(NEW YORK) -- Parents have a lot on their minds when it comes to their infants and toddlers, and one of the most common worries is their children's sleeping habits.
About 25 percent of parents believe their child has a sleep disturbance, typically difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep through the night.
Now, there's a new tool that can help put parents at ease. It's called the Customized Sleep Profile -- a free online program that asks parents of children under the age of three a series of questions about their child's sleep. Based on the answers, the tool offers comparisons to other children of the same age, categorizes the child as a "good," "excellent" or "disrupted" sleeper, and provides recommendations for helping the child sleep better.
"We wanted to be able to provide families with an easily accessible, free tool they could use to get customized recommendations," said Jodi Mindell, one of the developers of the tool and a professor of psychology at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. "Most of the information available in print or online doesn't say specifically what you should do for your child."
The recommendations, she said, are based on a wide body of sleep research.
Mindell is also lead author of a study assessing the effectiveness of the online tool. In the lastest issue of the journal Sleep, Mindell and her fellow researchers found that mothers who used the program and followed the recommendations reported their children slept much better in the two weeks after trying the customized profile. The majority of mothers said they would continue to use the recommendations after the study period.
"Mothers ... also slept better and had less tension, depression, fatigue and confusion," the authors wrote.
Johnson & Johnson provides the Customized Sleep Profile, but Mindell says it had no involvement in its development or the study, and offered no compensation to the authors.
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