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What Can You do When Your Child has Trouble Sleeping?

You know that phrase "sleeping like a baby?" Well, what do you do when you have the baby that never sleeps?

You might, like I did, find yourself sitting at work all day googling "baby sleep issues" in a sleep-deprived daze because that is all you can think about.

If your little one has trouble with going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up early, (or all 3!) it can be a parent's worst nightmare.

Everyone tells you to "sleep when the baby sleeps" so what do you do when it seems like your little one never sleeps?

Side effects of lack of sleep

Lack of sleep in a baby or child doesn't just effect you as the parent, although it may feel that way at times! Just imagine, your little one probably feels just as exhausted as you do, and they don't have the proper words to tell you that.

Now that my daughter is older, I think she still may be sleep-deprived, and acting out because of it.

According to Amerisleep,

That link between sleep and behavior is important. Sleep deprivation in kids often shows up as irritability and mood swings, a reduction in cognitive functioning, difficulty concentrating, lowered school performance, and poor impulse control.

Some other problems that can occur with lack of sleep include,

  • lack of attention

  • poor learning and memory

  • poor school performance

  • obesity

  • Irritability

  • mood swings

  • poor impulse control

So, making sure your kids get their z's is important for more than just your piece of mind, it is actually important for their physical and mental health, school performance, and behavior.

If your child is displaying any of the signs above, you may want to investigate whether or not they are getting enough sleep at night.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

How much sleep your child needs varies by age, with young babies and toddlers needing more sleep, and older children and teens needing less.

According to Amerisleep,

  • Newborns and Infants: 0-12 Months - 14-17 hours

  • Toddlers: 1-2 Years Old - 11-14 hours

  • Pre-School Kids: 3-5 Years - 10-13 hours

  • Elementary School: 5-12 Years - 9-12 hours

These recommendations will ensure that your child is getting enough sleep in a 24 hour period, and includes naps for smaller children. For those not taking naps anymore, then they should be getting the full amount of sleep at night.

What You Can Do

If your child isn't getting enough sleep at night, first make sure that you have a solid bedtime routine that is the same every night. It is helpful to make sure that kids turn off the TV and any screens an hour before bedtime, so that the blue light isn't keeping them awake.

A bedtime routine can include a bath, warm milk, bedtime story or song, and being tucked in. You can include anything else that your child finds to be calming, such as a baby massage if you like.

When your child isn't getting enough sleep every night, it can be helpful to move their bedtime to an earlier time, and make sure that you start the bedtime routine an hour earlier to correspond with the new bedtime.

Some additional recommendations from Amerisleep include:

  • Set and start each day with routines

  • Gently ease into schedule changes

  • Avoid Caffeine and Sugary Drinks, Especially in the Afternoon

  • Get plenty of physical activity

  • Create a comfortable sleep environment

  • Set a good example for sleep

If you try all of these things, and your child is still not sleeping well, it will be time to talk to your child's doctor, as there are other medical reasons why your child may not be going to sleep at the proper time.

A doctor may have specific medical interventions that they recommend, or have an older child take supplements such as melatonin to improve their sleep. You may also want to talk to a sleep coach or sleep consultant if you are having issues with your child's sleep.


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