Friday, December 28, 2007

Sleepy Newborns

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Nursing a newborn is not easy. They tend to fall asleep after they get a bit of food in their tummies. I am sure it is the same story with bottle-fed babies. The day will come when they stay awake and eat, but what do you do until then? You are trying to start the Babywise schedule from the beginning and it is taking what little energy you have to keep the baby up just to eat, much less play afterward!

I only have experience with one child on this. I started Brayden at 9 weeks, and frankly he did not have a problem of not waking up, it was quite the opposite, so some of you may be wondering what on earth I am talking about and how you can get some of that in your life. They just come that way, and yes, in my opinion the sleepy one is easier than the wide awake one.

With Kaitlyn, I worked on one wake time a day each week. She always fell asleep during feedings, and so I just worked on getting her to stay awake for one wake time each week. For example, for the first week I just really focused on keeping her awake after the first feeding. The remainder I let her do what she did. If she fell asleep, I put her in her bed. The last wake time I worked on was after her 1:00 pm feeding. It was a hard one for her! I know that at 4 weeks she was still zonking after that and stayed asleep until I woke her for her next feeding. I can't remember her exact age when she started being able to stay awake for that one, but it was definitely older than 4 weeks.

How do you keep them awake?

  • It requires all of your focus and energy
  • Rubbing her shoulders
  • Cool rag or cold wet wipe
  • Sitting her up
  • Talking, singing, etc.
  • Change her diaper between sides or halfway through the bottle
  • Tickle
Even after all that, there are no guarantees. It is just a difficult time. It will take some time, but the more you work on keeping her awake for a full feeding, the better she will get at it. It is worth the effort. You want a full feeding and you want to get her to stay awake during waketimes in order to sleep better at night.
Reader Advice:
  • Rachel Stellaaa said...
    What I found to work the best with my sleepy baby (tickling him etc was not effective) was to not keep him too warm and wrapped up when I was feeding him, and when he started to fall asleep, put him beside me (or the floor, whatever you like) unwrapped and he would probably kick around and fuss for a second because he wanted to be nice and snug again, which would then wake him up enough to eat again. Sometimes I would have to do this several times throughout a feed.
    May 23, 2008 9:33 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Oh yes, Rachel. I have found that to be true also. Thanks for pointing that out!
    May 26, 2008 10:03 AM
Reader Questions:
  • Catherine said...
    I am having a random problem at night! My son eats and falls asleep lying on me. Then when I move him to his crib, he stays asleep while I move him, although he jostles a little, bit then when he hits the crib he startles awake (I can see him and hear him startle) and can't get back to sleep. The other night I let him CIO but he went 1.5 hrs intermittently crying and just couldn't do it. Finally I just had to put him in the swing bc he was so worked up. This has been happening for the last few weeks- really since he came out of the extremely sleepy, can't wake for anything, newborn phase. It's really frustrating though and really messes up our nights! Any thoughts anyone?
    March 4, 2008 10:42 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Kaitlyn did that a few times. Be sure he is getting a full feeding in--if he falls asleep before he is done eating, wake him to finish. That way you know he is full. As he learns to soothe himself, he will get better about it. Hang in there!
    March 4, 2008 1:42 PM
    Catherine said...
    Thanks Valerie. What did you do when Kaitlyn did that?
    March 5, 2008 10:51 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    It was never consistent for her, I think one time we tried rocking her to no avail so I just fed her. Another time we did the swing, that worked. Then we just moved her up to her bed after she fell asleep and she somehow stayed asleep. It is all a normal part of the learning process. Stay consistent and hang in there! Things will start to improve and you will have less to worry about at a a time :)
    March 5, 2008 10:51 AM

25 comments:

Tobie said...

My 4-week-old son is a sleepyhead like your Kaitlyn. Until about a week ago, he seemed to be doing quite well with basically eating and sleeping on a 3-hour routine, with his waketimes primarily being limited to his nursing period. He is a big boy and is gaining weight and length well, so I am not
concerned about these. However, as he has become more alert, I have made the mistake in the past week of keeping him up too long for his waketimes. Then, when it is time for him to sleep, he cries on and off throughout his entire supposed nap period. During the next cycle, he will eat lazily and fall asleep immediately, after which I must rouse him for his next feeding. After finding your site last night and perusing a bit (what a blessing it
is!), I have allowed him to sleep if he seemed tired or fussy at all after eating. This worked well this morning. After the 1 p.m. feeding, however, I put him down at 1:45, after feeding and changing him. He slept until about 2:05, at which point he started fussing. He has cried until now (2:55), and I have taken him out of his bassinet and put him in the swing to see if this works to help soothe him to sleep. Any further comments about how to handle the baby who cries throughout the entire nap period would be much appreciated.

