Day time sleeps for 9 1/2 week old

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Day time sleeps for 9 1/2 week old

Postby Janellemv » Thu 21 Mar, 2013 2:41 pm

Hi there
My little one is 9 and a half weeks old and for the last 10 days or so i have been having massive difficulties getting him to have much/any sleep during the day. On a good day he will sleep for a max of 2.5 hours during the day, on a bad day he may have 3-4 cat-naps of 10 minutes each, and nothing else until he goes back to bed for the night (usually about 10-12 hours after he has got up in the morning). Overnight he usually has one good sleep of between 4-6 hours, will then often be awake for 2 hours and will then sleep for between 45 minutes to 3 hours for the rest of the night, usually being awake for 1- 2 hours between each sleep. On several mornings though he has woken around 4-5 am and not gone back to sleep until the afternoon. At night he usually settles relatively well after a bath, feed and rocking and shushing to sleep before putting him down, but these steps (minus the bath) don't work during the day. He will often fall asleep on me during feeds (breast feeding) or in a sling but as soon as I try to move him so I can lie down for a sleep he will wake up. Also he usually shows tired signs upon waking from his naps so I try to put him down again but this cycle of tiny naps, waking and tiny naps can go on for hours with him still showing tired signs at the end of it all.
Also, he has a preference for turning his head one way and has developed a flat spot on his head, but if I do finally get him to sleep I'm very hesitant to try turning his head the other way as it will almost always wake him. We have tried all the tricks of setting up the room so it's only interesting to look one way but this hasn't helped at all. We are also trying tummy time as often as we can, but the cycle of tiny sleeps, waking tired, trying to resettle, tiny sleeps etc etc leaves not much time (or energy on my part) for tummy time.
So to summarise,I am very concerned that he is not getting enough sleep in a 24 hr period (I estimate a total of maybe 12 hours sleep, but am going to start a sleep diary to keep track of exactly what he gets), and that this lack of sleep may impact directly on his development. I'm also concerned that the amount of time we spend trying to get him to sleep may be further impacting on his development because it means our opportunities for play, bonding, reading, massage and tummy time in particular (for both strength and head shape) are so limited. And because he is disturbed from sleep so easily I am worried his head shape will get worse and that he will start to loose full movement in his neck muscles (currently he does still have full movement) as I am unable to reposition him to his less preferred side.
I try a variety of settling methods, including swaddling, rocking, patting, shushing, feeding, rocking in pram, walks, car rides, sleeping next to me, sleeping on me and carrying in a sling. The ones that have the most success are sleeping on me or in the sling which I don't mind apart from the fact it means I can't get any sleep at the same time. I try to be very responsive to his tired signs and try to settle him to sleep as soon as I see the signs. After reading other information on your website I am now planning on trying to settle after 90 minutes of being awake, whether showing tired signs or not. If I absolutely can't get him to settle, is there a time after which I should give up? For example on Sunday he was awake for 12 hours and I tried to resettle him for probably 9 of those hours, which meant no play time for that period and also meant a pretty frustrated mum (and baby I'm sure) by the end of the day.
Sorry that my post is quite long (and maybe a bit rambling!!!), and I look forward to any advice/tips you can give to help us :-) thanks heaps in advance!
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Joined: Thu 21 Mar, 2013 12:54 pm

Re: Day time sleeps for 9 1/2 week old

Postby NgalaOnline » Sat 23 Mar, 2013 11:09 am

Hi JanelleMV

Thank you for your post. It sounds as though you are a very loving and caring mum taking very good care of her baby. It also sounds as though you are experiencing a high level of anxiety regarding your baby's sleep and settling. The behaviour your baby is displaying does sound like very normal newborn behaviour. Most newborns will have a period of each day where they are quite well settled for a period of a number of hours, and it sounds as though your baby is doing this overnight when he sleeps for around 4-6 hours. It is also normal and very common for newborn babies (under 3 months of age) to have an unsettled period each day which can often last around 5 hours or so. This period often occurs in the evening or late afternoon but can occur any time. During this time it is very normal for the baby to do what you are describing - that is, be very difficult to settle or soothe, and appear to be distressed or overtired but be unable to settle to sleep or remain asleep. These periods can be very frustrating and draining for parents but appear to be a very normal part of newborn development. Most parents find that their baby changes a lot and is more settled and predictable by the time they are around 12 - 14 weeks old. It is very common for newborn babies to struggle with day sleeps and to often have short catnaps rather than longer sleeps. Often babies do not progress onto longer day sleeps until after they are about 3-4 months old and until after they have learnt how to settle themselves to sleep.

