Air conditioning can dry the humidity in the room, and babies and children can wake with a dry mouth and feel thirsty and their cries can equate to more nighttime feeding occurrences. Fixing humidity doesn’t mean they’ll have one less night feed – if they are hungry, then they absolutely need to be fed!
For children who are mouth breathers and sleep with their mouth open, a dry room can be an issue and sleep disrupter.
Humidity Range and Reasoning
A humidity range between 40-60% is healthy for the body, mainly because bacteria have a hard time growing in this range. The EPA’s recommends 30-50% for preventing mold growth in the house as higher humidity promotes mold growth. Some children’s hospitals keep their air at 55%. How a room is built and insulated is also a factor for promoting mold growth. If walls get cold at night, mold is more likely to grow.
Aim for a higher humidity level without mold growth. Factors include the season and construction of the room. You can get an inexpensive humidity thermometer or pick one up from your local hardware store.
The humidity level will be raised significantly if you aim a humidifier or diffuser at your child’s crib or, but the overall humidity of the room will not be as high. This is an effective way to give Baby the benefit of humidity while decreasing your risk of mold. However, you need to be sure Baby is warm if you’re using a cold mist.
Newborn Baby Sleep Temperature
If your child is an amazing newborn or beautiful older baby, the room should be between 68-72 degrees F.
It is very important that you not overheat your newborn when Baby sleeps as it increases the risk of SIDS/SUIDS. It has also been shown that using a fan can decrease the risk of SIDS/SUIDS by 72%!
Fans help with increasing the mix of the exhalation into the room air and improving room ventilation. This percentage is obviously very high and getting a small fan is worth the investment. In addition, you may want to invest in a fan guard, which is made out of fine mesh and fitted over the fan head to prevent little finger getting caught in the blades. This will also prevent your child from poking other objects in the blades. Place the fan away from Baby, ensure at least 3 to 4 feet between the tip of the ceiling fan blades and the edge of your child’s bed or other furniture, so if you have an older child who is tempted to jump on their bed or climb, they won’t reach the fan. A ceiling fan is ideal.
If the room is cooler for Baby, you need more layers. Layers do not equal blankets with babies! They can get intertwined and tangled in them and suffocate. More layers mean instead of just being swaddled in a diaper (which is very effective for a warm room), swaddle Baby in a onesie, or swaddle Baby wearing footie jammies. Or double swaddle! Or swaddle baby in a diaper alone with a velcro swaddle and a receiving blanket burrito-swaddled over it.
No socks, no hat! At the hospital, the nurses will provide a hat for you… do not keep this on your baby while sleeping swaddled after the first couple of days..! Socks for sleep is also a no-no. Babies with cool extremities are not cold, and it helps them self-regulate their temperature while not wearing these. Socks and hats while sleeping swaddled can contribute to overheating and SIDS/SUIDS. You can check if your baby is too hot by feeling the back of their neck and upper back. If they’re clammy, they are too hot. If you’re warm, your baby is hot! If you’re hot, your baby is very hot! If you’re cold, they are probably perfect. Babies overheat faster than adults! Again, the ideal temperature for babies is 68-72 degrees F; this can be super cold for adults, but it’s super ideal for a sleeping baby, and some pediatricians even recommend the room be as low as 66 degrees F! Wow!
Why Swaddle Baby?
Swaddling is effective during the Fourth Trimester to help mimic the feeling of the womb. After wrapping Baby up in a blanket like a little burrito, Baby feels safe and secure because Baby feels boundaries, like when inutero. Baby is born with over 70 reflexes that Baby loses as Baby develops, and one is called the moro reflex or startle reflex. Swaddling helps Baby feel the boundary when disrupted by the reflex so that they have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep. It can take up to 4 or 5 months for Baby to stop the startling, but you can stop swaddling after Baby starts rolling over and transition to a sleep sack.
Which Swaddles are Best?
We love the Ollie swaddle, which makes swaddling a breeze with velcro.
For quick layering advice, many mothers find “inception swaddling” or double swaddling super effective: first place Baby (wearing a diaper only) in a SwaddleMe or Happiest Baby Sleepea Swaddle, and then burrito-swaddle Baby in a muslin swaddle blanket such as a lightweight Aden + Anais muslin cotton receiving blanket.
Toddler Sleep Temperature
It’s also proven that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your child is a terrific toddler, dress them in a single layer of long pants and long sleeves. If the room is warm and it’s not a variable you can control, stick with short sleeves or nothing but a diaper.
Thirst Solutions Caused by Dry Air
As an adult, it’s easy to have a glass of water next to our beds when we wake thirsty. Obviously, this is dangerous for babies! However, toddlers can have a spill-proof cup near their bed such as the Munchkin 360 Training Cup. This cup is a great stepping stone for Little Ones transitioning from the bottle as it has a 360-degree drinking edge. Its spout-less design eliminates spills completely so if your child falls asleep with it in their hands or bed, you don’t need to worry about mattresses getting soaked as the cup automatically seals when your child stops drinking.
These are better to use than a straw-type of sippy cup for both developmental and sanitary reasons:
- These cups are recommended by newborn care specialists, dentists, early intervention specialists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
- They improve tongue, oral development, and in-turn, speech function as they help develop mouth muscles.
- They’re easy to clean with no extra valves or parts.
- The top piece, where your child’s mouth will touch, is silicone material; thus, it’s hypoallergenic since there are no open pores to harbor bacteria.
These cups also come in stainless steel if you want to keep it in the fridge for children who absolutely love cold water on hot days.
