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Parents of small babies...

(18 Posts)
Pippaandpolly Mon 10-Oct-11 19:24:35 do you split the night? Or do you at all? DD is 3 weeks old and DH is back at work. He needs sleep in order to function properly at work and I need it in order to properly look after DD all day. I recognise nights of 8 hours + are a thing of the past (at least for the foreseeable future!) bur realistically a few hours a night are necessary. Last night DH was exhausted so I did the whole night-between feedings (formula, so the whole palaver of making bottles included), windings, DD taking ages to fall asleep and needing lots of cuddles, trying to put her in her basket, her waking up again, nappy changes etc etc I reckon I got about 2 hours in total. Now, part of this is me being new to the whole thing, not as organised as I am sure I will learn to be, and DD wanting to fall asleep on me rather than in her basket so I can't fall asleep until I've managed to put her down, which is an issue we need to work on as it definitely makes it harder. We can't co-sleep incidentally as the mattress is memory foam. I did last night in the nursery with her so DH wouldn't be disturbed but obviously it would be better to have her in with us (not us in with her, if you see what I mean) so we can share our bed as normal!

So how do people do it? She feeds on demand but is roughly in a self imposed 3-4 hour 'schedule'. We fed her at 6 she's likely to be hungry again around 9 or 10, 1 or 2 etc. So far we've tried taking a night on/off but this is really hard on DH when he's going to work, doing alternate feeds and sleeping in the nursery (so swapping beds at various points in the night), DH doing nappies and me doing feeds so we're both up each time but for slightly less time, having her in our room but taking her out for feeds etc so one or other of us can stay in bed...etc. None of these are workable long term.

How do people do it?! Apart from just not getting any sleep at all for the first few months! Any advice gratefully received.

LeoTheLateBloomer Mon 10-Oct-11 19:34:33

Right, firstly, it's early days and you will get into more of a routine.

I BFed so I can't comment on the whole process of preparing bottles, but my instinct is to say that you can sleep during the day when your baby sleeps, whereas your DH can't. I know it's not ideal because there are probably 101 other things you feel you should be doing instead, but it's worth trying.

I would also say that if it means less disruption maybe staying in your DD's room would be best for the time being. You and your DH being in the same bed isn't, imo, the priority at the moment, so if it makes your nights easier then I would do that.

How often are you changing her nappy in the night? Do they really need doing? I always thought demand-feeding was more a bf thing. Is there any way you can get her into more spread out time intervals?

rubyslippers Mon 10-Oct-11 19:40:05

Why are you both up?

If your DH is back at work then can you get him to do night feeds Friday and Satirday so you can catch up on sleep?

With DD I breastfed so DH didn't do any night feeds or wakings So weekends were a chance for me to catch up on some kip

You must also sleep in the day when your DD does

Try swaddling to help settle your baby

Hang on in there - it does get easier

Oh, and go to bed when your DD does. If you can get 3 hours after her 9 pm feed get yourself ot bed

If you are bottle feeding you can get cartons of pre mixed formula to use at night

Nevercan Mon 10-Oct-11 19:50:47

We split the night into two shifts so each person gets a block of sleep. DH did first half as stayed up late anyway and I did second half so he was ok for work. Whoever was on shift slept in the same room as baby to minimise disturbance. Not very romantic but needs must for a short time and it keeps you both same!
Nappies are v absorbent so you probably should not need to change baby too often during the night.
Make up your feeds prior to bedtime and then just remove from fridge and heat as needed
You will figure out the best way for you both smile

Pudding2be Mon 10-Oct-11 20:39:00

My DD is 6 weeks old and this is what we do;

I take her to bed with me at about nine (she sleeps in a Moses basket next to our bed). Her next feed is about 1 ish, which my DP doesn't mind doing, then I do the four/five oclock feed

I do change her nappy after each feed because she usually needs it. I've found Huggies are more absorbent than pampers myself

Now wrt bottles - I make them in advance at night and keep them in the fridge. If you don't want to do that then buy the ready made cartons for night feeds and save yourself some much needed time

If your struggling to get wind up try putting your DC on your shoulder

I've found it difficult to sleep when she sleep, I'd drift off then when she'd wake up I'd feel worse. If you can't sleep try resting instead

It does get easier, although i didn't think it would be this hard. If your mum or anyone offer to help for a couple of hours it does help

Catsu Mon 10-Oct-11 20:45:00

Only change nappy if it's a poo one!
I have a 6 week old dc3 and two older dc.
What's always worked well for us is for me to go to bed early, say 8pm if im tired and dh to do the 10pm feed while I am asleep. That way if next feed is not till 1am ish I will have had a good 4 or 5 hour chunk of sleep to set me up for the night ahead. Then I do all the rest of the night shift. Dh gets a full nights sleep to be able to work productively and at the weekend dh will do a whole night of baby feeding if I am very tired and I will get a full nights sleep to catch up!

