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Daily Dose

Bedtime!

1:30 to read

Bedtime….an important word for parents and for children. A new study in Pediatrics just reinforces how important bedtimes for children may be.  The research shows that preschool children who had an earlier bedtime were less likely to become obese in their teenage years. 

The study involved nearly 1,000 children who were born in 1991 and whose parents recorded their bedtimes when they were 4.5 years old.  The researchers then looked at the growth data (height/weight) for these children when they were 15 years of age.

Interestingly, the pre-school children who were in bed by 8:00 p.m. had half the risk of becoming obese as a teenager compared to those children who went to bed after 9 pm. Specifically, of the children who went to bed by 8 pm, only 10 percent were obese as teens, while 16 percent of those who went to bed between 8 and 9 pm developed obesity, and 23 percent of those children   who had bedtimes after 9 pm developed teenage obesity. 

While there has been much research surrounding sleep and obesity (as well as behavior), this study provides even more evidence to the possible “protective effect” of early bedtime and bedtime routines for young children.  If getting to bed on time and earlier can in some way help stem the obesity tide, it would seem like an easy recommendation for many parents to follow.  

As a mother I was always a “fan” of schedules and bedtimes…and actually putting your child to bed at night is such a wonderful time of day. The routine of a bath, snuggles, some books ( with wishes for just one more) and more hugs and kisses is such a wonderful memory I have of my own 3 boys. It just seemed that everyone was happier (and I guess healthier) when we had early bedtimes. I remember I had a friend who always had her 3 young children fed, bathed and in bed by 7:00 p.m. every night..and in those pre cell phone days we did not dare call her house after that time!!  

I also think bedtime routines are important for younger children year round. While it is more difficult to have regular bedtimes for older children during the summer months, children under elementary school age (and maybe even older) really do benefit from continuing on the same bedtime schedule during the summer months.  I think if you told your middle school or teenager this “rule” there  might be mutiny….but I know as well as a working parent, it is much easier to have a routine even when the kids are out of school…they would totally disagree!

I am excited about this study and using it as another resource when discussing sleep habits and bedtime routines with my patients.  This is especially important as we get ready to discuss back to school sleep routines….summer does fly by!

Daily Dose

Crib Deaths

1:15 to read

Crib bumpers may cause deaths and should never be used!  A recent study in The Journal Pediatrics looked at the incidence of crib bumper related deaths from 1985- 2012.  The authors reviewed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and found that there were 3 times more bumper deaths reported in the last 7 years than the 3 previous time periods that had been reviewed. Bumper pads caused 48 suffocations of which “ 67% were due to the bumper alone and not clutter in the crib, and 33% of the deaths were due to wedgings between a bumper and another object in the crib”.  An additional 146 infants had sustained injuries from the bumpers, which included choking on the bumper ties or near suffocation.  

The study also looked at the number of CPSC reported deaths compared with those from the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, 2008- 2011. When using that data the total number of deaths increased to 77. 

While bumpers had been marketed to prevent a baby from falling out of a crib or to keep a baby’s arms or legs from getting stuck between the crib rails, in reality they cause injury and death.  In 2012 a national standard was revised which required that crib bumpers must be 2 inches in thickness or less.  At that time the thought was that “thinner bumpers” would be less likely to cause suffocation. But the recent study found that 3 of the deaths occurred in cribs that had thinner bumpers.   

According to Dr. N.J. Scheers, the lead author in the study, “these deaths are entirely preventable” if bumpers were not used and were not widely available.  But when flipping through a baby store catalog, or even shopping for cribs, parents  and grandparents) see beautiful cribs that are adorned with bumper pads!!  So, if they cause death why are they being sold?  Mixed messages are very hard for parents to understand. Concrete recommendations and guidelines save lives.  

Several cities and states have already banned the sale of crib bumpers and the CPSC is currently in the process of publishing new recommendations on how crib bumpers should be regulated. 

I don’t see the need for any more studies to show that bumper pads may cause deaths and injuries.  Clear guidelines from the AAP state, “bare cribs are the best”  and “all infants should be put to sleep on their backs”.  Save your money and your baby’s life…no bumpers.

Daily Dose

Nap Time!

1:30 to read

I am a huge believer in the necessity for naps for babies, toddlers and children until they start kindergarten. Not only do children benefit from napping, so do their parents and caregivers who also need a “break” and some time to get ready for the end of the day.

 

During check ups I routinely ask parents if their children are still napping?  While some children may not fall asleep, everyone can spend some “quiet time” in their own room or bed.  Most children will nap well until the age of 3-4 years. After that some children just don’t need as much sleep and “want to give up their afternoon nap”.  Those words do not typically make a parent happy….as they realize that their child typically is cranky and whiny before dinner, bath and bedtime….not a fun way to end the day.

 

So…I had to laugh the other day when I asked a 3 year old if he was going home after his check up for lunch and a nap?  He looked right at me and said, “I don’t take naps, I am a big boy”.  I paused a minute and about that time his mother said quite calmly with that knowing look in her eyes, “of course he doesn’t nap….he just takes a rest”.  Clever right?

 

While you can’t make a child fall asleep, you can set the routine that your child spends some quiet time for an hour or so in their bed reading, playing, singing or just talking to themselves and their favorite stuffed animal. I have often found that while a 2-3 year old may stop falling asleep during nap time for a few months they may suddenly start napping again…it just happens. But, you have to continue the nap time routine…with or without the sleeping.  No choices on whether or not they “rest”…just part of the days routine.

 

Even children in day care, preschool and most kindergartens have afternoon quiet time on their mats.  At the beginning of the school year many kindergarten children will fall asleep during the afternoon story time, until they become accustomed to the long school day. It is funny to hear 5 year olds discuss who fell asleep during quiet time….never realizing that they too had “snoozed” for a bit. A lovely thing to re-set your brain for the rest of the day!

 

 

 

  

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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

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

Good Sleep Habits For All Children

While we have been discussing infants sleep habits, a good night's sleep is equally important for children of all ages. It is important to focus on the sleeping half of children's lives, and the sleep habits of children have a direct impact on the adults who care for them. By starting off with good sleep habits in babies and teaching them how to sleep you will hopefully be blessed with a good sleeper, but many children will continue to have intermittent sleep issues.

Bedtime should be a pleasant part to the end of a busy day. As it gets dark your body secretes melatonin to signal the end of the day and the rest phase of our circadian rhythms. If you get overtired, your body secretes the hormone cortisol, to give you an energy burst, which may further contribute to bedtime problems. In other words, get your child to bed while still in the sleepy phase! Have a set bedtime and bedtime routine for children of all ages. Even teens require nine to 10 hours of sleep, so they should have a bedtime too. A good night's rest also contributes to your child's overall physical and emotional health. They will perform better in school, have less mood disturbances, and even experience less minor aches and pains like headaches and stomachaches. Wind down your evening with music, reading or a relaxing bath. Begin to dim the lights while getting your child to bed, as bright lights will signal the brain to stay alert so this will include turning off the TV and computer. Once every one gets into a good routine, maintain the habit. Good sleep habits are good for the entire family. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again soon.

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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.  

 

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