When grannies tell new mummies that their babies grow in their sleep, it is one of those grandmother’s tales you would be better off not ignoring. Scientific studies have shown that small babies till the age of two years grow as much as half an inch in their sleep when they are going through one of their growth spurts.
What is the ideal length of night sleep? Even though the experts will trot figures, remember no two children are the same. Very young children are likelier to be larks — early to bed, early to rise — only if they were born in the evening or during the night. Babies born in the morning and early afternoon are likelier to be owls, preferring to sleep late at night, and well into the morning.
Daytime naps: Children aged two to four years need up to 12 hours of night sleep, and a nap during the day. After five years of age, children don’t require a daytime nap unless they get less than eight to nine hours of night sleep due to the exigencies of school timings, study pressure, and/or family difficulties.
Teenagers have their internal clocks garbled. This makes them need to sleep late both ways. However, schools and colleges are not scheduled keeping that in mind. Therefore, they might need an afternoon or early evening nap to give their brains and bodies necessary rest.
Your toddler awakens at 2 a.m. This is quite normal. Very few newborns, or babies below a year sleep through the night. They are likelier to awaken midway if they slept off by 8 or 9 p.m. Not just that, you must play with them or respond to their babble. Otherwise, they’ll bawl like you’ve just given them a pasting, or worse. What’s more, baby will then drift off to sleep around 5 a.m. when it is time for you to rise and shine.
Baby goes to sleep in the early evening. Just when you thought you are in clover, and can turn in early, baby awakens from a refreshing nap. Your best bet is to tire out the little one, so that she goes back to sleep. Slim chance of that happening as kiddo will probably be bright and chirpy till well past midnight.
Create a proper bedtime ritual as toddler becomes a preschooler. This will stand you — and your child — in good stead in later years. Bedtime should remain non-negotiable, especially when the kids acquire enough vocabulary to argue, and create diversions. Whether it is a bedtime bath (depending on the climate of the place where you live), or a bedtime story telling session; create your own ritual for bedtime, so that your child does not view bedtime as a punishment.
Children shouldn’t cheat on sleep. As they grow, children find they have less time to sleep properly to cope with the pressures of study, and competition on the playing field. However, you must impress on your child that sleep is necessary to think rationally, and memorize details like formulae, dates, events, principles etc.
Don’t panic if your child doesn’t follow your regimen. You should try to either bring bedtime forward, or cut down on daytime naps if your child has problems going to sleep at the scheduled bedtime.
Be realistic. Since some children need more sleep, if you find your child getting drowsy earlier, just serve dinner earlier. Some need less sleep. As long as it doesn’t adversely affect their attention span, concentration, or memory; just accept that your child has conquered sleep like Arjun.