What Is A Normal Sleep Pattern For An Infant?

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New parents know how much of a struggle it can be to get their newborn baby to fall into a normal sleeping pattern. In fact, many newborns confuse their days and nights, thinking they should be awake at night and sleep throughout the day. So what is a normal sleep pattern for an infant and how do you get yours to follow that pattern?

WHAT IS A NEWBORN SLEEP PATTERN?

A newborn baby can sleep as many as 17 hours a day. Typically a newborn sleeps up to eight or nine hours during the daytime and around eight hours at night. A newborn normally won’t start to sleep through the night until he or she is three months old; however, this can vary depending on the child. In fact, some infants don’t sleep through the night until they’re almost one year old.

Most infants will want to eat every two or three hours depending on age and what he or she is being fed. It’s important that you communicate with your pediatrician to determine if and when you need to wake up for feedings

HOW TO HELP YOUR INFANT GET TO SLEEP

It is not easy for newborns to develop their own sleeping patterns. It’s even more difficult for them to fall asleep on their own. It is crucial for you to know the signs that your child is ready for sleep such as yawning, fussing, looking away and rubbing his or her eyes.

While many infants will fall asleep while breastfeeding, it’s important to wean them off this as they get older so it doesn’t turn into a pattern. When babies carry on this habit, they may begin to expect they can be in your arms as they go to sleep. It is recommended that after the newborn period, you allow your infant to become sleepy in your arms, transferring him or her to their bed while still awake.

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WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SWADDLING YOUR BABY

Swaddling is a great way to make your baby feel safe and to help him or her fall asleep. In fact, special blankets have been designed just to make swaddling easier. However, there are certain precautions you need to take when swaddling your baby.

You should only swaddle your baby is he or she is under two months old or cannot roll over on his or her own. If a swaddled baby is able to roll over onto its stomach, he or she is at risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

WHEN TO BEGIN SLEEP TRAINING

It is recommended you begin sleep training when your baby is between 4 and 6 months old. Around 4 months of age is when babies start to develop normalcy in their sleep-wake cycle. When you are preparing your infant for sleep training, it’s crucial you start to introduce a bedtime routine. A good routine may include a warm bath, book reading and a lullaby. It’s also smart to choose a consistent bedtime. Sometime between 7 and 8 o’clock is ideal so your baby isn’t too tired.

HOW TO SUCCEED AT SLEEP TRAINING

Getting (you and) your baby to succeed at sleep training will take some time and practice. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure you and your baby are sleeping peaceful through the night in no time.

  • Prioritize sleep: It is imperative that children get enough sleep. Studies show that children who don’t get enough REM sleep are more likely to struggle with a short attention span as they get older. This causes them to have trouble learning as well.
  • Log your baby’s sleep: It is a good idea to keep track of how much your baby sleeps each night. This will allow you to notice patterns (i.e. if your baby wakes up at 7pm each night) and learn how to improve these problems.
  • Have your baby go down while still awake: After you have gone through your entire bedtime routine with the lights on, try putting your baby in the crib while he or she is sleepy, but still awake. Don’t be surprised if your baby does cry some at the beginning. It’s OK if you chose to sit next to the crib in a chair as your baby falls asleep.
  • Create a peaceful environment: One of the best ways to get your infant to sleep is to keep a cool and comfortable room. Keeping your temperature between 65 and 70 degrees is great. Also, if your baby’s room gets a lot of natural light, you may want to install room-darkening shades so he or she can fall asleep during nap times. This will also help prevent early wake-ups.
  • Be consistent: It isn’t easy to train your baby to follow a normal sleep pattern, but it’s important that you stay consistent. There will come a time when your baby cries in the middle of the night. It’s a good idea to go check on your infant to ensure he or she is OK then move outside the door to continue comforting him or her. If you are forced to go back to old habits due to travel or illness, it’s important to get back on track as soon as possible.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you notice any changes in your infant’s sleeping pattern you should contact a doctor. Changes in sleep pattern could indicate a problem like an ear infection or fever. You should note that when your child starts to go through growth spurts, he or she will also wake up more throughout the night for food.

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If you believe your child is suffering from an abnormal sleep pattern, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

 

 

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What To Do If Your Child Gets An Ear Infection

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Ear infections affect most people at some point in their life, with children most susceptible. Five out of every six children experience an ear infection by age three. In fact, ear infections are the No. 1 reason parents bring their children to the doctor. Being able to determine when your child is fighting an ear infection is key to getting him or her treatment immediately.

