Q&A: teeny babies and sleep

Anonymous wrote me that her second son is three weeks old and is sleeping like a champ. It's freaking her out, because her first son had his days and nights mixed up and seemed not to sleep, pretty much ever, for the first 11 months of his existence.

Babies are weird.

This is confirmed by reports from two other friends with new babies, one of whom sleeps at night (sort of) but hardly at all during the day at four weeks, and the other of whom seems to sleep around the clock at five weeks.

Moral of the story: Babies are people, too.

And they haven't read any of the baby books. So reading the books can give you an idea of what *can* happen, but if you start to think it *will* happen you could be disappointed or demoralized. And if you think that's what *should* happen you can start to think there's something wrong with you or your baby when it could just be normal human variation.

Now, serious lack of sleep can indicate a problem, so you should do some troubleshooting to see if there's anything you can figure out and fix. But at the same time, know that it's possible that everything could be fine and your baby still might not sleep the textbook way or amount.

Some common problems that could be affecting your baby's sleep:

Reflux: Choking or gagging or spitting up a ton are classic signs of reflux, but waking up screaming is another sign. Try propping the head of wherever your baby sleeps so the head is above the feet, and if that helps, your baby could have reflux. (Another classic is that the baby can sleep for hours in a stroller or swing or bouncy seat but not lying flat.) Talk to your doctor to get some relief.

Caffeine: If you're consuming lots of caffeine and nursing, it could be keeping your baby up. The half-life of caffeine in a baby's system is 96 hours. (Yes. That wasn't a typo. They're teeny little humans.) I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Developmental spurt/Growth spurt: If your baby is 3 weeks or 5 weeks or 8 weeks or 12 weeks, they could be in the middle of a growth (eating constantly) spurt or developmental (learning new brain skills) spurt. It should be over in a few days to a week, and things should improve.

Environmental conditions: Too cold, too hot, too bright, too noisy, too quiet, too alone, etc. Chances are if it annoys you, it could be preventing your baby from sleeping. (Remember also that your baby just came from being in constant contact with you, so if you expect your baby just to go cold turkey in sleeping alone in a quiet room, you might not have success right away.)

Hunger: I mean, duh, but sometimes we forget how often babies actually do need to eat. Forget all the crap about how many pounds babies weigh and how long they can go without eating. It's not research-based, especially with breastfed babies, so it's just as much conjecture as anything I could tell you or your MIL or the checkout lady at the grocery store. If your baby keeps waking up and seeming hungry, feed them and see if it works.

What have I forgotten? I'm trying to think of things that are common and reasonable to diagnose and easily treatable.

And, of course, feel free to talk about how your baby slept as a newborn, if you can remember. My first one hardly slept at all during the day. My second one seemed more textbook and couldn't stay awake for more than two hours.

54 thoughts on “Q&A: teeny babies and sleep”

  1. Oh, one major one (at least for us) that isn’t listed:Startle Reflex: My babies had to be tightly swaddled to calm down and fall asleep (and stay asleep). Otherwise, they would do that startle reflex thing and startle themselves awake.
    As for how my kids sleep, I was just bemoaning the fact that my 5 month old is waking every 2 hours STILL to be nursed back to sleep. I don’t know if it’s hunger or calming, but nothing else gets him back to sleep. Thank goodness for co-sleeping… but… I’m wondering if the smelling me (and my milk) is part of why he keeps waking up. We are going to start moving him into his nursery to see if that helps.
    Also, has anyone else seen The Nap Nanny? It’s what I should have invented to make a million dollars. Either that or it’s what I wish was out when my first was a baby! It’s like a mattress thing that is angled the same way a bouncy seat or laid back swing seat is angled. It keeps the head up higher than the feet, but the bend is at the waist. Oh how I wish I’d had this for both my kids when they were teeny tiny!

  2. My DS had reflux, which I had never heard about pre-baby. A friend mentioned it to me at 1 month, and some medication really helped. All the symptoms were exactly as Moxie described. The only good news was that I lost all the baby weight pretty quickly because I could only get him to sleep in the stroller or in the sling while walking so I did A LOT of walking. By three months he was napping regularly during the day – if only for 30 – 45 mins at a time (although sometimes I got a long nap out of him) – I just followed some advice I heard to put him down every two hours and that worked. His nights at three months were regular and predictable – he was in bed at 7, feeding at 11, 2, and 5 and up at 7.

  3. Claudia slept like a champ for, hm, the first month or so? Well, she really hated falling asleep, so getting her to that point was awful. And she didn’t sleep through the night, ever. But she took looooooong naps, and slept for really long chunks at night too. I was so pleased. Didn’t last, though.More recently she’s been going through Phase after Phase, all different, and I keep realising really late that her clinginess/unhappiness/lousy sleep is largely due to some completely basic physical cause: yes, hunger – increased appetite around 6 months; teething; cold… every time I figure it out and do something about it, things improve immediately. Leaving me with the Huge Guilt of what a bad mommy I am for not realising my poor kid was starving! freezing! in pain! etc. Lovely game, this mommy thing.

