Home / Family Articles / Kids and sleep

Kids and sleep

kids and sleep

Written by:

We all need to sleep but getting a good night’s kip is particularly important for children as it affects their mental and physical development. So how do you know if your child is getting enough sleep and how can you encourage healthy sleeping patterns?


As every parent knows, the sleep pattern of a newborn baby can be erratic. This is because sleep-wake rhythms haven’t developed yet. Most babies will have established a sleep-wake cycle by around six months. This doesn’t mean they won’t wake during the night, but it does make those night wakenings more predictable. Newborns will spend up to 18 hours a day asleep, often moving their arms and legs around. To help your baby learn how to fall asleep on her own, it is recommended that you put her down in her crib when she is drowsy but not quite asleep.


From the age of around six months, many babies won’t need night feeds and so become more likely to sleep through the night. However, don’t be concerned if your child still gets up in the night, it’s completely normal. Again, putting your child to bed while she is drowsy will help her learn to fall asleep independently and she will be more likely to ‘self-soothe’ if she wakes during the night.

Most infants will sleep between nine and 12 hours overnight with one or two naps during the day. Some children prefer one long nap, while others will nap in the morning and again in the afternoon.


Toddlers generally need 12-14 hours of sleep each day. As they grow they will naturally reduce the length of time they spend napping and will eventually drop their naps altogether. At bedtime toddlers may be more reluctant to go down, so maintaining a calm bedtime routine can help reinforce the idea that it’s time to go to sleep. Sleep problems are common at this age so you may wish to introduce a night-light or comforter.

kids and sleep

Pre-school children

If your child hasn’t already dropped her daytime nap, she is likely to do it between the ages of three and five. Pre-school children usually need between 11 and 13 hours sleep each night. However, with wild imaginations and the ability to get out of bed on their own, many pre-schoolers will find it difficult to go to sleep or will wake in the night. A consistent bedtime routine works wonders in helping young children fall asleep by themselves.

Primary school children

Kids aged from five to 12 will usually sleep for 10-11 hours overnight. School, homework and extra-curricular activities may tire your child out and help her sleep well, but it could have the opposite effect. Some children’s minds will be racing after all that learning and activity and so a calming bedtime routine, with no television late in the evening, is important to allow relaxation time before bed.

Poor sleeping habits can affect everything from the ability to learn at school to experiencing mood swings and behavioural problems. Therefore, it’s important that children develop healthy sleeping patterns.




About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

View all posts by