Kids and Sleep: What Parents Should Know

Kids and Sleep: What Parents Should Know

Sleep is essential. It plays a vital role in our physical health. Not only does it allow your body to rest and recharge, but sleep is also involved in healing and in the repairing of your heart and blood vessels, too. Sleep problems is a deficiency or lack of restful sleep, which has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. In children, sleep is essential for growth and development. A child’s body and mind are working overtime and they are developing at a rather rapid rate. In order for children to be healthy and to develop normally, it is important that children are sleeping as often and as deeply as they should for their age.

As a parent, it is important to ensure that your child’s sleep is as beneficial as possible. There are plenty of ways to maximize the advantages of your child’s sleep and there are things that you should know for each stage of your child’s young life.

Infants and Newborns
Babies who have just been born have not yet developed their internal clocks, so their naps and periods of sleep will generally vary by night and day, which may be a challenge for some adults who are used to the day/night sleep cycle. In general, babies need to sleep about 18 hours per day, spread across various naps and other stretches of time. Within the first few weeks after birth, you should generally wake your child up every 3 to 4 hours until they have good weight gain. After that, babies can sleep for longer periods of time.

Slowly, infants will begin to sleep for longer stretches of time on their own as well. Babies will generally make noises or cry while sleeping, and in most cases they will only be awake for a few minutes before falling silent and drifting back off to sleep. If your child persists, however, then they are likely uncomfortable due to being hungry, wet, cold, etc. Make sure to attend to their needs quickly and quietly and not to add any additional stimulation if necessary.

It is never too early to begin a bedtime routine. Once your child begins to fall into more predictable sleeping patterns, you can begin to establish such a routine. Incorporate soothing activities such as reading, bathing, singing, etc. just before bed. Placing your child in the crib before they actually fall asleep can help introduce the idea of a bedtime and help the nighttime routine stick and become more like second-nature.

Toddlers generally need to sleep 12-14 hours per day, spread between 1-2 naps during the day and one stretch of sleeping at night. Setting specific bedtime and nap time hours is essential, and it helps that you stick to them, too. Some parents may think that letting their kids stay awake through nap time will make them sleepier later on, but they may only grow overtired which will have the opposite effect and they will have a harder time sleeping instead.

It is important to establish quiet time during this stage, whether around nap time or bedtime. Encouraging quiet activities around nap time can help calm kids down and may even guide them into napping. When it comes to establishing a bedtime routine during the night, it helps to encourage the same soothing activities recommended for infants. Bathing, reading, and other quiet activities can help soothe kids and help kids relax and give in to sleep much more easily.

Preschool and School-Age Kids

Bedtime Stories

Some preschools and kindergarten programs feature a dedicated naptime or quiet time during the day, though this often depends on whether the school schedule is a full day or a half-day. At home, children should be getting about 11-12 hours at the preschool age and then about 10-11 as they get into the upper elementary grades. It is important to pay attention to your child’s behavior at this stage. Some kids may need more sleep than others, for instance some kids may still need naps whereas others may be fine with quiet time or other calm activities. Kids who are not sleeping enough, or sleep deprived, can become hyper or irritable, which can cause problems with attention and focus while in school.

Technology and overstimulation is becoming more and more of a problem when it comes to sleep, especially with older children. Make sure to establish a TV and mobile device free period of time before bed. This is generally a good habit for adults as well, as looking at screens can interfere with the quality of sleep. Specialists recommend that you turn off any and all screens about an hour before bedtime so that you can wind down. Try reading, writing in a journal, bathing, or any other activity that does not involve a screen and can be soothing as well.

General Tips
Aside from setting a sufficient sleep schedule, it is essential that kids sleep well. There are many healthy habits that can help keep you physically healthy but can also maximize the general restfulness of sleep as well.

Keep a consistent sleep schedule: this makes it easier to sleep as well as helps to prevent a loss of lack of good sleep.
Exercise every day: activity is important when it comes to being healthy in general, but staying active can also make it much easier to sleep restfully at night as well.
Don’t go to bed hungry: while eating a heavy meal 1-2 hours before sleep can interfere with the quality of your sleep, going to bed hungry can lead to a restless night, too. Just as infants wake up and cry from naps due to hunger, older children may find it difficult to sleep if they are hungry enough to notice it. Try to provide a light snack before bedtime to prevent this from occurring, such as a glass of milk, some fruit or a small bowl of cereal.

