Strange Sleeping Habits of Children
One of the joys of parenting is that quiet moment at night when you look in at your sleeping child. In the dim light, she is so calm, peaceful and beautiful. Yet many children develop strange sleeping habits. Sometimes these habits are a phase, and sometimes they may point to a more serious issue. Read on to understand some of strange sleeping habits of children.
Baby Only Sleeps with a Light On
Many parents express concern about a child who only sleeps with the lights on. This is not talking about your standard, dim nightlight, but only falling asleep when the overhead light is on. For parents, a child who sleeps with a light on is worrying because there is not a normal transition from daytime to sleep time. Most importantly, lights in the room can disrupt a child’s normal sleep patterns.
Baby Is Afraid of the Dark
The natural rhythm for human beings is to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Night vision is not as good as day vision, so things simply look different at night. Many children go through a phase of being afraid of the dark. Most children are satisfied with a small nightlight but some want a brighter source to feel safe.
Baby Is Afraid of Falling Asleep
If you think about it, sleep is a strange event. You close your eyes and lose eight hours. For some children, that idea can be frightening. There can be the fear that something might happen to the child while he sleeping. There can be the fear of missing out on interesting things while sleeping. Keeping the lights on becomes a strategy for keeping sleep at bay.
A Parent’s Response
For most children, both of these fears represent a passing phase. If they last too long, you may want to consult a professional psychologist for help. Some parents find it helpful to wean children from light sources, using lower wattage bulbs in the overhead fixture until it can be turned off altogether. The child still sleeps with a light on, but it becomes progressively dimmer.
Baby Sleeps with Head Under a Pillow
You peek in your daughter’s bedroom where she should be fast asleep, but you do not see her adorable face. Looking closer, you discover that she has her head under a pillow. Why on earth would she do that?
It Makes Her Feel Secure
Some children express a fear of the night by using blankets and pillows as a cocoon of safety. The contact with the soft surfaces offers them warmth and comfort. In this case, when your child sleeps with her head under a pillow, it is just an attempt to feel a little more secure at night.
It Blocks Out Noise
If your child has trouble falling asleep, she may but her head under the pillow because it blocks out noise or other forms of stimulation. For example, a child whose room faces a busy street might cover her head to block out street noises and the lights from headlights that pass by.
A Parent’s Response
This behavior is also normally a phase. As the child grows older, she will be less reliant on pillows and blankets for comfort. As long as she is sleeping comfortably, you can leave it alone. If it is a matter of stimulation, blackout shades can block outside noise and lights. If your child is unable to deal with outside stimulation at all, you may want to have her evaluated by a physician.
Baby Sleeps with Mouth Open
A common issue for both adults and children is sleeping with their mouths open. Mouth-breathing at night can lead to snoring and drooling while asleep and bad breath in the morning. In the long term, this habit in children can also lead to teeth grinding and orthodontic issues as well as sleep deprivation.
A Mouth-Breathing Habit
It is not unusual for children who breathe through their mouths during the day to do the same when they sleep. Mouth-breathing might just be a phase, where your child is experimenting with how breathing feels. However, it might also point to some medical issues that should be checked.
A Medical Condition
There are several medical conditions that lead to sleeping with the mouth open. Most have to do with the anatomy of the child’s head and neck, conditions that make breathing through the nose difficult. They include
- Deviated septum
- Enlarged tonsils
- Enlarged adenoids
- Allergies or infection with nasal congestion
A Parent’s Response
If your child has a cold or seasonal allergies, mouth-breathing will pass when the symptoms clear up. If your child always sleeps with his mouth open, consult your pediatrician to see if there is an underlying condition.
Baby Sticks Tongue out at Night
You look at your child sleeping in bed and she sticks her tongue out at you. It is a silly face, but should you be concerned? Sleeping with her tongue out is another unusual sleeping habit.
Part of the Latching Reflex
The tongue-thrust reflex is part of the latching process children use when they are breastfeeding. If your child is still breastfeeding or has recently stopped, sticking out her tongue may simply be an unconscious action. She may be dreaming about feeding, or this may just happen when she swallows in her sleep.
A Physical Issue
When your child sleeps with her tongue out, it may be a sign of a physical issue. She may have an enlarged tongue or an especially small mouth. These conditions can be your child’s genetic luck-of-the-draw, but they can also be signs of more serious genetic issues that should be examined.
A Parent’s Response
Sticking out her tongue when she sleeps is probably something your child will outgrow. Each child develops differently. Some may hold onto the latching reflex longer than others. If this is a matter of the size your child’s tongue or mouth, have it examined as part of a routine wellness visit.
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