IDENTIFYING AN EAR INFECTION

There are few things worse than knowing your infant is in pain, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong. When a baby is feeling bad, he or she will likely demonstrate a change in mood and begin crying more than usual. Unfortunately, this can indicate a number of problems, including an ear infection. To determine if your child is suffering from an ear infection, there are a few telltale signs to look out for.

  • Your baby is unable to swallow or chew or they pull away from the bottle after only a few sips
  • You notice yellow or whitish fluid draining from the ear
  • You detect an unpleasant smell coming from your child’s ear
  • Your child has difficulty sleeping or lying down
  • Your child is suffering from a low grade fever

You should note that ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold. You may notice that your child’s clear runny nose becomes yellow or green as the infection begins to set in.

Because ear infections result in a pus or fluid buildup behind the eardrum, it is not unusual for an infection to result in a ruptured eardrum. If your child’s eardrum has ruptured, you may notice blood or pus draining from the ear. It’s important that you don’t panic. Most ruptured eardrums heal on its on within a few weeks and do not require treatment.

WHEN IT COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE

Although your child may appear to have an ear infection with some of the symptoms above, it is unlikely if he or she has no cold symptoms. If your child is pulling at his or her ears, there is a chance they are simply teething or just like playing with their ears. In fact, babies under the age of one year cannot tell localize their ear pain, so it is impossible for them to identify where the pain is coming from.

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WHAT CAUSES AN EAR INFECTION?

When fluid builds up in the area behind your baby’s eardrum and becomes infected, it can result in an ear infection. Typically, fluid in this area leaves quickly via the Eustachian tube; however, if that tube is blocked, it can cause the fluid to get trapped. Because warm, wet places are often a breeding ground for germs, the fluid can easily get infected. Since babies have shorter Eustachian tubes, they are more likely to develop an infection than adults. As your child’s body works to fight off the infection, he or she may develop a fever.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

As soon as you think your child may have an ear infection, you should call a doctor. A doctor will use an instrument called an otoscope to look into your baby’s ear. If the doctor believes it’s an infection, he or she may use another instrument, a pneumatic otoscope, to further assess whether the ear is actually infected.

HOW AN EAR INFECTION IS TREATED

Once your child has been diagnosed with an ear infection, a doctor will likely prescribe a ten-day treatment that includes antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics given for ear infections is amoxicillin (sometimes referred to as “the pink stuff”). Your child’s doctor may also prescribe anesthetic eardrops, which numb the eardrum to keep pain at bat for up to two hours.

If you have yet to get your child to the doctor but are certain he or she is suffering from an ear infection, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate pain until you can seek medical care. Try putting several drops of warm olive oil, vegetable oil or garlic oil (make sure the oil isn’t too hot!) and applying a warm washcloth to the ear. Pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also great to immediately relief pain. (It’s important you reference the dosage guide on the medication.)

If your child does not begin improving within 48-72 hours of antibiotic use, you should return to the doctor for a stronger antibiotic.

HOW TO PREVENT EAR INFECTIONS

Whether your child suffers from chronic ear infections or you simply want to take measures to prevent him or her getting an infection for the first time, below are some great ways to prevent (or at least lessen the severity) ear infections.

  • Boost your child’s immune system: It’s no surprise that feeding your child more fruits and vegetables will help him or her stave off infections. For tips on how to sneak veggies into your child’s food, check out this article.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke: Your baby’s nasal passage can be irritated by smoke leading to Eustachian tube dysfunction.
  • Keep your child’s nose clear: Any time your child gets a runny nose it’s important to keep the nose clear with saline nose drops, suctioning or even by using steam. This will help prevent viruses and bacteria from attaching in your child’s nose.
  • Wash hands frequently: This should go without saying. Washing your hands regularly will prevent germs from spreading to your child, keeping him or her at a lowered risk of catching a cold. Fewer colds also reduces the risk of ear infections.
  • Vaccinate your child: It’s important that you vaccinate your child against the flu each year. You should also have your child get the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine that protects against additional types of bacterial infection.

