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Parenting-Sleep Problems

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Problems experienced by young children include sleeplessness, difficulty getting to sleep at night, nightmares, and night terrors.

Grainne Ryan
Presenter of Baby on Board Series 2. Grainne is a public health nurse and midwife and mother of three children. Areas of interest child development, parenting issues, adolescent development and post natal depression and works as a public health nurse in Ennis Co. Clare.

What are the most common types of sleep disorders that Grainne sees?

Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep can lead to problems for your child

Night waking: All children have times at night when they sleep more lightly or wake up. Night waking can become a problem when it is very frequent or when you child has trouble getting back to sleep

Sleep onset associations: This is the most common cause of children not being able to settle back to sleep .Whatever they associate with falling asleep, like being rocked or a sucking a pacifier, need to be present for them to fall back to sleep

Separation issues: Separation problems can affect you or your child. Your child may feel anxious if you are not there and so is unable to relax and sleep, likewise, you may feel anxious about your child and go in every time they make a peep at night, even if they don't need you.

Resistance to sleep/settling problems; this is when your child does not want to got to bed at night. They throw a tantrum, stall, and just refuse to go to sleep

Night terrors are where the child wakes from deep sleep, appears terrified, confused and disorientated and seems not to recognise you. He is sweating, breathing rapidly, has a rapid heart rate, his pupils are dilated. The disturbance may last up to 15 minutes but eventually subsides. The child then goes back to sleep and usually has no recollection of the event.

-What are the causes of these problems?

Common causes of sleep problems in the young child include:
. Discomfort: colic, wet, nappy, too hot or too cold
. Sleeping for too long during the day
. Over-anxious parents
. Over tired. This can delay sleep, many over-tired children appear irritable and cross and over-active rather than sleepy
. Personality of the child. All children are individuals and have different temperaments
. Other distractions in the room (parents)
. Chronic illness
. Children with a disability may have difficulty with sleep
. Separation anxiety

What are Grainne's tips?

Make bedtime a special time. It should be a time for you to interact with your child in a way that is secure and loving
Put some thought into finding your Childs ideal bedtime.. Look for time when your child is beginning to slow down.
Keep a regular daily routine:
Use a simple regular bedtime routine. It should not last too long and include a few simple quiet activities
Some babies are soothed by the sound of a vaporizer or fan running. This "white noise" not only blocks out the distraction of other sounds it also simulates the sounds bab ies hear in the womb.
Make sure children have interesting and varied activities during the day, including physical activity and fresh air.
Use light to your advantage.

Avoid giving soothing your child to sleep by putting them to bed with a bottle of juice, milk or formula.. Water is ok. Feed or nurse your baby then put them down

Don't fill your child's bed with toys

Never use sending your child to bed as a threat or punishment
Don't give your child foods and drinks with caffeine in the,
Avoid too much tv especially at bed time
Remove TV from bedrooms

What to do
. Ensure child has enough food and fluids during the day
. Get your baby used to falling asleep other ways (from about 4 month)
. Establish bedtime routine
. Put into cot awake
. Ferber method I don't recommend before I year
. Modified Ferber

Should parents be concerned?
Sleep problems are quite common among health toddlers. They tend not to persist for too long. If there are ongoing problems which is affecting your childs performance at school or relationships within the family your should speak to your Public Health Nurse or GP. In most cases reassurance of parents and child is all that is needed