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Is the night time sleep struggle normal?

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  • Is the night time sleep struggle normal?

    Just this week I started getting DS into bed to fall asleep (I had been letting him fall asleep in my arms, walking, rocking and patting him). He is doing so well self settling during the day and goes to sleep in his bed every time now. Night time is a different story. He has a bath/shower at 7pm, feed by 7:30 but he won't fall asleep for hours. He wont settle like he does during the day and DH and I usually end up holding him, walking and patting him as it's the only thing that seems to sooth him.
    He is 7 weeks old, and my first so I'm a little lost.
    Any suggestions or tips would be great.

  • #2
    Yes, normal for many babies and young children!

    My kids always needed help to get to sleep, whether it was breastfeeding, rocking, patting.. whatever works


    • #3
      I'm the opposite this week! settling at night, a bottle to go down and he just seems to know it's night time but during the day I can't get him to settle without a dummy, which he doesnt need at night,.. Yesterday he was up from 12pm until 9pm when he went to bed, he did sleep through until 6am when we had to wake him.
      What do you do to settle during the day?


      • #4
        Babies don't need to self settle, especially not at 7 weeks. By all means give it a try, but I give my dd a maximum of 5 minutes (shorter if she cries - I often close the door, hear her cry & go back in) before I intervene and help her settle. A baby that gets sleep is what you need. The more the baby is awake, the more likely they will cry, be difficult to settle and give you more grief!

        Most 7 week olds will be awake for 45 - 60 minutes at a time and then need sleep. Look up 'feed-play-sleep' routine for info on how to manage this time. Once bubs shows any tired signs then it's time for sleep.

        I thought with my first ds that self settling was essential and if he didn't self settle I'd be setting him (and me) up for serious sleep issues later in life. As a result he spent a lot of time in his bassinet awake, not asleep, but not playing or having fun either. Then by night time he was screaming for hours on end cause he was overtired. I then decided to do whatever it takes to settle him and suddenly he was sleeping better. And, he's 5 now and he's been a super dooper great sleeper since 15 months of age (health issues caused problems prior to that).

        My dd will self settle or is easy to settle during the daytime, but in the evening she can be difficult to settle. Now that she's a bit older (nearly 6 months) she is awake for a lot longer to play too - sometimes up to 3 hours. So, now I might try her in the cot and tell her it's time for sleep. If that doesn't look like it's working (max 5 minutes), then I pick her up & rock her to sleep. I only give that 5 minutes or so too and if it doesn't look like she's interested I let her back up to play and try again in 20 minutes or so if she looks tired.


        • #5
          Normal! Especially for a bub that age . I think by the end of the day they can be so overstimulated everything gets too much and getting them to sleep at night can be difficult. At that age DS would cluster feed in the evening - so he'd start around maybe 4pm and feed every half hour or so until he konked out at around 7ish. To be honest I would do what it takes to get your LO to sleep, as the more stressful it is, the longer they're awake, the more overtired they get and the harder they are to settle. I would definately keep up your bedtime routine with a nice warm bath and feed, and try and keep things nice and quiet and calm for the hour or so before bub goes to bed to give him time to settle down (so dim lights, no loud music/ tv etc).


          • #6
            Our DS is almost 8 weeks and he usually has a feed around 6 or 7, then bath at 8-8.30 then feed and is in bed asleep by 9.30-10.He won't sleep I'm bed before that time. Occasionally he is asleep by 7.30-8 if he hasn't slept much in the day and we take him for a walk in his baby Bjorn, he falls asleep in it.He can't fall asleep on his own yet, and I feed or rock to sleep.Going I. His swing used to work, but not for a couple of weeks.How long does he sleep at night? Occasionally I get 5 hours first up. But usually 3 and its stretching to 3.5 now :-)


            • #7
              I forgot to say that I also have an android app I downloaded for free called sleepy baby and it works wonders! If he is crying due to tiredness he stops when I play the white noise and he goes to sleep soon after, with rocking!


              • #8
                It was never a struggle for this house, but mine was rocked/patted/breastfed to sleep until about 3, and even then I was always close by.

                Is there a reason you want your 7 week old to fall asleep alone?


                • #9
                  Mizz - sounds like you are doing a great job, a 7 week old self settling during the day is great! I would try moving bedtime a bit earlier, maybe 7:30 is a bit late for him and he is getting overtired and finding it difficult to settle?
                  My 7 month old goes to bed at 5pm! But we are early risers around here.
                  I think they do get overstimulated anyway and agree that at this age, trying to see if he will self settle, then if not, doing whatever you need to for him to get to sleep. Does he enjoy the bath, or does it stress him out? It's really only a good part of the bedtime routine if he is enjoying it, and sometimes they don't at that age.


                  • #10
                    Yep, I think there is so much pressure put on new Mums to get their little babies set in a strict routine where bub self settles but, I know for me, DD wasn't able to do this on her own until she was about 6 months old.

