According to Dr Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York, sleep is an essential factor in your children's health. Lack of sleep has a range of negative effects in kids, including irritablity, impatience, lack of concentration, impaired gross motor activities, carelessness on the playground or in sports, and a decrease in overall daily function.
As with many aspects of a child's upbringing, consistency is key in establishing and teaching your child healthy sleep habits.
To help your children establish healthy sleep patterns, make the time leading up to sleep conducive to winding down and preparing for bedtime.
Bedtime rituals, such as an evening bath and bedtime stories, can help children transition from wake to sleep. Because every family is different and each child's sleep and developmental needs are unique, there is no one ideal bedtime for children.

Dr Adesman also recommends that you make sure the bedtime you set for your children isn't only for your convenience. Establishing good sleep habits with your children will not only benefit their overall health and development -- it will teach them to value the importance of sleep now and into adulthood. While adequate sleep is important for all age groups, it's particularly key for young children, who are at a critical point of their physical, intellectual and emotional development. Likewise, sufficient sleep boosts immune function, physical development, cognitive function, emotional health and daytime focus.
For younger children, including a favorite stuffed animal can help them associate sleep with comfort and security.
Talk to your pediatrician about how many hours of sleep your child needs, and consider how best to fit this into the family and child's schedule.

Soothing activities before bedtime better ensure restful sleep as well as your children's attitudes toward it.
Be sensitive to your child's biological clock as well as to the wake and sleep times that work best for the family.

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