  4. Mouse needed swaddling or holding to sleep as a very wee one. And she was later a rolling nap kid (but I don’t think it was reflux since the very best thing was lying flat in a stroller). But the thing that really confused us was she topped out at 13-14 hours of sleep a day as a newborn, when all the books said 16-18. We got over worrying about it eventually, but the trend basically continued–at 5 1/2 she maxes at 9 1/2 to 10 hours per day.So actually, you can imagine how freaked I got this weekend when she crashed with a bad cold and slept 15 hours straight. She’s feeling better now but I’ve never known her to sleep that much, ever. It was wild.

  5. If mum is back at work, baby could be doing most of his/her feeding at night, rather than during the day. Mine didn’t BTW( I was/am a SAHM), and as a result they were on the breast every hour until they were 6 months old.I really lucked out big time with both my kids in the first year. DS ( now 5) and DD (now 3)slept 12 hour nights (no feed) from 10 weeks and 6 weeks respectively ( although from 16weeks she started acting her age and waking constantly until we sleep trained at 6 months) Son’s naps were shot to pieces till 6 months, DD either slept all day long or didn’t sleep at all.
    DS still sleeps like a trooper. DD has been waking 5/6 times a night since the 18 month sleep regression, so ha ha ha to me!

  6. Baby 1 (now 5) had a really tough time and didn’t sleep except while being held or in a bouncy seat for 6 weeks…and then miraculously became a champion sleeper (4-5 hour stretches, quickly going to 6-7 hour stretches around 3 months).Baby 2 (now 2) woke every 90 minutes throughout the night to “snack” (nurse for a few minutes) until he was 8 months old and we broke down and did CIO and night-weening.
    Funny, even now that each of my “babies” is past the infant stage, they have retained their sleep personalities and my older child is a much harder sleeper than my younger one.

  7. Ok, this isn’t going to win me any popularity points but here goes. Both of my boys (3.5 years and 3.5 months) have been very good sleepers. The oldest woke up every 2 hours for the first 2-3 weeks to eat as he was pre-term and jaundiced. But he usually went right back to sleep after a diaper change and swaddling. He was in a bassinet beside our bed but I exclusively pumped because he was also severely tongue-tied and wouldn’t latch. I think he slept through the night (10 pm to 6 am) right around 4 months. By 10-12 months, he would sleep 10-11 hours during the night with a couple naps during the day.My baby boy will be 4 months at the end of the month and yeah, he is already sleeping through the night. For the most part…some nights he only goes 6-7 hours before needing/wanting to nurse. Granted he started out as a big boy (10 pounds). But for the first couple of weeks, he woke up every 2 hours or so to nurse then went right back to sleep after a diaper change and swaddling him, just like his big brother. As he is getting bigger, swaddling seems to annoy him so we don’t. By 4-5 weeks, he would sleep for a 4 hour stretch during the night.
    And with both my boys, they did NOT like having their arms swaddled. The fancy swaddling blankets were a waste of $$ in our case. We simply used the stretchy waffle-weave blankets to swaddle them from the chest down as they both like to sleep with tiny arms and fists raised like they just scored a touchdown. It really is quite adorable.
    Both my boys seem to be REALLY sensitive to caffeine. I pretty much cut it out completely during my pregnancies so it makes sense but still. They don’t get fussy or cranky they just do not sleep and look at me with wide-open eyes expecting to be entertained when momma just wants to sleep. I can have a little bit occasionally and it doesn’t affect the baby. By little bit, I mean a glass of iced tea or soda every couple of weeks. Of course, last week I had 2 large glasses of iced tea with lunch last week and it threw the nap schedule all to hell for a couple of days (luckily he still slept fine at night!). Learned my lesson on that one.
    Ok, no one throw anything at me. I realize that I am VERY fortunate to have babies who sleep so well. Of course, I have to save up my energy for when they start talking and never ever shut up. And you don’t even want to know about the battles for naptime with the preschooler now.

  8. @MG or anyone else – How did the CIO and night-weaning go with Baby 2 since you had an older one in the house sleeping? Or was it easy because the older one was a good sleeper? I ask because I’m trying to figure out how we’ll get our number 2 to go longer at night between feedings without waking our first, who is a very light sleeper (when she actually sleeps).

  9. My son ate every hour for what seemed like months on end, but looking back, was about the first three months. I started co-sleeping after midnight when he was about that age, so I would just roll over and stick a boob in his face and we all got a lot more sleep. He ate 2-3 times overnight until he was nine months old and we sleep-trained him.My daughter came home sleeping 4-5 hours overnight and I freaked out thinking she wasn’t eating enough and my milk would be compromised, so I would wake her up after three hours. STUPID. I ended up creating a bad habit and she started waking on her own every three hours for the next six months. Ugh. She ate 2-3 times overnight until she was sleep-trained at nine months.
    Baby3 comes in about two weeks and I can guarantee you, if he/she feels like sleeping 12 hours overnight the first night home, more power to him/her and I will get up and pump. But of course, knowing I have two others to worry about, this will probably be my colic baby who can’t be put down and eats round the clock. I have a sling and am prepared for anything!

  10. excess spirulina and B vitamins can also really wreck sleep. If you’re still taking a prenatal and it has high volumes of those two substances, try weaning off for a few days.I had a baby who didn’t sleep, but she was screaming all the time because she had multiple severe food sensitivities. If there isn’t any other sign of distress, it could just be one of Those Things. The ammunition you pull out down the road when your mommy group is indulging in a pissing contest about Who Had It The Worst. lol!