Buying the Best Humidifier or Diffuser
If you use air-conditioning or central heating, you may consider adding a humidifier to the room. A cool-mist diffuser/humidifier combo works really well.Crane Humidifiers: Awesome and easy larger cool-mist humidifier. Don’t pour water into the doughnut hole. Everyone makes this mistake! Remember to tell your partner. You need to lift the clear top portion off, bring it to the sink, and fill it from the bottom by turning it upside down and unscrewing the cap.
Diffusers are another option to create humidity and can be used with essential oils. These diffusers require no filter for the essential oil. You just add a couple of drops of GMO-free pure essential oils which are calming and effective for sleep such as chamomile and lavender directly in the basin. Only use the red light setting because other lights have different wavelengths that inhibit melatonin and disrupt sleep. (Read more about Baby Night Lights and Better Sleep here.) You can also dim the brightness of the light and it has a cool-mist, doubling as a diffuser and humidifier. The waterless auto shut-off feature is a great safety net so when all the water evaporates, it shuts off.
Baby Night Lights
A quick Google search for “baby night lights” brings you to many magical and cute animal baby night lights and heart-shaped baby night lights but 99% of these baby night lights you see are proven to actually inhibit sleep.
If you’re using a nightlight in your baby’s/toddler’s/child’s room, or plan to, you need to know which type of lights to avoid so you can create the best possible sleep environment for your Little One.
If you already have a night light in your child’s room, and it’s something that emits a dim glow, it may be causing disruption to your child’s sleep, and here’s why:
The wavelength of different colors such as white, blue, and green-based lights inhibit melatonin at night. Melon-what? Trust me, your honeydew will love you for altering your child’s night light situation and your precious babe will be able to sleep longer and stay asleep at night.
Melatonin Magic and Sleep
The sweet sleep hormone, melatonin, is released by the brain when there is a response to light sensitivity in the eyes. This hormone is essential for children to fall asleep and stay asleep overnight. If the world wasn’t clogged with electric lighting, research has shown children fall into slumber between 7:30pm and 8pm.
It’s common for parents to choose cute nightlights that might emit blue, green, white, pink, or purple hues. Blue is especially calming and used by most manufacturers of baby night lights but it’s a scientifically proven sleep disrupter and mistake to use them if you’re sleep conditioning or sleep training, or trying to get your baby, toddler, or younger child to stay in bed or sleep well throughout the night.
Cell phones, laptops, TVs, and almost all home lighting have blue and white-based lights need to be off and out of the area where your child is sleeping or away from your child at least an hour before they sleep. This is because these lights inhibit the body’s secretion of melatonin by tricking the brain into believing it is still daylight.
What’s the Sleep Solution?
Red light is the only light, shown by research, that does not inhibit melatonin because red-based light has a much higher wavelength than white/blue/green light.
The goal is to use no light in the nursery initially. When parents or caregivers come into the nursery for night feedings and diaper changes, you can then switch on a night light that is a red night light. This solution is perfect as red light does not interfere with the chemical building blocks needed for sleep.
However, you need to plan the environment and timeframe leading up to bedtime. Think about the light your child is exposed to before bedtime if you are giving Baby a bath or brushing your older Baby or younger child’s teeth. Is your bathroom lit by regular white light or energy-saving lightbulbs? These emit much more blue light than old-style incandescent bulbs. If so, you may consider investing in a battery-operated light which is more appropriate for preparing for sleep in terms of helping the brain prepare for sleep.
Lights Used When Prepping for Bedtime
In the bathroom when brushing teeth or giving a bath, or in the nursery when dressing into pajamas, when first putting Baby down, or when reading a nighttime story (or two books) to your child, here are options:
Lumie Bedbug Light: A multi-purpose bedtime light which features a low blue light, while still producing a white/peach colored glow. Lumie Bedbug Light is non-inhibiting without having to use a red light in the room while reading or brushing teeth. This baby night light also includes a sunset mode option which gradually darkens the room, dimming after bedtime over a period of 15 minutes. This is perfect for toddlers and older children as well.
Battery-Operated Electric Candles are beautiful, glow like real candles, and create a calm, cozy environment for bedtime. These are my favorite electric candles as their flames actually move and dance. They transform your home into cozy-feel-goodness!
Don’t forget rechargeable battery chargers are a one-time, small investment and perfect for the bathroom in place of the main light at night, or reading area. Not only are you improving your child’s sleep, you’ll all wake less, and you’ll save money on your energy bill! Totally worth it.
Best Red Lights for My Baby’s Nursery or My Child’s Bedroom Nightlight
These are the top red baby night lights I recommend for parents when breastfeeding or bottle-feeding Baby throughout the night or when needing light to change Baby’s diapers during the night, or for your Big Boy or Big Girl when they get up in the middle of the night during potty-training:
Red Gummy Bear Baby Night Light: This red LED gummy bear light is cordless, portable, and squeezable to turn on/off. It has a sleep timer of 1-hour and is soft and durable.
Red Fairy Lights: Effective and adorable solution when used in a lockable Kilner jar as a portable baby nightlight.
Greenic 0.5W Plug-in Light Sensor LED Red Night Light: This 2-Pack Red Night Light is super cute and mini-sized, and very effective for hallways and bathrooms. It can be turned upside down to see less of the LED light. It’s bright enough but also dim enough for nighttime feedings, and quick wakeups for diaper changes or bathroom trips.
