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Nap strategy - 5 week old

(34 Posts)
Saz467 Fri 12-May-17 15:41:32


Looking for some help from someone with a bit more experience than me... btw I know that that five weeks old I'm probably overthinking this, and he could be totally different next week, but nonetheless...

My 5 week old son seems to resist naps. Most sources I have seen suggest that babies this age should sleep 14 to 17 hours per day. My son averages about 10. He will sleep happily in 3-4 hour stretches at night, but I'm lucky to get him to sleep for two hours overall during the day. He doesn't seem to get very grouchy, but I assume that the cycle of overtiredness is the least part of the reason he's not dropping off.

I try to put him down 90 minutes after previous waking, and I watch carefully for sleepy signals. I try to get him to a state of sleepiness before I put him down, and will then leave him with white noise. Occasionally he will drop off, but this morning he lay in his basket, happy but totally awake for an hour, and the same in his pram this afternoon.

I sometimes have success by feeding him to sleep and sneakily putting him down, but this is not really how I want to go about it.

Any ideas as to why he is not dropping off? Can I help him without intervening too much? And is there a point at which you give up on the nap and e.g. have some playtime? Obviously if I have failed to get him to sleep and it comes round to feeding time again, I feed.


FraterculaArctica Fri 12-May-17 15:45:58

IME babies beyond the first couple of weeks don't just 'drop off'. This is a great myth perpetuated by many childcare books! You have to actively get them to sleep usually by sucking (nipple or dummy) or rocking (or similar motion e.g. car or pram). Sometimes combined with a sense of being held securely I.e. sling or swaddling.

teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 12-May-17 16:37:13

90 minutes of awake time is quite a lot for a newborn. My 4 month old has that at the moment.

Neither of my 2 have been babies that just drop off either - they're extremely rare! Most people have to do something for a nap. For me, I feed to sleep if it's convenient or use the sling, pram or car if we're doing something. Like the pp said, you could use a funny, swaddle, bouncy chair, swing, etc.

LePetitPont Fri 12-May-17 16:40:33

My little one is a bit older than yours and can go 1.5-2 hours without getting too grumpy. But like pp have said, he needs assistance to go to sleep. My 2.5 year old still does for that matter, Just in a different way!

Bf to sleep is a brilliant tool at our disposal and if you have a sling the motion and closeness will get him to drop off plus you can get things done. Enjoy the squishy newborn stage and as you say, no need to overthink. I found the first time round and it wasn't good for me

teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 12-May-17 16:43:08

funny = dummy!

Saz467 Fri 12-May-17 17:47:01

Thanks everyone.

He does sometimes drop off by himself, it's just that there's no rhyme or reason to when! I obviously need to help him out a bit the rest of the time. Sadly dummy is not of much interest to him, and I really don't want to rely on pram/car. Will give sling a try.

I've probably read too much - the books make it sound so simple - get them sleepy, put them down, walk away.

teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 12-May-17 18:17:33

Ignore the books, unless they're just for a bit of comic relief!

FATEdestiny Fri 12-May-17 19:13:59

the books make it sound so simple - get them sleepy, put them down, walk away

Do you think the million pound baby sleep industry would exist if it was that easy?

My son averages about 10

Your newborn is therefore chronically over tired, sleep deprived and exhausted.

You will end up with many more Rods For Your Back with a baby so chronically sleep deprived.

Clearly your strategy isn't working. Awake time in a newborn should be enough time to feed, wind, check nappy, back to sleep. Maybe 30-40 minutes awake each time - then straight back to sleep.

■ Something to suck: Dummy/nipple
■ Something that moves: Bouncy chair/sling/pram
■ Something that feels secure: Swaddle/ being held/sling/cosleep

NewMumSept2014 Fri 12-May-17 21:12:44

Surely if he's happy and doesn't seem overtired it doesn't really matter how long he's been awake? I would ignore what the books say and follow your baby's sleepy signs. If he's happy and playing and not overtired in the evening I would leave him be. I spent 6 months trying to get DD to nap when she wasn't tired, I realised after that that everyone was much happier if I didn't spend all day looking at the clock.

