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Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish

My Philosophy - Sleep Habits in Children

Children need LOTS of sleep. But why do I say this? Studies have shown that children who get enough sleep in the first five years of life are smarter and better at processing language up to ten years later. Sleep begets sleep. The better a child sleeps the better the child is behaved. I have found that the majority of child behavior problems are tied directly to the amount of sleep a child gets. Sleep is when the child is able to process the information that they have been presented with in the waking period and neural connections are formed. Children that get the right amount of sleep are at less risk of obesity. Studies have found that the majority of ADD/ADHD children are really suffering from lack of proper sleep. I've linked to studies on a pinterest board, and am constantly adding more, check it out


Study: Kids have been sleep-deprived for more than 100 years

Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Worried that your children aren't getting enough sleep? You're not alone. As one prominent educational psychologist put it, "Physicians and writers on school hygiene agree that children are likely to receive less sleep than is needful to them."

That assessment was offered way back in 1913, and it came from Lewis Terman, who went on to develop the Stanford-Binet IQ test. Terman's concern for sleep-deprived kids tapped into a longstanding source of parental angst.

It turns out that experts have been fretting about tired children since at least 1897. According to an article published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics, 32 sets of sleep guidelines for kids -- containing 360 distinct recommendations for children of specific ages -- were published between 1897 and 2009. During that time, the amount of recommended sleep fell by an average of 0.71 minutes per year. That added up to about 70 fewer minutes of suggested nightly sleep over the course of the 20th century.

And how well did parents of yore live up to those recommendations? Not very well, according to the Pediatrics article. Of the 360 sleep recommendations made over the years, Australian researchers found data that corresponded to 173 of them. In 83 percent of the cases, children were falling short of the ideal -- and doing so by an average of 37 minutes. Overall, the actual amount of nightly sleep for children fell by an average of 0.73 minutes per year.

Among all the expert recommendations put forth, the researchers could find only one case for which the expert guidelines were rooted in medical evidence of a need for a particular amount of sleep. That was a 1926 study that measured the actual sleep of 500 kids between the ages of 6 and 15 who were deemed "healthy." Other than that, it seems that experts simply looked at the amount of sleep children around them were getting and figured that they really needed a little bit more, the authors wrote.

And what's to blame for all this pediatric sleep deprivation? Why, new technology and the increasingly rigorous demands of modern life, of course. "The hurry and excitement of modern life is quite correctly held to be responsible for much of the insomnia of which we hear," according to an editorial published in the British Medical Journal way back in 1894.

As the Australian researchers explain, "In the early 1900s, artificial lighting, radio, reading and the cinema were considered to be the causes of delayed bedtimes. By the late 1990s, video games, television viewing, the Internet and mobile telephones were largely held responsible for such delays."

(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times

************************************************************************************************************ So what is the right amount of sleep? Fifteen years ago the sleep charts were what I believe to be correct. But somewhere in the last decade the charts have been modified. Here is the sleep chart *I* believe in (the one that was around ten years ago).

*newborn to 4 months old - 19 to 22 hours in a 24 hour period

4 months old to 12 months old - 12 hours at night, (may have a feeding after the first few hours when Mommy is ready to go to bed for the night), two to three naps of 2 to 3 hours each

12 months old to 2 years old - 12 hours at night, two naps of 2 hours each (eliminating the morning nap gradually but if behaviors gets bad you may have to put it back in).

2 years old old to 5 years old - 12 hours at night, 2 to 3 hour nap

6 years old to 10 years old - 11 to 13 hours a night

10 years to adult - 8 to 10 hours a night


Naps - some people say that their preschool child doesn't need a nap. Even if the child sleeps 13 hours at night my answer is they do still need a nap up until they are in kindergarten. A nap is about recharging the body, restoring the peace in the mind and relaxing. I have found this analogy the best to illustrate my point - Cars should have oil changes about every 3000 miles. Sometimes life gets busy and we forget to do the oil change, perhaps for a while. Your car doesn't show any damage. You might even get to 6000 miles and no oil change and still the car is running just fine. But sooner or later that car is going to die. The engine is going to seize up and revolt and you will have an unhappy car. The car will not work any more. Naps are the oil changes in a child's life. They are needed even if you can't see the affects of skipping them right away.

