Healthy Sleep Habits for Children

  1. Consistent sleep schedule
    Regular nap times, bedtime and wake times to accommodate children’s natural preferences, activity and family lifestyle. Avoid discrepant weekday and weekend schedules.
  2. Consistent bedtime routine
    A consistent but enjoyable bedtime routine is important to help transit children from a high level of daytime activity to bedtime. It should be pleasant, so that the child looks forward to bedtime. The routine can include changing into pyjamas, brushing of teeth, bedtime stories etc. A regular daytime schedule (e.g. mealtimes and playtimes) also helps to stabilize the sleep wake schedule.
  3. Avoid sleep onset associations
    Always put the child to bed awake but drowsy, so that they can learn to settle themselves and fall asleep both at bedtime and at night waking. Avoid sleep associations e.g. breast-feeding, bottle-feeding, and rocking to sleep. Transitional objects e.g. a blanket, stuffed animals, dolls, may assist independent settling and self-soothing.
  4. Avoid night feedings after age 6 months
    Night feedings are not physiologically necessary in most cases after the age of 6 months and do not improve the quality or quantity of sleep. A persistent requirement for night feedings may be related to sleep onset associations or conditioned hunger. Unnecessary night feeds also increase wetting and more disturbed sleep.
  5. Avoid co-sleeping
    Co-sleeping increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome under certain conditions, such as parental smoking, drug or alcohol use. The practice has also been implicated in suffocation deaths, but is controversial in its impact on psychological and developmental effects. Co-sleeping infants have less slow wave sleep and more frequent night-time arousals and may result in difficulty in transiting the child to their own bed or room when appropriate and necessary.
  6. Ideal bedroom
    The bedroom should be at a comfortable temperature, quiet, and dark. A night-light is acceptable if preferred by the child. Avoid using the bedroom for time-out or punishment, and the bed for activities other than sleeping i.e. do not play, study, read or listen to music on the bed. Keep the television, laptops, I pads and smart phones out of the bedroom.
  7. Appropriate naps
    Naps should be geared towards child’s age and developmental need. Avoid long naps or naps too close to bedtime.
  8. Encourage adequate Sleep
    Children should have sufficient sleep i.e. age appropriate total number of hours of sleep per day

    Dr Jenny Tang
    Paediatrician,
    Asthma, Lung, Sleep & Allergy
    SBCC Asthma, Lung, Sleep & Allergy

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