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Daily Dose

Flying With A Baby

1:15 to read

Overheard on the plane this week:  I am in row 15 and there is the cutest most precious 4-5 month old baby girl behind me in row 16.  Key point….she is sleeping as we are making our approach!

 

The mother of the baby is traveling with her mother so there are is a grandmother along to dote on this darling baby. The mother of the baby says to her mother…”we need to wake her up now!!!”  “Mom, please wake her up as we need to feed her NOW!”  At this point the mother takes out a whisk of some sort to put into the breast milk…do you have to mix with a whisk now?

 

So…of course they wake up the baby who starts to cry, but just a bit…and then the grandmother starts to feed the baby the bottle.  The mother is saying, “Mom, just make her eat”.  Now it is really bumpy as we are getting ready to land and I was wishing I had a bottle to calm me too!

 

The baby seems to be quietly eating, but then must have stopped eating as now the mother of the baby takes the baby from the grandmother and starts to try to give her daughter the bottle.  She starts talking to the baby saying, “ please keep eating so your ears will stay clear” followed by “Mommy is going to drink the bottle, so you can see me keeping my ears clear too”.  “If you keep sucking your ears will be pain free”. 

 

Everything seems to be going well…although we still have not landed, when the mother says “I am going to force feed you to keep your ears clear!”  Uh…oh I am thinking, I know where this may be going.  But it seems so far, so good. 

 

Just as we are about to touch down I hear this gurgling noise from behind me and then the mother saying, “Oh dear she is spitting up!!”   Really, are you shocked??

 

But…I must say, the baby was quiet and content…who knows, I would have never awakened that sweet baby girl, but then again, I still believe, “never wake a sleeping baby”, even on an airplane.

 

 

 

Daily Dose

Back to Sleep Ads

1:30 to read

I am concerned that I have been seeing on line ads promoting “new” baby products for 2017, in which an infant is shown sleeping on their tummy. In other words….not following AAP guidelines that all infants are placed on their back to fall asleep.  Their should be a “law” that you cannot shoot a picture for any product being advertised for an infant in which the baby is shown sleeping in the prone position. Seeing this photo may only confuse parents about correct sleep position for their baby, especially when many of the advertisements are for sleep related products. 

 

The “back to sleep” campaign which started in 1994 has served to reduce the incidence of SIDS by over 50%. I have been fortunate in that I have not had a patient of mine die from SIDS since the recommendations for sleep position were changed. Unfortunately, when looking at data, 30% of SIDS cases report that the baby was found in the prone (tummy) position.  

 

So, if a sleep deprived new parent is surfing the net for products related to infant sleep, and then sees a baby on their tummy, they may think “maybe that is the trick “ to get my baby to sleep, never realizing the huge risk they are taking. Many a parent has come in to my office and said “ I think my baby sleeps better on their tummy”, which immediately puts a look of horror on my face!! “WHAT…I thought we had discussed that your baby must sleep on their back until they are rolling over on their own.” Some of the parents do reply, “my ……told me it was okay.” In this case do not listen to anyone about tummy sleeping!!! Discuss car seats, high chairs, pacifier options or whatever else instead….and choose which works for you. Sleep position is non negotiable. 

 

With that being said, I realize that between 4 - 7 months many babies will roll over during sleep even when placed on their backs. It is a developmental milestone for babies to roll and you cannot put a brick on them. I would “guesstimate” that about 25% of the babies I see will ultimately prefer to sleep on their tummies, but they are all out of their swaddle and then roll over after being put down on their back. I also get many videos showing me a baby in their crib who is in the act of rolling over, with a nervous parent running in turning them back over, only to have the child roll right back to their tummy. You could spend the entire night “flipping the baby” over!

 

Remember, back sleeping only, in a crib with just baby and no bumpers or toys….you will have plenty of time for other stuff in the crib when they are bigger.

Daily Dose

Kids Who Snore

1.30 to read

Does your child snore?  If so, have you discussed their snoring with your pediatrician.  A recent study published in Pediatrics supported the routine screening and tracking of snoring among preschoolers.  Pediatricians should routinely be inquiring about your child’s sleep habits, as well as any snoring that occurs on a regular basis, during your child’s routine visits.  

Snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea and/or sleep disordered breathing (SDB), and habitual snoring has been associated with both learning and behavioral problems in older children. But this study was the first to look at preschool children between the ages of 2-3 years.

