Night waking

Ruling out physical causes can help you get to the root of the problem

Q: My three-year-old has started waking up several times a night. In the morning, we find her asleep on the couch or in bed with us. Lately, she’s been waking up our 11-month-old son too. What’s going on?

A: It is not unusual for young children to go through times when getting a full night of restful, restorative sleep becomes a problem. This may be a behavioural issue, but it’s a good idea to rule out physical causes as well. Does she snore? Is she itchy? Is she in pain? Is she a sleepwalker? Try to limit high-sugar snacks before bed. Once you’ve ruled out the physical causes, make sure she’s not reacting to stress within the extended family or at daycare.

Finally, if none of these factors is the culprit, it’s time to make certain her sleep pattern doesn’t become a habit. When she comes into your bed, reassure her that she’s safe. Tell her that everyone needs their sleep and return her to her own bed. Initiate a quiet period before bedtime (no rough games or electronic stimulation). For more ideas, check out Better Sleep for Your Baby & Child by Shelly Weiss.