Private Consultant Paediatrician based in Bath, United Kingdom
18.02.2018 - Sleep Problems
I'm frequently asked about sleep problems. Sometimes it's the main focus of the consultation but often it's on the minds of a lot of the parents I meet, even if it isn't the number one issue. We all need adequate sleep and perhaps never more so than when trying to do our best as parents. When your little bundle of joy is the very thing that is standing in the way of this then it's a double hit - you're tired and at the same time worried about what's causing the issue.
Many of the problems that I get consulted about have the makings of sleep problems. Take for example reflux. This can cause your baby significant distress and has a habit of manifesting itself particularly badly around that time when you're trying to transition from wakefulness to sleep. Most babies will sleep after feeding but this isn't easy when they have the discomfort of reflux, made all the worse by lying down! Layer on top of this the fact that you need your mummy and daddy involved in the settling process to comfort and calm you and you have the makings of a disordered settling routine that potentially could last several months, often long after the reflux is resolved.
Your baby is little and cuddly for such a brief time so don't spare the comfort where required! The most important thing in these early stages is to have an awareness of how you are entwined in your baby's settling routine, often an essential part of it. With this knowledge you will be able to develop a strategy that slowly starts to make them less and less dependant on you being involved. This is vital as if you are involved intrinsically at the moment of them going off to sleep and your baby wakes in the middle of the night you will have to be involved in this too!
Remember we all have a settling routine. Think about this the next time you wake briefly and turn over onto your favourite side and pull the covers off your partner and over your head as you fall back to sleep!
Dr. Bernie Marden
BSc MBBS MRCP(UK) FRCPCH LLM