Hatch Baby Rest Night Light and White Noise Sound Machine: This red baby night light doubles as a white noise sound machine, which is another recommendation for parents as pure white noise (do not use intermittent ocean waves, water sounds, crickets, etc.) is scientifically proven to help babies and children’s brainwaves when waking to lull back to sleep and sleep deeper. This machine is remotely controlled with your smartphone, features a time-to-rise alert, and you can customize the brightness by dimming the red baby night light as well as by setting the programs to turn off and on automatically based on your family’s sleep schedule. During the day you can play with the other fun colors! It includes a toddler lock feature as well.
Other solutions for sleep include how cozy your Little One is, and how much humidity is in their room. Dryness can cause a thirsty baby or toddler. Read more on how to fix the humidity in your nursery and child’s room for better sleep.
You may also consider BleepBleep’s Suzy Snooze.
A hypothesis for colic is presented by Pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp with a term defined as “The Missing Fourth Trimester”. This refers to the timeframe of a newborn baby’s first three months, and Dr. Karp’s discovery of the neonatal response, also known as the calming reflex or “off switch” for crying in infants younger than 3 months, which is activated by his solution called “The 5 S’s” technique.
According to most doctors, there are four main theories of the cause of colic:
- gastrointestinal disorders
- difficult temperament
- brain immaturity
- maternal anxiety
However, Dr. Karp lists several rebuttals to these four theories in detail:
- Colic starts at 2 weeks of age; gas starts shortly after birth
- Colic ends at 3 months of age; gas lasts a lifetime. Dr. Karp argues symptoms like gas that are suggestive of intestinal pain are probably an overreaction of an immature neurological system to normal intestinal sensations (e.g., the gastrocolic reflex).
- Colic peaks in the evening; gas occurs all day. Dr. Karp claims evening predominance of crying may be caused by a gradual accumulation of stress throughout the day in the absence of calming rhythmic stimulation which newborns are used to experiencing in the womb.
- Colic is absent from some cultures around the world; gas is not. Dr. Karp explains that the parents in these cultures imitate the womb for the baby all day long with constant holding and rocking and frequent nursing.
- Overfeeding is ruled out, as one of these cultures known as the !Kung San, nurse their children 50 to 100 times a day, but their babies never experience colic.
- The swallowed air theory also doesn’t seem to apply, due to radiographs of fussy babies demonstrating they have more air in the GI tract when they finished crying than when they began to cry.
- The theory of brain immaturity does not match either. Newborns do have immature brains that are incompletely myelinated. They display slow transmission of impulses from the retina to the occipital cortex during the first three months of life, have frequent tremors, irregular breathing, crossing of their eyes, and poor state control. However preemies have very immature state control, and they do not experience colic until after their due date.
- The theory of difficult infant temperament was rebuked by researchers as well through numerous studies which have found the association with temperament to be small.
- In addition, the theory that maternal anxiety is a cause of colic was rebutted by studies with mothers of colicky babies proving they are no more inherently anxious than other mothers, and colic is as common in a couple’s fifth baby as in their first baby. Dr. Karp explains this argues against anxiety playing a role in colic because parents tend to be more anxious with their first baby than subsequent ones.
- Lastly, the cessation of colic after approximately 3 months fits perfectly with Dr. Karp’s theory of the missing fourth trimester.
Dr. Karp notes that while these four theories are aspects of colic, they don’t detail its root cause; which is what he calls the missing fourth trimester. He even states babies are born three months too soon. Whether this is the case or not, we need to consider that upon birth, babies are suddenly extracted from a rhythmic, snug and entrancing environment (the womb) to an environment of sporadic noises, new reflexes and sensations. Therefore it is understandable this may overwhelm infants who have poor state control and thus provoke persistent crying.
The exciting part is the solution Dr. Karp has found to be a calming reflex which takes place involuntarily during the last months of pregnancy. The response puts fetuses in a trance, keeping them head down and motionless. Dr. Karp’s clinical experience has found that the calming reflex can be activated after a baby is born as well, by what he calls “The 5 S’s” – maneuvers that mimic uterine sensations. These techniques include:
- Swaddling, which keeps the baby snug and mimicking the womb’s motionless hold during the last few months during pregnancy
- Side or stomach positioning which halts the Moro reflex as babies aren’t in the supine position
- Shushing to audibly reenact the sound of blood flow fetus’ have heard for their entire life before birth
- Swinging copies the movements the baby experienced inside of the mother
- Sucking, which relocated babies sucking their fingers in utero
I believe every pediatrician, caregiver, and parent should be informed of Dr. Karp’s theory of the missing fourth trimester. In my experience, performing the 5 S’s solution has soothed many babies I’ve cared for and proves to be an important gift every baby deserves in their first few months of their beautiful new life.
Pacifiers can be both a godsend AND a nightmare. I have cared for and supported hundreds of families and babies, from singletons to preemies with special needs and multiples. A lot has changed according to the AAP and guidelines from orthodontists and lactation consultants since I became a Certified Advanced Newborn Care Specialist, Doula, and Certified Lactation Educator Counselor.
Over my course I went from not recommending pacifiers to understanding the physiology of a human newborn and their sucking reflex in conjunction with their speech, oral, and facial development and how that actually connects with and benefits the breastfeeding relationship.
Let’s get down to it. As a new parent, you do not want your baby to become dependent upon pacifiers. This can result in sleepless nights for parents and disruption of your baby’s precious time to sleep and grow, as some argue that pacifying can lead to baby’s feeding signals being interrupted and disrupting breastfeeding. But if your baby is truly hungry, they’re going to spit it out and will not settle with a pacifier if they want to eat.
I have consulted with many families and as a Postpartum Doula, I’m going with the new parents (usually assisting the new mother while her partner is at work) to their pediatrician appointments. I have spoken to many pediatricians and all their views vary. Some pediatricians are very strict and don’t recommend a pacifier until 6 weeks and some are more casual, recommending to wait until the newborn is 2 weeks young.
