Sleeping FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Daytime Sleep

My 4-week-old baby seems to sleep more in the day than she does at night

My 4-week-old daughter seems to have day and night confused. For the first week, we followed the advice in CLB to feed three hourly, thereafter, I attempted to follow the routines. However, I also have a two year old who demands a lot of attention, and I find it unsafe to leave her on her play mat for as often as I like for fear of sibling interference. Consequently, the last few days, she has been asleep almost all day (I tried giving her a bath at lunchtime, so that she was awake at least for a couple for hours while my son had his nap, but she still went right back to sleep even after being put under the play gym).

And if I try to take my son for outings, she is guaranteed to sleep right through them. We try to go out at least once a day to keep things interesting for him, but it is destroying any chance of a routine.

This then means that my daughter is wakeful at night. She settles well at 7pm, wakes (on her own) for a feed at 10pm. Wakes again at 12.30 – 1am for a quick feed and is usually relatively easy to settle, but by 3.30am, she is wide awake, feeds voraciously and is then impossible to settle. In the end, I brought her into bed with me this morning (bad, I know, but after several very bad nights, sleep deprivation got the better of me!) and she did not go back to sleep until gone 5am. Then she woke starving for a feed at 6am.

My toddler often wakes up at 6 (it was 5.30 this morning, just to make matters worse!), so this “routine” we have got ourselves into does make for a very short night. This is making it very difficult for me to be up and bright for an active toddler, and I want to nip this in the bud before it gets worse.

My daughter weighed 4ks at birth, and has put on 1kg in just over three weeks, has plenty of dirty and wet nappies, so I am sure she has enough to eat (I seem to have an oversupply, if anything – I expressed over 10oz in one sitting yesterday before I gave up).

Have you looked at the routine Gina has written for the site about having a baby and toddler?

We all know that life is not easy with two, especially in the first few weeks.
The safest way to let your baby have some kicking time on the floor whilst your toddler is around, is to use a playpen or travel cot. Your baby can either lie or sit in her chair inside.

Place a play gym or arch over your baby to encourage her to have some kicking time. Teach your toddler to look through the mesh to see the baby rather than hanging over the top. This helps the toddler accept the presence of their sibling without too much jealousy. At present you are concerned about how your toddler will react to the baby and you are possibly finding yourself constantly guarding your daughter in case your toddler falls over her; toddlers can be clumsy unintentionally. Never leave the room with both children alone but having your daughter somewhere where she can lie or sit for a bit whilst you give your son some attention, could help them both.

Outings in the early days can be a problem as the pram will rock them to sleep at this early age and your son needs time outside of course. Perhaps you could work it so you take them both out in the mornings [forget the house work, do it later], let them sleep at home at lunch and perhaps organize play dates in the afternoon on some days; even if you walk/ drive to a house and your daughter falls asleep she may stir again when bought indoors with other children. If you have friends around at home, again having a safe place for her will help her to begin to watch what is going on around her.

Try keeping your daughter up at 10pm, especially when she wakes herself up. Give her one side at 10pm then let her have a kick and time on the floor with the lights up and some noise until about 11.15pm. Change and then feed her the second side with the lights down to see if that time awake helps better in the night. Have you considered giving the 10pm feed as an expressed one in a bottle? Could someone else give it to her letting you get to bed having expressed about 9.45pm? If you do this then still split the feed: give 2-3 ozs at 10pm, a break until 11.15 and offer a fresh bottle of milk, another 2-3 ozs which should help her settle to nearer 2.30am.

Your daughters night time wakefulness could also be that she has your complete, albeit sleepy attention, rather than when you are trying to feed her and look after your son in the day. In the day consider having a special bag with some toys he only sees at certain times, or something you know will interest him which you can bring out at feeding time. This should keep him content and you can give your attention to your daughter and make sure she does receive a good feed – especially in those morning times when she is tired from the night and a bit erratic. If the nights improve with her she should be more alert in the mornings and feed better.

Get out some books you can share with him whilst feeding – even watching a short video together- although it may be best to keep that option for really bad days when something really novel is needed to keep your toddler occupied. Before you sit down to feed get him a drink and snack [and yourself] and put it out on a low table where he can manage to sit. Get him to help you with changing. Ask him to pass you a nappy etc. and if he wants to keep touching your daughter give him the important task of creaming her feet whilst you are topping and tailing or changing her. It is best to have a change area near to where you spend a lot of time in the day. Having two small children can be daunting, especially when trying to manage the different needs of them both. With some forethought and planning it is possible to settle your second into a routine which will also accommodate the needs of your first.