  11. @caramamaAre you considering CIO!!??? Big boy is such a heavy sleeper that when my daughter goes berserk in the midddle of the night, he barely flinches ( and they share a room). When no. 2 was 6 months we ferberized for a full month. We never left her alone for more than 10 minutes at a time, but boy did she wail. She is a tension releaser so a perfect candidate for CIOing, but still it took a loooong time. No.1 who was in another room didn’t hear a peep.

  12. @paola – Well, no. Not CIO. But I want to extend time between the feedings (if possible) and I know there will be a lot of crying and fussing if we try to calm him without nursing. I mainly want to know how all that racket affects the older child. Cause so far? If I put him down without nursing to sleep? He is UPSET. And if I do this while the Pumpkin is trying to go to sleep? She takes much longer to go to sleep.Just wondering how it worked for others. Glad to hear that your boy slept through the noise!

  13. caramama, I’m right there with you. My DS is 5 months and my DD is 3.5 and a light, crappy sleeper when she sleeps.So I second the question– How did the CIO and night-weaning go with Baby 2 since you had an older one in the house sleeping (oh so very lightly in my case)?

  14. FWIW, in one of my desperate attempts to sleep for more than two hours uninterrupted, I decided to cut out caffeine. Don’t remember how long it was, maybe a month or so. Did not make one iota of a difference for the baby. For me, it took the one thing away that made me feel halfway human for half an hour. Not to discourage anyone from trying to cut it out and see if that helps – I’m sure that many babies ARE sensitive to it.

  15. @caramama…..try a white noise machine in Pumpkin’s room. One night Alex insisted I put him to bed *before* the baby, that the baby HAD to wait his turn, so I put the baby in his crib to keep him safe, got Alex ready for bed and turned on the white noise machine. We did our routine, read our stories, sang our songs, and I turned the light off. It wasn’t until I had exited the room that I heard the baby *screaming his head off* in his room (which is right next door with a shared wall BTW). So ya, white noise machine. That was a very educational experience for me, and now I don’t worry so much about the baby waking up the older one and I often will let him fuss for a bit at night just to see if he can figure it out without my intervention. But yes….never longer than about 10 minutes because if Alex wakes up, the WHOLE HOUSE is up. Just not worth it.Good luck!

  16. my baby slept through the night when he came home.of course, he was 7 1/2 months old and on constant tube feedings overnight. don’t quite recommend that!
    but really, he’s been quite a good sleeper – and a great eater. in lots of ways we’re lucky. ever heard the bit about how if everyone could stand in a circle & fling their problems in the air we’d all grab frantically for our own? 🙂

  17. DS #1 awful sleeper until we ferberized at 10 months. He probably had reflux bad, but our ped. didn’t catch it and we didn’t know babies could get reflux. At 4 years old, falls asleep hard and sleeps all night.DS #2 slept great home from the hospital, 3-5 hour stretches, but that changed at 3 months. He started waking every 30-45 minutes. Then he learned to roll over and broke through two teeth. He is 5 months old now and rarely do I get more than a 2 hour stretch at night; naps are still around 45 minutes.
    I just finished crying after he went down for a nap for 30 minutes, woke up to eat, went back to sleep, woke up to burp, went back to sleep, woke up to fart and then wouldn’t go back to sleep (just smiled and blew rasperberries at me, totally cute, but ugh, please sleep!). All that happened in less than an hour.
    We won’t CIO with him, but not sure what to do.

  18. My daughter was a pretty good sleeper at night but I had a really tough time getting her to nap during the day. My brilliant husband stumbled upon a solution when one Saturday morning he swaddled her and laid her down on this dog bed-type thing (actually a Bobby Newborn Lounger that someone loaned me) in the middle of the kitchen and she promptly fell asleep. I figured out that she liked the hubbub of the kitchen and all the noise and distraction calmed her right down. She would only nap on that lounger thing until she was 4-5 months old and outgrew it. At that point she was okay with napping in her crib. Oh yeah, the thing clearly says its not for sleeping (SIDS warning). I ignored the warning, obviously without incident.

  19. My now 2.5 year old (8.13 at birth) was a champion sleeper from the get-go. She went 4hrs between feedings from the day we brought her home. She also slept all the time the first 2 months. If she was awake for more than 2 hours a day it was a shock. Then, just after 2 months it was like the switch was turned on and she was up like a regular kid. She mostly slept in her crib and put herself to sleep.For some reason we thought having another baby would be just as easy. HA! We now have twin boys (6.0 and 6.13) and they wake every 1.5 to 2.5 hours to eat all day and night. I am about to lose my mind. They sleep with me in the guest room so dad can get some sleep. I was trying to convince myself it was because they are small, but I know that isn’t the case. Sigh. I really love the newborn period and want to remember this time fondly, but I’m afraid it is just going to be a sleep-deprived blur.

  20. E (baby 1) was a craptacular sleeper – reflux mostly – and didn’t sleep more than three hours at a time till he was over 14 months old. This morning I googled “newborn sleeping too much” because B (baby 2) sleeps non-stop. Wakes up, eats, goos gahs, back to sleep. So yeah…every baby is different. But I’ve also given up dairy because of how horrible it was with E and I didn’t want to risk it.@robyyn – us too! First we were freezing B then we overcompensated and we were roasting the poor thing. And this is our second kid! Thank goodness we’re done because really, we’re too stupid to have
    kids.
    @caramama – I’m curious to see what you end up trying. We tried a sort-of CIO with E and it was disasterous but it works for some kids. And e is still a light sleeper so even in a relatively large house I think it would wake him up.

