Help with newborn please!(37 Posts)
My DS is nearly 3 weeks old and I feel very out of my depth. I've never really had experience with babies before and so am very much just making this up as I go along and the tireder I get, the harder I'm finding it!! I was wondering when and how I should start to introduce a routine for naps / sleep?
A colleague of mine recommended Gina Ford (seems to be a bit divisive on MN) but after reading it, it seems very restrictive to life in reality - eg having to be home in blackout rooms for every nap doesn't seem very conducive to everyday life?
Does anyone have any suggestions of a routine that worked for them (including day time nap times) and when to start introducing it?
DS is combination fed (breastfed mainly but one bottle of formula given at night usually around midnight) if that's relevant?
I know all babies are different but I'm really looking for any sort of guidance as a starting point!
Thank you in advance x
I think 3 weeks is a bit early to notice a routine. You’ll find it just happens.
There’s a phase after birth they go through where they are adjusting to being out of the womb. So sleep patterns are disturbed, they haven’t adjust to the idea of night and day etc. I remember literally holding my daughter for the first 6 weeks and barely getting any sleep.. I know that’s not helpful right now though.
Do you find they fall asleep in the car or pram? If you’re after a bit of rest bite you could go for a little drive and park up once they’re sleeping. Used to go to McDonald’s for a coffee all the time in the first 3/4 months lol. But I breastfed also, so found I was mainly feeding in the day. Not much of a sleep routine, DD just slept usually during or after a feed and it was night time I struggled with the most as she’d be wide awake all of a sudden at midnight and would take ages to get her to sleep.
After 6 weeks I introduced swaddling, which this time around (38 weeks now) I am definitely going to introduce sooner, as it helped me massively to get my DD into her crib and out of my bed, and for me it was a game changer as I was no longer on the edge of the bed all night.
Don’t worry though. It’s hard with your first. Even mums with experience struggle with newborns and that transition period. Things will settle!
@Blondiejay24 thank you very much for coming back to me.
Yeah I thought 3 weeks was too early initially but I think I got confused by all the conflicting advice online that I have foolishly been googling endlessly 😂 some articles say to wait til 6 weeks but then some say start immediately! Lots of things say that you should limit day time naps so they sleep at night .. but I can't find many suggestions of what to actually limit day time naps too .. plus I figure he's only 3 weeks so surely needs all the sleep he's getting at the moment! It's all so confusing!!
He does fall asleep in the car but I'm so scared of introducing that as a tactic. A friend of ours has to drive his three DC around every single night before bed now because of this so I was a bit fearful of introducing that!
I guess I'm more sort of trying to plan for the future and think right as soon as he's six weeks we will have this wonderful routine and he will he sleeping through the night 🤣 which I know is just ludicrous .. but trying to keep myself positive in my sleep deprived state right now!!
But if all babies sort of set their our routines then I just have to be a bit patient and let him figure it out himself?
At this age I liked the Baby Whisperer. It’s less rigid than Gina Ford but gives a bit of structure to your day.
Later on, I liked to have quite a strict Gina Ford-style routine inside my head as a guideline, but was very relaxed about actually sticking to it. So I’d be thinking “right, he’ll need a nap around noon” and sort of aim for that, but if we were out and about or it just didn’t happen I wouldn’t get stressed.
I think they tend to get into a routine around 12 weeks.
Haha sleep through at 6 weeks? I think.. probably not! It’s not unheard of, but most don’t sleep through until weaning and beyond. My DD was nearly 12 months, however once she did she slept through every night and has done since.
You could read all the books in the world but your baby will sleep when he sleeps. Getting a bed time routine is important, but again, it takes time. From day one we’d bath every night, then I’d feed and try and get her down by 8.00 but it took ages until we had a real routine. And then it would all go to pot when we had a sleep regression or growth spurt. At this age newborns will sleep a lot during the day. Enjoy it while you can, even if the night times are a mess. If he naps, try putting him down and relaxing. Even if you don’t sleep, just put your feet up and enjoy it. Or enjoy cuddles while he sleeps on you. You won’t build a rod for your own back, I promise. Do what works for you. I’d do sleeping is the only way to get a good sleep, co sleep, and if you can’t co sleep like I couldn’t as it drained me with worry, I would definitely suggest swaddling after a feed and getting one of those projectors/ white noise things. That helped me get my DD sleeping in her own cot/crib by 6 weeks and although she was still waking at night 3/5 times I was getting some decent sleep in between feeds. X
Is a routine something you want to have or something you feel like you should have?
