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Teaching Your Child Good Sleep Habits

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Wow! We went back on the air yesterday with a live show and the phones were hopping about sleep. I think we could talk about children’s sleep habits, and probably their parents too, for the whole hour every week. It does remind me too about how hard it was for me as a parent to learn about good sleep habits for kids and how long it took to figure the whole thing out. Why at the time did it seem so difficult and why had I let it go so long I will never know, but in retrospect it was well worth the time and effort to teach our first child to finally sleep by himself and through the night. We did not make the same mistakes with the next two. I think they slept in their cribs the first night home from the hospital.

For some children it seems like they were born to sleep. They sleep through the night early on in infancy, they are oblivious to what is going on around them, and they continue to be good sleepers with natural circadian rhythms telling them to awake happily as the sun comes up and to get tired and ready for bed as it gets dark at night. The perfect child! But for the majority of parents, their children need to be taught good sleeping habits. Just like some kids tie their shoes easily, some ride a bike on the first try and math is easier for one child while reading is the easiest for another, so it goes with learning to sleep. It will not be the same for everyone, but the end result will usually be similar with continued perseverance.

The bottom line, start early putting your your-baby down alone and letting them self console a little and pick them up when they cry and try all over again. If you did not do this early on, don’t give up. Start anew to teach your child to fall asleep on their own, and with that accomplishment sleep habits generally improve. It is a success for both parent and child when your child can sleep through the night independently.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow!

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