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Newborn sleeping "best practice"

(27 Posts)
helsybells Mon 29-Oct-12 09:14:08

My little girl is 5 weeks old and at present she is cuddled to sleep in arms or babasling during the day and fed to sleep at night. She sleeps for 2-3 hours between night feeds and is fairly sporadic during the day as to when she wakes/sleeps and how long for.

I'm happy with this arrangement but I'm now wondering if I'm making a rod for my own back by rocking cuddling feeding to sleep. If I put her down in her cot she is often calm for sometime but fusses and eventually cries, never falls asleep by herself.

I would like to try and avoid problems later on with sleeping so is there anything I could/should be doing differently now to avoid problems later on? Most sources of info I have looked at say it's too early to teach her to fall asleep by herself. Is this so? Is there a middle ground??

Ragwort Mon 29-Oct-12 11:31:43

You will get lots of different advice on this subject - but I never cuddled my DS to sleep, I lay him in his cot, (for naps and bedtime), patted him a couple of times and left the room. It worked for us and he has never, ever had any sleep problems (he's now 11!) but a lot of mumsnetters won't approve of this grin.

sparklekitty Mon 29-Oct-12 12:14:26

Oooo, interesting as I'm in almost exactly the same situation. My dd will hardly let us put her down during the day unless she is totally out of it. I cuddle/feed her to sleep and we co-sleep (not originally planned but the only way we can save our sanity)

I'm also worried I'm creating a clingy child that will never sleep on her own!

helsybells Mon 29-Oct-12 16:54:07

Wow Ragwort - I fear we're well past that stage.

One of my other problems is I feel bad leaving her alone in a dark room for most of the day even if she is asleep!!!

KatAndKit Mon 29-Oct-12 17:14:57

There is no such thing as a rod for your own back. Babies' needs change as they grow older. Just because you have to rock a newborn to sleep doesn't mean you will still need to do it when they are five! What works now might not work next month. Many very young babies do not self settle, mine certainly doesn't. Some lucky parents have babies who will self settle, but if yours isn't one of them, leaving them to cry is not a good idea for such a young baby.

helsybells Mon 29-Oct-12 17:23:20

Gosh I would and could never leave her to cry. But just seeing if there are better ways of getting her to sleep than I am currently using. Rather new at all this and all!!smile

KatAndKit Mon 29-Oct-12 17:55:35

There is no such thing as a "better way". The best way is what works best for your baby and results in everyone in the house having the most possible sleep. Not suggesting you were leaving her to cry, just saying that crying might well be what would happen if you gave her a pat and left her on her own at such a young age, which isn't good. One day she will go to sleep on her own when she is good and ready. Unfortunately for our modern ways, babies are born with survival instincts such as not falling asleep away from their mothers - they need to feel safe from predators. Also they are used to the rocking motion that they experienced in the uterus.

Since she is sleeping as well as can be expected at night, and you have also found ways to soothe her in the day, just stick with it unless something stops working, then you find a new way. There is no "wrong" way if you are happy with what you are doing.

twizzlestix Mon 29-Oct-12 20:44:19

My baby is a similar age (7 wks) and my health visitor told me that rocking/feeding her to sleep was going to create night time issues and I should leave her in her basket to self settle just pat her tummy and shh!!!! Was so angry and sad at the thought especially when she said she might cry for an hour!!! Needless to say, I'm not taking her advice.

Welovecouscous Mon 29-Oct-12 20:45:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

helsybells Tue 30-Oct-12 04:13:27

Goodness twizzles how awful your HV is going round and advising people like that! There must be plenty who are unsure of themselves who take her advice!! sad

helsybells Tue 30-Oct-12 04:14:09

Aww thanks for nice message welovecouscous! smilesmile

I am it sounds like you're doing everything right. I believe all babies are different - some will fall asleep quickly by themselves if put down, others would cry for hours if left and work themselves into a state of not being able to sleep.
I had the second kind of baby, sometimes he wouldn't even sleep with being rocked or fed but mostly that's what worked to make him happy so that's what I did.

I honestly think babies and children need to feel secure in order to drift off but of course that will mean different things to different babies. FWIW DS is now almost 21 months old and for the past few months has fallen asleep by himself generally within 5-10 minutes. He was not an easy sleeper before this, I can only think it happened because we followed his lead and he did it in his own time.

At 5 weeks I really wouldn't be worried about creating bad habits. I wasted so much of the early days panicking about this, it all comes good in the end. My advice is keep doing what works and enjoy those snuggles while she's small enough not to wriggle away!

blushingmare Tue 30-Oct-12 15:33:54

I'm no expert and definitely haven't got my LO's sleep "sorted" by any means, but I just wanted to echo what others have said about don't worry about creating a rod for your own back - I spent ages worrying about this and am much happier now I'm going with the flow!

