Introduction to baby sleeping with eyes open or seizure
As a new parent, those first few months can be filled with wonder and delight as you get to know your precious little one. However, they can also be wrought with sleepless nights, endless feeds, and growing anxieties over every quiver and motion. Rest assured – what may appear unusual or concerning in your baby’s sleep is often completely normal. Arm yourself with knowledge so you can tell the difference and respond appropriately.
Understanding Newborn Sleep Cycles
Newborns cycle through several stages of sleep just like adults, alternating between light sleep, deep sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep where dreams occur. During REM their eyes may move rapidly beneath their eyelids or even flutter open briefly. Their breathing may become irregular, and their arms and legs twitch sporadically. This is all part of healthy REM sleep, so try not to worry.
As they transition between sleep stages, your newborn may jolt awake looking distressed only to fall back asleep moments later. They have not yet developed the ability to soothe themselves back to sleep, so need your help through soothing motions like rocking or soft noises. Respond gently and consistently so they learn to link sleep cycles on their own.
Why Eyes Stay Open During Sleep
It can be unsettling the first time you glance over at your peacefully sleeping baby only to find them staring right back! Rest assured, this does not mean they are awake. An underdeveloped nervous system means the muscles that control their eyelids are still weak and may not fully close. Remind yourself it is temporary; in just a few months their sleep will become more consolidated and restful.
Some tips to help encourage their eyes to close:
- Swaddle them snugly to prevent sporadic movements from startling them awake.
- Ensure the room is darkened with blackout curtains/blinds.
- Play white noise or lullabies to drown out distracting sounds.
- Avoid direct eye contact and stimulation when checking on them.
Signs of Seizure Versus Normal Infant Movements
Any involuntary jerking of the limbs or unusual eye movements may send your thoughts straight to seizures. But before you panic, remember that babies naturally move a lot in their sleep as they cycle through active and quiet phases.
Seizures normally involve:
- Repeated rhythmic jerking of both arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness – baby is completely unaware of surroundings
- Irregular breathing patterns
- Unusual head positioning like neck arching backward
By contrast, normal newborn sleep movements are more random and involve isolated limbs rather than the whole body. Your baby will still respond to you. Breathing may change but should not become strained. If ever in doubt, video the episode to show your pediatrician for proper diagnosis.
When to Seek Emergency Care
- A febrile seizure brought on by a high fever
- Multiple seizures without fully regaining consciousness
- A first-time seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes
- Breathing difficulties or lips/fingers turning blue
- Identifiable causes like head trauma
Common Causes of Infant Seizures
While seizures are always serious, they are relatively rare in otherwise healthy infants. Some potential causes include:
- Fever – Febrile seizures happen in 2-5% of children under 5 when body temperature quickly spikes over 100.4°F. They are frightening to watch but generally not harmful. Lowering the fever is key.
- Infection – Serious infections like meningitis, encephalitis, or sepsis can spark seizure activity. Prompt treatment of the infection prevents ongoing seizures.
- Head trauma – Any impact or violent shaking of a baby’s head can cause bleeding, swelling, or fluid buildup in the brain. Seek emergency care even for seemingly mild bumps.
- Congenital brain abnormalities – Defects present from birth like cortical dysplasia can interfere with brain cell communication and cause seizures.
- Genetic conditions – Examples are Dravet syndrome and infantile spasms. Genetic testing helps diagnose.
- Electrolyte disturbances – Low calcium, glucose, or sodium levels in the body disrupt neurotransmitters.
- Toxins – Accidental ingestion of drugs, lead, or other toxins can induce seizure activity.
When Seizures Persist: Next Steps
For most infants, seizures are isolated events that do not signal epilepsy or require ongoing medication. Extensive testing helps determine if your child needs specialized treatment:
- Medical history – Note any relatives with seizures or neuro issues.
- Physical exam – Check baby’s head, abdomen, and overall vitals.
- Bloodwork – Tests blood counts, glucose, electrolytes, and infection markers.
- Urine analysis – Screens for toxins.
- EEG – Records electrical activity in the brain.
- CT/MRI scans – Create images of the brain’s structure.
- Lumbar puncture – Samples spinal fluid to test for infection.
- Medication trial – Anticonvulsants may be prescribed short-term.
- Referrals – To pediatric neurology, genetics, or other specialists.
If a cause is found and treated yet seizures continue, your doctor will likely diagnose epilepsy and recommend maintenance medication. The type and dosage will depend on your baby’s particular seizure type, frequency, and triggers. Most children outgrow seizures or can discontinue meds by adulthood.
Creating a Safe Sleep Zone
Whether your newborn’s sleep antics are routine or concerning, optimizing their sleep space is vital. Follow these tips:
- Place the baby on their back. SIDS risk rises when infants sleep on their stomachs.
- Use a firm, flat mattress devoid of pillows, toys, or loose bedding.
- Keep room temperature around 68-72° F. Overheating raises SIDS risk.
- Share your room, not your bed. Nearby bassinets reduce SIDS.
- Breastfeed if possible. Lowers SIDS versus formula feeding.
- Try a pacifier at bedtime/naps. Sucking need is linked to SIDS reduction.
- Ensure the baby receives recommended vaccines. May provide SIDS protection.
- Skip the home heart/breathing monitors. No evidence they prevent SIDS.
The arrival of your little one is bound to disrupt sleep. Stay alert but not alarmed. Seek medical guidance when concerned. And remember – rest will return for both you and your baby! I hope this article help you to learn about baby sleeping with eyes open or seizure.