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How To Get Your Child To Sleep Through The Night

Dec 14, 2007
A child that wakes frequently during the night disrupts the entire household. It doesn't matter if your little insomniac is an infant, a toddler, or an older child; frequent sleep interruptions are unhealthy. Intervention is necessary.

Make Sleep a Priority

Most children under the age of 12 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. If your child does not get adequate rest, sleeping disorders quickly develop. One way to prevent issues with sleep patterns is to make sleep a priority.

* Decrease physical and mental stimulation as bedtime approaches.

* Set a bedtime and stick to it. Do not alter the bedtime on the weekends or as a special reward.

* If your child appears tired during the day, allow them to nap for a few minutes until they establish a healthy sleep pattern.

* A daily routine that includes regular exercise and a set start time for each day encourages healthy sleep habits.

Preparing for Bedtime

A bedtime routine helps your child gear down for the evening.

* Decrease the amount of fluid consumed two hours before bedtime to eliminate potty-breaks during the night. Avoid caffeine and sugar at least five hours before bed as well.

* Encourage your child to choose a stuffed animal or blanket to take to bed every evening for comfort.

* Play soothing music, watch a few minutes of non-stimulating television in the evening, or read a book at bedtime.

* Draw the shades and use a white noise machine or a rhythmic nature sounds tape. Turn on nightlights while your child is still awake.

It is important for your child to learn to fall asleep on his own. If he relies on you to initiate sleep by nursing him, rocking him or singing to him, you must intervene every time your child awakes during the night.

Put your baby to bed while he is drowsy but still awake. You may stay in the room and gently pat his back or speak softly to reassure him of your presence, but allows him to learn to fall asleep on his own. This is an important life skill.

Many parents resort to co-sleeping with their child when the child wakes up frequently at night. This works for some families. Most parents eventually regret resorting to co-sleeping, as it fosters a continual need in the child to sleep with a person. Unless you are prepared to share your bed with your child for several years, co-sleeping is not a good strategy to choose.

Changing sleeping patterns requires small adjustments over many nights. If your child expects you to rock him to sleep every night, decrease the period of rocking by two minutes each night, progress to a few minutes of walking around the room before bed, and finally place him in the crib while he is drowsy but awake.

Children do not like change. Any change - no matter how small - is often met with strong protests and extended crying. It is important to check on the child often and reassure him that you are nearby. Do make it clear that he is to stay in his bed or crib.

Getting your child to sleep through the night may seem like an impossible task. With patience, determination, and vigilance, you and your child really can both get more rest.
About the Author
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