It can be very unnerving for a parent to discover that their child sleepwalks. The first thing many parents do in this situation is try to figure out what sleepwalking is, what causes it, and what the dangers are. The good news is that sleepwalking is not as scary or unusual as it seems, and there are easy ways to ensure that a sleepwalking child remains safe.

What is Sleepwalking?

Somnambulism, otherwise known as sleepwalking, affects about fifteen percent of people at some point in their lives according to the National Sleep Foundation. And while that may seem a bit high, the reality is that the condition mostly affects children, and they usually grow out of it. The National Sleep Foundation states that the most common age range for sleepwalking is between three and seven years of age. Bedwetting and night terrors often accompany sleepwalking in young children.

How Do I Keep My Child Safe?

There are several steps you can take to ensure that you child stays safe while sleepwalking.

Limit the areas they can access while asleep: This means locking doors and windows, blocking off staircases, and generally making sure they cannot wander too far. The danger here is that your child may fall out of a window or down a flight of stairs while asleep, so you just want to remove that possibility from happening.

Make sure there is no furniture or other objects in their path. You want to remove clutter and excess furniture from their room at night so they have a clear path. It is also a good idea to make sure their bed is low to the ground so they cannot injure themselves if they fall out of it in the middle of the night.

Avoid waking them up or startling them. While some argue that this is dangerous to the sleepwalker, it is likely only confusing and upsetting to them. Simply guide them back to bed while trying not to wake them.

Place padding on any sharp corners. This includes counters, cabinets, and other furniture. Plastic, fabric, or foam corner pads are cheap and can also minimize non sleepwalking related injuries to your child as well. They may not look all that fashionable, but they can save some tears down the road.

Remain calm and not overreact. Realize that it is common and take the appropriate steps to protect your child from injury. If you are still concerned about your child’s sleeping habits, contact your family doctor.