The normal amount of sleep varies depending on the age of your child.
The following are some helpful tips for establishing good sleep habits for your child:
Newborns do not have a set night or day schedule for the first several weeks of life.
It is best for a newborn not to sleep longer than 5 hours at a time in the first 5
to 6 weeks as their small bodies need frequent feedings.
Older babies and children should have a nap time and bedtime schedule.
Start a quiet time, such as listening to quiet music or reading a book, 20 to 30 minutes
before bedtime. TV should not be a part of the quiet time.
After quiet time, follow a bedtime routine, such as a diaper change, going to the
bathroom, and brushing teeth.
Set a time limit for quiet time and the routine so it does not drag on and your child
knows what to expect before bedtime.
Say goodnight, turn off the light, and leave the room.
Security objects, such as a special blanket or stuffed animal, can be part of the
It is important for children to be put to bed awake so they learn to fall asleep themselves.
Babies should not be put to bed with a bottle. It causes problems with tooth decay
and ear infections.
Children can easily fall into bedtime habits that are not always healthy habits. The
following suggestions can help when a child does not want to go to bed or is having
trouble staying in bed:
Sometimes, older children go through a stage when they revert back to bad sleep habits
or develop new problems in going to sleep. The following are some tips to help parents
with older children who have problems going to bed:
If your child gets out of bed, take him or her back to bed with a warning that the
door will be shut (not locked) for 1 or 2 minutes if he or she gets out of bed.
If your child stays in bed, the door stays open. If your child gets out of bed, the
door is closed for 2 minutes. Your child can understand that he or she has control
of keeping the door open by staying in bed.
If your child gets out again, shut the door for 3 to 5 minutes (no more than 5 minutes).
Be consistent. Put your child back in bed each time he or she gets out of bed.
When your child stays in bed, open the door and give your child praise (for example,
"You are doing a great job of staying in bed. Goodnight."
Your child can be rewarded by earning a star on a calendar for staying in bed all
night. You can give a special prize for a certain number of stars earned.
Here are recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on how to reduce
the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related deaths from birth
to age 1:
Make sure your baby is immunized. An infant who is fully immunized reduces his or
her risk for SIDS.
Breastfeed your infant. The AAP recommends breast milk only for at least the first
Place your infant on his or her back for sleep or naps. This can decrease the risk
for SIDS, aspiration, and choking. Never place your baby on his or her side or stomach
for sleep or naps. If your baby is awake, allow your child time on his or her tummy
as long as you are supervising, to decrease the chances that your child will develop
a flat head.
Always talk with your baby's doctor before raising the head of the crib if he or she
has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux.
Offer your baby a pacifier for sleeping or naps, if he or she isn't breastfed. If
breastfeeding, delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.
Use a firm mattress (covered by a tightly fitted sheet) to prevent gaps between the
mattress and the sides of a crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. This can decrease the
risk for entrapment, suffocation, and SIDS.
Share your room instead of your bed with your baby. Putting your baby in bed with
you raises the risk for strangulation, suffocation, entrapment, and SIDS. Bed sharing
is not recommended for twins or other higher multiples.
Avoid using infant seats, car seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings
for routine sleep and daily naps. These may lead to obstruction of an infant's airway
Avoid using illicit drugs and alcohol. Don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
Avoid overbundling, overdressing, or covering an infant's face or head. This will
prevent him or her from getting overheated, reducing the risks for SIDS.
Avoid using loose bedding or soft objects. Bumper pads, pillows, comforters, and blankets
should not be used in an infant's crib or bassinet to help prevent suffocation, strangulation,
entrapment, or SIDS.
Avoid using cardiorespiratory monitors and commercial devices. Wedges, positioners,
and special mattresses should not be used to help decrease the risk for SIDS and sleep-related
Always place cribs, bassinets, and play yards in hazard-free areas. Avoid dangling
cords or wires to reduce the risk for strangulation.