Our Main Brisbane Practice
1/26 Eva Street, Coorparoo 4151
Brisbane
(07) 3324 2490
Our Main Gold Coast Practice
76-122 Napper Rd, Parkwood 4214
Gold Coast
(07) 5594 7014

Kids who can’t sleep. What to do?

I've just got finished a Zoom Meeting for one of my gorgeous patients who lives in country New South Wales, Australia - way out west. As well as being blown away that I can share with Margot's Mum, occupational therapist, speechie, kindy teacher and support co-ordinator in real time, as we discuss her achievements and future goals for 2019, I love that the discussion about quality sleep was addressed.

So we know that children with certain genetic conditions - especially those with very pale skin - have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. We also know that other things make settling for sleep harder. Melatonin is a natural hormone that moderates our wake- sleep cycles and is at its highest levels at night - helping us to become drowsy and fall, plus stay, asleep. The problem is that many of the activities we currently do affect our Melatonin levels: so here are some quick tips to help max yours and your child's Melatonin levels and make for a better night's sleep!

1. Not surprisingly - avoid screen time prior to bed and if you absolutely can't, then make sure your device is set to a dim/ non blue light setting. Having your device as your alarm clock (on your bedside table) is not ideal.Try to have it in another room (for children) or out of sight for you.
2. Avoid caffeine prior to bed
3. Avoid exercise for 1-2 hours prior to bed
4. Most importantly, have your breakfast out in the sun. Squinty-eyed sun for 20 minutes in the morning helps produce Melatonin. Wearing a strappy singlet or going shirtless with no hat or sunscreen early in the morning is ideal. Of course then slap on the hat, slip on the shirt and slop on the sunscreen as the day warms.

And if you are visiting a family member in hospital or working in an office all day, make sure you get out in the sun to help produce some Melatonin. Prolonged exposure to artificial light is not a friend to good sleep. Sweet dreams people.

Race running for people with a disability has really got my heart pumping!

So many of you know that I look after children and young adults of all abilities. Most of my posts have been about babies of late and I thought it was time to introduce you to a new product and sport that is AMAZING! It’s called Race running and Dejay Medical in Australia ( no money is changing hands for that free plug!) is having come and try days in November. check their website for details. www.dejay.com.au.

What’s even greater is that Race Running debuted at the Para Athlete Championships in Europe this year. It uses a three wheeled walking/ running bike that give support via a bike seat and a chest piece for children that can walk but not run; or have reduced balance or co-ordination; or cannot walk but can use their legs to propel. it is uber friendly for participation and aerobic exercise!

Loving innovation for physical literacy!

Daisy shows us how to get crawling

Sometimes children find it really difficult to crawl. It might be because they lack body on body rotation movement patterns or upper body strength or tone. They may not be able to cross the midline easily or may have delayed protective ( positive supporting) reactions that you use to save your face when you are about to fall. Some children have balance or vestibular issues that make them fearful to put their head down. In Daisy's case, she had flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly) with reduced neck movement (torticollis) and this affected her motor skill development in her first twelve months.

Have a look at these lovely videos of us encouraging Daisy to link sitting to tummy and vice versa; high kneel to develop better control around her low back and tummy; practicing her arm parachute reactions; achieving all fours and beginning to crawl, once her neck range is all okay.

Here’s a quirky way to encourage tummy time – see our resident model Grace who is now six months enjoy some paddle boarding in Brisbane in Spring!

Always use your imagination to encourage tummy time. It might be on a paddle board; it could be in a hammock; or on mum’s or dad’s tummy or back.

In fact the big push now is that even if your child doesn’t like their tummy, avoid wake time on their back to prevent flat head syndrome or torticollis (preferential head turn). Sitting up supported time will help develop neck strength and assist with minimising head moulding.

Awesome tummy time!

So your baby doesn’t like tummy time….

The SIDS campaign has been incredibly successful with its “back to sleep” message. I totally support this initiative. What hasn’t been so effective has been promoting the other side of the message which is “tummy time or vertical to play”.

The past fifteen years we have seen an explosion in the management of flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly, with baby helmets rivalling bottled water as a growth industry! Absolutely, sleep our littlies on their backs but introduce awake tummy time as soon as you can. Your baby doesn’t have to go on the floor: they can be on your chest, across your lap or on the change table. You can roll them onto their tummy to dry their back after a bath. Tummy time is crucial for development of strong back and neck muscles and heads that don’t have a flat spot because your baby prefers to turn their head one way.

Our resident baby model Gracie (first offspring of physiotherapists Christy and Mitch) demonstrates some positions of choice with a skin to skin ( kangaroo) cuddle with Dad and using a bed nest to help with head control and elbow position (see how elbows are under Grace’s shoulders).

Sometimes babies can have a shortened neck muscle which is located at the front and side of their neck. It’s called the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the condition is commonly called torticollis. It can be associated with flat head syndrome because a baby has difficulties turning their head due to the muscle on one side of the neck being tight and the muscle on the opposite side being weaker.  The goal is to get your baby to sleep with their head turned to their least favourite side – not so easy when they are sleeping 18 hours per day (or not sleeping at all). In my next post I’ll give you some sneaky tricks to help with this and some practical hints.

But to finish up tonight, here’s a tip: babies start consistently eye following horizontally at about six weeks of age. This is a good way to start them turning their heads. They can focus on someone (usually Mum or Dad – the loves of their life and ultimate protectors!) from a hand spans’ distance. Put your thumb on your nose and spread your hand and your little finger: this is where bub will need to be to focus on you. Then get them to start to eye follow from side to side, gradually increasing the range until they are experts!

How do you build your child’s core strength?

 

Co-ordinated Kids

Sometimes children need a little extra help when it comes to learning about their balance and coordination. Our physiotherapy partners Movement Solutions believe all children should have the opportunity to learn and practice these skills to be the best they can be and actively participate with siblings and friends at home, daycare and kindy.

These classes are especially popular for children preparing to start school. They are run by our physiotherapists in the gym space and are fun and encouraging.

Classes are circuit style with a number of different stations each with a different challenging but fun task to try.  While the classes are run by a physiotherapist the children do require parental supervision and assistance at all times. The classes are limited to a maximum of four children. These 45 minute sessions suit their concentration span and energy levels.

These sessions are ideal for:

  • Low muscle tone

  • Premature infants

  • Developmental delay

  • Motor dyspraxia

  • Cerebral Palsy GMFCS I and II

  • Genetic conditions

Programs focus on a number of goals:

  • Co-ordination and balance

  • Gross  motor skills

  • Walking and running style

  • Hand eye co-ordination

  • Turn taking

  • Socialising and group play

When does Co-ordinated Kids run?

  • Monday and Thursday Mornings at Coorparoo
  • Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons at Parkwood
  • Friday Mornings at Sherwood

Costs:   $40 per session paid at the start of the term as a package. To secure your placement, please ensure that payment is arranged prior to the first class. Please talk to our reception staff about payment methods     * Private health fund rebates vary according to your fund and level of insurance   ** Better start or NDIS funding eligible.

Please call Movement Solutions’ receptionists at Coorparoo on (07) 3324 2490 or Parkwood on (07) 55947014.  No refunds or credits can be given for missed classes.

The front seat

I’m waiting for Toby to get off the train at Park Road Station. If I collect him from here he doesn’t have to catch the train all the way to Southbank and then a bus and then a cold walk home. It will save him an hour and a lot of energy and I will get to spend some quality time with my son – even if it’s only 10 minutes. I don’t know about you but as they get older – he’s now 23 – those special moments with your children are just that – so special.

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