New tool to help get children to sleep

May 14, 2011 7:35:49 AM PDT
If you are the parent of an infant or toddler, you have most likely experienced more than a few sleepless nights lately. For parents of young children who are experiencing lack of sleep, there is now a unique and free online tool that could help these sleepless parents.

The tool is called the "Customized Sleep Profile" and it was developed by a baby products company who collaborated with several pediatric sleep experts.

The tool, which is both free and online, involves answering some questions about your baby's sleeping habits. The tool in return gives the parent some sound advice.

For mothers like Joanne Burno, who is in constant battle to get her two-year old daughter Ariella to go to sleep, this tool might just help.

"Ariella's normal bedtime routine is one daily nap, a bath, dinner and TV time- and then the battle," Burno said. "We are exhausted, absolutely exhausted."

The Spicer household experiences a similar challenge. One-year old Maura Spicer wakes up at least twice during the night. Maura's mom Kelly can't help but to go in to calm her down and give Maura a bottle.

"I am just sort of used to getting up and just try to function during the day," Kelly said.

Dr. Jodi Mindell, a pediatric sleep expert at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is the main specialist who helped create the Customized Sleep Profile. Its purpose is to help parents get their children to sleep.

After parents answer questions on the tool about their children's sleep habits, such as rating how difficult it is for their child to fall asleep and how often the child wakes up during the night, the sleep profile makes an assessment.

Based on the answers, parents get a sleep profile filled with advice and tips tailored to their child's individual sleep patterns and issues.

One of the most helpful parts of the sleep profile is that parents get real feedback on what is normal for a child of that age.

Both Joann Burno and Kelly Spicer have tried the Customized Sleep Profile and were very pleased with the results.

Spicer's advice from the sleep profile was to take more time to wind down and gradually wean Maura off bottles.

Burno's advice was to read and cuddle with Ariella at bedtime.

The advice is working for both families.

"I put her up at 8:30 and went up at 9:30 - sound asleep," Burno said. "I'm just elated that in just one week, how much of a change there has been."

Dr. Mindel says that behavioral changes can make a world of difference. Her study on 264 families found that most families had significant improvement. The tool, however, has not been independently tested.