My 10-week-old daughter has started to be unsettled in the evenings. What am I doing wrong?
For the last week my 10-week-old daughter will not settle at 6.30/7pm. She settles well at other naps and has been going through the night since six weeks. I wake her at 5pm for her split feed of 4ozs. I have tried to drop this but she is always hungry and demanding food at this time. Sometimes even after this she is still crying for more food. I bath her around 5.45pm and start to feed her again at 6pm. She normally falls asleep on me after this feed so I will end up putting her to bed at about 6.30pm. She will then wake at 7pm and demand more food, normally around another 4ozs then go down again to wake again at 8pm. Then I have an hour of trying to settle her until around 9pm. I have tried increasing her day feeds but she won’t take any more milk in the day. She also can’t stay awake for more than an hour and a half. Why has this suddenly started happening?
My daughter feeds at 7am 7ozs, 10.45am7ozs, 2.30pm 6ozs, 5pm 4ozs, 6.15pm 4ozs, 7pm 4ozs and 10.30pm 7ozs.She weighs 12lbs.
She naps at 9-9.45am, 11.45am-2.15pm and 4.30-5pm.
If this has been a recent occurrence your daughter may be going through a growth spurt, as the amount of formula she is taking for her weight is quite high. It would be worthwhile to look at her daytime sleep as well. As you have to wake her at 5pm maybe she needs to go down earlier for this nap, or replace it with two cat naps in the afternoon. It is quite usual for a baby of this age to want to sleep for an hour and a half after waking for a feed. As she gets bigger she may be able to stay awake for nearer two hours. Your daughter may well need to go down around 4pm for 45 minutes and so wake naturally for her 5pm feed. Or she may be happier having a doze in her chair for 15-20 minutes around 3.45pm and then another half hour whilst out in her pram at 4.30pm. The 5pm/6pm split feed often stays in place for quite a while. It is better to leave it like this if your daughter is so hungry. If she needs a slightly larger amount at 5pm let her have another ounce at this time, to help her last until later on in the evening, but also be aware that she may be drinking her feeds too fast. This is explained below.
Start her bath earlier if you know she gets tired after an hour and a half. With slightly more sleep in the afternoon she may be able to stay awake to nearer 7pm and then settle well for the evening, but still need to be in the bath by 5.35pm/5.40pm before she becomes overtired. A baby who sleeps and wakes in the evening, as your daughter has been doing, could well be overtired and be fighting falling into a deep sleep.
If she is very sleepy when being fed at 6pm it may be wind that is disturbing her. Once she has been asleep for half an hour she may become uncomfortable, having not burped properly before going down. One way to eliminate this would be to put her down on a firm smooth surface, such as the floor, as soon as she shows signs of being sleepy during the 6pm feed. This should rouse her enough to finish taking a proper feed and wind as well.
Look at the flow of milk on her teat. If the flow is too slow she may be sucking hard and getting tired whilst doing so as it is too much effort. Move to a faster flow if you think this is the problem. If the flow is too fast she maybe draining her bottles too quickly. As she is still on the size 1 Dr Brown teats she may just be an efficient feeder. A feed should take around 20 minutes, if a full one, and at least 10-15 minutes at the smaller split feed. A baby who drinks too quickly has not had sufficient sucking time. They may well think they are still hungry but, if offered a dummy, will be able to satisfy their sucking needs without taking excessive amounts of milk. If you feel this may be the problem, offer your daughter half her feed and then allow her 10 minutes sucking on a dummy whilst she sits on her chair. You could also do this after her 5pm feed and see if she is more pacified before her bath.
During the day, although tired after an hour and a half, make sure your daughter has plenty of free time on the floor to kick. Taking her out once a day for some fresh air will also help her be properly tired at night. Doing this at 4.30pm could help her sleep at this time but not too deeply. Giving her the right amount of sleep by day will help her be more settled in the evening. It can take a few days of juggling and tweaking to know what she really needs. If you also look at her feeding and see if she is very fast or rather slow that, too, should help you solve this problem and get your evenings back again.