In my experience as a Birth Doula, I have encountered hospitals using them often for NICU babies to encourage facial and oral development and promote sucking, but I’ve also seen hospitals lock up pacifiers!
Some healthcare professionals argue that pacifiers cause nipple confusion. There is no such thing as nipple confusion. It’s flow-preferencing that takes place, caused by hunger satiation from using any type of “flow” nipples (including preemie and slow-flow nipples), not using no-flow bottle nipples, the improper use of nipple shields, and from not practicing evidence-based paced bottle-feeding. Pacifiers don’t cause this.
As a trained lactation consultant, I do advise to use pacifiers sparingly. This could mean using it in the first week only a few times or using it in the baby’s third week as needed when Baby is quivering and not hungry – they have a sucking reflex and need to suck, so it’s okay. Not everything is black and white in postpartum, because every baby is so unique and different.
For example, if a baby was whisked away due to a lower APGAR score at birth, and then poked and prodded with needles and tests, they may have birth trauma and anxiety and that pacifier may help them. Birth trauma exists for newborns, too – they just went through a LOT! Even if they weren’t taken to the NICU, they can have trauma from coming down the birth canal, regardless if delivery was fast or slow, and regardless if a vacuum was used.
Babies receive a lot of pressure coming out, and they are resilient, but I have seen many babies with alignment issues who, when receiving proper care, are easily corrected by a pediatric chiropractor. Sometimes these issues aren’t addressed until the baby is 3-4 weeks old, for example, until the new parents are suggested to see a craniosacral therapist or pediatric chiropractor by the Postpartum Doula.
A fussy baby is an indication that something is wrong. Don’t panic. It doesn’t mean something is devastatingly bad or seriously wrong or hurting the baby. It means there could be one tiny variable that something is off. So let’s narrow it down, go down the list, and figure it out together.
There are different levels of fussiness; and it can be super overwhelming for new parents! The role of the Postpartum Doula alone is not trained in, or to offer, newborn care. It’s in my scope as a Certified Advanced Newborn Care Specialist to help you through issues you’re having if you’re my client, and this is why I do emergency, remote Newborn Consultations.
Determining what is and what is not colic, the definition of Purple Crying, determining the baby as being hungry, if they’re clusterfeeding, variables from Baby being too warm and a frantic parent actually thinking Baby is cold, to a hair strung around Baby’s finger, to a tiny gas bubble, to a wet diaper that is irritating Baby and not turning the diaper indicator line blue – all these variables and more can justifiably confuse a parent and cause so… much… frustration!
If a pacifier is going to save you sanity, then by all means, use it. How many pediatricians have admitted to me they used it on the first night with their newborn… I don’t have enough fingers to count.
Also, if the new mother has cracked and bleeding nipples, there’s an issue with improper latch and possibly not a deep enough latch, and other variables I’m not going to go into at this moment, and then a pacifier may provide relief to that baby while she gets help from an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) or from a Lactation Counseling Consultation on what to do get baby fed, help heal her nipples, proper nipple care, guidance for preventing further similar issues, and a plan to protect her milk supply.
Don’t judge yourself. We aren’t going to judge new parents, that’s ridiculous, and you’re not welcome here if you’re judging a new parent. So let’s establish that as rule number 1: we aren’t going to judge ourselves because, let’s face it, there’s just not a great foundation of proper prenatal or postpartum care in America, which is one of the main reasons the American Doula profession has grown so much, because in Europe and other countries it’s just standard decency that the government both allows and provides multiple, and I repeat, several, postpartum nurses to visit and care for the newly postpartum mother in the first week and first few weeks (if not more) after childbirth. You’re off the hook here, it’s not your fault you’re here now, so let’s get to the point and get you some quick tips!
- The room should be darkened already (with the correct lighting that doesn’t inhibit melataonin), your white noise sound machine should be on, and the room should be comfortable with the correct humidity and temperature for your baby’s age.
- Ideally, your baby has been fully fed and burped and held upright for 15 minutes after each feed (so they aren’t having issues with tiny gas bubbles and reflex) then laid down for sleep on their back.
- When laying them down, place your hand on your baby without changing the amount of pressure of moving your hand at all, and without moving your hand around as that stimulates nerve endings. No petting, no rubbing, just a steady, slightly firm amount of pressure to let your baby feel your warmth and that you’re still there. This gives them a sense of security and comfort. Keep your hand there for about a minute.
- Sleep is a learned behavior which is directly associated with a caregiver-child relationship; the way your baby learns to sleep now will directly impact how they face stressful issues. They need to learn it from you. Your gift of sleep conditioning is an empowering investment in their future which will carry on into the future as it will give them the ability to calm themselves when they face a stressful situation as a child and even as an adult. Through these tips of sleep conditioning, your baby will eventually learn to self-soothe (when your baby is an infant, not a newborn) and you may be able to avoid sleep training.
- If your baby is agitated and moving around even after holding your hand steadily on their tummy for over a minute, you can take both your hands and gently, ever so gently, I said super gently, squeeze their sides and hold. Newborns were inside the womb, which was a very snug environment, and some newborns need to feel a tighter boundary and like to be able to feel they’re safe and secure. You can release a little pressure little by little over a bit of time and then lift your hands.
- If they become too agitated, you may need to keep your hands on their side and slowly jiggle them to settle them a little. This can be for about 15 seconds, while you quietly “shh, shh, shh” in a staccato fashion. Then when you see them start to settle, slow down your little jiggle and hold your hands at their sides steadily for about thirty seconds, and then gently release pressure and lift your hands slowly.
