Making a night owl of a 3-year-old


October 16, 1990|By Dr. Modena Wilsonand Dr. Alain Joffe

Q**What is the proper bedtime for a 3-year-old?

A**Children vary in how much sleep they need and how it fits into the family schedule, so there's no magic hour for bed.

You can tell whether your daughter's getting enough sleep by her behavior during the day. Is she difficult to wake up and grumpy in the morning? Do you have to push her to get her ready? Does she seem to lack energy and excitement? Is she drowsy during the day? Do you find her asleep unexpectedly? Is she irritable and demanding during the evening? If your answers are no most of the time, then she probably is getting enough total sleep.

When parents argue about a young child's bedtime, there is often a second, more central issue. If a child stays up until 10, what time do parents have for each other? You and your wife need to find time for your daughter, for yourselves and for each other.

*Dr. Wilson is director of pediatric primary care of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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