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It’s an age-old problem that never seems easy to solve.  Sleepless nights are often the case for newborns and young children. 

Keeping your child asleep is an integral part of early childhood development, as newborns usually require anywhere from 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day for their growth and development.  Though necessary, many new parents find themselves with a newborn that sleeps all day and cries throughout the night. While sleeplessness in newborns has different causes than in older children, the older kids can battle insomnia, night terrors, and other bedtime fears. 

The good news is that there are things you can do to help establish a solid sleep schedule for your child.

Limit screen interactions for the child.

Just as with adults, screen time a few hours before bed on a phone, computer, or tv can keep the mind overstimulated.  Children don’t often feel tired when interacting with screens, such as when playing video games, so quiet time to unwind is essential to their sleep health.

Create a relaxed environment for the child.

Children, like many adults, face a challenge shutting their brains off and being ready for the night. Forcing children to go to sleep can increase anxiety and nerves, which can make it even harder for them to fall asleep.  Instead, creating a relaxed environment that calms the child down can help them sleep effortlessly.

Ensure naps don’t happen too close to bedtime.

Late afternoon naps can be one of the most detrimental things to the bedtime routine. These naps disrupt the child’s sleep pattern and make it harder to develop those routine sleep patterns. This is true for both kids and adults. Naps can be helpful in the middle of the day, but they should not be close to bedtime.

Put your baby in his or her own bed.

Parents should make a routine of putting their children down in their own beds. Doing this early on helps create a routine that makes bedtime easier. This also helps the baby get acclimated to their bed and adapt to falling asleep in their bed more quickly.

If breastfeeding, track your diet.

If you are breastfeeding, keeping track of the foods you eat can be a big help in identifying digestion challenges that may be keeping your baby up at night. What you eat has a significant impact on what your baby digests through your breast milk. Certain foods you eat may upset your baby’s stomach and should be avoided, especially near bedtime.

Sleep therapy with warm baths and gentle massages.

Just as adults, we feel relaxed after a warm bath or massage therapy; the same goes for infants, toddlers, and older children.  Of course, gentle massage is key with a baby, with slow, gentle massage to the back, neck, feet, and hands.  These gentle massage techniques can help relax the child, helping them fall asleep faster. 

Develop a routine.

Newborn babies have sleep patterns change as they begin to learn to distinguish between day and night. They can’t seem to form a consistent sleeping pattern. For this reason, developing a bedtime routine that includes things like bathing, settling down, and feeding their child will help develop a routine. With a consistent routine, the newborn baby will slowly adjust their sleeping patterns and enjoy peaceful sleep through the night.

If you’ve tried all the tips listed above and your child is still having trouble sleeping, it may be time to consult your pediatrician to determine the underlying cause.