The study looked at 249 children from birth until 3 years of age, and parents were asked report how often their child snored on a weekly basis at both 2 and 3 years of age.  Persistent snorers were defined as those children who snored more than 2x/week at both ages 2 and 3.  Persistent loud snoring occurred in 9% of the children who were studied.

The study then looked at behavior and as had been expected persistent snorers had significantly worse overall behavioral scores.  This was noted as hyperactivity, depression and attentional difficulties.  Motor development did not seem to be impacted by snoring.

So, intermittent snoring is  common in the 2 to 3 year old set and does not seem to be associated with any long term behavioral issues. It is quite common for a young child to snore during an upper respiratory illness as well .  But persistent snoring needs to be evaluated and may need to be treated with the removal of a child’s adenoids and tonsils.

If you are worried about snoring, talk to your doctor. More studies are being done on this subject as well, so stay tuned.

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Back to School, Back to Sleep!

Daily Dose

New Sleep Guidelines for Your Baby

1:30 to read

I am sure that many of you heard about the latest recommendations on infant sleep that the American Academy of Pediatrics has released. The latest policy statement from the AAP recommends that all infants sleep in their parents room, but not in the parents bed,  for at least the first 6 months of life and preferably for the first year!!  This is big news and quite a change from the previous sleep recommendations which were published in 2011.

 

All of the latest recommendations regarding sleep are intended to help to reduce the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 1 year. SIDS in one of the greatest fears of all parents. While “the back to sleep” campaign has reduced the incidence of SIDS, there are still over 3,500 babies in the U.S. who die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping. (this includes some from suffocation and strangulation and not SIDS).

 

In addition, the recommendations re-iterate that the baby should not co-sleep with their parents, but should be in a crib or bassinet with a firm sleep surface, in the parents’ room. These new recommendations, may be driven by the reality that breast feeding mothers are exhausted and often fall asleep while nursing their baby. If the mother is sitting in a chair or on the couch and falls asleep the baby may be at risk of suffocation if they roll into a cushion or fall down between pillows. If the mother is in bed breast feeding and accidentally falls asleep at least the baby is on a firm surface - make sure when you do breast feed your baby in bed to remove all loose blankets and pillows in the area around your baby prior to feeding - just in case.

 

Although it has been a long ago, I always put our infants in their own cribs to sleep -  you might say I was obsessed. One night, shortly after the birth of our 3rd child I found myself on my hands and knees looking under the bed. When my husband was awakened and asked me “what are you doing?” I replied…”looking for the baby!” He then reminded me that I had put the baby in his crib in the nursery right after I had finished breastfeeding him.  I truly had no memory and thought he had fallen under our bed!! This, from someone who had previously stayed up for 36 hours during residency working in the hospital and thought I could handle sleep deprivation- clearly not true!! I just remember the feeling of being frantic! 

 

The AAP continues to recommend that the crib be essentially bare - in other words, no bumpers, no blankets, no stuffed toys, just the fitted crib sheet. The baby should always be placed on their back to sleep…once your baby learns to roll from back to front ( which typically happens after they have learned to roll tummy to back), they may be left to sleep on their tummy. Even with a baby in your room you cannot get up all night to keep trying to keep them from rolling over!  

 

The AAP does recommend using a pacifier for sleep times ( I am a huge pacifier fan as you know). The only problem with a pacifier is convincing The Parents that it is time to “get rid of the paci” once their baby is over a year old….. sometimes hard to sell that concept.

 

Lastly, the APP reiterated that they do not support the use of any of the devices sold to new parents to help “prevent”  SIDS. In other words, all of the technology being marketed including  “anti-SIDS mattresses, home cardiorespiratory monitors, and even fancy video monitors.  While many a well intentioned parent will invest a lot of unnecessary money and time trying to make the baby safe during sleep, the mantra “less is more” is now the best way to ensure safe sleep for your baby. I remind parents that there will be plenty of ways to spend that money  - start the college savings!

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose

Kids & Bedtimes

1.30 to read

As the summer winds down, my office is bust with back to school check-ups.  During these exams, I find myself asking a lot of questions related to a child’s sleep routines. Over the years I have always asked about sleep, and for so many  parents it is one of their main concerns.  

