Ultimate tool for changing your child's sleeping habits

May 10, 2011 9:05:13 PM PDT
If you are the parent of an infant or a toddler, chances are you've experienced a few sleepless nights.

It's called the Customized SleepProfile.

It was developed by a local pediatric sleep expert and it is a free online tool for parents whose little ones are having sleep problems.

We had two families test it out for a week.

Here's what happened:

2-year-old Ariellah and mom Joanne have been battling bedtime for the past few months.

"I go upstairs to go to bed myself anywhere from 10:00 on and she is wide awake sitting there," Joanne said.

Joanne believes Ariellah has a normal bedtime routine.

She has one nap during the day and winds down with a bath, dinner and TV time.

The family is desperate to get Ariellah to sleep.

"We are exhausted, absolutely exhausted," Joanne said.

It's the similar story over at the Spicer household.

1-year-old Maura wakes at least twice during the night.

Mother Kelly says it's maternal instinct to go up and grab her when she starts crying; to calm her down in the wee hours, she gives her a bottle to get back to sleep.

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

Dr. Jodi Mindell with Saint Joseph's University and Director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has developed an online tool that could help children struggling to get some Z's.

Parents are asked to answer a series of questions relating to their child's sleep habits, including how difficult is it for your child to fall asleep and how often does your child wake up during the night?

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

"So parents get real feedback on what is normal for a child of that age," Dr. Mindell said.

Before the tool hit the web, Mindell had 264 families test it out in a study over the course of a few weeks.

The results?

Just after one week Mindell said most families saw some improvement.

So we had Joanne and Kelly give it a try as well.

Kelly is told to take more time to wind down and to gradually wean Maura off of nighttime bottles.

As for Joanne, a simple night time routine change is all that is required.

She is told to start reading and cuddling with Ariellah at bedtime.

Dr. Mindell says the families should see some results in a week.

"Simple behavioral changes make the world of difference," Dr. Mindell said.

So, a week later our camera checked back in to see if the little ones were getting more sleep.

Both moms couldn't believe the instant results!

"The one night I put her up at 8:30 and went up at 9:30 - sound asleep," Joanne said.

And baby Maura is not waking up as often either.

Kelly is impressed!

"I'm just elated that in just one week, how much of a change there has been," Kelly said.

Dr. Mindell advises parents to make changes gradually.

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