In need of nap help from an exhausted mom — The Bump
D.C. Area Babies

In need of nap help from an exhausted mom

Hi Ladies - I need some nap and night advice. I'm having a hard time getting my six week old to sleep regularly during the day - i know she's too young to have a nap 'schedule' but i'm lucky if she naps two 45mn naps during the day. Otherwise she catnaps whenever she can and i don't think it's healthy for her - i also think it's impacting her night sleep.

At night, i am LUCKY if we have three hour stretches. Most nights, I get one three-four hour stretch and then she is up every two hours to every hour. It's ended up with me absolutely exhausted and, with her lack of regular naps, unable to catch up on sleep.

 I am trying to put her down in her nursery with blinds drawn for naps - that's how i finally get those two naps a day - and try to catch when she gets tired. I swaddle her, nurse her briefly and put her down. Do you have any advice? Is thing just something that will sort itself out with time? Am i just being impatient?

Thanks in advance! 

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Re: In need of nap help from an exhausted mom

  • At that age, we did whatever it took to get DS to sleep -- nurse him to sleep, rock him in the swing, take a "nap drive," etc. The sleep books I read (at least the ones I liked) said that you don't really start creating bad habits with those things until more like four to six months (although the books recommended starting a sleep routine around two months to get in the habit).

    Having said that, DS still wasn't a great napper for a long time. One recommendation I didn't read until he was older -- but something I plan to do with baby #2 -- is not to let the baby go more than two hours between naps at that age and not to wait until the baby starts looking sleepy to start trying to get him or her to sleep. I think DS often got overtired, and then it was tough for him to wind down to nap.

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  • she should be napping every 2hrs, sometimes she'll be ready after 90mins, watch for cues, is she yawning, rubbing her eyes? (i.e. never awake more than 2hrs)

    my kids were/are horrible nappers, 30mins was GREAT for DD. And 3hrs was the max we got at night, for months.

    the 1st few months are really rough, hugs to you, it will (eventually) get better.

    PS: we also co-slept, which I swore up and down I'll never do, but it worked and got me some sleep!


  • My kid has never been a great napper, but at that age, I basically did whatever I could to get him to sleep. I either held him, co-slept, or wore him for naps for a long time. If I put him down in his crib, he'd wake up after 30-40 minutes. But if I laid down in bed with him, wore him in the Ergo, or held him in my arms, he'd nap for 2 hours. If you haven't already tried that, you might want to give it a whirl. I would either take it as an opportunity to get some rest myself, or if I was wearing him in the Ergo, I'd get things done around the house or go out for a walk.  

    I'll echo what pp said about trying to get your baby to nap after she's awake for 2 hours. The first time I heard that recommendation, I thought it was laughable, because my baby was like yours and only napped twice a day. But after a week of making a real effort to get him to nap after 2 hours of being awake, he started getting into a regular nap schedule and I could see his tired signs after 2 hours. I was pleasantly surprised. Someone told me the "three yawn" rule -- if you see your baby yawn, watch her closely, and after the third yawn within a few minutes, she's probably ready to be put down for a nap. It usually worked for me.

    Nights are tough. My husband and I used to take shifts at night so at least one of us could get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. One of us had the 10 pm - 2 am shift, and the other person had 2 am - 6 am. And the baby usually wasn't awake for the entire 4 hours of our shift, so we would often end up with 6 hours of sleep. If the baby woke up, we'd take him downstairs so the other person could continue sleeping upstairs without hearing him cry. I was still sleep deprived, but I think it was a good system.

    Ultimately, six week olds are not supposed to be good sleepers. There are some people who claim to have kids who STTN at 6 weeks old, but that is NOT normal. They do become better sleepers as they get older. The newborn phase is very hard. Hang in there and drink lots of coffee!

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  • It's nice to know that experienced moms have had similar issues because it seems that the only thing i read on the bump are people whose kids are sleeping 3 hours naps and 6-7 hours at night. I just heard the two hour rule for the first time today - i'm going to try to institute it tomorrow. Maybe it'll help me recognize some of those sleep cues and watch her yawns more carefully.

     Wines, i've gotten the little girl to sleep on me for an hour and half but then i'm absolutely unable to do anything and in perpetual fear one of the dogs is going to bark and wake her up. I may try to have her nap more in the Moby, though - she does fall asleep in there but i haven't had her stay in there to sleep for extended periods of time. 

