K.C. asks from San Diego, CA on August 31, 2009
Premature Infant Who Won't Sleep
My baby is 9 weeks old and was born 7 weeks early. He is only sleeping about 9 hours a day and the longest blocks of sleep are about 1.5-2 hours long, but most are about 30min. I am going crazy. I have tried everything to make him sleep. Does anyone have experience with premature infants and there sleep patterns? When will it get better?
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R.B. answers from San Diego on September 01, 2009
www.3daysleep.com Davis is the BEST!!! Works w/all babies (premies, colick, etc..) Happy sleeping! :)
K.C. answers from Los Angeles on August 31, 2009
So sorry you are having such a rough first few weeks! I hope things are going well aside from the sleep issues.
I don't have specific preemie advice, but swaddling worked very well for my son. He also slept a lot in the swing when he was little and took almost all of his naps in the car, stroller or swing until he was about 9 months old. Have you tried a swing? The motion can be very soothing.
I really hope it gets better for you soon.
S.H. answers from Honolulu on August 31, 2009
I sympathize... a premature baby is still developing outside the womb... so its hard for them. Even their digestive system is still developing.
Next, is he feeding well, AND normally?
That being said.... feed on demand, always, 24/7. Day and night. Sometimes an infant will "cluster feed" as well, meaning they will need feedings even every single hour. You must NOT feed a baby on a "schedule" or they will NOT get enough intake.
Especially during "growth spurts", a baby will NEED more intake, day and night. Or they will always be hungry. This affects their sleep as well.
Are you breastfeeding or using Formula? If nursing, make sure you are producing enough milk, AND that your baby is latching on properly... otherwise, he will NOT be getting enough nourishment nor calories to sustain him. And will not be able to sleep.
A baby this age, will NOT have regular sleep patterns yet. Sorry. Probably until 6 months old, is when you will be able to have some regularity. Sorry. But well, babies, premature or not, sleep erratically. But need to nap.
At this age, an infant will typically get tired after 2 hours of "awake" time. At this age, even a bath can make them tired.
Yes, its not easy, with all the waking.
Get familiar with "hunger" cues, and "tired" cues in a newborn. "Rooting" means they are hungry. You can look it up on a Google search. Feed him no matter how often, when he is hungry. At this age, never go longer than 3 hours without feeding, unless he is sleeping. Or, ask your Pediatrician, since he is premature.
A great book is: "What To Expect The First Year", which you can find at any bookstore or online like at Amazon.
Sometimes, babies can't sleep because they are gassy too. You can use infant gas drops, which help a lot. If nursing, watch what you eat... because it can affect them. Or, if giving Formula, ask you Pediatrician which one he/she recommends.
At this age, their temperature and sensitivities to sound/smell/sounds/hot/cold weather can affect them too. Never over warm a baby though. These are things that still has to develop in a baby, but can affect their slumber.
Each baby is different. They are STILL getting used to this world. It takes time. Much time. At this age and older, I would not expect him to sleep all night, nor regularly. You and he are still getting used to things. In time, you will get to know his "patterns." Then, it will get more predictable.
Also, where is he sleeping? Most babies have a hard time adjusting to sleeping in a crib, or even in a stroller if out and about. My son, slept in a "Moses Basket" until he was about 3 months old, then we switched him to a crib, for example. He slept well in the basket, since it is more "cozy" (like a womb) and not an open expanse like a crib.
And, you can always ask your Pediatrician about it. Since your son is premature.
Mostly, an infant needs comfort. Do NOT let him "cry it out" at this age. It can affect them adversely and he is much too young to let him cry. AND, "bonding" is still occurring too.
All the best, just some quick thoughts,
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D.R. answers from Los Angeles on September 01, 2009
I suggest wearing your baby in a baby sling. The sound of your heart beat and breathing will comfort, soothe and put them right to sleep. And you can get a lot done while your hands are free! I've heard that premature babies do best when in the "womb like" atmosphere that a sling creates. It works every time with my 3 month old. I put him in the sling and he falls right to sleep. Good luck!
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J.B. answers from Los Angeles on August 31, 2009
have you tried swaddling? some premies get stressed with open spaces because they are so used to being tight in the womb. also maybe try white noise (ie- radio static). you have to look at your baby at his/her correct (un premie) age which is like 2 weeks. i hope this helps you. good luck!
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D.M. answers from Los Angeles on September 01, 2009
I have to agree with Sandy and Susan on many points about preemie little one's.
