Bed and sleep tips for every stage of childhood
If you think buying a good quality bed is only important when you’re an adult, you couldn’t be more wrong. There is growing evidence (pun intended) that a good bed is essential for growing children, and that as they grow and their sleep needs change, so should their bed.
The challenges to enjoying good, regular, healthy sleep are greater than ever before. TV, social media, video games, busy school schedules, all add up to insufficient quality sleep, with consequences that may last a lifetime.
Gone are the days when a cheap or old hand-me-down mattress was good enough for the kids. Today there are excellent mattresses available, with many specially made for each important stage of a child’s development. A reputable bed store should be able to give you sound advice as to which is best for your child.
Healthy Sleep requires:
- Good quality sleep on a good quality mattress
- A sufficient amount of sleep
- Age appropriate hours of sleep
- Sleep schedule in sync with natural circadian rhythms
Sleep requirements vary according to age, and the table below offers some guidelines as to the quantity of shut-eye your child needs to ensure they wake up alert and happy, and develop healthily.
|Newborns (0 to 2 months)||12 to 18 hours|
|Infants (3 to 11 months)||14 to 15 hours|
|Toddlers (1 to 3 years)||12 to 14 hours|
|Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)||11 to 13 hours|
|School-age children (5 to 10 years)||10 to 11 hours|
|Teens (10 to 17 years)||8.5 to 9.25 hours|
|Adults||7 to 9 hours|
|Source: National Sleep Foundation|
Here are some tips to help get kids to bed and to sleep well.
Good quality sleep is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your new baby. We know that much of a child’s early mental and physical development occurs during sleep, so it makes sense that your child is provided with the right environment in which to grow.
With newborn babies needing as much as 18 hours sleep out of 24, where they sleep and how they sleep is extremely important.
Keep an eye on sleep patterns and watch for signs of sleepiness such as irritability, crying more than usual, rubbing their eyes, etc.
Don’t wait for your baby to fall asleep before you put him or her down. Do so at the first sign of drowsiness, as this will encourage them to learn how to soothe themselves and go back to sleep when they wake up during the night.
Establish a good night-time routine by adopting regular soothing activities every night. This includes bath time, dimmed lights, a bedtime story and a gentle song or two.
Babies (6 – 12 months)
At this stage your baby still needs on average 14 hours of sleep a day with two to three daytime naps. Make sure you develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules with different activities to ensure your baby associates these activities with the different times of the day.
Continue to encourage your baby to fall asleep independently.
Toddler (1 – 2 years)
Regular bedtime and nap time routines should be set by now.
Ensure your child is not over-tired as this will make is more difficult to get them to sleep.
Slowing things down and helping their minds and bodies to relax an hour or so before sleep time goes a long way towards getting to bed on time.
Pre-Schoolers (3-5 years)
Children in this age group may no longer need a daytime nap, but some quiet time in the afternoon is a good idea.
With the development of imagination, expect some degree of disturbance at night, including nightmares.
Comforting your child and helping them go back to sleep to maintain their routine is key.
Avoid screen time just before going to bed to reduce the possibility of nightmares, and ensure your child is sleeping on a good quality, age-appropriate mattress to support a growing body.
School Aged Children (6 – 13)
Bedtime routines are often compromised during this stage of childhood. Homework, sports, after school activities, exposure to TV / Smartphones and demanding family schedules can all result in a child not getting the sleep they.
Teaching them the importance of a good night’s sleep and how it affects their daily lives at school and at play.
Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom, and consider switching off electronics at least an hour before bedtime to give them time to unwind. And avoid giving your child caffeine or stimulating drinks.
Don’t complain that your child seems to be sleeping their life away. Teenagers need a minimum of 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night. Early school times, busy schedules, homework, friends, social media and other activities make for chronically sleep-deprived teenagers, which leads to inconsistent performance, irregular academic results, short term memory loss, and delayed reaction time.
The introduction of caffeine and energy drinks also hinders healthy sleep patterns. Make sure they are aware of the effects of a poor night’s sleep. Encourage a bedtime routine that positively affects their performance.
The teen years are also a time of great growth spurts. This is a good time to ensure their mattress is equal to the task of keeping your teen healthy, comfortable, and sleeping well.
Just as we want our children to be safe, eat properly, and grow healthy and strong, we also want them to adopt the habits that will ensure they sleep well. That all starts with good routines and a good bed.