Saturday, April 17, 2010

Easy Sleeping Methods for Baby

Putting your child (children) to bed can be one of the hardest parts of being a parent, as children will usually come up with every trick in the book to stay up even if it is just a few minutes longer. Even some infants suffer from parent separation anxiety. If you have an infant or toddler that has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, I have provided some helpful time-tested tips and techniques for nighttime parenting.


The Nursery: Even before your baby is born you want to buy everything that you need for the nursery. The most important purchase would be what type of crib and mattress to buy. There have been many reports on crib(s) that cause strangulation lately. reported that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the hardware holding up the side of the crib can fail, causing the drop side of the crib to detach, which could trap and suffocate a child. "When the drop side detaches it creates a space in which an infant or toddler can become entrapped and suffocate or strangle," the organization said in the statement. Infants are also at risk of entrapment and possible strangulation if a slat on the crib is damaged, which can occur when the crib is in use, in storage, during shipping and handling and while putting the crib together or taking it apart.

Even a bassinet can cause harm or death in March, 2009; the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Playkids U.S.A. of Brooklyn, N.Y. is announcing today a voluntary recall of about 2,000 convertible cribs. The sides of the convertible crib are made of a mesh that expands, creating a gap between the mattress and the side through which an infant can slip. This poses suffocation and entrapment hazards for young children.

Crib mattresses are usually pretty standard where ever you go to buy one. I don’t recommend a memory foam mattress until the child can at least hold its head up. Since memory foam adjusts or molds to a person’s body by body heat an infant would not be able to move and could suffocate, especially if they are sleeping on their stomach. Make sure the size of the mattress fits the size of the crib as it should fit tightly so there are no gaps between the crib frame and the mattress. Some mattresses come with an anti-microbial layered cover that will cut down on germs from diaper accidents and spit-ups. But check to see what the material is made of, if allergies run in the family a fully sealed crib mattress with a terry cloth, washable cover maybe a better choice.

It really does not matter where the baby sleeps the first couple months, in the nursery crib or a bassinet next to your bed. Most parents use various sleeping arrangements at various stages during the infant's first two years. Be open to changing styles as baby's developmental needs and your family situation changes.

Sleeping Expectations: Your baby was used to sleeping and eating whenever “they” felt like it when they were in the womb. Now they are forced to sleep and eat on your schedule. Adjusting to the outside world can cause fussiness or even colic as many feedings are done right before bedtime. If you have a colicky baby it may be better to reduce the food per feeding before nap or bedtime as this may help ease their digestive tract. Keeping a strict schedule for food and sleep routines helps the baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep as they quickly learn what is expected of them. Knowing what comes next makes them feel safe and secure. They will know when it is bedtime if you regularly give them a bath or read them a story every night. Making a habit of nighttime rituals will teach your baby through sleep associations when they are young so they will sleep better when they are older. Remember to stay flexible as you get to know what works best for your baby as they are trying to adjust to your routine. As the baby gets older new methods may need to be addressed, as what may work one week may not work the next.

Baby Parenting Books and Nursery Sleep Aides: If this is your first baby you probably have bought a parenting book or two to read up on what and when a baby will sleep through the night. Recently many books talk about the cry-it-out method for nighttime parenting. Using a cry-it-out method may consist of buying sleep inducing gadgets that are specifically designs to help your baby fall asleep on their own. (Not recommended for children under six months) Many of these products you can find on the internet or at your local baby retail store. I used to put my daughter to sleep in a baby swing or take a drive around the neighborhood. Now they have a gadget that actually feels like you are riding in a car. Be cautionary when using someone else’s methods to put “your” baby to sleep. If crying themselves to sleep doesn’t fit your baby’s disposition it just might not be the method you should use. Learning through different sleep routines, you will establish what works best for your baby. The cry-it-out method may cause the baby to hate going to bed because they don’t feel safe and secure which will delay finding that ideal nighttime routine and crying may be caused by an unforeseen medical issue like night waking.

Night waking in babies is a medical condition known as gastro esophageal reflux or GER. In babies it is a weakness of the circular band of muscle where the esophagus joins the stomach, irritating stomach acids are regurgitated into baby's esophagus, causing pain like adults would call heartburn. Signs that your baby may be suffering from GER are: painful bursts of night waking fussiness, particularly after eating; frequent spitting up (although not all babies with GER spit up regularly); frequent bouts of colicky, abdominal pain; frequent bouts of unexplained wheezing; and hearing throaty sounds after feeding. Another hidden medical cause of night waking is allergies to formula or dairy products, either in milk-based formulas or in dairy products in a breastfeeding mother's diet. Clues that milk allergies may be causing night waking (and colicky behavior) are bloating, diarrhea and a red rash around baby's anus, in addition to many of the signs described above under GER. If your baby is not only waking up frequently, but waking up "in pain," discuss these two medical possibilities with your doctor, since both can be diagnosed and treated, giving everyone in the family a more peaceful night's sleep.

