1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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Three-quarters of five-month-old infants sleep for at least six consecutive hours each night, and sleep tends to consolidate during the next 12 months of life, so that most (more than 90%) 17-month-olds are "good sleepers." Still, childhood sleep problems, when they occur, remain a chief reason that parents seek professional advice. Investigators in Canada sought to find out what factors lead to sleeping problems in early childhood.


Mothers of 1,741 children were interviewed when their children reached five months, 17 months, and 29 months of age, and several factors were found to be associated with poor sleeping patterns, including staying with the children while they fell asleep; responding to nighttime awakenings of their children by feeding, holding, or rocking them; and bringing the children to their beds rather than comforting them in their cribs when they had trouble sleeping.


Not surprisingly, parental behavior that promoted children's ability to fall asleep by themselves was strongly associated with children's sleeping well. However, parents adopted such behavior more readily when a child was already sleeping well, so to what extent parental behavior determines children's sleeping patterns and what the effects of poor sleeping patterns are on parental behavior couldn't be determined. Additionally, children with temperaments reported by parents to be "more difficult than average" tended to sleep poorly, and sharing a bed or a room with parents or siblings was associated with poorer sleep.


The authors recommend addressing sleep problems by changing the behaviors of parents and children simultaneously, in directions that promote children's autonomy. -Fran Mennick, BSN, RN


Touchette E, et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2005;159(3):242-9.

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