Please Help! Our 6 week old baby rarely sleeps on her own.

  • This is my first baby. Both mine and my husband's families live 3 states away. We need as much help as we can get!! All advice is greatly appreciated :) My baby was born c-section and ~2-3 weeks later caught a bad cold. She had a lot of congestion and stopped breathing a few times. So, she has slept on top of me many a nights and a few times a day (just so I could get some rest!). She is now 6 and 1/2 weeks, but only really rests if she is on me, in my arms, or near me. If I lay her down in her bassinet, I'm lucky to get an hour or two. Mostly it is short spans like 20, 30, 40 minutes or so. She doesn't like pacifiers. I have tried all brands and different shapes. Also, she doesn't like swaddling so much. She gets frustrated because her arms are constricted. So, I have only been swaddling her with her arms up and kind of loose when she is very tired and I am laying her down. Also, her sleeping patterns are reversed. She mostly sleeps during the day (which is very short spans) and very little during the night. How can I get her to sleep for longer spans and reverse her "longer" sleeping periods to nights? Please help!!!

  • Well first congrats on your little girl.. I would also like to add that babies tend to have pretty unpredictable sleeping patterns. I must say that you need to try to brake the habit of your daughter sleeping on you now!! Not just because of the danger of smothering, but because that attachment will only become stronger with every passing nap.. TRUST ME ON THIS!!! Once you have gotten her to sleep just put her in her bed, and if she wakes up do it again until she eventually sleeps on her own. you may have a couple of rough nights, but it is in the name of a lot of peaceful nights in your own bed. Now for the swaddling situation... When my daughter was born the hospital sent her home with a swaddling sleep sack. Basically it's a sleep sack with a torso sized belt that you can wrap around the baby with arms in or out. My daughter never liked to have her arms or legs restrained, but liked the feeling of being held tight. and that worked well for that purpose.  

  • Congrats your little girl. :-) Sounds like you've had a rough time since coming home - so sorry to hear that Colds are the worst in little babies - you do whatever you can to just help them feel comfortable and get a little sleep. Your little one is really too young anyway to cry it out or soothe herself. Babies naturally have a backwards clock for quite a while - they are sleepier during the day and tend to wake at night. Try to just develop a nighttime routine that you use the same way every night. Perhaps a soothing bath, book, and feed before sleep. Keep the room quiet and everything calm for a while before bedtime. Eventually she will switch her clock around but it takes a little time. Can you keep her up at all during the day with playtime and other activities? Try napping when she does in order to keep your sanity. I know it's hard...hang in there. Hugs. 

  • I think that sleep issues, just as you describe are one of the most common questions that I answer on the boards.  So, take look through the older files on this board and you will find lots of sleep advice.  Here is how I helped babies learn to sleep in their cribs when I was working in the NICU.  

    1-Bundle care so that you feed, change, hold and cuddle baby on a schedule and all at once (that's the bundle part).  If she is 6 weeks I'd assume that she needs to eat every 4ish hours.  Whatever she needs to continue to gain weight, grow and thrive is fine-but pick an interval (4 hours, 5 hours, 3 hours).  I wouldn't go less than 3 hours bc as you said-you need some sleep!  So lets say for example that she is going to be on a 4 hour schedule.  So do her care at 8-12-4-8-12-4.  Putting her on a schedule will help with that day/night reversal issue as she will just be on a feeding time schedule, and we want her awake for that! :)

    2-Once she is fed, changed and you are done holding her bundle her (and I usual bundle tight, but for those that don't like bundling-baby on back in crib with blanket tucked tightly around her.

    3-I love binkis as they are one way a baby this age can comfort themselves, so I would use a binki.So baby on back, binki in mouth for comfort.  Now-room light off or dim, noise down, and your job is to place your hand gently on her tummy and either let your presence with hand comfort her, or gently rock her with your hand.  Don't make eye contact and dont' talk to her other than to make a shhhh sound or talk quietly, sing lu-luby, etc.  If she fusses don't pick her up-just be consistent with the above tactic (hand on tummy/rock).  

    4-Once she is asleep you cn sneak out.  If you then hear her crying give her a minute to settle herself before you run in.  IF she doesn't go in (don't make eye contact or talk), gently help her back into a good position on her back, then repeat process as above.

    5-Night one is rough, night two is markedly better, night three is rough, and then things seem to go well.  Some babies do great and after night one they are rockstar sleepers.  The key is that they know they aren't missing a great party and they have comfort, security, and warmth.

     

    I hope this helps.  Also I wanted to mention that if you feel she is having any pain or physical issues bc sure to have her doc take a good look at her.

    -Jess

  • Thanks for the advice everyone!! :)

    After a few rough nights, baby is sleeping much better now. She still has a few 20, 30, or 40 minute naps a day, but she also usually has one 3, 4 or 5 hour nap!! She is no longer sleeping on me. She has only been sleeping in her rock-n-play sleeper. I think because of the way it cradles her. I tried a cradle-swing, but she did not like it! Now I am getting her back sleeping in her bassinet. That is also getting better. Now, I just need to get her schedule reversed! Her longest nap is in the morning usually between 6 am -12. Jess- I am going to try the 4 hour schedule. I am just not sure how to start it because I always let her sleep as long as possible. I guess I can wake her up and start like that. Again, thank you for all of the support and advice!!

  • Thanks Julie! I am starting the bedtime routine. It hasn't been very consistent because of her napping. If I start the scheduling thing like Jess recommends maybe that will help so that I can get her on a scheduled routine at night. And I do keep her up during the day, as much as possible!! :)

  • emalek-One thing to remember is that just because you try something once or twice doesn't mean you have to do it that way forever.  Try a schedule and if it doesn't work after a few times then bag it!  This sounds overly simple but if one thing doesn't work-try something else!  

    Keep us posted,

    Jess

  • The first month or two are the hardest. I put my son on a schedule when he was about 6 weeks old and it helped him sleep through the night. We turn out the lights at 9pm, put him in pj's (give him a bath before all of this if he needs a bath and didn't have one earlier), and made sure everything was off (lights and sound on the TV if the TV was on). He usually fell asleep around 11pm or midnight and slept for 5 hours before waking up (more now that he's older). Some babies like a night light or to be swaddled in a blankey before bed. A lavender soap bath helps my son get to sleep when he is fussy. If you keep having your baby sleep on you it will be harder and harder to break that habit as she gets older. Some babies cry it out (my son didn't though). If you are very concerned try talking to your doctor for some more information.

  • Emalek - So glad you are getting a bit of relief. I hope things keep going in the right direction for you. Lack of sleep and difficult sleeping patterns are SO HARD to deal with and it just wipes you out!! Hang in there - we are rooting for you!

  • I just wanted to check in with you, it's been a few days since you posted.

    Hoping everything is going well,

    Jess

  • When it comes to sleeping, babies have their own schedule. What is amazing to me is that just when you think you have it figured out, something happens to change the routine again. Being a parent is about adapting and persevering! The advice in this thread is great evidence of that. Great job by all the posting parents here!