Have you ever heard the saying “Sleep is for the weak”?
To millennials out and about town, this might ring true. But for babies and toddlers, sleep is like their Holy Grail.
Sleep is one of the most important functions of the body for both children and adults. In children, sleep is a vital part of their growth and development, and getting adequate and good quality sleep is crucial to reaching their full potential.
How much sleep do babies and children actually need?
While we might be content with seven or eight hours of sleep a night, babies and children require a whole lot more.
There’s no blanket answer here, but generally, it’s expected that children require the following amounts of sleep throughout the day and night:
- Babies (up 12 months): 14-18 hours over a 24-hour period
- Toddlers (up to age 5): 10-14 hours over a 24-hour period
- Ages 5-12: 10-12 hours at night
- Ages 13-18: 8-10 hours at night
- Adults: 7-9 hours at night
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
“I had such a rough sleep last night.”
No doubt we’ve all uttered these words as we made our way to school or work. Not only does a lack of sleep affect our energy levels, it can make us feel aggressive and moody, and impairs our concentration.
The same goes for little ones (even if they can’t make sense of it).
In addition to the night-time sleep, babies and toddlers have, napping is also just as important. Napping helps strengthen memory and learning in young children.
Getting a child to sleep is probably one of the most challenging situations a parent or childcare educator faces on a day-to-day basis! While this may be a challenge to some, there are things that you can do to make sure the children who you care for dearly take their much-needed ZZZs!
Look for the signs of sleepiness
Young children have a lot of energy to spare but once this wanes down, they will be manifesting signs of tiredness – even if they don’t quite understand it.
When you see a child is heading towards sleepiness, take that as the signal to start preparing them for sleep.
Signs of sleepiness in children
- Fluttering or heavy eyelids
- Clenching fists (particularly in babies)
- Frowning or looking worried
- Grizzling and crying
- Fussiness or clumsiness
How to prepare a room for sleep
- Dim the lights and close blinds
- Put on some soft and relaxing music (more on music’s importance below)
- Set up neat bedding, sheets, and cots
- Maintain a comfortable temperature
- Remove or reduce sensory distractions
- Consider a white noise machine
Make sure the environment is conducive for sleeping. Think about the ideal sleeping environment for you at home: how can you mirror it at childcare?
Nap tips: use music to set the tone and lull kids to sleep
Kids have always been fascinated by song and dance: show them some good entertainment, and you’ve instantly got their attention.
So, it’s no surprise that one of the best things you can do to make them take to fall asleep has something to do with music.
Listening to the right kind of music has to be one of the most relaxing things we can do. Almost instantly it makes us feel calm. We breathe deeper and more slowly. Our bodies start to relax. We’re comfortable, we feel sleepy, and we’re almost ready to nod off.
Finding music that kids can relax to is easy: simply visit a music streaming site like YouTube or Spotify and key in a few words to find a playlist that will help calm and relax children as they nod off to sleep.
The importance of nap time for babies and toddlers
Sleeping during the day is just as important as sleeping at night for babies and toddlers.
You may have noticed in the information shared above that baby and toddler sleep guidelines are based on a 24-hour period. That means their recommended length of sleep, (14-18 hours and 10-14 hours respectively) should not occur at once.
Instead, this time spent sleeping should happen over 24 hours, including daytime naps.
Wherever the children are, whether at home or at childcare, napping should be on their agenda. For babies and toddlers, including naptime in their routines is critical to growth and development.
Benefits of napping for babies and toddlers
- Promotes positive emotional development
- Enhances learning and memory
- Results in better night-time rest (yes, really. A lack of daytime sleep can leave babies and toddlers feeling grouchier come bedtime, and they can be harder to settle. You know that feeling of being overtired? The same thing happens to little ones!)
Southern Solutions’ childcare courses – enrol today!
At Southern Solutions, we are passionate about quality childcare, and as such, creating the best leaders of tomorrow through our childcare courses. We hope that these tips will help you create a comforting and relaxing nap space in your childcare centre.
If you are passionate about kids and would love to make a difference in their lives every day, enrol in our courses today!
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We’ve got a great blog deciphering the Certificate 3 from the Diploma. You can check it out here.
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