K’s Question: Good morning. I have a seven week old girl who is refusing to sleep during the day unless I am holding her. She will sleep up to three hours if I am holding her but otherwise maybe twenty minutes. I have tried catching her before she gets too tired and she will be almost asleep in my arms, but the second I set her down she wakes back up. Regardless of what she is in whether it is her crib, her bassinet, swing, or the car seat. She uses a pacifier sometimes, and that helps get her to sleep, but the second it pops out she wakes up. I have tried for the last couple days to let her fuss. For example, today she fussed for an hour. She was fussy and then would get quiet and then start fussing again. And then I had to get her up to go and pick up her older brother from school. Any tips or advice to help? Another mother (S:) asked same thing but added - She sleeps in a bassinet in our bedroom. We have a white noise machine, humidifier, and she is in a velcro swaddle blanket each night. What should I try to get her to sleep longer and hold off feeding so we can work toward sleeping through the night? She always seems hungry, but is definitely gaining weight well....this momma is exhausted and feeling discouraged.
Answers to S: R: She may be going through a growth spurt. All babies react differently to them--for some babies, a spurt means they sleep more, for others it means their sleep is disrupted and they're hungry all the time. Verna: It is a growth spurt it should only last three to four days (long enough to increase your milk supply to the new demand). Then you will need to help move her back to skipping that feeding that you added for that purpose.
E: Have you tried tummy sleeping the baby and not swaddling?
Kristen: Hi! So much great advice and encouragement here so I will just add on, the tummy sleeping position is really superb for development as well as baby getting herself comfortable after waking, instead of being immobilized by a swaddle she can rustle around and fall back asleep. With her being only 6 weeks old, just remember that what it seems like she likes or doesn't like is pretty relative, so my suggestion would be to put her down on her tummy. The dockatot, snuggle u, rock n play/ sleep n play, boppy lounger, etc, are all not recommended for sleep just like tummy sleeping- so consider doing tummy as a "start as you mean to go on" thing- teaching her to sleep how she will for the next year or less until she can be mobile to choose whatever position in her crib. You're doing great!!
S: Thank you all, I am a physical therapist by trade and truly understand the importance of tummy time leading into physical milestone for development. I am just so scared of the unknown with her breathing, but now that she is capable of moving her head independently very well, I definitely think I'm going to try it! I have been doing it during the day with supervision and she sleeps soundly, so why I haven't done it at night yet, I'm not sure. I agree that everything seems relative on what she likes because one day it works and the next it doesn't on certain things... Haha. We are both learning for sure. Thank you for your mommy advice ! I actually put her in the crib two times today during naps, on her tummy, and she slept so well! So we will pray tonight goes as well!!! Thank you again!
Answers to K: D: It was this type of sleep fighting that really helped me jump start with sleep training--what a gift it was and is to both my daughter and our family! The truth is, while she is tiny and precious and sleepy now, you don't want to be holding her for sleeping for the next two years; I'm guessing it's simply not how your family works. It is a gift to her to teach her to sleep on her own and sometimes that requires letting her know "hey, in our family, we sleep in our own beds." The other thing is that, the earlier you start, the quicker she will adapt and the fewer tears she will shed in protest when she discovers that only she can teach herself the skill of falling asleep and staying asleep on her own. Two things that will be helpful are: the EASY cycle (eat, activity, sleep, then you-time because she is in her bed) and 20 minutes of grace. At seven weeks, she will probably only need to be awake for roughly an hour at a time including feeding and changing, so try feeding, changing, then putting her down on her tummy. She will protest! She will kick and holler and (on her tummy) strengthen her back, arms, legs,and lungs (!). Keep setting that timer for 20 minutes and distract yourself with something like washing dishes (or anything out of earshot). Even though she doesn't know it, you as mama can know that you are giving her a wonderful gift of learning to sleep on her own. When she gives in and falls asleep (she will!), she will be nice and tired and will sleep soundly. When she wakes up, she will have slept through some initial hunger and will have gone a longer stretch between feedings, and will be ready to eat vigorously and begin the cycle again. It is a wonderful, beautiful thing as it develops. I babysit an 8 month old baby a couple mornings a week and am reminded of what a gift it is to an entire family for a baby to learn to self soothe in a bed and fall asleep on their own. This baby I watch, darling as she is, must be catered to because she was never taught to fall asleep on her own. I have to rock her and bounce her for abnormal amounts, feed her over and over, and stand still, in one position, for the entire time she is asleep. Her parents have resorted to napping with her on them and just not moving because as the months go on, she is less sleepy and can't be transferred to a crib without waking up screaming. Her mom has a hard time finding sitters and mom and dad's time together is very limited (and shushed!) because waking the baby has big consequences. Sweet baby girl doesn't sleep well in arms and usually wakes up, cranky, in about 20-30 minutes. When she is awake, she doesn't want to go to new people or work through much frustration because frankly, she is sleep deprived and just cranky. And she really has a very naturally sweet disposition! I remember back to my own daughter's multiple 2.5 hour naps when she was 12 weeks old and 12 hour night stretches, and resulting contentedness and am so very, very grateful for the sleep training coaches God provided for me with my own pizzazz-filled, sleep-fighting infant. It is such a gift to a baby and to their family, though the sleep training is a tough stage. It is worth it! At three, my daughter still takes an awesome 2-3 hour afternoon nap, sleeps 12 hours at night, and can fall asleep almost anywhere.
Sorry for the novel, but I just want you to know that she may be letting you know she is ready and encourage you that the earlier the better for helping her learn to sleep on her own. As babies get older their will develops and it takes them more time to adjust to new methods. "Start as you mean to go on" is a wonderful piece of wisdom that I have received. Kristen: take heart, K.! I really like the way D. expressed it, so I won't add anything but just know that it's possible and we're all here cheering you on! Oh and what a perspective- "letting you know she is ready" to sleep in a new way. I like it.
Verna: I am praying for you and with you for God's wisdom from above as you nurture your daughter through this. I just talked on the phone with another mom (with an 11 week old) who realized that her daughter had regressed in the amount of hours she was sleeping at night. Here are a few things we talked about together:
1. Slipping back to more frequent feedings does happen during a growth spurt. (That usually lasts long enough to get the breast milk to increase, which takes 2-4 days. Or if you are bottle feeding it gives the sign to increase ounces.) But then it is easy to just stay in that pattern until all of a sudden you realize that the increased frequency has stayed too long, and has just become a habit. When this happens, we have to consciously help nudge her back to the longer time we know she is capable of. You can do this in a couple of ways, my favorite being the more gentle approach. If she is still in your room it is time to put her in her own room since it will involve some fussing. When she wakes in the night, do not run right in. Wait through the 20 minutes of grace to see if she will soothe herself back to sleep. If she does - great! If she doesn't them feed her. For the first week do this each time she wakes before the five hour mark. If she falls back on her own and sleeps 20 min. and then wakes up, let her fuss again for 20 min if it is still under the 5 hour mark. The next week aim for six hours, doing the same method. Remember, crying is a good aerobic exercise and can help her sleep better.
2. We also talked about the importance of tummy sleeping at night. Thankfully you have recognized that she does so much better on her stomach and there is not a good reason to not put her on her stomach at night.
3. We talked about how good napping during the day leads to good sleeping at night. A six and half weeker should still be sleeping 1- 2 hours between each feed in the day. Because she is now more aware of her surroundings it is time to make sure you nap her in her own room as well. Her awake time, after the feed will still be fairly short (as little as 20 and no longer than 40 typically). Sometimes we keep them awake too long and that just over stimulates them.