Question: Hi, My son is now 9 weeks old, and I have a few issues regarding his sleep. To resume, he goes to bed around 7pm and will sleep until midnight. Then will feed and go back to sleep till 3am, will feed again and sleep till 5am and then a little feed and back to bed till 6.30am. At this time we get up and he normally gets tired again about one hour later. He will go back to sleep, but the problem is if I put him down in his maxi cosi and we go driving, walking, shopping...he will stay asleep and sleep for about 4 hours.
However if we are staying at home and goes back to his bed, he will wake up every hour. Most of the time if I pick him up and feed him he will go back to sleep, the problem is that I am feeding him well too often and it's becoming a habit. I have tried to stay at home for a few days now, and he just won't sleep more than one hour at a time.
The strange thing is at 6.30pm, he will feed, then will go to bed awake with a dummy and fall asleep on his own. However he won't take the dummy to fall asleep in the day. So apart from the bedtime routine, where he goes down on his own, all the rest of the time or night, I have to feed him to sleep, or put him in the car and he will also fall asleep on his own. He has proven that he can nap for 2, 3 or 4 hours when staying in his maxi cosi, so why can't he sleep more than one hour in his bed during the day? If he can sleep 5 hours in his bed at night why not in the day?
Could you please give me some advice? Just to add some info, I am still breastfeeding him, he just gets one bottle of formula around the midnight wake up. Thank you Marilyne
Heidi's Answer: Dear Marilyne,
A young baby has short sleep cycles. Each cycle takes about 50-60 minutes, during which baby goes through phases of light, deep and then again lighter sleep. At the end of each cycle, before the next one begins, there is a delicate half-awake moment. This is when he'll wake so easily. When he's on the move and/or nicely confined in his maxi-cosi, this awake moment is there also, but the movement/confinement helps keep him asleep.
Why he does sleep through that moment during the night in his bed will have two main causes:
- Nights are quieter, darker, less activity around, ... than days. The light in his room may be different because no/less light is coming in from outside, or there may be a night light in his room, or in the corridor, ... Sounds and activity around the house or on the street are also bound to be different.
- His baby sleep patterns are developing and one of the first milestones is to develop a circadian rhythm: the difference between day and night. It's very good to have that (= more sleep at night than during the day) but it's very probably also playing in what you see. But what also plays a role in those sleep patterns is the times at which he actually goes down and starts sleeping.
What you can do:
- I would avoid those 4 hour naps in the maxi-cosi. That is a very long nap, longer than what he would probably do when in bed, even if he slept there for longer than an hour. Also staying in the maxi-cosi position for that long in a row is not good for his developing spine.
- It is a good idea to do take him out for a walk or a drive in the maxi-cosi or in a safe sling but ideally around 2,5 hours. I'd do that once a day.
- At the other nap times, put him down as usual (even if that means feeding or rocking to sleep for now). Quietly go to him after about 50 minutes after dozing off. Place your hand on his tummy, or hold his shoulders, or stroke his forehead, ... something that does not startle him but reassures. The idea is to keep him asleep and help him through that awake moment in between cycles. It will take some practice, try it at each nap for at least a week, you should see results soon.
- He's still very young to be squeezed into a rigid sleep schedule. But watch him closely and look out for early sleepy signals: staring, losing interest in activity, the first yawn: these are signs to get him to bed asap from now. (The Sleepy Signs Log in the "Nap in a Snap" guide helps you learn to recognize and use these sleepy signs).
When he starts yawning a lot, rubbing his eyes a lot or gets cranky/cries it is actually too late (too tired to settle easily). If you see the early signals but still need to feed or start the routine, try to feed or do the routine a bit earlier next time. Keep the 6.30pm bedtime for now of course as it seems to work perfectly (but keep shifting it back or forth in mind if one day soon he seems to have trouble settling then ...).