Category Archives: Sleeping

Should I wake my newborn for a feed?

Waking a newborn baby in the middle of the night may seem a little crazy, however, for a short while, you will need to do this. Here’s why:
Babies lose around 10% of their birth weight soon after being born, so even just a few days after being born (and of course being weighed for the first time), his weight will be below his centile. This is usually the case for around 2 weeks. Until your little one is back up to the weight he should be (according to the centile graph), he should go no longer than 4 hours between feeds and you should wake him up if necessary – newborns need anything from 8 to 12 feeds a day. You may also need to wake your newborn from daytime naps if they tend to exceed 3 hours. Once this period is over and your child has regained the lost weight and gained weight appropriately (therefore following the correct centile), it is then time to look at establishing a better day/night routine to encourage your baby to sleep for longer periods during the night. As well as the obvious health benefits to your child as stated above, feeding your little one regularly also helps you to establish your milk supply if breastfeeding, it is also important to note that crying is a late sign of hunger. In terms of recognising early signs of hunger, you may find my post on hunger cues and what they mean helpful.

To establish breastfeeding and minimise the risk of breastfeeding complications, I would recommend feeding at least every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours during the night for the first 2-3 weeks. The chances are your breastfed baby will wake for feeds anyway but good to know where you stand if she decides she wants to give you a little rest! If you are bottle feeding you should still wake your newborn for a feed until she is following her centile and always follow the instructions on how much formula milk to give (always check instructions on the packet).

I hope you have found this post informative and helpful, as always, your comments are warmly welcomed.

Is it safe to swaddle?

Does swaddling damage babies hips? Does it increase the risk of SIDS? Are there any 21st century benefits to swaddling? Swaddling is an ancient, traditional method of wrapping babies. The blankets or cloths used are tightly wound around the body thus restricting movement, particularly to the limbs. It dates back to around 4000 years ago until becoming unpopular in the 17th century, it appears it is becoming popular again in western civilisations but, some studies have cast doubt on whether it is safe to swaddle or not. Here is the low down:

Does swaddling damage hips?

Professor Nicholas Clarke, an orthopaedic surgeon from Southampton University Hospital, argues that swaddling may damage the development of babies hips. His theory was published in the peer reviewed journal ‘Archives of Disease and Childhood’. His opinion is that swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby) forces the hips into a straightened position where the legs are pressed together, and this he says, may lead to a condition called hip dysplasia.
Dysplasia is not always painful, but can cause joint abnormalities and long-term complications such as osteoarthritis. Severe cases can eventually require hip replacement.

Does it increase the risk of SIDS?

As there are only risk factors for SIDS and not causes, it is difficult for any study to pinpoint one action as reducing the risk. You should create a safe sleeping environment which includes not allowing your baby to overheat, putting him on his back and don’t allow anything to cover his face. Swaddling is a risk factor – it can result in baby overheating, the blanket coming loose and covering her face and may also stop baby’s natural survival reflexes from waking her during the night. If after reading this you still decide you would like to swaddle, you should follow these recommendations:

  • Be aware of the risks, particularly of the use of heavy materials and the risk of the blanket coming loose.
  • NEVER be placed your baby on her stomach when swaddled.
  • If you are going to swaddle, research suggests it is safest to swaddle from birth and not to change bed time practices at 3 months of age, this is when SIDS risk is
    greatest.
  • Always make sure Secondary caregivers (childminders/nannies/nurseries/family members) are aware of your child’s usual sleeping environment and
    practices and they stick to this ie they don’t decide to start swaddling or allowing baby to sleep on her tummy.
  • There has been a lot of research in to the cause of SIDS and as a new parent it is the thing we worry most about. I always like to play on the safe side. I used a fitted sheet, had nothing else in her bed, my baby had a sleeping bag (that fits) and I also had a sensor pad with an alarm. We also co-slept – I always made sure this was made safe and we never slept on the sofa. It can seem like a bit if a minefield but the safest advice is to follow the advice. No one is telling you how to parent, just helping you to make sensible, informed decisions. The more we know about the risks, the better decisions we can make about our babies sleeping environment. The most important new information for me in this post is the advice not to change your little ones sleeping habits at around 3 months of age. This is where the risk of SIDS is at its highest – this may be due to secondary caregivers not being properly informed. I hope you found this post useful.

    Do you swaddle? Were you swaddled as a child? Did you inform your child’s carer of his sleeping habits/environment?

