The Importance of Sleep for Children… and You!!

baby sleeping

As a parent, I reckon that around 95% of my conversations revolve around sleep (or lack of!) It’s funny, isn’t it? As soon as a baby is born we turn the parents and one of the first things we ask them is how are they sleeping? We continually look for solutions to supposed ‘sleep issues’, we heavily discuss it amongst our new Mum friends and spend hours working out which sleep tactics are the best. And so begins the never-ending cycle of talking about sleep…

A couple of years ago I wrote about Jo Frost’s Bath, Book and Bed campaign and I am so glad to hear that it is still being widely promoted because the solution to most sleep problems should really be as simple as this; a routine. Now I’m not saying that a newborn baby can get into a routine from day one, far from it. I am a firm believer of reacting to their cues, of feeding on demand, of letting them nap when they need to and seeing to their every need. Some experts believe that babies can understand routines between the ages of 2-4 months and most will just naturally slip into one, you just need to watch for it. I can definitely remember Jake being 6 months old and having his naps and bedtime down to set times. Even though his naps would alter as his needs changed, his bedtime always stuck to 7pm. I’m not saying it was easy, far from it at times. We would have nights where he’d happily go down and others where I would battle for over an hour. Yet, we never gave in. A routine was something I always strived to get into. I am a fan of a daily routine for myself and I know full well that I’ll be no good the next day if I go to bed too late. So, it was very important for me to get my child to go to bed and get his required amount of sleep a night. 

 

For newborns/babies…

  •  Newborns typically sleep no less than 18 hours sleep per day. With irregular periods of time spent awake.
  •  Babies for the first year need at least 12 hours sleep. Including 2 main naps a day and 1 catnap which is normally around 30 minutes

Toddlers…

  •  Toddlers need roughly 12 to 14 hours sleep per day. Their sleep decreases to one lengthy sleep per day.

Pre-Schoolers…

  •  Age 5 sleeps anywhere around 11-12 hours each night. But without an afternoon nap. This should start from the age roughly around 3. However on a fun packed weekend, don’t be surprised to find a little catnap thrown in to rejuvenate energy.

Elementary…

  • 10 hours of sleep per day

Teenagers…

  •  8-10 hours of sleep per day, though during times of growth spurts, this might increase

*information correct and obtained from Jo Frost’s website on 17/05/2016

sleeping baby

 

The benefits of getting this are:

  • Sleep is vital to repair our body and mind
  • A well-slept person is happier
  • It reduces stress
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Allows children to be active and remain active
  • Aids learning
  • Reduces the chances of being overweight
  • Improves the immune system
  • And finally, I like my evenings for me!

 

No, he may not always stay in his own bed (I’ve become accustomed to having a teeny person clamber all over me in the early hours) and no he may not want to go to sleep but I need him to for his own well-being as well as my own. And that there, is one of the biggest things I think we overlook… our own well-being. 

We are always talking about the children’s health, getting them into routines, getting enough sleep but what about our own, eh? How many times have you neglected yourself because it is the easier option? I’m one of the worst culprits and as I sit here writing this I am tired, no more like shattered. I am the perfect example of somebody who stays up too late, anything past 8pm is too late now! I don’t nap when the baby naps and my sleep is then disturbed by the baby at night. I am functioning but I should and could be better. According to Jo Frost, an adult should be getting 7-8 hours sleep every night, how many of us are getting anywhere near that? Not me, that’s for sure!

I’ve had to change my tactics slightly with our baby by choosing to co-sleep. This is allowing me to get much more sleep than I would be if he was in his Moses basket, it means he also gets the sleep he needs and I can be the best I can be for my older child. Yes, I may be slightly uncomfortable, our bed may not be quite big enough (amazing how much room a tiny baby can take up!) and we may need a new mattress by the end of the year– Groupon shopping booked in!– but it is all worth it when sleep is lacking at this stage because, at the moment I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do.

 

Eventually, I am hoping I will be able to put the baby down for longer than 10 minutes and for him to stay asleep! I am hoping that I will be able to get more than 5 hours sleep a night myself and I am sure it won’t be too much longer because as William is approaching that 6-month mark he will begin to want that routine and I will welcome it… I miss sleep!

 

Em xx

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