Sound Advice for Sound Sleep: Bedtime Tips for New Parents

For most new parents, sleep is one of their largest concerns about their newborn child. How much sleep does a baby need? Should there be a routine, or should parents encourage sleep whenever it’s needed? How can a fussy baby be encouraged to sleep through the night?

As we grow and age, our sleep habits and needs change. A newborn baby needs more daily hours of sleep than a toddler, and likewise a toddler requires more sleep than a teenager. Because healthy sleep is essential for the health and growth of young children, it’s especially important to understand their sleep needs and patterns.

Newborns

In the early stages of development, children need a great deal of sleep. Newborns up to three months of age should get at least 14-17 hours of sleep per day. This means lots of naps, which for the most part won’t follow a consistent schedule. The important part is that when your child needs sleep, he or she gets it. After around eight weeks, your child will begin to nap longer and less frequently, and around the four-month mark children will generally begin to fall into a recognizable sleep pattern. This is a good time to start developing a nap schedule.

When it comes time to put baby to bed for the evening, most new parents know to feed their child before bed and keep the lights low, but there are more things that you can do in order to encourage a more restful sleep for your newborn. For instance, making eye contact with your child will speed up their heart rate and excite them—even though it’s good for parent-child bonding and brain development, avoid locking eyes with your newborn when it’s bedtime.

Swaddling your newborn can help them to sleep more soundly and wake up less frequently, but too much swaddling and they can get uncomfortably warm, which will inhibit sleep. Keep your newborn in a bassinet nearby, laying on their back, in low light and around ambient noise like a dishwasher or white noise machine.

Infants

Infants between four and eleven months old will begin to benefit from more consistent sleep patterns, and still need between twelve and fifteen hours of sleep per day in order to maintain healthy growth. This still means napping during the day, but these naps will begin to become more regular and last longer. Infants still need consistent sleep patterns, and they benefit from more balanced bedtime routines. Winding down before bed—reducing playtime and moving into a dimmer environment away from the natural light that will fire up their circadian rhythms—will help to solidify a more regular bedtime routine that helps your infant get the sleep he or she needs throughout the night. Relaxing bathtimes or massages before bed can also help to relax a fussy child and make it easier for them to drift off (not to mention give you and your child some quality time together before lights-off).

Toddlers

Toddlers should typically have between eleven and fourteen hours of sleep each day, including naps. Once a child reaches one to two years old, their dreams can have a more distinct effect on their sleep. Nightmares can disturb a toddler’s sleep patterns, and in some cases make it more difficult to fall asleep the next night. Comfort items like teddy bears, and creating a relaxing and positive environment before bedtime can help your toddler to feel more secure and happy during their bedtime rituals.

Preschoolers

At three to five years old, preschoolers will have more energy and begin wanting to be more active at night. Whether they still haven’t calmed down from their favorite game or their imaginations are running wild over what they have learned earlier, a busy mind can keep a preschooler from getting the full ten to thirteen hours of sleep that they need each night. Relaxing bedtime stories and light music are both good ideas to help calm your child before bedtime, as are limiting snacks and TV in the period before bedtime and keeping the bedroom reserved for sleep, rather than for games or activities.

School Age

By the age of six up to the age of thirteen, a child’s day becomes busier as they begin attending school and participating in recreational sports. School age children should still get between nine and eleven hours of sleep per night, but many activities, whether they be video games or spending time with friends or sports, will threaten to cut into time that should be dedicated to rest. Maintaining a period for winding down before bed, staying mindful of using digital devices, and sticking to a regular bedtime will help to keep your child’s sleep within the recommended amount of hours.

While these general tips on helping children of all ages get the recommended amount of sleep may be useful in certain cases, every child has different needs and habits that can affect their sleep schedules. In addition, every stage of childhood and growth brings with it new changes and challenges, meaning that parents must take an active role in observing which strategies and routines work best for their child when it comes to helping them get the rest they need each day and night. Parenting is not always easy, but watching your child grow is one of the most rewarding ways of life to which a person can dedicate themself.

Simple Surrogacy is a full-service Surrogacy Agency based in Dallas, Texas, founded in 2002 to assist couples and individuals with the desire to begin a family through third party assisted reproduction. We were founded on one simple principle: to provide our clients with the highest standard of care in the surrogacy industry at an affordable price. We are committed to helping prospective clients, both parents and surrogates, educate themselves and find out all they can about the process of surrogacy. To find out more about what we can do for you, contact us by calling 1-866-41-SURRO or visiting us online today.

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