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Really, really worried about baby's lack of sleep- please help!

(29 Posts)
NorahVanstone Sat 25-Oct-14 13:08:54

My DS had feeding issues which meant he lost 18% in first 6 weeks, and we were told we had to wake him 3 hours after the start of his last feed round the clock, even if he had only been asleep for ten mins at that point, which was often the case. So now at 10 weeks he is finally back over his birth weight and starting to thrive, but seems to be unable to sleep.

He falls asleep about 12:30am on me and sleeps till about 4:45am when he wakes through hunger. Many days that is it. So total sleep for 24 hours would be about 4 hours. He is absolutely exhausted all the time.

I asked the HV who said baby would sleep more when back to his birth weight and not to worry. He hasn't. I took him to the GP at 7 weeks who said to put him in a darkened room at nap time and he'd sleep if tired. He doesn't. I took him back and saw another GP at 9 weeks who said there is a large variation in babies and perhaps this was just his personality. I got the distinct impression from all of them that they didn't really believe me 'no baby really sleeps so little' being one comment, and aren't taking it seriously. And I just want to scream at them to help me.

The thing is he is clearly exhausted and totally wired and I feel it is now becoming detrimental to him. He has constantly jerky arms and legs now, wild eyes wide open and wimpering/crying whenever he is not feeding. He has now stopped making eye contact with me which is apparently a sign of sleep deprivation in infants.

On the days where I have to take him to be weighed we go with him in a sling and he sleeps there and back, so I'm wondering if I should just put him in the sling every time he is due a sleep and try to get him off or if this will just make his problems worse? At this point I feel his is so chronically tired that any sleep would be worth doing, Is this right? How can I tell when he should be napping? Should I be trying to get him to sleep in pram or cot but how? I feel really desperate as no-one is listening to me about him.

threefoureight Sat 25-Oct-14 13:12:40

When they are that tiny they often just slept on me after a feed, or yes, definitely a sling! I still get my toddler to sleep in a sling if overtired, it won't do any harm. smile

threefoureight Sat 25-Oct-14 13:13:27

What does he do after 4.45 am feed?

InvaderZim Sat 25-Oct-14 13:14:21

I didn't want to read and run. If he sleeps in the sling, wear the sling! My DD couldn't sleep unless she was having a cuddle - it was the sling and (safe!) co-sleeping for a very long time.

I hope this helps bump the thread so someone with more developed information on baby sleep comes along too.

Essexgirlupnorth Sat 25-Oct-14 13:21:08

My daughter would only sleep on me during the day when she was tiny. They want to be close to you so if he sleeps in the sling let him sleep in the sling.

MollyBdenum Sat 25-Oct-14 13:24:24

Mine only ever napped in a sling or moving pushchair and would only sleep at night if I was touching them for the first 6 months or so.

NorahVanstone Sat 25-Oct-14 13:27:04

oh thank you for the quick appreciated as feeling out of my depth!

After the 4.45am feed he is just wide awake fussing and wanting to feed all the time. I had thought he was very hungry and just fed him non-stop but now i'm beginning to think maybe he isn't really hungry but seeking comfort because so shattered. He doesn't properly feed, just messes about a lot, so that may be right. This morning we stayed in bed as I was just too tired and he BF lying down and did have little 5 or 10 min naps till we got up at 9, so I don't know if he'd have had a proper sleep if I'd stopped feeding?

hollie84 Sat 25-Oct-14 13:32:20

Definitely put him in the sling if he sleeps that way!

Most babies this age won't just lie in a cot and sleep - they need feeding, holding, a swing, a sling, pushed in the pram etc.

If he's sleep deprived the most important thing to do is get him sleeping again. Forget about putting him in a cot or whatever and just spend the next week slinging him or lying in bed with him or feeding him in your arms and let him sleep and comfort suck. Napping in your arms with a nipple in his mouth is absolutely fine and normal.

CountBapula Sat 25-Oct-14 14:55:11

My DS1 was similar at this age. Sounds like he's chronically overtired, hence the 'wired' look and difficulty in falling asleep. You need to get him sleeping by any means possible - don't worry about how or where he sleeps - just make sure he does.

What we did was put two layers of blackout blinds in DS1's room so it was pitch dark in there. Then we swaddled him up tightly and rocked/cuddled him to sleep using white noise, turned up quite loud (in the womb it's as loud as a hoover, apparently). We used the sound of a detuned radio, but you can download white noise tracks from all sorts of places.

Young babies generally can't stay awake happily for more than about an hour and a half. For overtired babies, it can be as little as an hour. So it might be that he sleeps for a bit, then he wakes up, has a feed and a nappy change and lies on the change mat for 10 mins, and he needs another nap already. Watch him like a hawk for tired signs - with these sorts of babies, if they yawn you're already too late. My DS1 would suddenly go a bit quiet and gaze off into middle distance - if we missed that 'window' and he started yawning and rubbing his eyes, it was a nightmare to get him to sleep. You need to get to him before he gets too tired/wired to sleep.

