Have you ever heard the story of Catherine O’Leary’s Cow?

Back in 1871, the Chicago Tribune reported that the cause of the great Chicago Fire was a cow, Catherine O’Leary’s cow to be precise, kicking over a lantern in the barn while it was being milked.

Unfortunately, the Tribune admitted later on that it had completely fabricated the story, but that didn’t stop people from blaming Catherine and her cow from being widely blamed for one of the greatest disasters in US history.

What’s this got to do with teething, you ask?

Nothing really, except that they’re both victims of some unnecessary scapegoating.

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One of the most aggravating situations I see parents running into when they’re sleep training is the sudden onset of a minor illness when they’re finally seeing some progress.

After months of sleep issues, they finally decide to take the initiative and get serious about getting their baby onto a schedule, baby starts getting the hang of it, the whole family is starting to see longer periods of consolidated sleep, and everyone’s getting ready to break out the champagne…

And then BAM! Baby gets a cold, or an ear infection, or a bout of diarrhoea, or one of the other seven thousand illnesses that babies are prone to, and the whole thing goes off the rails.

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Baby Sick and Won’t Sleep

Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress. There’s a few things that you do need to keep in mind.

The first is your baby is going to wake in the night. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. We tend to have two, five, even more nighttime wake-ups.

It’s realistic to expect that your sick child is going to have some night wake-ups. How you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference. Read more

Baby Won’t Sleep Cause of Sickness?

As parents we want to see our children healthy and happy. There is nothing that grieves you more than when your child is in pain and you can not do much to help. My daughter Chloe suffers from Asthma and has done since she was born, she has a constant cough and in the winter a continuous cough, which carries on throughout the night. The nights I have had to tend to her and give her medication, she takes it and always goes back to her cot with rarely any fuss. But it is upsetting to see her this way.

When your baby is ill, they are often fussy, uncomfortable and have difficulty sleeping. The regular night time routine will be flipped upside down and previous soothing techniques will not work. For example your baby who has started sleeping through the night may suddenly start waking up several times or a baby who loves the car may scream all the way home.

Colds, diarrhoea, fever are just a couple of illnesses that can be caused by harmless viruses and tend to go away on their own. Babies are born with some of their mother immunity to illness, further enhanced by breastfeeding; they are not immune to ever changing viruses. If you are unsure or worried about your baby’s health do not hesitate to check with your physician.

When a child is sick, sleep is a key ingredient for their recovery. When you have visited your physician / doctor when ill, after prescribing medication they always advise you to get plenty of rest and sleep, this same principle applies to children.

Here are some useful tips to help you deal and prepare with your infant during illness

1. Monitor

To understand when your baby is sick, you have to understand what they are like when well and that is what a parent knows best. No body understands their child more, than the parent or primary child career. To understand if your child is ill or if they are recovering, monitor daily their temperature, behaviour, temperament, intake of food and liquids, interactions with others and sleep patterns. These indicators are the best tell tell signs.

2. Medication

Depending upon the age of your infant, there are only a few over the counter medicines allowed, consult your physician and /or pharmacist to ensure you are prepared and fully stocked. Some parents prefer the “Ole Wife’s Tale” style of medicine which is the use of only natural products such as a teaspoon of honey. Do your research and consult a medical professional first, as these could be harmful if incorrect dosage is administered or the child is not the correct age to be consuming the ingredients.

3. Thermometer

There are various locations where the temperature of a child can be taken and internet research can give lots of different answers all citing to be the correct “average” temperature of your baby. As a general rule, a temperature of over 37.5 (99.5F) is a fever. The word “fever” can scare and petrify the hearts of any parent. It means “an elevation of body temperature above the normal and is a sign of illness,” such as viral, bacterial or other type of infection. A fever is not an illness on its own.

There are now various thermometers available on the market and can be very baffling.

Digital thermometers – Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate and can be used under the armpit, mouth or rectum.

Ear (or tympanic) thermometers – They are put in the child’s ear and can be very annoying and unpleasant for the child.

Digital pacifier/dummy – This is less irritating than an ear or rectal thermometer, it is fast, convenient and non-invasive. It can also be pleasant if the child is used to a dummy.

 Strip-type thermometers – Strip-type thermometers, which you hold on your child’s forehead, are not an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.

