30% of children between six months and five years of age have insomnia. Medical conditions cause 5% of cases; the remaining 25% result from behavioural problems, in other words, bad habits. Therefore, most of these cases can be prevented and should be all costs since it can affect children's cognitive and emotional development.
Having said so, here are four recommendations on how to establish healthy sleep habits and prevent your children from developing behavioural childhood insomnia.
• A sleep routine designed to go to bed. The sleep routines should be designed that tells the child that it is time to go to bed, with activities such as: putting on pyjamas, brushing teeth, reading a story. Activities such as: watching television, playing intense games, etc., should be avoided.
• A stable night routine. Sleep routines should remain stable over time; in other words, they must always be carried out the same every night with the fewest possible modifications.
• An adequate space. Children should have a room designed especially for them; avoid that the children's room is a multipurpose space (e.g. study, storage of objects, among others).
• Avoid negative associations with the bed/bedroom. Children should feel safe and calm in their bed and bedroom. Therefore, you should only allow them to sleep and do relaxing activities in their bed and bedroom. Activities such as watching T.V., studying, vigorous play, etc., should be kept in different rooms within the home. Also, avoid using the room as a punishment space "if you don't do your homework, you go to your room punished!"
I hope there recommendations help you and your baby/toddler sleep through the night. If you have any questions regarding this, please let me know in the comments below.
Estivill, E. & Miano, S. (2017). Insomnio pediátrico y comorbilidad. En Viguera (Eds.), Sueño: Fisiología y Medicina (pp. 279 – 304). Murcia, España.: Viguera.
Pin Arboledas, G., Soto Insuga, V., Jurado Luque, M.J., Ferrández Gomariz, C., Hidalgo Vicario, I.,Lluch Rosello, A., Rodríguez Hernández, P.J. & Madrid, J.A. (2017). Insomnia in children and adolescents. A consensus document. An Pediatr (Barc), 86, (3), e1 – 165.e11.