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How to Recognize If Your Child Has An Airway Problem

Have you noticed any unnatural or worrisome behavior in your child’s sleeping patterns? For example, does your child snore, even as an infant? Does your child gasp for air, appear to choke, or thrash around in his or her sleep? If so, you may want to have your child’s airway development evaluated.

We all know proper breathing habits are essential to our children’s health, development, and intellectual success. Early detection and correction of airway problems is critical to their overall quality of life. Children who cannot adequately breathe through their noses tend to breathe through their mouths. Constant mouth breathing is not only unhealthy, but also tends to affect the growth of facial features.

Even if your child has never had any respiratory issues, his or her ability to easily and efficiently breathe depends on more than lung functionality. Even if your child’s lungs are functioning properly, any obstructions or constrictions of the airway over a significant amount of time can lead to unhealthy breathing habits and anatomical pathologies. As your child grows, a restricted airway increases his or her chances of asthma, allergies, and chronic sinus and throat infections.

Don’t forget – the tongue is the strongest muscle in our body! The more your child’s tongue sits in the lower jaw, the more pressure exerted. This leads to severely compromised nasal breathing, causing the upper jaw and midface to develop at a slower rate, because the natural growth stimulant of air flow through the nasal passages is absent. The deficiency of growth in our upper jaws and midface affects our facial balance, beauty and function. A poorly-developed upper jaw means less support for the eye sockets and nasal airways, leading to a deviated septum, asymmetrical nose, snoring, and sleep apnea.

By examining, diagnosing and treating your child’s airway development at an early age, you can:

  • Remove dangerous factors influencing your child’s growth
  • Ensure proper growth in your child’s development
  • Assist in the psychological well-being of your child
  • Save your child from a potential jaw surgery in adulthood
  • Prevent crowding and crooked teeth in your child’s smile

To determine which course of treatment would be the most beneficial to your child, reach out to your pediatrician, dentist, orthodontist, or sleep specialist.

Video: How to Introduce Your Child to Sleeping in a Bed

In this brief video, NHS Health Visitor, Sara, discusses how to approach moving your young child from a cot (*crib) to a bed and gives some tips for success.

Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

  • child-moving-to-a-bedThere are no hard-and-fast rules for when to move your baby from a cot (*crib) to a bed – do it when it feels comfortable for your child and for you
  • From 18 months, you might find that your child is too big for a cot or is trying to climb out – that’s the time to move them into a bed
  • For some children, moving from a cot to a bed is really exciting and they accept it really well
  • For other children, they might feel a bit stressed about the change – so you might need to choose a calm time in their life
    • Challenging times for moving from a cot to a bed can be if you’re moving house, if you’ve gone back to work or if your child is not feeling well
  • You may need to move your child to a bed if you have another baby on the way – if so, do it about six to eight weeks before your new baby is born, to help keep your child from being unsettled with too much change
  • Once sleeping in a bed, your child might get up in the night and wander around, so be sure to childproof their room
    • Put a stair gate across the door
    • Check their room for any electrical appliances or wires they could trip over, any small toys or objects they can get hold of or any cord blinds that they could get tangled in
    • You might also want to put barrier next to the bed or put cushions on the floor in case they fall out
  • If your child doesn’t like the bed initially and they want to protest, just stay calm, reassure them, give them a cuddle, but put them back in the bed
    • You might find that you have to do it a few times, but if you’re consistent, they’ll soon get used to being in the bed
  • When your child has slept in the bed, or had some naps in the bed, praise them because it can make a big difference to their confidence and they’ll feel much more willing to sleep in the bed if you praise them for what they’ve done

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

 





Pediatrics Academy Issues Updated Infant Safe Sleep Guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) held their annual conference this week in San Francisco, and has used this event as a platform for announcing new or updated policy guidelines in a number of areas. One we reported on earlier this week was about New Guidelines on Children’s Exposure to Digital Media.

We report here on another set of updated guidelines – this time focused on safe sleep environments for infants.