- You may need to do this a few times. Some babies are out right away with just this technique.
- Other babies need more. You may even need to pat their tummy/side softly while shushing. Some newborns love this and they’re settled immediately, while other babies are too stimulated by this. Every baby is unique. Do not try this until you have tried the above steps more than once.
- If after trying a few times, they may be need to feed a little more, they may have a gas bubble and need to be burped, or they may have a wet diaper. If you already did these things, the chances are not high, but sometimes Baby is still hungry. Do you ever want a little more, an extra serving, a snack, or something sweet after a meal? Babies do, too.
- If you are certain they’re totally full, and nothing has worked, their diaper is dry, they could be overtired (did you have them up for more than the golden hour? Try not to exceed more than an hour to 90 minutes wake time for a newborn.) You may calm them by mimicking your womb, and “SHHHHH” near their ear.
- Time to pick up Baby now. You may swing and sway Baby ever so softly but swiftly in your arms, while Baby is in cradle position, to wear their head is softly jiggly ever so slightly. Do not have them upright on your chest or over your shoulder and then start to bounce. Also do not bounce while sitting on your birth ball. Would you want to be bounced after you’ve drank something, like a milkshake? Think about it… You will cause your baby to spit up. Swaying from side to side for a few minutes usually does the trick and Baby will be fast asleep. You can then set Baby down on their back and place your hand with slightly firm, steady pressure (don’t move your hand around) on their chest for about thirty seconds, or at their sides with both hands. This usually settles them to sleep.
- Still not sleeping? This is usually when a pacifier is introduced. If you touch Baby’s lips with the pacifier and Baby starts rooting, they’re hungry! Feed them. If they’re not, insert it gently and slowly to where they won’t be startled and until they grasp on and start sucking. Usually after a short time, that pacifier will be dropped out of your baby’s mouth. Through sucking, serotonin is released by your baby’s brain, allowing for a faster transition to sleep.
- Do not go in and continually put the pacifier in your baby’s mouth. You do not want a ticket to the musical pacifier ride at this theme park. Avoid this at all costs… usually this can easily be avoided by a few sucks on the pacifier and then they drop it and they’re off in la la land.
- When you leave the pacifier in, now that’s when the problem starts. Don’t allow them to sleep with it. Remove it after a couple minutes. This way you allowed them to self-soothe with the pacifier, and removed it when it wasn’t needed anymore, and no addiction is formed.
If you do the above for a couple of fussy moments, it will cease and your baby can learn to self-soothe and go back to sleep on their own.
Are Pacifiers Good For For Baby?
Babies are born wanting to suck. Some even suck their thumbs or fingers before they’re born in Mommy’s womb. Sucking is often an important method of self-soothing as it is comforting, familiar and a calming mechanism in their new world outside of the womb. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives pacifiers the green light throughout baby’s first year for the following reasons:
- Researchers have found an association between pacifier use during sleep and a reduced risk of SIDS/SUIDS.
- Pacifiers do not decrease breastfeeding rates in full term infants.
- Also, studies show pacifiers actually help with breastfeeding.
- Some babies are happiest when they’re sucking on something. They are born with over 70 reflexes that they grow out of overtime, and one of them is a sucking reflex! This is a non-nutritive sucking reflex, and often confuses parents to thinking their baby is hungry when their baby just wants to suck!
- There is a physiological process where an infant moves from a “suckling” pattern to a “sucking” pattern to a more mobile “collection and swallowing” pattern. Pacifiers can help infants with oral muscle flaccidity, difficulties with latch during breastfeeding, or encourage sucking in pre-term newborns.
- A pacifier may help your baby go to sleep if your baby is fussy.
- A pacifier may buy you a few minutes when your baby is hungry to empty your bladder, find a comfortable spot to nurse or to prepare a bottle, or be helpful during shots or blood tests. It is super imperative to curb maternal or paternal anxiety from seeing your baby cry from medical procedures. Come on, say it. You matter, too. Give yourself a break here.
- Pacifiers are inexpensive and recyclable.
- Most pacifiers designed now are orthodontically-approved.
- The binky is easily disposable. Toss when its time to stop. You can’t do that with fingers if baby prefers to suck their thumb.
- Your baby may become dependent on the pacifier and wake up frequently if you choose to replace it every time it falls out of their mouth.
- Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections. However, rates of middle ear infections are generally lowest from birth to age 6 months – when the risk of SIDS is the highest and during this time period is when your baby may be most interested in a pacifier. Usually the babies who are not allowed to keep their pacifier in too long don’t get addicted to pacifiers, and around 6 months of age, they are generally not interested in it anyways.
- Typically, the reflexive need to suck (non-nutrative sucking reflex) slows by approximately 5 months of age. This is also when we begin to hear our children coo and babble quite a bit. That is generally the appropriate time to stop offering the pacifier. Again, studies show that 90% of SIDS deaths occur before the age of 6 months of age. According to Speech Pathologists and Certified Oralfacial Myologists, using a pacifier after that time is simply not necessary and instead becomes a “nurturing” pattern the parent offers to the child.
- Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems. Normal pacifier use during the first few years of life doesn’t cause long-term dental problems. If your child continues to use a pacifier persistently, however, their top front teeth may slant out or the upper and lower jaws may be misaligned. This can be avoided by not allowing the pacifier to be left in your baby’s mouth when sleeping, not allowing it during awake time, moved out of sight by the parent and/or caregiver when the baby is awake, by providing appropriate teething toys instead, and by choosing an orthodontically-safe pacifier in the first place. Breastfeeding instead of bottle-feeding also helps with preventing dental problems.
