Question: My 3 week old baby sleeps great during the day and at night. Once she falls asleep that is. When I lay her in her bed at about 22h after her feed and night routine (I take her to her room, give her a "massage" with body cream, put on her pj and feed her) she starts crying. She won't take a dummy so that's not a solution. She's quiet as long as the music on her mobile plays but once it stops she starts crying again. This normally lasts for about 1,5 to 2 hours. What can be the cause and solution?
Heidi's Answer: Hi there, good things first: it is wonderful how you are establishing a great consistent bedtime routine with your precious newborn, well done.
It is also a treasure to have her sleep that well, once asleep.
The good thing is that with such a young baby, there is no risk of spoiling. It is OK to relax about it and help soothe her for now, you'll have enough time to work on the self soothing in the later months.
About the cause: many, if not most, newborn babies need several weeks (and some need months) to get used to not being in the comfort, warmth and 100% safe womb environment. And to get used to 'sleep on earth'.
Being alone, in a crib, in the dark ... can be quite daunting for a tiny newborn baby as it is.
That's not to say there is nothing you can do.
The first thing is to help build her confidence. That starts with your own confidence. If you decide to put her down in her crib, do it with confidence. I know in these early weeks, our confidence can easily fade away. But don't worry, take courage and act confidently. It's easy just by talking to her in a determined and positive manner.
So do say "time for bed sweetie, time to get some nice sleep, I'll put you down and will be back soon to check on you ..."
but do not say "poor thing I'm leaving you all alone here, but I hope you can sleep ..."
(a bit exaggerated but just to make the point ;))
The things you say, and the way you say it, have a greater impact than we ofen realise.
Also make sure her room is not too dark, and make sure she can see her musical mobile.
It's OK to stay with her until she sleeps. If possible, put her down and sit next to her. But if that doesn't work at all, it is OK to rock her to sleep for now.
(At this age, getting the most sleep for each of you is more important than teaching self soothing. This is really a time to cuddle up together and enjoy this precious time as much as possible.)
Other practical little things: do make sure she is well burped before putting her down. A clean diaper of course, and a comfy, not too hot not too cold pj and probably a wearable blanket or sleeping bag.
Something else to look into: is she always uncomfortable when lying down? For example when, during the day, you put her on her back to change, or play, or rest, but stay with her - does she also start crying?
If so, she may have some physical discomfort. Many babies have tiny blockages (nerves, vertebrae), often after difficult deliveries. A good osteopath, specialised to help babies, can do wonders in these cases.
Best of luck, let me know, Kindly, Heidi
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