lullaby and goodnight - quality sleep for you and your baby

That gem of wisdom – sleeping when your baby sleeps – passed onto every new mother is not as simple as it sounds. How your baby sleeps can be directly proportionate to how you cope as a new parent, read on for our tips on how to settle baby and catch a few ZZZs
By Child Magazine

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Create a calm zone
Set the scene for fuss-free naps by paying attention to the sleep environment as well as following a calm sequence to help baby wind down. The nursery should be decorated in muted colours with minimal visual stimulation. Mobiles and toys in the cot signal a play zone when it is in fact a sleep zone. Follow bathtime with a quiet and gentle massage for baby – this will not only soothe, but also encourage bonding. Gentle touch stimulates the central nervous system causing the brain to produce more serotonin and less cortisol (the stress hormone). After feeding, place baby, drowsy but awake, into the cot, remember tummy sleeping is not recommended. Your nursery should be kept at ideal temperature, between 21–22°C. A good baby monitor will display the room temperature and is also an essential piece of equipment for monitoring breathing. Newborns should sleep 16–20 hours a day; their nutritional needs mean that they will wake up every couple of hours. By six to eight weeks, they will drop one feed and get a good “core” sleep – their first real stretch of sleep.
 
baby still not sleeping?
Many childhood sleep disorders are behavioural, meaning they’re learnt and can therefore be unlearnt, but there are physical causes that should be ruled out especially in babies. An immature digestive system may be prone to problems, such as lactose intolerance and reflux, which can affect sleep. Speak to a healthcare provider if you are worried about your baby’s snoring, teething, fever or suspected misaligned spine.
 
sleep apnoea and snoring
Paediatricians will tell you that babies generally tend to be noisy breathers because their airways are narrow and filled with lots of bubbly secretions. The air passing through these causes many different vibratory sounds in the soft tissues of the airway, resulting in snoring. Most of the time, these sounds subside as babies’ airways grow and they learn to swallow excess saliva. However if your baby’s snoring is also accompanied by gasping, and the snoring is loud, they may be battling to take in air because the throat is narrowed or blocked, preventing sufficient air from getting into the windpipe and lungs. This amounts to the sleep disorder Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). While obesity, allergies, acid reflux and structural abnormalities in the head and neck, such as a deviated nasal septum, can contribute to sleep apnoea, the number one cause for sleep apnoea in babies is enlarged tonsils and often adenoids too. A rigorous, highly respected study was published in Pediatrics in 2006 where it was found that children who have surgery to remove their tonsils are very likely to behave and sleep better, one year later. Data was collected from testing sleep and breathing at night, and attention and behaviour during the day. About half of the children in the study who were found to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) before tonsil surgery no longer met criteria for this diagnosis one year later. Other cognitive and behavioural issues also improved. Speak directly with your ENT and find out what their recommendations are. Some effective home remedies for first relief include using a saline nasal spray, a nasal aspirator and warm mist vapouriser. And, always remove allergens from your baby’s bedroom such as items that collect dust and animal fur.
 
fever
The most common cause of fevers in babies is a viral infection such as the common cold, flu, viral gastroenteritis, chicken pox and measles. Small babies can also develop a slight fever when teething, after immunisation, or when dressed too warmly. The best method for measuring your baby’s temperature is with an ear thermometer. Other reliable methods include using a digital thermometer to measure temperature under the arms, orally or rectally (care needs to be taken with this procedure); glass thermometers with mercury are less widely used. Fever can be home-treated with paracetamol, Ibuprofen or mefenamic acid (a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug, found in Ponstel, for example). Various generics are available, but look for alcohol-, preservative- and sugar-free remedies, and also administer the recommended dose. Aspirin in any form should never be given to a child.
 
spine and nervous system misalignments
For babies who struggle to settle, consider consulting a paediatric chiropractor who will use gentle adjustments to correct misalignments in the spine and nervous system. This also helps stimulate the digestive system, which is why chiropractic works so well on colicky babies.

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