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14 week old sleep/feed pattern

(20 Posts)
Jessjane123 Fri 15-Jan-16 08:50:29

Please help!
My 14 week old has gone from having 1 night feed to this.....
7.00 pm big feed and self settles in cot.
10.00 pm attempt dream feed but won't take much as keeps falling asleep.
1.30 am short feed same as above
6.30 "
7.30 normal feed

He's been doing this since Xmas and I am really struggling.

I have come up with a list of possible causes but would love some input and advice.

1) lack of daytime naps, so he is overtired and falls asleep eating. He only sleeps for about 2x30 mins a day
2)can't self soothe but he does go to sleep on his own at 7.00, so I doubt this.
3) used to snacking. He eats often maybe every 1 hr in the day but only for 5 mins or so.
4) not getting enough food in day. He is distracted by everything, so does not feed for long.
5) me not having enough milk. Seems like I have milk left when he stops feeding but I forget to eat during the day as so exhausted but I still doubt it's this.
6) sleep regression and simply a phase.

What can I do? Will he grow out of it or are we developing some really bad habits?

Poppytime Fri 15-Jan-16 11:41:28

No huge advice but wanted to say you are not alone! My 14 week old has been almost exactly the same for the past week or so. Was sleeping 7.30 ish to 2/3am but not w wanting a feed able 10.30 and again at 1/2am and onwards from there. Am sure you have enough milk - I'm blaming a growth spurt, and they are trying to get our milk supply up etc. Naps aren't great here either. Do you have naps at home or out in buggy or both? I find DS sleeps longer if out in buggy, whereas a pin can drop and he will wake up at home. Aargh it's tough isn't it? I was also wondering if it was the famed 4 month sleep regression come early? Anyway my sympathies!

FATEdestiny Fri 15-Jan-16 14:59:15

This "sleep regression" that happens around 3 or 4 months old is not a "regression". The word regression suggests that if you do nothing, it will get better all by itself in time. This is not true.

At around 3-4 months old, as baby leaves the newborn fourth trimester phase, there is a permanent change in sleeping physiology and a permanent increase in calorific need.

During the first few months of a baby's life, being sleep is their natural state. It is passive, it doesn't require any thought or effort from the baby. If all is well (no hunger or pain), baby will be asleep as their natural state of being during those first few months - just as is the case in-utero. Waking happens only when a need is not met (food, warmth, pain, uncomfortable) and being awake happens for only short bursts. Therefore relatively speaking, getting baby to sleep is easiest in the newborn stage.

As baby leaves the newborn stage, so their sleep matures. Being asleep is no longer their passive, natural state of being - babies start spending more time awake. Now baby can be fed, warm, comfortable and not in pain - but stay awake. Sleep matures to have stages, the sleep cycles adults have, rather than a passive state.

This is the age, from 3 or 4 months, that for the first time a baby needs to learn how to 'get to sleep'. Getting to sleep (and staying asleep between sleep cycles) is now active and requires effort, rather than sleep being a passive thing that requires no effort.

Babies who have established mechanisms in place to get to sleep even while they were newborns will be in a better place to now be able to actively get to sleep. Otherwise, parents now need to introduce these mechanisms.

Babies can be actively encouraged to sleep by using
- movement (bouncing, rocking, walking, car, pushchair)
- sucking (dummy, breastfeeding, finger, sucking a toy or blanket)
- Tight, secure feeling (holding in arms, swaddling, snoozepod/sleepyhead type of mattress.
- full tummy also helps baby get to sleep and stay asleep.

I have always favoured dummy and bouncy chair for daytime sleep and dummy and swaddle (in a side-car cot) for night time sleep - with the long term view of independent sleeping that does not require my input for sleep.

As well as sleep, milk intake also significantly increases at around 3-4 months old. Again this is not a phase, it is a permanent change. My DD's milk intake went up by 25% at 12 weeks. That's no small amount. She had both more milk per feed and also added additional feeds by making her full feeds more frequent.

My DC4 changed to FF at 13 weeks old during this change, but I have BF through this change in my older children. It does require significant hard work and difficult days to increase supply. But as you will have been told from your HV, the answer when breastfeeding is simply to put baby to breast as much as possible to increase supply.

What can I do?

Accept that you will now need to work hard to get baby to go to sleep.

Good sleep promotes more sleep. So the more daytime sleep baby has, the less over-tired she will be and the easier to get to sleep at subsequent naps. An over-tired baby is hardest to get to sleep.

