Helping Your High-Needs, Colic, and Reflux Baby Sleep
May 12, 2010Posted by pamela |
Marin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette. She works throughout the Bay Area and across the country supporting families and helping them meet life's challenges. You can learn more about her and her services at www.angeliquemillette.com.
So your baby has colic or reflux. Or your baby fights sleep, is fussy, and high-needs. You are not alone! Research shows that early on, up to 25 to 35% of babies may have a more difficult time with sleeping. Possible reasons include digestive issues like reflux, when babies food may come back up just as they are going down to sleep or as they are sleeping. Also, temperament has been shown to play a role in how babies settle to sleep. Difficult-to-soothe or high-needs babies may need a lot more parent help to go from active play or alert time to sleep time. These babies may be very curious and alert and may simply need more "wind down" time in order to fall asleep. And for some babies, they may have more difficulty regulating sleep. These can be colic babies or colic/reflux babies but also some premature babies and babies who may have had medical interventions or procedures at/around birth or early postpartum. For these babies, sleep may present a real challenge. Because sleep cycles and patterns develop over time and with parents help, these babies are going to need a lot more help and time to regulate settling to sleep and sleep patterns.
A Few Sleep Tips and Reminders:
- Try your best to help your baby sleep every 1.5–2 hrs. Babies who have more difficulty sleeping can easily get sleep deprived. When this happens, it's even more difficult for them to sleep. Pay attention to your baby's sleep signs and get them down to sleep early in their sleep window.
- Block out all of the interesting things in your infant's sleep environment. These babies may need a very dark room or background sound like a sound machine or music in order to drift off to sleep. Use black-out-shades/drapes to darken the room where your baby sleeps.
- Help your baby settle and transition from alert time to sleep time. These babies need even more transition time from playtime to sleep time. You will want to introduce a 10–15-minute pre-nap routine so your baby can settle and get ready for sleeping. Keep it simple!
- Swaddle hands-up and at midline. Be sure to join me at one of my classes to learn the hands-up swaddle technique. Or e-mail me for a hands-up swaddle handout. If your baby "fights" the swaddle, chances are they want their hands-up and in the fetal-tuck "hands-to-heart" position.
- Take a deep breath! Research shows that a relationship exists between maternal anxiety and disorganized infant sleep cycles. It's not clear why but it's possible that babies are learning from us how to "regulate" their internal states. Before helping your hi-needs/fussy baby sleep, take a deep breath and do your best to slow down. After all, babies are learning from us how to slow down and settle down to sleep.
- Routine and consistency. Hi-needs, reflux, and colic babies may need even more consistency with their daytime schedule and routines. Do your best to follow a feed-play-sleep routine every 3 hours. The rhythm and repetition of the schedule helps babies regulate and set patterns for sleeping and feeding.
- Get out of the house. Parents of a high-needs, colic, or reflux baby may be doing even more comforting and consoling with their baby. Research shows that postpartum depression and anxiety rates are higher for mothers of these babies. One of the reasons for this may be that mother's of hi-needs babies may spend more time at home and alone. For this reason, and as daunting as it might be, try to get out of the house at least every day. Take a walk with your baby or meet up with another mom.
Upcoming Infant & Toddler Sleep Event in Marin:
Lecture: Infant and Toddler Sleep
Thursday May 20 10 am–noon
Mill Valley Community Center
180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley
Pediatric Alternatives free event for Secret Garden members. Please call Pediatric Alternatives (415) 380.8448 if you would like to attend and you are not a Secret Garden member. Find out more about Pediatric Alternatives at www.pediatricalternatives.com.