Practical Tips for Helping Baby to Sleep
Attachment Parenting: is the latest buzz-term amongst natural parenting advocates. At Arcanum Wholistic Clinic, we’re big proponents of attachment parenting which includes wearing baby in a sling by day and, by night, nursing on demand and co-sleeping or bed-sharing. Parents of various native tribes around the world raise their babies this natural way. When baby is born, it takes months (possibly even a year or more) for him to realize that he’s actually a separate entity from you and so he prefers as much of a womb-like existence as possible in order to thrive, with constant doses of warmth, comfort, nurturance, sustenance, and a clean habitat.
Bowen, Massage, or Chiropractic: are great modalities to help with sleep. I’m a Bowen Practitioner and can attest to how many babes lose sleep due to a misalignment from the birth trauma, affecting literally the way their head is screwed onto their neck and shoulders. I’ve done minor soft tissue releases on babies and had parents report that baby sleeps soundly from then on. At home, you can rub your baby’s feet with coconut oil before bed, helping baby to relax and promote digestion, along with releasing any withheld gas that can cause baby to have a sleepless night.
Aromatherapy: is very helpful as mentioned in prior sections. One drop of lavender oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil (such as coconut oil) works well for massaging baby’s feet. You can also use the same ratio for a humidifier, vaporizer, or diffuser.
Cherry Pit Pillow/Pack: is an old European household remedy for colic and sleep. You can buy these small pillows from eBay or look for them at a reputable eco baby supply store, where more natural methods of healing are promoted. Simply heat it on a pan in the toaster oven for 10 minutes to heat up the cherry pits. When placed on baby’s belly, the cherry pits release a soothing, moist heat, helping bubbles of gas to diffuse.
A Wool Soaker: is a great way to help baby stay dry from a leaky diaper during the night. Sheep’s wool is designed to keep the rain from permeating to the animal’s skin through absorption, while the lanolin closer to the skin prevents the water from reaching the epidermis level, acting like a natural rain repellant. The company “Pooters Diapers” states, “When baby’s diaper becomes wet, the wool soaker wicks the moisture away from the diaper by absorbing it. Lanolin … keeps the urine from leaking back out of the wool …”. Baby is more likely to sleep through the night if her clothes stay dry and more comfortable.
Homeopathic Remedies for Sleep
There is typically a reason for baby to wake during the night. As his parents, it is up to you to go through a mental checklist to determine why this is. Co-sleeping babes do best with an easily accessible breast for nourishment and comfort. Most moms learn to sleep through baby’s latching on to the breast and subsequent drifting back off to sleep. Occasionally, baby will be wet and need to have a diaper change before sleep can be restored.
When baby is 4-7 months, teething can be the issue as he matures. A nightmare or night terror can be the cause for his waking. At other times, it can be due to the fact that there is a full moon! Here are some safe homeopathic remedies to use for specific issues. If this doesn’t help, it’s because there is a deeper issue, like vaccines or a genetic miasm (inherited predisposition to disease) in the way, preventing baby from getting a deep, restorative sleep. Let us know if the latter scenario is the case as we bring years of training to be able to solve the root cause of baby’s ills, so that you can all sleep like babies!
Aconite: is a great remedy for when baby has been exposed to a dry northeast wind during winter, aggravating a high fever of even 105 degrees Fahrenheit, along with an earache. Baby might be just fine upon going to bed, however, he wakes shrieking around midnight, clearly in pain. Look for restlessness, dry body heat, and increased thirst. Baby may be writhing in pain with extreme sensitivity to touch, suffering burning or even violent pain.
Arnica: is a good remedy for when baby seems to have his internal clock mixed up; drowsy without being able to nap during the day, but able to sleep during early evening and then wakens with a hot head at night, with fear that he will suffer pain again. Older children will complain of feeling exhausted upon waking with terrible dreams about animals, death, and even mutilated bodies. During sleep, children who need Arnica will groan, murmur, talk, snore, and pass stool and urine involuntarily after having toilet trained.
Belladonna: is one of our chief remedies for right sided earaches and for waking violently with pain and high fever at midnight, as mentioned in the prior section. Baby will be restless, agitated, and typically screeching in pain. Belladonna with solve this state outright.
Chamomilla: is a great remedy for fussy babies who need to be constantly rocked or nursed to sleep. Look for right-sided earaches, red face, a more low-grade fever, around 102 or 103 degrees Fahrenheit. In a Cham. state, baby will give you the impression that there is absolutely nothing you can do to appease her as she’ll reject absolutely everything that you offer, pushing it and you away.
Coffea: is derived from coffee. In homeopathic terms (like cures like), an over-stimulated baby needs a stimulant to calm down. I used to keep a tin of organic coffee in the freezer for my own children to take a wee sniff from. Actually, I still have the same tin at my office (I don’t drink coffee) for babes I see in person who are suffering an over-stimulated melt-down. All I do is open the lid of the tin of coffee in my office and watch for baby, and mom or dad too, to take a couple of whiffs of the aroma. Within a couple of minutes, baby is completely calm, gurgling, and usually drifting off to sleep. If you’re nursing, you can take the homeopathic remedy to promote sleep for your baby as it transfers through the breast milk. We will never recommend drinking coffee while breastfeeding as in this volume, you’ll actually create the opposite result by aggravating baby’s delicate nervous system and making them wired on caffeine with disastrous sleep results.
