Every parent wants a well-rested child. Children that get a good night’s rest are happier, healthier, more alert, and more able to handle the little ups and downs of life. There are some fairly consistent myths, however, that might be interfering with your child’s rest. Let’s take a closer look at the 5 most common myths about children and sleep.
1. Some Children Need Less Sleep than Others
While it is true that every child is different, research shows that a great many children do not get as much sleep as they really need. You will know your child has had enough sleep when they wake up on their own, in a good mood and ready to start the day. If your child falls asleep in the car (assuming it isn’t nap time) or during playtime, they need more sleep.
2. A Sleep Deprived Child is Tired All the Time
Many parents see their child zipping along at bedtime and assume that they aren’t tired. The exact opposite might be true, however. Being wide awake at bedtime can mean that your child is experiencing that old “second wind” and is so tired they can’t fall asleep! A child who has problems settling down at night and wakes up very early or wakes up during the night is a child that can actually be sleep deprived. Look for the signs that your child is sleepy and get them to bed before they reach the “overly tired” state that makes them so cranky!
3. Keeping Children up Late Will Make Them Sleep in Late
If only life were that simple! Although this works well for many teenagers and adults, it doesn’t, generally, work for children or babies. More often than not, putting your little one to bed later at night will result in him waking earlier the next morning. Try this trick next time: put your child to bed just 15 or 20 minutes earlier than normal. We are betting they will sleep in a little bit later the next morning.
4. Never Wake a Child Who is Fast Asleep
The timing of a child’s sleep is actually just as important as how many hours they sleep each day. If your child sleeps too long for a nap or too late in the morning, they won’t be ready to go to sleep for the next ideal sleep period. As hard as it can be to wake your child, it is sometimes the best thing to do so that they will be tired enough to sleep for their next sleep cycle or nap.
5. Babies Learn to Sleep through the Night but Only When They are Ready
Ask an experienced mother and they will tell you that some babies are simply good sleepers from the day they are born. For a great many children, however, learning to sleep is actually a skill they need to learn. Just like getting dressed or brushing their teeth, the best way to learn a new task is practice, consistency, and patience. Most children are developmentally ready to begin to learn to sleep through the night once they reach about 4+ months of age.
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You can find out more information at www.sleepyheadsolutions.com and www.facebook.com/
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Author: Renee Wasserman, P.T., M.P.H.
SleepyHead Solutions, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant.