Insomnia in Infants and Children

Insomnia in Infants and Children

Silent Night: Treating Insomnia in Infants and Children

There are some people who have problems falling asleep each and every night. If they do, chances are they are afflicted by a psychological sleeping disorder called insomnia. Usually, people suffering from insomnia blame this for too much stress, worries, depression and a very worrisome life.

People mostly believe that these feelings cannot be experienced by infants and children because they are too young to worry about anything. Based on this reasoning, some people think that insomnia would not occur in children. But this is not true. Just like adults, insomnia can also happen to children and infants.

Children have different sleeping habits and time patterns. For infants who are one week old, the average length of sleep per day is 16 hours. There are parents that believe that babies who sleep less are geniuses or have a high I.Q. But there is no scientific evidence to support this belief. Babies usually wake once every evening at the minimum. Unless breast fed, infants can go back to sleep on their own.

Insomnia or sleeping disorders can be defined in the following parameters:

–             Having a hard time to sleep at night
–             A person who wakes up very early
–             A person who wakes up often at night

This ailment can cause the feeling of tiredness and drowsiness even after waking up in the morning. A person with insomnia also has a hard time concentrating.

Other terms for insomnia are Wakefulness, Sleeplessness and Dysomnia.
Infants usually wake up frequently at night. At the sixth month, babies basically have a normalized nocturnal pattern by being asleep the whole night. When the infant reaches a year old, he or she sleeps at a rate of 16 hours per 24 hours.   The baby will sleep during daytime from 2 to 3 hours.

Reasons why babies suffer from insomnia:

–             They want their parents to notice them
–             They may be suffering from digestive ailments or infantile colic which is a condition where babies cry for more than 3 hours a day.
–             Infants that are often hungry
–             Their teeth are beginning to grow
–             They may be ill or afflicted by a disease

Here are some tips in curing insomnia for infants:

–             Try not to comfort the baby immediately when crying at night. It would be best to wait until the infant stops crying on his or her own. Constant attention can be a stimulus for infants to stay awake at night.
–             Observe if the child is unable to sleep because of excessive noise. Try playing classical or slow songs to cover up noisy environment.
–             Do not make a child go to bed as a penalty or reprimand for something. This can cause insomnia because instead of them enjoying being asleep, they dread it.
–             Parents should not make an infant accustomed to falling asleep in their arms. When the baby is already six months old, try making them used to fall asleep on their cribs by themselves.
–             Reading stories in bed, tapping or scratching a child before sleeping, singing a lullaby is often a cause of insomnia because without these routines children will be unable to sleep.
–             Do not give a child sleep inducing medicine unless the doctor advices it. As much as possible, do not use chemicals or drugs in curing insomnia.
–             Remember that sleeping pills may have side effects.
–             If the condition remains after trying home measures to cure insomnia, consult a doctor.

To cure infant insomnia, parents should be ready to let their baby cry without comfort until they learn to sleep by themselves. They can also try to slowly lessen the attention that they give each night to put an infant to sleep until they can totally do it without parent”s supervision.

Children especially infants need enough and regular sleep for them to grow healthy emotionally and physically. Parents should be very sensitive and vigilant in observing their child”s sleeping habit. Eventually both the parents and the child will be affected by insomnia if this is not given attention. The bedroom should be a place to sleep and should be peaceful not rowdy. A bedroom in not a room for a child”s play but for a child”s restful evening.

Finally, sleeplessness is a sign of a mind not at peace. A child is always an angel and an angel should always be at peace. Making your baby grow like an angel is not easy and most of the time it takes sacrifices. In time, parents can sleep soundly at night because their child grew up to be a good person; all because they made their child sleep right since birth.

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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.


  1. Kristen Reply

    “Crying it out” isn’t going to fix insomnia. My daughter woke every 1-2hours from the day she was born. At 1 year she was still waking 3-6 times a night and would not fall asleep 75% of the time without a car ride. At 2 she was frequently waking and having night terrors and wouldn’t go back to sleep from night waking a without a car ride. And here we are 2 1/2 . She still occasionally wakes once a night. She needs a car ride for naptime and can’t go to sleep at bedtime without being rocked or someone laying with her. The struggle is real for a child with sleep issues. Every night is a battle getting to sleep at a decent time and hoping she doesn’t wake up. Every day is a struggle trying to make sure she gets a decent nap so that bedtime isn’t mission impossible. She is my baby, I couldn’t imagine letting her cry for hours on end. Her problems are my problems as well, and I choose to face them with her and be sympathetic towards her situation. My son is 8 months old and has slept better than her since he was born. She is suffering from something I don’t understand, but I am not willing to let her face it alone. I feel like it would only worsen the situation to leave her alone and force her to fall asleep on her own when it is so hard for her. And we have made progress so far!

    Also.. How are children to young to worry or be depressed? They are dealing with things in life too!

    1. Wendy Ross

      I agree with u 100%. No way should u let a baby cry and cry til they fall asleep. Then they have a broken heart, and die. Then they wanna call it Sid’s. This is just bad advice.

    2. Isabella

      Grew up with insommnia. The worst you can do is blame your kid for not being able to sleep, or being unsupportive of their needs, or denying their problems even are real and legitimate. It causes serious harm and it’s the worst you can do. If your kid can’t sleep, go to a doctor, ASAP., and don’t stop seeking for help until the issue is resolved. What this article suggests is BS.

    3. Tiffany

      Thank you! I am having the same issue with my 6 month old he has never been a great sleeper. He takes catnaps and is up ready to play. We struggled with colic at two months and changed the formula which helped but letting him cry it out is like punishment because he wants me to rock him to sleep. I have a lifetime to sleep but he is only little for so long.

    4. Christy

      I keep 22 month old she may sleep 20 min a day , her dad says she goes to bed at 12 or so in the morning and up at 6-7 in the morning. So ya think she would sleep some during the day . Nope , her mom would hold her all the time when she was awake and when she barley slept or riding her around . Now these parents have made it hard on me . Because I have other kids that like a nap and she keeps them up . Ugh what to do

  2. Kelli Reply

    My daughter at nearly 2 years old will not sleep properly through the night. She will go to sleep in her own bed but is constantly waking up with being unsettled and cannot switch off when it comes to going to sleep. I have tried everything mentioned so maybe now time to take her to the doctors. Her daddy and his side of the family all suffer with this. They cannot switch off to go to sleep where they only get a couple of hours sleep a day.

    1. Angie M Waite

      My son is 10 months and seems to be having an issue going to sleep and staying asleep tru out the night I’m not sure what to do i do no he is teething I want him to be healthy and happy I’m a first time mom and this concerns me any advice would be great

  3. Promise Reply

    My baby is 7months old she’s a catnapper from birth she has never sleep through out the night she wakes up 3 to 4 times during the night, even during the day she sleeps. once for like 30mins max I need help and advice?

    1. Nancy

      I wish I could help but I wanted you to know you’re not alone. My 6 month old has taken only 30 min naps since birth and wakes 4-6 times a night. We’ve seen a chiropractor and a doctor. Both have not suggested anything that has helped improve her sleep. She is the happiest baby I’ve ever met though, smiles and giggles ALL the time. She doesn’t take a soother either. I’ve just come to accept that this is who she is… although I’d really wish she’d sleep!!!

    2. Aktari Divecha

      Me too with the same problem my baby also doesn’t sleeps from birth itself and my biggest fear is that I’m a single mother with no help around. Pls if anyone knows how to deal with insomnia in babies tell me.

    3. Maggie

      Hi mommy! I want to share my experience with you.. My baby boy has trouble going to sleep and staying asleep.. I thought that he has adhd coz he’s really hyper and do not want to sleep at all.. We do rocking, swaying everytime, sometimes we do it 3hrs straight before he can sleep but still wakes up every3hrs.

      What i did was a sleep routine, i am doing it every sleeping time, gradually, my LO can now sleep 6-8hrs straight during night time ..

      If it is sleeping time, strictly no cuddling and games, no solid food as well.. I will just put him to our room if i can see that he’s drowsy.. No room light, just soft music.. i still rock him softly to make him relax, once relax, i put him to bed with his pillow.. I still tap and touch him sometimes to make sure that he won’t wake up but i will stop it eventually if i can see that he’s ready to sleep by himself.. For now, i am contended that he can sleep at least 6hrs straight

  4. Huyen Hoang Reply

    My baby does not sleep well not only at night but also at day time. We have visitted several doctos and they said that she is lack of calcium and prescribed calcium for her but I don’t see any improvement. I’m worried that her situation may have a negative impact on her normal development. I’m very stressfull…

  5. Barb Reply

    I am a new Grandma!!! Our baby doesn?t sleep. She is a year old now and hasn?t slept a full night since she was born!!! We raised two great kids! We tried to as ?the experts call it sleep training ?. So I have been reading articles about what to do when baby doesn?t sleep! What they don?t tell you is what to do when you?re baby gets so upset with crying they , vomit, literally throw themselves out of their crib!!! So sleep training NEVER worked for my kids!!! So I sympathize with all moms especially my daughter!!! So what I can tell you is I know your exhausted, hang in there, it will get better!!! My daughter also works everyday, so she is beyond exhausted, as well as her hubby!!!!

  6. Sarah Reply

    my son is 13 months old and we have never slept more than 3 hours at a time. in fact, we only get a 3 hour stretch about once a week. he is usually up every 45min for the first half of the night and every 1.5 hours the second half of the night. He has troubles falling asleep, staying asleep, and wakes up at 5:30am everyday. He has been an absolute horrendous sleeper his whole life. he sometimes rocks in his sleep and sits up looking dazed and confused. doctor’s find every excuse in the book to throw at us like: teething, hunger, reflux, colic, etc. and yet we haven’t had ONE good night sleep in 13 months. he is so irritable all day long and crabby. i can honestly say i’ve never left the house with my son alone bc his lack of sleep causes all sorts of behavioral problems. his attention span is zero and he is constantly busy. he doesn’t stop moving. i mean, i’ve never even seen him just sit. he’s been walking on his own since 9 months old and sitting up on his own by 5 months old. i figure it’s because he’s awake so much he has more time to learn. i’m just so frustrated that my baby can’t sleep more than 1.5 hours (usually), sometimes we’ll get one 3 hour stretch. other than that, it’s awful to be around and exhausted, hyperactive, irritable baby ALL DAY LONG. I hope he grows out of this or it gets better. he sleeps worse than any newborn i’ve ever met. we are still up about 7-9x a night. for the first 6 months of his life we were averaging a total of 4.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (including catnaps and nighttime sleep). i believe this lack of sleep is what caused his to have 3 seizures back in November. the lack of help/support from doctors is incredible. we may now be getting 6-7 hours of sleep total in a 24 hour period. i feel bad for my little one and hope this doesn’t cause any permanent developmental damage.

  7. Lungi Reply

    My baby is 10 weeks and i am exhausted already because she does not sleep at night and slip a few times during the day. At night she sleep around 5 am and thats early for most days and I am worried because I am a working mom I really need help

  8. Itumeleng Reply

    My son is now 5months and never slept more then 5hours in 24hrs since he was born .

    M so worried because for a child this small not to sleep can cause development damage

    1. Adele

      5h is classified as sleeping through the night by some experts. Does bubs wake up, feed and go back to sleep? As long as they are not awake for hours During the night this is normal to wake for feeds. 5 months is still very young especially if not on solids too. Or if on solids and digestive discomfort waking them up. They are still learning their bodies. If breastfed then the milk is digested faster as well so they just wake for feeds or because they are cold and want extra warmth. Read up on some research but do what your comfortable with. Cry it out has been shown to cause developmental issues. But again read up with what you are comfortable with. If you are exhausted and not coping you have to make sure your family is ok. Do what is best for your baby and you. You are a great mum.

  9. Adels Reply

    All these people worried their babies and infants are not sleeping is sad to read. Babies are not designed to sleep through the night. Do your own research and do what is comfortable for you and your family. If you need your sleep and cry it out is what you need then do your research and make an informed choice. If your happy to be your babies sleep clutch while they are young then keep on doing it. My son needed me as a clutch for two years and now sleeps great. My daughter has self soothed from birth. They are all so different. Do what you are comfortable with doing.

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