  21. @caramama – We have 3 kids, and I finally got youngest (12 months) sleeping through the night–with plenty of fussing and crying. The solution for us involved moving the other kids as far away in the house from baby as possible, closing baby’s door, AND using a white noise maker (fan for us) in the older kids’ room.

  22. My kid just dozed around the clock as long as he was in a sling, and also would conk out easily in the bouncy seat (but the swing, it burns!) We had no real schedule until around 7 months. He didn’t get night vs. day until at least 6 months – slept in 2 hour increments day and night. Didn’t sleep in a crib or anything for any appreciable length of time over 2 hours until at least 9 months, and took all of his naps in a sling or in bed with one of us until then.We don’t believe in CIO, nor in pushing babies to sleep alone/independently/self soothe until they are ready, so my son just started sleeping through the night at 18 months. All we did was nightwean from bottles (using Jay Gordon’s gentle technique) after his molars were in, but other than that, he was just ready. It was a long, sleep deprived 18 months, though.

  23. @caramama- definitely get a white noise producer of some sort. Our first sleeps through our second’s occasional hissy fits around diaper changes in the middle of the night. Her room is literally right across the hall from the baby’s room with the changing table.Pumpkin’s white noise is an air filter, because that’s what we had when she was little. For Petunia, I downloaded a wave sounds “song” from iTunes and use that on infinite loop.
    About sleep… Pumpkin (baby #1, currently 2.5 years old) was a very difficult sleeper as a baby. Bedtime routine was elaborate and involved a lot of bouncing and oh so careful transferring to her moses basket. She woke up frequently (approx. every 2 hours) in the middle of the night to nurse until she was about 9-10 months old, at which point we successfully transitioned her to 1-2 wakings. (We did this by gradually lengthening the time between when I would nurse and yes, there was a lot of fussing/crying during which Hubby held/bounced/rocked her. She absolutely refused to give up that last night feeding at that point and we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.) She started sleeping through the night at about 2 years old, when she was good and ready, thank you very much. I still have to lay next to her on her bed to get her to sleep. She plays with my hair. It takes about 30 minutes, except for recently when it has suddenly started taking up to an hour. (Grrrrr….)
    And naps, oh naps… when she was little she only napped if she was being held or in motion. We still usually have to take her for a drive or walk to get a nap started. Except at day care, where the magic of peer pressure means that she lays down on the cot and goes to sleep.
    Petunia (baby #2, currently 6.5 weeks old) is the opposite, at least for night sleep. Her bedtime routine is: nurse, burp, kiss, lay down, sleep. I don’t believe this luck, and keep going in to check that she is actually asleep. She wakes 2x to nurse in the night.
    Naps aren’t so good- she takes ~3/day. She’ll usually let me put her down for one of those naps, but I never know which one. For the others, I have to hold her.
    @MindyH- we didn’t want to CIO, either, for a variety of reasons. My advice is to try the gentle methods (the Pantley book has a run down on those) but to really focus your energy on figuring out what your minimum sleep requirements are and how to get those met. I need 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. So all of our sleep problem solving is around how to get me that. With Pumpkin, the answer was for Hubby to do the first feeding of the night with a bottle and for me to go to bed really early. We’re trying something similar now, but its not working as well because Pumpkin’s bed time needs are preventing me from going to bed early. Luckily, Petunia’s sleeping well enough to keep me from going insane.

  24. I hesitate to even post this, but DD (6.5 wks old) sleeps all the time. To the point that we have had to check her for signs of life. Now, I know this dream phase here will end soon (even sooner probably because I’ve just put it out there). However…Let’s talk about my toddler. DS (24 mos) is the current cause of our sleep woes. He has been waking up about 2 hours earlier than what has been normal for him for like ever, and his diaper and pull-up are totally soaked through each morning. I should mention that the reason for the soaking-through is that whenever he wakes up at night he soothes himself with a bottle full of about 90% water and 10% skim milk. So yeah… we have some habits going on that used to work like a charm to allow us to sleep through the night but now are becoming a major FAIL. Suggestions welcome.

  25. @MindyH — Why won’t you CIO with your second, after success with ferberizing your first? Have you changed your position on it? Just curious, as we did CIO with our first, with amazing success (two nights, approximately 15-20 minutes of crying, and has been sleeping through the night ever since) but I wonder if I would do it with a second. I still have guilt about it, even though it worked perfectly and I am a much better parent knowing that I can sleep at night.

  26. @hush – You could start slooowly reducing the amount in the bottle each night. We are down to 2-3 ounces of water (oh the transition from milk to water really sucked, too) during story time before bed. Such a pitiful amount but he still wants it and yet doesn’t seem to miss the rest of it usually. Anymore than that and he’ll pee through, too.

  27. When I had a teeny tiny one, he would go to bed at 8, wake at 11, 2, 4, 6, 8. It took a little more than a month for him to gradually start falling asleep faster after waking at night. At first he’d be up for an hour, then 45 min, then 30 min, then finally, he’d eat in five and go right back to sleep! Tight swaddle and shushing would help.

