Question: My 8 weeks baby girl never sleeps during the day, sometimes she falls asleep while breastfeeding and when I take her into her bed, she wakes up straight away ... She is always tired and crying because she is not having any naps during the day. And during the night, she can not sleep on her own, also i tried all the bed routine stuff you mentioned but still not working with her. She will only sleep while breastfed very late at night and only for about 5 hours So in total and in 24hours she only sleep for 7 hours maximum.
Heidi’s Answer: Dear Nana,
That is indeed little sleep your baby girl is getting and I know how tough it is on you as well. It is actually not all too rare for such a young baby to sleep that little, but I’m sure that does not console you a lot right now ...
The first thing to do now is to take away her overtiredness. That means you will help her sleep in every possible way, without worrying about installing bad habits. Only when she is well rested will it be time to get started with her learning to sleep by herself, sleep regularly and so on. There will be enough time for that, most experts say you cannot spoil a child until at least 8 months.
So your best bet now is to relax and nurse, walk, rock, swing, sing, … her to sleep. This will ask time from your side as well but I don’t think you get much time for yourself right now either, with her being awake and cranky a lot of the time. Once you have helped her get more sleep, your investment will start paying off quickly.
A few things you can do:
- Nurse her to sleep. Do make sure she is well fed so at first whenever she starts dozing off, urge her to drink a bit more. After a while there will be no more waking her up so then you let her sleep. Hold her for at least 20-30 minutes before putting her down. You will know when she is fast asleep when her breathing slows down and her body is all quiet and relaxed.
- Carry her in a baby sling. A simple wrap will be perfect at this age (check the different types of baby slings for further info). This will work well during the day at 'naptimes'. After having fed, changed and played a little, wrap her in the sling. You can go out for a walk or stay at home and maybe get some chores done (not that I want to put you to work but I know sometimes things must get done and it is easier with a sleeping baby in a sling than with a cranky baby in the crib). If you haven’t used a sling before, she may need to get used to it before she relaxes and sleeps in it.
- Take her for long walks in the stroller. When you have the time and feel up to it, being on the move will make it easier for her to fall asleep and to stay asleep.
Experiment with swings, rocking chairs, … anything you notice helps her sleep and all without worrying about the bad habits. All you want right now is for her to catch up on sleep. From there we can then work on establishing good sleep habits …
Very important with all these is to mind the risk of SIDS. Especially with holding her after nursing to sleep. There is always a risk of you falling asleep as well. Being overtired increases the risk of unsafe-ness for her, whether you fall asleep with her in the sofa or on the bed.
Two more suggestions: if you haven’t recently you may want to take your daughter on a doctor’s visit to exclude any medical cause. Or if you can, go see a pediatric osteopath who may spot cranial or vertebral troubles that are easy to cure and that may relieve your baby girl greatly.
And lastly, but very importantly, do look after yourself well. I know all too well that that is easier said than done but it is really really important. Get any sleep you can get and do not hesitate to ask for help from your partner or other family members. Even one afternoon of babysitting may help recharge your batteries a bit.