                    I remember one time, DD was about 2 months old....the MCHN really stressed me out saying that DD MUST be in the feed-play-sleep routine with no help from me to settle aside from a little patting but definitely no picking up.

                    I went home after my appt and tried putting her to sleep at nap time only by patting her tummy and she cried so much and I was so emotional listening to her cry like that, it seemed so wrong. She eventually fell asleep but she had the saddest little face, I told myself then and there that I would do what felt right to ME next time, it just wasn't worth the heartache by putting her down like that.

                    From then on I did whatever I needed to do to help her off to sleep which was generally just a little cuddle with the blinds closed til she looked dozy and then I'd pop her into bed. She wasn't a difficult baby by any means but putting her into bed awake and walking out of the room just didn't work for us.

                    As she approached 6 months and became more aware of routine I introduced a 'blankie' that I would let her hold/cuddle during feeds and sleep time only. We also started reading to her before nap time, this was her cue to unwind and get ready to sleep. This worked perfectly as she became less reliant on us and relied more on the routine of reading/cuddling blankie for sleep time.

                    DD is now 3 and has been a great sleeper for the most part so 'spoiling' her with lots of cuddles to sleep in the early stages never set us up for any problems.

                    Sorry about the novel. I guess my point is just do what feels right for you. Your bub is only 7 weeks old and there is plenty of time to get a routine sorted out later. At this stage I'd suggest following your Mummy instincts and doing whatever keeps both you and bub happy and well rested.


                    • #11
                      Dd is 8 months now and i still hold her and pat to fall asleep. As soon as i see tired signs i cuddle her and it only takes 5 minutes and she's out. sleeps from 10 at night till 8 am in her own cot.
                      I dont think you are setting up for anything bad. They grow up so quick and then they won't want you lol let alone need you. DD1 (10) and DD2 (4) go straight off to bed at night no questions asked, with a story kiss and lights off.


                      • #12
                        I forgot to say that at 8 weeks DD3 would only sleep in my arms. I had no probs but DP was very worried. I persisted and it didnt last long. Then slept awesome after being put down.


                        • #13
                          There is nothing wrong with starting to teach a baby how to self settle, not everyone can feed/rock/pat their babies to sleep for years. They may need to go back to work after a few months, or believe that sleep independence is important, or just not want to and that is totally fine. There is also nothing wrong with feeding/rocking/patting to sleep either. They both work.

                          To answer your question OP: All babies have unsettled periods at some point during the day, you bubs is having his early evening for now ( commonly know as the arsenic hours!!) Is it normal? YES!

                          Just because they CAN self settle doesn't mean that they WILL.

                          My experience with my DS was a little different in that he used to always be unsettled and difficult in the mornings. Now he sleeps great in the mornings and is more difficult to settle in the afternoon (probably because he is now 6 months and knows there are more exciting things to be doing than sleep). He can self settle, and in the mornings and evening after a quick cuddle he usually does, but in the afternoon he usually doesn't. In the afternoon I start with trying to leave him to sleep, then after a few minutes I intervene, then if that doesn't work I try something else, if all else fails I feed him to sleep. Intervening in the afternoon does not impact on his ability to fall asleep easily in the morning or evening.

                          OP, does adding in the bath/shower overstimulate him or add to much extra time between wakings that he becomes too tired? A too tired baby cannot easily fall asleep. At 7 weeks anything more than an hour is too long to be awake.
                          You could try changing the time that you do your bedtime routine, try the earlier feed or the next later one. It may just be that this isn't the right time for your baby to go to bed at the moment.
                          Have you tried feeding him before the bath, he may not be enjoying it if he is hungry. You can top up feed again afterwards.

                          Please do not feel that you can't/should not do whatever you need to get your baby to sleep. Whilst learning the skill of self settling is something everyone does eventually, the most important thing for you and your baby right now is to be happy and well rested. Enjoy those extra cuddles because before you know it they have grown so much. Good Luck.


                          • #14
                            I wouldn't stress too much... Enjoy the cuddles

                            To get my 12 week old to sleep I normally lie down on the bed with him feeding til he's asleep then we leave him there til we go to bed (he doesn't sleep well with us).

                            Ds2 was one that would only settle when rocked... One thing I always did was feed, put down in bed then get them up again if they don't settle. Ds was rocked until about 18months then one night I put him in his bed and he settled from every night on. I think he felt secure knowing we'd come back if he needed us...

                            Goodluck! He won't always need you to fall asleep


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm just trying at this stage and he's doing really well so I want to keep trying to get him off to sleep in his own bed (even if it is only during the day). I should have mentioned I do give him lots of cuddles and reassurance once he goes down and he's never left to cry. Once I see his tired signs I wrap him, give him a cuddle and pat, but before he drops off to sleep completly I put him into bed. I'm just trying to get that connection with bed and going to sleep.
                              I'm not stressed about a stricked routine and if he does fall asleep with me doing all of the above I'm happy. For me it's worth a try when he's getting heavier and one of his fav things to put him to sleep is walking (esp. up and down the stairs).
                              Thanks again