Sleep like a baby...

The author, Leo J. Burke, once said, "People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one." How many parents can attest to the truth of this statement. In fact, as a developmental specialist for young children, sleep related issues are among my most popular topics in discussions with parents. Toddlers and children under 3 years of age should sleep about 12 hours a night with a one to two hour nap during the day. Babies will require two or more naps in addition to the 12 hours a night, and older children will drop the nap and sleep around 10 hours a night.

Many parents express frustration in getting their children to sleep. Perhaps the child cries or keeps getting back up. I know it's tempting to give in to unhealthy sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation can really wear you down, but the sooner you can establish healthy sleep patterns the better. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Activities leading up to bedtime should be calm and quiet.
  • Establish a nightly bedtime routine so your child will know what to expect.
  • Avoid using DVDs or the TV to help your child fall asleep.
  • Dim the lights and any household noise to signal it is time for sleep.
  • Try to help your child learn to self sooth and relax.
  • If your child is afraid, try a night light or sitting in the room until he/she is comfortable.
  • Avoid using "quick fixes" that you know you will not be able to continue long term.
Wishing you sweet dreams,

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