My son was 9 weeks and while I was positive I was going to have a great sleeper and all the other stuff we 'plan' for while reading all our baby books. Well, when my son came home form the NICU I did a total 180 and went towards attachment type style parenting. Preemie babies like Susan mentioned, are still developing and need contact.
Our Pedi encourage me to get a sling and wear my son for naps and feedings...and to throw out all the sleep books and guides to the first year because they didn't apply to my son. It was SO true. I couldn't judge his milestones on the regular calendar of time and I couldn't put expectations on his sleep, growth or development...I needed to relax and be a part of the solution.
It was amazing the progress he made in the first few months and how well he did with feeding on demand. His growth was amazing! I love Susan's idea of a Moses blanket and wish I had heard about it sooner! But, the best thing is the bond that my son and I have today.
Being that your son is only 9 weeks old, he needs to be fed on demand and until he's done eating. He is not ready for any kind of sleep learning in any way shape or form, and it's not healthy to start imposing schedules on him when he depends on nourishment for his growth and development.
I know it's tough, but it will get better.
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S.E. answers from Los Angeles on September 01, 2009
My daughter was 11 weeks premature, and I can assure you that despite the other posters good intentions, preemies are really not like other newborn babies. They need a LOT of physical contact, and will do better if on you most of the time. Swaddling can help with some. The only time my daughter slept for more than an hour (maximum was 3!) was when I slept with her. And you're probably so sleep-deprived you'll need that sleep anyway! You'll also need all the patience you can muster - this can go on for the first 6 months, easily. Good luck - stay sane!
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J.V. answers from Las Vegas on September 01, 2009
I think sleeping through the night, or for longer stretches is a matter of the baby's weight as much as age. My good sleeper slept 3-4 hours at 1 month (8#) and 9 hours at 2 months (10#). My other daughter slept through the night 6-7 hours for her at 2 months (12#). I didn't swaddle my first daughter and did my second (better sleeper). My first daughter wouldn't sleep except in her cradle swing. My second in a bassinet at a raised angle. The best of luck to you and your little guy.
M.B. answers from Los Angeles on September 01, 2009
I know what it is like to want to get a good night sleep.
What I would suggest to you is to find out just how often your baby actually needs to eat and set a feeding schedule. At that age, when it comes to night time feedings, I think they are supposed to be fed every 4 hours. Which means he should be only waking up once, somewhere between 11:00-12:00 for a feeding and then again in the early morning, and then sleep again for a few hours.
Anytime he wakes up in between those times, you need to check on him (don't talk to him), tuck him back in and then walk out. Unfortunatly, your going to have to let him cry himself back to sleep. He need to how to self sooth. I know it will be exteamly difficult, but this is the only way to teach him the right way to get HIMSELF back to sleep.
I go throught this process with my 28 month old every 4 months or so. She'll be so good with sleeping through the night, and then all of a sudden, she will start waking up in the early hours. I just have to let her cry it out (of course I go in the make sure she has a clean diaper and is safe) Then I walk out. She screams for about 30 minutes, and then goes back to sleep until 6:30 or so. It sucks, but fortunatly it only takes her a day or so of this "sleep training" and she's back to sleeping until the morning. But, let me tell you, it sucks to hear her cry like that.
I know 9 weeks is soooo young to let cy out, but this is the only way to create a self soothing baby. If you help him go to sleep (rocking, singing, breast, bottle) you are just creating a big problem in your future. He will be dependant on you help him get to sleep. Believe me, you DON'T want that. Feed him only when he is SUPPOSED to eat, and don't use that to get him to go back to sleep. Your just training his body to need food at night when he should be sleeping.
Trust me, this is the only way.
I have an on line book that I can send you. Just give me your email and I will forward it to you. I actually haven't read the whole thing. I probably should, but I have found what works for my child without reading it. It's called the Sleep Sense Program.
I actually don't know what the author tells you to do, but maybe it will work for your family.
Good luck to you and congrats on your new baby! Cherish every moment...it goes by so fast.
W.O. answers from Las Vegas on September 01, 2009
My daughter was 9 weeks early and we used several different techniques to help her sleep from "The Happiest Baby on the Block" book. We swaddled her every time we put her down to sleep but used on of the swaddle blankets rather than a regular blanket. She was able to wiggle out of the Swaddle Me brand but the Halo infant blanket with swaddle arms worked great. We also used a sound machine placed under her Amby bed, turned up to the loudest volume to mimic womb sounds. She also enjoyed napping in her swing but the swing had to be set at the fastest level. Good luck and hang in there.