Sleep & Settling- 5 week old

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Sleep & Settling- 5 week old

Postby shmegsb » Mon 22 Jul, 2013 7:18 pm

Hi Ngala

I was wanting some advice please in regards to my 5 and a half week old son and some issues that I am currently having with his sleep. I am concerned that he may not be getting enough sleep during the day as he constantly wakes when placed in his bassinet and I am concerned that he is forming some bad habits which may continue and become a problem in the future.

During the day my son will not sleep in his bassinet. He will sleep in the pram on a walk, the car while driving and most happily of all, he will sleep on his Dad or my chest, but as soon as we try to put him in his bassinet he wakes up (most commonly within 10 minutes). I have tried a few different techniques; I have put him in to the bassinet whilst settled but still awake then I have patted, rocked and sshh'd but as soon as I stop he wakes up. I have also allowed him to fall asleep in my arms and then put him in his bassinet whilst asleep but he almost always wakes immediately, again if I pat or sshh him then he will sometimes fall back asleep only to wake again not long after I stop. When he wakes he will be grizzly and wriggle and then after a few minutes will begin to cry at which point I will pick him up. I repeat the process a few times with the same result and I then end up letting him sleep on my chest as I am concerned he will not get enough sleep if I continually try to put him in his bassinet. I enjoy cuddling him and having him on my chest to sleep and if this is temporary then I have no problem continuing but I am concerned that this will become the only way he will sleep in the future and it does prevent me from doing anything else during the day (such as sleeping).

At night my son will settle and sleep in his bassinet at about 9.30-10pm, waking two to four hourly for feeds. However, I believe he settles easily as he uses my breast to soothe himself as he is fed immediatey before bed and each time he wakes. Often he falls asleep on my breast allowing me to easily transfer him to his bassinet. If he stirs at night he is soothed by patting and 'sshh'ing and will fall back asleep.

Is it a bad habit to allow him to self-soothe with non-nutritive sucking on my breast immediately before sleeping? Will he stop doing this as he gets older or is this a habit that will continue? My son does not use a dummy but I feel like my nipple is acting as a dummy for him.

At night we put him in a swaddle suit but during the day we do not. At night his bassinet is in our bedroom but during the day it is moved to the living room near the kitchen and television/music. Should I be keeping his sleeping environment the same no matter if it is day or night? Should I swaddle him during the day too?

My son is putting on weight and has a good number of wet/dirty nappies.

Thanks in advance for your help it is appreciated.
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Re: Sleep & Settling- 5 week old

Postby NgalaOnline » Thu 25 Jul, 2013 1:33 pm

Hi shmegsb
Thanks for your post. It sounds like you have some great things in place already. Your baby sounds happy and is gaining weight and sleeping well when he gets to cuddle into a nice warm chest! It is great that you are getting plenty of cuddles as your baby will be leaning so much from this closeness.
Many parents feel a little concerned that holding their baby or soothing them by feeding, rocking or cuddling may result in habits that will cause sleep issues. In these early newborn weeks, this is not the case. Babies are born with large sections of their brains still underdeveloped, and at four weeks of age your baby's brain is still very immature. Before the age of about 12 weeks, the parts of the brain that control emotional regulation (the ability to calm oneself down) and the part of the brain controlling the establishment of memories are still very immature. Around the age of 3 to 4 months babies can start developing sleep associations (ideas about how to fall asleep and resettle) so in the weeks leading up to that time it can be helpful to begin gradually helping your baby to learn how to fall asleep in his cot. Before then, you can feel confident in comforting your baby to ensure that he does get enough sleep. This is really the most important thing.
The techniques you describe that you have been trying are great and it certainly is worth persisting with them over the coming weeks to months, but you may find that you don’t always have success. However you can see these attempts as practice for your baby and the more supported he is by you the more likely he will gradually learn to self settle and soothe.
Many newborns can be unsettled for periods of up to several hours. During these times newborn babies will often cry without explanation, be difficult to soothe, and resist sleep even though they seem tired. At these times, newborns may require physical help such as rocking, cuddling, movement, patting or feeding to help them soothe and settle. All of these things are fantastic ways of offering comfort to your little baby - anything that works for both of you is fantastic and very appropriate for you to use at this time. As you mention it is important that your baby sleeps, otherwise he will become very overtired.
As the weeks go on and your baby continues to develop very quickly you may find it useful to settle your baby in a similar way, and in a similar place to help him prepare for sleep. If settling him in different ways during the day and night works for you now, there is no issue in doing so but as your baby becomes more aware of his surroundings and the stimulation around him you may find that he settles better in a calm and darker place. Again wrapping him may also offer him a nice preparation for sleep. When you decide to reduce the wrap you could then work towards using a sleeping bag as another cue for sleep.

You may find the following link helpful:

You may also find the Ngala Tip Sheets "Secrets of Good Sleepers," "How Does My Newborn Sleep," and "Sleep and Settling 0-5 year olds" helpful. ... nce-Guides
Hope this information helps you. It is often really reassuring to see that you are doing a great job and have some great things in place.
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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