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If you believe your child is suffering from an ear infection, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

 

When To Introduce Your Child To Technology

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These days it’s impossible to stay away from technology. While it has brought us so many incredible advances in medicine, quality of life, etc., technology has also robbed us of “real life” in many cases. For children growing up in today’s world, it’s important that you ease them into technology slowly. Remind them of the joys of reading, spending time with friends and doing anything that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. If you have a toddler who is already starting to grab at your smartphone or tablet, below are some best practices when introducing your child to technology.

DON’T START TOO EARLY

Many people make the mistake of handing their child an electronic device simply to keep them busy. While most toddlers love to push buttons and swipe the screen on tablets, it does not mean they are ready to actually play with a computer or phone. Most experts recommend you don’t introduce your child to technology until he or she is at least two years old or in preschool. It is crucial that your child experience and interact with the world instead of experiencing everything via a screen.

DON’T MAKE TECHNOLOGY A PACIFIER

It is so easy to absentmindedly hand over your tablet or phone to pacify your child. However, by doing this, you are allowing him or her to not only get what they want any time, but to treat technology as a go-to any time they are bored. It is OK to let your child play with your smart objects from time to time (for instance, on a long plane ride or while waiting in a doctor’s office), but this should be something you think about before doing. Make sure your child is utilizing apps that stimulate his or her brain and try not to allow more than 20 minutes of screen time at any time.

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ENCOURAGE SMART PROGRAMS

When your child is ready to handle technology, it’s a good idea that you find kid-friendly content for him or her to focus on. Do some research on the Internet to determine which programs are meant to be entertaining and which are educational. Many apps will actually include an age range that’s appropriate to make it easier for parents as well. Many iPad and iPhone apps can teach your child educational basics such as math, time, money, geography, music and art.

MAKE SURE YOU MONITOR USAGE

Especially important when your child is young, you should try to be as involved as possible with his or her technology use. Whenever your child downloads a new app or game, engage with your child and ask questions about the app’s content. Have fun with the experience and consider asking your child if you can have a turn on the game or play with the app. This will show your child you approve of kid-friendly apps. However, if you find your child has downloaded an app or game that is inappropriate, explain why you feel this way and delete the program yourself.

KEEP SCREEN TIME LIMITED

Experts suggest no more than half an hour of screen time per sitting for children ages four to five. As children age, that time may be upped to an hour. It’s important that your child does not exceed two hours per sitting. Of course, if he or she is using the device as a productivity tool, it is fine to extend screen time.

For older children, it’s often unavoidable that they spend hours staring at a screen each day. This can result in eye fatigue and strain. Doctors often recommend the 20-20-20 rule, which means that every 20 minutes you should spend 20 seconds staring at something 20 feet away.

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COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD                

As your child gets older, he or she is at risk of cyber bullying. Sadly, cyber bullying can begin as young as middle school. Recent studies have shown that up to 25% of teens are cyber bullied at some point.

Cyber bullying can be very difficult to identify. For example, some kids have stated that fake accounts and websites have been made solely to bully them. It is so important to communicate with your child while he or she is young, stressing to them the importance of cyber behavior. You should also make sure your child feels comfortable talking to you if he or she feels harassed online.

If your child is being harassed online, you may notice he or she appears emotionally upset during or after using the Internet, is extremely protective of his or her digital life, seems withdrawn from friends and family or avoids group gatherings. If you suspect your child is a victim of cyber bullying, let your child know it’s not his or her fault and reassure him or her that you will figure out how to improve the situation together.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Children are prone to pick up on what their parents do. This is where you come into play. If you are glued to your smartphone all day every day, your child will pick up on those habits. Conversely, if you spend time throughout the day enjoying “real life” by reading, hanging out with friends and family, etc., your child will learn to do the same.

This is also a good time for you to assess your personal relationship with technology. Do you scroll through social media sites as you go to bed at night? Do you find yourself distracted during family events because you have to check your phone every few minutes?  Take this time to learn ways you can cut back on your technology use. Perhaps you can shut phones down after dinner each night or allow only an hour a day of computer time at home.

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For more general and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog regularly. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

How To Keep Your Child Free Of The Flu

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It can be tough to tell what is wrong with young children when they’re suffering from an illness. Many sicknesses have very similar symptoms, making it easy to incorrectly diagnose your child. Two of the most easily confusable illnesses are the common cold and the flu. To help determine if your child has come down with the flu, compare the symptoms below:

  • If the onset of your child’s illness was sudden and not slow, there’s a greater chance it’s the flu instead of a cold.
  • A high fever is a strong symptom of the flu. Mild fevers may be symptomatic of something else.
  • A decrease in appetite is a tell tale sign that your child is suffering from the flu.
  • Achy muscles, a headache and chills are also a strong sign of the flu.

