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Some suggestions to improve sleep

  • Use white noise in the baby's room to drown out other household sounds. A fan, classical music CD, Baby sleep CD, static on a radio or a specially designed white noise toy.

      

  • Try and be flexible in terms of when and how you get your baby to sleep. If she sleeps best in a Wrap or Baby Carrier   attached to you, then do that - if your back is up to it. Remember that you cannot spoil a young baby, and you can always work on a sleep routine when they are older and less uncomfortable.

      

  • Elevate the head of the cot to achieve the suggested 30 degree angle, using a sleep wedge positioner or blankets and pillows under the matress. Please ensure that you follow all safety instructions and ensure that there is no way your baby can slip under the blankets. There are differing opinions on the benefit of elevating the head of the cot, so discuss this option with your Health Care Provider.

     

  • Use a Sleep monitor with an apnoea mat, for your peace of mind. In some extreme cases Reflux babies can suffer from sleep apnoea (a condition where the baby stops breathing for a short period of time). Apnoea mats are not "fail proof" but at least they may allow you to sleep a little better knowing that the baby monitor will alert you to any major problems.

       

  • Try and keep your baby upright for at least 20-30 minutes after a feed.

      

  • Have plenty of linen and blankets for the bed, in case of vomiting, so that you can change quickly without having to worry about doing extra laundry in the middle of the night. Even placing receiving blankets over the sheet will allow for quick removal and replacement, when a mess occurs.

      

  • Try and rest when you can, so that you have the capacity to keep going at night. Babies with Reflux have a higher chance of suffering from Shaken Baby syndrome. So when it gets too much, put your baby somewhere safely, where they cannot be harmed, and walk away. Take a few deep breaths, have a cup of tea or eat something, step outside for a couple of minutes and then try again. Ask for help! If not for your sake - for the baby's sake.

      

  • Remember that young babies are not able to "manipulate" us with their crying or sleeping behaviour, so you are not 'spoiling" a refluxy baby by holding them or helping them to sleep.Once your baby has outgrown the Reflux or it is being managed medically, then seek advice from an expert on getting your baby into a routine and teaching him how to sleep on his own, if he hasn't mastered the art. Having said this, some Reflux babies have no problem sleeping and you can introduce a routine much earlier, which will make your life significantly easier. Babies, and Mommies for that matter, love routine!

      

  • If your baby is restless, swaddle him in a stretch cotton blanket, this will help him to feel secure, as he did in his Mother's womb.

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The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.