From birth to three years old, children require around 16 hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle, and this sleep generally comes in two-hour intervals. By six months of age, most babies sleep about 12 hours a night, plus four or so hours of daytime napping. As babies continue to mature, nighttime sleeping hours increase and daytime naps become shorter.
By three years old, children typically sleep about 14 hours a night and spend two hours a day napping. When your baby cannot fall asleep, cannot stay asleep (especially if they wake crying in the night), or is drowsy during waking hours, she may have insomnia.
- Trouble falling asleep
- Wakes crying in the night; needs comfort to go back to sleep
- Tired during the day
- Dark circles under eyes
- Digestive issues (cold foods, spicy foods)
Create a bedtime routine that may include dinner, a story, a bath, a back rub or massage, rocking, cuddling, singing, or listening to music. Soft noises like white noise can also help your baby relax and fall asleep. Try breathing and relaxation techniques with your baby. Encourage vigorous physical activity early in the day, and take some time in nature. Pay attention to signs such as droopy eyelids, eye rubbing, and irritability. Anticipate when your baby is likely to get tired, and plan around it.
If your child is afraid of the dark, leave on a night-light, or leave the door open a crack. Encourage your child to talk about any disturbing or frightening events that may have occurred during the day. Avoid scary TV shows or stories before sleep.
Insomnia: Suggestions for Care
Consider foods and environmental factors that may disturb sleep. Make sure your baby’s room has an appropriate temperature, comfortably moist air, a low amount of noise, and dim lighting. Also be sure your baby is neither hungry nor overfed before bed and has been well hydrated throughout the day. Dress her for sleep in comfortable, breathable clothing. Overstimulation from watching too much television or other media before bed can contribute to waking at night and nightmares.
Antibiotics and immunizations such as HiB or pertussis can cause disrupted sleep as well. Check to see if your baby is teething or suffering from some other ailment or physical discomfort that could cause insomnia.
Food and Remedies for Nursing Mother or Baby Older than Six Months
Troubles with digestion can contribute to insomnia.
- Ginger compress on back for relaxation
- Warm bath
Foods to Emphasize
Light snacks, such as toast, oatmeal, and crackers, can help your baby sustain her blood sugar throughout the night and keep her sleeping. Chamomile herbal tea is relaxing and can help her sleep.
Foods to Avoid
Stimulants in food and drink, such as caffeine (through the nursing mother), chocolate, and refined sugar. Also steer clear of food additives and other common ingredients in processed food. Avoid foods that are cooling to the digestive system, such as bananas, yogurt, ice cream, and cow’s milk, and foods and that are heavy and excessively warming, such as spicy and greasy foods. Be conscious of dyes and synthetic chemicals in processed foods, as they may cause overactivity.
Essential Oils for Baby
Acupoints for Baby
- Stomach 36
- Spleen 6
- Heart Governor 5, 6
- Gallbladder 20
- Liver 3
- Conception Vessel 6, 12
- Governing Vessel 20
Reiki for Baby
For two or more minutes, place your hands on the following parts of your child’s body: forehead and temples, back of head, top of head, and stomach and intestines.
Massage for Baby
Give your child a whole-body massage to calm her energy.
Insomnia in children can be related to depression, anxiety, chronic ear infection, sleep apnea due to blocked airways, fever, or night terrors. If the insomnia is persistent, consult your health care provider.
Note: The suggestions and ideas in this article are not intended to take the place of professional guidance or treatment; they are meant to complement the advice of your child’s health care provider, caretakers, and educators, while offering consolidated information to help you develop your intuition and make choices that fit with your own personal, religious, or spiritual philosophies. There is no guarantee as to the effects of the use of the recommendations and no liabilities can be taken.