New Research on Baby Sleep

New Research on Baby SleepNew research on baby sleep indicates the ideal age to move a baby to her own room is 4 months. This proves to give babies the most amount of sleep, including the most continual sleep, while also reducing risk factors for SIDS.

Baby sleeping habits is one of the most important aspects of caring for an infant, and it is often a struggle for many new parents. Developing good sleeping habits in infancy supports better brain development and physical strength, and helps babies learn to self-soothe and sleep independently.

In keeping these goals in mind, parents must also weight the risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which affects around 3,700 babies every year. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rooming in without co-sleeping in the same bed so parents are more in-tune with their baby’s breathing during sleep hours. Plus, this makes nighttime breastfeeding easier so everyone can get more rest.

However, rooming-in can lead to unsafe sleep habits when parents allow their babies to co-sleep in an unsafe baby sleep environment. Babies can easily suffocate from sheets, pillows, blankets and even stuffed animals during sleep. That’s why an independent sleep space free of any extra items other than a fitted bottom sheet is recommended. And regardless of where a baby is sleeping, she should always be placed on her back.

The new study published in the journal Pediatrics looks at baby sleep from a different angle: quality and quantity. Newborns need the comfort of their parents close-by but older babies may be more distracted by their parents’ presence, especially as separation anxiety develops around 9 months.

The research reviewed baby sleep habits from 230 families. It indicates that babies who slept with their parents longer than 4 months got less overall sleep, slept for shorter periods at a time, and the risk of SIDS – as related to unsafe sleep habits – was higher.

Room separation at 4 months is contradictory to the AAP’s recommendation of room-sharing for 6 to 12 months to reduce the risk of SIDS. Understandably this new research on baby sleep can lead to some confusion for new parents. Ultimately, parents should evaluate their own situation, consider all safety concerns and make a choice that is best for the wellbeing of the family.

Sources: CBS News, Self Magazine and NPR

Breakthrough Research on SIDS

Breakthrough Research on SIDSSudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, is one of the scariest prospects any new parent can imagine. A plethora of baby monitoring devices and countless sleepless hours have gone into ensuring babies remain safe while they sleep. Until recently, the cause of this serious infant issue was a mystery. Now, breakthrough research on SIDS may fill in the missing pieces.

Researchers from the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in New South Wales, Sydney, Australia have discovered a biological link in infants’ risk of SIDS. It’s all tied to a brain protein called orexin (or sometimes known as hypocretin). This neuropeptide is responsible for appetite and wakefulness. Among the babies in the recent study, those who died of SIDS have significantly less orexin – approximately 20% lower.

Knowing this link between SIDS and low levels of orexin, newborns can be tested to find out their individual risk factors. Parents with babies at high risk of SIDS can be more vigilant of their baby’s breathing during sleep, especially during the first six months when SIDS is most common.

Before screenings become commonplace, further research will need to be done to verify these findings. The team from the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children is currently working on a new study to determine why orexin is low in some infants and not others.

Interestingly, those who suffer from narcolepsy, a disease in which people are excessively tired and may spontaneously fall asleep during the day, also lack orexin due to a breakdown in the brain cells that produce it.

Until now, experts believed environmental factors were mostly responsible for SIDS deaths including stomach sleeping, smoke in the home, and unsafe sleep spaces. While it is critical to continue to create safe sleeping conditions for babies, this groundbreaking research on SIDS indicates there may be more to the story than originally suspected.

Sources: MSN, WebMD and NewbornBaby

 

Read more about SIDS on our blog:

SIDS and Breastfeeding: Crib and Sleeping Safety Tips

http://lovingmomentsbras.com/sids-and-breastfeeding-crib-and-sleeping-safety-tips.html

New Co-sleeping Guidelines from the AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their co-sleeping guidelines for the first time in five years. The organizations Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is at the helm of the latest recommendations, which largely share the same rules for avoiding SIDS except for one key factor. The new guidelines recommend co-sleeping in the same room but in different spaces for the first year of your baby’s life.

Co-sleeping is a much-debated topic in early parenting. As parents learn to navigate their babies and are often sleep deprived, sleeping near one another can be the most convenient way to comfort and feed your baby. The AAP’s new co-sleeping guidelines aim to achieve multiple goals for parents and babies – including restful sleep and easier nighttime feedings – while also balancing the safety of babies and avoiding SIDS.

The term co-sleeping can mean different things to different parents. It is often used for bed-sharing or may be used in the broader sense of rooming-in. The new co-sleeping guidelines recommend the later, sleeping in the same room as your baby but having separate sleep spaces. Having babies in the bed with their parents increases risk of suffocation from parents or smothering from items in the bed like sheets, pillows or blankets, or babies re-breathing carbon dioxide if they are trapped beneath an object.

The Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome says that co-sleeping in separate sleep spaces can reduce risk of SIDS by up to 50%. This is because parents are still in tune with their babies needs and are able to hear them should there be an issue in the night. Plus, it allows for easier and therefore more frequent skin-to-skin contact that calms and regulates a baby’s body, as well as breastfeeding, which reduces risk of SIDS as well.

A baby’s sleep space should be a firm, flat surface such as a crib or cradle. Only a fitted sheet should be in a baby’s sleep space. Pillows, blankets and even soft toys should not be in the bed during sleep times. Cribs and cradles should be up to current safety standards (which change often) to ensure they do not present choking, falling or entrapment hazards.

Additionally, the new co-sleeping guidelines remind parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs. Even if your baby has acid reflux, back-sleeping is the best way to reduce risk of SIDS. (Regurgitation is unlikely to cause choking if your baby is on his back.) Also, sleeping on chairs and couches is even more dangerous that bed-sharing. For parents who tend to fall asleep while holding or nursing their babies, a bed with all sheets, blankets and pillows removed is the better choice. But babies should be placed back on their own sleep surface once the parents wake.

