Though I have three children, I can tell they are different in all aspects, even though they share the same DNA. Why do I say this? When I gave birth to my second and third child, I felt like a new mom over and over again, even though I had already been through similar parenting challenges. A “trick” that worked on one child wouldn’t work on the others. Or, they simply had very different quirks!
For instance, while my other kid literally “slept like a baby” my second child was a very light sleeper. I was really challenged to find creative ways to get her to go to bed.
Why do children need quality sleep?
Why is sleep important to growing children? Here are some facts:
- Promotes growth. During deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones.
- Affects weight. Another hormone that the body releases during sleep is leptin, which suppresses the appetite. Sleep deprivation inhibits the release of this hormone, which signals our body to eat more.
- Boosts the immune system. Our body heals itself during sleep. It releases cytokines, or proteins which are responsible for fighting infection, illness and stress. This is why children sleep longer, especially when they are sick. It is their body’s natural defense against infection and viruses.
- Improves attention span. Children who are able to get a good night’s rest are more likely to be in a good mood and won’t be easily distracted in school, says Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center to Parents magazine.
How much sleep does your child need?
“Why does my newborn always sleep, yet my toddler doesn’t?” I read this question from so many first-time moms on social media. Here’s a guide to how much sleep your child needs at every age:
- 1-4 Weeks Old: 15 - 16 hours per day
- 1-4 Months Old: 14 - 15 hours per day
- 4-12 Months Old: 14 - 15 hours per day
- 1-3 Years Old: 12 - 14 hours per day
- 3-6 Years Old: 10 - 12 hours per day
- 7-12 Years Old: 10 - 11 hours per day
- 12-18 Years Old: 8 - 9 hours per day
Follow a daily routine
Children are creature of habits. Consistency and repetition help them master skills and establish routines. A bedtime ritual can help them settle down:
- Warm bath. It makes them feel refreshed and clean before dozing off.
- Bedtime story. This one is one of my fool-proof techniques to get my kids to go to bed. They look forward to reading time. I let them pick the book they want to read.
- Calm music. This has an effect on the parasympathetic nervous system of our body which helps our muscles relax, slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
- Lights out. Light exposure can stimulate a nerve pathway from our eyes to our brain which controls our hormones, and other functions that play a vital role in making us sleep.
Watch their food intake
You might want to eliminate sugar at least four hours prior to their naptime or bedtime. Sugar is a stimulant that triggers your children’s hyperactivity. You need to be very firm about controlling their sweets. If they want a bedtime snack, offer a warm glass of milk instead.
“I don’t want to sleep yet!” your child says. Sometimes, a child will refuse to sleep even if he is tired, simply because he wants to assert his independence. You can encourage him to go to bed by offering simple choices. “Pick what pajamas you want to wear.” Or, “Which stuffed animal do you want to cuddle with tonight?” This can help your child feel he has more control, and be less likely to rebel against going to bed.
What sleep routines and rituals do you follow at home? What is your child’s favorite bedtime story? Share your experience and tips in the comments section.
About The Writer
Mommy Ning Llorin is a frustrated doctor, a former Critical Care Nurse and now a Stay at Home Mom. After her few years of being a Critical Care Nurse, she decided not to pursue medicine anymore and settled down to focus on her family. Now, she is a Stay at Home Mom, proudly taking care of her three energetic children without extra help. But because she was so used to being on the go prior to having her kids, she decided to share her experiences through writing and that is when she decided to start her blog. She shares basic health teaching, self-love, mental health awareness and advocate financial literacy. She also believes there is so much to share to fellow mommies especially when it comes to the health aspect. Follow her through her journey towards motherhood here: www.thesupermomma.com