The techniques you are using to try to settle your baby do sound appropriate strategies for a baby his age. It is helpful to know that most parents find that their baby will have good days and bad days each week. It is very normal for newborn babies to have at least 3 days in a week where they are difficult to settle and where they do not appear to sleep much. It is also common for some settling periods in a day to go much better than other settling periods - often parents find that babies are easier to settle to sleep in the morning but that they are more unsettled and need more support as the day progresses. With his night feeds, keeping the room as dark and unstimulating as possible can help the baby to remain drowsy and settle back to sleep easier after his feed. You may like to try changing your baby’s nappy at the beginning of the feed rather than the end, or if he has not had a bowel motion and you are using a good quality nappy many parents find that their baby can go through the night without requiring a nappy change. This may help your baby to not wake up as much. During the day, if he does fall asleep in your arms, waiting 20 minutes before trying to transfer him into bed can be helpful as this often means the baby has had enough time to fall into a deeper part of the sleep. Keeping a firm hand over him can be helpful as you put him into his bed.

At 9 weeks of age, and particularly if he is not sleeping very much during the day, it is quite likely that 90 minutes of awake time may be too much for your baby, and that he may already be overtired and therefore more difficult to settle by the time he goes into bed. Many parents particularly find that the first awake period of the day is the shortest and that the baby is often ready to go back to bed after an hour or so. Jerky movements, grizzling, yawning or having a furrowed brow are often late tired signs that indicate the baby is already a bit overtired and likely to be difficult to settle. Some parents find they have more luck getting their newborn to settle if they try after an hour or so of awake time, or when they see the earlier tired signs of the baby looking away, avoiding eye contact or needing active engagement or support to stay happy (which is often interpreted as boredom).

It is very normal for parents to worry that lack of sleep will in some way affect their baby's development. It is best not to worry about this too much, as babies will get enough sleep to support their development and this type of unsettled and difficult sleeping is a very normal part of infant development for many babies. Some parents find that they can get to the point of placing a lot of focus and attention on their baby's sleep, and that they are spending a lot of their day thinking about their baby's sleep and feeling worried and anxious about it. It is a good idea to talk to someone if you are feeling like this, and also trying to reduce some of the focus you are giving to your baby's sleep (or lackthereof) can be helpful for reducing anxiety. Charting a baby's sleep in a sleep diary can heighten feeling of anxiety for many mothers and may be something that is best to avoid. Focusing on the fact that your baby is still very young and that it will not be like this forever, but rather that your baby will still develop and change a lot in the coming weeks and months can be helpful. In regards to your question about how long you should spend trying to settle your baby to sleep, it is best to just try this for as long as you feel able to do so without it beginning to make you feel stressed or anxious. At the point that it begins to feel as though you are getting frustrated and upset, it is best to get your baby up and do something else that is pleasant for you both until you feel your baby is ready to go back to bed. Spending 9 out of 12 hours trying to get your baby to sleep does sound as though it is too much, and that spending this amount of time trying to get your baby to sleep will detract from the enjoyment you are able to have with your baby. In terms of getting your baby to turn his head to one side, sometimes alternating which end of the bed you put his head for each sleep can help as the baby may be inclined to turn toward sources of light to look at them. If you find that this does not help, then it may be best to just try turning his head in his sleep during his lengthy settled period overnight (whilst you are awake) and then trying to limit the time reclining on his back when he is awake. Time spent just being held upright against you can be considered as tummy time, as there is no pressure on the back of his head during this time and it promotes neck strength. Many parents find that their baby will accept tummy time happier if it is offered by lying the baby on the parent's chest or knee, or such as by carrying the baby around face down over your arm. Even little periods of a few minutes of tummy time can be beneficial and these are easy ways to work a few minutes of tummy time in here and there as you carry him around, play with him and go about your day. Over the next weeks and months your baby will begin to be able to manage longer awake times which will make it easier to have more playtime.

Under the age of 12 weeks of age babies do not have the completed brain development yet to allow them to begin to form habits or learned ways of falling to sleep. This means that at this time methods of settling such as cuddling, rocking or feeding to sleep are not likely to begin any sleep associations or habits. Around 3 - 4 months of age though (typically beginning around 12 weeks of age) babies do begin to form sleep associations and can begin to wake between sleep cycles if they are provided with sleep associations to fall asleep with that they can not perform for themselves. For that reason, when your baby reaches around 12 weeks of age it may be a good idea to begin to move towards trying to settle your baby to sleep in his cot using in-cot methods of soothing (such as patting or stroking him in his cot) rather than in-arms methods. You will find though that he will still change and develop more in the next few weeks and may be more able to cope with this by then.

It does sound as though you would benefit from having some more support regarding your baby's sleep. You may like to ring the Ngala helpline or consider attending a Day Stay at Ngala where you can get some more support with sleep and settling. You may also find that attending the Parent Workshop "Sleep and Your Growing Baby" which covers sleep and settling from 3 - 7 months could be helpful for you. I hope this information has been helpful.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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