Nux Vomica: is for what I call the jack in the box syndrome. It will seem that you just get baby off to sleep and he keeps popping awake all night long for no rhyme or reason, like he’s woken by the least noise or movement. In proper ascending potencies, Nux. will also help detox baby’s organ system of any prior medications or antibiotics should the situation arise, helping baby sleep more soundly.
Medications, and vaccines, administered at birth can play havoc with baby’s central nervous system and digestive organs, making it difficult for him to settle properly into sleep. Nux. is one of the remedies we use when clearing the actual drug nosodes from baby’s system based on natural homeopathic law. A nosode is the homeopathic term for the remedy made from the exact drug administered, taking “like cures like”, or the similimum, up to “exact cures exact”.
Pulsatilla: is a great remedy for right-sided ear infections, as mentioned above, with a more low-grade temperature around 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Your baby will be profoundly clingy and needy with a desire to be carried everywhere, consoled, and kissed, but is less capricious and contrary than the Chamomilla state described above.
Flower Essences for Sleep
To help yourself and baby to sleep, we recommend Bach’s “Rescue Sleep” and “Rescue Sleep Liquid Melt”. I recall certain stressful days with my own baby where I was still measuring my own sense of self by how many things I was able to tick off my list. Being attached to certain outcomes with an infant or toddler creates a sure disaster. When children out number the parent or parents, you’re bound to be pinioned under your children’s expectations over and above your own. This is just how it is, for now. It will get easier, but for now, you answer solely to your child’s needs, dropping most of what you desire to do or find fulfilling. You’ll get back there.
Often, when I had a yearning to do something, or I had a deadline, or place to be by a certain time, I would be rendered a high-strung anxious mess by the time bedtime came around with unresolved feelings of failure that turned up as left-over anxiety, resentment, or even anger from the day. I learned first hand that this is a disastrous state of mind to try and put a baby down to sleep, when I was feeling electrified with unresolved impatience. I’ve often referred to infants, babies, and toddlers as being the canary in our adult coal mines, picking up on every miniscule bit of angst, mirroring every bit of it for our not so pleasurable viewing. They will literally torture you with your own mirror.
Bach’s Flower Essences, including Walnut, in the case I just described above, in addition to the remedies below, can help you and your child calm, relax, and let go to sleep; enabling you both to face another day with refreshed eyes, letting go the unnecessaries, focusing more on simply “being” than “doing.”
Here are the remedies contained in “Bach’s Rescue Sleep” Remedy, captured right from their website:
White Chestnut: To help ease restless mind.
Star of Bethlehem: For trauma and shock.
Clematis: For the tendency to “pass out”, and unconsciousness, being ‘far away’ and not present mentally.
Cherry Plum: Fear of mind giving way, verge of breakdown, anger.
Impatiens: For irritability, tension, and fidgety.
Rock Rose: For frozen terror and panic.
Essential Oils for Sleep
Essential oils, or aromatherapy, for baby is safe provided you stick to the oils recommended in this book and use them according to the dilution that we’ve suggested. In the early evening, I used to prepare a warm bath for my baby (be sure to use only natural cleansers for baby’s tub!) with a drop of lavender. Usually their dad did the bathing as this was their time to connect and give me a moment to clean up the kitchen after supper, or to just sit and have a moment to orient myself in the world, to make note of some grocery items needed, or to just ponder my own feelings with some chamomile tea and my journal.
After baby was out of the bath, their dad would give them a baby gentle massage over their little bodies, putting them on the floor while they lay on a cotton receiving blanket or on their changing table. I taught him how to always massage baby’s belly in a clockwise motion to encourage the release of gas bubbles and good digestion, by following the large intestines natural route to the rectum. When massaging baby, the pressure should be about the same as you would use to rub your eye-ball when your lid is closed. This is a good way to remind our stronger, more burly hubbys what the pressure should be. Baby will love the wonderful time to bond and relax through touch with their daddy.
Massage Oil Blend
1 drop of Lavender
1 drop Geranium
1 drop Roman Chamomile
and 30 ml of Sweet Almond, Olive, or Coconut Oil
Blend all of the ingredients together well, using on babies 3 months and older. As mentioned above, you can use a drop of lavender or chamomile in their bath with some raw goat’s or cow’s milk to help promote sleep. I would also wear lavender oil on my own clothing or skin while nursing baby before bed. I still do this when a cranky baby comes in for a consultation with their mom, to promote comfort and security for both of them.
I’ve always used essential oils in a room diffuser, vaporizer, or even a pot of steaming water that a child can not reach. One drop of lavender, Roman chamomile, or geranium in about 3 cups of water works well.
Excerpted in part from our new bestselling book on Amazon: