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How Much Sleep Do Children Really Need?

Ages, stages, and other key factors behind kids’ sleep needs

Sleep—and lots of it—is an essential part of childhood development. As babies turn into toddlers, and then school-age kids, and then teens, sleep patterns and sleep needs may shift. It’s certainly not easy to keep tabs on how many hours your child gets, let alone whether that’s enough.

While no one formula dictates exactly how long every child should sleep, there are some guidelines that can help you determine a target range. Newborns and infants need the most sleep of all, followed by toddlers. Once your child is four and school-age, his or her sleep needs will change yet again, so this is what you need to know.

Four-Year-Olds

While naps are recommended for children through age five, about 50 percent of kids stop napping by age four. Generally, kids at age four need a total of about 10 to 12 hours of sleep each day.

Three- to Five-Year-Olds

Children in this age range should still shoot for 10 to 13 hours each day—but by this point, all of that sleep should come during the nighttime (no more naps!). At this age and stage, mental and physical stimulation, along with the excitement and anxiety of school and social life, can impact sleep. So keep in mind that it may take time for your child to settle into a regular sleep routine.

Six- to 13-Year-Olds

Sleep needs decrease slightly. A six-year-old who slept a solid 10.5 to 11 hours each night might be more wakeful and alert when he sleeps for 10 hours a night when he or she is seven-years-old. Kids this age need between nine and 11 hours per night, but may sleep as many as 12 hours and as few as seven.

Have an older child? Find out how much sleep teens need.