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5 Signs That Your Baby or Older Child is Getting Enough Sleep

Are you confused about how much sleep your baby should be getting? Wondering if your child is sleeping too much – or not enough?

Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield |

Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield |

Here are 5 signs that your child is getting enough sleep:

1. Child falls asleep in an appropriate amount of time
For babies, they should be transitioning from awake to asleep (not drowsy to asleep) in 5-20 minutes. Anything less than that and they were likely overtired or already drowsy. If it takes more than 20 minutes, baby is either overtired or not tired enough.

For older children, falling asleep in 10-30 minutes is more the norm after lights have been turned off.

2. Child wakes up on his own
If you have to wake up your baby every morning – to get an older sibling to school or get to daycare – then his schedule needs to be tweaked. Once babies have the right bedtime and are sleeping through the night, they will typically wake within a 30 minute window fairly consistently (barring unusual circumstances – vaccines, exhausting outing the day before, etc.).

If you are regularly waking up your older child for school, he isn’t getting enough sleep. I know it’s hard with hockey practice at 8pm or other late evening activities and homework, but see how you can help get him rearrange his schedule so he can get to bed a little earlier.

3. Child is bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning
Ok, maybe that’s going a bit too far, especially for the older kiddos, but if your child isn’t groggy when waking in the morning, that’s a great sign that she is getting enough sleep. If she’s laying her head on the table at breakfast and mumbling responses, she didn’t get enough sleep.

4. Child doesn’t fall asleep in strange places

Image courtesy of photostock |

Image courtesy of photostock |

Not strange as in park benches. Strange as in the car in the middle of the day, or at the table during lunch or in class at school. If your child easily dozes in one of these places, there’s a good chance he’s not getting enough sleep.

If a baby is sleeping through the night and getting enough sleep at nap times, she won’t fall asleep in the car…because she won’t be tired. If you find that this is happening, look at your baby’s schedule – particularly nap times – and make sure she isn’t getting overtired.

If your older child is able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat – and you’ve talked to your pediatrician about narcolepsy! – then I suspect he needs an earlier bedtime.

5. Child is happy and doesn’t exhibit difficult behaviors during the day
Irritability is a sure sign that a child isn’t getting enough sleep (although if it comes on suddenly, it can also mean your child is getting sick). If you notice that your healthy child is more moody and acting up more, look at his schedule. If he’s getting enough sleep, he should be acting in a respectful manner.

If your baby is crabby and cranky, she’s likely overtired. I know I sound like a broken record, but take a look at her bedtime and nap times to makes sure she’s getting enough sleep.

So how much sleep should my child be getting? Here are some guidelines:

0-3 months:     16-18 hours/24-hour period
3-6 months:     15-16 hours/24-hour period
6-12 months:   14-15 hours/24-hour period
1-3 years:          12-14 hours/24-hour period
3-5 years:          11-13 hours/24-hour period
5-10 years:        11-12 hours/24-hour period

These amounts include both night time sleep and naps – and over 4 months a good 11-12 hours of consolidated sleep at night!


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