My dd sounds very like your's and most of her early weeks of sleep (day and night - [bleary eyed emoticon] was spent on me. We then progressed to sling in the day and cosleeping at night. We've now progressed to feeding to sleep and transferring to crib at night and mixture of sling and pram (endless walking!) during the day. She's 20 weeks now and every so often she will just go off to sleep straight away in the pram, or resettle with only a minor bit of crib rocking in the middle of the night and this gives me hope that slowly slowly the self settling is coming.

You will find that as she gets older she will start to establish a pattern of sleep. For herself, which you can then follow and you know what you're roughly aiming for in the day. So for example, with my dd, I know that she has a morning nap, a long if I can get her to stay asleep lunchtime nap and a late afternoon nap. I know that she starts to get tired about an hour and a half after waking so try to plan our day around things that will induce sleep - ie. making sure I'm doing something that means I can wear her in the sling, or planning a walk out or a long car journey etc. And I know that anything after about 5pm
Is likely to result in an overtired inconsolable baby, so this is when we start our bath and bedtime routine. Your LO is probably too young for that kind of structure at the moment, but she will start to establish it for herself in the next few weeks so just look out for the signs.

And something I have to keep telling myself is sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and if it doesn't don't beat yourself up about it!

Not sure if that's answered your question at all, but that's just been my experience so far!

Oh, and some babies are just "good sleepers" - I have a friend who just tucked her baby up in his cot and walked out the door and he would take himself off to sleep from 6 weeks old! can't help but think this was false advertising when we saw him and decided to start ttc

aliphil Wed 31-Oct-12 19:09:48

You will find that as she gets older she will start to establish a pattern of sleep. For herself, which you can then follow and you know what you're roughly aiming for in the day.

When is this likely to happen? I am in a similar situation to the OP, except that my DD is 11 weeks old. The health visitor said at the 6-8 week check-up that we should start putting her down when sleepy but still awake, so we tried that, and she screamed blue murder until picked up and soothed, then started again when put down - in fact she ended up screaming even while DH or I was holding her. :-( We tried it again this week with the same result. At least at night she sometimes stays asleep once put down; in the daytime she instantly wakes up and cries if put down, unless she's in the car.

aliphil Wed 31-Oct-12 19:13:04

Also I don't see how to establish a bedtime routine; I am demand feeding and the times she wants to feed seem to vary wildly day to day. Feeling useless. :-(

WeAreSix Wed 31-Oct-12 19:21:58

My baby was cuddled to sleep, fed to sleep, rocked to sleep. She is now a super confident 9 year old who has no problem sleeping in her own bed. My 7 year old is the same. So is my 4 year old. And my 13 week old baby is now asleep in my arms, and she'll be fine going into her own bed too smile

Enjoy the precious baby days, they're over all too quickly.

blushingmare Wed 31-Oct-12 20:00:50

aliphil don't feel useless! You're doing an amazing job. I don't think it matters that you're demand feeding. I'm still demand feeding at 20 weeks and plan to carry on doing so. The loose "routine", such as it is, that we've established just fits in around that. So I guess the routine bit of it is around the sleeps and the feeding just happens as and when.

Please don't think from what I'm writing that I'm either an expert, or have got my baby's sleep sorted - its far from that, but there are a few things I found helped me feel like I had a little bit more control of the situation.

The bedtime routine came about for me by me just trying to find some activities that would break up the endless frenzy of cluster feeding all evening. So I found that taking her out for a walk around 4 helped distract her from the "need to feed" and then that lead on to her being happy to have a shortish feed (I consider it more of a post walk drink!) when we got back from the walk and then a nice bath again provided another activity that wasn't feeding. Then a massage and into PJs and a long feed til she feeds to sleep and I can transfer her to the crib. I hasten to add, I didn't start any of this til around 8 weeks because I think the cluster feeding is designed to help build up your supply and I think they just need that comfort when they're very little.

