Sleeping FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Daytime Sleep

My 5 week son is very sleepy through out the day but unsettled in the evenings

My son is a very sleepy baby; he is 5 weeks old and around 11lb. We start the day at 7am with a 5oz feed he then falls asleep at around 8am to 8.15am and will sleep to 10am. He is then top and tailed and fed 4 oz at around 10.30am (if he makes it until then, sometimes it is nearer 10am). He then falls asleep virtually straight away and sleeps until 2 – 2.30pm when he wakes and has 4 oz. He has a short awake time then wants to go to sleep around 3.30 at the latest. We try to go for a walk and he sleeps a short time in his buggy, if we cant get out he will go to sleep in his cot until around 5pm, when he wakes he takes 3oz. He starts to show signs of being tired straight away and we bath him at around 5.45pm when sometimes he falls asleep on his changing mat when he is being dressed. He is tired and will fall asleep when we try to give him his other 3oz feed after his bath, this means he wakes up at around 7pm hungry. He then takes the remainder of his feed but still seems to be hungry. He then becomes difficult to settle and get him to sleep until 10.30pm. He is very overtired because of the amount of time that the feed and bath takes. We usually have to wake him up at 10.30pm for 5oz, but this feed is very sleepy, he then wakes anytime between 1.30 and 3.30am for 3oz and usually goes through until 6.30am. Can you suggest any alternatives we could try for the bath time routine?

My son feeds at 7am 5ozs, 10.30am 4ozs, 2pm 4ozs, 5pm 3ozs, 6pm ½-1oz, 7pm 2-3ozs, 10.30pm 4-5ozs, 2.30am 3ozs.

He naps at 8.15-10am, 11.30-2.15pm 3.30-5pm. He sleeps 6.30-7pm, 8-10.30pm.

The sleep needs of small babies can differ a great deal. Some will need more than the recommended amount. Look at a routine for a younger baby, such as 2-4 weeks, and you will see that your son may still need to follow those times.

There are some things you can do to make your son a little more awake in the day but if he needs to be asleep again 1½ hours after waking then you must allow for this and adjust his routine accordingly. Have a look at Gina’s article Structure without Stress on the website.

To encourage your son be more awake after his feeds in the day make sure he is not too warmly dressed, as this will make him drowsy. Move him from room to room and vary his position. He may like to be under his play gym for 10 minutes and then have another short spell of time awake watching you from his baby chair. Place attractive pictures or a simple board book nearby for him to focus on for short periods. Changing his nappy will usually rouse a baby who is beginning to get sleepy so you can keep him awake for another 5-10 minutes before settling him. Each day try to work towards putting him down a few minutes later for his naps, especially in the morning at 8.15am. It may help if you top and tail him at this time as this will probably rouse him for another 10-15minutes.

Once he is up at 10am give him the first half of his feed, if he seems hungry, and then top and tail him if you have not done so earlier. Otherwise, change his nappy mid feed, let him finish his feed and then see if he is able to enjoy a 10-15 minutes playtime before settling to his lunchtime nap.

Again, make sure your baby is not too warm in the afternoon. Once he has fed at 2pm encourage him to have a kick on the floor. If you don’t take him out for a walk at this time of day he does not need to have the afternoon nap in his cot. It is important to get him used to sleeping in a place other than his cot in a dark room. Let him nap in his baby chair. He may not sleep so soundly there.  He may even have two shorter catnaps from around 3.30pm, waking in between them and having a look around.

To help your baby be less tired after his bath begin this part of the day earlier. Feed him the first part of his split feed at 4.50pm/5pm and encourage him to have a time of free kicking before his bath. Take him to the bathroom by 5.20pm/5.30 pm. Make sure that the room is warm enough and then take off most of his clothes and his nappy. Lie him on his change mat or a large towel on the floor and let him enjoy a kick. Most babies enjoy this, providing the room is warm enough. Prepare his bath and have him in it by 5.40pm. This time of kicking and a slightly earlier bath should help him take the rest of his feed once dressed. If you notice your son getting sleepy whilst feeding, remove the bottle from his mouth. Lay him down in a safe place, the floor preferably, on a blanket if you like. This should bring him round so he is awake again. You may have to do this several times with a baby who is sleepy during a feed but it will allow him to take a proper feed before settling for the evening.

Splitting a feed between 5pm/6.15pm allows a baby to take a slightly larger amount overall. If he takes 3ozs at 5pm then he should take another 2-3ozs at 6.15pm. Providing he has remained awake to take enough at this feed he may be ready to settle for the evening by 6.30pm. If he does not settle easily at this time, or wakes in a short while seeming to be hungry, offer him another ounce or so to settle him. Hunger must always be considered in a young baby who does not settle easily, especially in the evening.

Providing he has had a good feed at 5pm/6.15pm and settled for the evening your son will be ready to have a feed around 10pm. Babies under the age of three or four months do need to be awake for at least an hour at this feed. This will help them to sleep for a longer stretch of time in the middle of the night.

To help your son do this use the split feed method at 10pm. This is described in full on page 138 of the Contented Little Baby Book and also in a question and answer on page 86 [bottom]. Begin to wake him at 9.45pm and let him come round naturally so he is fully awake before he begins to feed.  Again, by splitting the feed he can have a slightly larger amount which should help push him on in the night.