AndIAskMyself Sat 13-May-17 14:48:16

It sounds like you're worrying too much about 'making a rod for your own back' when you say you don't want to rely on a pram or car seat, and you're trying to get baby to sleep 'awake but drowsy'. I also worried about this, but not at 5 weeks. Then I just let him fall asleep on the breast/bottle or wherever. They change SO much, that at 5 weeks there are no self made rods, because once they are older you can get into a better routine, but for now my advice would be to help your baby to sleep in whatever way possible - feed to sleep, co-sleep, use a pram or sling. Whatever it is, just do what you can to help baby sleep at regular times, and then once that is established THEN you can start to try to create a nap and bedtime routine where baby is going to sleep 'awake but drowsy'. But for me that didn't happen until my son was around 14 weeks. And it took a good while to fully establish.

riddles26 Tue 16-May-17 12:27:26

I was in a very similar situation to you at 5 weeks. At this point, I hadn't read a single parenting book and did not use any forums for sleep advice - I just listened to family who said not to worry and she would sleep when tired.

Fast forward to 6 weeks and she was sleeping 6-8 hour stretches at night but still with very poor and erratic napping. At 10 weeks, 8-10 hour stretches at night with practically no napping (except catnaps on the breast). She simply wouldn't go to sleep and stay asleep for a nap - not with movement, feeding, etc etc. She would doze at the breast but if I took out my nipple, she jumped awake. I would walk for 2+ hours with her in the pram to get a 30 minute nap out of her (I did this daily for 2+ months). She would scream if I gave her a dummy or tried to put her to sleep in bouncer, swing or anything else. She would not be cuddled to sleep either. Yet at night, she would go down like a dream and self settle when she woke up.

At 16 weeks she was doing 12 hours at night (with one feed after an 8-10 hour stretch) with still no proper naps and my useless health visitor suggested that she probably didn't need any more sleep than that (even though I pointed out that the rare time I was able to get her to nap, she was a much happier baby).

When the 4 month regression hit, I had a horrific time, the nights fell apart and there were no daytime naps either. She was permanently grumpy, overtired and clingy and I was absolutely exhausted. I had resorted to cuddling her in co-sleeper to try get her to nap but she would cry for a good 5-10 minutes first which was heartbreaking for me.

In the end I used a sleep consultant and sleep trained at 5.5 months using the gentlest possible method. Fortunately we didn't have many tears during training and I have a dream baby now in terms of sleep but it was not the route I wanted to take to get here. I wanted to use the more gentle sleep methods to get her to go to sleep and was happy to rock or cuddle to sleep for naps or let her fall asleep at the breast but as she wasn't having any of it. My husband and I weighed up all the options and this was the best route for us as I stopped getting all the tears from overtiredness.

When I look back, I wonder if I made a fundamental mistake in those early days in not making her go to sleep sooner rather than waiting for her tired signs (which she didn't show until she had been awake for a long time and was probably overtired). Additionally having lots of guests coming to see the baby all day didn't help matters. I second the advice of not worrying about making a rod for your own back and just getting him to sleep the amount he needs to right now - you can work on him independently falling asleep as he gets older as he will change so much. Fate has excellent advice for promoting independent sleep - unfortunately none of it worked for me and I do wonder if that was because of the cycle we got ourselves into in those first 6-8 weeks.

FATEdestiny Tue 16-May-17 15:11:49

sleep trained at 5.5 months using the gentlest possible method

I wouldn't call controlled crying at 5 months old the "gentlest possible method", with all due respect.

I would say you were at the end of your tether, had few other options, had reached the "something must be done" point, were not coping with sleep as it was and didn't know what to do for the best (and had raged at me several times along the way).... and so did controlled crying in desperation.

But I would resolutely say that leaving a sub 6 month old baby to cry unattended at all is not gentle.

riddles26 Tue 16-May-17 16:09:59

I used PU/PD, not controlled crying. I picked her up each time she cried so she wasn't crying alone for any part of it.

It was gentler than having her cry everyday due to overtiredness. It was gentler than the amount she cried when I bounced and swung her relentlessly in the respective bouncer and swing. It was gentler than the way she screamed when I tried to get her to take the dummy and I could go on and list every single thing I tried to get her to sleep...
I can honestly say she cried much less during that entire period than any one of the other methods I just listed on each single occasion.

I know you don't advocate sleep training and i would have used the techniques you suggest over it without hesitation if they resulted in no tears but for her, however she only cried harder when I tried them. Maybe it was because of my complete ignorance of awake time in the early days and all spiralled because I didn't handle it right then, I don't know for sure but I can tell you with absolute certainty, that in our case it was gentle and there were barely any tears.