But what I have noticed is it seems children are going to bed later and later. I know the summer months are less scheduled for many families and children tend to get out of routines, but never the less, when I routinely ask, “during the school year what time does your child go to bed at night?” I am surprised by some of the answers.  And I am not talking about teens either, this is mainly the 5-13 year old set. (I do think teens need bedtime guidelines as well, that is a different discussion). 

As a working parent I totally understand and empathize with how busy the evenings are. I tell new parents that the evening hours between 6-9 pm are often the “witching hours” for newborns but I also see these same “crazy hours”  for most families once their children get to be school aged. (is this why cocktail hour was invented?)  It is the time of day for after school activities, homework to be done, dinners to be cooked and children to be bathed. Add in bedtime stories and/or reading by your child and it is CRAZY....but even so children need to have bedtimes appropriate for their ages.

Hearing that 5 year olds go to bed at 9 pm or that 10 year olds are up until 10 or 11 pm not only makes me tired but worries me as well that these children are not getting enough sleep. And the statement from frazzled parents, “they just won’t go to bed” makes me know just how important early good sleep habits are. Bedtime is a statement not a question!

While some children are just natural sleepers, others can be more difficult, but I am convinced that early good sleep habits help all children to be better and more independent sleepers.  Self soothing begins in infancy, but self calming and sleeping in your own bed is an important milestone as well. A child who awakens every night and ends up sleeping in their parents bed is disrupting both their sleep and their parents, which leads to irritable, unfocused and tired children and adults.

So, this seems to be a good time to re-look at bedtimes and adjust accordingly for your child’s age.  Once you get a good routine going, good habits are easy to continue.  

Daily Dose

How To Prevents SIDS

1:15 to read

A new study on swaddling and sudden infant death (SIDS) was just published this week in the journal Pediatrics. Not surprisingly, it found that infants who were swaddled and placed on their sides or stomach had a higher incidence of SIDS. It has been routinely recommended for more than 15 years that all babies sleep on their backs and since that time the incidence of SIDS has been dramatically reduced.  Unfortunately not everyone follows the AAP recommendation. 

While it has been known that tummy sleeping has been associated with SIDS this meta analysis looked at data which was gathered over two decades and from 3 different global sites. The review found that infants who were swaddled and placed on their sides were almost twice as likely to experience SIDS and the risk of SIDS did double in those babies who were swaddled and placed on their stomachs.  

I discuss swaddling with all of my patients as there are so many different swaddle blankets available.  Actually, one of the first things a newborn nurse seems to teach a new parent is how to swaddle their baby.  While swaddling has been promoted to aid in calming a newborn as well as to help their sleep, the recommendation that the baby be placed on their back in their crib continues..  Many a baby looks like a little burrito….. rolled up in the swaddle and then being placed on their back in the crib.

But is seems from this study that some babies were being swaddled and then placed on their side to sleep. Unfortunately, even a newborn may squirm enough that they then move from their side into the prone position.  Older infants who are swaddled may actually roll from their back to their tummies, even while swaddled. While the association between swaddling and SIDS remains unclear, I think this is a good reason to start getting a baby out of a swaddle once they are rolling. So around the 3 month mark I start having parents loosen the swaddle and try to just lay the baby on their back without being swaddled.

Let me re-iterate, this article does not confirm an association between swaddling and SIDS.  I do think it is a good reminder for putting a baby, “back to sleep” and once they are rolling “ditching” the swaddle seems to make even more sense. Once less thing to worry about, right?

 

