Do the Kids You Care for Get Enough Sleep?

A Preschooler’s Nap an Important Tool for Learning

I have heard complaints from several nannies this week complaining that their preschool -aged charges don’t get enough sleep and the sleep-deprived kids are moody and aren’t enjoying camp, swim lessons, and otherwise fun summertime activities.

I myself am cranky and forgetful when I don’t get my needed 8-hours of shut-eye per night. So it is understandable that when three- and -four-year-old kids don’t get enough sleep the results include temper tantrums, refusing to do fun activities, and not even getting promoted to Pre-K.

The dilemma is some of my nanny friend’s employers keep their kids up way past the typical, and necessary, 7:30 to 8:00 pm bed time of their peers. Without 12-hours of sleep preschoolers simply cannot function at their best.

I don’t blame working parents for wanting to keep their little-ones up to play in the evenings — they miss their kids. But, keeping kids up rather than keeping them on a strict sleep schedule harms kids’ behavior and performance the next day.

For my nanny friends who care for these sleep-deprived youngsters I suggest giving them afternoon naps. In fact, this study of three- to five-year-olds suggests that naps are an important tool for learning for preschoolers. “Children not only need to nap, but should be encouraged to nap,” said the senior author, Rebecca M.C. Spencer, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Here is a list of how much sleep children need from WebMD.

How Much Sleep Children Need:

1-4 Weeks Old: 15 to 16 hours per day

1 – 12 Months Old: 14 – 15 hours per day

1 – 3 Years Old: 12 – 14 hours per day

3 – 6 Years Old: 10 – 12 hours per day

7 – 12 Years Old: 10 – 11 hours per day

12 – 18 Years Old: 8 – 9 hours per day

References:

NYTimes.com

WebMD

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