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Newborn Cries For No Reason? Swaddling Might Help

Newborn Cries For No Reason? Swaddling Might Help

As any new parent will quickly learn, there are a host of reasons why babies may cry. From hunger or tiredness to issues posed by teething, these problems can cause great distress to infants and trigger sustained bouts of crying and grizzling. The issue can be complicated further by a lack of clear understanding, as the primitive nature of a baby’s cry can make it hard to decipher exactly what the problem is.

This usually requires patience and a process of trial and error, although it should also be noted that babies can occasionally cry for no apparent or easily identifiable reason. While there is clearly an underlying trigger for this phenomenon, searching for this can be extremely time-consuming and stressful for both parents and child alike.

Why Swaddling might help your Distressed Child

Swaddling is a typical response to the noise of a baby crying, especially when there is no obvious motivation for this. UK readers will have noted that this practice has been at the centre of a national debate in recent times too, after media reports suggested that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton had used an Aden and Anais cloth to swaddle their infant son George.

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This comes on the back of various medical studies in the UK, which have come to light after the Conservative government was re-elected in the recent general election. These studies claim that there is a link between swaddling and an increased risk of cot death, hip development problems and posture issues, although is also conflicting data which reaffirms the belief that this practice can help to calm a child safely and send them to sleep.

3 Reasons why Swaddling may help your Child and how to do it right

In terms of the latter, here are three reasons why swaddling may help to stop your baby crying, along with statistical support: –

1. Swaddling may reduce SIDS

Sudden infant death Syndrome (SIDS) is a devastating condition, and one that can cause families immense suffering and hardship. In 2007, however, the Journal of Pediatrics performed a meta-study to research the relationship between swaddling and the condition and made some startling discoveries. The results revealed that swaddling actively reduced the rate of SIDS, as long as children are swaddled correctly and prevented from inadvertently covering their heads or face with the cloth (or any surrounding bedding). It is also believed to prevent them from rolling onto their stomachs and incurring the risk of disrupted breathing patterns.

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2. Swaddling can lead to improve neuromuscular development

This finding is at odds with a common belief that exists among parents, namely that a newborn child needs to have their hands free to that they are able to practice using their limbs. This ignores that the scientific fact that the vast majority of movement in your infant child’s limbs in involuntary and entirely random, and that it does little to aid neuromuscular development. In fact, immobilizing your child’s arms through swaddling actively helps them to develop enhanced motor skill organisation from a young age.

3. Swaddling can lead to a 28% reduction in your Baby crying

We have already stated how many parents swaddle their children to comfort them when they are distressed for no apparent reason, and this appears to be grounded in some form of factual data. According to the Baby Center, swaddling alone can lead to an estimated 28% reduction in crying while soothing infants quickly and effectively. This is not to say that safe and effective swaddling can completely prevent babies from crying, but it certainly works both as a supplementary soothing measure and as a standalone practice.

How to Swaddle your Child Safely

While these points may make a compelling argument for swaddling, they are reliant on a safe and compliant execution. Your child must never be put to sleep on their stomach, for example, while you must follow a precise ritual to ensure that they are unable to flip onto their stomach while swaddled. Swaddling is only ever to be used for babies laying on their backs, as otherwise you will increase the risk of SIDS and other potential complications.

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In terms of best practice, start by laying a baby blanket on a flat surface and position it in a diamond shape. Then fold down the top corner, and place your child gently on their back with their neck on the fold. Then perform a right side tuck, holding their arm gently down flat at their side and pulling the left corner of the blanket across the body and over the right arm. You should then tuck it under the left arm and roll the baby gently to left and tuck the remaining material under their back.

At this point, make sure that your baby still has flexibility in their hips and can move these up and outwards. If this is the case, continue to hold your child’s left arm down at their side and pull the bottom corner of the blanket up over the left shoulder. Tuck any excess fabric around the left arm, before pulling the loose right corner taut and bringing it across your baby’s’ stomach. Be sure to roll the child gently to their right so that you can wrap the corner all the way around his back.

As you can see, the key with swaddling is to adhere to a strict code of conduct and best practice that ensures the safety of your child. Be sure to make an informed decision, however, and research the subject in great detail before determining what is right for you and your child.

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Featured photo credit: Sathyatripodi / Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on May 21, 2021

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

  • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
  • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
  • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
  • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
  • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

  • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Difficulty waking up on time
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Inattention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Impulse control

As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

For Babies

Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

Gentle Sleep Training

This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

2. Sleep With Parental Presence

With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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  • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
  • Block blue light exposure.
  • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
  • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
  • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
  • Avoid late afternoon naps
  • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
  • Feed baby right before bed.
  • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

For Elementary-Aged Children

It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

  • Offer them a nutritious snack.
  • Bathe them.
  • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
  • Read them a story.
  • Sing them a song.
  • Cuddle or massage them.
  • Talk about the day.

For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

For Teens

They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Avoid late-night binging.
  • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Talk through problems.

Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
[2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
[3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
[4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
[5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
[6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
[7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
[8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
[9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
[10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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