Sunday, July 13, 2008

Paul's Question

I feel so bad! In the post regarding parenting advice, Paul asked a question and I missed it.
Paul said...
First time dad with a 6 week old daughter
here, and while we're on the subject, I *want* some advice!While she slept a
good 5.5 hours solid the previous night, last night she didn't last more than 3
at a time, with an hour or two of feeding, changing and soothing in between.
When can we expect her to start sleeping through the night?

Hello Paul!
I'm so sorry that I missed this last week. The first three months can be exhausting for parents and baby. There were extenuating circumstances when P4 was born, but Pdaddy and I had to work out a schedule where he slept from 11pm to 3am and I grabbed a few hours after that. What we ended up doing was camping out on the recliner in our living room. Before sitting down, we had water (for us), a remote for the tv, numerous burp rags, diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for baby, and blankets. For two weeks, P4 was on a fiber optic bilirubin blanket called a Wallaby Blanket. I dug up some pics (and I promise I'll get to my point and your question in a moment).

So...what choices do you have that will help you keep sane while exhausted? Really, the baby's not going to sleep through the night until her body is ready and can regulate her metabolism to meet a more lengthy gap between feeding. I would have to say that we got to the six hour mark somewhere near the 12th week on average. Since you asked for suggestions, I'll tell you the different ways we managed. Take or leave any of this advice. What works for one family (or even one baby) may be useless for another family. Is there any way you guys could take shifts? Is there some place in your house where you can sit undisturbed and dose upright? Some babies really hate that they can't feel the warmth and noises they enjoyed in the womb. For P3, the only way we got her to sleep was Kangarooing. She was a 34 weeker and picked up the habit in the NICU. But, basically, Mike and I would put her bare skin to our bare skinned chests and swaddle ourselves with blankets. In that way, we could get her to sleep for five or six hours near at around eight weeks. Also, if your wife is nursing, this method makes it very easy to pop a boob in the baby's mouth without completely waking mom and dad. If you're not a co-sleep family or feel that you can't take shifts or really any of the above, then you could try white noise. Better still, see if you can find a CD with the sounds of a human heart beat or other comforting sound. The womb is a noisy place and some babies don't adjust well to the peace and quiet that we enjoy. Another helpful method is to do exactly the same thing every night for a while. Bath, book, cuddle, sing, nurse, sleep or some combination of the above. Just do it in the same order every night so your little one picks up on the routine. I can still sing P3 to drowsiness. LOL! Of course, I suck at singing so maybe she's just trying to block it out. I love Another thing to remember - it's not uncommon for a baby to be topsy-turvy on time. Are you able to nap when she does during the day? Forget cleaning the house or answering the phone or whatever you think you need to get done for a bit. Take the nap.
I hope that helps some. If you trust me, drop me an e-mail and I'll copy some of our favorite lullabies onto a disc for you. If you don't want to do that, then I understand and highly recommend checking out
Putumayo Kids Music. Their Dreamland CD is amazing. There's an added bonus in the fact that they are extremely committed to supporting secular charities that protect children and childhood. Good luck, dad!


Anonymous said...

Years, Paul. Years.

This is why they say parenting is hard. It is physically difficult.

Yes, all the things Possummomma said but . . . maybe not. Maybe your baby will wake up, at least for a snuggle and a quick feed, for years.

Nap when you can. Get used to things left undone. Get used to being tired.

And, remember, it will all be over so quickly. Snuggle the baby every moment that you can. In just a few years, your baby will want her privacy. Really. :)


P.S. On the music front, our 2-yo nephew prefers rock and roll. A steady beat is the key for him. :)

Christine said...

Paul - We swear by "The Happiest Baby on the Block" over here - book or DVD - for soothing a 0-3 month old. It was very helpful for us and other people we know.

Other than that, like P-Momma said, your baby will sleep when she is ready to sleep. There are so many developmental milestones in the first year of life that it overwhelms their little bodies and affects their sleep. My babe (5.5 mos) has slept a little bit better the past couple of nights (after months of hell) and I'm trying to keep her on a regular nap/nighttime schedule.

SWE said...

The pediatrician's version of "sleeping through the night" is midnight to 5 am. I always thought that was unfair, but apparently that's the way of it.

Hang in there, Paul. It takes awhile, but it does keep getting better. My husband and I were foolish and both tried to do everything. Shiftwork is a very, very good idea. That, and giving yourselves permission to let some things slide. Sage advice from people here-I wish I'd had that about 4 1/2 years ago...

Betsy said...

Our kids liked the Mama Bear - the teddy bear that makes womb sounds, found in the baby department - and it usually helped them sleep. When all else failed, we co-slept.

Good luck!

Erin said...