Anyway OP, the main reason I posted was just to say that try get your baby to sleep from now so you hopefully avoid the path I had to go down

riddles26 Tue 16-May-17 16:15:20

Also, Fate just to be clear, I raged at you after it was all resolved for the way you had kicked me when I was down. I was desperate for some help, not someone to tell me I was doing a terrible job and doing harm to my baby when I already felt bad enough

Although you did ultimately give me some very helpful suggestions in that thread, your initial response was not the slightest bit helpful and in hindsight I saw how much worse it made me feel - even more so because I had a lot of respect for you and the advice you give on this board. I still do think you are extremely knowledgable and wish more than anything your techniques worked with my little one

FATEdestiny Tue 16-May-17 17:48:44

I know you don't advocate sleep training

This is wholly and totally incorrect. The opposite is true.

I "sleep trained" my toddler from birth. Literally from newborn only a few days old. It rather depends on what you define as sleep training. To me, it just means having a defined plan and progressing towards it.

I know you don't...

What i I don't advocate is causing unnecessary distress to an under 6 month old baby

Or not responding adequately to the distress to stop it.

Under 6 months old a baby is utterly and totally dependant on their needs being met by others.

riddles26 Tue 16-May-17 18:04:11

What i I don't advocate is causing unnecessary distress to an under 6 month old baby
Or not responding adequately to the distress to stop it.
I totally agree with you - my daughter was experiencing a lot of unnecessary distress due to lack of sleep and the methods I was attempting to try make her sleep were not adequate to get her to get the sleep she desperately needed

Under 6 months old a baby is utterly and totally dependant on their needs being met by others.
Using the PU/PD technique worked and met her need to get sleep

blue2014 Tue 16-May-17 18:33:44

Op - at 5 weeks I wouldn't bother with any technique. If baby will nap on you let them, it's easier to get into a good routine once you both have enough rest and 5 weeks is so so little smile

FATEdestiny Tue 16-May-17 18:57:42

I used PU/PD, not controlled crying

You had me questioning myself. I wasn't inflaming the situation unnecessarily, I read only a few days ago on a thread about experiences using controlled crying, that you used it:

Calling it "spaced soothing" doesn't make a difference. It is the same thing as Controlled Crying and continues to not be recommended before 12 months. There are several other names for the same method, aside from spaced soothing.

It really doesn't matter anyway, I just don't like to be made into a liar.

Pick your corner. If you want to advocate the "gentlest possible methods", that's great. Spaced soothing isn't it, there at many gentler methods you could use for occassional bedtimes bedtime and wake ups.

Or just "own" the fact that you are doing occassional controlled crying, it isn't gentle, but it works. Completely factual, entirely upfront. Stop pretending to be both.

Jackiebrambles Tue 16-May-17 19:13:29

I'd be feeding to sleep for all naps and night time sleep at this age, dont worry about 'making bad habits' at 5 weeks, honestly.

Congrats on your baby!

riddles26 Tue 16-May-17 19:21:50

I now use spaced soothing when she wakes early from a nap and whinges. This has started after she turned 6.5 months and by this point, I had used PU/PD for over a month. At this stage, I knew the sounds she made when she woke - I can clearly tell when she needs me and when she needs to be left alone and allowed resettle herself back to sleep. I have said and will always maintain that she NEVER cries in distress all alone.

I clearly wrote in the thread you pasted that I sleep trained her with PU/PD and have written the same in every other thread I've posted on.

I have also clearly written on every thread I have posted on that I wish the gentler methods had worked for us and advocate them prior to either PU/PD. I advocate use of CC as a last resort as I strongly believe tackling sleep issues are essential to long term health.

It's really not that difficult to understand my stance and I'm not pretending to be anything. I've always been upfront and clear of what I've used and never accused you of lying. You don't seem to have any appreciation of the fact that gentler methods don't work for every baby and sometimes it may be necessary to use other methods.

I'm completely happy with the decision I made as I know I exhausted the gentler options first. When I post on here, I will always suggest trying them first. I refer to you when I talk about them as you discuss them the most and have used them successfully with multiple. When I have another child, I fully intend to start building good sleep habits this way from a few weeks old in the hope I don't need to go down this route again but I have done what was desperately needed for my daughter.

Enidblyton1 Tue 16-May-17 19:24:35

I also recommend trying not to overthink it. Everyone does with their first child - I know I certainly did!
Are you out and about much during the day or mostly at home? I used to find my babies slept a lot in the pram or car seat as I was going about my daily life. Much harder to get them to sleep if I was at home or trying to force nap time at a particular time.

FATEdestiny Tue 16-May-17 19:51:25

I now use spaced soothing...

I know. With your 7 month old. So don't suggest you are using gentle methods. You're not.