     I'd love to share the night duties with my husband but the little girl REFUSES a bottle. We've been trying daily for two weeks. I've tried everything from having my husband wear a shirt of mine, to different nipples (oh, she doesn't take any pacifiers either - we've got about 10 different ones!), to cold milk, warm milk, milk freshly pumped, even tonight tried a bit of formula. Any advice in that department is also welcome!

    Thank you all for the tips and thank you for the encouragement - it's all needed and appreciated. 

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  • 1st, stop going to the natl boards, hang out here only :)

    2nd, leave the room and if possible, the house when your husband tries to give a bottle; if she can smell you and your milk, she won't take it


  • I have no advice on the sleep because I'd honestly be one of those mom's you'd hate because DS began sleeping through the night at 6 weeks - he was just a big boy to begin w/ (10lbs at birth) but we had a HECK of a time getting him to a take a bottle.  Finally, I resorted to giving him one as soon as he woke up in the morning when I knew he'd be hungry and he sucked down 6 oz of BM (he was 14 weeks old).  May just wait til she's absolutely hungry. 

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  • Most people I know in "real life" did not have babies who slept well at 6-weeks. I think those posters on the other boards are lying liers or an extremely vocal minority.

    Ah, dogs... I nicknamed my dog as "nap killer" when I was on maternity leave. I sympathize. Wearing the baby in a carrier worked REALLY well for me, so I hope it works for you, too. He would take 2 hour naps in that thing, especially if I walked around while he was in it. He still sometimes falls asleep in the Ergo if I put him in it when we're out during nap time. 

    Re: sharing nighttime duties with dad -- Are you nursing her every time she wakes up, and does she eat each time (versus comfort nursing)? If she's waking up every hour, she may not need to eat each time, and then dad could take over during those times.

    If she is actively eating several times at night, how often is she nursing during the day? The recommendation at that age is to feed them every 2 hours. Make sure she's eating enough during the day, and hopefully that will reduce night wakings, if they are hunger-related. If they're not hunger-related, then there's no reason why dad can't take her for a few hours.

    If you're planning to go back to work, you need to keep trying the bottle. I don't have any advice about that, because I was pretty lucky in that department and never had a problem with M taking a bottle, but I'm sure other people can give you good advice. M didn't take a pacifier until he was 4 months old, and then he suddenly decided it was the best thing ever. I kept offering him one when he was sleepy, and one day he finally took it. He naps much better/longer with a paci, so it may be worthwhile to keep trying with your little girl. The ones he ultimately loved were the Avent ones. Have you tried those? Another mom on here recommended them to me.

    Other ideas for napping: Have you tried a swing? M never liked the swing, but I know it's a lifesaver for some people.

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  • At that age DD was sleeping for long stretches at night, but I know that's the exception not the rule.

    But during the day she did about what you say - and did for months.  We never put her on a schedule, just let her develop it natually.   For the first few months at least she was roughly on the 3 hour schedule where she'd sleep, eat, play.  From the time she went down to the next time she went down was roughly 3 hours, but it wasn't exact.  I just watched for cues and put her down when she was sleepy.

    DD spent most of her time until 3 months in this.  I LOVED that thing.  She would take most of her naps in it and sleep for a long time.  (I never felt safe leaving her unattended in it though, so she slept in the living room while I was in there resting - not sleeping - or watching TV.)  DD was never into the swing, but that's another idea and one that she could use for longer.  After the Newborn Lounger was too small, DD took her naps in a bouncy chair for a little while.  We didn't put her in her crib for naps until 4 months or so (even though she slept in her crib at night without a problem). 

  • Before DD was born a bunch of people on here recommended the Fisher Price Rock N Play and, up until she was about 3 months old, she pretty much napped all the time in that or the swing. I could never really get her to nap in her crib until she was about 3-4 months old when I went back to work and she was in daycare where she napped in a crib. But as a newborn, her best naps were in the Rock N Play or the swing. I tried not to have the swing on too much because I didn't want her to get too used to it, but if I was desperate (i.e. no sleep the night before) I would crank that thing on and she would sleep as long as 3 hours. She was a great sleeper at night for most of her newborn months so I can't really help you with that. We just got lucky but it definitely got harder as she got older, so I guess it all evens out.

    I'm sorry I have no advice on the bottle thing - DD was forced to take a bottle pretty early since I was in the hospital for a couple days when she was 2 weeks old. Maybe leaving the house for an extended period of time might be necessary as pp mentioned.

