Predictors of Sleep Problems

Sleeping Through The Night by Jodi Mindell

In Sleeping Through the Night, Mindell lists some things that predispose a child to sleep problems:

Firstborn children are more likely to have sleep problems. This may be because parents are less tolerant of their child's cries and/or because they have more time and energy to devote to them. Parents are probably more likely to not be as strict about sleep rules with firstborns too.

Boys are more likely to have sleep problems than
girls. It isn't exactly known why, but parents have been shown to be less consistent with boys which certainly may add to this.

Children that have colic or ear infections when they are young often develop sleep habits--while parents are trying to deal with these problems--that can cause problems later on.

Children that sleep in the same bed or room as their parents are more likely to wake more frequently at night time.

Breastfed children are more likely to take longer to sleep through the night.

Milk intolerance can cause sleep problems, although this is not very common. Introducing solid foods to infants has been shown, study after study, to not help them sleep longer at night.

Any major change like new child care, a vacation, a developmental change or illness can cause sleep problems to start or return.

Many studies have shown that infants who are put to bed awake sleep better than infants who are put to bed asleep. Easier said than done, huh?


  1. Hi, wondering if you have any suggestions for traveling after sleep training. Our 3.5 mo has been sttn for about three weeks, and we have our first vacation coming up tomorrow. I'm nervous about it, of course. If he wakes during the night at home, we would not go to him, as per our sleep training method. Should we continue with this policy while we're away? I'm worried that he'll be disturbed by strange surroundings. We share a bedroom with him and will while we're traveling. We'll be gone for about 10 days, same time zone. Thanks for any suggestions you can provide!

    1. L. Morris,
      I treat travel a bit like I would treat a sick child. And of course, depending on the situation, I will vary what I do (if you are in a hotel, sharing a room with other people etc). I will offer the child only as much comfort as they need and try not to go overboard. But if I need to end up holding them to sleep or something to prevent them crying all night long, then I will. You don't want your entire trip ruined by a child being up all night and you do want to offer some comfort if they feel really nervous in a new place. Just jump back to things like normal when you get home and sleep should return to normal very quickly if you are consistent.