Infrared thermometer – No contact thermometers. The laser is pointed at the child’s forehead and provides accurate reading on a digital screen. It is quick, accurate and can be used on a fidgeting child.

Mercury-in-glass thermometers – Mercury-in-glass thermometers haven’t been used for some years. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury.

4. Room temperature

The ideal room temperature is 16-20ºC.  18ºC (65ºF) is perfect. An infant sleeping in a room that is too hot has an increased risk of Cot Death and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It can be very difficult to estimate the room temperature, so use a room thermometer in the rooms where baby sleeps and plays is best. To help cool a room, open a window and close the curtains or use a fan, but do not place it directly onto your baby.

Use sleepwear for babies and not t-shirts or other daytime clothing, as baby sleepwear should be fire-retardant. They should never be sweating or hot to the touch, especially in the hands. If you use blankets, loose or soft bedding, tuck it snugly along the sides of the mattress. But not any higher than chest level and a baby’s face should never be covered during sleep. Be sure that you do not tuck blankets so tightly that the baby cannot move. The most appropriate covering is a “Baby Sleep Bag,” they are wearable blankets with armholes and neck openings.  They help the baby stay at the right temperature through the night without the problem of traditional blankets and sheets being kicked off or getting tangled up.  There are various sizes according to your child’s age, weight and length. Available in various designs and Tog ratings (describes the level of warmth in a product) and can be worn throughout the year.

5. Food and drink

A child may not have much of an appetite when sick, so increase their fluid intake to prevent dehydration and constipation. Avoid undiluted sugary drinks such as juice and carbonated drinks, as these can worsen digestive illnesses. Keeping your baby hydrated is very important as dehydration can cause complications and may result in hospitalisation. Monitor for decrease in urine production, lack of tears, dryness in the mouth and sunken eyes as these are indicators of dehydration.

Once your child has started to recover return to the bed time sleep routine, it is a benefit for the whole family. Continue to monitor your child, give them medication as and when needed and watch their temperature. Every child needs consistency, rules and expectations to live by, so they know what is expected of them on a daily basis. They will grow learning responsibility and understand consequences, therefore less likely to push boundaries.

October is SIDS Awareness Month, it is important to help create widespread exposure about SIDS. As safe baby sleep habits are just as important as healthy sleep habits, detailed in this article are facts about with SIDS facts, risk factors and actions to reduce the risk.

What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, is the leading cause of death in infants and children age one month to one year. Despite advances in research, the cause of SIDS is still not thoroughly understood. The diagnosis is given to children under one year who die in their sleep without any other known cause. Research shows there is a strong correlation to breathing and oxygen levels during the sleep cycle.

Safe Sleeping

While there is no way to prevent SIDS, there are ways parents can reduce the risk of infant death. Infants who are placed to sleep on their backs are at a much lower risk for SIDS than those placed on their stomachs. Babies sleeping on their backs are in less danger of experiencing restricted air flow.

The crib itself should also be free of anything that might unintentionally obstruct breathing. For instance, stuffed animals and pillows should be left outside of the sleeping environment. Mattresses should be firm and sheets tight. Crib bumpers, while cute, can also pose a risk to your baby.

Your baby’s comfort is also important. Many parents fret over whether their infant is warm enough during sleep and like to pile on blankets that not only pose a danger for restricted oxygen flow, but also make the baby too warm. There are various authorities that state the ideal room temperature for safe sleep is between 18.3 and 21.1 degrees Celsius. In fact, placing a fan in the room may decrease your infant’s risk of SIDS by 72%.[1]

Outside the Crib

There are several other ways you can reduce the risk of sudden infant death as a result of SIDS. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from SIDS. Good prenatal care is also important and may play a role in reducing risk further.

Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have infants that die from SIDS. Even passive smoke exposure can double your infant’s chances of death. The top priority is to quit smoking if at all possible. At the very least, refrain from smoking in your home and car, or anywhere near your infant.

Finally, it is vital that all caregivers be aware of the risk of SIDS and understand the necessities of safe infant sleeping. Relatives and daycare providers should all practice safe sleeping procedures:

  • Baby should sleep on his or her back
  • No smoking in the home, car or immediate area
  • No loose sheets, stuffed animals, pillows or blankets in the crib
  • Keep baby comfortable and not too warm
  • Use a fan in the room if available

 

Following these important tips can significantly reduce your infant’s risk of suffering from SIDS and make your time with your baby a less worrisome experience.