Watch awake time, not asleep time through the day. Short naps are usual at this age - 20-45 minutes. The next sleep development happens around 5-7 months old when baby learns to sleep through one sleep cycle into the next - until then daytime sleeps are likely to be one sleep cycle, so 20-45 minutes.

So while naps may be short, keep them frequent. I would expect about 60 minutes awake time between daytime naps at this age, 90 minutes from waking at most. If baby takes a long time to get to sleep, then the playtime between naps may get even shorter.

Making daytime feeds frequent also helps to 'calorie load' through the daytime, helping reduce the need for night time sleep. I would go for really frequent feeds, especially so if you are BF and trying to increase supply. Even if FF I would go for 2 hourly daytime feeds.

Then be consistent with your night time wake ups. Dummies are great if trying to resettle without a feed, if you are daytime calorie loading. I also cant recommend enough a 3-sided side-car cot so that you can cuddle right into the cot to sooth and settle baby without picking her up.

Try to avoid needing to pick baby up and rock, because this is one of those awful 'rods for your own back' you may hear about. Settling baby to sleep in the cot at night is best long-term.

But if you are breastfeeding then safe co-sleeping and free access to the breast may be your saving grace through the night.

Cineraria Fri 15-Jan-16 21:05:31

This is so interesting. It is exactly what my son has been doing the last two weeks.I'd assumed it was opportunistic, just happening whenever when he smells me, as we've been letting him sleep in our bed while waiting for his reflux medicine to take effect. Thanks FATE for the explanation. I hope his medicine sorts him out soon so we can start putting him down to sleep again. He seems to prefer tightly tucked in blankets to a proper swaddle as he likes his hands behind his head.

Feeches Fri 15-Jan-16 22:03:10

Thank you @FATE. This makes sense to me now. DD's sleep went haywire at 12 weeks which I had put down to the cold. I now feel better about her short daytime naps in the bouncy chair and more frequent feeds. She had a good night last night so hopefully she's now learning to sleep better on her own.

Jessjane123 Sat 16-Jan-16 08:00:54

Ladies, thanks so much for all the help, especially "Fate" very detailed. smile

So I took advice and we had lots of little cat naps (5 x30 mins ish) through the day and I fed him lots (he had bad wind so not as much as I would have liked though) Thank you! We had a much better night. He went down at 7.00 and self settled. Dream feed at 10.00 pm. Woke to feed at 2am and 4am and seemed genuinely hungry even though he only ate for a few mins and then we started the day at 6.30am. Does this sound "normal" for a 14 week old?

I am hoping he will drop the 4 am feed soon. Do you think he will simply do this when he is ready or do you think there is anything I can do to persuade him to only have one night feed. He is a big baby so I am torn between thinking he is simply needing more food and the idea he is big enough to last through. Advice much appreciated.

FATEdestiny Sat 16-Jan-16 11:58:58

Does this sound "normal" for a 14 week old?

Yes it absolutely does.

Does he have a dummy? I would use the dummy from about 12 weeks to try to extend time between feeds in the night. I used to have a 5 minute rule and a 30 minute rule.

Every time baby stirred in the night I'd be quick to re-insert dummy. Most of the time (if I'm quick enough to get dummy in before baby fully wakes) baby would be back to sleep within 5 minutes. The 5 minute rule was that if baby was still grumbling 5 minutes after dummy re-insertion, then I would feed.

Often the dummy re-insertion worked and baby settled back to sleep. If baby the stirred again and needed another dummy re-insertion after 30 minutes, I would take that as an indication that a feed was needed.

This process of predictable re-settling (methods and timings) meant that I could work at trying to re-settle rather than feed in the night, which extended the time between night feeds.

Night re-settling can only work if you are absolutely confident baby is getting all his calories during the daytime though. If baby is not getting enough milk over 24 hours, then re-settling in the night will just frustrate baby, because he'll be hungry.

He is a big baby so I am torn between thinking he is simply needing more food

My DD was between 91st and 97th centile from birth. At 15 months she is just now starting to slim down, but stayed a big baby past 12 months old.

As a reference point, from her being 3 months she used to have 8 or 9 feeds in 24 hours. I think I was making 5oz bottles at 14 weeks (they weren't being emptied). She used to feed every 2-2.5h through the daytime. At this age her "daytime" was the same as my daytime - so lasted through until 11pm when I went to bed. Therefore the dreamfeed was just part of the daytime. So feeds at 7am, 9.30am, 11.30am, 2pm, 4pm, 6.30pm, 8.30pm, 11pm. I'd then expect 1 feed overnight usually, sometimes she didn't need it though.

