Sleeping FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Settling/Sleep Associations

My 5.5-week-old daughter seems unable to settle properly between 7and 10pm

My daughter is a great baby and follows the routine like clockwork except for the following: most nights she only sleeps for one hour at the 7pm sleep i.e. waking up at 8pm and will not settle for the next 2 hours before the 10pm feed.
I have tried feeding her when she wakes up but this does not seem to satisfy her; I have tried giving her the dummy to console her; it works but as soon as I take it out she will unsettle again (this is the only time I use the dummy). I am really confused as to why she is waking up as she sleeps really well at all her other sleeps and for the recommended time as per the book. I don’t think she has cramps as she is not arching her back she is just crying.

I am also struggling with leaving her arms out of the swaddle, 9 out of 10 times if I leave her arms out she will not settle; if I swaddle her fully she is asleep within 20 seconds.

One thing about my daughter is that she is a really fast feeder; she can feed in 15-20 minutes. At first I questioned if she was getting enough food but I think she is as she does not demand food any earlier than the suggested times and she has gained weight accordingly.

At present she breast feeds at 7.30am 20mins one side, 10.40am 20mins one side, 2.30pm 25mins one side, 5.00pm 15mins one side, 6.15pm 25mins one side. 9.50pm 130mls expressed plus 5mins on one side if I have expressed both sides, 4.30am 10mins of good feeding and 5mins slow on one side. She weighs 9.3lbs.

She naps form 8.45- 10.05am, 11.50-2.20pm and 4.15- 5pm. She is settled by 6.40pm

As you are fully breast feeding your daughter you may find that by 6pm your supply is running low. This is a common problem for new mothers as it is difficult to get everything done in the home, rest and take care of the baby. Sometimes it is easy to forget to drink inbetween feeds and often a mother will not eat from lunchtime until supper, but still continues to have to feed her baby. Make sure you have something to eat around 4.30/5pm as well as drinking a glass of water between all feeds. Having something to eat at teatime is a habit all mothers should get into. Coping with babies and small children at this time of day can be very wearing. Giving yourself a boost of energy through eating some fruit and nuts, a slice of toast with a healthy spread or a slice of malt loaf can really help you.

To try to settle your daughter in the evening, so you can have a much-needed rest, offer her a top up of expressed milk before she goes down at 6.45pm. This will help her to really fill herself up. By this time of night she is tired and may appear to be taking a good feed but probably is quite sleepy at this time. This coupled with your supply, which is probably lower at this time, will result in her not feeding enough to last until 10pm. Some mothers find it easier to make the 6.15pm part of the feed a full expressed one. They will offer both sides at 5pm and then give a bottle of milk expressed earlier in the day after the bath., so they know that their baby has had a good feed.
Make sure your daughter is really awake before she starts to feed at 5pm. Being fully awake for the two hours before bedtime can really make a difference as to how a baby settles in the evening.

At 5.5 weeks your daughter will still like the security of being swaddled. To begin to wean her off this, start by leaving one arm out at her morning nap. Once she is used to this you can do the same thing at 7pm if she is then settling well, and then use the same way of swaddling her at her long lunchtime nap and finally throughout the night. Once she has got used to having one arm out at most of her naps, leave her with both arms free at the morning nap and gradually introduce the idea to her in the same order as before. Aim to have her half swaddled at all sleeps by the end of eight weeks. Half swaddling, where both arms are free can be used until you decide to introduce your daughter to a sleeping bag. This is best done at about 12 weeks.

Sleeping FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Settling/Sleep Associations

At 6 weeks my son cries before his naps and also if he wakes during them

My son does a lot of sleep-related crying. He is fine when feeding and during activity (even when in his cot) but when it is ready for a nap/sleep we take him to his room, switch off the lights and close the blind he starts to cry. He cries and cries if left in the cot (for half an hour with no sign of letting up) so I hold him until he calms down, which takes about 20 minutes. We then put him in the cot where he might sleep. If he wakes up we have to start the process again, sometimes this lasts his entire sleep period.

If he wakes during his sleep (sometimes possets, sometimes burps, rest of the time no idea what is the problem), we have the same problem and have to calm him before he will sleep again, which takes 10-30 minutes.  At the end of his sleep he sometimes wakes up cranky and cries before being fed.

We do not think that he is in pain because he will drop off to sleep eventually. The health visitor doesn’t seem interested at addressing the problem until we get to three or four months. We would like to stop him getting so distressed, get more sleep and make nap times in particular less of a chore.

At present he is breastfed, taking 45minutes on the breast at 7am, 10am 2pm and 5pm. He feeds for 10-20 minutes at 6.15pm. At 10pm he takes 4ozs formula (he won’t take more) and feeds for 10-30 minutes at 3am. He weighs 11lbs. At present he naps at 8.45-9.30am, 11.30-1.30pm and 4-4.30pm. He is settled by 7pm.

It would seem that your son is getting overtired and so fighting sleep when put down. A baby of this age may stay awake for up to two hours but many are ready to settle well before this. This is quite normal and as he grows he will be able to cope with being awake for slightly longer periods. Some babies of six weeks may only manage an hour or an hour and quarter.

Although your son may not be showing the signs of tiredness take him to his room at least 15 minutes before his usual nap time. Take this time to wind down. Sit with him quietly in a darkened room and let him learn how to relax before falling asleep. If you swaddle him at naps and sleep times do this before you start wind down time. It can take a baby of this age at least 20 minutes to go from being awake to being ready to sleep. He may protest at first but if you hold him against you, with no eye contact and remember to relax yourself he will learn how to calm down. Some mothers like to use a dummy at this stage as it helps their baby to calm enough to become sleepy. It may take a few attempts for your son to learn how to hold a dummy in his mouth, but used just for calming it can be helpful with a baby who finds relaxing to sleep difficult. Sitting in a comfortable chair will help you, as a young baby can sense tension and anxiety in others and so remain tense and unsettled themselves. If this whole winding down process starts too late, at the time when he needs to be asleep your son will begin to fight and fuss so lengthening the time he takes to settle and then sleeping more fitfully.

Look at the question and answer on page 86 of The New Contented Little Baby Book which describes this in detail.

You will not be cuddling your baby into a deep sleep but helping him become sleepy and so able to settle himself down to sleep. As he gets more able to do this himself you can begin to put him down when more awake than sleepy. It may take another few weeks before he is ready to do this. He may cry once you put him into his cot, but provided he is well-fed, winded and not over-tired he will settle himself within ten to twenty minutes of fussing and crying. Leaving a baby to cry persistently for any longer than this at this age is not advised.

In The Complete Sleep Guide Gina writes about crying down, which is how an over-tired or over-stimulated baby finally settles to sleep. See page 39. The more over-tired a baby is the more they will fight sleep so making sure you start the process early enough should help your son become more settled and able to sleep through his nap times.

If your son is happy to lie on his back after feeds, and does not seem in pain either during or after a feed you may find using gripe water or Infacol could help him have less disruption in his sleep. As he grows he should find it easier to bring his wind up and not be so bothered by it. If you feel that the problems he has with wind and possetting are not improving as he gets bigger then ask your doctor to check him over for any gastric problems.

The amount of formula feed your son is taking at 10pm is adequate for his needs. Providing he is settling well afterwards and getting to 3am before needing to be fed again he should not be forced to take any more. He will still need to feed in the night for a few more weeks yet. The time he wakes for this feed may gradually push on but unless he is beginning to lose interest in his feed at 7am let him feed for as long as he likes when he wakes in the night. Again, if he settles back to sleep again quickly and is not waking until 7am or having to be woken at this time, the amount he is taking is sufficient for his needs.