The latest sleep recommendations to avoid SIDS can be found in the published report in the journal Pediatrics or on the AAP’s website. Furthermore the Pediatric Sleep Council launched a new website called babysleep.com that has helpful tips and information.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Fit Pregnancy and KellyMom

Baby Sleep: How to Get your Baby to Sleep Better

It’s World Sleep Day and a great time to talk about your baby’s sleep.  Sleep is an issue that most parents struggle with at some point in their baby’s infancy.  Babies often take time to adjust to normal day and night cycles and many have a hard time staying asleep.  Of course the goal is to get your baby to sleep through the night within a few months after birth, but some families have a hard time getting there.  Today we’re talking about baby sleep and how to get your baby to sleep better.

At the beginning, baby sleep can be very unpredictable which can send parents into a tailspin of anxiety, worry and frustration, often stemming from their own sleep deprivation.  Infants up to around six months usually sleep 15 to 18 hours per day.  This includes nighttime sleep and naps.  Newborns spend much of their time alternating between sleep and short bursts of wakefulness.  At around one month, babies tend to stay awake longer as they become more aware of their surroundings.  By four months or so, sleep patterns usually emerge and parents can encourage a regular naptime and bedtime schedule.  While not 100% reliable, this element of predictability can bring great comfort to parents, especially those who have been quite sleep deprived for the past several months.

Creating healthy sleep habits for your baby and using a few simple tricks can help get your baby’s sleep on track.

baby sleep__1457446711_162.206.228.38Use the five S’s:  Dr. Harvey Karp, author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” recommends swaddling, shushing, side-laying, sucking and swinging to soothe fussy babies.  These methods also help in lulling a baby to sleep.  Try a few or all five at once to calm your baby.

Breastfeed more later in the day:  Cluster breastfeeding later in the day fills your baby up so he doesn’t wake as often in the night to nurse.  Usually newborns and young infants need to eat every two to three hours, however cluster feeding may help your baby sleep for longer stretches of four to five hours at night.

Keep the room dark: Like adults, babies are stimulated by light.  During the day, expose your baby to natural light even during restful times.  At night, create a dark environment for your baby’s best sleep.  Invest in blackout curtains if necessary.

Let your newborn sleep in a bassinet:  Many parents “room in” with their babies even at home by bringing a bassinet into their bedrooms.  Bassinets are usually cozier for babies as they encapsulate their bodies.  Plus, babies enjoy the proximity to mommy and daddy.

Watch what you eat:  For breastfed babies, foods and beverages that make your baby gassy will surely disrupt sleep.  Limit caffeine to earlier in the day. Avoid spicy foods, excessive vegetables and too much fiber.  Also, alcohol can be irritating to babies.  Take note of what bothers your little one and adjust your diet accordingly.

Don’t make eye contact:  Babies are more aware of who’s watching than you think.  If you make eye contact with your baby when he’s trying to get to sleep, he may be more interested in staring at you than catching his zzz’s.  If you need to hold or massage your baby, focus on an area besides his eyes.

Keep the room cool:  Help your baby lower his core body temperature by keeping his room between 65 and 70 degrees.  Lower body temps are more conducive for sleep quality and duration.

Skip diaper changes if possible:  If your baby has only urinated a little, avoid middle-of-the-night diaper changes.  Even if your baby doesn’t mind diaper changes, chances are the stimulation will wake him up.  However, if your baby has had a bowel movement, do change the diaper.

Skip burping too:  Babies usually breastfeed slower at night because they are drowsy.  This means they are probably swallowing less air and don’t need to be burped as often.  Burping can be jarring to babies and make them more alert at the wrong times.

Cheers to World Sleep Day and sweet dreams to you and your baby!

White Noise for Babies – Sound Machine Safety for Your Infant

White Noise for Babies – Sound Machine Safety for Your InfantIt’s no secret that your baby probably isn’t the best sleeper (and if your baby is, then lucky you!), so it comes as no surprise that many parents rely on sleep noise machines to help soothe their newborns into lasting slumber. River sounds, rainfall, and ever crickets chirping are much easier to fall asleep to than traffic or other disruptive noises!

But what happens when you’re trying to compete with outside sounds using a sleep noise machine? You don’t want to expose your newborn to potentially damaging sound levels, even if they drown out exterior noise.

Dr. Harvey Karp (noted pediatrician and author) advises keeping sound levels at around the same volume as a “soft shower.” Karp, whose guide The Happiest Baby Guide to Good Sleep is well-loved by many parents, also recommends that parents place the sound machine at least a foot away from their child’s head.

As for duration, Karp’s rule to follow is that parents should keep the sound continuous, so as not to disturb their baby during sleep. Otherwise, there is a greater chance that baby’s sleep would cease when the sleep machine’s timer runs out. Uninterrupted sound is “like the teddy bear of sounds,” Karp explains, because “the white noise is there as a continual presence, just like a teddy bear.”

Try and strike a balance between reliance on sound machines and other methods you can use to help sound-proof your baby’s room. Hang thicker drapes that muffle some of the noise you may hear through your windows (even while closed). Try to stick to a bedtime routine to help your baby ease into sleep. Try swaddling your baby or practice some skin-to-skin time before laying your baby in the crib.

Researchers who’ve studied the impact of sound on babies’ ear canals agree that the sleep noise machine should not be in the crib with your baby. It’s a matter of making sure the sound levels are not too loud so your baby’s hearing won’t be negatively affected. Remember that your baby’s ear drums are more sensitive than your own, so when tuning your sound machine stick to a low volume level to play it safe.

What kinds of noises lull your baby into sleep? Share with us in the comments!