I am not suggesting your son will feed in the same way as my DD, they are all different. But just as a reference for what a similar big baby had in terms of milk feeds. I used to worry my DD was over-feeding because she had way more milk than the SMA tub suggested. But she needed it and was content with it, so I just followed her lead. The basis of on-demand feeding I suppose.

Jessjane123 Sun 17-Jan-16 07:22:29

Thanks again Fate. So helpful. It's so nice to know there are people "out there" and for the support. He is a big boy, 9.3 lbs when born and was 13 lbs at 10 weeks, not sure what he is now.

I will try a dummy but he refuses to take a bottle, so I'm not sure he will take a dummy. I've tried about 10 different brands of bottles, DH feeding him, waiting till hungry, waiting till relaxed, trying for a few mins every day and the little monkey refuses! This is probably the only thing that's stopping trying a formula top up before bed.

Last night we were back to our new normal! He went down at 7pm like a dream, fed at 10.00pm - woke at 1am, 3am, 5am and up at 6.30 am. What's so odd is he wakes but then only eats for 2-5 mins including his 6.30 am. He has always been a quick feeder (10min total) but such short feeds must mean he is not feeding cos he's hungry. He goes straight back to sleep after these feeds, apart from the 6.30 am feed, when he is ready to start his busy day of play mat, bouncy chair and jumperoo! It's a hard life!

I can keep doing this if I know it's just a developmental phase or he is genuinely hungry due to growth spurt but what I'm worried about is him developing this habit of waking every 2 hrs and needing me to soothe him with boob! If I can work out why he is waking it would really help.

Hungry- But why only eat for a few mins?
Needs to me to soothe- But then how can he go down at 7.00 awake and self soothe ok?
Startles himself awake- but always wakes exactly same time?
Hot/cold- but room always in correct temp range.
Over tired- but has 4 or 5 30 min naps a day. Is this enough?

Ahhhhhhh if he was not so unbelievably cute I'd swap him for something much easier like a goldfish!

GenevaMaybe Sun 17-Jan-16 07:39:24

I would try dropping the dream feed and see what happens. You may be surprised

GenevaMaybe Sun 17-Jan-16 07:39:37

(In a good way!)

Cathster Sun 17-Jan-16 16:45:57

My DD (16 weeks) is doing the exact same thing, Jessjane123. Only difference is that we are reinserting dummy rather than feeding (she is FF).

We are going to try her an earlier bedtime as she has been going down around 8:30 /9:00 then up at 6:30 so thought she may be overtired and not getting enough night sleep. We are starting to try the self soothing to sleep as not sure if the waking is due to the sleep cycle changes but it's difficult getting her down at the right time.

I thought at that age they need about 3-4hr day sleep so 5 30 min naps doesn't sound quite enough to me.

If you can manage to get him to take a dummy that may help a little and avoid you having to constantly feed him (and then your DH can help with dummy reinsertion in the night!)

My sympathies it is tough I know!

Jessjane123 Sun 17-Jan-16 18:16:04

Thanks Cathster.
The lack of day naps had crossed my mind. I'll try and get him to snooze more in the day, after all who does not like a good afternoon snooze!

An earlier bedtime for ur little one sounds like a good plan- if we put ben down later, he is much harder to settle. We read a little story with the lights down low and he has learnt it's his bedtime and the sound of our voice seems to soothe him.

Hope u have a good night tonight, we will get a dummy tomorrow!

Issy1234 Sun 17-Jan-16 19:20:17

I'm s glad I found this post smile it's a bit late now but tomorrow heading for frequent naps and feeds with our little girl! Feel so clueless as a first time Mam as we literally have no idea what we are doing and so many books tell you different things.

Cathster Sun 17-Jan-16 19:27:37

Thanks Jessjane! Fingers crossed you have a better night tonight and that maybe trying to get him down for a bit more day sleep may help you. How does he sleep for his naps - in his cot or sling/on you? I find that if I want DD to have a longer nap if she's only had a few short ones, I cuddle her to stay asleep. Sometimes it doesn't work but sometimes it does mean she stays asleep for an hour-2 hours and I get to catch up on tv!

