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The doctor Eduard Estivill is a pediatrician and specialist in Clinical Neurophysiology. Since 1989 he has directed the Estivill Sleep Clinic of the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus in Barcelona, and he is coordinator of the Sleep Unit of the General Hospital of Catalonia. He was trained as a sleep specialist in the Sleep Disorders Center of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, in the United States and is a member of the most prestigious Spanish and foreign societies in this field. He is the author of more than 200 articles on sleep disorders in scientific publications and among his best-known books he highlights Go to sleep kid.
In this interview with GuiaInfantil.com, Dr. Estivill tells us about the sleeping habits of children, the most suitable place to sleep for children and babies, and the possibility of teaching the baby to sleep, because according to what he says, "you also learn to sleep".
What is the most appropriate place for the baby to sleep?
Children often sleep in their room in our culture. In other cultures and basically because of the economy, for example, in Africa, everyone sleeps together. Children sleep in the same room with their parents, and with their grandparents, chickens and other animals they have, because they are poor. In Africa, when a family progresses slightly economically, the first thing they do is put a room for the animals, another for the children and another for the parents.
Is it beneficial for the family if the baby sleeps with his parents?
In our culture, it is recommended that the mother be close to the child, especially in the first months, to be able to breastfeed while he sleeps. The child, in reality, acquires the affection, this contact that we give him, when he is awake. The child can be next to the parents' bed for the mother's comfort and later, as the parents see it necessary, they can put him in his room. If there is no more space, then it can be perfectly recommended that a corner of the room be enabled as a space or child's corner. There they will place their drawings or stuffed animals, and next to it may be the parents' bed, but the child differentiates very well where he sleeps and where the parents are.
At what age should the child be changed from crib to bed?
The child can be in his crib in his room from 2, 3 or 4 months. From 6 months, which is when the mother returns to work and the children begin with complementary feeding, then it is a good time to change the baby to their room, if the parents decide. The change from crib to bed is more due to the size and growth of the child.
How can we teach our baby to sleep?
Today we know that sleep is a need of the body, but you learn to sleep well. It is the same as hunger. Hunger is a need of the body, but we do teach children to eat correctly. We teach how to eat soup with a spoon and with our mouths closed, these are rules of habits at the table. In the dream exactly the same happens, we can teach a child to sleep correctly from the first day he is born, following what he does when he is in the mother's belly.
Should the habits of the baby in the womb be transferred abroad after birth?
Yes. We have observed that, in the mother's tummy, the baby is awake for about 20-30 minutes and then spontaneously falls asleep. When the child is born, we have to take advantage of the time that the child is nursing to keep him awake with little caresses or talking to him. Thus, we get the child to associate being awake with food. After eating, we must hold it for about 10-15 minutes in our arms and incorporated so that it removes the air that has been swallowed. Then we change him and put him back in bed, always awake. If we do it like this, the child will learn to sleep from the first day, or rather, he will not unlearn what he already does in the mother's belly in a natural way.
What can we do when the baby cries? How to understand why children cry?
The cry of the child is something we have to understand. Not all crying is pathological. Crying is a form of communication, the child explains what he feels through crying. When a small child catches a finger in the door, he has a type of cry and the mother knows how to recognize it. There is another type of crying, which the child uses as a demand for a situation that may not be the right one, for example, when he wants a candy and the mother does not give it to him; then the child cries, the mother knows perfectly well that this cry is not pathological. The most important thing is that the mother is always calm in the face of a child's crying situation and knows how to observe perfectly what type of cry the child is doing at that moment. If we are facing a cry for pain, obviously we have to take care of it as much as possible, but if it is simply a cry for demand, it is a way of communicating, then the mother or father have to continue setting the norm or routine until the child learn.
Marisol New. Editor of our site
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