Sleeping FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Daytime Sleep

I have just begun to use the routines with my 7 week old son who is bottle fed. Is it possible to keep to different sleep times providing we don’t keep him up longer than 2hours?

I have looked at your book after being recommended it by a friend. Lots of it seems to be for breast fed babies and I would very much like you to give me a routine for bottle fed. My son is quite a big baby and has always fed well. I stopped breast feeding mainly because he was feeding every hour or so and I felt drained, and it wasn’t exactly as I expected.

One night recently he slept from 12pm until 8am and other nights he sleeps from around 11.30pm until about 4-5am. He seems not too bad to get back to sleep at night luckily but we found that lots of late afternoons/early evenings he was really fussy and nothing we did made a difference, we put this down to colic but one evening by chance we offered him more feed about 1 1/2 hours after his last one and he drank about another 60mls then fell asleep.

The thing I’m worried about is that we have never had set sleep times for him since he was born only around the same time to go to bed, that’s it. Does it matter if we have different sleep times in the day if we keep to the up no longer than 2 hour rule? For instance when you have a clinic appointment at the wrong time or like today I just can’t get him to sleep, he just cries and cries, I’ve tried lullaby, dummy cuddle then put him back in the Moses basket again and he is still wide awake and time drifts on going into the next feed. Also should I be working towards feeding every 4 hours if he doesn’t seem hungry after 3? Another thing I don’t understand how often and how much cooled water you should give and when it’s appropriate.
This is our first baby and neither of us has ever been around babies. I would be very grateful for any advice you can give.

My son feeds at 9am 180mls, 1pm 180mls, 5pm, 160-180mls, 10.30pm 160-180mls, 11pm 120mls and 5-6am 120-140mls. He weighed 11lbs 11ozs a week ago.

My son naps at 10.50-11.30am and 2-5.30pm.

Once you have read through the book you will see why Gina has timings for both feeds and naps during the day.

Whether your baby is bottle or breast fed the timings for these feeds stay about the same. With a bottle fed baby you may find that he finishes his feed quicker than a breast fed baby. Use this extra time to give your son kicking time under his gym. He may be able to fit into a routine which has slightly longer stretches between feeds than those for a breast fed baby. But he still needs to have the same amount of sleep so be careful about pushing him on too quickly. Many babies under the age of four months cannot stay up a full two hours; they are ready to settle after 1.5 hours and often even less. Each baby is different and you need to take his needs into consideration as well as following the routines. Remember that, although a baby can stay awake for up to two hours, he should be put down for a sleep if he shows signs of tiredness before that.

Gina devised the routines so that your baby takes most of his feeds between 7am and 7pm. This means that once your baby is between the ages of 8-12 weeks he is more likely to sleep through from 11pm to 7am. If you do decide to follow the routines then you will need to alter your day a little.

Beginning each day at 7am/7.30am, no matter what your baby has done in the night, will set the routines as a frame on which to hang your day. The other part of the routine to get into place is the bath and bed time routine between 5pm and 7pm. Sleeping well in the evening will ensure your baby takes a good feed around 10pm/10.30pm and then settles again for a longer stretch of sleep, waking probably around 4am/5am. Having a slightly smaller feed at this time, providing he settles well after it, will see him through to 7am and the start of a new day.

Put these two practices in place, at the beginning and end of your baby’s day, when you first start following the routines and you will find that his naps and feeds will fit in between them.

Encouraging your baby to have a long nap in the middle of the day, between 12-2pm, will help him be really tired at 7am and ready to settle for the evening. The middle of the day is when a baby’s natural dip in alertness occurs so it is sensible to allow him to sleep then. Sleeping longer, later in the afternoon, will mean your baby is not ready to settle at 7pm but may be slightly cranky in the evening, which is tiring for you as well. Making bath time part of his winding down routine before bedtime will help your baby settle better. He will feel secure in the routine knowing that the same thing happens at the same time most days. This will help him to establish good sleeping habits which should last him through childhood.

It can be difficult to fit in appointments at certain times of the day but, if you know the times he is likely to nap and feed, it can make things much easier to arrange. Take a look at Gina’s article Adapting the Routine for Outings to help you see that it is still quite possible to get out and about in the day when following a routine.

A baby who is fully formula fed may need extra fluids in the form of cool, boiled water in the day. This is especially so in warmer weather. Another reason for giving your baby a small drink of water from a bottle is to get him used to the idea that fluids other than milk can be taken from a bottle. Many babies who are not introduced to water from a bottle in their early months may take a long time to accept it, from either a bottle or beaker, when it is introduced later alongside solids. Offering your baby a drink of water at 4pm from an early age can help prevent this from happening. Giving a drink of water too near to the next feed could cause your baby to take less milk as it has taken the edge off his appetite.

To give your baby a drink of water, boil a kettle of freshly drawn water and allow it to stand for a while. Fill a small bottle with 2-3ozs of the water and leave it to cool to room temperature. If you make up your bottles at a regular time each day it is easy to make up one more, of water, so it is ready for the afternoon. Depending on the brand of bottles you are using you may need to use for the bottle of water a teat with a smaller hole than the ones you use for milk. The teats used for milk may allow too fast a flow, which could result in a baby taking too much water in his mouth and being overwhelmed by it.

Your baby may take a few days to get used to having water. Don’t expect him to drink a great deal: ½ to 1oz is quite normal unless he is really thirsty in warm weather. As water does not multiply with bacteria as quickly as milk it is safe to leave a bottle of cool, boiled water out in the kitchen for use in the day. Once you have offered it in the afternoon it is best to throw the rest away and sterilize the bottle and teat even if you think you may use the water at night.

If you find he refuses water completely after several days of trying you can always add a hint of peach juice to flavour it slightly. There are small bottles of flavoured water suitable for babies in the baby feeding section of Boots. These are sensible to use when travelling or to keep in your baby bag but they do have to be stored in a fridge once opened and need to be used within a stated period of time.

The other time cool, boiled water is used is to help a baby settle for a longer period at night before giving him a milk feed. This is only done once you are sure that your baby is not waking through hunger, but has got into the habit of waking at a certain time such as 2am. A baby over the age of six weeks who is feeding well in the day and takes a good feed at 10pm should be capable of sleeping a longer stretch in the night. If he regularly wakes around 2am looking for a feed offering him cool, boiled water to settle him will help to push him on a little. It is not used to replace the feed as the baby will probably wake and hour or so later and then need a feed, but he will have stretched his “core night” a little. Gina explains using water in this way on page 148 of The Contented Baby Book.