  28. I’m wondering what CIO is?I’ve just got one, and she’s slept like a dream since I brought her home. I was concerned about her napping–seemed like 30-45 minutes weren’t enough, so I hung black curtains in her room. Now that the room is dark during the day, she naps about 4 hours a day, consistently. (She’s 1.)
    I also have an alarm clock that has white noise–it’s a Timex, and the settings are wind, forest, brook, and ocean. Sometimes I loop a lullaby CD.
    I feel extremely grateful–sleep deprivation was my greatest fear. We all have our problems–like right now? My kid just crawled up on the table. She’s only 12 months old, but she’s figured out how to move a toy or box close to whatever she wants to climb, and there she goes. Parenting was so much easier when I didn’t have to pay such close attention! lol

  29. “Babies are wierd”- you said it Moxie! I have 3 year old b/g twins who are so different in the sleep dept. They were really tiny at birth and spent some time in the nicu but upon coming home they nursed every 2 ish hours around the clock (sometimes because they asked and mostly bc I was scared to starve them.) Baby girl was a calm content baby who most likely would have STTN at 3-4 months had her brother not needed around the clock feedings forever. My children have very different requirements-both within normal range but one needs the high end of the range and the other needs the low end. Comparing the two makes both seem odd. At 10 months we finally treated him for reflux (after failing at CIO.) I still kick myself for trying to Ferberize a kid who was in pain. The sleep improved to 2-3 wakings a night until 18 mos when I finally took him to a pediatric chiropractor. It was like magic- twins and c-section babies apparently have notoriously mal-adjusted spines and can have pretty bad back pain. Who knew? Well, we started sleeping through the night immediately…seriously. 18 months without a 5 hour stretch and one adjustment and he was sleeping 10 hours a night. Also, his adjustment ended the reflux (appparently they can be connected.) Also- each change of season it takes me four or five nights of bad sleep to realize that they are cold/hot. Why am I such a slow learner?BTW-We have always had them in the same room with pretty loud white noise and they very rarely wake each other.

  30. @caramama and others:Sorry- I just got back to Askmoxie this morning.
    The CIO with Baby No. 2 worked well for us because of two main factors:
    1) our oldest really does sleep like a log. The way we handled it was to talk to her in advance (she was almost 4 if I remember right, so talking was productive) and explain that we had to teach her little brother to sleep through the night which would probably make him a little angry. So she should expect to hear some crying in the middle of the night for a couple days, but she should not be afraid. As far as I know, she never even woke up. Keep in mind that our older child was used to quite a bit of late nite crying because Baby No. 2 had already waking up and crying every 90 minutes for his snack for months. Of course, CIO was longer and louder, but maybe older kid was already used to tuning out crying.
    2) Don’t think my husband and I are cruel, but after 8 months of sleep deprivation, we went with the rip-the-bandaid-off approach to CIO. We chose a weekend to do it (thinking nobody would get any sleep). It took 3 nights. The first night I went in and checked on him every so often (ten or twenty minutes) and didn’t pick him up or nurse him. Far from being reassuring, my check-ins just made him madder. He cried for a couple hours, slept for maybe 4 hours and then I got up early with him. He was angry and fussy that day and not inclined to eat or nurse more during the day (which was what we were shooting for). The second nite I didn’t go in at all, I had my husband check once after 10 minutes which, again, made the baby mad as hell and renewed his energy for crying. He cried for about an hour straight, but then slept much longer. Third night wasn’t perfect…but it was mostly there. I think he ate/nursed a bit more in the daytime and only woke up once and cried for 15 minutes or so in the middle of the night and then slept until about 5 a.m.

  31. Hush, I praised Jesus when my son slept 12 hours at 8 weeks. I was mad at friends who warned me that it might not last. It didn’t, of course, and we had a rough time with the 4 month regression, but they do remember and it, ultimately, does make for a good sleeper, I think. He’s 1 now and has been back to 12 hours (mostly) for several months.Just moved DS (1 yo) into his sister’s (5 yo) room and they aren’t quite used to each other’s noises yet. I forgot about the benefits of WHITE NOISE, Doh! Going to try that tonight.

  32. Ha! Just goes to show that I shouldn’t open my big mouth. My sweet baby woke up at 12:30 after being nursed at 9:30. He hadn’t done that in weeks. Although I think he’s going through a bit of a growth spurt as he nursed for an hour between 7-8, then again at 9ish.I second or 3rd a white noise machine for the older kids room. Luckily all of my kids do seem to sleep through all kinds of noise but my 3.5 year old has an air cleaner in his room that functions as white noise.

  33. Another second, or third or fourth for weird babies!Baby 1 was up four to five times a night until we CIO at 6 months. Took four nights for him to sleep 10 hours straight and we’ve never looked back. He’s a pretty good sleep although he loves the 6am or before wake up time.
    Baby 2 slept 20 or more hours a day for the first three months and then started the typical up five times a night routine. We did CIO at 6 mos with her and it took one night. She had been sleeping 12+ hours a night until the lovely 9mo sleep regression. She seems to be coming it out of it now (10.5 months). Baby 1, now 27 months, has slept through every crying spell from Baby 2.
    Both my kids sleep with a blanket that I know calms them and I give them toys or books to put in their cribs. Obviously, you can’t do that for the itty bitty ones, but my kids love having stuff in there with them.