When I have another child... I don't need to go down this route again

We disagree on your suggestion that you are using gentle methods (you're not). But this. This I can completely identify with.

I made all of the mistakes with my firstborn. All of them. Her sleep habits were atrocious. Made worse from the fact that I was pregnant again when she was 5 months old, it was an awful time.

Things came to ahead at 13 months old, having tried everyone, I did Cry It Out. Now there's a definate non-gentle sleep training method. Into cot, shut door. That's it (I was 8 months pregnant, full time teaching and emotional and exhausted anyway at the time - I was heavily emotionally affected by it all).

This was, I believe, the defining point in me learning more about good sleep habits in babies. I accepted that I did the only possible option I had, it was horrendus and I would never, ever get into that situation agsin with subsequent children. Never.

I think I over compensated with DC2. I was so hand-off with his sleep that I missed out on cuddles. But he slept brilliantly. I think I found a happy balance by DC3 and 4.

So I do identify with what you are saying. My only point is that you are trying to pretend the methods you are using are gentle. They aren't. Controlled crying is NEVER going to be gentle. Necessary, yes. But not gentle, regardless of age but certainly not under 1y old.

riddles26 Tue 16-May-17 20:09:48

I only use it with her whinging, not with cries and especially not with tears. As I mentioned, the reason for using spaced soothing is that after doing PU/PD for a month, I now know her sounds and can clearly tell that she wants to sleep but is working out how to get there, she's not crying herself there. Ive learnt the hard way that me going in aggravates her and she takes much longer to sleep. I know you don't have tolerance for whinging when falling asleep but in our case, I rarely even get to the first episode of going into the room to soothe her and she's asleep. These episodes are few and far between. More often than not, she happily chats to herself and falls asleep when put down.

While I agree that true CC where baby is crying is not gentle in any aspect, I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on my situation as this isn't getting either of us anywhere. As I have said many times, I fully advocate your techniques and hope that if and when we do manage to have another baby, they will work and I will not end up in this situation.

Although self settling has never been my aim, I also hope that by sharing my experience of not ensuring my little one had enough sleep in the first 2 months, the OP of this thread will focus on just getting their baby to sleep often enough and not make the mistakes I did.

FATEdestiny Wed 17-May-17 10:45:27

Its the normalizing of not responding to baby's communication that I find so distasteful.

"Whinging" is the communication of unhappiness. It's not a giggle or a laugh and baby has no words or other means to communicate feelings to you.

A cry is one of a few of babies only means of communication. Call it whinging or frustration if you will, there are certainly many meanings behind cries, but they are all unhappiness in some degree. I know there are less urgent cries than others - but all mean baby is not happy and content in that moment.

Choosing to ignore baby's communication and the normalizing of baby being unhappy and ignored is not ok. Other parents don't do that.

There will be loads of times to come where baby's sleep may go to pot. Where no amount of picking up and putting down will help. Cuddles don't even help - when baby just feel a rotten and cant sleep.
- teething
- sore throat pain, ear ache, immunisation reactions
- blocked nose disrupting breathing lying down
- cutting molars (possibly the worse 4 consecutive nights sleep I've ever had)
- separation anxiety, scared of the dark/monsters (into the toddler years)

Once you have normalised ignoring baby being unhappy, the line is blurred. It becomes normal to tolerate your baby communicating unhappiness to you, because "that's just what they do".

Alongside it being normal and acceptable to ignore upset, you also fail to develop any adequate comforting mechanism for the rare occassions baby needs it (with CC being your only alternate if baby can't settle with PUPD). So come these rare occassions baby temporary needs extra comfort, you find giving less comfort to be the norm.

You also fail to develop coping strategies, as a parent, when baby is struggling to sleep. Given that you have previously normalised prioritising of your own well-being over your child's, it again normalises behaviour which - like it or not - is not normal for most parents.

blue2014 Wed 17-May-17 11:05:37

Fate I'm sorry but I feel your posts are coming as personally attacking to the PP. it's clear you have a strong view as does she but it's entirely untrue to say other parents don't ignore their babies whinging and crying, in fact I would say most parents do (I know because I stand out as the unusual one tripping myself up to run to DS every time a smile whine comes out, I'm happy doing it this way but I'm not sure I'm right and it's not my place to judge others and I don't)

Being a good parent is about being a good enough parent, not being a perfect self sacrificing human. In fact, in time that would be detrimental to a child who needs to have a parent who models appropriate self care to prevent the self sacrifice cycle perpetuating.

I say this with respect but let it go now. This is OPs thread and the responses stopped being to her quite some time ago.

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