Sleep Tight: Naps and Why Kids Need Them

Ask some New Jammies parents about naps, and you may see a longing in their eyes. They might be wishing for one themselves. Or daydreaming about the days when their children’s naps were as common as a diaper change. Often, as a child grows older, naps can become a distant memory. That doesn’t always mean parents should give up on them.

According to KidsHealth, the importance of naps is vital, as “sleep is a major requirement for good health, and for young kids to get enough of it, some daytime sleep is usually needed.”

“Crucial physical and mental development occurs in early childhood, and naps provide much-needed downtime for growth and rejuvenation,” KidsHealth says. “Naps also help keep kids from becoming overtired, which not only takes a toll on their moods but may also make it harder for them to fall asleep at night. And naptime gives parents a brief oasis during the day and time to tackle household chores or just unwind.”

Sleep Needs by Age

KidsHealth reminds parents that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much daytime sleep kids need.

“It all depends on the age, the child, and the sleep total during a 24-hour period,” KidsHealth says. “For example, one toddler may sleep 13 hours at night with only some daytime catnapping, while another gets 9 hours at night but takes a solid 2-hour nap each afternoon.”

Though sleep needs are highly individual, these age-by-age guidelines give an idea of average daily sleep requirements:

Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day. Younger infants tend to sleep on and off around the clock, waking every 1 to 3 hours to eat. As they approach 4 months of age, sleep rhythms become more established. Most babies sleep 9 to 12 hours at night, usually with an interruption for feeding, and have 2 to 3 daytime naps lasting about 30 minutes to 2 hours each.

6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day. This usually includes two naps a day, which may last 20 minutes for some babies, for others a few hours. At this age, infants may not need to wake at night to feed, but may begin to experience separation anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours. Young toddlers might still be taking two naps, but naps should not occur too close to bedtime, as they may make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep at night.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.

School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.

To Nap Or Not to Nap?

The National Sleep Foundation reminds parents not to become discouraged, as naps, or the lack thereof, are a phase all kids go through.

“About half of all children stop napping by age four, and 70 percent are done with daytime sleep by age five,” the NSF reports.

What are some signs little ones are ready to drop the nap habit?

“Consistently taking 45 minutes or more to fall asleep for a daytime snooze or getting 11 to 12 hours of sleep overnight are two big ones,” the Foundation says. “If you think it’s time to give nap-less living a try, follow these steps to ease the transition.”

Nap as Needed

The National Sleep Foundation agrees that napping doesn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing proposition.”

“While some children might be fine quitting cold turkey, others may do better with a gradual approach. For instance, consider skipping naps for three days, then napping again on the fourth,” the NSF says.

“Alternately, you could shorten the naps by waking your child within the hour to keep daytime sleep from interfering with bedtime. Even a 20-minute nap can have benefits for a small child. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, so follow your child’s cues to figure out the right sleep strategy.”

Turn Naps into Quiet Time

“Skipping an afternoon nap doesn’t mean your child is ready for constant action from morning to night. An hour of quiet time in the afternoon can offer an important opportunity for a non-napping child to re-group (not to mention restoring the caregiver’s energy, too),” says the Fiundation. “Reading books, coloring quietly, and listening to calming music are all good ways to rest up for the evening ahead.”

Also, the National Sleep Foundation suggests moving bedtime to an earlier time.

“If your child is no longer napping, bedtime hours may need to be adjusted to be sure you still provide enough time for sleep,” the NSF says. “Preschoolers should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day, with or without naps, which could mean going to sleep as early as 6:30 PM depending on what time your child wakes up in the morning.”

For more information on naps, sleep and additional topics involving kids’ health, visit these helpful online resources:

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.

National Sleep Foundation (NSF)
http://www.sleepfoundation.org
NSF is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting education, sleep-related research, and advocacy.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
http://www.aap.org
The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
http://www.aasmnet.org
AASM strives to increase awareness of sleep disorders in public and professional communities.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Heart-healthy Family Dinners

February is American Heart Month, and New Jammies joins the American Heart Association in reminding families this is an ideal time to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their loved ones, friends and communities involved.

“The biggest part of living healthy comes down to simply making healthy choices,” says the AHA. “While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.”

In its Heart-healthy Recipes section of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women website, the AHA provides meal planning ideas that can save your heart by improving your diet.

“There’s a common misconception that anything described as healthy is lacking in flavor and satisfaction. To add insult to injury, there’s also an automatic assumption that healthy foods are unaffordable,” the American Heart Association says.

“The truth is, there are plenty of creative ways to make a tasty, heart-healthy dish. And you don’t have to be a master chef to whip one up, and do it well … Once you start eating this way, you may wonder why you didn’t start sooner. And before you know it, you’ll be coming up with your own inspired creations.”

Try these heart-healthy dishes from the American Heart Association and encourage your New Jammies kids and to eat right today:

Healthy greens and beans add a flavorful punch to this easy soup recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup.

Ingredients

6 Servings (Serving size 1 cup)
1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
1/2 small red onion (chopped)
1 medium celery (chopped)
1 medium garlic clove (minced)
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added Great Northern beans (rinsed, drained)
14.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added, diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (crumbled)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups spinach
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion, celery, and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery are soft.

2. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes with liquid, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes so the flavors blend.

3. Stir in the spinach. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

4. Just before serving, sprinkle the soup with the Parmesan.

This protein-packed vegetarian Edamame Salad with Orange-Balsamic Dressing can be a main course or a side dish.

Ingredients

Serving size 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, lowest sodium available
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar PLUS
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided use
1 tsp. olive oil, extra virgin preferred
1/4 tsp. pepper
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added navy beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 medium cucumber, sliced crosswise
1 medium Italian plum (Roma) tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced radishes

Directions

1. Prepare the edamame using the package directions, omitting the salt. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, mustard, 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the edamame, navy beans, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until needed, up to five days.

3. At serving time, put the salad greens on plates. Top, in order, with the cucumber, tomato, carrot, radishes, and bean mixture. Pour the dressing over all.

Benefit from heart-healthy omega-3 fats with this vegetable and seafood Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon dish.

Ingredients
4 Servings (Serving size 3 ounces fish and 1/2 cup vegetables)

1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
2 oz. spinach
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled
1/4 cup fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed, patted dry
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (lowest sodium available)
2 Tbsp. plain dry bread crumbs, lowest sodium available
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the roasted peppers, basil, and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

3. Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a scant 1/2 cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray.

5. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish is the desired doneness and the filling is heated through.

This Blackberry Cobbler dessert recipe features nutrient-dense blackberries and is great for family meals, especially as the weather warms. Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients but relatively low in calories, and contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Cooking Tip: On the blackberries, this sweet-tart fruit is nutrient dense. Look for plump berries with a dark, rich color.

Ingredients
8 Servings

Cooking spray
4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup sugar substitute and 1/2 cup sugar substitute, divided use
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/4 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, gently stir together the berries, 1/4 cup sugar substitute, the water, lime juice, and ginger. Let the berry mixture stand for at least 15 minutes so the juices can accumulate.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar substitute.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring just until no flour is visible. Don’t overmix.

6. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter in the pan. (The batter doesn’t have to touch the edge of the pan; it will spread while baking.) Top with the berry mixture.

7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For information on women and heart disease, visit Go Red for Women.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.