Sleep Issues

Restful and adequate sleep is equally important for children and parents alike. In infants, it is important for proper development of their nervous system. In toddlers and older children, it is necessary for impulse control, optimal school performance, positive mood, normal socialization, and stable emotional state. In adolescents and adults, poor sleep has been associated with obesity, difficulty loosing excess weight, high blood pressure, and depression. And good sleep, as I am sure you will agree, is essential for optimal parenting. Well rested parents enjoy their children more, spend better quality time with them, and in general function as more effective parents. 

Yet, sleep problems of various degrees are extremely common among children of all ages (up to 30 percent during some time in childhood). Frequently, one type of a sleep problem is replaced by a different one as the child grows. It is easier to prevent the development of poor sleep habits rather than break the established ones.

Below you will find some useful information that may be discussed during the health supervision or "well" visits. It is intended to provide general guidelines for establishing healthy sleep patterns in children, starting at a young age. Of course, individual variations apply.

Expected Average Amount of Sleep at Different Ages

  • Newborn – 16-20 hours a day , with rather evenly spaced naps after every feed, and little variation between day and night schedule
  • 3-4 months – 16 hours a day, including 3 naps; many will sleep through the night without feeding*, or have an early morning feeding only
  • 6 months – 16 hours, with 2 naps (late morning and afternoon)
  • 9 months – 14-15 hours, with 2 naps as above
  • 1 year – 13-14 hours, with 1-2 naps
  • 2 years – 13 hours**
  • 3 years – 12 hours**
  • 4 years – 11 hours **

* Through the night at this age is defined as about 12 midnight to 5:00 a.m.
** 2-5 year olds may or may not have a nap during midday, but some quiet downtime is beneficial.