Because quantity and quality of sleep remains such a vital part of a 15-month-old baby's development, it’s understandable when parents worry about their baby’s sleep patterns. According to the University of Michigan Health System web site, problems with sleep and the strategies and methods to overcome them, present one of the most common concerns of all parents.
Babies who yawn during the day, hyperactive or generally unhappy, may be displaying signs of sleep deprivation. On average, babies between the ages of 12 and 18 months need 13 to 14 hours of sleep within each 24-hour period. Ideally, sleep time should spread between a daily nap or two and a night of sound, uninterrupted sleep.
The web site, AskDrSears.com, points out that as babies become increasingly independent and socially aware; it may become uncommon for them to go through a stage of disruptive sleep patterns. Babies who have difficulty settling down, or staying asleep, may have a hard time adapting to increased activity during daytime hours. Oftentimes, adding or eliminating a daytime nap is enough to resolve the situation.
Make certain baby or toddler’s day includes adequate time for play and plenty of hugs. Encourage use of a soft blanket or stuffed animal to hold and cuddle during the day, and to provide nighttime comfort. Check to see that bed clothing, sheets and blankets are comfortable, and remove any scratchy tags that can irritate sensitive skin.
Keep the sleeping environment as consistent as possible. Variations in temperature, lighting and noise levels can interfere with a baby’s natural sleep rhythms, causing him to wake, and making it more difficult to fall back to sleep. Even a night light can inhibit sleep, as can turning on a hall light or adjoining bath light in the middle of the night.
Babies and toddlers, who have consistent routines before bedtime, sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time. A warm bath, dimmed lights and soft music or a gentle body massage can all serve as cues to your little one that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Try to begin the bedtime routine before the baby becomes too sleepy. On the other hand, if it suits your schedule, postpone her bedtime until you are ready to go to bed.
Consider keeping a daily diary to record the time and frequency of naps, bed time and night wakings. Make note of the time and frequency of meals and snacks, to monitor calorie intake and to watch for food allergies. Keep in mind, a too full stomach can cause night waking the same as hunger pains.
Of course, any sudden changes in a baby or toddler's sleep habits, such as crying inconsolably, awaking in obvious pain or exhibiting other signs of illness, indicate a medical cause that requires immediate attention from your doctor or health care provider.