Kids' sleep problems toughest on moms

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I've always felt very lucky that Ellie is such a good sleeper. While she does have the bedtime stalling routine down to a science, once asleep, she stays that way for up to 12 hours a night. Unfortunately, not all kids sleep as well and that can have a detrimental affect on a parent's health.

An Australian study looked more than 10,000 families and found that 17 percent of infants and 14 percent of preschoolers have some sort of sleep problem. Moms and dads with sleepless babies both reported poorer physical health and more emotional distress than the parents of good sleepers. However, in homes with a sleepless toddler, only the mother seemed to suffer physically and emotionally. That is probably due to the fact that it is usually mom getting up in the middle of the night to deal with a sleepless kid.

How do you know if your child has a sleep problem? There is no one definition, but according to Dr. Harriet Hiscock, of the Royal Children's Hospital and the University of Melbourne, if the parent thinks there is a problem, there probably is.

If your kid does have sleep problems, Hiscock suggests talking to your pediatrician about techniques, such as bedtime routines, that can help them fall asleep and stay that way.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.