Have you ever found yourself wondering exactly how much sleep little kids need? Most parents have, especially on the nights the kids seem to refuse sleep outright. It can be frustrating and exhausting to have a child who’s not sleeping through the night. Every parent knows what it feels like to be outright exhausted due to a lack of sleep. But kids can feel the effects of poor sleep too. Young children will often be cranky when they’re overtired (aren’t we all?), they may be more prone to tripping, falling, or having small accidents that injure themselves too.
How much sleep do little kids need?
Let’s break it down by age to make it easier because sleep needs change as kids grow. As you know, newborns sleep almost around the clock. Babies sleep for hours on end, but as they get to the toddler and preschool years, kids’ sleep needs change a bit depending on whether or not they’re still napping.
Toddlers – Children ages 1-2
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids ages 1-2 need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep total in 24 hours, including naps. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Supports-Childhood-Sleep-Guidelines.aspx
In this age range, most kids will still nap once or twice a day. A one year old likely takes a morning and an afternoon nap both. As they get closer to age 2, they may move to one longer afternoon nap. The number of hours a child can stay awake will vary based on the age of the child and their personal needs. If your child is napping two hours each day, they still need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep at night. To determine their ideal bedtime, watch to see how long they sleep when you don’t wake them and work your way backward. If your child needs to be up at 6 am and they need 12 hours of sleep overnight, you’re going to need them in bed by 6 pm. If they only need 10 hours of sleep at night, then you have until 8 pm to get them to bed. By tracking how long your child sleeps without you waking them, you can determine their individual sleep needs.
Preschoolers – Children ages 3-5
The AAP says, Kids ages 3-5 need a little less sleep than those 1-2. Between ages 3 & 5 it’s recommended that they get 10-13 hours of sleep total in 24 hours, including naps. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Supports-Childhood-Sleep-Guidelines.aspx
In this age range, kids generally take one nap that’s around 2 hours a day in the mid-afternoon. They can stay awake for longer periods than younger children. When your child stops napping, you will likely need to adjust their bedtime to allow for more sleep. A child who naps may only need 8 hours of sleep at night, but that same child may need 10 to make up for the missed nap during the day.
How do you determine your child’s needs?
Watch your children to see how well-rested they are when they wake up. Are they cranky, or are they in a good mood? Do they get up willingly, or do they pull the covers back up over their heads? Do they get up and run around or snuggle on the couch and try to sleep a bit longer? You’ll be able to tell if they’re well-rested or not pretty easily. As kids get closer to dropping their nap, they may fight naps but still, need them. Encourage them to “rest,” assure them they don’t have to sleep, but they need quiet time, and most likely, they’ll fall asleep during that quiet time because they still need a nap. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and mood; it will tell you if they’re getting enough sleep. If you’re struggling to get, them to sleep on time, create a consistent evening routine and use a timer for each activity until you get into a good, natural routine and can get them to bed on time on your own each evening. You and your kids will benefit from them getting enough sleep. Well-rested kids are easier to deal with. Well-rested parents are generally happier. It’s win-win when your kids get the sleep they need; you do too.
Klein-Spring Montessori has served the families of the Spring area for more than 35 years. We’d love to help your family too. Contact us today to learn more about our daycare and preschool programs.