Bedtime battles with your child are more than just an unpleasant way to end the day.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine just released its most recent sleep guidance for children. Below you can find 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
- Having all caregivers on board to stick with this program
Here are some recommended reading choices for parents who are looking for help, arranged according to parenting style:
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 would be beneficial for parents who can tolerate a few nights of crying and going “cold turkey” with bad habits at bed time such as very late bedtime, rocking to sleep, co-sleeping, etc.
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. It also addresses child’s sleep from infancy to teenage years. (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. Another great option that focuses on soothing a fussy or “colicky” baby and addresses a baby that needs a “fourth trimester” and teaches a baby to self soothe.
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. A more gentle approach for parents who are not into a lot of crying at bedtime. Explores topics like bed sharing and baby yoga for those who favor “attachment parenting.”