Sleep patterns will change dramatically, especially in the first 2 years of life. Just when you think you have settled into a predictable pattern, your child will undergo further brain development that spurs on growth in motor, sensory, language, emotional and social skill areas. Having adequate sleep and a fairly regular daily schedule will help your child weather the developmental changes more smoothly.
Parents are often surprised at how much sleep their child needs. Sleep averages are just that: averages. Some of us are “short” sleepers (5%), some are “long” sleepers (5%) and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Start by taking a look at your child’s sleep needs.
Next, build a daily schedule that honors both daytime and nighttime sleep needs. I have included sample schedules for each age and stage created by Kim West, based upon recommendations developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Treat these sample schedules as a “skeleton framework”. They will give you something to “hang” your day on, but don’t feel that you have to stick by them to the letter.
Watch your child. She will give you eating cues when she is hungry and sleepy cues when she is tired. Having said that, “alert” children may be very adept at masking their cues. If that’s the case with your little one, you may need to rely more on the clock to determine nap time and bedtime.
Typical Schedule for a 6 – 8 Month Old
At this age, babies need an average of 11 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep and 3 1/2 hours of daytime sleep spread over two or three naps. You will notice your baby becoming more mobile, as she learns to roll over, crawl, and perhaps walk. See a sample schedule for this age group HERE.
Typical Schedule for 9 – 12 Month OldBabies at this age need an average of 11 hours of sleep at night and 3 1/2 hours of sleep during the day. At nine months, babies should nap for about an hour and a half in the morning and about 1 1/2 – 2 hours in the afternoon. Most have given up that brief, third late-afternoon nap. By twelve months, the morning nap is about an hour, and the afternoon nap is about 1 1/2 hours. See a sample schedule for this age group HERE.
Typical Schedule for 13 – 18 Month Old
At this age, toddlers need an average of 11 1/4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 hours of sleep during the day. Children at the younger end of this age group take both a morning and afternoon nap, but by eighteen months most children consolidate their naps to one midday or afternoon nap. See a sample schedule for this age group HERE.
Typical Schedule for 18 Month Old – 2.5 Year Old
An eighteen month old sleeps 11 1/4 hours at night and 2 1/4 hours during one midday or afternoon nap. At age two, sleep requirements drop to 11 hours at night and 2 hours during the day. Over the next year, that will drop to 10 1/2 hours at night and 1 1/2 hours during he day. Remember that these are averages, but variations should not be huge. Watch your child’s daytime behavior for clues as to whether he needs more sleep. See a sample schedule for this age group HERE.
Typical Schedule for 2.5 Year Old – 5 Year OldBetween ages two and three, average sleep needs drop to about 10 1/2 hours at night and 1 1/2 hours during the afternoon nap. Four year olds need 11 1/2 hours at night, and most no longer nap daily (although they do need approximately 45-minutes of quiet time each afternoon and possibly an occasional nap). Five year olds sleep about 11 hours at night, and afternoon quiet time is still very beneficial. See a sample schedule for this age group HERE.
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