How much sleep does your child need?
You know your child needs less sleep now than he did when he was a baby, but how much less is still enough? Every child is different — some need more sleep and some less — but here are general guidelines for how many hours of sleep a child needs on average each day.
|Age||Nighttime sleep||Daytime sleep||Average total sleep|
|2 years||10.5 to 12.5 hours||1 to 3 hours (1 nap)||11.5 to 15.5 hours|
|3 years||10.5 to 12.5 hours||1 to 3 hours (1 nap)||11 to 14 hours|
|4 years||10 to 12 hours||0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap)||10 to 13 hours|
|5 years||10 to 12 hours||0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap)||10 to 12.5 hours|
|6 years||10 to 11.5 hours||none||10 to 11.5 hours|
|7 years||9.5 to 11.5 hours||none||9.5 to 11.5 hours|
|8 years||9.5 to 11.5 hours||none||9.5 to 11.5 hours|
* Note: The two sets of numbers don’t always add up because children who take longer naps tend to sleep fewer hours at night, and vice versa.
Keep in mind that most kids need a lot of sleep — usually more than parents allow for. Often, says BabyCenter sleep expert Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, if a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to nap or go to bed before 10 at night, his parents will assume that he just doesn’t need much sleep. That’s probably not the case — in fact, it’s likely that such a child is actually sleep-deprived, hence his hyper, overtired behavior at bedtime. To see whether your child falls into this camp, ask yourself:
- Does my child frequently fall asleep while riding in the car?
- Do I have to wake him almost every morning?
- Does he seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may be getting less sleep than his body craves. To change this pattern, you’ll need to help him develop good sleep habits, and set an appropriate bedtime and then stick to it. A preschooler or young grade-schooler who’s outgrown napping needs a solid 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night, and that amount will gradually decrease as he gets older. Even so, by the time he’s a teenager, your child will still need nine to ten hours of shut-eye a night.