Sleep Problems

Is it normal for my child to wake during the night?
Most children wake 4-6 times per night and adult 3 or 4 times.  Most of the time we fall back asleep and don’t remember waking.  Children frequently have trouble soothing themselves and returning to sleep.
Do most children take time to fall asleep?
Yes, children take even longer to fall asleep than adults.  At two months it takes about ½ hour and at 9 months, 15 minutes to fall asleep.  From 15 months to adulthood it takes an average of 10 minutes with a range of 1 to 30 minutes.
Is there any pattern to length of sleeping?
As infants grow older they sleep for longer periods of and are awake longer.  By 3 months most children will sleep for four hours and by 6 months, 6 hours in a row.
Are all children able to settle themselves?
Two out of three children by 3 months of age are able to settle themselves and return to sleep if they wake during the night.
Do children need to be fed during the night if they are going to sleep soundly?
No. By the age of 4 months, 90% of all children can go through the night without food.
Does cereal or solid food feeding of an infant less than 4 months of age help them to sleep more soundly?
No.  There is no evidence that babies less than 4 months of age fed a snack of cereal will help sleep better.
What simple solutions help sleep problems?
Using a simple bedtime rituals may help.  Be consistent.  Quiet play after supper can be followed by a bath and hen bedtime song or story.  The specifics of the routine are less important that the routine itself.
Should I rock or feed my child to sleep?
Children over 4 months of age should be encourage to fall asleep in bed by themselves.  Otherwise, they will wake 1-2 hours later and wonder “where you went.”
Do blankets and security object help?
Yes.  Security objects help to replace the parent and help the child feel safe.  Be careful that a pacifier or bottles do not consistently serve this purpose because it encourages a habit difficult to eliminate.
Are there any periods after infancy when sleep problems tend to return?
Yes.  At about 9-12, 18-24 months and 4-6 years, periods of added anxiety and nighttime waking occurs.  These periods relate to fears of separation and anxiety about independence.  Never scold or talk loudly to your child for not sleeping, rather be comforting and gentle.
What general guidelines should I use if my child wakes during the night?
First, if she is older than 2-3 months, try to see if she settles herself.  If it is an unusual cry, check on her immediately.  If she continues for 5 minutes then check on her briefly and try not to pick her up. Leave her with reassuring pat and voice, and wait another 10 minutes to check on her again.  Thereafter check on her every 15 minutes.  If you continue to have problems, see your physician for help.  Your doctor may ask you to complete a sleep diary for use in changing the sleep schedule.
Are there any medical reasons why a child will have problems sleeping?
Yes.  Many chronic medical problems which cause a child pain or discomfort can contribute to sleep disturbances.  These can include pain from chronic ear problems or skin problems which lead to itching and discomfort.  The list is numerous and you should always talk to your child’s physician if there is a sleep disturbance which is not readily explainable