Babies need alot of sleep. All children need lots of sleep. There is an abundance of scientific research supporting this idea. Not long ago I read the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. There is a very compelling chapter on the importance of sleep. The following is a quote:
Around the world children get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. The cost: IQ points, emotional well being, ADHD, and obesity.
So why am I so interested in this topic? Nannies end up talking about it with us as do parents. Here’s the issue. Working parents want to sleep at night. I get that. They do not want their babies sleeping during the day. They give explicit instructions to their nannies: “The baby is not to nap in the afternoon. Do not let him/her sleep. ” I’m here to tell you if that baby wants to go to sleep, it will. It’s very hard to keep a baby awake who needs to sleep. If a nanny takes the baby on a walk and the baby falls asleep in the carriage, what’s the nanny to do? This is a problem.
As for pre-schoolers or kindergarteners, I have heard from their teachers that many of them are falling asleep during class. The problem is bedtime. In the old days, it was much more straight forward. If you were in first grade, you were in bed by 7 or 7:30. Second grade bought you 15 more minutes and so on. Now, parents come home late and want to be with their children. If they are coming in the door at 7, there isn’t much time for togetherness. Keeping small children up past an early bedtime makes for very cranky kids the next morning. But not only are they cranky, they are also learning less.
I highly recommend Nurture Shock. It’s very readable and the research is eye-opening. The chapter on sleep will likely change how you feel about your children’s bedtime.