Even in the womb babies spend an average of 16 - 20 hours asleep every day, similar to that of a newborn baby. Scientific research has shown that sleep helps babies, toddlers and children grow, and is just as important as healthy eating and exercise to help them develop.
How do I know when my baby is tired?
There's plenty of signs that your baby is tired and ready to sleep - they may fuss, cry or rub their eyes or generally be a bit on the grumpy side! It's always best to spot the tired signs early on, so you don't have a grouchy little one on your hands - and it's always best to put them down to sleep when they're dozy, not when they're already asleep, so they learn how to make the transition from being tired to full-blown sleep themselves.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep helps babies, toddlers and children grow, not just physically, but mentally too. Sleep is divided into two categories REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non REM sleep. REM sleep is lighter and more easily disrupted than non-REM sleep and is when dreams occur. Crucially it is REM sleep that stimulates brain development.
Sleep deprivation can can have a direct impact on a baby's or child's development - leading to possible issues with physical and mental development, a lack of concentration and later health problems, such as diabetes and obesity.
How do I know if my child is getting enough sleep?
Put simply - how content is your baby or child?! Do they wake up fairly easily in the morning and remain calm and alert for a prolonged period of time? Babies are usually much happier after a restful sleep. We're all guilty of getting grumpy when we've not had a good sleep, and babies and children are no different, they just can't always tell us!
How do I get my baby to sleep?
In the early days with a newborn, babies will sleep as and when they want to! But soon enough you may want to establish a routine, with a set bedtime and nap times. Babies like familiarity and so try to do the same things at the same time each evening. Keep the atmosphere calm and quiet, with low lighting. Bath, book, feed and bed in that order can work well.
How much sleep does my baby or child need?
Every baby is different, so there is no exact answer for this, but our guide above is great to help give you an idea as to how much your little one should sleep, both at night and for naps during the daytime. Daytime sleeps are key to your baby getting through the day without them falling into a deep night time sleep too early, which could have a knock-on effect of an early pre-dawn waking. Day naps will get shorter though as baby gets older - the ultimate goal being that they disappear around 3 or 4 years old and all sleeping is done at night - and hopefully with out any night time wakings!