Overtired Children - When a child is overtired they don't act sleepy, instead they get hyper. For a baby they will get VERY crabby and cry. Each child has a "window" of time when they will easily fall asleep. If you miss the signs and miss that window of time you are going to have a very difficult time getting the child to calm down. Often if a parent has a hard time getting a child to sleep the key is to make bedtime EARLIER so they don't miss that window.


So, you know kids need sleep, and lots of it, but HOW do you go about getting them to sleep or stay asleep?

INFANTS - I believe in the Baby Whisperer's EASY method for a schedule, and the Happiest Baby on the Block 5 s's method. Those two combined will make cio not be a needed thing (at that age)

EASY - when the baby wakes up it Eats. After you feed it, then it has Activity - bouncy seat, tummy time, sitting up and playing with toys, swing, exersaucer, etc. When the baby gets fussy check the B's - boredom, butt or burp. If it's none of those then off to Sleep. Don't wait for the baby to do more than get the tiniest bit fussy, then see what is causing the fusses - if it's just that they needed their diaper change do that, but if it's not the activity is boring, the butt is dirty or they have to burp, then put them down. This may happen after as short as 45 minutes, don't freak, it really means they are tired.

Now, to get them to sleep use the 5 s's. Swaddle the baby, hold the baby on their side and sway as they suck on something (paci, your knuckle or their finger/thumb) and make a shush noise. This will calm your baby. When the baby is calm, but not asleep yet, keeping them swaddled lay them in the bed. I like to pat them instead of sway after a minute or two cause you can still pat after they are put down but you can't sway, so pat the baby and continue patting gradually decreasing it as you put them in the bed. Also continue the shushing as you put them down, again gradually getting quieter.

If you do these two you will find a well rested, easily managed baby in no time. If a baby wakes before 1 1/2 hours then wait ten minutes before going in, most babies settle in that time period and go right back to sleep on their own.

Older Children - unfortunately if you didn't do the above before about 9 months old you may be in for a harder job. First you have to have the right environment - a DARK room, music on continuous play, sometimes a fan is needed in addition to the music, no distractions, naps not being optional, and a consistent schedule. To create a dark room I put the scratchy part of velcro on the window frame then I take black felt and have it cut so it is 12 inches wider and taller then the window opening. Double the felt up so even on the sunniest day the room is dark. (The reason for this is because our body needs darkness in order to reach deep sleep.) Other things to do -- dim electronics (I cut pieces of window cling car shades and put it over the display), remove TVs from bedrooms (A new report from July 2011 states that preschoolers who watch TV in their room took a longer time falling asleep and woke up more drowsy in the morning. Additionally, children who spent only 30 minutes of screen time viewing before bed were 28% more likely to have sleep difficulties compared to 19% who had no screen time. ) , and most of all, set an early bedtime. Most children have a built in alarm clock so I believe a 7 pm bedtime is needed to make sure they get enough sleep. This makes sure you don't miss the window of sleep and that the child will get the 12 hours a night they need.

Some children are particularly difficult and cry it out may be needed. Other children may fight staying in their bed. For these children you can do a few things. You can do the Super Nanny method where you keep putting kids back to bed immediately when they get out without any interaction or emotion and slowly moving farther and farther away from the bed. Another method you can use is removing all the stuff from the room except the bed. This means no toys, no books and no lights. You may have to even turn the knob around after a bit. (Don't freak out about this knob turning around thing - but think about this - if you are asleep do you want your child to be able to have free reign of the house? If there is a fire don't you want your child to be IN their room where you can get them instead of trying to escape? If they can reach the knob and lock it, wouldn't it be better for them not to lock themselves in the room so you can't reach them?). If you have been rocking or laying down next to the child you can do a slow transition - so hold her but don't rock tonight, then after a few nights of that, hold her in her bed, then move farther away each night until you are no longer the thing needed to put her to sleep.

If all that still fails, try eliminating milk from their diet. There was a study done in 2001 that showed that the majority of preschool sleep problems were a hidden milk allergy. For my experience with this, read my story below.


Early to bed = Better readers

SAN ANTONIO (UPI) -- Parents who enforce bedtime may help their children be better students, U.S. researchers suggest.

Researchers at SRI International, an independent, non-profit research institute in Menlo Park, Calif., say having a regular bedtime is the most consistent predictor in 4-year-olds who have higher scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities.

"Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills," lead author Erika Gaylor says in a statement.

Gaylor says pre-schoolers getting less than the recommended 11 hours of sleep each night have lower literacy and math skill scores.

Gaylor and colleagues analyzed information from parental interviews conducted at 9 month old and also at age 4, of a nationally representative sample of approximately 8,000 children -- part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.

"This is by far the largest study of its kind to date," Gaylor says. "Previous studies have included up to 500 children in this age group."

The findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International



Middle ground a sound way to get baby to sleep, study shows

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Nearly every parent knows that gripping, awful feeling of a baby screeching when put to bed -- and the ensuing anxiety over whether to pick up the baby or tough it out and let the baby cry. New research shows that a middle ground not only brings peace to the household but also does no harm.

So-called behavioral sleep techniques don't cause long-lasting harm to the child or to the relationship between the parent and child, the study published this week in the journal Pediatrics shows.

"Parents and health professional can confidently use these techniques to reduce the short- to medium-term burden of infant sleep problems and maternal depression," the study authors wrote.

The study, by researchers at several institutions in Australia and Britain, of children at age 6 was a follow-up to one conducted of infants whose parents reported sleep problems at age 7 months.

Nearly half of parents report sleep problems in their babies who are 6 months to a year old, and techniques such as "controlled comforting" and "camping out" have been shown to help. Controlled comforting is gradually increasing the time taken to respond to the baby's cries. Camping out has the parents sitting with the baby as he or she settles to sleep and gradually moving toward the door.

Such techniques also have been shown to reduce maternal depression.

And, the researchers say, there could be other benefits: "Furthermore, teaching parents to regulate their children's sleep behavior is a form of limit-setting that, combined with parental warmth, constitutes the optimal authoritative parenting style for child outcomes."

"Crying it out" was for a time recommended, at least among mothers desperate for sleep. That "is not usually recommended nowadays because of the distress it causes parents and infants," the researchers wrote.

The Kids Sleep Study returned to the participants of the infant study, and drew their conclusions in the follow-up based on information from trained researchers, who conducted the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory and showed parents how to collect salivary cortisol to measure fatigue.

(c)2012 Los Angeles Times


I have had some failure in the sleep department as a mom. I thought that it was SO easy. After all when I had worked in daycare centers I just patted backs, kids slept and nap time lasted 2 hours every single day. When I babysat I put the kids in their beds after reading them a story, and told them to sleep and they did. Maybe once or twice I had to lie next to a kid for a few minutes, or pat a back, but overall - super easy.

Then I had Tara. She was sick from 2 weeks old until 10 months old. Almost the whole time. Hard to get a kid to sleep through the night when they are coughing from RSV. Then she was failure to gain weight. She literally lost weight if she went 8 hours without drinking/eating. So we had doctor's orders to feed her if she woke up. By the time she was two I was ready to force the issue, her weight had steadied and I was ready. But the habit was there. She went to sleep great but would wake 2 to 20 times a night. Most nights much closer to 20. Right before she turned 3 we sold out townhouse but our house in Plainfield wasn't built yet so we lived like nomads for three months. Hard to ask her to sleep through the night when we were never in the same house for more then a few weeks. Then Elise was born..

See how the years of bad sleep happen? It snowballs, and becomes habit. By the time she was 3 1/2 I was at my wit's end. I could not survive much longer with two kids not sleeping through the night. So, I started researching sleep. The solution for Elise was solving her colic with a chiropractor visit and two nights of sleeping in the farthest corner of the house from her so I didn't hear her crying. For Tara it ended up that she had a hidden milk allergy. There had been a study done in 2001 that showed that the majority of preschool sleep problems are really hidden milk allergies. I took milk out of her diet two weeks before she turned 4. By the end of the first week she started sleeping through the night. Six solid nights of 13 hour sleeps had me wondering if it were just a fluke. So I overloaded her with milk products that sixth day - cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream was her diet. She was up six times that night. Took all the milk things away again and we had a great night time sleeper. We found that two glasses of milk or milk after noon caused night time waking and we finally had solid nights of sleep for everyone in the house.

So, the moral of this story is that sleep training is hard. Some things I learned over the years by being a parent or daycare provider and some I learned with my research when I had problems with my own children.


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