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 Quality Sleep Information, Pediatric

Quality Sleep Information, Pediatric

Sleep is a basic need of every child. Children need more sleep than adults do because they are constantly growing and developing. With a combination of nighttime sleep and naps, children should sleep the following amount each day depending on their age:
  • 0–3 months old: 14–17 hours.
  • 4–11 months old: 12–15 hours.
  • 1–2 years old: 11–14 hours.
  • 3–5 years old: 10–13 hours.
  • 6–13 years old: 9–11 hours.
  • 14–17 years old: 8–10 hours.

Quality sleep is a critical part of your child's overall health and wellness.

How does sleep affect my child?

Sleep is important for your child's body. Sleep allows your child's body to:
  • Restore blood supply to the muscles.
  • Grow and repair tissues.
  • Restore energy.
  • Strengthen the body's defense system (immune system) to help prevent illness.
  • Form new memory pathways in the brain.

What are the benefits of quality sleep?

Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis helps your child:
  • Learn and remember new information.
  • Make decisions and build problem-solving skills.
  • Pay attention.
  • Be creative.

Sleep also helps your child:
  • Fight infections. This may help your child get sick less often.
  • Balance hormones that affect hunger. This may reduce the risk of your child being overweight or obese.

What are the risks if my child does not get quality sleep?

Children who do not get enough quality sleep may have:
  • Mood swings.
  • Behavioral problems.
  • Difficulty with:
    • Solving problems.
    • Coping with stress.
    • Getting along with others.
    • Paying attention.
    • Staying awake during the day.

These issues may affect your child's performance and productivity at school and at home. Lack of sleep may also put your child at higher risk for obesity, accidents, depression, suicide, and risky behaviors.

What actions can I take to prevent poor quality sleep?

To help improve your child's sleep:
  • Find out why your child may avoid going to bed or have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Identify and address any fears that he or she has. If you think a physical problem is preventing sleep, see your child's health care provider. Treatment may be needed.
  • Keep bedtime as a happy time. Never punish your child by sending him or her to bed.
  • Keep a regular schedule and follow the same bedtime routine. It may include taking a bath, brushing teeth, and reading. Start the routine about 30 minutes before you want your child in bed. Bedtime should be the same every night.
  • Make sure your child is tired enough for sleep. It helps to:
    • Limit your child's nap times during the day. Daily naps are appropriate for children until 5 years of age.
    • Limit how late in the morning your child sleeps in (continues to sleep).
    • Have your child play outside and get exercise during the day.
  • Do only quiet activities, such as reading, right before bedtime. This will help your child become ready for sleep.
  • Avoid active play, television, computers, or video games 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Make the bed a place for sleep, not play.
    • If your child is younger than 1 year old, do not place anything in bed with your child. This includes blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals.
    • Allow only one favorite toy or stuffed animal in bed with your child who is older than 1 year of age.
  • Make sure your child's bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark.
  • If your child is afraid, tell him or her that you will check back in 15 minutes, then do so.
  • Do not serve your child heavy meals during the few hours before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime is okay, such as crackers or a piece of fruit.
  • Do not give your child food or drinks that contain caffeine before bedtime, such as soft drinks, tea, or chocolate.

Always place your child who is younger than 1 year old on his or her back to sleep. This can help to lower the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Where to find support

If you have a young child with sleep problems, talk with an infant-toddler sleep consultant. If you think that your child has a sleep disorder, talk with your child's health care provider about having your child's sleep evaluated by a specialist.

Where to find more information

National Sleep Foundation:

Contact a health care provider if your child:

  • Sleepwalks.
  • Has severe and recurrent nightmares (night terrors).
  • Is regularly unable to sleep at night.
  • Falls asleep during the day outside of scheduled nap times.
  • Stops breathing briefly during sleep (sleep apnea).
  • Is older than 7 years of age and wets the bed.


  • Sleep is critical to your child's overall health and wellness.
  • Children need more sleep than adults do because they are constantly growing and developing.
  • Quality sleep helps your child grow, develop skills and memory, fight infections, and prevent chronic conditions.
  • Poor sleep puts your child at risk for mood and behavior problems, learning difficulties, accidents, obesity, and depression.
  • Keep a regular schedule and follow the same bedtime routine every day.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.