It's important to remember that sleeping through the night for an infant is only a five hour stretch, so making it 3.5 hours is over halfway there!

Angela said...

At your son's age, my son was going to bed at 7:30 p.m. We did a 10:00 p.m. feeing (to top him off before we went to bed), a 1:00 a.m. feeding, a 5:00 a.m. feeding, and then he would get up for the day at 9:00 a.m. He was also getting two naps during the day - one in the morning and one in the early afternoon.

By 3 months he was sleeping an uninterrupted seven hours (skipping the 1:00 a.m. feeding), so it does get better :) By six months the length of time your son sleeps will surprise you. Just hand in there until then and forget about how life used to be.

Paul said...

Thank you so much for your advice! :)

The missus and I have been trying taking turns - she handles sunday night through wednesday night, them I get thursday, friday and saturday night. The idea is, I get to sleep more during the week, so I'm not a complete zombie at work. In practice, doing consecutive nights isn't working too well, so we're adapting to handling alternate nights, depending on how bad the previous night was.

We seem to be falling into a similar pattern to Angela: feeding around 9pm, then often she'll sleep until another feeding around 12am. She'll awake for another at 3-4 am, then will last until around 7am. Only having to get up once isn't really all that bad.

I've noticed that if I can get to her and feed her quickly enough, she never fully wakes up, so I can get her down again without too much fuss. I'm not sure whether I should wake her from a deep sleep to feed her if it's time, or wait for her to start waking herself. I know if I miss the early signs, and she's crying by the time I get the bottle warmed, I'll be pacing the landing with her to get her back to sleep afterwards!

PM, I'll definitely check out that dreamland CD. We've been leaving the radio playing the local classical station overnight, which is mostly ok, but I wouldn't class all of the tracks they play as relaxing.

Thanks all for your encouragement and advice!

Gramomster said...

A little late on the uptake here, but the Happiest Baby on the Block worked wonders for my grandson. Also, a wonderful CD by Mickey Hart called Music to be Born By. The underlying track is his own son's fetal heart-tones, and is overlaid with repetitive, gentle, guitar. My 2nd and 3rd kids were born to this (homebirths), my grandson was born to this (midwife birthing center); with my own, this CD facilitated weening, with my grandson it facilitated the move into his crib. Seriously, we wore out 2 tapes and one CD before all was said and done.
It does get better. Now at 2, my grandson sleeps about 12 hours straight, plus a 2 hour nap. Glorious!!!

Tanya said...

I agree with several other posters. Get the book: "The Happiest Baby on the Block"! It is a fantastic, fantastic book.

Also, if you're not against co-sleeping, try it! I slept with my son until he was about three months. He was a bit odd though.. He pretty much slept through from day one. I'd have to wake him to feed him most times, and the only reason I did that was because I was engorged to the point of pain!

Also, don't try and be too strict with schedules and with what you WANT the baby to be doing. Just go with what works. With Patrick, after he stopped sleeping with me, he went to the swing, and he'd stay there the entire night! He did that for several months, and then all of a sudden decided he didn't like that. Tried his crib, and Voila! He's slept through basically every night since then, and he's now 2.25 years old.

It does get better. Just try to be patient and enjoy the snuggling time while you can.

Paul said...

My wife has mentioned the Happiest Baby on the Block book - I think she read about it on a pregnancy forum she's subscribed to. Seems to get rave reviews!

She also brings our daughter into our bed to sleep with her on occasion. I don't mind this at all, but I'm scared to do so myself. I tend toss and turn a lot while sleeping (especially if being, um, chased by daleks). I'm frightened that I'll squash her or drop her off the bed.

bill said...

Paul: I was kind of afraid of that, too. However my wife said "hey, it's natural. If it were really that dangerous, the human race would have died out long ago." So, I tried it, and there really was no problem. That was about 20 years ago :-).

Kilted Dad said...

We were lucky, both of ours slept through the night at about 8 weeks. And I do mean, through the night.

Only thing I can recommend is have large babies. Ours were 9lbs 12 oz and 10lbs 2oz, respectively. The Happiest Baby on the Block videos were very helpful in getting them down. Once we would get them down, they pretty much stayed down. There would be 2 week sprints for the first year or so where they would wake and want to be fed, growth spurts and developmental milestones, probably.

I think your observation that getting to them quickly is very true. If I hear my oldest stir, I'd be up and on him in seconds, pushing a binky back in his mouth.

If that didn't work, my wife would get up and nurse him back to sleep.

Erin said...

I do agree with having large babies.;) My son was 9 pounds at birth and started sleeping 8 hour stretches at 8 weeks. That's not to say that we haven't had some frustrating sleep moments since, but by and large, he's been a good sleeper!