Kate’s Corner
Dec 17 2014

  Visions of Sugar Plums

Visions of Sugar Plums

Sleep habits are established early, are adjusted with great difficulty, and are lasting in one sense or another. The way we sleep as adults has roots in our sleep patterns as very young children.

Webmd.com recommends the following sleep guides for children:

  • Newborn – 4 weeks 16 hours / as needed on their own schedule
  • 1 month – 12 months 14 – 15 hours, includes morning and afternoon naps
  • 1 – 3 years 12 – 14 hours, children need one nap per day up to 3 years
  • 3 – 6 years 10 – 12 hours
  • 7 – 12 years 10 – 11 hours
  • 12 – 18 years 8 – 9 hours

Most young children don’t get the sleep they need, often resulting in health related concerns.

For some children sleep comes easily and quickly, for others it doesn’t. Children are brand new and the world is bright, beautiful, and more and more exciting every day! Their natural instincts are to watch and listen. Babies are developing incredibly complex and intricate skills constantly; all of a sudden they are on the move, playing with toys, wailing when they’re hungry and looking at everything. Turning all of this “off” is hard.

The older your child gets, the more we’re the ones that move them around and put demands on their time and energy. Then we expect them to go to bed, stay in bed, and not fuss about it. This is a lot to expect. School age children and teenagers can literally be overwhelmed by the demands of home, school, clubs, sports, friends, and jobs. They’re still very young and need us to set limits and guides.

Clearly, family schedules change. Holidays, company, special family or friend events, and many other obligations can alter children’s sleep routines at times. This can be very exciting and won’t cause any harm or damage to children! But for the most part – whenever you can – help children develop healthy sleep habits. Everyone will benefit.

Three sleep tricks that help:

Be consistent. All children function well when they’re rested in routine. For young children, establish a bedtime routine at night and stick with it as best as you can i.e. play, dinner, bath then books, snuggles then sleep. Take screen time out of the routine before bed. Children’s brains work differently when watching and listening to quick movements and different sounds. A calming effect from quiet play and reading is best.

My place to sleep. Children need their own sleep space. Infants need a crib; older children need their own bed. The same space, blankets, pillow, and a dark room will absolutely help with good sleep. Cribs should never have heavy blankets or pillows in them. “Lovies” need to be highly respected. A special blanket, doll, stuffed animal – anything! – that your child feels offers security and comfort is essential to rest and sleep. Personalize sleep space through art work, pictures, books, colors…

Bedtime food. Heavy foods and snacks, foods with caffeine i.e. chocolate, soda, energy water, and fried and salty foods can upset stomachs and give children a jolt of energy. These aren’t recommended at bedtime. If children do have a snack, make it light and early, long before they go to bed.

Wonderful “Sleepy Books” for young children:

Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Sweet Dreams by Kimiko Kajikawa
Sleepy Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr.

Beautiful “Sleepy Music” for young children:

A Day without Rain – Enya
Lullaby – Jewel
A Father’s Lullaby – Nick Lachey
Return to Pooh Corner – Kenny Loggins
Lullabies – Laurie Berkner

“Babies smile in their sleep because they’re listening to the whispering of angels.”