- Let your baby set the pace. If they aren’t interested, skip the binky entirely!
- If the pacifier falls out while they’re sleeping, don’t pop it back in!
- Try other ways to calm your baby first. Change their position, sway for a few minutes, check if they’re hungry or if their diaper is soiled.
- Before using a new pacifier, wash it with soap and water, and sterilize by boiling it! Avoid fungus by soaking it in equal parts white vinegar and water for a few minutes a day and air dry thoroughly before returning it to your baby. Thrush can be transferred to and from Baby, Mom, and pacifiers so be sure to sterilize any pacifiers you have, and often. You may also pop it in the dishwasher to clean it depending on the brand.
- Watch for signs of deterioration. Replace pacifiers before they deteriorate; cracked nipples can tear off and pose a choking hazard.
- Use caution with pacifier clips; use a short strap to prevent it from wrapping around your baby’s neck. Better yet, don’t use one.
- Once a favorite paci is established, buy a few identical binkies to have on-hand.
- Choose the one-piece, dishwasher-safe variety. Pacifiers made of two pieces pose a choking hazard.
- Pull the plug before the bad habit forms. If you are jumping to put the pacifier into the baby’s mouth because the baby cannot stay asleep without it, it is a bad habit, your baby is clearly restless because they’re hungry, wet, have an air bubble/gas trapped, are teething, or have another issue. A pacifier addition can happen the first week of life. Remember 3 times starts a habit.
Clockwise from top left to right:
- Eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, 100% pure natural rubber pacifier with orthodontic nipple: Sweetie Pacifier
- 100% medical grade silicone & dishwasher-safe: Ryan and Rose Cutie PAT Pacifier
- Eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, 100% pure natural rubber pacifier with orthodontic nipple: Natursutten Butterfly Orthodontic Rubber Pacifier
- Best classic paci and great for cleft palette: BIBS Pacifier
- Most popular pacifier for newborns up to 3 months (most American hospitals send these home with new parents after childbirth): Philips Avent Green Soothie
- Best pacifier for preemies up to 30 weeks gestation (not 30 weeks postpartum): Philips Wee Thumbie
- Best orthodontic pacifier for infants up to 2 months old and best pacifier for breastfed babies: MAM Newborn Start Pacifiers
- Best pacifier for breastfed babies: The First Years GumDrop
- Best classic paci and great for cleft palette: BIBS Pacifier
- Best glow-in-the-dark binky and for bottle-fed babies: Tommee Tippee Pacifier
- Another best orthodontic paci for up to 3 months: NUK Newborn Pacifier
- Best pacifier for cleft palette and tongue-tie: WubbaNub (see various styles)
- Best clinical and silicone binkie: Chicco PhysioForma Pacifier
- Best anti-colic and ergonomic paci for breastfed babies: Nanobébé’s Flexy Pacifier
Sleep training encourages your baby to be on a schedule which will maximize cognitive development. It all starts with a daytime sleep training schedule which greatly impacts their nighttime sleep training outcomes. Neurons grow and brain development increases at an accelerated pace at night. Therefore the quality and duration of a baby’s nighttime sleep have a greater impact on overall growth and development than their daytime sleep. However, nighttime sleep is dependent upon the quality of daytime sleep. This is because babies develop specific, organized thoughts that permit them to learn and unlearn all the sensory input they experienced during the day.
Therefore a good night’s rest means more than just a peaceful night for the family. The actually quality of your baby’s sleep allows her to form memories and start emotionally bonding with those they interact with during the day. Hence, the earlier sleep training begins, the earlier they have this cognitive development tool to help them bond with you, and the sooner she can start forming memories about her family!
When sleep training, Newborn Care Specialists feed, diaper, and care for infants much differently during the night than we do during the day. At night, it’s tough love – all business. You do not want your baby to enjoy getting up at night!
- We give your baby a 5 minute relaxing, warm bath.
- We give your baby a 2-minute oil massage: downward strokes on limbs, clockwise circles on the tummy, outward sweeps on the chest, small circles on head and face, and sweep downward strokes on back and feet.
- We put your baby to bed as soon as they get sleepy but are still awake. This teaches them to self-soothe and shows your baby they are capable to put themselves back to sleep when they wake during the night.
Our sleep training methods at night involve no lights (as we feed in the dark or with a small light on), no talking to them, no singing, no eye contact, no TV, no music, no mobiles, no rocking, no singing, and no diaper changes unless they have dirty diapers.
We do not wake a sleeping baby. Only if the baby is premature and/or the pediatrician instructs do we awaken the baby every 3 hours to eat. When the baby is gaining a ½ pound a week, we allow them to sleep. If the baby stirs, we do not pick them up. We wait until they are at a full cry before attending to them because many times they will go back to sleep. We prefer gentle sleep shaping or gentle sleep conditioning to help soothe them as they physiologically cannot self-soothe on their own.
First, we change the baby’s diaper and re-swaddle. If you are breastfeeding, we bring your baby to you for nursing. If the baby is bottle-fed and a one-ounce drinker and goes back to sleep, we unswaddle and feed more, and if they continue to sleep through, we change them using cool baby wipes on their bottom to wake them up to continue to feed and ensure they eat or they will be waking up again soon wanting to eat. We take care of overnights for you so that you can rest. This includes helping you learn to store your breastmilk and then feeding your baby at night, along with properly sterilizing your bottles.