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  • Have you read Happiest Baby on the Block?  If your baby has trouble falling asleep and soothing I highly suggest trying out the recommendations in this book.  The most helpful part of the book is where they teach you how to help soothe the baby.  I have heard the DVD (possibly available at the library) is even better but the book was my lifesaver.  Similar to Wines my babies were crap nappers.  I rarely got anything done on maternity leave because getting them to sleep was hard enough.  Some things that worked for us - swaddling, rocking, walking in our arms, sleeping on us and definitely the swing.  Truthfully to get a nap I would swaddle her up, put her in the swing then stand (or sit if I remembered to drag a chair over) there and hold in her pacifier (she liked it but couldn't seem to hold it in herself) until she fell asleep.  You just do whatever works, try out any suggestion and see if it helps. 

    For us it was daytime naps in the swing but she slept in her crib at night.  Also naps were sometimes 20min, sometimes 2.5 hrs (probably the max for Maggie at that age).  It will work itself out to more of a schedule where they are napping for longer periods during the day but I would say that is closer to 3mo or later unless you have the angel baby that STTN at 6w (rare, rare, rare - those moms are on more because they are sleeping so you probably read about it more, they are not dragged down by holding a baby in their arms 20 hours a day to get them sleep, therefore have more time to type).  For us the first 8-10 weeks were more of a 24 hours schedule than one that had defined daytime naps.


    ETA:  I have been there, twice.  Hang in there, it sucks and it will get better (I know you want to know when and you wish it were now and it seems like an eternity to even wait until they are 4mo).  Big (((HUGS)))

  • You've gotten lots of great advice.  Just wanted to say been there, done that with DD1.  She never napped more than 30 minutes unless she was in the Moby (when at home). At DC she would nap for 30 minutes in the swing or bouncer. She didn't start napping until she was 1 when they had a regular nap schedule at DC. She started sleeping longer than three hour stretches at night around 10-11 weeks.

    DD2 was/is a fantastic napper/sleeper from the begining.  STTN (11-12 hours) by 8 weeks.  I think some of that had to do with her personality, the fact that she was almost 9.5 lbs at birth and some of had to do with tricks I learned with DD1 (no more than two hours awake, etc.).

    As for the bottle, DD2 had a hard time with the bottle, but we just kept trying and I never gave it to her. She finally picked it up the day before she started daycare (at 4 months old).  We use the Tommy Tippee bottles, but I've heard good things about Breasflow.  Just keep trying, she'll take it one day.

    Hang in there!  It's rough while you're in it, but it does get better and it's not forever.

  • Update: So we managed two "scheduled" naps today - as you ladies suggested, i did the "baby up for no more than an hour and half" and it's the first time i picked up her yawns! Thank you for that advice, i now feel like i was just given a major clue as to what's going on with my little girl! The first nap was 45 mn on the nose but she slept in her RnP and slept solidly. The second nap was 53mn (yeah, i have one of those baby apps - i'm neurotic, i know!) with two wake-ups where i just soothed her back to sleep. Don't know if that counts but she was a smiley, cooing baby when she woke up from her second nap!

     The bottle was another huge fail last night and this morning. I'll keep trying and hope that she'll take it one of these days - I was hoping to stay at home with the little girl till she was 6 months old (dependent on factors i'm still working on) so hopefully she'll figure it out before then. I'll keep trying, though, if you ladies tell me that there's hope. Two of you said about 4 months is when your little ones took the paci and the bottle so maybe something magical happens around that time.

    As for the swing, someone lent us one - she didn't like it 3 weeks ago but these kiddos change a lot in 3 weeks so maybe i'll give it a go again (it had been banished to the basement for its lack of help ;-) 

     Can i just say how much i appreciate all the detailed information and the support from everyone? I think i needed to hear that it'll work itself out as much as i needed specific advice.  I'll keep at it and let you know how it all pans out. 

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  • wait, are YOU giving her a bottle? you need to try to have your DH or someone else do it. And you need to be out of the room when they do.

    good luck, so glad she took good naps for you!


  • Yay, I'm glad you had some success!
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  • I'm late chiming in, but DS was a terrible napper too.  We would just try to put him down every 2 hours like pp said. In the mornings his best nap was actually only 1 hour after he woke up.  I was home with DS for 5 months and then my mom was with him for 1 month, and off to DCP at 6 matter what mom and I tried we couldn't get him to nap very well - he was getting more consistent towards 6 months, but still not reliable or very long.  However, since he's been at daycare he's been an awesome napper.  He's really in a routine and takes regular naps and goes to bed at a regular time (and stays asleep!).  I never thought this day would come, hang in there, it will happen eventually!

    As for bottles, we had a different issue but found the Breastflow bottles really helped.  I'm not a big fan of the bottles themselves, they are a pain to clean, but the work!

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