Other illnesses that can share similar symptoms include strep throat and pneumonia. If your child begins to have difficulty breathing, begins to seem confused or has a headache that continues to worsen, he or she should be taken to a medical facility immediately.

When young children are suffering from the flu, they will feel sluggish and suffer from fatigue. A doctor will likely recommend your child get plenty of fluids and rest. One way to prevent your child from catching the flu is to take him or her to get a flu vaccine. It’s also a good idea to teach your child to avoid sharing food and drinks with other kids in their class, as this is one of the key ways the flu is spread.

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THE COMMON COLD VERSUS THE FLU

While the initial symptoms can seem very similar, the cold and the flu are two very different illnesses. A cold is more of a mild, respiratory illness, while the flu is something that will keep you down and out for weeks. The flu can also result in complications like pneumonia and hospitalizations. To better understand the difference between the cold and the flu, here are the symptoms you’ll experience.

Symptoms of the cold

  • Sore throat which goes away within two days
  • Nasal symptoms: runny nose and congestion
  • A cough towards the end of the illness
  • Fever is possible, but unlikely

Symptoms of the flu

  • Cold-like symptoms, including sore throat, congestion and cough
  • Muscle aches and soreness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Cold symptoms typically last around a week, with the first three days being the most contagious. During those first few days, it’s important to stay at home. If your cold symptoms persist for more than a week, check with your doctor to determine if you’ve developed an allergy or sinusitis.

For the flu, symptoms are more intense, but last only two to five days. However, because of the intense symptoms, you may feel run down for more than a week. If you begin to notice shortness of breath alongside your flu symptoms, seek medical attention immediately as this could be a sign of pneumonia.

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PREVENTING THE FLU

Everyone enjoys the cooling temps, fall foliage and approaching holidays; however, the ensuing flu season is not nearly as welcome. Kids who are in school or daycare are at a much higher risk of catching the flu than those that stay at home. To ensure your child stays healthy this flu season, there are some tips you can keep in mind.

Get Your Child Vaccinated

Although the vaccine is not 100% successful in preventing the flu (according to the latest numbers, it is actually 62% effective), it can certainly reduce your child’s chance of getting sick. Even if your child does end up with the flu, the vaccine can help shorten the illness and keep symptoms mild.

Teach Them Good Etiquette

Because the flu can spread as much as 6 feet when a child coughs or sneezes, it’s important that your child covers their mouth and nose with a tissue. Make sure your child knows to throw the tissue away afterward and to then wash their hands.

Keep Everything Clean

This probably sounds impossible with a child, but it’s smart to wipe down toys, handles, counter tables, phones and TV remotes regularly. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces, so keeping everything in your home as clean as possible will prevent it from spreading. Hot soapy water or a cleaning product works best.

Diet, Exercise and Rest

One of the best ways your child can stay flu-free this season is to eat right, exercise daily and get enough rest each night. For school-age children, adequate rest is at least 10 hours, while toddlers need a minimum of 12 hours each night. Your children’s diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetable, milk and water. Also, it’s important your child gets at least an hour of physical activity each day.

IS THE FLU SHOT RIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD?

Many people are skeptical about getting the flu shot themselves, let alone taking their child to get one. While there is a remote chance of your child having a negative reaction to the flu shot, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to the vaccine. In order to know whether or not the flu shot is right for your child, it’s important to know why the shot is recommended in the first place.

Why Your Child Should Get Vaccinated

The flu is a highly contagious disease that peaks between October and May each year. Typically, the flu is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny nose. If your child gets the flu shot, it can:

  • Prevent your child from getting the flu
  • Lessen the severity of the flu if your child gets it
  • Keep your child from spreading the flu to others if he or she gets it

Who Should Not Get The Vaccine?

While the flu shot is beneficial to most people, there are some people who should not get this vaccine. If your child has a severe, life-threatening allergy, he or she should not get vaccinated. Also, if your child is not feeling well, the shot should be delayed temporarily. While this affects very few people, those who have suffered Guillain-Barré Syndrome before should avoid the vaccine all together.

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If you believe your child is suffering from the flu, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.