Ask the Pediatrician: back to school

by | Aug 10, 2018 | News

Q: I think my daughter is staying up too late. I’m worried she’ll fall asleep in class because she isn’t getting enough sleep. How much sleep does a 15-year-old need?

A: Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines and encourages
parents to make sure their children develop good sleep habits right from the start. Here are sleep recommendations for children 4 months to 18 years of age. Keep
in mind that each child’s sleep needs can vary. Also, these numbers reflect total sleep hours in a 24-hour period. So if your son or daughter still naps, you’ll need to take that into account when you add up his or her typical sleep hours.

Age Hours of Sleep Recommended:
4 to 12 months – 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
1 to 2 years – 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
3 to 5 years – 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
6 to 12 years – 9 to 12 hours
13 to 18 years – 8 to 10 hours
Adapted from Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D’Ambrosio C, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for pediatric populations: a consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016;12(6):785–786.

Q: My kids spend a lot of time on their cell phones, and I’m worried they aren’t spending enough time on their homework. I know I need to set some limits, but where
do I start?

A: First, you’ll need to figure out what time limits you want to set. Because every child is different, the AAP has a new interactive tool ( to help parents create a personalized plan for each child. This tool will help you think about media and create goals and rules that are in line with your family’s values.

Q: My child will be taking the bus for the first time. How can I make sure he’s safe?

A: Here are things to keep in mind to ensure that children traveling by bus are safe:
• Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or the school building.
• Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
• Make sure your child can see the bus driver when she walks up to the bus (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
• Remind your child to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop.
• Your child should not move around on the bus.
• If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times. (If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.)
• Check on the school’s policy regarding food on the bus. Eating on the bus can present a problem for students with a food allergy and can also lead to infestations of insects and vermin on the vehicles.
• If your child has a chronic condition that could result in an emergency on the bus, make sure you work with the school nurse or other school health personnel to have a bus emergency plan.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP supports childhood sleep guidelines,, accessed June 1, 2018;
American Academy of Pediatrics, Back-to-school tips,, accessed June 1, 2018;
American Academy of Pediatrics, How to reinforce your child’s learning,, accessed June 1, 2018.

American Academy of Pediatrics

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