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Are You Missing Out On These Simple Basic Tips To Teach Your Kids To Read?

Parents sometimes forget that education doesn’t just start at school. Parents really need to consider teaching their children basic skills before school even starts. The reason why this is recommended isn’t to give kids an edge, but it is highly suggested because it is important that kids are already familiar with concepts that their teachers will spend the school year discussing. It does help if children already know the basics, however, teaching your kids how to count and to read isn’t meant to make them better than other kids – it’s meant to help your child go through school much more smoothly and with personal success.

Label everything in your home

Reading is integral to learning. Beyond reading itself, other subjects require that you read about them and understand them. For example, every school subject has a text book full of definitions and examples. Teachers write on the chalkboard so kids can copy notes for reference. Worksheets, exercises and other assignments require writing skills as well as reading comprehension skills – so why not begin teaching your child to read from the very beginning?

Turn Your Home into a Reading Rich Environment
There are many ways in which you can implement reading while your kids are growing up. Place letter magnets on the fridge. Have books everywhere, whether they are for kids, adults, or even babies. Label everything. Encourage your children to sound out letters of everything in the house. Familiarizing them with letters and words around the house and with things that they see every day can make reading come much more naturally to them, and learning can feel more like fun.

Cook Together – and Use Recipes!

Cooking with Kids

Having your children help out with meals like dinner can make for some great family time, but it can also help introduce kids to new foods and healthy ones, too. Studies show that kids are more likely to eat food that they had a help in preparing, so it’s a great tactic for getting your children to finish their vegetables! But making food with your kids can be great for another reason, too. If you’re cooking, you’re following a recipe, right? Have your kids read off ingredients and have them spell out the steps involved. You can even help them write down a family favorite recipe, too!

Point Things Out in the Car
You pass by words every day. While driving you zoom past storefronts and signs, so why not point them out to your kids? You can even turn this into a fun game. Ask them to spot certain letters and words as you drive around town. This will familiarize them with letters and words and help your kids look out for opportunities to read everywhere as well.

Spend Some Quality Family Time Together
There are so many things you can do to have fun and relax with your family. One of the most popular things families can do together is have family game night. Incorporating kids into bigger games that contain words and rules can help boost their confidence and inspire them to learn to read on their own. You can start out by helping them, but they may soon want to venture out as their own player in whatever game you are playing which may help them want to learn to read so that they can feel like one of the grownups.

Reading Bedtime Stories

Don’t Underestimate Bedtime
Reading to your child is integral to their lifelong relationship with reading. The more you read to or with your kids, the more likely they will form a healthy relationship with books and literacy. Make it a habit to read every night or at various parts of the day so that reading becomes a staple in both of your lives.

How Do I Raise a Reader?
Reading is essential to a child’s education. Its importance in academics is unavoidable but in order for kids to be good at reading, it’s important that they love doing it as well. One of the best ways to instill a lot of reading in your child is to make reading commonplace at home. Many parents tend to associate this activity with bedtime with reading or sharing a book just as kids are tucked into bed.  However, not every kid has the attention or the energy to remain engaged just before they go to sleep. Our recommendation that in addition to bedtime reading, it can be beneficial to introduce reading as an activity at other times of the day as well.

Whether your child is not particularly receptive to nighttime reading or whether they are, testing other times in the day may still be great for reading. In order to raise a reader, it is necessary to make reading rituals commonplace. Even if reading at night works for some kids, that does not mean that they can’t learn to love reading at different times of the day as well.

Reading in the morning may be the best bet for some children, especially kids who wake up early and are generally more energetic upon waking up. This may be the best time for these kids to really engage in a story or even just look at the pictures in a book.

Kids who have not yet started school or kids who perhaps only go to class on a half-day schedule may be more inclined to read in the afternoon. Try to engage them during the mealtime as lunchtime entertainment.

You can even adjust the reading to a particular time of day in a more spontaneous way as well. If you notice that your child is particularly active or is actively looking for something to do, suggest reading. If they don’t initially seem inclined, you can encourage them by reading along with them or affirming that even looking through the pictures will be a fun activity. Engaging with books on a physical level will help instill a personal relationship with the activity, even if kids are just looking or listening.

My Very Own Story
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