Body Wisdom

Add to your child's health bank- Add more sleep hours

Are you waking up your child each morning, pushing him to get up on time to go to school? If that is the daily affair, then the body is indicating that its rest time activities are not yet over! Add some extra hours to your child’s sleep and witness a significant change in his immunity, and temperament both! Read on to know more as to how you can create a healthful sleep routine for your child.

Sleep hours and your child’s health are directly linked. Sleep is the only time, where our body can fully focus on growth, repair, restoration and renewal. For this reason, nature has created a higher need for sleep in growing children. At most homes, the kids sleep as per the parent’s schedule, which is of course rooted in practical reality. But we adults tend to forget that children need at the least 2-3 hours additional snooze time than us. Sleep is your child’s natural health tonic thus must receive a ferocious focus – keep the quantity and quality high!

If your child is showing any of the following symptoms, the body is signaling the need for more rest and repair time. Reclaim their sleep, and restore their health and mood both!

  • Child is falling sick very often
  • Temperamental and fussy child (belligerent, cranky, aggressive, adamant etc.)
  • Poor and fussy eater (this has many reasons, but sleep is also deeply linked)
  • Continued and prolonged cough, cold, wheezing
  • Distracted, troubled learning, or poor performance at school

Refer to the recommended sleep hours in table below to know how many hours should your child sleep ideally.

Age

Recommended sleep

0-3 months

15-18 hours

4 to 12 months

14-15 hours

1-3 years

12-14 hours

3-6 years

10-12 hours

7 – 12 years

10-11 hours

13-18 years

8-9 hours

Source: www.sleepfoundation.org

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH SLEEP & MY CHILD’S HEALTH

At home, I guard my little one’s sleep quite religiously. My son is aged 3.5yrs and on regular days 11 – 12 hours is what I aim for. Putting my son to nap in afternoon delays his night time sleep, but an hour in afternoon refreshes him and his mood like nothing else! If he has not slept in afternoon, all my efforts are focused towards ensuring he is in bed before 8 pm (this is surely a tough ask, but I aim for this each night!). He usually wakes up next morning fully rested and refreshed at around 830 am (I have the luxury of having his school almost next door!).

I have noticed that my son tends to sleep through long hours at one go whenever he is unwell. We call it ‘sleep therapy’ at home. Whenever he is sick, everyone at home knows, he is to be allowed to sleep (and not wake up to feed meals!). I do not push him to go to school, when he is down and about, allowing him to snooze as much as he likes. Once on our return from a Mumbai trip, he vomited quite badly, and then slept straight 6 hours. When he woke up I gave him fruits and fruit juices to energize him instantly. Combined with other natural measures such as no grains & dairy, higher doses of raw foods in form of fruits and veggies this ‘sleep therapy’ does work well and we have so far not medicated him during bouts of illness

Also, I have personally experienced the bonus of good temperament whenever my son naps in the afternoon. Off late, as he turned 3.5 yrs, he demanded to ‘not nap’ in afternoon. On such days, by evening, every task feels like a battle of egos. He seems to be less focused by 7 pm, he also is more belligerent, ignoring my requests to do simple tasks such as changing clothes, brushing or cleaning up the toys! These days, my effort is to at least make him lie down and rest, for 30 minutes or so in the afternoon to refresh him

Below, I have documented some tips for establishing a good sleep routine in kids. These I have gathered over my son’s toddler years through experience and from other moms, who consider sleep as an important building block for their child’s health and development.

Creating a sleep routine may demand some changes to the parents’ routine also, but in the long run the benefits reaped in form of a happy-mood child who falls sick less often is just unbeatable!

HEALTHFUL SLEEP GUIDELINES:

Call it a night 7 pm onwards! Yes that may sound too early for most Indian homes, but start winding down by 7 pm, to ensure the child is in bed by 8 pm. The more you allow them to sleep with nature’s rhythm, the better will be their health (and moods!)

Shift you playtime with child to morning: Incase you are a busy professional parent, do not make the child sleep late just because that’s the time you reach home. Remember nature’s laws continue to operate irrespective of our personal schedules. Night time is rest time, those extra hours between 8 pm to 11 pm are crucial for children!

Set a routine: Make the child sleep at same hour each night. Weekends can be exception, but where you can, do put them to bed at same time. Young children upto age of 7 must catch full restorative sleep of good 10-12 hours at one stretch if possible.