With regard to them falling into a napping pattern, I'm afraid I can't really remember when this happened. I think it was just a gradual transition from the randomness of feed-sleep-feed to starting to notice the sleepiness was happening at the same time each day and for similar amounts of time depending on the time of day. I think the big realisation for me was working out that quite often the crying that I was always interpreting as "feed me!" signals was actually "I'm overtired" signals. Once I realised this I started looking out a bit more for early tiredness signs and took a note of the times. This made me realise that actually she can only really cope with being awake for and hour and a half before she needs to sleep again, so then I became a bit more proactive about doing stuff to prepare her for sleep - so after an hour and a quarter putting her in the sling, or taking her on a walk etc - whatever it is you know will get them off to sleep. It's amazing how quickly the time goes and you can feel like they've literally only just woken up, done a nappy change and had a bit of playtime when it's time to sleep again! I also find that different things work at different times of the day - so the first nap of the day feeding to sleep works, but the others need movement - ie. sling or pram. So I suppose it's a bit about setting out to do those activities to induce sleep, rather than doing them by chance and baby just happens to fall asleep.

Sorry I've waffled in - not had a good sleep day today ironically so may not be making much sense. But I think that was a long way of saying - I found establishing a bedtime routine the first step, followed by watching out for sleepy signs and not always interpreting them as demands for food. And trying not to obsess about it don't do very well myself on this last point


blushingmare Wed 31-Oct-12 20:08:05

Oh and the whole "put down when sleepy not asleep" thing? It's only in the past week that I've noticed dd sometimes able to do this, but it's still pretty rare and nighties I always aim to feed to sleep. I think some babies can do this sooner than others and personally, I couldn't put myself through the stress and heartbreak of trying to do it with a baby who wasn't naturally inclined to doing it. Obviously there are some (braver) people who persevere with this and get results, but I just don't have it in me!

blushingmare Wed 31-Oct-12 20:24:06

Oh and the other thing to say (and I promise this is my last!) is that I think I keep a artful eye on naps because it helps me feel a bit more in control and I feel without it DD gets overtired. But there are plenty of people who take a far more random approach and baby just sleeps as and when. So if that works for you and your baby then there's nothing wrong with it so don't be made to feel bad by people who are a bit more structured about what they do. smile

SirBoobAlot Wed 31-Oct-12 20:27:12

The whole "rod for your own back" thing is bollocks.

Cuddle your baby! They are tiny, and they need you right now - and in eighteen months time they will be far too busy to want to cuddle with you wink

They are only dependent like this on you for such a short amount of time. Please be patient with them, and trust that they know what they need right now.

SirBoobAlot Wed 31-Oct-12 20:28:57

Oh, and HV advising they should be put down awake at 6-8 weeks old are either a) complete idiots or b) certainly not parents.

sparklekitty Wed 31-Oct-12 21:23:06

I was advised today (not by a professional I hasten to add) to start controlled crying from 6 weeks onwards to get my LO out of our bed and into the moses basket sleeping on her own! I was shocked, 6 weeks seems far to early for CC!

It's good to see people advising to do what works for your baby. My gut tells me that cuddling and feeding her to sleep and having her in our bed is what she needs to feel happy and safe but being a new mum its so hard when you get so much conflicting advice, even from professionals!

SirBoobAlot Wed 31-Oct-12 21:30:04

Any age is too early for controlled crying. Six weeks is horrific. Whoever told you that, kitty, I'd avoid like the plague when it comes to parenting advice.

aliphil Wed 31-Oct-12 21:51:43

Sorry, I'm having a bad week. Today I went to a bf-ing clinic, where the midwives were really helpful, but there was also a trainee volunteer who was making a great fuss about DD not having a feeding pattern, or indeed any real routine, and talked as if establishing one ought to have been my main reason for going (it wasn't part of it at all!).

SirBoob, the HV has four children. But they're all grown up, so maybe she's forgotten!

Mainly I worry that DD doesn't get enough sleep, as she doesn't nap much in the daytime. And she's started (apparently) finding it hard to sleep at night; I feed/rock her to sleep, then she wakes within 10 minutes of being put down. sigh Why does none of it make sense?!

Mich100 Wed 31-Oct-12 22:48:49

OP - I breastfed my ds to sleep until he was about 8 months old at night and nursed him all the other times for naps etc. Tried to put him down without doing this at around 7 months. He was having none of it. At 8 months it took 20 mins of moaning/crying one night and he goes down to sleep now whatever time of day. At night he sleeps right through from 8pm to 6 or 7am. No problems. I let him lead me with sleep, feeding routines etc. I found I was less stressed, so was he. Together we got our own routine. So much so that one month before I went back to work, (he was 9 months old and started nursery), he stopped being interested in breastfeeding totally and suddenly wanted a bottle for bed. By the time I went back to work, I'd stopped breastfeeding altogether and we had brilliant sleep at nights. Mornings are a bit rushed, but generally stress free. My ds is now 1 and has no problems with feeding or sleeping. My advice, do what YOU feel is right and pick and choose which advice to listen to. Baby knows best wink

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