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Infant Sleep | Sweet Dreams | giggle Blogs

infant sleep

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.

November 2, 2010

tips for daylight savings

For better or worse, it’s time to change our clocks back to eek out a little more sunlight before winter is upon us. At 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, November 7th, we will officially fall back one hour (which means we gain an extra hour overnight). Before children that was often a welcome thought.  Now you might be concerned that this will lead to an even earlier start to the day. Worry not, these simple tips for babies (*6 months and older), toddlers and preschoolers will help you stay on track with your good sleep habits. Give your children a few days to settle in to the new time.

1. Put your child(ren) to bed on Saturday night (11/6) at the regular time.

2. Wake up with your child(ren) at the normal wake up time on Sunday morning (11/7).

3. Set your clocks back one hour. This is where you stretch.

4. Put your child(ren) down for the first nap at the regular time per the clock.** This will mean that s/he has been awake a full hour longer during this window and may need some help to stretch. Going outside and getting lots of sunlight and fresh air is a great way to keep kids awake when you’re stretching them.

5. Follow the clock for naps and bedtime from here forward. It can take a few days for your child to fully adjust, so be patient and consistent.

*Younger children may have a harder time stretching a full hour without becoming overtired. In this case it may be better to stretch them 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon or to stretch them slowly over several days.  For babies under six months I recommend pulling the entire day’s schedule earlier by 15 minutes for the four days leading up to daylight savings.

October 28, 2010

sibling preparation + sleep

I recently facilitated a webinar on sibling preparation and fielded many questions about sleep. Contrary to what you might think, most questions were about the big sibling’s sleep, not the newborn!

The birth or adoption of another child definitely brings about many big transitions and adjustments for families.  At the heart of many of those changes is sleep.  And while parents often worry about keeping up with a newborn and a toddler/preschooler while they are getting such little sleep themselves — the biggest worry is the disruption to their oldest child(ren)’s sleep habits.

Here are a few helpful guidelines for dealing with this new, big change.

1. If your older child is a toddler under three-years-old, keep him or her in their crib. A crib is a safe, predictable, comforting place for your child.  Moving to a bed will bring about unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty at a time when there is plenty of change to go around.  This may mean needing to purchase or borrow another crib for your baby.

2. If your older child is nearly three-years old or simply too big for a crib, then I recommend moving your child to a big bed either well in advance of the birth of the baby (say three months or so) or waiting until a few months after the birth of the baby. Ideally the latter as many children show signs of regression when a baby enters the scene.  Staying in a crib allows them to regress and be more baby-like at night with all their familiar comforts and security, while having to adjust to this new role as “big” brother or sister during the day.  After a few months of having the baby at home, things will settle down and become more routine and that transition will be easier for everyone.

3. If your older child starts to awaken frequently at night, have your spouse/partner sleep in the room with your child (separate bed) for a week while s/he makes the transition. The reassurance that will come from having someone in the room can make a huge difference and will often mean that your older child is able to continue sleeping well at night.

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!