Posts Tagged ‘sound’

Light and sound in the NICU

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

nicu-baby2We all know that a mother’s womb is the best environment for a developing baby. But when a baby is born prematurely, this environment shifts from the quiet protected womb of mom to that of a bright and often noisy hospital setting. “Developmental care” is known as the effort to provide a preemie with an experience as similar to that of the womb as possible. This is done by making the effort to create a peaceful, stress-reduced environment. It seems to make perfect sense.

Experts agree that sounds should be kept to a minimum, as premature and sick babies are very sensitive to sound. According to the Preemies book, while in the NICU, you should:

• speak calmly in an even tone of voice
• avoid playing loud music
• close isolette cabinets and portholes gently
• avoid tapping fingers or placing bottles on an isolette
• use an isolette cover, which will help dampen noise.

However, not all experts agree on what to do regarding light. Some brain specialists offer the following suggestions:

• dim lights in the NICU
• cover your baby’s isolette with blankets to further shut out light
• use a low bedside light for when your baby needs care
• shield your baby’s eyes from direct light when you pick her up, and
• reduce noise as much as possible.

Yet, other specialists believe that the benefits of shielding your baby from light may depend on your baby’s age – the younger the baby, the more darkness he needs. And some specialists believe that light (as long as it is not glaring) may have positive developmental benefits.

To help figure out what is best for your baby, and to understand more about developmental care, talk to your baby’s neonatologist. You can also read more about it in this book Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition (2010), which provided the background for this blog post.

Questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Everyday tips for dealing with sensory special kids

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

hair washingMany kids with sensory issues struggle with typical everyday activities. Here are suggestions from parents of children with sensory difficulties to help you get through each day in a sensory friendly way. Some kids find bath time and hair washing to be a stressful experience. For other children, getting dressed in the morning or eating meals can be incredibly challenging. Yet others cringe at hearing typical sounds or noises. Here is what some parents recommend:

Tips for bathing

•   Let your child get in the bath when the water temperature feels right to him. He may need to stand in it a while before sitting down, in order to adjust to the feel of the water on his skin.

•    During hair shampooing, use a little pail or plastic bucket to rinse hair instead of using the shower nozzle. Water coming from a shower nozzle can be too direct and forceful.

•    When your child is old enough, allow him to rinse his own hair. Being in control of the pail and the water on his own head is less shocking to him than when someone else pours water on his head.

•    Use a facecloth to cover his face if water on the face will cause distress. Then allow your child to wipe his own face with a damp facecloth.

•    Use distractions in the bath, such as bath foam or toys, to make bath time more appealing.

•    Let your child decide if showering is preferable to bathing (when he is old enough).

Tips for dressing

•    Remove tags from clothing before wearing.

•    Let your child decide what kinds of clothes feel good on his skin. Usually brushed flannel or soft cotton or acrylic fabrics work well, but your child will know.

•    If your child hates getting dressed in the morning (due to the sensory changes), dress your child the night before in the clothes he will wear the next day. In other words, let him wear his clean clothes to bed. He may look a tad more wrinkled in the morning, but he will get his day off in a sensory calm way.

•    When you find a pair of pants, a shirt or outfit that your child loves (i.e. it “feels right”), buy two of them. This way, one can be laundered when the other one is being worn. Or, buy them in different colors if possible. Comfort – not fashion – is key here.

Tips for eating

•    As much as possible, have healthy choices available. If you know your child loves chicken with pasta, then child using forkmake a double portion. This way you can feed it to him another night in the same week, even if the rest of the family is eating something different. This allows you to eat together as a family and yet you did not cook two meals in one evening.

•    Freeze individual portions for meals on the fly, for the babysitter to serve to him, or when the family meal is sure to be too hard for your child to swallow (literally).

•    Ask your child’s pediatrician or consult with a Registered Dietician who is familiar with sensory issues to learn other ways of getting your child to eat a healthy diet. Perhaps mixing vitamin powder into your child’s food (such as spaghetti sauce) or offering protein shakes will substitute nutrients that your child may be missing.

Tips for sound sensitivity

•    Prepare your child for events that may be uncomfortable, such as large assemblies with people clapping, musical events, a meal in a big restaurant, birthday parties, etc. Soft ear plugs are often helpful to use at these events so keep them handy. Other children prefer noise-cancelling headphones.

•    Once home, provide a quiet environment so your child’s ears can rest.

Learn more

These are just a few tips for getting through a day in a sensory successful way. See my prior posts: Sensory difficulties in children to learn more about the different kinds of sensory problems that exist, and Help for sensory issues to learn about different treatments. Ask your child’s pediatrician if a treatment such as Sensory Integration Therapy (a form of Occupational Therapy) may be helpful. You can also discuss other treatments which are available.

Feel free to share what has worked for you and your child. We’d love to hear from you!

If you have questions, or would like more information, please email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input.

Fireworks are not fun for kids with sensitive hearing

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

fireworks displayFor kids with sensitive hearing, fireworks can be frightful instead of fabulous. Here are some tips to get your child to still enjoy this colorful display without suffering pain.

July 4th…the very date evokes images of summer: flags waving, backyard barbeques, ice cream, home town parades and amazing fireworks displays celebrating our nation’s independence. It should be a fun, patriotic display of colors and designs in the night sky, but for kids whose hearing is extra sensitive to sound, it ends up being a torturous event. The loud popping of the firework explosions at unexpected moments creates anxiety and panic. Add to that the additional noisemakers on July 4th such as firecrackers, and this day of celebration for most people becomes a painful day for a child with sensitivities (and a challenging day for his family).

What can you do?

Aside from avoiding firework displays altogether, here are some ways to enjoy them:

•    First, see if you can watch a fireworks display on TV or DVD before going to a live display. Letting your child understand what a fireworks display is all about will help decrease anxiety. Sometimes towns offer fireworks displays on the weekend after the 4th so you can view a TV display beforehand.

•    Park a distance away from the crowds and firework display, and stay in your car. The noise may be muffled enough to allow your child to enjoy the visual display without being close to the noise. Your child will also feel more protected.

•    Have your child use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones. With the ear plugs, he can still hear some noises and conversations, but the offensive sounds will be significantly decreased.

•    Alternatively, have your child listen to his favorite music (either with ear buds or on the car radio) as the fireworks are going on. It will help camouflage the offending sounds.

Remember, your child cannot help being hyper-sensitive to sound. It is not something he can control. It is painful and upsetting for him to be around sounds that hurt his ears. So, learning how to enjoy events on his terms is key to being able to attend or participate.

For a longer term solution, speak with your child’s pediatrician about possible treatments. Also, email AskUs@marchofdimes.org and request additional resources. We can refer you to a list of books written for children (to help them understand why they feel sensitive) as well as books written for adults (to help you understand your child’s sensory issues). We’re happy to help you!

We hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. We welcome your comments and input.