Had a bit of a battle getting DD down tonight, I think we tried too early so she got really grouchy. Ended up having to put white noise on at full volume to calm her down! Not expecting her to stay down longer than 45 minutes but will hopefully just be able to feed her and put her back down again.

We did read some books to her after her bath and bottle and she was quite happy which is unusual!

Do you put your DS down at a set time or a set amount of time after his last nap? That's what I struggle to know what to do with as her naps vary in times/durations.

Jessjane123 Sun 17-Jan-16 22:19:54


In terms of knowing when to put him down it's not based on last nap. We watched him for a couple of nights and noticed he got sleepy (eye rubbing,grouchy etc) roughly the same time each night. We then planned our bedtime routine around that. I tried a couple of weeks earlier and I don't think he was ready, as he just refused to do it. This time he has taken quite naturally to it. We have a bath, story, feed routine. The first night we had to go back up to resettle (pat and shush) maybe 5 times and over the next few days it got less and less now he seems happy to go down awake and self settle. I have heard of people working back ward from their original later time, getting a little earlier each night. Monday 9.00, Tuesday 8.45, Wednesday 8.30 etc.

White noise is great, think it's a really useful signal for them to learn that when it goes on it's bed time.

Ben tends to only nap for 30 mins at a time, I will try the cuddle technique and maybe catch up on some day time telly - "Jeremy kyle" and "ice road truckers" here I come.

Ps did she stay down?

Cathster Mon 18-Jan-16 06:58:27

Actually amazed - she woke at the 45 minute mark as expected, dummy in and she went back to sleep. The white noise app cut out at 12am and 1am which woke her but I just put it back on, dummy in and she went back to sleep.

She's still asleep now 12 hours later!! shock never ever had a night like this... So difficult not to get my hopes up though!

Only thing is I was expecting her to wake for a feed as she had only had 4 bottles yesterday, so may need to readjust her feed schedule.

We tried putting her down about 6:20 which I think was too early, she went off to sleep by 7 but it was a battle so will maybe try putting her down about 6:45 tonight to see if she self settles a bit easier. It was a LOT earlier than her old bedtime though.

How did he do last night?

It could also be that he is genuinely hungry if he is only snacking during the day, but too tired to stay awake at the night feeds. It's a bit of a vicious cycle isn't it?! The dummy does help us massively to know whether she's actually hungry or not as if she is she keeps spitting it out.

Definitely give the cuddle technique a go - even if he only stays down an extra 15 minutes it will help. it's quite normal for them to only have short naps at this age but then no idea how we are supposed to fit in enough day sleep!

Jessjane123 Mon 18-Jan-16 08:58:45


Yes!!! I am so pleased for you, keeping everything crossed that it's a breakthrough. Even if she does not manage it every night, at least you know she can and you will get some sleep on the good nights. Let me know how tonight goes.

We had a better night to. Down at 7, feed at 10, 2.30 and 5.30 and up at 7! Each feed was a proper one, so I don't really mind if he is genuinely hungry and waking up twice is manageable and nothing like the every hour horror we were having!

Ben is having an enforced nap now as suggested and then we are off to get a dummy!

Jessjane123 Mon 18-Jan-16 09:01:43

Issy, how was ur night? Lots of food and naps seem to be working for us, any success with you? Early bed time seems also to be important, so they don't get overtired. How old is ur little one? We have only recently managed the early bed time as he was cluster feeding all eve up until v. recently.

Cathster Mon 18-Jan-16 19:01:39

I'm glad you had a better night too Jessjane! How was your day today in terms of getting him to nap a bit longer? Fingers crossed you have another good night tonight.

DD has been poorly today with a tummy bug so I'm not sure that 12 hour stint last night was because of the earlier bedtime or illness! She's not had any formula today, just water with rehydration sachets, so expecting frequent wakings tonight. Put her down in the cot at 6:20 again as she seemed tired but kept spitting out the dummy and crying so DH picked her up and cuddled her for a bit before putting her back down at 6:45, she then went off to sleep pretty much straight away.

Issy hope you manage to have a good night tonight and you have managed to get your DD to feed/nap frequently.

Jessjane123 Tue 19-Jan-16 06:58:43

So sorry ur little one is poorly. How is she today? Did you guys get any sleep? We have jabs today, ben was really poorly after the last lot and ended up in hospital so dreading it sad

We had the best night yet. He woke up once for a very quick feed at 4.30 am. It seems lots of naps and as much day feeding as possible is the key for him (either that or it was just a phase!!!)Thanks for all the help smile x

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