Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes the uncontrollable urge to move your legs generally due to an uncomfortable sensation. It is a neurological disorder that impacts the brain, spine & connecting nerve tissues.
This syndrome can begin at any age and generally worsens as you get older. In the US it is reported that up to 1.5 million children have been diagnosed with the syndrome.
Typically you would see it taking children who are experiencing the syndrome taking longer to fall asleep due to discomfort and the need to move. They may also have issues around staying asleep which could in turn create increased daytime fatigue due to the cycle of broken sleep.
There is no specific treatment for RLS. There have been medications trailed however the long-term risk factors of use of these medications in children q re not known. Iron deficiency has to be considered and treated under the guidance of a medical professional.
If you’re struggling to get your children to sleep, then you may turn to a family sleep consultant for advice and guidance. A sleep consultant's primary role is to educate families on all areas of sleeping, including the biological needs of the child, sleep hygiene and how to get day and night sleep timings right. If you work one to one with them, then a sleep consultant will be there to support you along each stage of the journey armed with experience and expert advice on how to solve your sleep issues.
Secondly, a sleep consultant will be able to review your child’s sleep environment and suggest improvements that can support your child’s overall sleep. Having a cool and dark room may seem like the obvious first steps to creating a peaceful, effective environment to help your child sleep but did you know certain nightlight colours can impede melatonin production, including white & blue?
Depending on the child’s age, a sleep consultant can recommend whether your child should be in a cot or a bed and whether they should have a pillow, sleeping bag or duvet. There may be additional requirements for your child’s room that you haven’t yet considered, for example from a young age, a white noise machine will remind babies of the womb and will help block outside noise.
To get all of the help you require from a sleep consultant, it’s worth compiling a list of all the questions you may have before your consultation. Check out their credentials. Where did they get their sleep certification? Make sure to check out the organisation and how established it is. The more comprehensive the certification and experience they better equipped they will be to comment on any sleep issues and suggest how to help your child sleep.
Although you may think your one and the only question is how to get your child to sleep, you may find a sleep consultant can help with much more than that. Sleep Consultants will be able to advise on setting up a safe sleep environment and also give advice on feeding schedules for your little one. Plus, advise on how to juggle getting out and about with your little one and balance the needs of older siblings.
A good sleep consultant will speak through all of the available options and answer any questions so that you are fully satisfied and confident with the sleep solution suggestions that they make. If you work one to one with a Sleep Consultant they will stay in touch over the weeks following the final meeting to be on hand for any further help and support.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to take the next step and request support from a sleep consultant, then first things first, you need to find one that you can trust. It’s critical that you look for a sleep consultant who is professionally certified. Additional areas to research could include their previous client testimonials, which will help you get a good understanding and feel for the consultant based on their previous work. Once you’ve narrowed down your research, initiate a conversation, and get the ball rolling.
As a Mum to 3 children myself, I have dealt with all levels of sickness and the overall impact it can have on family life. Everything from standard common colds, dreaded tummy bugs & emergency surgeries!
Even if your child is normally sleeping independently, being sick can absolutely create disruption to their sleep ‘norm’.
The good news is that sickness does pass. It is a point in time and they will be well again.
The biggest thing that you need to remember is that you have to make your child as comfortable as possible. Ensure that they have the medications that they need. Use over the counter remedies such as age-appropriate Vicks Rub to help them with circulation and congestion. Use a diffuser with essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, or tea tree in their room. Prop the top of their cot to help with nasal drip coughs. There are lots and lots of simple things that can help your little one feel more comfortable through bouts of sickness.
When little ones are not well they are going to need you more than ever. So, respond to them quickly do whatever you need to help them feel comfortable and supported. Hold them, rock them, stay and reassure them if that’s what is needed. Them getting as much sleep as possible is the first step to them getting well again. So if they need a little more daytime sleep while not well, let them have it. The more they sleep the quicker they will heal.
If you have worked on sleep with your little one and recently made steps towards your family's sleep goals then avoiding going back to square one would be advised. For example, if you have recently moved away from co-sleeping then avoiding returning to it during times of sickness would be advised. If you have recently weaned from nursing at night but your child needs additional fluids perhaps providing them via a bottle would be more helpful. Back steps like this could be confusing for your little one so trying to avoid them is advised.
When your child is well again return to your family ‘norms’ around sleep. So essentially return to routine. If your child was previously sleeping through and things have really come undone, don’t panic, all is not lost. Simply stay consistent and over a few days, things will return to normal again. Children are very adaptable and when they see consistency from their parents these skills really come into their own.
There are very often situations with children where they will get one thing after another after another. So really what you need to do is in between each spell of sickness try to get back to your norms around sleep again.
When your child is well then return to the ‘norm’ around their sleep that was there before they got sick. That can create frustration for the child because their expectation around sleep has changed. And really that is what you're dealing with, frustration. Initially, they may not like that they are no longer sharing your bed but if you are consistent around the changes back to your family's sleep norms, in a few days, they should return to them themselves.
‘Lovie’ may or may not be a term that you are familiar with. When we use this term it is in reference to an object that your baby can form a bond with. They may also be known as a transitional object or comfort object if you are doing any research on the topic.
A lovie can be anything from a teddy bear to a blanket or a combination of the two! Something that is safe for your baby to have with them at sleep or comfort time.
So, when choosing what might be a suitable lovie for your little one to bond with think of their age and also examine possible objects for their safety features.
The truth of the matter is not every baby will need a lovie however I would encourage all parents to try to see if their babies will form a positive association with something that will given them comfort at times where they may need it – such as sleep. A lovie becomes a familiar object that can bring comfort to your baby at a time when they need it.
These objects can also be very useful when handling change around your little one's sleep. Perhaps they are starting childcare, you are moving home, a new sibling arrives or developmental milestones are happening. This lovie will become something familiar in a world that might be a little bit different and help them on the path to adjustment.
I encourage parents to start the bond with a lovie from 4 months but only within safe sleep guidelines. Use it at times of comfort such as feeding, playtime, and the sleep time routine.
However, do not be surprised if your little one does not form a bond with a lovie straight away. In my experience by consistently offering one comfort object the bond will come but at what age range is child dependent. With my own children, 2 had formed the bond well before 12 months but with my last child that bond didn’t form until after 12 months.
Yes! However, it is not recommended that it goes into their cot with them at sleep time. You can however allow them to have it outside of sleep time to encourage bond. Have it with you and give it to them at feed times. Use it as part of the bedtime routine & give it to the baby when sleep is over. That way it becomes something that is familiar to them and although is not going into their cot with them is seen as something that is part of their bedtime cues.
Remember, lovies can get lost or worn! So, my best mom tip is to make sure you have a few in stock at home! I learned this the hard way when my middle child lost her lovie in a supermarket and we didn’t have a spare at home! Let's just say my superstar sleeper was a little off-kilter until we got a new one & there was an emergency trip to the nearest stockist the following day.
By having a few on standby you won’t get caught as I did & when one is in the wash you will have another to take its place!