At 3 weeks I really wouldn’t be trying to enforce any nap/feed times (and definitely don’t limit daytime naps!) but if you feel like having some structure to your day would help you, you can start doing particular things at set times. Bath or top and tail in the evening, get out for a walk after lunch, sort of thing. Try to make nights different from days - keep lights low, quiet voices, no playtime for night wakings,
If you’re mostly breastfeeding then strict Gina Ford type routines won’t work well with most babies, they need feeding on demand at this age and will likely cluster feed for hours to boost your milk supply. But you might well start noticing patterns emerging with naps and feeds after the next few weeks, and then you can sort of build on that if you feel it suits you.
Just go with the flow. As soon as they find a routine it will change again, not worth stressing to enforce one. Dc slept in the lounge during the day so became used to light and noise then , quiet and dark at night. When dc becomes more alert and curious it is worth trying to get out more regularly.
I would say 3 weeks is much too early for a routine. Tbh my advice would just be to take the lead from your baby. Let him sleep and feed when he needs to. IME limiting day time naps never works, not even when they are 2 years old never mind a few months. All you end up with is a very tired. Grumpy baby who is over tired and wakes even more in the night
Do whatever makes it easier for you at this stage. I'd say a routine is a little optimistic at this stage, especially with BFing where you're probably still cluster feeding in the evening to build your supply.
I'm the most routine oriented person, I found that with time DD started to find her own routine in terms of feeds and sleep and so I went with that and gently encouraged her.
If the baby will sleep lying down in a cot or moses basket, I'd encourage that - DD had reflux and could only sleep when held vertically so that was a complete pain.
Basically, just relax as much as you can (very much easier said than done with a newborn!) and play the baby that's in front of you at any moment. It's suuuuch early days, things will get more predictable.
I agree with majority of posters. You gotta just go with the flow as newborns need to feed on demand and nap erratically. By 5 weeks I had to introduce rocking to sleep because my baby suddenly fought sleep. He still does at 15 weeks. I stick to a rough routine now but I can tell he's not ready to fall asleep on his own.
I'm sure you're doing a great job. As a first time mum myself, I know exactly where you're coming from. Not being able to go out and run my day how I wanted upset me a lot at first. Now I have strategies such as putting him in a sling when I absolutely want to go for a coffee and doing 1 nap a day in his stroller so I get some exercise and fresh air.
Hang in there! And don't let yourself become a hermit.
Just wanted to say I'm sure you're doing a great job. Everything is a phase and you will naturally move onto the next stage. It just feels like it will be like this forever. It won't! I promise!!
Oh it's so hard at first, I really sympathise!
I'm quite a routiney person generally so I wanted some guidelines to follow but agreed that Gina Ford was too militant. I bought Rachel Waddilove's book... She's a really old fashioned maternity nurse (the royals have apparently used her) but everything she advises is just so SENSIBLE. She advocates a routine but tells you how to flex it to fit with your own life. Best of all, she breaks the routines down per baby stage, so newborns, 6 weeks to 3 months, 3 months to 6 months, and so on. I've recommended her book 'How to Enjoy Year One' to several friends who have found it really helpful as well. She has a good balance between being childcentric but also acknowledging that the parents still need a life and their sanity!
PS I never did feeding on demand. It helps admittedly that DS was bottle fed (first expressed milk then formula) but I would have gone insane if I was totally at the mercy of my baby for weeks on end. I fed every 3 hours at first, then from 4 weeks onwards every 4 hours.
ArtichokeArdvark, it’s easier to pace feed when feeding from a bottle, but when feeding from the breast it’s inpossible as baby will take what they need when they need it. Breast milk adapts to whether they are thirsty or hungry etc, so typically it’s normal to feed as often as baby needs and having breast fed solely I never encountered any problem doing it that way and never had any problems when I wanted to cut down breastfeeding or when we decided to stop. If anything I found it convenient. If I was out and about and baby wanted a feed I fed. Was never an inconvenience.
I appreciate not everyone wants to do this, but advising to pace feed when OP is only giving one bottle and is otherwise breastfeeding is not recommended practice. Not trying to offend you though.
Thank you all so much!
@53rdWay I think it's a mixture of both. I will go insane if my days don't ever have any structure but also everything I've read suggests the way to good sleeping is a good routine.
@Sianlouise432 I'm counting down the days til I can put him in a sling! He was only 5lbs 6oz when he was born so is still far too small for most slings. We also have cats so I can't leave him to nap while I do some chores without shutting him in a room by himself which I'm not comfortable with at this stage! Luckily DP has become something of a domestic god in these last few weeks and has even learnt how to load and unload the dishwasher 🤣
@ArtichokeAardvark thank you! I'll order that book and get reading!