Also, in reading about your working with Kaitlyn on her waketimes, I was wondering if you meant that each week she mastered a waketime (week one,
mastered the first morning waketime, week two the second, etc.) and that you kept adding one or if you just worked on one and then the next week worked
on another, allowing her to sleep immediately after her feeding in the morning if necessary.

Your site is extremely helpful. In one of your posts you mentioned being a part of a Babywise support group. How might I find if one is available in
my area?

Thank you so much for your time and your insights!

Plowmanators said...

Tobie,

I seem to remember answering this question...did you post it somewhere else, too? Did it get answered? Thanks!

Tobie said...

Being my first time to post, I had a bit of trouble, and I may have accidentally attached my comments elsewhere on the site as well. Rachel's reply about keeping the baby awake during a feeding was really helpful. I used that technique today to rouse my sleepy son during a feeding, and it worked! As to my questions about crying through a nap period, I did not see a direct answer (though once again, I'm not sure where my original post may have ended up). However, perusing your site has given me many helpful tips--primarily keeping the wake time short. I do think my son may be going through a growth spurt, and your entry on these was quite insightful. This may explain his shortened naps at points during the day and his need for more frequent feedings. I will keep reading through the site for ideas and I'm sure I'll be posting more questions soon. Now, my son is down for a few hours of sleep (I hope), and I am going to try to get some rest as well!

Plowmanators said...

I am sorry if it didn't get answerd Tobie! I am glad Rachel's reply helped.

Try to pick certain waketimes in the day that you know he can stay awake and keep him up. Remember at his age, waketime will be 45-60 minutes total (sometimes maybe only 30 minutes total even). If he is overly tired, he won't sleep well. But he also needs to have enough waketime or else he will wake up crying, just as you experienced.

With Waketimes, it seemed it took Kaitlyn a few days to be awake for a waketime, then I gave it a few days to really click. So we just did one per week. I didn't work down the line, though. Her last waketime we worked on was her 1 PM feeding. She was most drowsy at that time of day, which worked well for me since my son napped at 1, then I could take a nap immediately following her 1PM feeding.

Once we had the waketime down, she was awake for it. So once the morning waketime was "awake" she stayed up the next week for that while we added another.

Certain parts of the country have Babywise (or Growing Kids International) classes. You can also get a contact mom through Growing Kids International (thre is a link to their site on the left side of this blog on every page). There are also many online support groups. Those are the ones I am in. We don't have anything local where I am.

It sounds like things are improving for you. Please let me know if you have more questions! Good luck!

Kim said...

I have a 5 week old that is bottle fed and was on a 3-hour schedule. I have been working on BW since the beginning and now all my work seems to have gone out the window during the day. He wakes on his own at night for his feedings. Up until 2 weeks ago he stayed awake at the bottle (his formula has been changed many times due to colic/acid reflux - he has been on soy for the past two weeks). I have tried everything to get him to stay up at least one hour for feed and wake time. He is able to nap for the full 2 hours until his next feed in the morning. After that I can't seem to get him to sleep more than one hour - most of the time 30 to 40 minutes. Yesterday he CIO for 58 minutes on/off till next feeding. He seems to be waking out of hunger (sucking hand, rooting). Is the sleeping at the bottle typical for his age? Are babies at this age typically on a 2.5 or 3 hour schedule? Could it be a growth spurt? I have to go back to work after next week and am trying my best to fix the daytime nap situation. Please help.

HanClinto said...

I have a 4-week old. We have not started consistently letting him CIO for naps yet, though I intend to today. He successfully CIO this morning, but he only slept for a very short time before it was time to feed him again.
My question is this: the most effective way of waking him for a feeding is to lay him next to me or on the floor till he's uncomfy enough to wake and feed some more. Is this a problem when it comes time to letting him lie in bed to fall asleep? I'm concerned about mixed signals, where sometimes lying down on his back means "wake up!" and at others, it means "go to sleep"

Rachel Stellaaa said...

