Sunday, March 7, 2010

Natural Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep

Photo courtesy:

Many parents, myself included, have lost more than one night's sleep due to a cranky baby. In fact, it is only the luckiest of parents who have babies that do not fuss quite a few nights away before they get older. For approximately 30% - 40% are blessed with babies that are not only high energy babies; but, they have colic as well making them very high maintenance especially at night.

Colicy babies have a great deal of difficulty passing gas. For some reason, their tiny, little bodies hang on to it like grim death. This gives them intense stomach pain; and, being unable to express themselves in any other way, they cry and cry and cry...

The baby usually becomes fussier toward the late afternoon or evening for several reasons. Colic is helped by the warmth and closenss of the skin to skin contact they receive during the day and the motion of being carried and/or rocked. At bedtime, they are left alone to sleep and the colic gets worse and worse.

Young children should never be given any kind of medication or over-the-counter remedy without a doctor's approval. There are many things that can be done naturally to help the baby feel better without resorting to medicinal intervention which many times only masks the symptoms and does not alleviate the problem.

So...what can a weary parent do?

Photo courtesy:

1. Put your child in a carry cot beside the bed at night. A carry cot is like a crib without legs that can lie on the floor right next to the bed on the floor. Have everything ready before hand and when the baby requires feeding or just consoling, just reach down, bring the child into bed and feed. After feeding, place the baby on your tummy (the skin contact; and, the warmth from your body will help relax the baby making the passage of gas easier) and burp. Roll over and return the baby to the cot. Not having to get out of bed at night makes the experience calmer and gentler for both of you.

2. Forget about keeping up with the housework. Do NOT use any precious time your baby is asleep doing housework!!! They'll wake up refreshed and you will still be exhausted. Your new cardinal rule: If the baby sleeps - so do I! If he falls asleep at 4:00 pm - hit the couch for a few quick winks. The housework will still be there when you get up - I promise.

3. Catnip tea is a mother's friend. While catnip excites a cat, it has the opposite effect on a human. Catnip tea not only calms a child; but, it can help with tummy troubles. Some children have a hard time expelling gas and it gives them an upset stomach. Catnip tea calms the child and makes it easier for him/her to pass the gas. If you are breastfeeding, don't worry about giving the tea in a bottle (1/2 bottle of tea, 1/2 bottle of milk), they will soon drink from either a bottle or a breast. Chamomille and fennel tea work equally well.

4. Prepare simple, easy-to-prepare dinners or order in. The family will survive eating very simple, one pot meals; TV dinners; open a can and heat meals; or something ordered in. The time saved can be spent with the baby or sleeping.

5. Try a nice, warm bath for your baby before bedtime. Warm baths are very soothing and can help prepare her for sleep. Try a drop of lavender oil in the water - very relaxing.

6. Occasionally, prevail on a friend to take the baby for a couple of hours so you can sleep. Have the friend take the baby to their house because chances are if you hear the baby cry you'll wake up. Very refreshing for an exhausted mom!!

7. Set up a bedtime routine for your baby. Children respond positively to routines and they can help prepare your child for what is to come next. In the case of bedtime, a ritual will help your baby sleep because it provides continuity making the child feel safe and loved.

8. Motion soothes a colicky baby. Use a sling or cuddli-type carrier to carry baby close to your body during the day.

9. If your baby is small enough, use the "colic carry". Place the baby face down along your arm, with the chin in the palm of your hand and the legs straddling your inner elbow. Carry your baby around the house like this. The warmth, skin-to-skin contact, motion and slight pressure on the tummy all work to help the child expel any intestinal gas.

10. If the child is too big for the colic carry, try laying the baby across your lap and patting his back.

11. Make sure the baby is hydrated. Babies need plain water just like adults do. Milk and diluted juice are essential for the babies health and continued growth; but, plain water is just as essential.

12. Gentle massage may help to relax the child enough to pass any unexpelled gas.

13. If you are breastfeeding, check out your diet with a doctor. You could be eating something that the baby objects to.

14. If you are using any kind of "grippe water", read the label and use only those that contain organic ingredients.

Good sleep to you both!

No comments: