According to the National Sleep Foundation, children aged 3-5 years need around 11-13 hours of sleep each night. In addition, many need to nap during the day, with the length of naps ranging between 1-2 hours a day. These sleeping habits can change over time and, typically, most children stop napping after five years of age.
Experts say that every child is different. Some children will stick with a nap routine from infancy. Others will start refusing to nap when they reach preschool age. The trick is to be consistent, and make sure your child is getting at least of 11 hours of sleep at night, and a nap if needed. Ideally, this sleep pattern will be at the same time everyday, to establish a positive sleeping habits routine.
Does my child need to nap?
If you child refuses to nap, don’t worry. Children between the ages of 3-5 years don’t necessarily need a nap every day but they should have predictable and routine downtime. This means a scheduled time at the same point each day for simply resting. Whilst downtime isn’t restorative sleep, activities such as reading a book or listening to music, are important to help your child relax.
How do I help my child get to sleep?
Keeping your child up for longer or later in the evening won’t help your child get to sleep faster or sleep through the night. In fact, often a child who refuses to go to bed or slow down is overtired.
Remember, you have control over when your child goes to bed but not how quickly they fall asleep. If your child is struggling to fall asleep, try giving them a warm bath with essential oils before bed or read them a calm story. This can help them to relax. Avoid exposing your child to screens 1-2 hours before bed. Screen exposure can impact their ability to fall asleep as well as their quality of sleep.
Sleeping through the night
Toddlers and preschoolers have active and vivid imaginations. As a result, it is no surprise they awaken easily during the night from bad dreams or feeling frightened in their own room. Sleep experts recommend making bedtime less stressful for a child, and more manageable for the parent, by ensuring that the child’s night time sleep environment is quiet, calm and free of screens such as a TV or tablet and interactive toys. Children, just like adults, wake up frequently during the night but we have the skill to put ourselves back to sleep whereas children do not. Having stimuli within reach will keep them up if they wake during the night.
Sleeping Habits and overall wellbeing
At Only About Children, we understand how important sleep is to the overall wellbeing, growth and development of every child, which is why we are partnered with Safe Sleep Space. More sleeping resources for your child can be found on the Safe Sleep Space website.
For another great article see: Understanding Baby Sleep Patterns.