Do we need help from a baby sleep professional? - A screen tool

          This morning, I had a phone consultation with a loving mother. She told me she wasn’t sure if her little one was having sleep issues or if his sleep difficulties were part of his normal development. I feel as though there are many parents who are uncertain if they need to seek the help of a baby sleep professional and may have felt overwhelmed because of using those countless on-line self screening tools for their little ones’ sleep. If this describes your situation with your baby, the sleep tool below can help you determine if baby needs help. Remember, this is a self-screening tool which indicates if your child needs further help. It is not for diagnosing purposes. 


Vancouver Polar-BEARS screening tool

Bedtime problems
- Any problems falling asleep or refusing to go to bed?
- How often/ how frequent/ how severe? When did it begin?

Excessive daytime behaviours
- Naps or falling asleep during boring activities (e.g. car rides)?
- “Hyperactivity”?
- How often/ how frequent?
- Does your childhave any difficulties waking up in the morning?
- How often/ how frequent/ how severe? When did it begin?

Awakenings during the night
- Wake up frequently during the night? Any complains /signs of discomfort?
- Any sleep walking, shouting out in sleep, nightmares/terrors, teeth grinding?
- How often/ how frequent/ how severe?

Regularity of sleep/wake cycles
- Does your child have a regular and wake time?
- Getting enough sleep over the night? How many hours?
- Differences between weekdays/ weekends/ holidays?
 - How often/ how frequent/ how severe?

Snoring and other symptoms of breathing difficulties during sleep
- Snoring or witnessed breathing gaps, mouth breathing, dry mouth or sore throat, sweating during the night, restless sleep, problems getting up/ grumpy in the morning/ headache upon waking.

- How often/ how frequent/ how severe?


Well-being scale

(for the child & caregivers)
- How does your child’s sleep problem affect your child/ your wellbeing?
   Your child’s wellbeing (low) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (high)
   Your wellbeing (low) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (high)
- Would you expect any change in your child’s/ your wellbeing if the sleep problems could be solved? 
   Change in your child’s wellbeing (low) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (high)
   Change in your wellbeing (low) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (high)

Seek for help : Advocate 
(for your child & yourself! Key clinical questions to help orient you)
- Is the sleep of your child restorative or not?
  IF NOT, can the non-restorative sleep be improved with Sleep Health measures [e.g. changing lifestyle]?
- Are sleep associated situations stressful (e.g. going to bed)?
  IF YES, can they be improved with focus on Seep Health measures
  [e.g. changing routines]?
- Imagine best & worst case scenarios & speak with your therapist, support worker and/or physician about these.

* This screening concept is based on the BEARS concept, a tool for screening the most common sleep problems in children and adults. BEARS does not aim to diagnose, but instead structures an exploration and facilitates self-reflection for concerned families and helps them to develop and set goals. It was developed by Owens and Dalzell in 2005 (Sleep Med. 2005 Jan;6(1):63-9) and adapted by UBC research team (Ipsiroglu et al. NOFAS-UK: Fetal Alcohol Forum, 2012).

If you think your little one has sleep issues and you want to address these, please contact Minnie via