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Safety | Sweet Dreams | giggle Blogs

Archive: Safety

April 6, 2011

Further Support for Back Sleepers

A study published on February 28th, 2011 in the online version of Pediatrics Journal adds weight to the recommendation that babies be laid to sleep on their backs.  The study looked at tissue oxygenation in babies who sleep on their backs, as compared to babies who sleep prone.

The study concluded, “In healthy infants cerebral oxygenation is reduced during sleep in the prone position. This reduction may underpin the reduced arousability from sleep exhibited by healthy infants who sleep prone, a finding that provides new insight into potential risks of prone sleeping and mechanisms of sudden infant death syndrome.”

In addition to reduced oxygenation, sleeping prone also increases a babies risk of suffocation, overheating and re-breathing in exhaled air, which is lower in oxygen.  Each of these is an important risk factor to weigh when laying your baby down to sleep.

I regularly consult with clients who claim that their babies sleep better in the prone position, which is often true, however the risks associated with sleeping in this position are significant and should outweigh the temporary benefits of longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep.  Most full-term babies are able to sleep soundly on their backs by 16 weeks of age and the earlier they learn to sleep on their backs, the better they sleep that way.  A quick tip for babies who awaken frequently on their backs is to swaddle them snugly to minimize the startle reflex that often awakens babies sleeping on their backs.

January 30, 2011

transitioning from a crib to a bed

Here is a pretty common scenario: your wee one arrives at the foot of your bed one night or yells out to you from the bedroom door to your total amazement and horror.  How did he get out of his crib? Is he ok? How should you handle this? Is he safe in the crib?  Unfortunately, like most sleep issues, the advice is mixed.

Here is my two cents…

Unless your child is knocking on the door of his third birthday, I can promise you that he most likely is NOT ready for a toddler/big bed.  Children under three-years-old generally lack the capacity to understand and abide by rules such as staying in their bed all night long.  They simply cannot resist the impulse to get up and explore.  And so, we should not expect them to and get frustrated when they cannot.  This of course, leads to a vicious cycle of sleepless, often frustrating nights and days.

The solution is simple.  Leave all four walls of your child’s crib in tact and run to the nearest baby supply store or website and order a crib tent suitable for your crib.  Contrary to many parents fears, crib tents often give children a feeling of cozy comfort.  (Just think about all the forts you are building with couch cushions and blankets!)  Most children react very positively to this new addition to their sleeping quarters.  And, of course, the manner in which you present it really sets the tone and level of acceptance.  This is NOT a punishment. This is a safe, smart solution to a problem that could otherwise lead to unsafe outcomes (falling out of the crib or getting into things in the room/home while wandering around at night).  Plus, everyone sleeps better again.

August 2, 2010

Eight Ways to Minimize the Risk of SIDS

Having just celebrated the first birthday of my youngest daughter on Saturday, I am reminded of the one year risk window for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).  Every parents worst fear – SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a child under the age of one.  Most common in winter months and in babies under six-months of age, SIDS occurs most frequently in babies 2-to-4 months of age.

While the nature of the syndrome is not fully understood, there have been a few key scientific breakthroughs since the early 90s that provide us with guidelines to minimize risk.

1. back to sleep: Always place your infant or child to sleep on their back for night sleep and naps. The Back to Sleep Campaign launched in 1994 has yielded a 50% reduction in the incidence of SIDS.

2. use a ceiling fan: In the fall of 2008 a study came out that shows a 72% reduction in the risk for SIDS in cases where a ceiling fan was used to circulate air around the room.  The Stale Air Theory suggests that circulating the air helps to dissipate carbon dioxide that may be building in the areas around the baby.

3. do not smoke: This is key.  Mothers should not smoking during pregnancy. Fetal exposure to smoking may contribute to impairment in breathing and heart rate. Parents should also have a no smoking policy in the home where the baby sleeps and lives.

4. avoid overheating: While it is our tendency to want to bundle little babies, it is important to realize that overheating is a leading risk factor for SIDS.  Babies need only one layer more than adults and should sleep in a room that is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. I often suggest to parents that they use a lightweight sleep sack (aka wearable blanket) in lieu of a blanket to keep a baby cozy and comfortable, but not too warm.

5. breastfeed if possible: A German study has found that babies who are breastfed for at least six months are at a lower risk than those who are formula fed.

6. use a pacifier: The British Medical Journal published a study in 2005 concluding, “Use of a dummy/pacifier seems to reduce the risk of SIDS and possibly reduces the influence of known risk factors in the sleep environment.”

7. keep the crib bare: Babies’ cribs/bassinets/co-sleepers should be free of toys, stuffed animals and blankets as these things pose a danger for suffocation and SIDS.

8. share a room with your baby: It is recommended that mothers and babies share a room (not a bed) during those first months.

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).