Why Isn’t My Child Sleeping??
Have you tried everything or possibly attempted many interventions but find that your child still isn’t sleeping well? When it comes to the question of why your child isn’t sleeping, the answer isn’t always simple. BUT there is definitely a check list of factors, which we have termed the “Big 5,” that can help you get to the bottom of it.
“The Big 5”
- Sleep Routine – does your child have a consistent, effective nap and sleep routine that ends with them being placed in their sleep space “drowsy but awake?” If the routine is too short, too long or is designed in a way that actually stimulates your child, your routine might actually be having the opposite of the desired effect.
- Sleep Environment – After making sure the sleep space is safe (this means a totally empty crib for babies under the age of 12 months) you want to make sure it’s cool (68-73 degrees), very dark even during the day, and that you are using white noise.
- Age Appropriate Schedule – Being overtired is the number one reason most children I work with aren’t sleeping well because once overtired parents turn to sleep crutches to get the child to sleep, those crutches turn into habits that are hard to break and while they once served a purpose (getting an overtired baby to sleep however you can) they now are what are inhibiting your child from being able to sleep on their own. Being aware of your child’s awake time windows and creating an age appropriate schedule are paramount in helping your child sleep well. Pediatric sleep isn’t based on logic; keeping your child awake for longer amounts of time will not help them sleep longer or better.
- Behavior Based Interventions – Choosing a sleep training method can be daunting but it’s an important part of the process. These interventions are what allow you to respond to your child in a consistent way which allows them to learn to fall back to sleep without their former crutches. Training methods are not all about cry it out, many are very very gradual and it’s important to choose a method that you feel comfortable implementing. Giving something a try for a day to two will not yield results, you need to be well versed in your choice and be prepared to be totally consistent with it for at least 1-2 weeks. New habits take time to form.
- Feeding Schedule – Unnecessary night feedings or letting your child fall asleep while feeding can also keep your child from sleeping well. I recommend checking with the pediatrician to find out exactly how many night feedings your child requires at their age. Then, drop all night feedings that aren’t nutritionally necessary per the pediatrician and create a night time sleep schedule around those prescheduled feedings.