Helping your child get a good night’s sleep

Like eating, good sleeping habits are learned. The first step is to know that a child’s sleeping patterns are very different from an adult’s. Most newborns sleep up to 18 hours in a day, but they do so in short bursts. Toddlers sleep around 14 hours; 11 at night and the rest in 1 - 2 naps during the day. Most children this age go to bed sometime between 7 and 9 p.m. and get up between 6:30 and 8 a.m.Sleep experts agree that a consistent, soothing bedtime routine is the best way to get your child to become a good sleeper.

FOR BABIES

1. Teach your baby to go to sleep on his own and to settle down and comfort himself. Put your baby to sleep when he’s drowsy, not fast asleep. When he wakes up, use your voice to comfort him. Pat and soothe him but don’t pick him up. Rocking or feeding to sleep are habits that he may learn to depend on and should try to be avoided.

2. Help him distinguish between night and day. During the day, allow plenty of sunlight into the house. When he's awake, play with him as much as you can. There is no need to minimize regular daytime noises like the phone or TV. If he tends to sleep through feedings, wake him up. At night, don't play with him when he wakes for a feeding. Keep the lights and noise level low. Play different music or lullabies for his daytime and nighttime.

3. Keep consistent bedtime and naptime schedules. When your baby naps, eats, plays, and gets ready for bed at about the same time every day, he'll be more likely to fall asleep easily.

4. Limit diaper changes at night. Invest in a high quality diaper for nighttime and resist the urge to change nappies every time your baby moves a bit. Check first to make sure the diaper is soiled. Make sure washcloths used for wiping the bottom are warm.

FOR TODDLERS

1. Establish a bedtime routine. Give your child a comforting, transitional object like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal that may ease him into falling asleep faster.

2. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule. A consistent wake-up routine is just as important as bedtime rituals. Try to wake him at the same time everyday. Avoid letting your child sleep in during weekends.

3. Make the transition from crib to bed.

4. Address medical problems and other concerns like bedwetting, nightmares, and night terrors.

Dr. Celine Evidente is a pediatrician scheduled at MyHealth Clinic Shangri-la Mall every Thursday and Saturday 2-4pm.

By Maria Celine B. Evidente, M.D., FPPS
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