At 4 weeks my son needs his dummy to settle to sleep
I have a 2 yr old who has been a “Gina” baby since 3 weeks, and is a perfect contented child. However my little baby boy has been so unsettled. His first two weeks were fine, but his naps went wrong in the third week and everything has gone down fast. He seems very sucky and we have resorted to a dummy which upsets me greatly. I am so worried about keeping his feeding and sleeping on track. He now relies on a dummy all the time at every sleep. Last night I put it back in twice. Do I stick with it even though his sleeping is interrupted with it falling out?
I find wind down time difficult, as I can’t leave my daughter downstairs while I settle him.
Today is the first day when he has taken the right quantity of milk. I did controlled crying, cold turkey, on my daughter at 3 weeks for her 7pm sleep and it worked. Is he too young? Should I stick with the dummy until he is older? I really would appreciate some advice.
Last week he weighed 8lbs. His birth weight was 7lbs 8ozs. He feeds at 6-7am 3ozs, 9.30am 3ozs, 2pm 3-4ozs, 5pm 2ozs,6pm 2ozs,10.30pm 3ozs, 3-4am 2-3ozs. If he wakes after 4am I give him 1.5ozs.
At three/four weeks your son could well be having a growth spurt. It is not uncommon for babies of this age to “wake up to the world” and be more unsettled than they have during the first two weeks of life. He is taking in much more, both with his feeds and all his senses, as the world around him becomes more interesting. Learning how to settle to sleep and shut out the world can take some babies a while. As he is a “sucky ” baby, using a dummy to settle will have to be carefully monitored on your behalf to prevent it becoming associated with sleeping.
Check that hunger is not causing him to wake in his lunchtime nap, by giving him a top up feed before going down. From your notes he would appear to be feeding at 9.30am and then again at 2.30pm. At his age this is too long a stretch inbetween feeds. At 8+lbs he still needs to feed every 3-3.5 hrs in the day. A lot of problems with newborn babies settling, are ones of hunger. Although you wish to settle him into a routine, it is very important that you supply his needs for feeds until he is regularly gaining 6-8ozs each week. Have a look at the routine for a one week old, which is nearer to your son’s needs at this weight.
A good idea for you to cope with daytime naps would be to make up a “busy bag” for your daughter. Put some toys which are new to her into it. Use things such as a magic drawing slate. Have a supply of small things which you can swap around every few days, so she is never quite sure what she find in it each day. This bag becomes part of your routine in putting down your son. When he is ready for wind down time take them both upstairs along with the bag. Depending on safety issues you may be able to leave your daughter outside her brother’s room occupied with her bag. Talk to her through her brother, telling him it is time to be quiet and settle to sleep, as if you ask her directly to be quiet it may have the opposite effect and she will become noisier. If she needs to be with you in the room, let her be by the door and have some light to see her toys whilst you sit quietly with your son.
Is he swaddled? If not, he may benefit from being swaddled and tucked into his cot very securely so his Moro reflex does not disturb him. Let him have his dummy to calm down, but try to remove it once he is sleepy and settled in his crib. Already he is associating it with sleep and is beginning to wake without it. It would be best to address the problem now before it escalates even more. Begin by removing his dummy before he is fully asleep and gradually working towards taking it away when he is calm, but not asleep, will take time and perseverance but is worth doing.
Take your daughter out of the room but stay upstairs with her, perhaps sorting laundry or playing in her room. Give your son 10 minutes to settle himself and then return to him for a minute or so to reassure him by stroking and “shushing” if he is still not asleep. Continue to return to him every 10 minutes. If he becomes very distressed, then pick him up and hold him until he is calm, but try not to resort to using the dummy to get him sleeping.
Controlled crying, where you lengthen the times you go into your baby, is best left until a baby is older. At this age keep going back after 5-10mins to reassure him and picking him up, if he is getting very upset, to resettle him. Look in the Complete Sleep Guide page 26 for details about how to settle a small baby. It can take some babies several weeks to really learn how to settle themselves alone.
During the night it would be better if you could not let him fall fully asleep with his dummy, as this is causing you to have to get up to him several times. Make sure you give him the last part of his 10pm feed in a darkened room. If you are sure he has fed well and is winded, then hold him until he reaches a state of sleepiness before putting him down. Again, if you feel he needs his dummy to calm him, then use it but begin to withdraw it before he gets too sleepy. Continue to hold him until he is calm again and then settle him in his cot, making sure he is very securely tucked in.
For several nights you may have to resettle him by holding him again if he wakes, and is distressed but not hungry. Get your partner to help you with this. Getting him used to falling asleep without any association, will take time, but it is worth doing now rather than in a few months time. There is a case of a slightly older baby with dummy dependence in the Complete Sleep Guide p 82, which may help you. As you are already aware of the problems that a dummy can bring, it may help you to be persistent in tackling the problem now.