Infant ‘Silent’ Reflux is NOT Silent: 5 Survival Tips for Parents

silent-reflux-is-not-silent

1. MAKE Time For Sleep

Duh-this may seem like a no-brainer if you haven’t had a hurting baby. But our baby hurt, and could not sleep. We rarely slept more than 4 hours per night, and those were non-consecutive 40 minute spurts. Sleep broken up like that is not restorative. As days months pass, the need for any solid chunk of sleep becomes desperate.

Here are a few ideas to schedule sleep:

  • Trade off – one parent goes to bed early while the other takes the evening shift. Take turns during the week.
    • If your child cries most of the night, use a loud fan, ear plugs or noise machine to block the noise so you CAN sleep while the other parent is awake.
  • If you are a working parent, allow yourself one day a week to go home and sleep for an hour or two before picking your child up from daycare.
    • If daycare isn’t a possible outlet for you, ask a trusted family member or friend to come hold the baby while you sleep. And when they come, don’t do anything else. Just sleep.
  • Do whatever it takes to help your child sleep – I held our son on my chest in a big chair with pillows propping my arms up so he couldn’t fall for his first 3 months of ‘sleep’.

2. See a specialist

No matter how good your pediatrician is, see a specialist. A pediatric Gastroenterologist (GI) just knows more because of their specialized training. They see more cases of severe reflux than a pediatrician and have resources and ideas even the best pediatrician may not.

3. Be Honest and Transparent

While no one wants to complain about their child, it is not complaining to admit or explain what is really going on. Take time to explain why you can’t volunteer, go to an event, or why you might be late or need to leave early. Being open and honest will help others understand, give grace, and even offer to help. People who don’t know you need help will not offer to help.

Another reason to be open and honest is that sharing your experience will add a new level of authenticity and trust in your relationships. You may be surprised which relationships thrive in this time and which ones do not – true friendships are forged in fire. These are the people who walk through struggles with you. Life isn’t perfect and we shouldn’t pretend it is – don’t be afraid to share the hard stuff.

4. Seek Experienced Reflux Parents

In addition to a great pediatrician and GI specialist, others have been in these trenches before you. They have spent their days and nights loving and doing everything they can to not only soothe their child, but also to learn how to do it better. As a mom who has gone through what you are going through now three times – I know the advice and encouragement from seasoned veterans is invaluable. If you don’t know any such moms, here’s a few resources that may help:

5. Pray and Then Pray Some More

In the middle of the night, all day long, when your ears, back and arms hurt from rocking and soothing the screaming, prayer is your lifeline to the God of all creation. He made you, your baby, and He knows exactly how hard this is for all of you.

He listens, He answers, and He equips. Reach out to Him for strength, comfort, and peace.

I recently studied John 11 and was so moved by Jesus’ compassion and how deeply troubled He was over the death of Lazarus. He comforted Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha and wept beside Lazarus’ grave. Even though death had to happen for Him to show His power over death as He raised Lazarus from the grave, He took NO joy in seeing the sorrow of those He loved. And, He felt His own sorrow over the situation. Cry out to Him, He hears you. He is your help and holds you both in His good, sovereign hands when there is simply nothing else you can do for your child.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:6-8 (NIV)

Infant 'Silent' Reflux Is NOT Silent - 5 Survival Tips for Parents | thisgratefulmama.com Infant 'Silent' Reflux Is NOT Silent | thisgratefulmama.com

12 Tips for Parents and Kids to Have a Great Daylight Savings Week

12 Tips for Parents and Kids to Have a Great Daylight Savings Week | thisgratefulmama.com

Daylight savings.

It. Is. Coming.

Changing clocks to maximize daylight hours seems like a good idea.

Before kids, moving the clock wasn’t a big deal. Go to bed earlier, and sleep a little later…in a few days we forgot it ever happened.

But then we had kids.

Changing the clock creates a BIG problem for the little people in my life. And, in turn, their parents.

It takes seconds to set the time on the clock. Unfortunately, it does NOT happen so quickly for our children’s internal clock.

A one hour time change isn’t welcomed by their bodies. They are tired when we need to get up. They are not tired at naptime or at bedtime. They are hungry when it isn’t meal time – and not hungry when it is.