I think it's all just such a massive learning curve at the moment and I didn't quite realise that there would be such a transition from sleepy new born to much more awake new born! I rather ignorantly spent the first two weeks thinking this was great and he was such a good sleeper compared to what I was expecting 🤦🏻♀️😂 more fool me!!
@Blondiejay24 Not offended at all, it's horses for courses. However demand feeding is relatively new advice after decades of pace feeding, whether by breast or bottle. Both methods work, it depends on the mother and the child. The book I mentioned and recommended to OP advocates pace feeding after 2 weeks even if exclusively breast feeding.
but also everything I've read suggests the way to good sleeping is a good routine
Yeah, but mostly written by people who are trying to sell you books about that routine...
I would definitely try to slowly and gently try to get some kind of routine in place over the next few months if you’re a routine-y person. But there is sadly no guaranteed way to good sleeping. Babies who are more amenable to settling in a routine are often more amenable to sleeping well, but if you have a baby that just won’t sleep, thinking that you can fix it so long as you get the right routine in place is just going to drive you both to tears.
(I had one that didn’t sleep and loathed routines, and one that does sleep and had put herself in a rough routine by 2 months without me really doing anything.)
The book I mentioned and recommended to OP advocates pace feeding after 2 weeks even if exclusively breast feeding.
Yeah, but that wouldn’t work for most breastfed babies. Mothers have indeed been advised against demand feeding for decades, but those decades are when breastfeeding rates tanked! Most of the ‘maternity gurus’ give pretty useless advice on breastfeeding to be honest (I see you, Baby Whisperer and your ‘measure your milk supply by doing a yield test’ advice)
Have a read up on the fourth trimester online. You'll soon realise you're not alone and that it's all completely normal for LO age! Xx
About 6 weeks I started a proper routine. I don’t know if baby was ready or not I just put him in a routine. He Started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks too. First i introduced bath bottle bed. Start with that. Johnson’s lavender bedtime wash. Every baby is different though. Does your baby sleep through the night?
My little one is nearly 6 months and id say a proper sleep routine has only started the last 6 weeks!
@RaiderGirl94 he doesn't sleep through but he does have longer stretches between feeds than in the day. A typical night has seen feeds at 730pm, 9/10pm, 1/2am (bottle feed), 5/6am and 8/9am. I guess ideally I'd like to drop the 5/6am feed to give us a good stretch of sleep but am fully aware that he is far too young to be considering dropping feeds at this stage.
When you've started your routine and put him to bed, did you put him to bed in your bedroom? Or keep him with you until you went to bed? That's the other thing I'm confused about .. safe sleep says they must be in the same room as you when sleeping .. but all routines I've read suggest 'putting them to bed' .. does this mean we have also got to go to bed at 7pm?!
The more I've googled (which I know is dangerous) the more I think he may be suffering from silent reflux. Someone posted a link on another thread and all the symptoms listed, DS has 🤔. Yesterday we started using infacol at the health visitors suggestion and have put the reflux tilt on his snuzpod but typically his 'screaming episodes' come during the day rather than at night .. so I'm not really sure what else I can do? Again, I don't know if this is totally normal behaviour for a 3 week old and they are just supposed to have crying fits for a few hours a day now they're waking up or if he actually is suffering from something?
I realise I'm starting to sound slightly mad with my endless theorising! I'm not used to not really knowing what I'm doing and I'm finding it quite a hard adjustment! If only he could tell me how to help him 😂.
Thank you all for all your help though, I really appreciate any guidance you can give me!
I think ds was about 13 weeks before we started putting him upstairs to bed after his 7pm feed but that was because he was sleeping through till 7am then, i dont think i would have bothered if he was wanting a feed at say 10pm id just wait and take him up with me after that
OP, little heads up......we were all just winging it with our first 😁😁😁
Dont put too much pressure on yourself and go with the flow a little. My DS was only a 5lb 14 when he was born, they are just so tiny.
I think as others have said a little bit of routine is good, it will probably help you more than baby at this stage, but as he grows he will associate with the routine.
Sounds like DP is mucking in, so tiy just concentrate on you and baby and the old cliches the main one to adhere to
Sleep when baby sleeps
I'm fairly sure a lot of slings/wraps are suitsable from 5lbs no?
There's no need for a routine for months yet, definitely not limiting naps so very early. In the first months (up to about 4 at least) our routine was usually like awake 1 hour, nap 1 hour, awake 1 hour and so on, so not set times but just noticing the pattern. Dc2 is 18 months now and it's awake for 3-4 hours, 1.5 hour nap, then awake for whole afternoon, so not set times, just his pattern that suits him.
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