Spend a few days really watching him and focusing on his sleep using whatever method works - rocking, feeding, sling, buggy, white noise - ignore any 'rod for your own back' nonsense. You need to clear his sleep deficit. I reckon you'll start to see an improvement pretty quickly.

Please PM me if you need any help. DS1's sleeplessness almost destroyed me, so I know what you're going through. (Luckily DS2 is the opposite!)

NorahVanstone Sat 25-Oct-14 15:53:38

Thank you so much. He has had a nap in the sling for about an hour this morning and is dropping off now it still means he has gone awake for about 3 hours at a time- much, much better than 16+ stints but still not near the hour and a half marker. I'll try and put him down earlier when he wakes up again from this one.

I have the parents arriving tomorrow and will hear a lot of the rod for your back stuff so glad to read that here first! Can I ask why that is? Do they naturally grow out of needing you to sleep eventually? I feel so silly now that I didn't try and make efforts to make him sleep earlier but slightly led astray by the professional advice about leaving him to sort himself out. At least now I know he will sleep if I help him

I appreciate your kind words, Count & will PM if I need to, thank you.

CountBapula Sat 25-Oct-14 16:15:33

Please don't feel silly. I was the same and really worried that he couldn't settle himself to sleep, but a lot of babies can't, especially the very wakeful ones! He is 4 now and only just started falling asleep by himself a couple of months ago! I say that not to worry you, more to assure you that they get the hang of it eventually! I bf him to sleep until he was nearly 3, then cuddled him to sleep in his bed, then when his baby brother arrived he figured out how to fall asleep while we were out of the room. DS2, on the other hand, is much, much easier to settle. They're all different, and you sort of have to go with their personality rather than fight against it, otherwise you'll end up miserable!

They change so quickly so don't be afraid to help him sleep. He's so tiny still. But he does need more rest.

A really helpful book (which, unfortunately, hadn't yet been published when DS1 was born) is Babycalm by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. Lots of reassuring stuff in there about what's normal for baby sleep and why all the rod for your own back stuff is bollocks.

CountBapula Sat 25-Oct-14 16:18:11

Sorry for all the !! - am on my phone and can't preview blush

But I meant to say - don't feel silly - the 'self-settling' stuff is so pervasive and it can be hard to ignore. I only got through DS1's lack of sleep through advice on here. HVs and doctors can be pretty clueless about sleep, especially with babies who are very, very wakeful.

hollie84 Sat 25-Oct-14 18:18:06

Yes, they grow out of needing so much help. I found with mine I could gradually reduce the amount of assistance given (e.g. from holding/sleeping on me as newborns, to feeding, to rocking, to patting in the cot). By 9 months or so they were mostly falling asleep by themselves, but I still sometimes fed or rocked or cuddled way past that. DS1 still napped in a sling sometimes up to 3 (years) grin

I've never met a baby that just went to sleep on their own.

It's brilliant that you've found something that works. I would put him in the sling for a nap after an hour awake time until you sort out the over tiredness.

SeptemberBabies Sat 25-Oct-14 18:35:46


I was going to ask what you are doing to help your baby sleep, but I think I can infer from your previous post that you weren't doing anything?

You are not alone in believing the 'rod for your own back' line. Most new Mums think that they will have perfect self-settling babies from the outset. It simply doesn't work like that.

Most realise this at some point with their first child. To give some perspective though, my fourth (and final) child is currently just 4 weeks and only now have I fully embraced the notion that you cannot cuddle a baby too much. It's impossible to be too kind to a baby.

Cuddle, rock, shush, cuddle some more, feed, cuddle and rock again... and so on.

Some great sleep creating tips:

- Long walk in the pushchair. Important: When you get home, don't fuss about unwrapping baby or taking him out of the pushchair. Just park the pushchair somewhere cool, take a blanket off if able to not disturb baby, and leave him there.
- Bouncy chair. Great for passive foot-bouncing to get an over-tired baby asleep.
- Sling around the house.
- Swaddle. Cut a cot sheet in half along the short edge to make two long, thin sheets to use as swaddles.
- Rocking. The old favourite of just standing/siting and rocking baby close to your chest.

Good luck!

Redling Sat 25-Oct-14 18:46:21

There was no way on earth my DS would sleep just left in a crib/cot/Moses basket when a newborn. Still won't at 10 weeks unless asleep on one of us first. And still sometimes wakes up the second he gets out in the cot! This is totally normal as we learned! Babies need to be held when they are that little. I'm still spending a lot of my day with him asleep on me. However he sleeps just do that. You aren't training him to do anything at that age. I read a few things about how the obsession with 'putting babies down' was a fairly futile one in the early weeks. It's hard in terms of tiredness, but it doesn't sound like you are sleeping anyway. And one day they won't want to be cuddled! So I'm seeing this as precious time with my baby!

