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Children's Health

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Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years - Common Concerns

It's common for parents to have questions about their child's sleep, safety, toilet training, and difficult emotions and behavior.


Preschool children need about 11 to 13 hours of sleep each day. Your child may go through phases when he or she resists resting.

To help foster good sleep habits, you can:

  • Set bedtime routines. Do things in the same order each night so that your child understands what to expect and associates these steps with going to sleep.
  • Handle sleep disturbances. Sometimes young children wake up and want attention or reassurance. Keep your response the same each time your child wakes up. If you go into your child's room, make the visit quick.
  • Help prevent nightmares. Preschool-age children's rich fantasy lives and active imaginations make them prone to nightmares. These tend to occur toward the end of the night or very early in the morning. You can help prevent nightmares by controlling what your child watches on TV. Also, encourage your child to talk about daily events to help him or her not feel confused or afraid.
  • Manage night terrors. Night terrors are different from nightmares because the child remains asleep and doesn't remember the episode in the morning. Night terrors tend to occur about 3 to 5 hours after the child goes to sleep. Your child may cry intensely and may be short of breath. Do not try to wake a child during a night terror. Instead, reassure your child and hold him or her to prevent injury.
actionset.gif Sleep: Helping Your Children-and Yourself-Sleep Well


To help keep your child safe, it's very important to be aware of your child's abilities and the environment, whether it is the home, a playground, or a public place. These abilities change as your child grows and gains new skills.

For more information on safety issues, see the topic Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5.

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