5 week old unable to stay asleep - please help, at my wits end

(20 Posts)
moonriver32 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:14:16

DS is now 5 weeks old and since birth has been a terrible sleeper. However it seems to be getting worse!

Of course, he is too small to have any sort of routine and I am happy doing whatever it takes to get him to sleep (rocking, contact napping, walks etc) at this stage but the problem is that we can get him to sleep but nothing works to keep him asleep.

He has to have motion to fall asleep, so rocking, patting, in the pram, in the car etc. He will eventually go to sleep by one of these methods although it does take a while. However no matter what, once he's fallen asleep he will wake up between 5 minutes and max 30 minutes later. Even if he's asleep on me or my husband, he starts to squirm/thrash about and wakes himself up without fail. We have to constantly pat/jiggle when he's sleeping on one of us in order to try to keep him asleep. It doesn't seem to make a difference whether he's on our chests, in a moses basket, in his swing chair (which we've recently bought to see if the motion helped keep him asleep) - like clockwork he's awake within a few minutes. It is impossible to get anything done, or get any kind of sleep myself.

At night he will sleep 3-4 hours when he is first put down for the night (usually between 9 and 10pm when we go up to bed) swaddled and in his Snuzpod next to the bed. But once he wakes for a feed, he's back to waking up frequently (max half an hour or so) until we give up and have to get up at about 5am.

We've tried swaddling him for naps in the Snuzpod during the day, swaddling him in the swing chair, swaddling him in the moses basket. Nothing works! We've tried a dummy but if he falls asleep with this in he wakes as soon as he spits it out.

As a result we have a constantly overtired, screaming baby. He does suffer from colic/reflux (we think - nobody can tell us for sure, all seems to be trial and error) and has been having Gaviscon and just about to start Omeprazole. He screams whenever he is awake, and given that he doesn't ever sleep - this is all the time!

I'm at my wits end - I wouldn't mind if he wanted to sleep only on me all day but he won't even do that.

Any advice welcome, he is averaging about 8-9 hours sleep over a 24 hour period which for a newborn is ridiculously little. I genuinely don't know how he physically copes.

OP’s posts: |
Spam88 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:17:01

Have you tried a sling? You can go about your business and the motion should help keep him asleep. Doesn't help with night sleep obviously but I'm two kids down and still haven't worked that one out.

moonriver32 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:17:19

Forgot to add that he is breastfed but we've had a really hard time of it and does have one or two bottles a day now. But mostly bf. Because he is constantly screaming all day he skips all hunger cues so we never know when he is actually hungry or just tired. He is feeding every 2-2.5 hours probably.

OP’s posts: |
moonriver32 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:18:51

@Spam88 We have tried that (forgot to write that in the post!) - he screams in that too, will sometimes fall asleep after exhausting himself screaming but it still doesn't keep him asleep. We've bought 3 different kinds

OP’s posts: |
vixb1 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:29:37

Have you thought of taking him to a cranial osteopath? They might be able to have a look at him and see if he might be in pain maybe?

I'd say it was more extreme than your usual bad sleeper from what you've described?

If you can get to the point where he's at least doing one sleep cycle (30 mins), then you can work on self settling and connecting his sleep cycles and you're off!

moonriver32 Mon 16-Nov-20 09:40:29

We are now 8 weeks old and if anything his sleep is worse. Does anyone have any similar experiences/words of wisdom?? We have seen a cranial osteopath and other than it making him very sleepy on the day of the appointment it's not helped at all. Due to go back again though.

Last night he woke up crying every 30-40 minutes after 2am. I need help sad

OP’s posts: |
Poppet12345 Mon 16-Nov-20 21:36:56

What are you using for the colic?
Also is your little one showing signs of reflux? Much sickness?


flibbertigibbety Mon 16-Nov-20 21:41:24

Have you tried having a chat with a breastfeeding consultant? They could check your positioning and attachment and see if there's anything to be changed there to help him get a more comfortable and long lasting feed? Sorry you are struggling so much, it's such a difficult time.

sohypnotic Mon 16-Nov-20 21:44:03

Have you tried white noise? There are free loop videos on YouTube and various phone apps

MrsPatrickDempsey Mon 16-Nov-20 21:44:32


This is a really helpful insight into newborns and colic.

kyles101 Mon 16-Nov-20 21:45:18

Silent reflux?

Also, 30-40 mins is a sleep cycle - try googling rouse to sleep method, babies need to learn to link sleep cycles

WLmum Mon 16-Nov-20 21:48:26

How's his weight gain? Sounds like dd1. Turns out she was hungry :-( bf was just not working despite my incredible efforts. When he sleeps his longer stretch, is that after a bottle?

Laquila Mon 16-Nov-20 21:48:46

I wish I had something useful to impart but o just wanted to say I sympathise and it WILL get better! God knows when though really. I was v sceptical about cranial osteopathy but the day after our first session my eldest turned his head to the other side whilst lying on his back in his cot (he's never done that before!) and slept like that - I was amazed!

It does sound to me as though it's a stomach/digestive issue though - when did you last go back to the GP?

Serenschintte Mon 16-Nov-20 21:50:05

This sounds really tough.
Is he sort of propped up when he sleeping? We put books under the head end of the cot. That can help with the reflux.
Also maybe allergies - cows milk?
I used to feed at night in my side. So I could sleep. But that is only ok if you are not taking any medications.
Maybe it’s worth having some phone consultations with a sleep consultant- if it’s in your budget.
Also please sleep during the day when he naps. It really makes a difference. And at weekends get your DH to go for a walk with him so you can sleep.
It will get better but it’s so hard when it’s happening.

isittimetogotobed Mon 16-Nov-20 21:52:26

I am a big supporter of breastfeeding when it works well but i do wonder if he is not satisfied, would you consider a bottle and see if it settles him?

minipie Mon 16-Nov-20 22:05:59

OP you are describing exactly what I had with DD1.

She turned out to have tongue tie which made a big difference to feeding once we finally got it diagnosed and cut at 15 weeks. I think I also had fast letdown which she struggled with. Both of these, plus an immature digestive system, meant she was really, really windy.

The wind (and I guess not being properly full) woke her from naps. Then she got overtired due to short naps and that was a vicious cycle as overtired babies are hard to get to sleep and don’t stay asleep. We also developed a rock back to sleep habit in the night which meant she was unable to get back to sleep between sleep cycles. So was waking every sleep cycle. 30-40 minutes as you describe.

I would suggest getting a private lactation consultant in (I hope they are still allowed in lockdown as medical?) if you can afford it. See if there is tongue tie, poor latch, fast letdown or anything else that might be causing lots of wind and unsatisfying feeds.

Once feeding is sorted, if you are still getting 40 min wake ups, you could consider gentle sleep training - we did and it was revolutionary for us all, but I know it’s controversial on here. Definitely don’t try it until you’re confident feeding is sorted and you think his only issue is the habit of waking every sleep cycle.

minipie Mon 16-Nov-20 22:07:37

PS DD also did a longer stretch at the start of the night, nothing to do with having a bottle but more due to being exhausted from the day.

Sleazeyjet Mon 16-Nov-20 22:08:10

Have you had him checked for a tongue tie?

flibbertigibbety Wed 18-Nov-20 08:57:38

How are you doing @moonriver32 ? Thinking of you.

CatMum87 Tue 22-Dec-20 18:36:15

@moonriver32, this sounds exactly like my 5 week old! Will sleep on DH in the sling for 3-4 hours beginning of the evening and then up ever 30-40 minutes. Did you manage to improve things?? X

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