You know your child needs less sleep now than he did when he was a baby, but how much less is still enough? Every child is different – some need more sleep and some less – but here are general guidelines for how many hours of sleep a child needs on average each day.
|Age||Nighttime Sleep||Daytime Sleep||Average Total Sleep|
|2 years||10.5 to 12.5 hours||1 to 3 hours (1 nap)||11.5 to 15.5 hours|
|3 years||10.5 to 12.5 hours||1 to 3 hours (1 nap)||11 to 14 hours|
|4 years||10 to 12 hours||0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap)||10 to 13 hours|
|5 years||10 to 12 hours||0 to 2.5 hours (1 or no nap)||10 to 12.5 hours|
Keep in mind that most preschoolers need a lot of sleep – usually more than parents allow for. If a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to nap or go to bed before 10 at night, parents will often assume that he just doesn’t need much sleep. That’s probably not the case – in fact, it’s likely that such a child is actually sleep-deprived, hence his hyper, overtired behaviour at bedtime. To see whether your child falls into this camp, ask yourself:
- Does my child frequently fall asleep while travelling in the car?
- Do I have to wake him almost every morning?
- Does he seem grumpy, irritable or overtired during the day?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may be getting less sleep than his body craves. To change this pattern, you’ll need to help him develop good sleep habits, and set an appropriate bedtime and then stick to it. A preschooler or school-starter who’s outgrown napping needs a solid 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night, and that amount will gradually decrease as he gets older. Even so, by the time he’s a teenager, your child will still need nine to 10 hours of shut-eye a night.