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Sleep: What Does Your Child Need?

The media has just published information about high school students being nocturnal and schools responding to this developmental characteristic by starting the school day later.  But what about other ages?

We all know that we cannot ‘make’ a child sleep. Parents of newborns would love to have a ‘magic’ spell to cast on their sweet infants. But we know that newborns have yet to establish sleep cycles that match their parents.
The problem of the ease of bedtime and going to sleep extends in various ‘twists and turns’ throughout children’s and adolescents’ lives.
Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who got the routines of going to bed and sleeping established early. You were consistent in your expectations. And maybe, if you have an adolescent, she is not nocturnal.
But the majorities of us has or have had bedtime and sleeping issues with our children. Time Magazine (March 26, 2012) published an article “Please, Please Go to Sleep”. In it are the following facts:
1. Research shows that 60% of a child’s growth hormone is secreted during sleep.
2. Too little sleep is a factor in obesity. (A study in Israel fount this characteristic in children as young as 6 months)
3. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep per night:
a. 14 to 15 hrs. for babies
b. 12 to 14 hrs. for toddlers
c. 11 to 13 hrs. for preschoolers
d. 10 to 11 hrs, for elementary age children
T.Berry Brazelton, MD. (child development specialist and author of Touchpoints) believes that children have to learn to sleep; it is a part of separating from parents and learning to be independent at night. Brazelton recommends establishing a bedtime ritual such as brushing teeth, reading storybooks, giving a transition warning “This is the last story we will read”, encouraging your child to develop her own resources (use of a lovey, night light, helping her to understand her emotions, etc.). For a wonderful resource you can also access Brazelton’s book Sleep the Brazelton Way.

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