Baby & Toddler Sleep Tips

Your Toughest Questions Answered

Q. My 8-month-old daughter routinely falls asleep with a pacifier in her mouth. Is this okay?

A. "It's fine, but unless you want to get up several times a night to retrieve it from the floor and put it back in her mouth, be sure to leave several pacifiers in the same corner of the crib so she'll know where to look for them," says Dr. Mindell.

Q. My 3-year-old is too big for his crib, but we're worried he'll have problems moving to a big-kid bed. Any tips?

A. Talk up the idea several days before you make the switch. Get him excited about his bed by letting him help you pick out new sheets. And make the transition slowly so he's less anxious; some moms start by putting the mattress on the floor for several days before moving it to the bed frame. Think about safety too: Add a guardrail to his bed, and make sure you've covered electrical outlets and attached bookcases to the wall.

Q. My child started sleeping through the night at 4 months. Now, at 9 months, she wakes up every few hours. Help!

A. "She may be teething, not feeling well, or going through a bout of separation anxiety -- all of which could make her cry out at night," says Dr. Mindell. Give it a few more nights, but if she's still waking up at night after several days or a week, it's time to help her relearn how to fall back asleep on her own. To do this, check on her when she cries, but don't pick her up, bring her into your bed, or rock her. Instead, talk to her in a soft voice, then leave the room. Keep checking on her in 10-minute intervals until she dozes off.

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