Pros and Cons about Sleep Associations: Whatever you use to help your baby go to sleep at night and then they wake up at 2 or 4am, they will come to expect to be put back to sleep the same way. So if you rock or nurse them to sleep, they will want to be rocked or nursed at 2am to go back to sleep. Mom the best way to get some zzzz’s yourself is to use a variety of methods to lull them to sleep and most of all get the help of your mate to do some of the nighttime duties. Then when they wake up you could feed them, or rock them, or read to them, or use a tape recorded message or lullaby and alternate waking periods with your spouse. This way of nighttime parenting is known as the parent-soothing method which instills a healthy sleep attitude and builds parent-infant trust. But because you are using sleep associations the baby will depend on you to help them fall asleep which usually exhausts the parent. The self-soothing method is helping the baby learn to fall asleep on their own by offering occasional comforting but is not around when the child actually falls asleep. Of course it may involve the child cry-it-out method, risk the baby losing trust and security therefore making it harder in the long run for the child to go to bed and overlook the medical condition GER. It may be beneficial for the child if they start out with the parent-soothing method then gradually change over to the self-soothing method when the child is older and understands what is expected of them. The goal is a healthy sleep attitude that will last their childhood and allow all family members to get a good night’s sleep.

Daytime activities, Naps and Consistent Routines: Infants unlike toddlers need calm in their daily life in order for them to sleep better. It has been reported that babies that are swaddled or in baby slings for most of their waking hours settle better at night. Older babies and toddlers need daytime activities and regular eating times as many are too busy playing to eat at normal hours. Like adults you need to eat at least three hours before bedtime to properly digest your dinner to avoid acid reflux, indigestion or heartburn (GER). If they insist on a snack before bed, have them munch on some cereal, warm milk or a slice of turkey as these foods are rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness and will help them fall asleep. Naps should be set at the same time everyday as consistent nap routines will help them sleep longer during the night. Use this time to catch up on some sleep yourself or try to attempt to get something done while the baby is napping.

Sticking to nap or nighttime routines is sometimes difficult when both parents are working. If you don’t get home until six or seven it is hard to put the toddler to bed at eight because you haven’t been with your child all day. Unfortunately, keeping your child up because you feel a bit guilty only allows the child to procrastinate at bedtime especially when you want them to go to bed at eight. You may have to adjust nap time and bedtime to allow more parent time after work if this is more practical, but stick to the same times for both. If you are using the parent-soothing method for your child the nighttime routine allows for more parent-child bonding. This is the time to read or give them a warm bath before they retire. Note: don’t make the bath too warm as this will only stimulate the child. Mom if you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding to help them drift off to sleep the transition from warm arms to warm bed will surely make going to bed feel safe and secure. Dad place the baby next to your neck and hum a lullaby the vibration will lull them to sleep or rock them across your chest as they will hear your heartbeat and feel you breathe in and out. If you are trying to switch over to the self-soothing method you can still rock or feed your child just don’t let them fall asleep in your arms. Transfer them into their crib right before they fall asleep and stay there until they do. If they get fussy rub their arm or leg and hum or speak softly to help them fall asleep. Eventually you will be able to lay them down and they will fall asleep on their own. I personally went from rubbing my daughters back, to sitting on the floor further and further away until she fell asleep without needing me there.

Other techniques: Put your infant in a sling about a half-hour before bedtime, which can be worn by either parent. Older babies can be placed in a swing to induce sleep. If the child still has trouble falling asleep take a drive, then carry them in the house in their car seat and ease them out as you place them in their crib.

Staying Asleep Tips: I am probably going to reiterate some of the tried and true methods people have been using for years, but once you have succeeded getting your baby to sleep now what? As you know babies have different sleep cycles than adults as they are easily aroused and will wake up often because they are hungry or wet. Over time your baby will eventually sleep for longer periods during the night, but what can a parent do to help them “get the ball rolling” and adjust to longer stretches at night?

