According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should sleep between 12 and 16 hours per day, including naps, until they are 12 months old. 

Although that’s what should happen, as most parents know, that isn’t always how it shakes out. Children commonly experience sleep disruptions as they develop and grow. But how do you tell the difference between ordinary sleep troubles and sleep disorders?

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What is a sleep disorder?

A sleep disorder is when a baby has difficulty falling or staying asleep. Sleep disorders can usually be resolved once the cause is identified and by building a new sleep routine aimed at improving the length and quality of your child’s sleep.

Why do babies develop sleep disorders and what should you do to treat them?

Sleep disorders can happen for a variety of reasons. It’s key to detect a sleep disorder early. 

If your baby has trouble sleeping, here are a few things to look out for:

1. Difficulty breathing

If a baby has trouble breathing, this often becomes apparent at bedtime. For example, if a baby has a cold or asthma, this can affect their ability to fall asleep. If you think your baby might be sick, talk to your pediatrician.

2. Reflux

If a baby is experiencing reflux, they might become so uncomfortable and irritable that they won’t be able to fall asleep at night or at naptime. If you think your baby has reflux, it’s important to develop a care plan with your doctor.  

3. Malnutrition

Babies have a challenging time communicating their needs and emotions. If your baby is hungry or has an upset stomach, often they have little way of telling you other than by crying or becoming irritable around bedtime. Talk to your pediatrician about how to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients they need.

If your child is experiencing ongoing sleep problems, the best course of action is to keep an eye on these signs and consult your pediatrician.

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