If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.
All babies wake up for feedings at night. All babies cycle between deep sleep and light sleep during the night. All babies make non-distress vocalizations at night.
Some babies, at night, have more difficulty returning to deep sleep by themselves after a normal partial awakening occurring during a light sleep phase. They then fully awaken and cry out (‘signaled awakening’) and return to sleep only with parental soothing assistance. This is called fragmented sleep.
Some babies, at night, have less difficulty returning to deep sleep by themselves after a partial awakening occurring during a light sleep phase. They have better self-soothing skills and are more able to return to a deep sleep phase unassisted. This is called consolidated sleep. Sleep consolidation (Blog Post 11) means uninterrupted sleep in between awakenings for feeding.
Self-soothing skills in the baby (Blog Post 16) are related to features within the baby such as infant colic (Blog Posts 43 and 44) and infant temperament (Blog Posts 46–48).
Self-soothing skills in the baby may be encouraged by parents by having early and regular bedtimes (Blog Posts 7, 12, and 91), frequent and consistent bedtime routines (Blog Posts 10, 87, 89, and 90), healthy naps (Blog Posts 53–56), and perhaps, most importantly, putting your baby down to sleep drowsy but awake at bedtime (Blog Post 9). This is because learning self-soothing at sleep onset (the bedtime) makes it easier for your baby to self-soothe back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Blog Posts 99 and 100 summarize how impaired sleep in children causes mental health problems in children.
The good news is that when parents help their child sleep better, their child’s mental health improves (Blog Posts 66 and 75)!
Remember, it’s never too late and it’s never too early to help your baby sleep better through the night (Blog Posts 102–107), and prevent or correct mental health problems in your child.
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