The Problem

Baby sleeping safetyMore than 3500 infants die each year in the US from sleep-related deaths. This number includes cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), plus other sleep-related deaths like accidental strangulation in bed. The rate of infant sleep-related deaths had been dropping up to the 1990s – but little change has been seen in recent years. The issues behind these deaths can all be addressed by similar improvements to enhance the safety of a baby’s sleep environment.

Overview of the Guidelines

Several of the elements outlined in the updated policy are not new, though nonetheless very important. The AAP has long been recommending that babies be put to sleep on their backs (supine position) – and that soft bedding be avoided. They also emphasize the importance of breastfeeding and avoiding smoking and drug use while pregnant – and exposure to smoke/drug use after birth. While most people are likely aware of the risks to babies from exposure to these toxins, not all may know that smoking and drug-use environments are associated with increased infant sleep-death risk, including SIDS. Details of all the guidelines are listed in the box at the end of this article.

What is particularly new and notable in these guidelines is the recommendation for babies to sleep in their parents’ room for up to the first year after birth – especially for the first 6 months when 90% of SIDS cases occur. Research suggests that infant sleep-related deaths could be reduced by 50% through “room-sharing” – as long as the baby is sleeping in their own safety-approved crib or bassinet and not in the parental bed.

“Couches and armchairs are extremely dangerous places for infants.” – AAP Guidelines

The authors of the new guidelines note that “bed-sharing” greatly increases risk for SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths – and are “especially dangerous” in the following cases:

  • When one or both parents are smokers, even if they are not smoking in bed
  • When the mother smoked during pregnancy
  • When the infant is younger than 4 months of age
  • When the infant is born preterm and/or with low birth weight
  • When the infant is bed-sharing on excessively soft or small surfaces, such as waterbeds, sofas, and armchairs
  • When soft bedding accessories such as pillows or blankets are used
  • When there are multiple bed-sharers
  • When the parent has consumed alcohol and/or illicit or sedating drugs
  • When the infant is bed-sharing with someone who is not a parent

“Skin-to-skin care is recommended for all mothers and newborns immediately following birth” – AAP Guidelines

The updated guidelines FOR PARENTS from the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS on safe sleep environments for infants are:

  • Back to sleep for every sleep. Babies should be put to sleep on their backs on a surface that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) should be used. These include cribs, bassinets, portable cribs or play yards. Once babies are able to roll into different positions they can be allowed to sleep in those positions.
  • Use a firm sleep surface with NO soft objects or loose bedding. Infant beds should have firm mattresses and tight fitting sheets – and nothing else – including no crib bumpers.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS and the more that a mother exclusively breastfeeds, the greater the reduction in risk. But the authors note that “any breastfeeding is more protective against SIDS than no breastfeeding”.
  • Room-sharing with the infant on a separate sleep surface is recommended. Having the baby sleep in its own crib or bassinet is best, but bedside sleepers that are CPSC-approved can be used. No safety guidelines have been developed for in-bed sleepers and there is currently no evidence regarding their ability to reduce SIDS risk – so these are not recommended.
  • Avoid overheating and head covering in infants. AAP does not provide specific room temperature guidance, but states that babies should wear only one more layer than an adult would to be comfortable in the room.
  • Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. Although experts do not yet know why, use of pacifiers has been shown in multiple studies to guard against SIDS. The pacifier should be used when laying the baby down to sleep. It does not need to be put back in the mouth if it falls out while the child is asleep.
  • Avoid smoke exposure and alcohol/illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth. Prenatal and environmental smoking exposure are major risk factors for SIDS.
  • Prenatal care and immunization of infants is important. Both prenatal care and infant immunization have been shown to have a protective effect against SIDS.
  • Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence these reduce risk of sleep-related death.

The Academy has also recommended against use of products marketed to reduce risk of SIDS – such as wedges and positioning devices. These are not CPSC-approved and do not have scientific evidence to support their claims, and may actually pose hazards. They also caution against swaddling. However, the authors do support daily tummy time for babies to promote development.

Finally, AAP has also provided guidelines for health care providers (including in NICUs, nurseries, and childcare centers), public health officials, and manufacturers. These can be found on the AAP website.