For one you could make sure the nursery is dark and quiet as babies are light sleepers and any external disturbance will surely wake them. Some parents will use sleep music, sounds of the ocean, lullabies or monotonous sounds such as white noise or a fan to drown out noises from other areas of the house. There are even gadgets that replicate the sounds the baby heard when they were in the womb. You could even play a continuous tape recording of your voice for a child that suffers from separation anxiety.

A colicky child may need more frequent feedings with less food before bedtime to prevent indigestion or GER an older baby or toddler might sleep better on a fuller stomach especially if the food is loaded with tryptophan. As I mentioned earlier tryptophan cause you to feel lethargic and offering a child some cereal, warm milk or a slice of turkey just might be the ticket to get them through the night without waking hungry.

Infants love to be swaddled particularly when sleeping, while older babies like the covers loose to allow freedom of movement. Try another sleep association by dressing the baby loosely during the day and swaddling him at night. Make sure the temperature of the room doesn’t make them too hot or too cold. 70 degrees for a baby is recommended with 50% humidity. Adjust the number of blankets or sleepwear to the temperature of the room and more than ever if you are using a fan to drown out noise. Too cold? Try using a warm towel in the crib prior to the baby retiring or use flannel sheets. Too dry? Dry air from forced-air furnaces can cause anyone’s nose to become stuffy particularly during the winter months. Use a vaporizer or humidifier to maintain an adequate and consistent relative humidity. But don’t overdo it as high humidity can produce mold.

If your baby is prone to skin allergies make sure you purchase sleepers and blankets that are 100% cotton. Remember also to get laundry detergent and fabric softeners that are free of dyes and perfumes. Other objects and external irritants may also cause skin allergies or congested breathing for your baby. Keep cigarette smoke, paint fumes, pet dander, hair spray, plants, wool fabrics and anything that might collect dust and lint out of the nursery. If your baby wakes with a stuffy nose these could be the reason.

If they have a stuffy noise it will be difficult for them to sleep soundly and stay asleep. Try to keep their air passage free and clear mainly in the first few months. As they age they will breathe through their mouth if their nose becomes blocked. Remove all allergens and clean the room of dust. If congestion continues a HEPA-type air filter might help and as an added bonus the hum from the air filter can act as “white-noise”.

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As your baby grows so will his/her baby teeth. They start to feel teething discomfort as early as three month until they get their two year molars. Ask your doctor for some acetaminophen to alleviate the pain and every four hours if the child awakens. Change their diaper before the final feeding of the night as most babies will fall asleep during or right after being fed. If your child wakes up during the night because they are too wet or has a bowel movement don’t expect them to be self-soothers under these conditions it is necessary to change them to avoid diaper rash.

If they do awaken quickly change them and use one of your sleep association methods to lull them back to sleep. If you can do this before they are fully awake it is easier to resettle them back to sleep. If they wake up without the need to be changed or fed you may get them back to sleep simply by a firm lying on the hands. Pat your baby’s back or bottom rhythmically to match your heartbeat. Gently ease the pressure and remove your hand gently as not to startle the baby awake. Sometimes it is easier for the dad to be successful with the hands-on methods as he has bigger hands. Speaking of dad, it is important that they play a role in the nighttime routine whether it is before the child goes to bed or when the child wakes up during the night, otherwise mom will be very grumpy from sleep deprivation. A father’s participation is especially important when the mother is breast feeding.

Whichever approach you use to get your baby to sleep is as individual as your precious bundle of joy. Both of you are learning to adjust to a new and different life and getting a healthy restful sleep is very imperative for the whole family. Easy sleeping methods for baby helps them feel safe and secure about going to bed and creating positive sleeping habits will last their entire lifetime.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weight Loss Tip: Sleep and Adulterated Diet Pills Don’t Mix

A report by the American Journal on Addictions states that diet pills that are adulterated with undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients can be addictive, cause feelings of hopelessness and impaired sleep. The FDA has issued several warnings on diet pills specifically amphetamine based ones from Brazil. One case report of a 29 year old female who became addicted to the Brazilian diet pills cut her wrists trying to commit suicide. She exhibited various symptoms of dependence as her tolerance increased spending hundreds of dollars a month, unable to stop without adverse side effects and withdrawal. Side effects when taking the diet pills included trembling, hallucinations, sweating and excessive sleepiness. When she tried to quit she experienced cravings, tremors, headaches and anxiety.

