Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Sleep Through the Night

Question: How can I get my 18-month-old daughter to sleep through the night and calm her self down? She gets up some nights 5 times. She won't cry herself to sleep. - Jaci

Answer: I assume that means 18 months of interrupted sleep for Mom, too! Assuming that your daughter doesn't have to wake up for medications or treatments, it is possible to begin to slowly reschedule her sleep pattern. Take a look at how much sleep your daughter is getting during the day. If there are long naps, shorten them. If she naps in the late afternoon and evening, try and forego those, if possible.

Keep her quite active and well fed during the day. A nice warm bath before bedtime is calming. Babies and children like to sleep for long periods of time after one.

Make bedtime about 10 to 15 minutes earlier every night. This will allow her to ease into an earlier bedtime without it being too obvious.

Adults as well as children wake up many times during the night. We learn to put ourselves back to sleep. Some children have not learned to do so for whatever reason. Keep in mind that when waking up at night, the last thing that we were doing may still be fresh in our minds. If the last thing before falling off to sleep was a pacifier or drinking a bottle, your daughter may be upset that it's not there! Weaning from these may be very helpful. Avoid stimulating activities just before bedtime. Activities such as reading or soft music will wind down the day.

If you were used to tiptoeing around the house when she took naps during the day, any noise may be startling to her. If she does nap during the day, have sufficient white noise (normal household things like vacuum, dishwasher, etc.) It's at bedtime that quiet time takes over.

Having your child cry herself to sleep is one of many suggestions that are given to parents in order to break the habit of night waking. I suggest that you first try positive reinforcement and be consistent with your approach. A routine can be accomplished.

Good luck and may you sleep through the night soon!
DR. Betti Hertzberg

Also see:

  • What is the cause of ITP and is there anything that can prevent it from recurring?
  • Can a pediatrician comfortably prescribe and manage ADHD medication or is it better suited to a psychiatrist?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.