My Son’s Journey to Restful Sleep

Could you imagine having a newborn baby whose eyes are staring around most of the day and he is not able to sleep well? This was one of the different sensory signals that my baby boy showed when he was born seven years ago. I was very concerned and I knew that most babies sleep around 16 hours.  At that time, his pediatrician used to tell me that babies tend to stir and look restless during sleep because they cannot control their reflexes. She suggested to me to give my son time to adjust in his new world. This explanation was not enough to help me to deal with the sleeping issues of my son. It took him over eight months, before he managed to sleep longer than 15 minutes. I had a camera on his bed to record his sleeping during the night. When I watched the video, I found the longest length of time that he slept without moving was 45 minutes. I was stunned to see how much he tossed and turned and never seemed to be able to get comfortable. I tried a variety of bedtime rituals such as white noise, baths of lavender, essential oils, playing music, singing along and reading.  All of these things gave him energy instead of soothing his little body to help him sleep.  He slept better on my chest when I hugged him, and held in my arms doing the back and forth motions while I was walking in his room.  Besides that, my son constantly burped for one hour after having his bottle of milk, and I held him up on my chest, otherwise he would vomit. When he started eating, his stomach could only tolerate cashews and broccoli.

When my son was ten months old, I went to Lima- Peru and I took him to the Children’s Hospital, highly recognized in the treatment of child development. Here the pediatrician told me that my son showed a neurodevelopmental disorder that was affecting his ability to process information through his senses (touch, taste, smell, sight and sound). On top of that, my son was diagnosed with acid reflux. These problems were called Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction.

Later, I came back to Santa Rosa and asked my son’s pediatrician for help, but she told me that an infant cannot take therapy until they are two years old.  Meanwhile, she recommended that I read the book “The Out -of-Sync Child” written by Carol Stock Kranowitz. By reading this book, I understood my child’s behavior and his needs. I also found out different types of Sensory Integration Dysfunction that describes how the children processes their environment. With this information, I was able to support my son to improve his sleeping patterns.

There is much more to say about my son’s sensory integration issues. In my next post I promise to share some aspects of his sensory diet that positively impacted his sleep.

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8 thoughts on “My Son’s Journey to Restful Sleep

  1. Eylin, my kudos to you for getting to the bottom of the mystery presented in your son’s sleep challenges. I cannot imagine having gone that long on so little sleep, and so little information on how to help your son. I had never heard of Sensory Processing Disorder, or Sensory Integration Dysfunction, until I read your blog. After having read it, I went on to read more about it on the web. I hope that other parents can connect with you, and that you will grow a supportive system for yourself and others. CS5711

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  2. Hi Eylin,

    I don’t have children but I have wonderful nephews and one of them has cerebral palsy. We had the same situation as you because the pediatrician told us that everything was okay with my nephew even though he couldn’t sleep and had difficulties to eat. They gave us the same explanation as you about that the baby has to adjust in the new world.

    We went to Mexico to look for more explanation because we felt that the help was not enough. We found out that the baby had cerebral palsy and he received therapies in Mexico. When we came back, we ask for help to the doctors and they told us that they can’t diagnose the baby until the two years old. That was really sad because no one helps you even though they know there is a problem with the baby.

    This situation was new for us because was the first time that happens in our family. Now we have more information and we can advise other people with our experience. CS5711

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    • I really like your blog. I agree, having a baby who is not sleeping is not only stressful for the parent but it is hard on the child as well. I think you really explain well a good way to help a child sleep. I am really looking forward to your next post about your son’s sensory diet. CS5711

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    • Aileen thank you for sharing your nephew’s experiences. I empathize with your family. It’s really sad when doctors are unable to help children in their early age. Fortunately, we got help in our countries.

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  3. Wow, I had never heard of this before… now I am very curious to read more about it. 🙂 Someone I know suffers from sensory disorders, not the same as this, but similar. I know others who react strongly to mild sensory input, and it can be very overwhelming.

    I think it’s quite amazing how some parents become experts about the challenges that their child faces. Sometimes parents can know more than their doctor (a scary thought)! Best of luck to you and your son. CS5711

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  4. I am a special education teacher. For the past 30 years I have been teaching preschool children with special needs, so your story is not entirely new to me. However, your son’s sensory processing issues were very severe. I would love to know how your son is dong today.
    I congratulate you on the way you rose to the occasion. Your son is lucky to have you for a mother. The Out of Sync Child is a wonderful book. I recommend it to my student’s parents all the time. I’m so glad it was recommended to you.
    CS5711

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