New parents are commonly concerned with how to help a child who is having trouble falling asleep. When a child loses sleep, you can be sure the parent does, too. An experienced parent once said, "If you sleep like a baby, you don't have one." If you can relate to that statement, you're probably a parent. And you probably already know that parenting a child and getting a good night's sleep can sometimes be mutually exclusive. The arrival of a baby generally means the departure of uninterrupted nights and lazy mornings of sleeping in, at least for a while. And even after those first few months of nighttime feedings, you are still likely to be called upon in the middle of the night to chase a monster from under a bed, give a drink of water, or take a temperature every now and then.
Sacrificing sleep for a child's sake is, for most of us, a part of being a caring and concerned parent. And some disruptions just come with the territory. That said, there are some tricks and techniques you can try to help you and your child get the sleep you both need, whether during the early, exhausting months of your child's life or later, when sleep problems may crop up. First of all, it helps to have a better sense of the sleep requirements of children at various ages.
On the next page, learn about a newborn's sleep needs and how those needs change as your baby grows.