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Should my toddler use my wearable sleep tracker?

By BabySleepAdmin 1 year ago

Lisa Meltzer, Ph.D

Should my toddler use my wearable sleep tracker? I think he wakes a lot at night.

Many parents worry about whether their toddler is awake during the night. However, consumer wearables, or devices used to track sleep, were not developed for use in young children. This matters because the algorithms (that is, the information that is collected and how it is put together) used by these devices to determine when you are awake and when you are asleep are not sensitive to the active sleep of young children. In other words, devices made for adults may get the wrong information from young children, or miss things that are going on in children’s sleep, and do not necessarily give accurate results. Studies have shown these devices can either significantly overestimate or underestimate how much sleep your child is getting. Some devices that are placed near the child’s bed or crib (“nearables”) and provide video monitoring may provide parents with information about night wakings. However, caution should be used with these devices as well, since many parents may focus too heavily on what is happening with their child throughout the night, causing parents to not get enough sleep, or focus on night wakings that are otherwise normal.

It is very important as a parent to remember that night wakings in toddlers are normal, and actually happen at least 2 to 6 times per night. In addition, toddlers tend to move a lot in their sleep, which may sound like they are awake. Since night wakings are normal, it is more important to focus on your child’s daytime functioning as a sign of how much sleep they get, and whether it is good quality sleep. If your child is difficult to awaken in the morning, that could be a sign of poor sleep or not enough sleep. Similarly, if you notice your child’s mood or behavior is different after a night when it seems they were awake a lot, it may suggest the night wakings may have caused her to get less sleep than usual.

  Schedules & Routines, Sleep Problems