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Allergies

Baby allergies and sleeping problems

As we enter the warmer months, getting your baby/toddler off to sleep because pollen is triggering hay fever or because it's just too hot in their nursery can be a major headache for parents. If your infant is struggling to sleep, there is a great range of products available that can help. In this article, we look at baby allergies as well as ways to help get your little one off to sleep. What's an allergy? An allergy is a reaction by the body's immune system to substances it believes are attacking it. These substances, known as allergens, are typically things such as pollen, dust mites and animal fur that are to most people harmless. Allergens can be inhaled, ingested or touched and trigger a release of a chemical called histamine (as well as other chemicals) that causes symptoms such as congestion, blocked nasal cavities, itchy eyes and throat, rashes or diarrhea. How do I know if my baby has an allergy? Allergies are difficult to detect in babies as a slight wheeze may just indicate a cold and is something they are likely to grow out of doing as they get older. However, a persistent wheeze that continues up to the age of three and with no other symptoms could indicate asthma. Asthma, along with other common allergies such as hay fever and eczema can be easily diagnosed by your GP. Should you suspect an allergy or your baby is having trouble breathing visit your doctor immediately to get a professional diagnosis. Pollen and Hay Fever Babies, toddlers, children and adults can all develop an allergy to many different things and at any time in their life but the most common problems are with animal fur and pollen. Pollen is what triggers hay fever and around 20% of the population suffer with this condition typically between the months of March and August although some people have attacks in the autumn months. Pollen is a harmless substance but to a hay fever sufferer it triggers a release of histamine that creates a reaction of symptoms similar to a cold. If you live in a city, hay fever can be heightened as the pollen mixes with pollution from exhaust fumes. How do I treat my baby's allergy? Drug treatments such as antihistamines and steroids are occasionally used for infants with allergies but the best way is to identify and remove the cause of the allergic reaction. An allergen could be cigarette smoke, dust mites, pet hair, woollen blankets, feather pillows or pollen. Consider what's in your baby's environment to see what the probable cause is. A baby's stuffed toys for instance will attract dust mites so ensure you wash them frequently. If pollen is the cause of their reaction, keep them inside during heavy pollen alerts which are worse in the months of March to August and also on windy days when the pollen is likely to stirred up. If a pet is the cause, keep the animal restricted to certain parts of the house and make sure they are never allowed in your baby's nursery. Keeping your baby's room completely dust-free is near on impossible but frequent cleaning will help to keep the dust to a minimum ensuring dust mites (the cause of allergies) are controlled as much as possible. It is possible to improve the air in your home using air purifiers. These products help to remove airborne particles such as pollen, dust and pet dander improving the air your baby breathes. For smaller rooms such as baby's nursery, a small, quiet and discrete air purifier will filter the majority of particles in the air giving baby a better night's sleep Nursery air purifier Air Purifier For other larger areas of the home, a plasma air purifier uses a five-stage process of UV light and active carbon to filter and reduce house dust, pet hair, pollen, mould spores, viruses and bacteria. Baby sleeping problems Babies and toddlers can have difficulty falling to sleep for a variety of reasons and often a comforting word or hug from a parent will be sufficient to send them off. However, it's not always possible, or recommended, to attend to your child every time they cry when put to bed. It's worth considering the reasons your baby is not getting to sleep. Are they too hot? Is their nursery environment too warm? Is the air quality good enough? Do they need some reassurance? In the UK, our climate is changeable and we spend many months of the year either in a sealed environment with heating on or with the windows wide open because it's too hot. During the winter, central heating can draw moisture from the air meaning air quality is poor causing dry throats and skin. Moisture can be replaced using a humidifier. Maintaining good humidity in your home is a proven way to help with restless sleep as well as avoiding itchy eyes, dry skin and respiratory problems (particularly beneficial if your child has asthma). Nursery humidifier Keeping your child's room at the right temperature can be made a lot easier if you can monitor what a safe and comfortable temperature is. The ideal temperature for a safe sleeping environment is between 16-20°C and to make monitoring even easier the latest nursery thermometers glow different colours to indicate when the room is within the recommended guidelines. Nursery thermometer For some children, the position they naturally adopt during the night isn't ideal for a good night's sleep. Indigestion and reflux can all be made worse by sleeping in the wrong position. A sleep positioner is specifically designed to elevate your child into a position that will aid digestion and reduce reflux. Some positioners include a gentle pulsating artificial heart-beat that soothes baby to sleep. Baby sleep positioner Baby Sleep Positioner Many babies require reassurance to get off to sleep so consider buying a sleep assisting soft toy to make them feel safe and secure. These toys can play gentle soothing sounds, mimic heart beats or release natural aromas such as lavender which is proven to soothe babies into a gentle night's sleep. Soothing baby toy for sleep Slumber Bear

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