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2010 July | Sweet Dreams | giggle Blogs

Archive: July 2010

July 17, 2010

Sleep: the Best Medicine

My sweet baby girl has caught what our pediatrician diagnosed as hand, foot and mouth disease (not to be confused with foot and mouth disease).  This common virus starts with a high fever and includes either sores in the mouth or blisters/rash on the hands and feet, or some combination of these symptoms.  In short, it is not a pleasant virus.

The reason I am mentioning this is because her nap schedule and night sleep has been off as a result.  When children aren’t feeling well, the “rules” we typically follow for sleep need to shift.  I find that the following guidelines work well with sick children:

1. Make quality sleep a priority. This means that you should avoid napping on the go and stay home as much as possible (and under these conditions, that is probably a given). We know that when children nap on the go they tend to stay in lighter stages of sleep.  The healing effects of sleep are triggered during deep sleep.  This is when growth hormones are secreted, which faciliates absorption of key nutrients while also stimulating bone marrow, where immune system cells are.  Furthermore, melatonin (more on this hormone in a future post) inhibits tumor growth, prevents viral infects and stimulates antibodies.  Surely this is the best remedy for recovery! Best of all, it’s free and readily available.

2. Do not awaken your sleeping baby – unless advised otherwise by your pediatrician – even if s/he is sleeping longer than usual. If you do, you’ll likely have a pretty miserable child on your hands.  And, as you now know from point #1, sleep is the best healing agent.

3. Consider and earlier bedtime. Expect your child to need more sleep so consider an earlier bedtime to help *fill* your child up on sleep.  If you’re worried that putting your child to bed earlier will make him/her wake up earlier in the morning, I can assure you that it won’t.  If anything, it will help your child to sleep more soundly and possibly even sleep in a little later the following morning.

If you attend to your baby’s needs while they are sick, but get back to your routine as quickly as possible once they feel well, most children won’t skip a beat in their good sleep habits.

July 11, 2010

The Comfort of White Noise

Noise and sleep aren’t usually an association we make – especially when talking about babies.  However, research shows that babies sleep better with noise.  And, this makes sense.  In utero, babies are bathed in constant white noise — the sound of mom’s heart and other organs hard at work, the outside world, and the muffled sound of loved one’s voices.  These are all comforting sounds to a baby.

Have you ever met someone who swore that the only way their baby would fall asleep is next to a hairdryer or on top of a clothes dryer (safely, of course), or with a vacuum cleaner running?  I know it may sound absurd, but I have worked with countless families who have learned the power of white noise the hard way!  My point is, these things work because they provide constant white noise and babies are conditioned to find comfort in this before they are born.

In addition to soothing babies to sleep, white noise will also help to keep babies sleeping.  A white noise machine will produce noise at every frequency so it is most effective at masking or muting those sharp, unexpected sounds (squeals of a sibling, neighbors dog barking, car honking). I prefer white noise machines that play static white noise, as opposed to mp3s or cds as they are often looped white noise and that can actually disturb sleep.

While the white noise from a fan isn’t as helpful in terms of preventing sleep disturbances from noise (fans don’t create noise at every frequency), they are a terrific sleep aid.  The biggest benefit of a ceiling fan or a box fan is that research has shown that circulating the air in a baby’s room may reduce the risk of SIDS by 73%.  This is a fantastic discovery in the arena of SIDS.

Finally, I find that white noise is helpful when parents are getting siblings used to sharing a room or being in bedrooms near to one another.  When using white noise, be sure to place it between your child and the noise you are hoping to mute or dampen (ie closer to the window if the noise is coming from outside and closer to the door if the sound is coming from inside).

July 7, 2010

Welcome to Sleepy Time!

Hello! I am so excited to be here blogging on the topic of sleep.  As a sleep consultant and mother of two young daughters, ages 3.5 and 11 months, I am very familiar with the many joys of parenthood, as well as the total exhaustion that is often the hallmark of the early weeks and months with a newborn or the day-to-day challenges with a sleep-resistant child.  I intend to draw on my everyday experiences from home and work to bring you tips, advice and the latest research to help all of you have well rested families.

How one goes about getting their child to sleep well is often a divisive and controversial subject.  My goal is to offer scientifically based evidence and tips so that each of you can make the best choices for your children and families.  I truly believe that there really is no one right way to nurture healthy sleep habits, though there are common threads that can take us all to the same restful place. Ah, doesn’t that sound good?!

Sweet dreams!