Break Bad Sleep Habits

Children, just like adults, easily fall into habits that are not always healthy. Your child may have picked up some poor sleep habits, such as refusing to go to bed or stay there. But with the following tips, and a bit of patience, you can form a new nighttime pattern:

• Speak calmly to your baby when she cries at bedtime. Offer reassuring words, such as “You are fine. It’s time to sleep,” then leave the room.

• Resist giving your baby a bottle or picking her up.

• If your child continues to cry, wait longer in between trips to check on her. Avoid doing anything but speaking calmly and then leaving.

• If you typically give your baby a lot of milk before bed, begin cutting down on the amount in the bottle by 0.5 to 1 ounce each night. Keep decreasing the milk until the bottle is empty, and then stop offering it entirely.

• As much as possible, try to avoid sharing the same bed or the same room as the child.

It may take several nights for your child to get used to a new bedtime plan, but stick with it. If an illness or travel interrupts her sleep routine, return to the established pattern as quickly as possible, before bad habits can form again.

Online Medical Reviewer: Desrosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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