HanClinto
I think the important thing to remember is to always do some kind of nap ritual before you put him down for a nap (sing a certain song, cuddle, rock him for a few minutes etc). Also, if you put him down in the same place to sleep and darken the room this will signal nap time for him too (rather than time to eat).

With my son, now 6 months, he starts to get sleepy the second I start to sing his "nap song" to him or when I cradle him in my arms in his room with the light off. Babies are great at associating things, as long as you are fairly consistent.

Plowmanators said...

Kim,

This might be too late, perhaps you have figured it out...he might need shorter waketime. He could need as short as 30-45 minutes. If baby is crying for a long time or waking early, it is most likely because he was up too long. Could definitely be a growth spurt. There is one at 4 and 6 weeks. Schedules at that age are typically a combo 2.5-3 hour schedule.

Plowmanators said...

HanClinto,

I don't think this should be a problem. Babies are ridiculously smart. At that age, he will spend most of his time on his back doing various things. Diaper changes, playing, sleeping, and in his case eating. When you are feeding him, he is not in his bed, you are there with him, he is eating...there are many differences. He is smart enough to get it.

As Rachel said (thanks!), if you do a ritual before a nap then he will easily distinguish different activities.

HanClinto said...

Thanks for the reply! That's a good point; I have noticed that he has no problem being on his back when it comes to diaper changes -- he reacts very differently to being there, rather than being set on the floor when he's supposed to be eating.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome!

Anila's Mom ;) said...

Hi!

I am VERY NEW to BW and I have a few questions, one of which pertains to this particular post, one not - I will ask both here as Im not exactly sure where to post the other ones...

My daughter is 5 weeks old and I did NOT read BW in the beginning but rather took the "advice" of my sister who did BW with all 3 of her kids succesfully. It turns out she was not giving me all the nitty gritty details and my impression was to just start off getting the baby on a 3-hour feeding schedule, starting at whatever time you want to wake up every morning and ending at the same time every night. I knew the cycle should be eat, play, sleep but she also told me to just try to keep the baby awake during the feeding and as long as I could after the feeding, even if it was just 5 minutes. Obviously, this is NOT what you are supposed to do but thats what I was doing up until this week when I discovered this is not accurate... One good thing we DID secure since we brought her home was the 3-hour feeding schedule (7,10,1,4,7,10 and once in the night whenever she wakes up)... I wound up buying the book and now I know what has to be done the correct way but of course, I still have q's...

SO - in regards to keeping up a sleepy baby, how "awake" does she really need to be during feedings? I do EVERYTHING I can to keep her up (poking her, tickling her feet, talking, singing, blowing on her, rubbing her shoulder, cold washcloth etc!!!) and sometimes, she just WILL NOT stay up. She is not totally asleep due to all the poking and prodding but she is still sleeping. I have been trying to keep her awake during feedings since the beginning and very few of them are succesful. Is the fact that she is not in REM while eating sufficient or should I somehow strive for an even MORE awake baby???

As for question #2:

Anila's cycles are as follows:

eat (and try to stay awake) - usually takes about 1/2 an hour or so

wake - is or tries to be until 1.5 hours prior to next feeding

sleep - 1.5 hours (but sometimes its only 1)

I know that at the moment she can be on a 2 1/2 - 3 hour schedule but I not sure what to do if she gets up from her nap after an hour instead of 1 1/2 hours - should I feed her right away and then start the next cycle from there, throwing off the rest of the day's cycles?? Or should I keep her up for an extra half hour at the end of the following cycle to get her back on track?

And finally, question #3:

It is to my understaning that initially I should be giving her 2 "bedtimes" - in other words, I should give her the 7:00 pm feeding and then at 8:30 "officially" put her to bed and then give her a potential dream feed at 10:00. I tried to do this for the first time last night, instead of just making her last feeding at 10:00 and she literally WAILED until i finally got her at almost 10:00. I read the post about CIO and all that but my husband and I were freaking out and just couldnt take it. i was literally almost crying cuz I felt so bad and so did he. Is it ok to just do a regular cycle at 7:00 instead of making this her last normal feeding and make her official bed time 10:00 for now (and then gradually make it earlier and work towards 8:30)???