Dim the lights and activities: Create a restful atmosphere at home at night time. Invest in night lamps for all rooms. Yes television may be your biggest health enemy! In case other adults want to watch TV at night request them to do so in separate rooms with low volume. At our home, we switch on night lamps every where post dinner time to indicate that everyone is about to get to their night snooze now including the house help didis!

Nap them in dark to catch up extra snooze: If your child is not getting straight 10 hours each night, you could look at putting them for a nap in afternoon. Make sure you make them sleep in complete darkness to enhance the restorative benefit of sleep

Advance bed time by 30 minutes each night: till you hit an ideal 10-12 hours per night for children below 7 years. This is a tough ask, as it requires changes to parents schedules also. But children thrive on routines. Add ‘dinner – change of clothes – brush – story’ routine, and your child might adapt to it quickly.

Summary: If you have a fussy child at hand, do not give up. Persistence is the key!

Leave your comments on the blog below. Write & share your experience of setting sleep schedules for your child. I would love to hear from you about how sleep made a world of difference to your or your child’s health

Title image credit:ddimitrova via Pixabay



Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food & lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. The views expressed by the users are their personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.


07:31 PM | 05-02-2019

Thank you so much!!

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05:30 PM | 05-02-2019

Yes Shuchi you could. In my case, as Dev started to develop taste for food I started feeding him a lot of chutneys ...dhaniya, pudina, hummus etc. Herbs and greens go like that. He also loves palak and that can also be given as chutney. However pls make sure you are not overdoing 'health' stuff with kids, which might create more conflict at home. Just be consistent in offering variety of raw and different textured foods along with regular foods on table. What you eat is finally what the child will pick up and choose

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05:21 PM | 05-02-2019

Thank you so much Anchal and Mayuri. Also, I have microgreens at home, kids don't eat leaves as is, can I mix them in their Paranthas or vegetables?

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05:07 PM | 05-02-2019

Hi Suchi. I totally understand the conflict that a mother has to go through when making changes to food patterns for their children. Dairy is such an emotional subject in each household. In my case, I did it slow and steady. I breastfed my child for a long time, and after he weaned I ensured he is given a lot of fruits in morning and evening. Even till date, my own mother wants to feed him a glassful of milk each day! So instead of battling over milk with the elders, I just decided to focus on addition of raw to his meals. I noticed that Dev in anycase is not very fond of milk. And on days when he is unwell, I just make sure there is no milk at all. Thats a ground I have stood; on other days I view the milk that grandmom feeds as a 'cheat meal'. I now procure organic milk; and just ensure he is not mixing it with fruits or anything else.
Re your fruit question, yes I give my child fruit anytime of the day! No issues so far! No it does not aggravate gas/ cold and cough - just ensure you are not mixing it with any other food group; and giving enough gap of 30 minutes before feeding anything else

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05:01 PM | 05-02-2019

also on fruits - infact one round of fruits must be eaten in evening, they conserve energy for the next morning. Samar has been eating a fruit as snack every evening. Now that he's off milk, sometimes if he has not eaten dinner properly or is awake late, he demands bananas & eats happily. No problem at all. I think what you can take care of though is that fruits are to be eaten on an empty stomach and alone. So for your twins, don't mix fruits with anything else. And don't give with dinner or soon after dinner.

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04:58 PM | 05-02-2019

hi shuchi. i have a son, almost 3 years old. I can understand what you mean, it's really difficult especially when milk is available in your household. But with a lot of patience & repeated efforts, I have been able to do it. Not fully, but almost!! Samar, my son, mainly eliminates toxins through cough & cold. His cough cold would last 3 weeks as I never gave him meds & focussed on preserving his body's self healing ability. But this time around when he got cough & cold, within 2 days, it was significantly better. And few more days & it was totally gone. All because he was off dairy. I knew dairy is not good for health thanks to my own health journey (https://www.wellcure.com/health-journeys/1/my-triumph-over-ulcerative-colitis-infertility). But once I started collecting Journeys for Wellcure,it was mind-boggling to see how dairy was causing so much havoc in people's health!! It was this awareness that kept me motivated to keep trying & voila it worked one fine day :-)

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10:05 AM | 05-02-2019

My twins are 2.5 yrs old, and with the kind of upbringing and surrounding we have , not giving dairy to your child is impossible...not sure what to do!! Also, is it true not to give fruits to children after 4pm?

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07:07 AM | 14-12-2018

Dear Mayuri I like reading your article and very happy and blessed to share that my kids have a very good sleeping pattern. I agree with you that sleep is directly linked to kids health. Thanks for writing this.

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