For three or four weeks after birth the infant sleeps more or less, day and night, only waking to satisfy the demands of hunger; at the expiration of this time, however, each interval of wakefulness grows longer, so that it sleeps less frequently, but for longer periods at a time.
This disposition to repose in the early weeks of the infant’s life must not be interfered with, but this period has expired, great care is necessary to induce regularity in its hours of sleep, otherwise too much will be taken in the day-time, and restless and disturbed nights will follow. The child should be brought into the habit of sleeping in the middle of the day, before its dinner, and for about two hours, more or less. If put to rest at a later period of the day, it will invariably cause a bad night.
At first, the infant should sleep with its parent. The low temperature of its body, and its small power of generating heat render this necessary. If it should happen, however, that the child has disturbed and restless nights, it must immediately be removed to the bed and care of another female, to be brought to its mother at an early hour in the morning, for the purpose of being nursed. This is necessary for the preservation of the mother’s health, which through sleepless nights would, of course, be soon deranged, and the infant would also suffer from the influence which such deranged health would have upon the milk.
When a month or six weeks have elapsed, the child, if healthy, may sleep alone in a cradle or cot, care being taken that it has a sufficiency of clothing, that the room in which it is placed is sufficiently warm, viz. 60 degrees and the position of the cot itself is not such as to be exposed to currents of cold air. It is essentially necessary to attend to these points, since the faculty of producing heat, and consequently the power of maintaining the temperature, is less during sleep than at any other time, and therefore exposure to cold is especially injurious.
It is but too frequently the case that inflammation of some internal organ will occur under such circumstances, without the true source of the disease ever being suspected. Here, however, a frequent error must be guarded against, that of covering up the infant in its cot with too much clothing throwing over its face the muslin handkerchief and, last of all, drawing the drapery of the bed closely together. The object is to keep the infant sufficiently warm with pure air; it, therefore, ought to have free access to its mouth, and the atmosphere of the whole room should be kept sufficiently warm to allow the child to breathe it freely: in winter, therefore, there must always be a fire in the nursery.
The child up to two years old, at least, should sleep upon a feather bed, for the reasons referred to above. The pillow, however, after the sixth month, should be made of horsehair; for at this time teething commences, and it is highly important that the head should be kept cool.
Up to the third or fourth year, the child should be permitted to sleep for an hour or so before its dinner. After this time it may gradually be discontinued; but it must be recollected, that during the whole period of childhood more sleep is required than in adult age. The child, therefore, should be put to rest every evening between seven and eight; and if it is in health it will sleep soundly until the following morning.
No definite rule, however, can be laid down in reference to the number of hours of sleep to be allowed; for one will require more or less than another. Regularity as to the time of going to rest is the chief point to attend to; permit nothing to interfere with it, and then only let the child sleep without disturbance, until it awakes of its own accord on the following morning, and it will have had sufficient rest.
The amount of sleep necessary to preserve health varies according to the state of the body, and the habits of the individual. Infants pass much the greater portion of their time in sleep. Children sleep twelve or fourteen hours. The schoolboy generally ten. In youth, a third part of the twenty-four hours is spent in sleep. Whilst, in advanced age, many do not spend more than four, five, or six hours in sleep.
It is a cruel thing for a mother to sacrifice her child’s health that she may indulge her own vanity, and yet how often is this done in reference to sleep. If an evening party is taking place, the little child is kept up for hours beyond its stated time for retiring to rest, that it may be exhibited, fondled, and admired. Its usual portion of sleep is thus abridged, and, from the previous excitement, what little he does obtain, is broken and unrefreshing, and he rises on the morrow wearied and exhausted.
Once awake, it should not be permitted to lie longer in bed but should be encouraged to rise immediately. This is the way to bring about the habit of early rising, which prevents many serious evils to which parents are not sufficiently alive, promotes both mental and corporeal health, and of all habits is said to be the most conducive to longevity.
A child should never be suddenly aroused from sleep; it excites the brain, quickens the action of the heart, and, if often repeated, serious consequences would result. The change of sleeping to waking should always be gradual.
The bed on which the child now sleeps should be a mattress: at this age a feather bed is always injurious to children; for the body, sinking deep into the bed, is completely buried in feathers, and the unnatural degree of warmth thus produced relaxes and weakens the system, particularly the skin, and renders the child unusually susceptible to the impressions of cold.
Then, instead of the bed being made up in the morning as soon as vacated, and while still saturated with the nocturnal exhalations from the body, the bed-clothes should be thrown over the backs of chairs, the mattress shaken well up, and the window thrown open for several hours, so that the apartment shall be thoroughly ventilated. It is also indispensable requisite not to allow the child to sleep with persons in bad health, or who are far advanced in life; if possible, it should sleep alone.
