Do your kids keep you up half the night? Is getting enough sleep—for you and them—an elusive dream? Pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, RealAge's children's health expert, shares her surefire sleep tips to keep the whole family well rested.
Is this you? The kids are finally in bed, after a few false starts. All you can think of is putting your feet up, pouring a glass of wine and clicking on a silly sitcom. Then a child appears out of nowhere, mumbling, "Mom, I can't sleep." Your brain does a silent scream, but then you get up and patiently say, "C'mon, little one, back to bed."

Or is this you? After a long day of trying to be your mommy best, do you fall into bed in a heap of exhaustion, only to be woken in the middle of the night by a small voice whispering in your ear, "I'm scared, Mommy." Do you pull back the covers, scoot over and make room, or do you drag yourself out of your bed and lead your child back to his bed?

I know sleep issues can be huge for you and your children. I have three kids—I've been there! Sleep troubles usually crop up at around 5 months and smooth out after age 4 or so. But those 3 or 4 years in between can be exhausting, and they make squeezing your child into bed with you at 3 a.m. totally tempting. Try not to. It can almost instantly turn into a bad habit that's hard to break. Kids (like adults!) need to learn how to self-sooth and calm themselves down after a long day. An "everyone into the king-sized bed" ritual not only keeps children from learning this vital go-to-sleep skill, but it also eliminates what is often the last shred of privacy you and your husband have.

I've had bleary-eyed moms and dads in my office virtually weeping about their child's problems with sleep. They weren't just crying for their kids. A child who doesn't sleep can wreak havoc on the entire household, to say nothing about interfering with his growth and development.

4 ways to foster healthy sleep habits in your children

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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