NorahVanstone Sat 25-Oct-14 21:39:20

Yes I'm afraid I wasn't doing anything to encourage sleep. I got hold of a book about helping them sleep called Your Sleepless Baby the rescue guide which says anything like holding, patting, rocking, feeding etc sets up an association which means baby can't sleep without so needs to be avoided. I have followed her advice and as a result my baby hasn't had any sleep sad so that was helpful!

Am much encouraged by the fact that everyone else does have to actively help to sleep and baby has already had twice as much sleep today as any day in the past month.

I have bought Baby Calm for my kindle tonight so will read that when I have the chance too. Thanks

AnythingNotEverything Sat 25-Oct-14 21:47:59

Norah - no sleep crutch that you may or may not introduce at this point is irreversible. Some babies settle on their own when small some don't. My daughter is just cracking at at a year old, but it's been relatively painless because she was ready.

Your baby needs sleep to feed effectively and develop into a happy healthy little boy. You can't spoil him. Cuddle him, sling him, walk with him. It's fine.

Hakluyt Sat 25-Oct-14 21:51:23

"This morning we stayed in bed as I was just too tired and he BF lying down and did have little 5 or 10 min naps till we got up at 9, so I don't know if he'd have had a proper sleep if I'd stopped feeding?"

If you had stayed in bed together rather than getting up at 9.00 you might both have had a proper sleep! Try that tomorrow. Parents coming? Fab- they can do everything else for you while you lie in bed and sleep and feed and doze and drink the cups of tea they will bring you.

39steppesmum Sat 25-Oct-14 21:59:35

I think the answer is you do whatever it takes in the early days and then once they sleep in some sort of rhythm that works, you can then gently remove some of the stimuli to encourage them to self settle.

I have 3 dcs and one really really loved his dummy. he always wanted to suck to settle and the dummy really helped, as he didn't want any more milk, but he did want to suck. I didn't work for the other 2 though.

sitting and cuddling in a dark room, patting, bouncing, going for a walk in buggy. One tip I was given was to have a cloth on your chest when they fall asleep there, then transfer that cloth to the cot, so that they aren't going down onto a cold sheet. (cloth needs to be big enough to safely tuck in, so can't get tangled round their face.)

Later I trained them off me with little tricks like playing the cot mobile as I cuddled him off to sleep so in the end putting the mobile on triggered sleep time. One loved being swaddled, one hated it. One had a thing about muslin cloths (I had one tucked under her when feeding, and she associated it with feeding off to sleep) and so on.

A good rule of thumb is that if they have been awake for 2 hours, they are probably ready for a nap.

Redling Sat 25-Oct-14 22:02:28

Ignore that book, hold him, pat him, shush him as much as possible. That advice might work for 'training' a much older baby who could sleep/settle themselves, but not for a 10 week old. Relax, enjoy the cuddles/contact and the sleep your baby will be getting!

Iggly Sat 25-Oct-14 22:04:52

Use a sling. Whatever works just do it!

I was in excellent shape with both of mine because they slept in the sling. Dd, my second, had every nap pretty much in the sling for the first 3-4 months, unless on me. After that she started sleeping in a slightly upright pushchair or in the cot. In fact she was a champion napper, unlike ds!

Anyone, anyone who mentions rods and backs, just ignore them because they had an easy baby and do not remember what it is like.

LittleBearPad Sat 25-Oct-14 22:13:41

As others say ignore any rods and backs comments. DD slept on me during the day for weeks or in her pram whilst walking.

sometimesyouwin Sun 26-Oct-14 02:02:33

Definitely just do whatever you need to do to induce sleep. Both of my boys have been non sleepers and all the advice on sleep has always come from people who's babies self settled. First time round I drove myself crazy trying to break what I though we're bad habits like using the pushchair or feeding to sleep (heaven forbid!) but nothing worked so with DS2 I'm just doing whatever the hell works for me and my boy. DS1 eventually sorted himself out without any intervention so I know there's light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there and do whatever works or feels right to you as a mum smile.

GoldfishSpy Sun 26-Oct-14 02:42:59

sling, dummy, swaddle (not all together!)

Booboostoo Sun 26-Oct-14 03:22:12

I don't know of any babies that go to sleep unaided but maybe they exist!

Don't beat yourself up about it - do what you need to do to get him to sleep. Slings are great and bf while lying down is a god sent. 7 week old DS bfs lying down from 10pm to about 4-6am and in my book that is sleeping through.

It might also be worth keeping a sleep diary in case you need evidence to discuss this further with your GP. I doubt you will need to as I hope things will improve drastically from now on, but if they don't, a sleep diary may help convince your GP that you need a referral to a sleep clinic.

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