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Most days I seem to spend hours and hours trying to get my 19 week old to sleep

hi Glenda and Brenda,
My 19 week old baby has reflux and a milk protein allergy. My 2 year old had the same difficulties and now has several food allergies. Initially, I felt like I was coping reasonably well with the situation and was more proactive in seeking help from the paediatrician (re medication and switching to a hypoallergenic lformula) than I was with my firstborn. I am finding now, however, that each day is getting harder and harder. Most days I seem to spend hours and hours trying to get my 19 week old to sleep, and then he may only sleep 30-60 mins all day, and often, with me holding him. I have given up doing housework during the day (apart from cleaning up the continual vomit), but am feeling very sad and frustrated at the little time I then have for my 2 year old. I am always asking him to be quiet and generally he is such a well behaved boy.
Do you have any tips on managing sleep etc when you also have a very active toddler to look after?
Many thanks,

Answer: Hi Nadine, Thanks for your question about your current situation; you certainly are not alone as a new mother trying to manage sleep, quiet times, as well as a reflux newborn and toddler! It may be that you feel a little overwhelmed at times, however know that there are support systems available, and it sounds like you’ve been doing an excellent job so far with your two little ones. As your children grow and change, you’ll find that some tactics that may have worked in the past, may need a slightly different angle, or what did not work with one, may work with the other. If you haven’t already, you may wish to look at RISA’s management tips at http://www.reflux.org.au which is a good place to start with ideas on how to encourage sleep in your reflux baby. Tips such as adding extra layers of top sheets to the cot (for easy peeling off after vomit to avoid waking the baby); changing the nappy before a feed in case he goes to sleep during; feeding in a quiet darker room (with an eye on your toddler) all may help. If you can, consider using a baby carrier (like a Baby Bjorn or similar) so you become hands free around the house. Not only will he be upright and close to your body, often it helps relax a reflux baby during the day, and he may sleep a little more soundly. Taking long strolls in the park with your baby in a harness, allows some fun time for your toddler and hopefully a sleeping infant. Even arranging a few hours of “occasional care” at a local swim centre if available, where you will be close on hand with your infant, may allow you to take some time out for yourself if possible. Trying to think of special games or experiences that apply to just you and your 2 yr old, and keeping them especially for quiet times (ie. when your infant is sleeping...), or investing in one of the fun allergy children’s books now available to start sharing kitchen time with your son could be a good way to bring some positive focus onto him during the day. I’d also suggest keeping in contact with your local childcare or maternal nurse. They may have sleep strategies or resources on managing sleep for an infant & toddler during the day… and might be able to assist with any services in your area if you require further help, such as a sleep nurse or clinic. If you can gather the support of family and friends to try for a few hours rest yourself, this will help your well being and may assist you to recharge so that you can help focus more on your two children. By accepting that not all housework can be done during the day, and having others in the house accept this as well, is also a great start to take some pressure off your other commitments. Continue to keep well in touch with your local doctor or specialist, so they can keep an eye on both your children’s progress and your own coping strategies, as it’s important to talk about your concerns with a health professional. Lastly, to help figure out any patterns to their sleeps (or lack of..) while keeping check on their allergies and reflux, if you haven`t already, it may be time to start a diary – jotting down times of sleeps, behaviour, types of food/formula/milks you are serving, and any other important notes you can think of. At least this will help your specialist gain an insight into your home life, so that they may spot any information which may help you through this period. I hope this information helps, good luck, and keep in touch. Best regards, Brenda
Answered: 08 May 2009