CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: SLEEPLESSNESS

Most infants and children will sleep as required although the pattern may not fit in with the parents. A baby may feed every 2-3 hours through the night and by sleeping in bursts for 2-3 hours through the day has its necessary sleep quota (anywhere up to 16 hours) and is perfectly all right. This may leave parents in tatters and very often convinced that their child does not sleep.

Sleeplessness is influenced by colic and the inadvertent ingestion of stimulants either due to food allergy or drinking mother’s milk, which may contain caffeine or other stimulants, such as drugs of abuse if the mother partakes.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Accepting that the most common causes for an infant’s disturbed sleep pattern are hunger, colic or discomfort from, say, a soiled nappy, then change, feed and comfort the child.

Ensure that the environment is neither too hot nor too cold and that the child’s bed covers are suitable for the temperature. A quilt in summer or a sheet in winter may be inappropriate.

Remember that infants and children are learning constantly and overattention to the slightest complaint will teach them an inappropriate way of attracting attention. If a child seems to be exploiting the parents’ anxieties, leave him/her to cry for 5min, then give comfort until settled and leave the room. Next time, wait for lOmin. Repeat this process and you may find that the child falls asleep whilst whining. Experience will quickly develop and most parents will be able to differentiate between an attention-seeking wail and a cry associated with a true problem.

Parents should feed their baby, even if it means waking the baby, before they go to bed.

Paradoxically, an infant or child may sleep poorly because of overtiredness. Try putting baby to bed 15min earlier and you may find that baby sleeps longer. If this trick does not work, try the commonsense approach of allowing the child to stay up later.

An irritable baby will be soothed by the homeopathic remedy Chamomilla, especially if the child is teething. Coffea 6, three doses on the hour starting Ihr before bed time may help an overexcited child.

For children over the age of two years, Nux vomica 200 on three consecutive nights followed one week later by one dose of Sulphur 200 can be magical! If the child responds after any of the doses of Nux vomica, hold off on the sulphur until the pattern is once again disturbed. This process may be repeated up to once a month but if it does not work consult a homeopath for a more specific remedy.

A chamomile tea sweetened with very little honey, if necessary, may be soporific. • Avoid putting the child to bed within 2hr of the last meal (in the case of an infant or a child that falls asleep after eating, do not awaken the child of course) and avoid exciting or vigorous activity within that time.

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