Kids and Sleep

WebMD Live Events Transcript

If your kids aren't sleeping, chances are you aren't getting your ZZZ's either. Children's sleep disorders can affect the whole family. Whether the problem is adjusting to daylight-saving time or has been going on for months, help is on the way. Children's sleep expert Jodi Mindell, PhD, joined us on April 5, 2005 to answer your questions.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Mindell. Thank you for joining us today. If your child's sleep is disturbed, then your sleep is disturbed. How big is this problem?

MINDELL:
Most studies have shown that 25% of all infants and toddlers have some kind of sleep problem.

However, last year's Sleep Foundation's poll of sleep in children ages zero to 10 found 74% of parents want to change something about their child's sleep. Basically that means sleep issues are a universal problem for parents and children.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How long should you let your child cry before entering the room?

MINDELL:
If you're trying to help your child fall asleep on his own, he may be upset for awhile. Please go in and check on your child as frequently or infrequently as you wish. How long you wait will depend on your tolerance and your child's temperament.

Some children get more upset when you check on them. However, please do make sure that you go in because leaving a child to cry for a long time usually makes the process longer.

Typically you find that the second night is worse than the first night, but then you'll be over the hump and your child will start falling asleep much quicker and easier.

"Typically we recommend doing sleep training between 3 and 6 months at the earliest. However, if you start developing good sleep habits when your baby is a newborn, you hopefully will never have to let your baby cry."

MEMBER QUESTION:
When is it too early to let your baby cry it out?

MINDELL:
Typically we recommend doing sleep training between 3 and 6 months at the earliest. However, if you start developing good sleep habits when your baby is a newborn, you hopefully will never have to let your baby cry.

Developing good sleep habits includes:

  • a set bedtime
  • a consistent bedtime routine
  • putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake

If you do that, your baby will start sleeping for long stretches without tears.

MEMBER QUESTION:
When my daughter is sick with a cold, she tends to wake up numerous times. Is it OK to leave her alone in the room or should I be in there to comfort her?

MINDELL:
First, talk to your doctor about what will help your baby sleep while having a cold, such as using a humidifier in her room.

When your baby is sick, it is best to go and comfort her. However, don't go rushing in, as you may find that she'll often soothe herself back to sleep without your help. You may end up waking her more by going in every time.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Does teething interfere with sleeping?

MINDELL:
We do know that when babies are in pain it's going to disrupt their sleep. But if you always blame teething for sleep issues, you'll probably have a year of sleepless nights, as babies have a lot of teeth that need to come in.