  34. Thanks all for the tips and stories! We do have a really loud humidifier in her room that works as her white noise, but even with that she still is sometimes disturbed by sounds. But maybe if we turn it up to high…@Maria C. – CIO = Cry It Out

  35. @Julie – I want to thank you! In that last comment you made on the previous post, you said “he is a lazy nurser, so when the flow slows down, he’s ‘full enough’.” That just gave me a huge aha moment! Not only is my boy a snacker, but I’m guessing he’s a lazy nurser at night too. He doesn’t seem to fill himself up, but just snacks enough to get him by as he falls back asleep. Maybe that’s why only nursing works–because (like Moxie said in this post) he really is hungry throughout the night!Next month, we’ll start him on solids and maybe that will help.

  36. @caramama….you could also try to pump a full feeding and give him a bottle right before bed instead of nursing him. I don’t think it matters much what you feed him, it’s the lack of ounces that were a problem for us more than whether it was breastmilk or formula. If he’ll take a bottle, maybe give it a try.

  37. Our first year with our first was pretty hellish. . .now working on the first year with #2. She sleeps pretty well, though perhaps I’m just forgetting how it was with #1–a pretty challenged sleeper. Also, this time we just co-slept from day 1. With #1, we went through phases of him sleeping all night, holding and nursing for all naps, long walks for all naps, driving for naps (sue me), driving down then transferring with mixed success. At about 6 months, I couldn’t get vertical as much as he required each night (sometimes every 45 min), so he ended up in our bed. . .happily every after. He napped a lot, though, and very predictably. He’s 2-1/2 now, and sleeps sort of ok, with a good long nap each day, 1 waking per night, where he basically eventually goes back to sleep b/c I can’t possibly stay awake with him and doze in and out with the occasional growled “it’s dark out, you HAVE to go back to sleep”. (Well, not if he’s so awake that this is upsetting to him.) Oh, and one thing that also helped at around 6 months is we established a Bed Time (whether or not he was on his last sleep for the day), with a very set routine, which is about the same now as it was then. ROUTINE was key key key for him, and doing it at the same time each day.This is a totally new h*** with 2 kids in the bed, and just overall sleep being less, not really the new baby’s fault. Besides, this time I”m having an easier time with perspective. I.e.–I can say to myself: “I know I’ll get a chance to sleep eventually”, and “yes, it’s 4 AM, you always feel desperate at this time. Don’t worry, you can have coffee soon.” and “remember the great leaps–wait til you see what she can do next”.
    I don’t sleep as soundly with the kids in our bed, but we chose it knowing the price and that it’s only a couple of years. My husband loves it as much as I do. To us, it’s worth having the warm little snugglers there, nursing without doing more than leaning a little left. Actually, though, the kids tend to squeeze me pretty hard from 2 – 4:30, such that if I nurse the Bit, I lose the space to roll back onto my back, can’t possibly adjust in any way, get up to pee or even reach for a drink. At 4:30, hubby gets the Bits and sits up with her sleeping on his chest for a couple hours til I’m up. We have white noise, but the kids are really sensitive to each others’ noises, too. Any pointers on bed-sharing with 2?
    The Bits sleeps totally differently so far. LOTS of cat naps all day, 1 longish nap when the toddler is down–mostly she doesn’t want to miss him for a minute. And yes, she is miserably tired some of the time, but what can you do? Can’t leave the 2-1/2’er alone to get her in the quiet/dark/white-noise for sleep. The carrier just results in more fussing like “what??? trying to get me to sleep are you?!?! how dare you!”
    Wow, I think this is a total ramble, but DS is banging wildly in the background . . .and did I mention I’m still sleep-deprived?

  38. @mom2boys – Thank you! We will try it. Last night we changed his diaper and pull up right before we went to bed, after he had been sleeping for about 3 hrs already, and he slept thru the night with no leakage.@blue – Good – I should be more optimistic & I hope that’s the case for our DD, too!
    @stillbecoming – Pointers for bed sharing w/2 – make sure you & DH are always on the same page. Check in with him about his preferences and needs, even if he never says anything and you’re sure he loves it. My DH & I sometimes miss just the 2 of us cuddling in bed, so we needed to make time for that on the sofa & elsewhere. (Funny how it is easier to have sex in random places but not as easy to cuddle). The only other real issues are 1) DS kicking us sometimes (he’s 24 mos but the height of the average 4 year old) – so we erect a barrier by letting him cuddle up with a long body pillow to keep his long 2 year old legs away from his baby sister; and 2) DS’s diaper leaking (see above comment).
    Here’s the thing through. If you’re sleep-deprived you may want to think about sleeping some nights away from the family bed, like just you and the baby, or just you by yourself, to see if that helps you get more rest. I enjoy co-sleeping because it was and is the only way we ALL can get a good night’s sleep, (having tried nearly every other sleep method) but definitely would not be able or willing to do it if I were a light sleeper. I need decent sleep (6 hrs uninterrupted) or I go batty. Good luck!

  39. Why are we talking about this again? There’s tons in the archives about babies and sleep. How about the Q&As on other baby related questions. I know I have sent one in myself on a subject that I know lots of people deal with but for which there is just no info on out there. Moxie, I love you but c’mon….

