March is here! It isn’t just another month because we have a lot of important health observances and awareness programmes coming up. March 1st is Baby Sleep Day. Baby sleep day emphasises the importance of a good night’s sleep for every young child and their family. Babies, children, and teens need to sleep more than adults. Also the quality of sleep influences their mental and physical development.
Considering how important sleep is, let me address the most frequently asked questions parents have relating to this.
FAQ 1: The million dollar question has always been: “How much sleep do babies and children need?”
Here is a sneak peek into what’s optimum for you little one.
Hours of Sleep
Newborns (0-3 months)
14-17 hours (minimum 11 hours)
Infants (4-11 months)
12-15 hours (minimum 10 hours)
Toddlers (1-2 years)
11-14 hours (minimum 9 hours)
Preschoolers (3-5 years)
10-13 hours (minimum 8 hours)
School-aged Children (6-13 years)
9-11 hours (minimum 8 hours)
Teenagers (14-17 years)
8-10 hours (minimum 7 hours)
FAQ 2: The second most frequently asked question is “Can you suggest a few tips to help kids sleep better and develop healthy sleep patterns for life?”
Tip 1 - Learn to recognise signs of sleepiness or the characteristic tired signs.
For instance, your newborn starts to tug at the ears/closes fists/yawns/flutters eyelids/makes jerky or kicky arm and leg movements/arches backwards/grimaces/sucks vigorously on fingers. Infants and young children start getting cranky, clumsy or clingy. They start to demand constant attention, get bored of their toys, cry or exhibit food fussiness.
Tip 2 – Establish a sleep friendly environment (Have a quiet, cool room with soothing lights. Make sure the curtains and shades are drawn close. Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom. Also turn off all screens an hour before bedtime).
Tip 3 – Have a regular, consistent night time routine. Get your child ready for sleep. Talk quietly and soothingly to your child and lead him to the room after putting all toys away. Get him/her changed to pyjamas. Have an enjoyable bedtime story reading session. You can also play music or sing lullabies.
Tip 4 – Encourage your child to fall asleep independently. Start this practise as early as the newborn stage. Put your newborn in the crib or cot when drowsy, not asleep. You may swaddle him snugly. Later as they grow, make them rest on their beds as you engage them in a soothing bedtime ritual appropriate for age.
What is more important than getting your children have a healthy sleep routine is to remember that you are a role model. Make sufficient sleep a family priority.
If your child has problems with sleep habits, discuss with your paediatrician. Most sleep problems are easily addressed.
After all, it’s always a sound mind in a sound body!
Article by Dr. Lakshmi Prashant Murli, MBBS, MD (Paediatrics),
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