Dont forget its only short term though! It can seem so overwhelming when baby is very young but even a few weeks on it will be very different (my dc at 6 weeks only wakes once now and was similar to yours at 3 weeks)

LittleWaveyLines Mon 10-Oct-11 20:45:51

Could you put something on your mattress so she can cosleep next to you? A mat or moses basket mattress for instance?

I found just accepting the fact that I would be tired helped a bit. Hallucinated with lack of sleep a couple of times, but it gets better. Sometimes now I even have 3 hours sleep in a row! (15 weeks DD). Certainly go to bed when your DC does - I'm in bed now about to log off and go to sleep....

Oh and don't change the nappy in the night unless it's pooey - just use loads of barrier cream - took me to about 8 weeks to work that one out and got loads more sleep as a result!

Weissbier Mon 10-Oct-11 20:49:48

I second everything Nevercan says, particularly the shift system. Separate bedrooms, one parents sleeps, the other is with baby. Not very romantic but with everyone in one room nobody gets any sleep.

I used to do until 5AM, then DH took over as he didn't have to go to work until 9 or 10 and I would get 4 or 5 hours' sleep. I found that enough with napping a bit with the baby during the day and going to bed early. You'll find the best time for you according to how much sleep you and your DH need. My best friend did like Nevercan and went to bed really early and her DH did until midnight.

It will get better though! You might have one of those babies who only wake up once at 4AM by the time they're six weeks! (I didn't, but thanks to the shift system it didn't matter).

clarejane Tue 11-Oct-11 15:31:20

I second what everyone else has said - DH works all day and I am with DS. It is very bloody hard in the beginning but it will get easier! Accept the fact that you and DH are not going to be sleeping in the same bed on a regular basis for a while. My hubby would take over 6am so I could get a few hours before he left. Sleep during the day. Go to bed early. Sod the housework. Minimize night nappy changes. Have everything you need overnight organised and easy to reach. Learn to sleep sitting up with baby on chest (and piles of pillows around you!). Know that this too will pass!

Deliaskis Tue 11-Oct-11 15:42:47

When DD was tiny, we did something a bit like Nevercan suggests.

We fed her at 6.30 ish and put her to bed at around 7pm. DH would usually do this feed while I made our tea, then we would eat as soon as she had gone to sleep, then I would often go to bed around 8.30ish, DH would do the late feed which for us was around 10.30. I then did the 3am ish one (by which point I had had a minimum of 5 hours, usually over 6, and then back down and he often got her up around 7 and I had another half hour. It fit in reasonably with his normal working sleeping time, but gave us both a big block of sleep.

We didn't sleep separately tho, just crept in and out (and TBH I often had one ear open when he was feeding at 10.30), but it's not like being properly up.

It worked fine tho for that time. Obviously there are odd nights when the wheels fall off the wagon and I needed help between 11 and 6 or he needed to go to bed early too. I actually started to dread having to do the late feed more than the 3am as getting up when you're just off in a deep sleep is harder than getting up after you've had a good few hours.

I know you are feeding on demand, but if you can do anything to push the 9-10pm feed as late as possible before DH goes to bed, then you will soon only have one proper 'night' feed and maybe an early morning.

Agree with no nappy changes at night unless absolutely have to. We used to actually deliberately do one at 10.30 so she would wake a bit more and feed properly, rather than a half-hearted attempt. That seemed to help her go longer after that.


Deliaskis Tue 11-Oct-11 15:45:09

And PS you are making bottles up for the whole night aren't you? We used to make them all up before bed, then fast chill them then fridge them for the night, so just a few seconds to warm, not like actually boiling kettle and mixing in the night.

Booboostoo Tue 11-Oct-11 16:12:12

I bf sleeping down, co-sleep, no nappy changes and sleep in a different room from DP...but I haven't slept for 4 months! Sorry to be of no help whatsoever, but I would kill for a good night's sleep! Last two nights she has been feeding constantly (growth spurt? again????) and I feel like a zombie.

Booboostoo Tue 11-Oct-11 16:12:53

for "sleeping down" read "lying down" I said, I am more sleep walking than awake during the day!

Deliaskis Tue 11-Oct-11 16:22:21

Also we did a [whispers in hushed tones] GF style split feed at teatime, so a smaller bottle at 5pm, and then another one at 6.30, so she was properly full before bed, which meant we then got her up for the late feed (the 10.30 one) rather than her waking, and the timing of that helped to get the timing of the 3am ish one fairly consistent. Once we did this we only ever did one proper night feed, the 3am one, and DD dropped that of her own accord around 8 weeks.