  40. Wow, this topic is really a timely one for me. I just sent out some questions to an email list I belong to about whether I should try to get my 8 week old to take naps, because she barely sleeps during the day. (Yesterday she slept for an hour, the entire day between 6am and 10pm. It was awful by the end of the day.)On the bright side, BabyT has been an awesome nighttime sleeper from the beginning (please don’t hate me) – we have been oh so lucky. A few times in the first two weeks, I slept through the times I was supposed to wake her to eat, and she had slept 7 hours. After she regained back to her birth weight at the 2 week checkup and we were given the ok to stop waking her to eat, we partied on because she’d sleep 4-6 hours between feedings, and on some nights even 7, which basically meant I’d have to get up either 0 or 1 time to feed her at night. (And there was much rejoicing). Last night she slept for 8 hours – woo hoo!!
    So I really, really feel for you all out there whose babies are waking every 1-2 hours round the clock. I don’t know how you function. The few times BabyT woke up twice, I felt like total crap the next day and was a beeyatch to everyone.
    Today she took some really good naps because I made the effort to swaddle her/rock her/give her paci when she yawned and looked sleepy. I’m curious to see what that does to tonight’s sleep. Hopefully it doesn’t make it worse 😀

  41. I have 4 kids – all oh so different.Baby 1 (now 7) was a great newborn sleeper provided she was on me or next me. Nursing with her was always an hour long ordeal, so we had some long newborn nights. However, she slept through the night in her crib at 9 weeks. Stopped sleeping through the night when I returned to work at 13 weeks and we resumed cosleeping.
    Baby 2 (now 6) slept in 3 hour chunks, nursed efficiently, and could sleep anywhere – so he was an easy newborn. he slept through the night at 10 weeks, but stopped also when I returned to work at 16 weeks.
    Baby 3 seriously slept through the night starting on day 4. He seriously slept anywhere from 6-9 hours from the beginning. We had some hiccups, but in general has been a great napper and sleeper. Interestly though, he is 3 now and often has middle of the night insomnia.
    Baby 4 is almost 4 months old and only sleeps in the swing. He has no schedule and on any given night we can be up anywhere from once to 5 times. Cosleeping does not work because he just ends up nursing all night long and neither one of us gets any sleep. He is not a fan of the crib and prefers to be moving – also likes the stroller, sling, and carseat if you are carrying him in it – MUST BE MOVING. You would think I would have this figured out by child #4, but apparently not. This kid is a great morning napper though – almost 3 hours every morning. The rest of the day is a crapshoot, though 🙂
    I have found with my kids that between 5 and 6 months was a good time to start developing nap schedules. Before that I felt like things changed too often to get into any kind of routine.

  42. I remember this time, the first few months. I couldn’t tell night from day due to the waking and nursing and changing and semi-sleeping. But then it got better. And now it is great.Before pregnancy, I’d always envisioned a family bed or something. We did a sidecar crib thing for about 8 weeks but then he actually slept much better in his crib. That was what he needed. So I’ll say it again: it got better.
    Now I can count on time after 8:30pm when he goes to sleep. Sure, I do job stuff or new company development work so it isn’t “me” time but at least he is sleeping, getting what he needs while I can count on that time to get things done. (This relates I think to an earlier Moxie post about changing roles. I think when, if you’re lucky, the sleep stuff gets worked out then that focus time can get a little easier. ) I do still try to wake up at least 1/2 hr before his usual time to have my coffee and be ready for the day…

  43. @hush–Thank you for your words and thoughts. I’m taking them to heart and thinking about a plan. My big concern is about putting the kids both into bed before we’re there. Kicking isn’t an issue, it’s that DS The Toddler tends to roll/scramble right over pillows in his sleep, so I’m sort of scared he’ll mush the Bits. Do you think he’ll be aware of her in his sleep and not squish her?

  44. @stillbecoming – Although my 2.5 yo is in her own bed in her own room, she doesn’t always stay there and comes in to our room when she wakes up (like last night). At that point, the baby is usually in bed with us too. I also worry about my 2.5 yo kicking and rolling into the baby at night. We keep either me or a big pillow between them, and that has worked for when we are in bed. And actually, she adjusted to the dog being in our bed really well and is careful of the dog during the night, so maybe they do start to sense other beings in bed. But I still worry.Although we haven’t had both of them in bed without one of us there (baby always wakes up when I get up, so I take him with me), my plan for it that happens is to put the baby in the cosleeper. Do you have a bassinet/crib/pack&play that you could put in your room and start the baby off in there until you guys go to bed? We actually start the baby off in the cosleeper or the crib in his nursery every night because I worry about him in our bed without us there (it’s a very high up bed).

  45. @stillbecoming – Same thing @caramama said about the 2 kids not being in bed alone together at the same time. We also have a very high bed. DS goes to bed first, then me, DH, our newborn, and our 11 lb. dog all join DS there a few hours later. We keep our newborn in a moses basket & she starts the night in there until we are all ready to go to bed & she needs a feeding. When she outgrows the moses basket, we’ll put DS’s old crib back in our room for her to start out the nights (and maybe she will sleep there all night long unlike DS…)

  46. Our bed is on the floor, we are too worried about falls. DS has gotten out of bed in his sleep in addition to falling, so we are pretty uptight about it. I’m def not worried about it during the night, just when the night starts and DH and I are not in bed yet. DH is by the wall, then DS in the middle, then me, then the newborn by the large tight-fitting bedgate. So far, DD (4 mo) won’t sleep alone so she’s held for the first part of the night. Inconvenient for productivity and relaxation and married-people-time, but she’s only this tiny once, right? right?!?Sigh, I know it’ll pass, and we keep trying her out sleeping w/o us in her bed (large mattress on the floor ala Montessori). One day maybe she’ll sleep there just fine w/o us for longer than 15 min. Or be big enough to be in bed w/DS.

