bed sharing and baby yoga .