Sleep routine

Recommended amount of sleep for young children

Babies 4-12 months need between 12-16 hours of sleep (including naps) a day.
1-2 year olds need between 11-14 hours of sleep (including naps)
3-5 year olds need between 10-13 hours of sleep (including naps)

Sleep plays an important role in physical and mental wellbeing. Lack of sleep affects concentration, memory and behaviour.

To promote good sleep, it is important to encourage the same relaxing routine each night such as:

  • A warm bath
  • Keeping lights dim (encourages the body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin)
  • Read a story together or listen to some relaxing music
  • It’s best to avoid screens in the bedroom an hour before bed time. This includes:
    • Tablet
    • Smart phone
    • Television
  • Ideally a child’s bedroom should be kept dark, quiet and tidy. Also keep it well ventilated with a temperature between 16-18 degrees.

Consistency is key to a good sleep routine.

Poor/not enough sleep affects:

  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • Behaviour

Most young children find it difficult to settle down to sleep and will often wake during the night. When this happens, it’s important to be as boring as possible. Leave lights off, avoid eye contact and don’t talk unless necessary.
Consistency, commitment and patience can help to solve most children’s sleep issues.

Sleep regressions typically happen around 3-4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months, then again at 2 years. They usually happen during a developmental leap.

Causes of sleep regression can include:

  • A growth spurt (child becomes hungrier so wakes more frequently)
  • Teething pain
  • New developmental milestone (crawling, walking, talking etc)
  • Disruptions to routine
  • Illness
  • Travelling

Signs of sleep regression

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • fighting nap/bedtime
  • skipping or taking shorter naps
  • frequent waking at night
  • fussing and crying

This can last for a few weeks at a time depending on the child.

The NHS recommends that a 2 year old child should nap for 1.5 hours a day, reducing to 45 minutes at 3 years old. By the age of 4, the NHS recommends they should no longer need a day time nap.

For further support you can contact your GP or health visitor. Also you can speak to a member of staff if you have any concerns/ questions.

Written by a member of the Rainbow group team – March 2022