In our experience, a child’s natural clock takes a minimum of one week to shift an hour. And in many cases, it will take even MORE time.

Last year, we naively sprung the time change on our kids. Sure, we expected a day or two of tired children, but a full week? More?

Sigh. The unwanted effects of the week following daylight savings are undesirable, at best.

How parents approach the inevitable time change can make a big difference. We can accept it and face it head on, or we can dread it and complain our way through it (the latter did not work well for any of us last year).

So, how do we face it head on?  Here are some strategies for surviving and thriving in the aftermath of daylight savings.

12 Tips for Parents and Kids to Have a Great Daylight Savings Week

1. Plan Ahead: A week before changing the clock, start gradually moving bedtime up. Start with 5-10 minutes earlier, and add 5-10 minutes per night until the big day. It might not work well every night, but hopefully their little bodies won’t go into complete shock by trying to change it all at once.

2. Be Flexible: Keep your family schedule loose the week after daylight savings. Be willing to let some things go if the kids (or you) are just too tired to do it all. With small children, decide it is alright if they do not nap. They may have trouble falling asleep at the new time, and falling asleep late may affect night time sleep. Be OK with whatever happens.

3. Take Care of Yourself: It isn’t just your kids who are adjusting to a new schedule. As you help them, help yourself by continuing to work out and eat well. Even if you’re tired and wanting to take shortcuts. This will help you ensure good habits survive the change.  Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. You will need lots of coffee.

4. Spend Time With God: No matter how tired YOU are, don’t sleep in at the expense of taking time with the Lord. You need to be filled and refreshed to face this challenge! Spending time with Him will equip you to extend grace, patience, and gentleness when your kids need it the most. This  will be an investment that blesses YOU and your kids.

5. Be Grateful For Evening Daylight: Focus on the fact that daylight savings means SPRING. Spring means warmth. Sun. And Summer. This change is a promise of lovely weather and days to come. Embrace those evening hours and use them to get yourself and the kids outside for a walk, or to do something productive around the house when you’d usually feel like hibernating.

6. Have Reasonable Expectations: Know that each child is going to experience some kind of struggle the week after daylight savings. Expect that they follow non-negotiable family rules, but expect that they may struggle with emotions and behavior. Recognize when they are doing the best they can. Practice patience. Extend grace. Forgive quickly and move on.

7. Avoid Comparison: It is also not fair to expect each child to adjust quickly, or at the same rate. Comparing will not help anyone. It may take different strategies to help each child – adjust as needed to meet them where they’re at.

8. Have A Backup Plan: Stock up on quiet activities to distract and help kids wind down. Invest in some inexpensive new activities – new library books, a new puzzle, new bath toys or new coloring books to keep kids interested in quiet and calm activities. Pull them out when they’re having a rough evening (or day).

9. Be Consistent: Don’t forgo the bedtime routine. And avoid adding or neglecting anything that you don’t want to continue in perpetuity or  to have to battle over later. For example, extra books at bedtime may sound like a good idea when they aren’t tired on those first few nights, but then the kids will EXPECT them going forward – instead of reading extra books IN the bedtime routine, read them downstairs as a seperate activity and THEN continue with the normal bedtime routine.

10. Don’t Forget About Food: If your child is struggling, try to determine if they are just tired, or if hunger may be contributing.  It isn’t just sleep that can cause problems after daylight savings – our stomachs do too! Consider moving meal times up slowly the week before, or providing small snacks to get kids through hunger pangs before or after mealtime. Better to allow a snack than to deal with a hangry child.

11. Increase Quality Time: Sometimes when kids struggle the most is when they need us the most. Play barbies, LEGOS, or whatever interests them most. Read more books and soak up snuggles. Keep them engaged with a family game of hide-and-seek or a board game. Let them help you cook dinner, even if it is slow and messy. As they soak up the attention, you may see their attitude and ability to cope with how they’re feeling improve.

12. Keep It In Perspective: It will not last forever. These tired, hungry, cranky children will return to their normal sweet selves. This too shall pass, even if it takes longer than we’d like.

Here’s hoping sleep returns to all of us quickly.