 

 

An Unexpected Danger for Baby’s Hearing

How often do you think about the impact on your hearing from listening to music on your iPod, maybe a little too loudly? Do you wear hearing protection when mowing the lawn? What about hearing protection for your baby or child? When is that needed?

Certainly that was a concern for me and my husband when we started taking our son to a local air show when he was a toddler. The sounds of the jets were unbearable at times – even for me. And Elliott certainly let us know it was an issue for him, so we got big over-ear protectors that made a real difference.

So, if a sound is loud enough to harm our child’s hearing, we will know, right? The baby will cry. The toddler will cover his ears.

Well, not so, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Toronto. A review of popular baby sleep machines – such as the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine and Baby Einstein’s Sea Dream Soother – found that, set on maximum volume, all of these machines exceeded recommended decibel levels for hospital nurseries – and a few exceeded workplace safe hearing limits for adults. You can read more about the findings of the study in this New York Times article.

The authors point out that these machines, which emit white noise or nature sounds to soothe babies to sleep, can mostly likely be used safely by keeping the machine at a lower volume and away from the baby, and also limiting the duration of use. But the thing that is so concerning is how widespread the recommendations to use these machines have become, without a proper understanding of their potential impact. We certainly used something like this – and never dreamed it could have negative effects on our son. These findings should also raise the question for all parents about other potentially damaging noises for babies. One example that comes to mind is the sound level of music at a church I’ve been to on occasion. The music was so loud that it actually hurt my ears. Although babies in the congregation were napping or playing – clearly this isn’t an all-clear signal that the noise level is safe.

The article also got me thinking about hearing protection as children age. One of the most common concerns is with tweens and teens and loud music – particularly when using ear buds. But there are other concerns as well, like loud sporting events and power tools at home. Some great advice on these and other hearing concerns for kids can be found at It’s a Noisy Planet, a program of the National Institutes of Health. And you can click here to download a brief Noisy Planet tip sheet, Sound Advice on Hearing Protection for Young Ears.

easidream

Editor’s Note: we first ran this post in July of 2009 not long after easidream’s creation. It will officially be available to purchase this summer so we thought we’d take this opportunity to share it with you again.

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Hello, I’m Lynda, mum to six lovable and lively children and inventor of easidream®

When my sixth child, Bradley was born, he cried constantly and it was a nightly struggle to settle him to sleep…a struggle that went on until he was two and a half years old! I tried everything to soothe him off to sleep, but I discovered that the most reliable way was to lean over the cot sides and create a ‘rocking cot’ motion by moving the mattress up and down. Having scoured shops and the internet for any product that would replicate this movement (and relieve my backache!), I realised that there was nothing suitable out there, so I went on to take the ‘massive step’ of developing a product of my own – easidream® crib

Easidream cribFor the next few years I researched the problem as deeply as possible, canvassing valuable input from sleep experts, university departments and medical professionals like midwives, child psychologists and paediatricians. I also consulted with the baby care industry and product design teams and, of course, surveyed many parents with young babies. At last, after a 7-year gestation easidream® was born!

The finished product has been meticulously designed and researched. I considered it was essential for easidream® to undergo proper scientific trials to validate its efficiency… it was no good just me saying it worked, I needed to be 100% sure that it did! I embarked on a year long period of research in conjunction with University of Brighton medical experts, which involved testing both the moving platform and the soothing sounds on a wide selection of babies. These studies not only revealed just how effective easidream® was at promoting healthy sleep patterns, but also showed that it encourages parents to adopt safe sleep practices.

