A sleeping baby is every parent's dream, but it's not all that often that those dreams come true. Even when they do, their sleeping habits aren't always ideal. In fact, sometimes there are times when you need to pay extra attention to your kid's sleeping habits, as they may be an indication that they've got more going on than just sleeping issues.
We're all too aware that sleep deprivation affects parenting, but a lot of us, myself included, aren't all that aware of how different sleeping patterns affect children. Kids need a full night's rest just like parents do, more actually. Babies need different amounts of sleep based on their age. While each baby or child is unique, there are still sleeping guidelines that should be paid attention to as best as possible. Anything outside of the realm of what's considered "normal" could merit a visit to your child's doctor to discuss whether or not their sleeping trouble is a temporary phase, or something that's more cause for concern.
Whether you sleep train or co-sleep or "cry it out" or some variation of all three, there are certain times when you really do need to pay attention to your child's sleeping habits. The following eight times might just be the result of your child growing and changing, but you should stop and take pause either way, just to be on the safe side.
When They Sleep Too Much For Their Age...
A child sleeping more than what's considered normal might sound amazing, but it could actually be a red flag. It might just be that they're in a growth spurt (when children are known to sleep more) or it might mean that they've got something else going on. It could be something as simple as an illness, or it could be something that needs adjusting in their diet. If your toddler or baby are sleeping beyond of what's considered "normal" (typically 12 hours at night), or so much that their gross motor skills are developing a little slower than average, you might want to speak with a doctor.
...Or When They Sleep Too Little For The Age
Signs that your child isn't getting enough sleep range from being extremely cranky on a regular basis, particularly in the afternoon, to having droopy eyes, being especially clingy and needy, having trouble sharing, and experiencing hyperactivity. Of course, every child might display those symptoms to a certain degree at times, but if they're showing them on a regular basis there could be something going on. Some developmental delays and sensory disorders have been attributed to why kids don't get enough sleep, so it's best to get it checked out so that your child can get the proper treatment they need as early in their life as possible.
When They Wake Up Frequently
Babies are supposed to wake up frequently throughout the night to eat. Once your child is considered a toddler though, they should be waking up less frequently. Of course, waking up in the middle of the night just happens sometimes (or many times, depending on your kid). Toddlers might wet the bed or fall out of the bed or just have a bad dream. If it happens on a regular basis though, that might merit your attention. If your child wakes up coughing frequently, it could be a sign that they've got asthma or acid reflux, both of which are easily treated when diagnosed.
When They're Extremely Tired Throughout The Day
A child might be tired throughout the day for a number of reasons. It could be that they woke up in the middle of the night or didn't get enough sleep, or it could mean that they've got something going on like anemia or an iron deficiency that affects their energy. Try to pay attention to how much rest they're getting at night, and if they're sleeping well but still waking up tired, and then talk to their doctor about it.
Enlarged adenoids or tonsils are the most common reason for children snoring, but other things, like respiratory infections, sinus infections, allergies, or even sleep apnea could cause them to snore. If your child's snoring is extreme and consistent, visit their doctor so that they can find the root cause. The treatments for all of the above are usually quite simple.
Although nightmares are fairly common among children (and adults), there are times when you need to pay attention to your kid's nightmares. If there is a recurring theme, they're keeping them awake, or they happen after a traumatic event, the issue needs to be addressed.
Most of the time nightmares are just another indication that your child's brain is growing and developing (as well as their imagination) but if they get extreme or frequent, it's worth consulting with a physician.
Sleepwalking is also surprisingly common among children between the ages of three and seven. In fact, up to 30 percent of children sleepwalk at some point in their lives. It's not that the sleepwalking itself indicates as issue, as the dangers of the environment a child is sleepwalking in that is. If your child is sleepwalking near stairs, sharp objects, or other obstacles that could harm them, there might need to be measures taken to ensure their safety in the event that they do sleepwalk at night.
When Something Just Seems Off About Them
As with any aspect of your child's health, a parent's gut is always a good instinct to follow. If your child just seems "off" in some way, it's a good idea to pay attention to their sleeping habits and their behaviors when they're awake. If they seem lethargic or extremely moody or like they're not thriving in some way, you will probably be the first to notice.
If and when you do, just take a visit to their doctor to address your concerns. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the well being of our children, and not only will your child sleep better at night when their health is in line, you will, too.