As your baby grows, then during the daytime our goal is to encourage your baby to consume more so they receive the nutrition they’d usually get at one of the nighttime feedings, so eventually, the baby is getting their adequate amount of nutrition for their weight. Nighttime feedings move to their daytime feedings and they eventually sleep through the night, allowing mom and dad a peaceful and full nights rest as well.
If you need help sleep training your newborn or infant or toddler, I can help you. I do not allow babies to sleep with the bottle as they age. Sleeping with the bottle can lead to serious tooth decay as well as cause ear infections. Fluid from the bottle and germs from saliva drain into your baby’s Eustachian tubes at the back of their throat, leading to their middle ear. I’ve taken over jobs where children have not been sleep-trained properly, waking up to twelve times a night because they were given a bottle to sleep and they couldn’t sleep unless it was in their mouth. They’d wake every time it fell out of their mouth. It is a vicious cycle to break but it can be done.
I’ve also trained children who scream to get out of their crib or bed at 4am or 5am, training them to stay in bed until 7am or when parents deem it to be an appropriate time to start the day. Children need boundaries and structure to feel safe and secure. They want these boundaries and it can be a nurturing experience for them to receive them. It is also exciting for them as they recognize self-accomplishment when they meet your goals; and feel better about themselves and the little human beings they’re becoming.
Tummy time enables your newborn baby to receive several essential developmental benefits as your newborn engages their entire body to lay the foundation of all of their sensorimotor skills for their entire life.
How exactly do you do tummy time? Follow the timeline below and read the tummy time tips. It’s never too late to start tummy time exercises, and to give your baby all the tools they need to reap the tummy time benefits.
Tummy Time Timeline
- From birth to 3 weeks: Tummy time should start the day baby comes home from the hospital, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A good time to play with your newborn in this position is after a diaper change or nap. Begin by placing your baby on your chest (practice Kangaroo Care), as often as possible and preferably skin to skin while you are laying down. In the first few weeks, try tummy time for 1-2 minutes, 2-3 times a day, at different times of the day. Your newborn can build up to 10-15 minutes a day.
- Around age 3 weeks to 1 month: One to two times daily, hold your baby upright with their belly against your upper chest and their head resting against your shoulder. Gently support your newborn’s neck and head with your hand. As they lift their head they are strengthening their neck and back. This simple exercise allows babies to develop the ability to move their face out of a blanket or mattress in case they accidentally roll to the stomach. When you do place him on his tummy, gently lift his head a tiny bit. Show him how to slowly swing his face to the side. Place safe objects and toys close to your newborn. Move them from side to side in front of her face. This encourages her to move, lift and turn her head.
- At age 2-3 months: It is easier for your newborn if you place your hand under their chest during the tummy exercise. This helps to lift your baby a tiny bit. Always put both of their arms in front to help them start learning how to use their arms to push up.
Tummy Time Tips
- Supervise your newborn during tummy time. Never leave your baby alone. As they get stronger and start moving more, clear away dangerous objects like tables with sharp corners.
- If your baby doesn’t like tummy time on the floor, do tummy time on a rolled-up towel or your lap. You can later transition to the floor.
- Newborn babies have limited strength and poor head control. They tend to cry. Thus some parents fear and avoid it. Begin with brief sessions, a few minutes at a time. The key is to stay consistent. Then gradually increase the time as they grow through tummy time. Prepare to be amazed how quickly your newborn will gain strength and develop their vestibular system. They will improve coordination, sensory, oral and motor skills, all while they build self-confidence.
- Get down on your baby’s level, interact by talking eye-to-eye. Sing songs, stroke their back, and tickle their hands. Engage in facial expressions, smile, and encourage touch. This enables your child to feel safe and secure in tummy time, ultimately enjoying the experience and benefits of learning to move and play.
In your tummy, your baby was curled up in a little ball shape. Tummy time exercises allow your baby to open up and gently elongate the front of their body for optimal newborn development. Tummy time itself does not hurt. However, it is a brand new, stimulating experience for babies to process as they engage their entire body to lay the foundation of all of their sensorimotor skills for their entire life.
Benefits of Tummy Time:
- Tummy time teaches your baby safety techniques. For example, routinely sleeping on their stomach raises a baby’s risk of SIDS about 4 times. However, SIDS risk increases 8-37 times when babies under 4 months sleep on their back and then accidentally roll onto their stomach. Naturally, your baby will flip over during sleep as they age, but the way you can protect them is to provide them with skills learned through doing tummy time exercises. These safety techniques will help them to free their face by arching their back and lifting their head when they do eventually roll over.
- Tummy time promotes visual development through building visual motor skills, binocular vision, two eye coordination, looking upward, and moving eyes side to side independent of head movements. This can influence later activities in life such as copying a teacher’s notes from a whiteboard and following a moving object such as a baseball.
- Tummy time eases tummy function to help reduce gas and reflux, decrease constipation, and encourage bowel movements.
- Tummy time builds motor skills of the arm, hand, neck, and shoulder for rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking. Tummy time also prevents torticollis, abnormal or asymmetrical neck positioning, due to tightness in the neck muscle. Babies may be having trouble with active head and neck movements when they do not turn their head or stare in one area without moving their eyes. Studies show a direct correlation linking thirty waking minutes of consistent tummy time with higher newborn developmental task scores and improved gross motor control of the neck and head when compared to babies who did not practice tummy time exercises.
- Tummy time produces the optimal head shape. Most babies sleep on their backs, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and long periods of time can create pressure on one area of the head. Then when awake, babies are often playing on their backs which reinforces that pressure. A baby’s soft skull molds easily, and this can create a flat spot on that area of the head. Daily tummy time exercises give the baby a break from their back, ensuring a round head and prevents neck troubles and imbalances flat spots can bring due to one side of their head weighing more than the other side.