Reasons For A Crying Baby
Crying is a normal event in the lives of all babies. When a baby comes out of the womb the first thing to do is crying. By the first cry, he will take some air into the lungs for the first time in their life. After delivery, if the baby does not cry then it should be initiated by slightly pinching or gently stroking the feet. From this, it is clear that the healthy baby should cry and it is a normal physiological event, still, sometimes it can upset the mother or family members.
We all know that a baby can’t tell his needs or troubles in words. The only way for him to communicate with others is by crying. Babies show some other signs like feet kicking, hand waving and head-turning etc. But the best way to take the attention of others is by crying.
Excessive crying may not have a firm definition because the crying habit changes from baby to baby and some babies can be calmed easily but some are difficult to sooth. If crying is distressing for the mother and home nurse it can be called excessive. Many a times baby become quiet by giving breast milk or by carrying with a gentle rocking. Sudden onset of excessive crying means baby is distressed and needs attention. The causes of crying extend from simple reasons to life-threatening conditions. Hence crying of a baby should not be ignored.
Most of the time it is difficult to find the cause of the cry. Common causes are discussed here for awareness.
Common reasons for crying:
A hungry baby will cry until he gets the milk. Here the old saying comes true ‘crying baby gets the milk’.
Urination and defecation cause some discomfort and results in crying till his parts are cleaned and made dry.
Majority of the kids need somebody near. If they feel lonely they cry. When their favorite doll slips away from the grip they cry for help.
When the baby is tired after a journey and unable to sleep just cry simply. They feel tired in uncomfortable surroundings and due to an unhealthy climate.
Heat & cold
If they feel too hot or too cold they become restless and cry. A child is comfortable in a room with good ventilation.
Tight clothes, especially during warm climate, is intolerable for kids. The tight elastic of the dress can also produce soreness in the hip region.
When the baby wakes up from sleep he needs some dim light. If there is darkness he will disturb the sleep of parents by crying. Of course, he will be irritated by strong light resulting in the cry.
Yes, these creatures disturb the sleep by their blood sucking and make the baby cry.
A child may not be able to sleep when there is a cold and go on crying till the passage is open.
Phlegm in throat
This also causes difficult breathing resulting in a cry. Often a typical sound can be heard with each breath.
Generalized body ache with restlessness is seen in flu and prodromal stages of some infectious diseases can result in a continuous cry.
Some babies cry without any real cause ending the parents in agony. Many a times doctor is called for help.
If a tight and wet nappy is kept for a long time results in this condition.
A rash can also be due to some allergic reaction to the elastic material of the nappy. When the rash appears it causes soreness and baby become sleepless and cry. All other skin lesions like eczema, ecthyma, candidiasis etc also cause the same problems.
Ear infection is common in a wet climate. The infection may spread from the throat. Ear infection can result in rupture of ear drum causing discharge of pus. Earache usually becomes worse at night when lying down. The child will become restless with a cry and may not allow you to touch the ear. Some children with an earache rub the affected ear frequently.
When the baby cry continuously most of us diagnose it as colic. This problem is still a topic for debate because the exact cause for colic is not known and diagnosis is also difficult to confirm. Colic may be associated with rumbling and distention of abdomen. A child often feels better when lying on abdomen. Some children may not allow you to touch the abdomen. If the child cries continuously doctors help is needed.
All infections cause some kind of pain or irritation resulting in a cry. Infection may be anywhere in the body. Usually, it is associated with fever, redness, and swelling.
Reactions to certain food
It is said that one man’s food is another man’s poison. Some food articles can produce some allergic reactions. Allergy is manifested in the form of redness, breathlessness, gastric symptoms, and continuous cry.
Constipated babies with hard stools may cry when they get the urge for stool. Some children hesitate to pass stool because of pain.
Here baby cries with the spilling of food after feeding. If this continues it may be due to gastroesophageal reflux. This is due to failure of the lower part of the esophagus to close after food causing regurgitation from the stomach. It is difficult to diagnose this condition and can be confirmed by giving antireflux medicines.
During dentition, a child becomes restless with crying. Often associated with gastric troubles and diarrhea.
Some rare reasons
Bowel obstruction is associated with severe pain and vomiting. The abdomen is distended with rumbling sound. Baby is constipated with an absence of flatus.
Invasion of pathogenic microorganisms into the blood is called septicemia. Fever is associated with this condition.
Torsion of testes in male kids
When a male baby cries continuously his scrotum should be examined. Torsion of the testes produces severe pain which will be worse by touching the affected testes. When the tests are pressed upwards pain is relieved. If this is not treated properly it can damage the affected testes due to lack of blood supply.
Initially, there may not be fever, hence crying baby with alternate vacant stare and irritability should not be ignored. Fontanel is bulging. Neck rigidity and seizures may appear later.
Retention of urine
Children with retention of urine will have agonizing pain making them restless.
A major injury to any parts of the body causes pain. Occasionally children will fall while carrying and results in head injury. Head injury is associated with reflex vomiting and convulsions.