Obviously it will wax and wane a bit, I don't believe in imposing a rigid structure (despite mentioning she who must not be named), but I do believe in making your own tweaks or just manipulating it a little bit where baby doesn't notice, and it makes a big difference to your physical and mental health.


macysmummy21 Tue 11-Oct-11 21:12:03

Congratulations on becoming a new Mummy and Daddy :-)

I have an 11 month old and we were like you at the start.

My LO was up every 45mins-1hour all night for the first 6weeks or so and it was impossible for us both to cope when we were both up.

So we split it in nights abouts. One person would sleep in the living room with earplugs while the other was on baby duty in the bedroom. If it was a particularly bad night OH would usually swap get me at 3am so he could catch 4hours sleep before work and I was going to bed early so I'd had a good 6hours by that time and could grab a nap in the day.

A few things to help your little one sleep -

Cluster feed and dreamfeed - squeeze the last two feeds of the day in quickly so your LO goes to bed on a nice and full tummy. Then add another feed at 10.30/11 (who ever was on night duty did this so the other person could get an early night and a good 8-10hours if they wanted). So your LO could feed at -
7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm then go in and dreamfeed at 11pm (pick LO up and feed in sleep, she might wake the first few nights but quickly baby will start to finish the bottle and go back in basket without falling asleep). My little one never took very well to cluser feeds so we kept them to 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm with a 10.30ish dreamfeed.

Bedtime routine - at 7.30pm start to quieten things down, close the curtains, turn TVs off, a warm, quiet bath, cuddles and bottle. Don't change anything until it's well established.

To put LO down do a tight swaddle and buy something like a cheap air purifier (there's a Lloyds Pharmacy one that I use that can be found online for about £8) which will make just a bit of white noise to keep LO settled.

You can either choose to rock/cuddle baby to sleep or try to get baby to fall asleep on own. I prefer to let them fall asleep on own with the help of a dummy. I also used a Prince Lionheart Slumber Bear which was a godsend! It plays recorded womb noises and everytime LO cries or moves in the night it goes off for 5mins to settle LO back down. We bought it when LO was 3 or 4 weeks old and it was our best buy! We only got rid of it a couple of months ago. It takes a while to get used to sleeping through it but you will.

Use a blackout blind from bedtime to 6am too (not that you need to in these horrible mornings!) and if LO wakes use a teeny nightlight with no stimulation or interaction. Buy good nappies and only change if it's pooey!

With feeds I used to make in advance, chill in fridge and then transfer to a thermal bottle bag to keep cold overnight. I had a little bottle warmer I kept in the bedroom and I popped the bottle in it as soon as I heard LO stirring and by the time she woke fully the bottle was ready. All I did was pick her up, quickly feed her then tighten the swaddle and get her back down.

Hang in there xx

themagicno4 Tue 11-Oct-11 23:29:46

Lots of good advice, i am going through it with a 5 week and have the hindsight of 3 previous,to ensure harmonious relations with your other half I would send him to spare room, sun to thurs, and take it as a challenge, once a routine gets established it really won t be as tiring. Completely agree, don't change nappy unless it's poo, also don't warm milk, I recommend using one of those avent containers that you pre measure the milk into, then take the bottles up with you with and add powder as required. Also, importantly ask him to take over fri and sat and get as much sleep as possible. Have naps together in the day at the weekend, try and have a laugh - it ll go quickly and you have to ride it out together. When you figure out what you're doing spell it out to him so he knows exactly what to do to be consistent.

Swaddle and tuck in tight in Moses basket, if they need to suck on a dummy give one, I use it to calm mine and when dd starts shutting her eyes I just remove.

Also at weekends don't waste precious sleep time having over loads of visitors or doing mad long shopping trips while your little one is asleep, get into bed and have some zzzzzzzzzz.

First babies are a baptism of fire, good luck.

Pippaandpolly Thu 13-Oct-11 10:25:15

Apologies for such a delayed response-thank you all so much for these ideas. And the one about putting the Moses basket mattress on top of our mattress is GENIUS! Thank you grin

With regard to making up bottles in advance, is this something that is generally done by lots of people? Even my midwife said to do it but all the books etc say it's a cardinal it one of those things that you're not meant to do but in reality everyone does and it's fine?! Between waiting for the kettle to boil, cool for half an hour and then holding the bottle under the cold tap for an age making a bottle takes 45 mins minimum! And DD doesn't feed quite regularly enough for me to always preempt it. Have got cartons but they're so expensive.

Nevercan Thu 13-Oct-11 11:44:40

It might be a sin but a practical one lol! I have always made up 2-3 bottles in advance for my two and put them fridge. Then you just need to get them out and heat them. my two are both fit and well smile

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