    Resources: NHS

    Create a safe sleeping environment to avoid SIDS

    The risk of SIDS is at its highest between the age of 0-6 months. Here is how you can create a safe sleeping environment to help mitigate against this risk.

    5 steps to sleep safety

  • Always place your baby to sleep on her back – This should be done from day one for both daytime naps and night time sleeps. Putting your little one on her back to sleep will not increase her risk of choking should she vomit. When your child is old enough to roll over, you shouldn’t prevent this. The back to sleep campaign began in 1994 and has seen an incredible reduction in SIDS cases. This is now called the safe to sleep campaign as there are more things we can do:
  • Share rooms for at least the first 6 months – Your baby should always sleep in her own age/size appropriate bed and never in your bed, on a chair or on the sofa. If you opt to co-sleep you must make this as safe as possible too. Is it safe to co-sleep with a newborn?
  • Use a new, firm, correctly fitted mattress – Your baby should have a new mattress that is suited for the exact size of her bed/cot/Moses basket. The general guidance for cots is there should be no more than a 4cm gap between the cot and mattress. You should never use a second hand mattress and when buying, always check it conforms to safety requirements: mattresses should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:1997. If you are unsure which sized mattress to buy, measure the sleeping area of the bed and take these measurements with you to a reputable shop.
  • Keep soft objects out of your baby’s sleep area – This allows the air to flow around your baby preventing overheating and also ensures there are no suffocation risks. Teddies, pillows, cot bumpers and additional blankets/bedding all fall into this category so keep them out!
  • Don’t let your baby overheat – You should always check the temperature of your baby’s sleep area before dressing her for the night and also re-check her body temperature throughout the night where appropriate. Click here for more information on tog rating and room temperatures.
  • Resources:
    NHS, nichd, Which

    Why do I worry so much about my sleeping newborn?

    Every new parent worries about their newborn, even more so when she is asleep. Hopefully this post will help to alleviate your fears whilst maintaining the safety and health of your child.

    I worry my baby will stop breathing

    Newborns do not have regular breathing patterns so there may be occasions where you little one has what seems like a huge gap between breaths. In reality this is likely to be only a few more seconds gap than usual. Look out for the colour of your baby’s skin. If it is blue she may be having breathing difficulties and if she is red she may be overheating.

    I worry about SIDS

    Every parent worries about SIDS. The practice of creating a safe sleeping environment has been so successfully highlighted over the years we can’t help but worry. Follow the guidelines on both creating a safe sleep environment and the tog rating and temperature guide. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months, this will also help to reassure you.

    I wouldn’t know what to do…

    A huge fear for all parents is that we find our children needing urgent medical help and we don’t know what to do. Be it choking, not breathing, convulsing or even bangs to their head or burns and cuts, we all know getting first aid trained is the right thing to do, the confidence it gives you when dealing with the above is immeasurable but more importantly, it could save your baby’s life. You can find out more about baby first aid from the British Red Cross

    When to start a bed time routine?

    When to start a bedtime routine is a popular question from many new parents and there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. This post will help you to decide when to start with a bedtime routine, what you need to consider and which sort of routine is best for you.

    When should I start it?

    it is never too early to start a bedtime routine, most people suggest starting it at around 6-8 weeks but there is absolutely no harm in starting a good bedtime routine from day one and adapting it slightly as your child grows. For example, in the first week or so you may top and tail your newborn before bed and once the umbilical stump has fallen off start bathing him. Over time you will find what works well and what is pivotal to the routine working.

    What does a good routine involve?

    A bed time routine should have a calming influence that relaxes and reassures your baby. Over time your newborn will come to expect each and every structured step and will accept that last step as being time to sleep. A good routine should include a bath, a story or stories, some cuddles, calming background music and dimly lit lights. It will also help if you incorporate a massage. The routine should start no later than 30 minutes before bedtime although some routines can take up to one hour. It should be a calm, enjoyable environment that is geared towards calming down and relaxing both body and mind (no bright lights or loud games/music).

    How do I know what will work?

    in simple terms, a good routine is a good routine and the routine you choose is determined by you. Don’t set yourself up to fail by making it too complex. The best and most effective routines are the most simple as they are easy to follow, calming for both Mum (and Dad) and baby, and are most likely to be implemented long term rather than you giving up after a week or so because it is so exhausting. After 5-7 days of using the same routine you should notice an improvement in your child’s attitude to going to sleep and ability to fall asleep unaided. As your child grows this will also aid your child to sleep for longer periods at night time as her body will have recognised the difference between day and night and her feeding and day time naps will be aligned towards this cycle.