  47. @stillbecoming – Four months is still so young. I bet she can still curl up like a little tree frog on your chest. That’s how I always thought of T when he was sleeping on me at that age. It does pass quickly in the grand scheme even if the actual minutes from dusk to dawn pass by at an excruciatingly slow speed. T slept best being held for a really long time – like up until eight months or so and didn’t sleep through the night until 15 months or so. Which isn’t to scare you but just to say that looking back it seemed like it would never end and now he’s so big I can barely hold him to rock him when he wakes up now. Your daughter will sleep on a mattress soon enough and your family will adjust to the sleep pattern that works best for you all. Hang in there!

  48. @stillbecoming and mom2boys – it’s so nice to hear other parents talk about babies needing to be held to sleep. This feels like a dirty secret even among my very pro-attachment circle of parent friends! My 6 month old girl has always needed to be carried for sleep, and she has this funny ritual of singing/howling/fussing herself to sleep. It’s pretty funny… if not maddening when I’m desperate for sleep or alone time at night (those emails, that episode of Mad Men!). Daytime, she naps upright (on the sitter), unless it’s the weekend and I can lay down with her. Don’t want to mess with her good naps while working on the nighttime stuff…We cosleep and I love it – the hardest part is just the beginning of the night. Now that she wants to go down by 7:30, it means my husband or I are stuck holding her – no couple time, and only brief, guilt-ridden alone time before it’s my turn again. We’ve tried laying her down asleep, but only for at the most 30 minutes before she’s up again. (and we’ve been working on this since she was less than 4 months old!) In the last 3 weeks, have also tried starting to lay her down almost asleep, and actually succeeded for a night or two before she was on to us. Some nights I’m tempted to do CIO but I don’t think she or I have the temperament for it (thanks Moxie!). Did I mention she won’t take a bottle either? (so no date nights…)
    This will change, right? I won’t be holding her to sleep while helping her study for calculus, right?

  49. Baby #1 (now 6yo) – a fabulous sleeper from day one. We had to set our alarm to wake him up to eat in the very beginning.Baby#2 (now 2) – well, let’s just say, not so much.
    Yes, babies are different!

  50. Co-sleeping takes care of a ton of problems especially if you are working during the day.Your sleep is still interrupted but at least you aren’t forced to get out of bed and you can crash in the 2 seconds it takes to insert the boob, rub or burb the babe.
    It was easier to handle the hunger, the startle reflex, thirst, fear, sniffles, whatever. I could never do that CIO stuff.
    Both kids (5 and 3) are amazing sleepers now (from about age 2 1/2).
    It was hard not getting enough sleep for so long, but I think the human-presence was really key for instilling in them a sense of security and associating sleeping with warmth and love.

  51. Ditto Geek in Rome. My babe is only 7.5 months, and I know very well my next could be completely different. But, I feel the only way to get the most rest possible and have stress free nights is to sleep with the baby.No need to train (ugh, seriously is it a baby or a dog?), no need to CIO and have mama end up in tears, too. The first month we woke 3 or 4 times. The second month it was down to 2. Since three months I sleep 8 hrs+ a night, waking once to switch sides for nursing.

  52. We’re one week away from the first birthday and last night I had 5 hours of sleep, up for ten minutes and back to sleep for 3 hours. It was HEAVEN! My little guy is not a candidate for CIO as he can easily outlast my husband and I in the screaming department…. uh like the time he went on a nursing strike?!! I have, at times, tried to take him from 2 hours to 3 when it’s really bad and he always cries the entire time. The nine month sleep regression was 8 weeks of hell. Vaccinations are also tough – usually disturb his sleep for at least a week. Damn that H1N1. It wreaked havoc on November sleep.I decided in the end to just make peace with my lack of sleep as adjusting my expectations was easier than trying to find a solution. He’s getting enough sleep – naps ok during the day, has a great bedtime routine, falls asleep after nursing most times. It’s just me. Also, coffee is my lifesaver. I look forward to my two cups in the morning and CANNOT cope without. I tried everything in the beginning and finally decided that cutting out caffeine had no effect on baby whatsover.

  53. Has anyone had experience with this:Dear girl (4 months) nightwakes…fine. But once per night is a 2 hour stretch–always a different 2 hours, always wants to play. We don’t pick her up from her crib and have tried alternative entertainments–fishy lit aquariums, mobiles, soother, teddy bears, woobies, total darkness. Nothin. No one ever writes about these midnight partiers, so I’m wondering–do I have the only one?
    I should add, she doesn’t have her days and nights mixed, as she stays up during the day, with a few naps in there. Bedtime is a 6:30 (we’ve tried keeping her up to no avail), has been since she was born. Others with the 2 hour crazies, please chime in!

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