When it comes to total relaxation and comfort, few images compare to that of a sleeping child.
Yet so many children struggle with bedtime and a night of uninterrupted sleep. Though as adults we believe closing our eyes is all it should take, falling, and staying, asleep is actually a rather complex mechanism, especially for small children. There can be a number of reasons, including excess stimulation during the day, night fears, illness, a reaction to a specific food or anxiety about the next day of school or daycare. But one BIG reason can be – surprise! – your child’s bedding.
That’s right: believe it or not, what your child sleeps on (and what’s cuddled under her face) can be triggers that keep her from getting the rest that she needs.
A Lesson Learned…and What My Family Did About It
We learned this lesson the hard way. Our first child was easy as regards bedtime. But our younger son tossed, turned, and complained in the morning of a scratchy throat and headache more mornings than not, and over time things only seemed to be getting worse.
It took quite some time, and a lot of worry on our parts, to get the news from the doctor that our child was suffering from a number of allergies, including a possible sensitivity to the flame retardant in his synthetic-weave bedding and the foam in his pillow.
When we switched to organic bedding, the difference was (you’ll have to forgive me here) night and day. After a few tired mornings of “There’s no change – this just isn’t working,” our son fell asleep one night almost immediately and woke in the morning more cheerful than we’d seen him in a long time.
We made other changes to accommodate our son’s allergy issues, but if you suspect your child is reacting badly to her bedding and have taken her for a thorough checkup and testing to rule other possibilities out, it may be time to make a change to all-organic.
What’s “Organic,” Anyway?
Different manufacturers of different items, including textiles, food, household and industrial products, have different definitions of “organic,” and laws about labeling something organic can be a bit tricky.
Suffice to say that when we refer to organic bedding, we’re talking about natural materials v. synthetic, processed with as few non-natural methods as possible.
When it comes to bedding, these may include:
• Sheep’s wool
• Natural rubber (in mattresses) (be careful here – processing for “natural” rubber can be very unnatural indeed!)
By comparison, less natural bedding materials may include:
• Synthetic rubber
• Synthetic foams
• Additives, such as some chemical flame retardants
How You Can Switch Over to Natural Bedding For a Better Night’s Sleep
A few things about your child’s bed may be hard to fix, such as finding a mattress with no chemical additives and no chemicals used in its production.
On the other hand, depending upon the child, only a few changes may need to be made. That’s up to you, your child’s pediatrician, and your child’s health, reactions and sleep quality to determine.
In the meantime, a few easy fixes to try include:
• Switching over to a natural-materials pillow (Note: NEVER allow a child under the age of 24 months to sleep with a pillow)
• Using a natural-materials pillow cover
• Buying a new mattress (NEVER accept a used mattress as a gift or purchase a used mattress for your child) with as little synthetic material and additives as possible
• Using cotton or linen bed sheets
• Buying organic mattress pads and mattress protector (if your child still has “accidents” at bedtime)
• Laundering ALL your child’s bedding regularly (dust mites and other harmful critters like dirty bedding and can cause respiratory and skin irritation in your child)
See Your Child’s Pediatrician First
It bears repeating: Always take your child to the pediatrician for any issue such as a sleep problem. There could be a treatable but serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Once that’s ruled out, making the simple changes above might just make the difference between a daily nightmare, and peaceful nights.
Your Home. Your Life. All Organic.