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Adulterated diet pills are nothing new, in the 1960’s the rainbow pills contained amphetamines, diuretics, thyroid hormone and cardiac glycosides that were linked to cardiac deaths and finally banned. In the 1980’s, diet pills consisted of amphetamines, benzodiazepines, thyroid hormone and diuretics that came from Europe and South America. These pills have also been banned but still remain available. Taking adulterated diet pills can also lead to drug interactions.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a well-known class of antidepressant medications. The first drug in this class was fluoxetine (Prozac), which hit the U.S. market in 1987. How do SSRI’s affect depression? Researchers have found that a brain chemical, neurotransmitters are associated with depression including serotonin which can affect mood and behavior. SSRIs seem to alleviate depression symptoms by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin leaving more serotonin available enhancing neurotransmission which improves mood.

Side effects of SSRIs include; nausea, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, headaches, diarrhea, nervousness, rash, agitation, restlessness, increased sweating, weight gain, drowsiness and insomnia. SSRIs used by older women, included those without evidence of depression have a greater likelihood to experience sleep disturbances, including poor sleep quality, longer sleep latency and sleep interruptions due to longer awake episodes. These results add to the uncertain risks and benefits of taking adulterated diet pills with SSRIs in an aged population.

Note: Serotonin is needed so our body can produce Melatonin, a hormone that is released when we sleep. Melatonin is not only critical in the repair and rebuild process, it also acts with our own body's sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin also aides in the production of NK cells, the natural killer cells that fight off diseases like cancer. Living a healthy lifestyle without taking adulterated diet pills is very important and can be a vicious cycle. As we eat carbohydrates our body increases the production of serotonin, a mood enhancer, thats why we feel better when we eat chocolate and refined grains. The problem with eating a lot of carbohydrates is that it causes our blood sugar to rise and fall very rapidly throwing off our hormones which cause an increase of insulin and cortisol (the stuff that makes belly fat). When we feel stressed eating carbohydrates make us feel calmer, but stress causes low serotonin levels and more cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to adrenal fatigue. For these reasons people are taking adulterated diet pills to break the vicious cycle to lose weight, but are also losing a lot of sleep too. There are two things that will help you increase your energy during the day and relieve stress and anxiety so you can sleep better at night. 1) Support Adrenal Function and 2) Increase Serotonin and GABA levels in the body.

There are many supplements on the market that are available, but with any supplement or diet pills you need to consult with your physician as he may recommend the proper dosage or an alternative treatment plan.

The information in this article is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained from a medical professional, and has not been approved by the U.S. FDA.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

How to Sleep in the Car Really Fast

Every year when I was younger my parents would take us on our annual family trip. We always drove and would try to get to our destination the first day which meant a lot of hours in the car. I would have to share the back seat with my younger brother, so trying to sleep some of the time away was a bit difficult. Today with the economy many people are on the road for spring break because air fare cuts into the cost of thier vacation. Long car trips that last longer than six hours requires some needed rest for the driver(s) as well as the passengers, but what if you can’t get to sleep in the car really fast? Here are some ideas to help:

First of all you need to feel safe with whoever is driving the car. If you are comfortable enough with the driver enough to sleep while the car is moving that is great otherwise, if the driver is also sleepy pull into a rest area or hotel parking lot and take a quick nap. 20 to 30 minutes should be enough to reenergize your mind and body to continue the trip. If you are in the front seat recline it at an angle that feels best for you. Take a head rest, sleep pillow or bedroom pillow to support your head. A blanket is also good especially for the children as it will make them feel safe and secure while the car is moving. Try not to fall asleep against the door as any fast movement or bump in the road will jolt you awake or you might even hit your head. Note: even though you are not driving you must keep your seat buckled at all times in the front seat and some states require a seat belt for adults in the back seat as well. If the shoulder strap is bothering you try to adjust it for a better fit.

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As you travel the sun may be at different sides of the car. Those that are in the sun are warmer than the others, so keeping the car at a temperature that everyone is happy with is sometimes difficult especially if you are driving south and the temperature outside is getting hotter. To get to sleep it is better to be cooler than warm so you might have to use the air conditioner than rolling down the window. If the car is cooler than you like use your jacket or a blanket if you want to be warmer.

So it is almost your turn to drive and you want to take a quick nap but you’re not feeling tired. Some people can read in a car while some get car sick. Sometimes reading in a moving car can make you sleepy. Stretch out as much as possible as driving in a car can make your muscles cramped. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and just concentrate on the vibrations of the car. You’ll be asleep before you know it. Finally let the driver know you are going to sleep for a bit so he can focus on driving as some people find it hard to drive while they are the only ones awake. If that is the case the best bet would be to stop and let everyone sleep in the car really fast before proceeding on your journey. It is better to be safe than sorry. Have a great spring break and Happy Easter everyone!

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