I think thats it for now so thanks in advance for any help that you can give me. If there are any details or other things you need to know about how we are doing things, feel free to ask!! THANK AGAIN!! ;)

Plowmanators said...

The more awake she is, the better. Just do your best. My daughter slept better for naps if she was fully awake during her feedings. I would keep striving for her to be more awake, but know you are not alone in your efforts.

I would shorten waketimes up to one hour each. As for what to do when she wakes early, see:

Waketime When Baby Wakes Early : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/04/waketime-when-baby-wakes-early.html

Waketime When They Wake Early: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/waketime-when-they-wake-early.html

Waking Early From Naps/Won't Fall Asleep For Naps: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/waking-early-from-napswont-fall-asleep.html

You can give her waketime after her 7 feeding if she needs it, which is quite possible at this young age. I wouldn't keep her up from 7-10:30ish (once the feeding was over and she was in bed) though. That is much too long for a 6 week old.

lisamcd said...

My son is eight weeks and does not wake up after 1.5 to 2 hours of sleep during the day. He is on a 3 to 3.5 hour schedule but I must wake him from nearly every nap to keep this up. I also have to work to get him to eat during feedings because even though I undress him and try to tickle him he still falls asleep. After feedings though he will stay awake for a good amount of time before I put him down to sleep and he settles in quickly with little or no crying. He is still only sleeping 5-6 hours at night. Should I change his schedule at all or do you think he'll learn to sleep at night on this schedule?

Plowmanators said...

He sounds like he is doing well. I would just keep at it!

Amanda said...

Hi- My 4-week old son very consistently wants to eat every 3 hours. We are on a 6-9-12-3 schedule. However, we can't seem to get the Sleep-Wake-Eat cycle down. He's a very sleepy baby, so I've been working on trying to keep him awake during a feeding (which is really difficult). However, if he wakes up, then he won't go back to sleep until he takes his next bottle. I've tried putting him down about 1 to 1 1/2 hours before he needs to eat, but he's still as alert as ever. We've tried crying it out for 45 min, and then try the swing and even that won't make him sleepy. Do I just need to keep trying to let him cry it out? It's been this way for a few weeks now & I'm feeling rather discouraged... any advice?

Plowmanators said...

Amanda, it sounds like there is a good chance he is awake too long. At four weeks, he needs only 30-60 minutes (at most) of waketime. This includes feeding time. If he is up too long, he will not be able to fall asleep. See these posts for more guidance:

Optimal Waketime Lengths : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/07/optimal-waketime-lengths.html

CIO Bootcamp: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/cio-bootcamp.html

Waking Early From Naps/Won't Fall Asleep For Naps: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/waking-early-from-napswont-fall-asleep.html

davidsarah said...

My problem is not that my newborn is too sleepy, but he is too awake. At 12 days old today, he was up for 8 straight hours. I do my best not to overstimulate but have a two year old running around all day. I tried to get him down while she was napping and he still wouldn't sleep. I even tried nursing him to sleep (typically a no-no)and that didn't work either. Have you ever dealt with this? How am I supposed to start implimenting a schedule when he refuses to sleep? When I put him in his crib awake but drowsy is it okay to let him cry for a few mintues or is it way too early for that? I have been waking him up 3 hrs after his last feeding to try to stick to the schedule but am now wondering if I shouldn't do that. He sleeps well at night and is typically a happy baby. He is a bit on the gassy side so we started mylicon this evening hoping that helps him burp and not give the air a chance to travel to his tummy. Any ideas for what I can do? I really want to do BW with him like I did with my daughter but am getting so stressed that things aren't going well. Thanks so much!

Plowmanators said...

He sounds just like Brayden. I have totally been there.

I started CIO with Kaitlyn at one week, so I think he is old enough so long as you feel like he is ready. With both of my kids, I just knew when they were ready for it. I knew with Brayden at 3 weeks, but I wasn't ready yet.

Just hang in there. It is hard. You really won't remember how hard it was with your first. I remember reading my journal from when Brayden was a baby while Kaitlyn was a baby. I was surprised to see that things were WAY harder with him than with her. You just don't remember the work it takes.

