Ask any new parent to name their greatest parenting challenges and, without a doubt, sleep will be at the top of the list.
Concerns about sleep may start with how much or how little their infant is sleeping, lack of consistent sleep routines and sheer exhaustion from night awakenings and feedings.
As young children grow into toddler-hood, new challenges arise, such as protest behaviors, not staying in bed at night or resistance to napping. Toddlers who don’t want to sleep might stall, tantrum, behave aggressively, ask for for snacks or zoom around the house.
For school age kids, sleep can be impacted by new transitions, managing peer relationships or adjusting to less time with family as they spend more time at school or activities.
The key to managing sleep challenges at any age is to know just how much sleep your child really needs and to learn some tricks to help them and you get the rest you need! The good news is that there are lots of great resources and science-based guidelines to help you!
Check out “Healthy Sleep Habits” from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This article provides recommended hours of sleep by age, along with practical tips for developing good habits.
You can browse a variety of sleep topics on the Zero to Three website.
Beyond normal development, there may be other factors that contribute to young child sleep issues. Here are some examples:
- Periods of long separation from caregiver
- Medical issues
- Attachment disruptions
- Parent mental health
- Housing inconsistency
- Sleeping arrangement
If any of these are at play, consider asking your pediatrician for additional support and resources. You can also enter your zip code below and find local programs and resources to support families.
No matter the age of your child, from infant to school age, developing healthy sleep habits and routines will lead to a happier family!