Helping Your Child Get a Good Night’s Sleep

garden-Stock-PhotoA full day of school can use up a lot of your child’s energy.  Add in homework and extra-curricular or social activities, and your Au pair can see why adequate rest is important to keep those little bodies thriving.

While each child is different, these guidelines can help you spot if your child’s sleep schedule is on track for her age. This chart includes naps.
1-3 Years: 12 – 14 hours per day
3-6 Years: 10 – 12 hours per day
7-12 Years: 10 – 11 hours per day
12-18 Years: 8 – 10 hours per day

Just how important is sleep to your child’s ability to focus in school?  In a National Sleep Foundation experiment, children were asked to go to bed later than normal for a week, and then were asked to spend no fewer than 10 hours in bed for another week. During the week of later bedtimes, teachers rated these kids as having more academic problems and more attention problems.

Here’s how your Au pair can encourage healthy sleep habits for your child:

Finish homework and dinner with enough time for the family to unwind a bit before bedtime. Make sure your child’s room is relaxing and safe with no electronics or screens to distract him at night. Just as you baby-proofed when she was little, do some investigating to make sure her room isn’t a source of hidden toxins or allergens. Choose an organic mattress and wash sheets and bedding often with a natural laundry soap.
Set a specific bedtime working backward from what hour your child must wake up to get to school on time (or the time you typically begin homeschooling) and allow for the age-appropriate number of hours your child needs to rest.
Create a predictable bedtime routine.  A younger child will need more guidance through his nightly routine, while an older child can begin practicing self-care.

Your Au pair’s routine could include:

• a warm bath
• brushing teeth
• reading a book together
• following a guided meditation designed for kids
• sing a calm song
• last call for bathroom trips and a drink of water
• good night snuggles