To most new parents sleep is priceless! And to be fair, it is expected that sleep will not be something you will be getting too much of for the next little while. However when baby becomes a toddler and the months drag on with no end in sight, it is normal for parents to look for a solution.
“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”
So what can stop your little one from sleeping through the night?
There are a number of reasons why children do not sleep through the night. The first thing to look at is conditioning. Has your child become accustomed to waking up for a feed, a chat and a cuddle at night? It’s always a good idea to set the night time ground rules as early as possible. Night time should be quiet. The room should remain as dark as possible so that there’s a big difference between day and night. If you turn on the lights and chat and do all the things you would do during the day how will baby be able to tell the difference? With a toddler who may have acquired a few bad habits the first step is to establish a good bedtime routine. Set a time each evening when this starts and stick to it every night. Start with bath time, followed by cuddles and a feed if they still require one. Then read them a bed time story in their room. Finally, settle them down and leave the room. It will take a little while for this new routine to be totally adopted with as much enthusiasm as you have for it, but it will happen. Just be patient and give it time.
For children who have persistent colds and coughs, nasal drip could be an issue and a cause of sleep disruption. Children who have nasal drip affecting the nasal passages are often congested and frequently have a runny nose. They can be mouth breathers as a result snore at night. This can disrupt their sleep and wake them up. The other type of nasal drip is a posterior nasal drip and in this case, the drip affects the back of the throat and the euchastian tubes (narrow tubes connecting the middle ear to the back of the throat) causing a cough and congestion. There can be nasal congestion with this type too. These symptoms can disrupt the child’s sleep. Children who have had ear infections may have some fluid in the middle ear and this too can disrupt sleep. Cranial Osteopathy is used to release any tension in the bones of the skull, particularly the temporal bones which house the middle and inner ears.
Another reason for sleep disruption is a digestive disorder. Reflux, wind or intolerance can cause enough discomfort at night to wake baby. Again, cranial osteopathy can help relieve these issues, along with advice depending on which particular condition is affecting baby. Once any cranial and physical issues are dealt with, baby should be able to develop a better sleeping pattern with a little help for mum and dad. (See tips above)
There can be other less common issues but in my experience, these are the main reasons for a disturbed sleep pattern in young children. So if you are having difficulties with your toddler maybe you should consider the above as possible causes. There is always a solution and every child will learn to sleep through the night. It may require patience, persistence and perhaps a little Cranial Osteopathy but you will get there in the end!
Frank Kelleher Cranial Osteopath
The Children’s Clinic
Model Farm Road