February 4, 2023

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Now parents and children who struggle with sleep will get help

Now parents and children who struggle with sleep will get help

Heidi Takel Björnipe from Selimstad gave birth to her first child, Hedvig, eight months ago.

Lying down and sleeping was difficult.

– Hedwig was very worried in the evening. It did not subside until late in the evening. At worst, it was two or three in the morning before you fell asleep.

They didn’t have a routine when the baby was new. For the first three weeks, the baby slept where she was, first on her parents’ body, then on a rocking chair.

– We put the rocking chair with the baby sleeping next to us on the sofa. It’s probably not true, but you’re doing what works, Bjornby tells forskning.no.

Life with a newborn is about sleeping a lot. Many parents struggle to get their children to sleep and sleep as long as possible. They themselves also get very little sleep.

Helping tired parents

Sleep problems in a baby’s first year are one of the main reasons parents seek help, according to a specialist article on Sykepleien. 25 percent of all children between the ages of zero and five have trouble sleeping. These are sleep problems, how long the child sleeps well and difficulties the next day.

According to the article’s authors, general research shows that two things increase the total amount of sleep in infants and their parents. One is to reduce the parents’ response to the child when he is about to fall asleep. The second is to teach the child to fall asleep on his own.

Forskning.no spoke to three of the authors of the article. They have now created a new program to help parents and children. It will be launched in March 2023.

Turid Skjerve Leksbø is a psychologist and private counselor at the Regional Center for Child and Youth Mental Health East-South (RBUP). As I became a mother and tried to figure out what to do to put her baby to sleep, I found conflicting views.

Turid Skjerve Leksbø from RBUP has helped develop a new app for parents and children who struggle with sleep.

40 years of sleep research

– He was very demanding, and I felt tight. The research said one thing, but then there were others who believed that what the research said would create difficulties and attachment problems for the child, Lexpo says.

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Lexpo wanted to find out, so she wrote her major thesis on sleep difficulties in children. Now I’ve worked with babies, sleeping and lying down for five years. Participates in the “Sleep Well” research and development project.

The project is led by researcher Philip Drozd.

– We’ve looked at 40 years of sleep and infant research. In the 1980s, methods of sleep training appeared for children six months of age and older. He says they are still working.

The app sleep well

RBUP spent two years developing the new program. It is intended for children aged 6 to 36 months and should be used in conjunction with the health center and other agencies that are in contact with new parents.

Parents get an app called Sleep Well. First, the situation in the house is determined. Parents record their children’s sleep in the app. There they can also read about the sleep needs and sleep difficulties of young children.

They are then presented with a sleep plan, which they go over with a health nurse. The plan adapts to the starting point and wishes of the parents.

Parents must sit in the driver’s seat. They should do what they feel is right and are comfortable with, which application and mentorship will contribute to. Philip Drozd says that the method will never be better than what parents manage to do.

awaiting extension

In Slemmestad, all the commotion of the evening affected the young family. Ten weeks later, Heidi and her husband are tired.

Then they started bed procedures. They waited until Hedvig showed signs of fatigue.

– We put her down when she yawned and rubbed her eyes and touched her ear. Then we put her to bed, sang to her, said good night to her and left the room. It worked very well. Bjornby says she found herself sleeping and sleeping well.

This initially occurred around 10 p.m. Bedtime was then slowly but surely moved towards 7-8 p.m.

When Hedwig was seven months old, she was moved to her own room.

Heidi Tackle Bjornby and her husband, Morten, shared a workout pose.  - It works fine.  Daddy is just as involved and just as good at laying down as I am, says Bjørnebye.

Heidi Tackle Bjornby and her husband, Morten, shared a workout pose. – It works fine. Daddy is just as involved and just as good at laying down as I am, says Bjørnebye.

Heidi Takle Bjørnebye reads about lying down and sleeping on helsenorge.no, where the public gives his health advice. She also received advice from her health nurse, who said bedtime routines should start when the baby is 12 weeks old.

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Stay away from chat groups and forums. I have a very nice maternity group and many friends with kids of the same age. We shared experiences, but I chose to seek advice elsewhere, such as Health Norway, says Bjørnebye.

Get help from health workers

With the application from RBUP, parents will receive professional help. It’s completely new, according to Philip Drews.

Self-help programs already exist, but our plan includes guidance from healthcare professionals. We don’t know of anyone else, either in Norway or internationally, who has developed something similar, Drews says.

Hege Pettersen Sandtrø is a special advisor at RBUP and also helped develop the new programme. Sandtro worked as a public health nurse for many years. Then she saw a pattern in those who struggled with sleep.

Hegg-Petersen Sandtro used her experience as a health nurse on a project

Hegg-Petersen Sandtro has used her experience as a health nurse in the Sleep Well project.

Filip Drozd led the project behind the app

Filip Drozd led the project behind the “Sov goodt” app.

– The first two evenings are often the hardest. Drozd says he often calms down the following evenings.

– The problem is usually resolved in three to five nights.

It’s about letting go, according to Tawreed Lixpo.

sounds and grimaces

– After a few months, the infant develops the ability to self-regulate and fall asleep on his own. Hence our task as parents is to give the child enough room for this development, says Turid Leksbø.

Parents are encouraged to put ice in their stomachs.

Most of us wake up five or six times a night when we go from one sleep cycle to another. Children do, Lexo says, too.

In the transition between different stages of sleep, the child often makes sounds and shrugs. They may cry a little.

– If the child appears to be waking up, the parents should wait a few seconds or minutes before intervening. The child should be given the opportunity to fall asleep on his own again. But a baby isn’t supposed to lie down and cry, says L’Expo.

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A compromise of all styles

The new program comes too late for the family in Selemstad.

– We didn’t have a clear plan. It has become a lot like that. What worked one day, we tried again the next. Not knowing much about babies beforehand, says Heidi Tackle-Bjornby, I took most things as they arrived and tried to do the best we could.

In the maternity group and the friend group, they talk a lot about different ways of positioning the baby.

– We’ve done something in-between most styles we’ve heard of, but I’m very satisfied with what we’ve achieved.

Now Hedvig was starting to crawl, and lying down was again a problem. Prefer crawling to sleep.

– Now she is no longer sleeping, but crawling in bed. It starts with gentle babbling, sometimes she falls asleep, other times it turns into crying.

Restart the extension

The method Hedvig’s parents use is similar to RBUP’s sleep training, but they restart it sometimes.

We go in and out of the bedroom to rest, but if she escalates and annoys her more and more, we stay there until she calms down. Or we take it upstairs to the living room, says Bjornby.

Five to ten minutes later, they start their bedtime routine again by singing and saying goodnight.

– Heidi Tackle Bjornby says she often falls asleep on second attempts.

Hege Pettersen Sandtrø of RBUP thinks it’s good that Bjørnebye got help from the health center and quality-assured advice at helsenorge.no.

– They got solutions to baby sleep challenges that they were comfortable with and that worked for them. Unfortunately, not all parents get the right, good enough help, says Sandtro.

This is exactly what RBUP means by “Sov godt,” according to Sandtro.

– Parents shall acquire the knowledge based on sleep research through the program. They will also receive individually adapted measures that take the child and family as a starting point.

References:

Hege Therese Storksen and others: Sleep difficulties in children: A new method can helpNursing 03/18/2022

Philip Drozd and others: An overview of reviews for the prevention and treatment of sleep problems in infants. Children’s Acta 2022

Xiaojing Peng et al: Group sleep and sleep problems in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Sleep and Circadian Rhythms 2019. Summary.

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