Here are a few posts for you to consult:

CIO Bootcamp: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/cio-bootcamp.html

Waking Early From Naps/Won't Fall Asleep For Naps: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/waking-early-from-napswont-fall-asleep.html

hopeful said...

hello,

my daughter is 4 weeks old and WILL NOT stay awake for waketimes after nursing. i have just started bw, and i have a couple of questions:

1. my daughter's eyes are closed and 'sort of' sleeping during feeding times, but is actively sucking. does this mean she is sleeping and i need to wake her up? or is her active sucking a sign that she is awake?

2. she falls asleep and sleeps thru her waketime and mostly thru her nap time. is her sleepiness a developmental thing, and i can wait until she is a bit older to try to coax her awake for her waketimes? or should i fight her sleepiness and try to get her to wake up?

thanks...your blog has been a lifesaver for me.

hopeful said...

oh! i forgot to ask another question:

3. i am currently on a 3 hour feeding schedule. do you suggest that i change to a 2.5 hour schedule to accomodate her sleepiness?

Plowmanators said...

Hopeful,

1. When she is actively sucking with her eyes closed, she is awake. As she gets older, she will most likely keep her eyes open, though. It is also easy for her to drift to sleep while sucking, so just pay attention and catch her as she drifts so you can prevent her from falling asleep.

2. She will get more awake as she gets older. You want to keep her awake to a point, but not beyond what she can do successfully. So at four weeks (now she is about 6, so lets say at 6 weeks) she would have about 45 minute waketime including feeding. Some have longer, some have shorter.

3. You can be on 3 hours if she sleeps until the three hour mark. If she is waking at 2.5, change to 2.5 :)

Xorussi said...

My son is two weeks old. After two magical days in the hospital where he slept like an angel for 5 and 6-hour stretches, I quickly became frustrated to bring him home and find he was eating every 30 min to an hour, and would not nap more than 15 min to an hour. The night stretches were particularly difficult, because I was dead tired.

Exasperated, about a week ago I began reading this blog during every feeding. My attention was drawn to this post right away. I then went on to purchase and read Baby Whisperer solves all your problems. I did everything to keep baby awake, but to no avail he still fell asleep 10 min in ans sucked lazily for 20-40 min, as long as I would let him. When i tried to remove him, he would increase suction to hold my nipple (ouch!). He was 6.5 lbs at birth, so it did not seem i had a problem like Hogg describes with premies etc. But nothing I did would keep him awake.

I finally went on to do the yield test Hogg talks about, and also looked up infant stomach capacity. I figure he should be eating at least 3 oz at each feeding in order to last thru a 3-hr cycle. My yield was fine, so I assume it's because of his lazy suckling that he's not getting enough, no matter how long i give him, or what efforts (I am also monitoring how much he swallows by keeping a finger next to his esophagus.

So yesterday, determined to do whatever it takes to enable him to eat enough and sleep well, I let him feed at the breast for 20 min, burp, then drink expressed milk from the bottle. I know the flow rate is a little high, because he spits up some, but after eating 3 oz from the bottle, he is then happy thru awake time, and sleeps well thru the nap...had to wake him at the end of each nap. Did the breast/expressed via bottle at each feed, and he did great. The whole day and night went as planned.

I know this is not ideal, I wish i were EBF, but maybe when he becomes a little more alert, I can go back to EBF. Anyway, I am not going to punish myself, because I know he needs the food and also his sleep, and this allows us to achive it. My LC says this is okay, as long as I am keen to watch out for nipple confusion and halt expressed breast milk via bottle immediately if i encounter any problems.

Has anyone else tried this or has similar experience? Today is day two, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Aisha Gardner said...

Geez, I swear I feel like I am the only one .. these comments and post are heaven sent ... I'm starting to go crazy and cry with him ... I hope it gets easier

Helen said...

Hello!! I cannot say how many times I have referenced your blog for help with our little one. Thank you so much for being a great resource for so many people! Of course I have a question for you :)
I have a 7 week old. He does great during daytime feedings and aside from his 6 week growth spurt he's been doing 3-3.5 hour feeds very well. He is only waking once during the night (3am) and goes until his wake time at 7. During the dream feed I have to unswaddle him and walk around with him nursing to even get to 15 mins of nursing. His middle of the night feeding is impossible to get 15 mins! He will eat for 7-10 mins on one side and even if I change his diaper, or unswaddle him he will not eat more. Should I be working for a full feed in the middle of the night? I also don't want him to wake up sooner than he could go because he isn't as full.
Thank you for your wisdom!

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