Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

March 30, 2023

Toddlers and Sleep

Toddlers may not sleep the way you want them to, or go to bed as easily as you think they should … because of a little thing called melatonin.

“No! No! I don’t wanna go to sweep!” your 3-year old may whine when you decide to start his bedtime routine. It’s a typical night at many-a-home-U.S.A.

What time do you put your toddler down for the night … or do you let her dictate that?

New research out of the University of Colorado shows that there are times when little ones aren’t ready to sleep despite their parents’ best efforts to get them down. The reason? The child’s sleep hormone — melatonin — may not be kicking in at the time Mom and Dad want it to.

Researchers studied the sleep patterns of toddlers — 14 of them — over a six-night period and measured the amount of melatonin in their saliva to see when the hormone increased at night. The increase in melatonin triggers a child’s biological bedtime rather than the “Because I say so” bedtime set by parents. They discovered that the average rise in melatonin for the toddlers they studied was 7:40 p.m. – a good 40 minutes past the time parents were trying to get their toddlers down.

While there’s no way to measure melatonin at home, the research may shed light on why toddlers fight sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, the best way to get a child to sleep is to have a bedtime routine that you are consistent with; find what works best for your child and stick to it, knowing that  kids need this many hours of sleep at night:

4 – 13 months: 14 – 15 hours per day
1 – 3 years: 12 – 14 hours per day
3 – 6 years: 10 – 12 hours per day
7 – 12 years: 10 – 11 hours per day
12 – 18 years: 8 – 9 hours per day



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