- Tummy time engages oral function while strengthening throat, tongue, and oral skills for optimal latch and feeding. Without enough exposure to tummy time, baby’s tongue will not function optimally.
- Tummy time facilitates sensory skills and input for hands to mouth and lips, as well as vestibular skills which help the brain register and respond to whether an object they are looking at is moving or if their head is moving, how quickly, and in what direction. It also helps them have balance and equilibrium, equipping them to coordinate both sides of their body together for future activities like catching a ball, riding a bike, cutting with scissors, and zipping a jacket. Tummy time helps the vestibular system to also develop muscle tone for sitting still and upright in a classroom and holding their body parts in-position like when practicing ballet technique.
- Tummy time inspires self-confidence and establishes a connection when your baby is complemented after working so hard. Spending time praising your baby after even thirty seconds of exercises does wonders for your baby’s neurodevelopment. Research has shown that the single most important building block of self-esteem is the responsiveness of the caregivers to the cues of the infant. This means your reactions give meaning and importance to your baby’s impulses.
Tummy Time Methods
A Newborn Care Specialist can help you and your baby through tummy time to reach your baby’s newborn developmental milestones. Learn tips on how to do tummy time here.
Overstimulating a newborn is very easy to do and it’s important to learn the cues to avoid crossing this delicate line. When your baby is overtired or overstimulated, a pacifier can’t always do the trick! A Doula or Newborn Care Specialist can teach you about the secrets of the fourth trimester and how to nurture your newborn back into feeling a familiar safe, secure environment which mimics your womb.
Signs of Sleepy Baby
They are calming down, they’re sucking slower, they’re yawning, eyes do not look around, eyelids start to droop.
Signs of an Overstimulated Baby
They’re cranky, irritable, they’re crying uncontrollably, they look away from you, they’re staring at a wall (gaze aversion), crying, arching of back and neck, tremors, coughing, flailing arms or legs, sneezing, rubbing eyes, twitching, grasping, sighing, breathing rate may be faster or slower or may have pauses that last 2 seconds or more, skin may be pale, dusky, red or/and blotchy, arms and/or legs may be extended or stretched out, fingers and/or toes splayed, hands in fists, high arm position where arms are over the head and forearms lay across the face in self-protecting or shielding manner, rigid flaccid body, squirming, jerking, mouth open limply, or tongue extending beyond lips.
Calming Your Baby
Too many visitors, whether it be relative or friends, too early just after giving birth can also overstimulate your baby. It is important to have your baby on a sleep training schedule to avoid overstimulating. Ensure there is Daddy time and sibling time, but also be instinctive of your baby’s needs. A Doula or Newborn Care Specialist can help you by telling guests when it’s an appropriate time to visit or distract siblings when Mommy needs to breastfeed or bathe the baby, as well as educate parents on soothing techniques which the baby instinctually already knows and effectively responds to.
Bonding with your newborn baby can happen immediately after birthing through a method called Kangaroo Care. This promotes psychological and physical well-being for both your newborn and for you as the mother. Kangaroo Care includes skin-to-skin contact and exclusively breastfeeding.
Kangaroo Care is excellent for both parents, however. Studies show lowered testosterone levels when fathers experience skin-to-skin with their babies. All babies and all parents benefit from Kangaroo Care, regardless on the feeding method.
Kangaroo Care is wonderful for mothers who have problems breastfeeding, too, when needing to feed their newborn formula and/or through a tube. Having your baby suck and nuzzle on empty breasts can help stimulate your milk production. In fact, practicing skin-to-skin contact with the mother stimulates a specific part of the newborn’s brain, causing the baby to instinctively move to the breast, self-attach, and feed. This increases the baby’s physical development. Secondly, kangaroo care causes the baby to gaze at his or her mother, ensuring emotional and social development.
This should begin right after giving birth and is always a great benefit at any time during the first few weeks. For an infant in need such as a premature baby, it can be used continuously day and night however it is beneficial any amount of time it is experienced.
Kangaroo Care Bonding Benefits are amazing!
- Acceleration of your baby’s brain development occurs with bonding through Kangaroo Care, lowering levels of cortisol, the hormone produced when undergoing stress, after just 20 minutes of skin to skin contact.
- Your baby gets better sleep with lowered cortisol levels as well.
- Research shows a baby’s digestive system can be restored to perfect balance after one hour of skin-to-skin contact.
- Your baby will also cry less and be calmer through this bonding tool because your heartbeat and warmth remind them of the safe, familiar world they were once in when inside your womb.
- Thermal synchrony phenomenon occurs as the temperature of your chest increases to warm your cold baby and decreases to cool your overly warm baby.
- Antibodies will pass through your skin to your baby and strengthen your baby’s immune system.
- Kangaroo Care naturally stabilizes the newborn’s respiration and oxygenation, increases glucose levels (reducing hypoglycemia), regulates blood pressure and heart rate, and increases the quiet alert state.
- When you begin bonding skin-to-skin with your baby immediately following birth, they are more likely to breastfeed than a baby who has been swaddled immediately after birth. Furthermore, the more your baby breastfeeds, the sooner your milk comes in and the better your milk supply will be.
- Researchers have found that preterm infants who experience Kangaroo Care have longer periods of sleep, gain more weight, decrease their crying, have longer periods of alertness, and earlier hospital discharge.
- Babies held skin-to-skin by their fathers are proven to have higher temperature and glucose levels compared to those of babies left alone under warmers.
- Depriving babies of skin-to-skin can lead to ADD, colic, and sleep disorders.