The One Where The AAP Study Confirms Parents Need After-Hours Sleep Help

Here at the Baby Sleep Site™, we tend to be interested in (some may even say obsessed with!) any and all sleep-related news. We spend time reading the latest findings and tracking what’s happening in the world of sleep research.

That’s how we uncovered a new, interesting study, presented on October 21st at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference in New Orleans.

Sleep Study Overview

The structure of this particular study is interesting — researchers actually used an iPhone app to gather data!

The abstract, “An iPhone Application for Infant and Toddler Sleep: Characteristics and Concerns of Users,” reviewed information from nearly 8,000 users of a free iPhone app designed to aid sleep in young children. Of those users, 365 (4.6 percent of 8,000 users) submitted a question to an “Ask the Expert” feature over a three-month period. The app users were typically mothers (69 percent) with an average age of 28. Their children were primarily infants (68 percent of children were age 3 to 11 months), followed by toddlers (2- percent of children were age 12 to 36 months) and newborns (12 percent were age 0-2 months).

Not surprisingly, most of the questions submitted by moms were questions about their babies’ sleep problems and frequent nighttime waking. Another interesting finding made by researchers: parents often submitted questions in the middle of the night.

Questions were most frequently submitted between midnight and 6 a.m. (37 percent) and 6 p.m. and midnight (22 percent).

Researchers’ Conclusions About the Sleep Study

Dr. Jodi Mindell, author of the study, drew several conclusions from her findings:

“Our results found that the most common questions that parents ask pertain to sleep problems and night waking,” said study author Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D. “These questions are most often submitted in the evening and even overnight – times when professional help is typically not available.”

This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If you’re struggling with your baby’s chronic nighttime waking, or your toddler’s refusing to sleep through the night, those problems are in full swing in the middle of the night — a time when you can’t exactly turn to anyone else for help.

Nicole’s Note:
“In the Helpdesk, we see e-mails come in at all different times of the day and at night, so this isn’t surprising in the least. Although we aren’t frequently answering e-mails at 2:00 a.m. (if you’re in the States or Canada), by allowing our parents the ability to immediately download our e-Books or send us their middle-of-the-night-update gives them immediate support, an outlet to ‘vent’, and feelings of comfort knowing someone will get their e-mail very shortly.”

Mindell also had something to say about the kind of help that would be most useful to parents. Remember, the app researchers used to collect this information had an “Ask the Expert” feature — parents could submit their question and receive a bit of guidance from a real person. Not exactly a customized, personalized sleep plan, but probably a step better than generic advice.

Here’s what Mindell concluded about what kind of help would be most beneficial to parents who struggle with baby and toddler sleep issues:

“Research has shown that behaviorally based interventions are highly effective for infant and toddler sleep disturbances, and yet they do require personal contact with a trained professional,” Mindell said. “As a result many children go untreated.”

Mindell’s observation here is that changing a child’s sleep patterns, or helping a child to learn healthy sleep habits, sometimes requires contact with a trained professional who’ll provide personalized strategies that are based on your baby’s or toddler’s own unique temperament and sleeping issues.

The Baby Sleep Site’s™ Conclusions About the Study

I have to say, readers — reading this study was encouraging for The Baby Sleep Site™ team. Because it confirmed something that we’ve long known to be true — some families need help beyond the general advice they find in books and on the internet. This isn’t true for every family, of course; many parents have told us they were able to improve their child’s sleep with just the information in our articles or our free guides (which we love hearing!) But, as evidenced by the fact that we recently reached the 20,000 e-mail mark in our Helpdesk, there are many families who benefit from personalized, individualized help. Help that’s tailored to each child’s unique temperament, circumstances, and history.

Nicole’s Note:
“It’s nice to have confirmation of these facts, but it is not necessarily ‘news’ to us who answer personalized e-mails at various times day and night. We do find that those who have already done a lot of reading and still can’t find success often find that it is putting it all together that makes a big difference. If nothing else, having confidence in what you’re doing makes a huge difference in implementation. Although I believe many families can succeed in helping their family find its sleep without personalized help, I support Mindell’s view that working one-on-one with a support system like us makes all the difference in the world for some families!”

The Purpose of Our Sleep Consultation Services

That’s the goal and purpose of our sleep consultation services — to provide personalized, tailored sleep help to those families for whom generic advice just isn’t enough.

We also understand that a personalized plan isn’t enough in itself; parents need help and support as they work to make meaningful changes in their children’s sleeping habits. That’s why all of our consultation plans include follow-up help, ranging from one e-mail to multiple e-mails and phone calls.

Personalized Help Works

Mindell concluded that sleep help from a trained sleep professional is highly effective at helping babies and toddlers overcome sleep issues, and we wholeheartedly agree. We often receive thank you e-mails from our clients, like this one:

“We told our pediatrician about the website, and she was very happy and surprised that we found help at a reasonable price. That made us more confident that we made the right decision in contacting you. Thanks again for guiding us over these past months. We feel you took our hand and helped us to walk this challenging trail full of hills and valleys.”

These e-mails are encouraging, of course (who wouldn’t enjoy something like that showing up in their inbox? 😉 ), but they’re also useful. They let us know that we’re going about offering help in the right way, and that our approach is effective.

That’s why the consultation services remain at the core of our company. That’s why we continue to expand our sleep consultation services, and to add more and more sleep consultants to our team.

We’re committed to providing affordable, personalized, tailored help that’s effective. You and your baby deserve nothing less.

Have you reached the end of your rope in the middle of the night? Share your experience with us!

Need help with your baby’s or toddler’s sleep? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.


  1. Becky Stoltzfus says

    Being a loyal subscriber to The Baby Sleep Site for over 2 years now and working personally with Nicole on sleep training for 2 of my 3 boys, I cannot find enough words to express my gratitude and thanks for the service and help you ALL provide to countless families. I advocate for you guys as often as I can, most recently to a total stranger in the supermarket! She was telling me how her daughter was having just the worst time with her baby who “never sleeps.” I told her to have her daughter check out The Baby Sleep Site. :)

    Don’t change! I believe you will see only an INCREASE in need as more people become aware of such a remarkable service as that which you provide.

    All the best,

  2. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Becky — What a nice way to start my day today — reading your encouraging feedback! I’ll be passing this along to the rest of the team today. :)

    Thanks, Becky! And thanks for being such a loyal advocate. It’s our clients and readers that make the Baby Sleep Site what it is.