Every young child needs to sleep. It is the primary activity of the brain during early development. Many children have trouble falling asleep. But waking up throughout the night is also very common.
By understanding the mechanics of a baby’s sleep cycle, you’ll be able to learn and adapt best practices for better sleep for both Your Child and you.
Short sleeping circles
In children aged six months to 18 months, sleep is made up of cycles that last about an hour. A sleep cycle consists of both light and deep sleep and it is normal for children to wake at night when a sleep cycle comes to an end. Then some children can easily resettle themselves, while others need help getting back to sleep.
Sleep habits and associations
It is common for parents to feed their baby to sleep or use techniques such as patting, rocking, or holding the child until they fall asleep in their arms. When these techniques become habits that are needed to soothe a child to sleep, they are called sleep associations.
Sleep during the night by age
The younger the babies the more sleep they need in general. If we just look at the sleep during the night, most children need between 10-12 hours, depending on their age:
- Age 0-3 month, 10-18 hours/day
- Age 4-11 month, 9-12 hours/day
- Age 1-2 years, 11-14 hours/night
- Age 3-5 years, 11-13 hours/night
Promote good sleep habits
To reduce your child’s dependence on certain habits and promote good sleep, try the following:
- Keep a consistent and predictable routine each evening so Your Child learns what to expect and how to react
- Patting or rocking your baby to sleep is good for newborns, but older children can form a sleep association. Try to cut down on these techniques if this is the case and instead lay next to Your Child until the little one can lay down alone
- Feeding your baby before bedtime can become a sleep association. Try instead to time the last feed for at least half an hour before bed
- Set your own limits but be consistent in your behavior
Even once your baby has learned to fall asleep and stay asleep, things can change again. Coughs and colds can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleeping routine. Many children who used to sleep well when they are 12 months old are starting to wake up again when they are 18 months of age. If they cry and need you to fall back to sleep, try to be there for Your Child.