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Bonfire Night : Babies and Sleep During the Celebration - Baby Winkz Blog Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, as we normally know it, is a great celebration for adults and children alike. Unfortunately, many parents are ready to put their children to bed long before the revelry is over. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy the event and keep your baby’s schedule on track.

Enjoy the Bonfire Night Celebration Safely

There are a number of important baby safety considerations to keep in mind if you plan on getting out to enjoy the fireworks. There are two primary issues with fireworks: smoke and noise. The smoke from fireworks and bonfires not only can be immediately toxic but can cause respiratory problems for days after. Be sure to keep your little ones away from the smoke. This will also help reduce the risk of injury from sparks and fire. Keep in mind that even sparklers are dangerous and should never be given to children under age five. Get educated on important sparkler safety tips as well.

If you are attending fireworks, be sure to provide ear protection, even if you are seated away from the worst of the noise. Noises louder than 80dB can harm hearing development in young children and babies. Fireworks register at 140dB and can cause permanent hearing loss.[1] Proper protection for your children includes earmuffs but not earplugs. Not only are plugs damaging to ear canals, they can be a choking hazard.

Don’t forget to keep baby warm. Layering works best. Make sure hands and feet are not neglected. Remember that temperatures change quickly this time of year and even if the evening starts out warm or slightly cool, it will quickly decline as the evening goes on.

Bonfire Night Bedtimes for Children and Babies

Whether at home or about, Bonfire Night often presents bedtime challenges for parents and disrupt baby routines and sleep patterns. Fireworks are the main culprit, due to the noise that goes on late into the night. Getting babies to sleep on this night can be very trying for parents.

If you are out and about, be sure that you have a place where baby can sleep away from the worst of the noise from the crowds and fireworks. Take turns with your partner staying with baby in the car or, if you are with friends and family, inside in a quiet room. Babies and toddlers may react to the noise with fear or panic. Be calm and reassuring with your child. A familiar voice and presence is more helpful than an outside care provider in these circumstances.

A late nap can help with babies and children who will be staying up past normal bedtimes to celebrate. It’s important, however, not to force children to stay awake. Always have a back-up plan for tired or grumpy children or those who become afraid.

If you are at home and plan to forego the festivities, you can still give your baby a good night’s sleep with ear protection. Depending on the noise level and activity in your neighbourhood, a knit cap may be all that is needed to do the trick. For those with noisy surroundings, try nursing pads over the ears or cotton wads in the outer ear secured by a cap or bonnet. This will help protect against the worst of the noise. You may even consider relocating your child’s crib for the evening to a room away from the noisiest of the festivities.

Bonfire Night can be a fun and exciting time for the entire family. You can keep the disturbances to baby sleep patterns and baby schedules to a minimum with a just a little thought and preparation. Getting babies to sleep need not be overly difficult, and baby’s bedtime can stay on track if you think ahead.

Fantasy and Reality Children Can Not Tell the Difference

Halloween will be celebrated very soon, October 31. During this time of year it’s up to parents, caregivers, friends and family to keep Bogeyman / Boogieman at bay from young children.

Not many people know why we dress up every Halloween and terrify each other. Let me explain, Halloween originates from pagan festivals held annually around the end of October in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Many people believed that during this time, the spirits of the dead would come ‘alive’ and walk among the living. They thought in order to avoid being harmed, it was important to dress up in costumes to “blend in” with the spirits or mimic them.

If your child under 7 years of age is afraid of people wandering the streets dressed as ghosts and goblins.  Do not worry, you are not alone. Up until this age, their brains can not distinguish between fantasy and reality. They have not yet developed Cognitive Developmental reasoning; therefore they can not grasp concrete logic or mentally manipulate information. So if they see a person in costume dressed as a monster, they see a monster not the person.

When your child has experienced Halloween and the outcome of it was frightening and scary for them. The likely result at bedtime will be a nightmare, which are unpleasant and terrifying dreams. Nightmares occur during the second half of a night’s sleep, when REM intervals are longer. (REM known as Rapid Eye Movement because the eyes are rapidly moving beneath closed eyelids.) As soon as your child wakes they can remember and describe the dream, so it is understandable for them to call out for comfort, want to sleep in your room or need an object of affection which makes them feel safe.

 

How do I handle my child’s nightmare?

From personal experience, last year Halloween (October 2011), my husband answered the door to trick or treat children who were dressed up as ghosts and scary monsters. Unfortunately our Daughter was behind him and saw them, she was very frightened and witnessed this just before her bedtime. So you imagine what her night was like! Everyday for the remainder of the week she would run away and hide every time the door bell rang.

 

Nightmares are scary and are very uncomfortable for children, but they preventable. After a nightmare your child may or may not go back to sleep easily depending on their age and how scary the dream was. To help them relax and associate bedtime with safety and comfort, please follow the advice I used for my own daughter:

 

  • 2 Hours before bedtime – Do not let your child watch, read, listen or participate in activities which will disturb them or get them over excited, as this will form the basis for their night’s sleep.
  • Preparation for bed – Ensure your child is comfortable and relaxed, not highly stimulated. Talk about pleasurable and happy topics such as holidays or things they like to do. As part of my bedtime routine with my daughter, I twirl like a fairy and sprinkle magic fairy dust all over her. This reassures her and lets her feel protected against her nightmares.
  • After a nightmare – Listen to what your child has to say when they explain the dream and tell you about the monsters. Acknowledge their fears let them know you believe and trust them. Console and comfort your child, make them feel safe by telling them something like “the monsters have gone away now, they are on holiday.” If necessary check the wardrobe and under the bed, let them know their room is clear and harmless to sleep in.

 

Night Terrors

Night Terrors are very different from Nightmares.  Every child’s experience of a night terror differs, but usually they can not be woken from sleep, they may scream, thrash about, sit bolt up right in bed, sweat, act upset and may not recognise you when trying to comfort them. Do not fret or worry, so long as your child is in a physically safe environment they are not in any danger or harm and will not have any memory of their behaviour the next morning. It is far more frightening to witness, as the parent or care provider, you are unable to help or stop what seems like torment for your child.

Night terrors occur when a child’s sleep transitions from the deepest phase of (non-REM) sleep to lighter (REM) sleep, a phase where dreams occur. Between sleep cycles your child wake’s briefly, then usually self settles and goes back to sleep. The night terror is when their mind is trying to go back to sleep, but part of their mind is trying to wake up, both trying to win.

The reasons or triggers for night terrors can be due to:

  • Over tired
  • Fatigued
  • Illness
  • Reaction to new medication
  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping in a new environment or away from home

How do I handle my child’s night terror?

  • Prior to bed time – Same as the nightmare preparations, ensure your child is relaxed and stress reduced to minimum.
  • Bedtime – Your child should not be over tired, fatigued or have stayed up to late.
  • During/After the night terror – Do not try and wake your child, as it can be distressing for you when they remain in the same state. If you are able to awaken your child, they are likely to be disoriented and confused, therefore taking longer to settle down and go back to sleep.
  • Repetitive night terror – If the night terrors occur frequently and at the same time every night, you may find that waking your child breaks the cycle. This can disrupt their sleep pattern enough to stop the attacks without affecting sleep quality.

For most children, nightmares and night terrors happen only now and then so there is no cause for concern. If you need further help, I encourage you to download my comprehensive guide “The Five Steps To Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night!” You can also contact me.