Many parents wonder what their childrens bedtime should be, and how much sleep they really need. While most work out a routine that works for them, they may be curious if their child is getting enough sleep and whether there are any special rules they should be following.

Newborn babies sleep so much that they are hardly awake, and it is difficulty to change their minds about when they take those naps. While the total amount of hours that are spent sleeping do gradually decline throughout the first year of a babys life, those from birth to one need 12 to 18 hours sleep, or sometimes more than that. Getting newborns to sleep enough is not generally a difficult task, as they will nap anywhere and at any time.

Not so for toddlers! Those little sleep resisters, from one to three, will still need 12 or 13 hours of shut-eye. They will have much more clearly defined sleeping patterns than babies, but most will still take one or even two afternoon naps. There are toddlers, like mine, who will stubbornly resist sleep and who function well without that afternoon nap. Those children will, generally speaking, benefit from an earlier bedtime to ensure they will get those hours in during the night.

As your child gets older, she will only need a few more hours worth of sleep than an adult does. Nine or ten hours are normally sufficient for children from first grade and beyond. Though, teenagers may get more sleepy again, and express their hormone-fulled tendency to sleep more hours through a love of lying in in the mornings. Some studies show a scientific basis for this — your teen isnt just being lazy.

How to get small children to actually go to sleep when they are tired is a different challenge. Good bedtime routines do help, as does catching them before they get so tired they dont feel like cooperating anymore.