Daily Dose

Treatment Strategies for Bedwetting

1.15 to read

I receive quite a few emails daily and many have to do with bedwetting. The best way to attack the problem of bedwetting begins when you and your child have had a discussion about their feelings related to bedwetting. This often happens as they get older and continue to have problems with bedwetting and they are anxious or embarrassed. If you bring up the subject and they would rather just wear a pull up at night, and go back to playing outside rather than discuss strategies for staying dry, it is not time to tackle the issue. Timing is everything! As you start to discuss strategies to stop bedwetting, begin with having your child keep a calendar of their dry nights. This gets them involved and gives you an idea of their level of commitment. Then start setting their alarm clock to awake them in the morning and see if they can get up on their own. If the alarm doesn’t wake them up for school it is probably not going to awaken them in the middle of the night. Remind them to recognize their need to go to the bathroom during the day too, and have them go every several hours to feel the sensation of their bladder filling throughout the day. Many of these kids are infrequent voiders during the day and have actually stretched their bladder wall and hypertrophied the bladder muscle. Lastly, make sure that they are not constipated and put them on something like Miralax to ensure that they do not have stool that also compresses the bladder (the colon sits right above the bladder and can push on the bladder). Talk about a reward system that they would like to use while working on the problem. It doesn’t have to be a major reward, small things work equally well. I think the rewards should be given by the week, rather than the day. I also give rewards for effort, not just for dry nights. Trying is the whole idea. Sometimes the brain and bladder are just not ready and you do not want your child to feel defeated even though they have tried their hardest. If all of this is successful it is then time to set up a “bedwetting alarm system” (numerous ones available over the internet). The alarms consist of a bell and pad. The alarm sounds when the pad senses moisture. The alarms that actually buzz are more effective than those that only vibrate. Remember, your child is already hard to arouse and vibration alone will probably not work. Once you begin using the alarm and you hear the alarm go off, you will need to go into their rooms and call their name or shake them too, to actually get them awake and to the bathroom. In the beginning it may almost be like sleep walking them to the bathroom. Then rinse off the pad and reset the alarm and put them back to bed. Over time they should arouse more easily and the time spent awake and going to the bathroom should shorten. As you can see this is disruptive to everyone’s sleep so best done over the summer or a long winter break. It often takes at least a month for bedwetting to stop and the alarm system should really be used for several more months to reinforce the process. There is also a drug call DDAVP that works on the kidneys to reduce the flow of urine. This medication works when given but does not “cure” the problem. I often use this for children who are worried about a camp or overnight experience, before they have started the alarm system regimen. It has not been shown to be as effective as the alarm system, but in difficult cases I have used it in conjunction with the alarm system. You might want to discuss the pros and cons of this drug with your pediatrician. Remember this takes time, motivation and determination on both the parent and child’s part. Remain positive and optimistic throughout the training process. It is not a sprint but a longer race, and don’t expect overnight success. Remind them of their other childhood accomplishments and that with time and determination they will be successful with bedwetting too. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Research Supports "Back to Sleep"

2.00 to read

This month’s issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine has an interesting article on sleep position in infants. I wa going through several journals (piled high on my desk) and found an intersting article in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine about sleep position in infants. You may recall, I have discussed previously, the safest position for an infant’s sleep is on their backs.

Placing a baby “back to sleep” became a routine recommendation beginning in 1994 after evidence showed that babies who slept on their backs had a much lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome. SIDS is the leading cause of death for children under the age of one year. In this study out of Yale University, researchers found that the number of babies who were put on their backs to sleep increased from 25 percent to 70 percent since the recommendations changed in 1994. But in this study, the number of caregivers heading this advice has not changed since 2001. The researchers looked at how different caregivers positioned their babies for sleep to see if there were any factors affecting a caregiver’s choice of an infant’s sleeping position. Interestingly, one of the factors was whether or not the caregiver was ever told to place the baby on their back to sleep. One-third of those surveyed said that their doctor did recommend that their child sleep on their backs, but many did not receive any recommendation. How is a parent to know how to position their baby for sleep if their doctor does not discuss sleep positioning? Another factor, which influenced a caregiver’s choice of infant sleep position, was comfort. Again, more than one-third of those surveyed felt like the baby was more comfortable on their tummy. Another 10 percent were worried that an infant might choke if they were lying on their back. It is imperative that physicians discuss infant sleep position with parents and the need to reiterate this is evident in my own practice. Just today I saw a two-month-old baby with her mother and babysitter. The mother and I had discussed “back to sleep” (this is her third child), but the babysitter happened to mention that she “puts the baby on her tummy to sleep if she is in the room watching her”. It doesn’t matter if you are in the room, sleeping next to the baby, or watching on one of those new video monitors. Placing babies on their backs to sleep remains the most effective means to reduce the risk of SIDS, and there are few exceptions. The risk of a baby sleeping on their tummy “because they seem more comfortable” is just too great. The evidence is compelling. So…. until your child is old enough to role all over their crib, put them “back to sleep” and know that you are doing the very best thing to protect your baby. Tummy time is only for awake time. Don’t cheat! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue!

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