Sometimes when sleeping is disrupted often enough infants and children can go on to have problems with sleep cycles even after the underline acid reflux is treated. These behavioral sleep disturbances can be very trying for parents. Thankfully there are a few tips and tricks than can help to reduce these problems.
One issue we had with our daughters were what we called "confusing the night and day". Basically they were up so much at night with reflux symptoms that they became used to being awake at night and napping during the day. The only way to change this is to insure that your child does not over sleep during the day. Otherwise they will never be tired enough to get back to sleeping at night. Active play and limiting naps to less than an hour per nap can help make the transition back to night time sleeping.
Having a good established bedtime routine can be essential in gaining good sleeping habits. Children should have a set bedtime and a set time to get up. Calming routines such as a warm bath and reading a story can help relax and prepare for bedtime. Lowering the lights in the child's room and providing a quieter environment is also key. We found that room darkening shades were a Godsend for us when the time of year caused it to be light outside when our girls needed to be sleeping.
I do not believe in "cry it out" as a tool for all kids with reflux. It can work for some but in my experience can backfire m ore often than not. The problem is that most kids with reflux will end up aggravating their symptoms when they cry or have emotional outbursts. Instead, parents should be firm about bedtime but also provide soothing for babies who wake or stir at night. You can sooth your baby without being too disruptive to sleep by rubbing the child's back, "shushing" them or stroking their hair without picking them up. Do not turn on all of the lights in their bedroom when you enter as that can be counterproductive as well. Books such as The Baby Whisperer were wonderful for us when our children were little.
Obviously all of these tools can only work once your child's pain is under control. If you are still dealing with the pain of acid reflux talk with your child's doctor. No amount of behavioral changes will allow your child to sleep while in pain.
Published On: September 23, 2011