Normal sleep patterns

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Children's sleep patterns vary between birth and age 12. The amount of sleep a child needs depends on the individual child, with some children requiring more or less sleep than others, and that amount changes as the child gets older. The average infant sleeps about 16 hours a day, usually in three- or four-hour cycles. By age six months, most infants have established patterns of sleeping seven or eight hours at a time without interruption. By a year old, the amount of sleep drops to about 14 hours a day total, by four years old it's dropped to 12, and by eight years old, children need about nine hours a day. Children between ages one and five usually require a nap. Children often give signals that they're sleepy, such as yawning, droopy eyelids, or fussiness. One way to help establish regular sleep patterns is to have a pre-bedtime routine. This can consist of such tasks as bathing, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story, or perhaps playing some soothing music. Try to avoid scary, loud, and high-energy TV shows, movies, games, or stories before bedtime. Check your child's state of mind on waking up to see whether the child's getting enough sleep. If the child appears refreshed, the child's sleep requirement probably are being satisfied. If you feel your child's sleep patterns may be irregular, contact a healthcare professional.

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