Teaching Children How to Sleep, Ages 2–5 Years
As parents, we’re the first people who are in charge of teaching our children how to sleep. Once outside the womb, resting is not the same.
Achieving a stable sleep pattern is a task that has to be completed step by step. Young children need a stable sleep routine to get the rest they need.
The quality of sleep has a direct impact on our children’s health. That’s why it’s so important for us to ensure it.
As the saying goes, the more you sleep, the more your grow!
After the child reaches the age of two, their sleeping habits will change considerably. We must create an appropriate environment with adequate conditions for the child to learn how to sleep properly.
At this age, children tend to sleep for approximately 13 hours a day. From the age of three to five, children begin to sleep for approximately 10 hours a day.
Why does my child’s sleep habits change? The answer is very simple:
Sleep habits never remain static in human beings. Our biological clock is constantly adjusted to the physical changes in the body and it seeks to comply with the appropriate amount of rest needed.
During this stage it’s normal for children to wake up at night for one reason or another.
This, however, will happen less and less as they grow and they’ll occur for shorter periods (usually around 20 minutes).
Learning to sleep will take time and effort but in the end everyone benefits from it.
NOTE: Sleep patterns should keep their routine until the child reaches the age of ten.
Learning to sleep has it stages
When a child learns how to speak, they can communicate with us about how they feel or what they need when they wake up at night.
During this stage it’s important for parents to reinforce their sleep routines. It will take time and effort before the child fully adjusts to the routine.
Attend to their needs and help the child achieve the best conditions possible in order to allow them to rest well.
They’re still very likely to need their parents’ help to fall asleep until they reach the age of 5.
It’s very important for parents to impose rules. You should know how to attend to their needs without spoiling them.
Parents must learn how to differentiate when their child has a real need from when their child is simply trying to manipulate them.
It’s perfectly normal for the child to try to negotiate and ask for things when they wake up at night.
When this happens, experts advise that parents should help their children understand that they can enjoy sleeping alone and nothing bad will happen to them.
Make it clear that they need to sleep in order to replenish their energy which will allow them to play in the morning.
To the extent possible, try to avoid creating a tense environment. You shouldn’t punish a child late at night just because they wake up. This will only complicate things further.
Till the age of 5 they should continue taking hour-long naps in the afternoon. The naps shouldn’t be prolonged unnecessarily. If they are, they may prevent the child from sleeping at night.
You have to teach them to sleep
- Establish and respect a routine in order to achieve a stable sleep pattern. It’s important that the child goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day. It’s also advisable for parents to prevent their children from going to bed hungry or drinking lots of liquids before going to bed. Avoiding those two situations will prevent them from waking up due to hunger or an urge to urinate.
- Their sleep routine can include activities that help them relax. Activities such as taking a bath, reading a story or even singing a song can be effective. Explain to the child that you’ll be very close by watching over their well-being. This will help them overcome the feeling of separation.
- It’s important that children don’t associate going to bed with a punishment. Don’t threaten them with what will happen if they don’t go to sleep. This kind of parenting doesn’t help them, on the contrary it hurts them by transmitting fear.
Many parents take their children to bed when the child is exhausted. They might even try to tire them out a little more if the child is still active.
Keep in mind that sometimes inviting the child to play might unintentionally make it harder for them to go to sleep.
It has been proven that electronic devices stimulate children, preventing them from falling asleep.
When we speak about electronic devices we’re referring to televisions, tablets, cellphones, consoles and any other device that emits artificial light.
Learning to sleep can be easy if we know how to be constant, patient and coherent with the routine.
And of course, love should never be lacking when it comes to teaching our children.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Montserrat Gala, A. M., & Fortes del Valle, M. A. (2013). Aprender a dormir. Pediatría Atención Primaria, 15(60), e145-e155. http://amapamu.org/actividades/charlas2006/segarra.pdf
- Del Riesgo, A. B., & Velez, I. V. (1991). Errores en la crianza de los niños (Vol. 5). BEF, Biblioteca Ecuatoriana de la Familia.
- Cabano, S. (2014). El sueño infantil y el apego. https://www.colibri.udelar.edu.uy/jspui/bitstream/20.500.12008/4398/1/Santiago%20Cabano.TFG.2014.pdf
- Arboledas, G. P., Salort, M. M., & Marabotto, L. M. Higiene del sueño y melatonina. http://cursosaepap.exlibrisediciones.com/files/49-201-fichero/Higiene%20del%20sueño.pdf