Parenting — January 15, 2017 at 7:00 am

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need? National Sleep Foundation Introduces New Guidelines

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The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), after input from a multi-disciplinary expert panel, has issued a new report with updated recommendations for appropriate sleep durations throughout a person’s life. The results take into account developmental changes and create wider sleep ranges for most age groups.

The NSF’s recommendations are based on consensus between experts in sleep, anatomy and physiology neurology, gerontology, pediatrics, gynecology and more. After discussion between the multi-disciplinary panel members, the NSF made the following revisions to sleep ranges for all six of the children and teen age groups.

Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)

Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)

Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)

Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)

School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)

Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)

The NSF also added a new range, “may be appropriate,” to acknowledge the individual variability in appropriate sleep durations. The recommendations now define sleep times as either (a) recommended; (b) may be appropriate for some individuals; or (c) not recommended.

Newborns (0-3 months) should get 14 to 17 hours, up to 11 to 13 hours for some babies, but not less than 11 hours or more than 19 hours.

Infants (4-11 months) should get 12 to 15 hours, 10 to 11 for some infants, but not less than 10 hours or more than 18 hours.

Toddlers (1-2 years) should get about 11 to 14 hours, 15-16 hours for some toddlers, but not less than 9 hours or more than 16 hours.

Preschoolers (3-5 years) should get around 10-13 hours of sleep, 8-9 hours for some preschoolers, but not less than 8 hours or more than 14 hours.

School-aged Children (6-13 years) should get 9 to 11 hours of sleep, up to 12 hours for some kids, but not less than 7 hours or more than 12 hours of sleep. 

Tips for Parents

The NSF also issued tips for parents who are determining when and how much sleep their children need. For infants (0 to 3 months) the NSF recommends parents encourage the baby to sleep less during the day, with activity and noise being eliminated at night to encourage sleep. When babies age out of the newborn stage (4 to 11 months) parents should focus on putting the baby to sleep when they start getting drowsy, which encourages them to self-sooth and develop good sleep habits.

Toddlers (1-2 years old) should get about 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Once the child reaches about 18 months, their naps should naturally decrease to about once a day, which may be 1 to 3 hours. Parents should not permit naps too close to bedtime, because it will delay the child’s ability to sleep at night.

With preschoolers (3 to 4 years old), the NSF emphasizes that naps should end by about 5 years of age. It is still normal for preschoolers to have difficult falling and staying asleep. The key for parents is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and a clam bedroom environment that becomes part of the child’s routine.

Using these guidelines will help you navigate the sleep terrain at any stage of your child’s life.

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