Babies love their sleep. Sometimes it may not seem like it to parents exhausted by endless feeds, tantrums and nappy changes – but they do.
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In fact, by the age of two most children will have spent more of their lives asleep than awake.
Things start to change around the age our little bundles of joy begin to find their feet and start the transformation from horizontal babies to somewhat vertical toddlers.
But how much sleep does a toddler actually need?
The answer is a lot – usually far far more than parents allow for. Experts believe 13-14 hours is the correct amount, including naptime.
Good sleep is essential in this early stage of their development. The quality and quantity of a child’s sleep impacts their brain development as well as their emotional and behavioural functioning. An increasing body of research also suggests that sleep helps children fight obesity, avoid colds and even succeed in school.
So the importance of sleep a this age cannot be understated but unfortunately it’s at this crucial age that many children begin to actively resist bedtime. The reasons for are manyfold.
Their motor, cognitive and social abilities are all expanding rapidly and with this comes overstimulation. Every day at this age is a sensory adventure and their brains often struggle to keep up with all enormous daily data dumps they receive.
Add to this the development of the child’s capacity for imagination which can lead to the onset of sleep problems such as nightmares. With this comes an understandable increase in a child’s resistance to sleep and to nighttime in general.
The experts over at the Sleep Advisor blog know a thing or two about how to handle nightmares, check out their hints and tips.
Similarly, with their newfound ability to get out of bed on their own, toddlers have a freedom to make choices they simply couldn’t when they were younger – such as getting up and wandering around. Add to this other issues such as separation anxiety and it is no surprise they are reluctant to stay tucked in.
If a child has poor sleep habits, refuses to nap or simply won’t go to bed at his scheduled time, parents often assume the little one doesn’t need that much sleep. Unfortunately that is most likely not the case.
In fact it is more likely such a problem child is actually sleep-deprived. This sounds counterintuitive but it’s true. Drowsy children don’t necessarily slow down the way adults do – overtired, they instead get wound up and display erratic behaviour at bedtime.
But what can be done to help a problem sleeper find the rest they so need. Well funnily enough, the tips sleep experts give to help a toddlers get more sleep are surprisingly similar to those adults should follow also.
They include maintaining a regular daily sleep schedule with a consistent bedtime routine and making sure the sleeping environment is kept the same every night.
Access to screens should also be limited to avoid over stimulating the little one before bed.
Advice we can all learn from.