The findings revealed:

  • Average crying time on easidream® was reduced from 18 minutes to less than 1 minute
  • All of the babies that took part in the trials remained happily settled on their backs; great news in respect of SIDS
  • Time to settle to sleep in some cases was reduced by up to 95%

We all know that when a new baby arrives, uninterrupted sleep is rare and we have to adapt to shorter, broken nights and savour every moment of sleep we can catch. But although we think our bodies are coping with just a few ‘catnaps’ a night, continuous lack of sleep eventually catches up on us all; it’s vitally important that we understand just how crucial sleep is to the whole family’s well being… not just for healthy child development, but also for the general health and well being of everyone in the household. Did you know that it has been proven that well rested children develop faster, are healthier and have fewer behavioural problems? With adults, lack of sleep has been proven to affect both memory and cognitive skills…. What more can I say? I was determined to invent a product that would not only help soothe particularly fractious babies, but also promote the formation of a healthy sleep pattern, so both babies and parents could benefit from a good night’s rest.

easidream® actually assists in encouraging the formation of a healthy sleep pattern plus it encourages babies to self settle on their back in the cot, which is great news in the fight against SIDS. It also solves the problem of sleep deprivation for the whole family by rewarding them with those valuable hours of sleep they so richly deserve. End result: happy, healthier babies and happy, healthier parents!

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

1. Putting babies to sleep

  • Make sure you place your baby with their feet at the foot of the cot (but not touching the end of the cot) , to reduce the likelihood of the baby wriggling down and becoming overheated underneath any cot bedding, which may end up over the baby’s head. Overheating has been shown to greatly increase the likelihood of a SIDS related incident occurring.
  • Also, remove soft toys from the cot, as they too could increase your baby’s temperature to an unsafe level. This is why ewan, our dream sheep, is secured to the cot bars and not positioned directly in line with your baby’s head, just in case he becomes detached – although this is extremely unlikely! (Some of our website shots are at an angle that may look like ewan is close to the head, but I can assure you he’s not!)
  • Always ensure your baby is placed to sleep on their back; again this is incredibly important in reducing the likelihood of a SIDS incident occurring. (The beauty of easidream® is that it has been proven to actually help baby’s settle to sleep on their backs and so parents are more likely to follow the recommended safe sleep guidelines.)
  • While all of this is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for Safe Sleeping , each baby is unique. Always remember to ask your doctor what’s best for your baby’s sleep.

2. If they wake up or refuse to sleep:

  • …it is extremely important that you go and check your baby to determine the reason why. We have spent a great deal of time researching this particular area and having consulted medical professionals, and it is why we decided against having an automatic sound activated feature or a remote control that would “restart” the soother. As this is such a vulnerable age group, we consider it vitally important that parents return to their baby to remedy any problem – dirty nappy, thirsty, hungry etc. For healthy, happy sleep times we believe that interaction with your baby is vital and we strongly encourage this practise.

Nine Ways to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is scary to think about! It may even cause you to spend a lot of time hovering around your baby’s sleep environment during her first few weeks at home. While experts don’t know all the causes of SIDS, they do know that it’s rare — and that there are plenty of things parents can do to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Here’s what you need to know:

Baby sleeping safety1. Precaution starts during pregnancy. Give your baby a head start by getting proper prenatal care. It’s also essential to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking, or spending time in smoky environments.

2. Place your baby to sleep on her back. Whether it’s naptime or nighttime, babies under 1 year should always sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. The exception: If she rolls onto her side or stomach, it’s OK to leave her like that. She probably has the ability to roll herself back.

3. Place your baby on a firm sleep surface. Your baby’s crib should meet current sleep safety standards (find out more at cpsc.gov – new crib safety standards were introduced in 2011) and her mattress should be covered with a fitted sheet.

4. No extras in the crib. That means no stuffed animals, loose bedding, pillows, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters, or any other objects that could potentially suffocate your baby while she sleeps.

5. Sleep near your baby. Keep her crib or bassinet within arm’s reach. But don’t let her sleep in your bed, which can actually increase the risk of SIDS.

6. Breastfeed and immunize. Doing both can reduce the risk of SIDS, according to research.

7. Keep your baby cool. Signs your baby might be too hot include sweating or a hot chest or forehead. As a rule of thumb, you only need to dress her in one more layer than you would wear to keep warm.

8. Offer a pacifier. Pacifiers given during sleep or naptime may reduce the risk of SIDS. But if your baby isn’t interested, that’s okay — you don’t have to force it.

9. Avoid SIDS-reducing products. Despite what the package’s label might say, wedges, special mattresses, and sleep positioners have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. In fact, they could cause suffocation.



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