Can’t your baby sleep? Your toddler wakes up several times in the night? It’s a sleep disorder.

How Do Sleep Disorders Affect Young Children?

These disorders, which are part of behavioral disorders, result in nocturnal awakenings and often restlessness during the day. This type of disorder is quite common, affecting between 10 and 20% of small children between the ages of 0 and 6. After that, it’s all about the tolerance threshold.

Some parents accept very well that their child wakes up every two hours while others do not tolerate the slightest cry. The most important thing is to react by consulting a pediatrician before it becomes unbearable.
But most little children sometimes have nightmares, wake up at night.

When Can We Really Talk About Sleep Disorders?

Small infants sleep easily 18-20 hours a day. Thereafter, the average duration of sleep declines fairly rapidly between 10 and 12 hours per day. But more than the duration of sleep, it is more the repetition of night awakenings that is exhausting for the child as for the parents.

Paradoxically, these children are so tired at night that they cannot fall asleep. In short, the characteristics of sleep disorders are: 1) a very late night; 2) frequent awakenings in the middle of the night. Example: an infant of 1 or 2 years who does not fall asleep before 22 or 23 hours and will wake up every two hours in the night.

Sleep Disorders, Respect The Rhythms Of The Child:

What Are The Causes Of Sleep Disorders?

The priority is to find out if there is any pathology behind these disorders. Example: a nasopharyngitis, a cold, flu, gastroesophageal reflux … in this case, it is obviously necessary to treat the cause of the disease.

But most of the time, the origin of sleep disorders is psychological, even psycho-educational, with a disregard for the rhythms of the child. In this case, a vicious circle is set up: the child goes to bed too late, wakes up too early, wakes up in the night. He’s tired during the day and has trouble falling asleep at night.

Behavioral disorders, such as sleep disorders, are often the result of family difficulties, be it coagulopathy (editor’s note: pathological suffering due to bad relationships in the couple), a mono-parental family, a lack of respect for certain hygiene rules.

In many cases, the child-king turns into a “domestic tyrant” who dictates his rules, decides when he wants to go to bed or get up. Another problem that causes sleep problems is sleeping the child in the parents ‘ bed or sleeping in the child’s bed. I strongly advise against giving in to whims.

However, some specialists recommend sleeping with the child to make it easier for him to fall asleep…

It is a true debate. In the countries of southern Europe (Italy, Spain), but also in Japan, for example, one sleeps willingly with one’s child, whereas this is very rare in the Scandinavian countries, of northern Europe. In France, pediatricians do not recommend this practice, except for co-sleeping practitioners.

What Is Co-Sleeping?

Sleep with infants less than 6 months old to promote breastfeeding. In this case, one can consider sleeping in the same room as the very small but not in the same bed, at the risk of overturning, choking the baby and sudden death. Therefore, as soon as the child leaves the maternity ward, he must have his own bed and sleep alone in his room between 4 and 6 months.

Not to give in to the whims of the child 

What Are The Solutions To Overcome Sleep Disorders In Children?

First, Prevention. Take up good habits almost from birth. It starts in maternity with the “time givers”. In this case, the infant must find the right rhythm. At night, talk to her low, give her bottles with minimal interaction. The day, on the contrary, take him in the arms, put him in the light. Then, on returning home, do not make the baby fall asleep in the arms of the father or the mother because bad habits are quickly taken… the earlier stable and strict rules are set, the less the child is likely to suffer from sleep disorders.

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In Addition To These Good Preventive Practices, Is Medication Sometimes Recommended?

France is actually the champion of the world of the prescription of sleeping pills. However, the prescription of medicines for children, especially for the youngest children, must be banned. Parents, on the other hand, need to pay attention to the “Sleep train”.

What Is “Sleep Train”?

Every child has an hour of sleep. It is, therefore, necessary to detect this hour of sleep. If you miss this schedule, like in a train station, the train is gone and you have to wait for the next sleep cycle, usually an hour and a half or two hours later. So, respect the sleeping time. Role-playing to raise awareness.

What If Does He Wake Up In The Night?

Parental authority, usually the father, must intervene with a minimum of interactivity. Avoid thoughts like, ” Why don’t you sleep? Mom and dad are tired, they’re working tomorrow… ” the child doesn’t care. He just needs to be recuperated in peace, without music, without agitation, without punishment or corporal punishment.

Another strong recommendation, from 6-7 months, avoid raising him to give him a meal at night. Better to empower it by just leaving a small bottle of 50 cl of water within reach of its bed.

In The Case Of Severe Sleep Disorders, Are There Other Rehabilitation Techniques?

Yes. Cognitive-behavioral techniques, in this case, role-playing, are used to direct the day of the child, to simulate with small characters all that must rhythmic his life, day and night: the morning nap, the afternoon nap, the evening nap… all the situations are mimed with these puppets representing the father, the mother, the brothers and sisters eventually.

The parents will thus be free from guilt and the child, subdued by these scenes, will be much more receptive to advice and good sleeping habits. In 70% to 80% of cases, recovery from sleep disorders can be seen in the evening or in the following weeks.

I would like to point out that this technique usually requires only one session and is aimed at children as well as both parents who are asked to be spectators because they obviously have their share of responsibility for their children’s sleep problems.

Important, The Afternoon Nap

I Mean, Do You Have Any Tips To Help The Little One’s Sleep?

On the one hand, do not “zap” the afternoon nap, often essential to the good rhythm of the child. On the other hand, be attentive to the child’s behavior. After the bath, if he gives signs of tiredness around 18/19 h, that he starts to yaw, do not hesitate to put him to bed.

Finally, take up good habits immediately: a minimum of light in the room, possibly a small Night Light or a groomed door, do not stay in the room until the child falls asleep, do not give in to his whims. We’re talking benevolent authority. By adopting good behaviors right from the start, by finding the right words, parents will limit the risk of their children’s sleep disorders.

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