Toddlers (children 1 to 2 years of age) should have 11-14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period. This may be split up between nighttime sleeping and a nap or two during the daytime. Most preschoolers (children 3 to 5 years of age) need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period and usually one daytime nap.
Difficulty falling asleep isn’t just a problem among adults; children experience sleeping problems, too. Common sleep problems among toddlers include:
- bedtime resistance
- night awakenings
- difficulty returning to sleep
- nighttime fears
Sleep problems are also common among preschoolers. These include:
- resisting going to sleep
- waking frequently at night
- nighttime fears
- sleep terrors
The key is to establish an excellent bedtime routine to ensure that your child gets enough sleep. Here are 5 tips to set up your child’s bedtime routine:
Stick to the same set bed times and wake up times each day. Maintain regular nap times as well (not too late in the day or not too brief). Doing so will help your child get a good night’s sleep.
Create a consistent bedtime routine. After dinner, the remainder of the evening should include light playtime, bath, brushing teeth, a short bedtime story (reading to your child in the evening allows their brain to rest), and then bed. Turn off all electronic screens at least 2 hours before bedtime. Television watching or any other form of screen time (iPad, smart phones, etc.) should not be allowed in the bedroom. These can over-stimulate the child and make it harder for them to fall asleep.
Make sure your child’s bedroom environment is quiet, cool, dark and comfortable for sleeping. Turn off overhead lights and use dim table lamps starting 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Allow your child to pick out which pajamas he or she wishes to wear and which stuffed animal to take to bed, etc. Having a choice of security object (stuffed animal or blanket) helps your child feel more relaxed at bedtime and all through the night.
Limit food and drink before bedtime, especially any drinks containing caffeine. A light snack before bedtime is fine.
Tuck your child into bed in a sleepy but awake state, then leave the room. Doing so will help your child learn to fall asleep on his or her own. This will also help your child return to sleep independently if he or she wakes up in the middle of the night.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s sleeping habits. Shop at Watsons for your child’s needs and other healthcare essentials.