Not So Silent Night....Silent Reflux
Baby Massage & Yoga won't cure reflux but they can help you and your baby to find relaxation which is so important. Especially as many babies and tots that suffer with reflux & silent reflux become very tense which can impact sleep.
Feeling too tense to drift off to sleep and then being woken frequently with an uncomfortable and even painful sensation must be very stressful. Lack of sleep in an infant/child can lead to them feeling irritable & clingy. You may find that they also tend to grizzle or cry lots due to their lack of sleep, hindering their ability to process emotions positively & effectively.
My son is a breast fed baby (I had thought in my head I would breast feed for 6 months or so…..he is now 14 months old and breast milk is still part of his diet) and so he has always woken up frequently in the night since birth to feed.
He now wakes in the night not out of hunger but with discomfort from his Silent Reflux and needs assistance to settle back down to sleep. He often feeds or suckles himself back to sleep if he cannot re- nestle into a comfy position.
To begin with I saw this as being a 'failing mother'….the fact he had silent reflux, was still waking and was still wanting and I was still giving him the breast. Luckily I love to research and found that he was asking for what was a natural short term remedy for his silent reflux. You see breast feeding/suckling can;
keep the reflux from rising
stimulate the happy hormones
With this in mind and the fact that it is better for a reflux baby to eat little and often I have been appalled at the pressure applied to parents of reflux babies to use the 'Cry it out' method of 'sleep training'. I have had many mothers come to my classes with experiences of this or retelling a friends experience of this insensitivity.
I have always been a bit of a hippy, love bug. When I say that I don't mean I have wondrous long dreadlocks and roam the beach for shells to weave into jewellery (well I used to do the latter but I have 'grown up' now haha). Its all about LOVE, and it has always been a very big part of my life. I have used love as my foundations for most things that I have done and do. So with love as my foundation to parenting I could not justify letting my little chap 'cry it out''. He was awake because he was uncomfortable, upset and in need of help. Ignoring his communications to me, a 'shhhhhh' or a 'rub on the back' were not going to help. He needed to be;
enveloped in love
picked up and held upright
allowed to just suckle
offered skin to skin contact
He needed to been shown that although he had 'hurties' he wasn't alone and we would find a way to make them go away (for a bit). This might be cuddles whilst walking gently around retelling the 'Going On A Bear Hunt' story, having breast milk or suckling to soothe & settle and on the really bad nights going down stairs for a play, snuggle on the sofa and us both sleeping upright on the sofa.
I am not saying that these are things that other parents should do, rather that it's ok to do what feels right for you, your family and your personal circumstances. We are humans, we are not robots, one size does not fit all and we need to recognize that it is ok to do things 'your way' (as long as you and baby are safe).
For a while I was made to feel as if I was a 'failing mother' because my baby didn't sleep through the night. However he did fall asleep well and part of that is thanks to all the effort we put into his pre-bed time relaxation experience which consisted/consists of Baby Yoga, Baby Massage, bath, milk & cuddles and then transferring into his cot to sleep peacefully until his first bout of reflux.
For me this time is magical. By the end of the day I am exhausted from looking after his reflux needs in the night and entertaining him during the day (as well as doing all the other mummy and work related jobs). So to have an hour where we play calming music, look at books together, sing some songs and play with our floaty scarves, have a massage and explore some yoga before daddy comes home to help with bath time and then quiet snuggles and milk in the rocking chair is so relaxing for not only him but me as well. I get to re-charge, re-boot and reconnect with love and calmness ready to help teach him about sleep.
When exploring the ideas of sleep and 'self-soothing' the teacher in me is drawn out …..I would not expect a child in my class to get agitated over an activity that they were struggling with. Instead, I would help them by talking to them about what it is we are trying to do, demonstrating to them and exploring with them different ways to accomplish the activity until we found a method that suited their personal needs and strengths. Additionally, when exploring a new skill we would not just dive into the end goal on day one…..rather we would build up foundation skills to support the journey to reaching the final goal. For me this is what teaching your baby to sleep should be about……… not a battle of wills, not 'showing them who is boss', but instead teaching and nurturing so that they learn the art of relaxation and learn to love and enjoy sleep.