*Newborn* Awake at Night (Feeding, Crib Sleeping and "Stuff")

Updated on January 29, 2014
C.. asks from Columbia, MO
14 answers

So - we took the newborn foster placement! He is ADORABLE and doing really, really well.

For background.... he was born way premature, but is doing great. He is up to 7lbs 2oz. he's "technically" 11 weeks old, but his "adjusted age" is not yet born!!!! (due date would be this Friday). All his Drs said to really go by "adjusted age" so we are treating him like a newborn. I stayed home with him last week, but went back to work this week.


Now that he has a "taste" for human contact he LOVES IT....lol. As in, he doesn't ever want to be put down.
He does ok in his bouncey seat (vibrating hammock type thingie) while we eat, and sometimes he's stayed in there for an hour or two after falling asleep.
However, nighttimes are wearing me out!!!! Since we brought him home I have been "up" with him every night from midnight to 6, because he just won't sleep soundly. He will fall asleep at the end of his bottle and I put him in the crib. He stays asleep and I get into bed.... 15 minutes later....waaaaaaaaaaaa. And then we're up.

Also - he is "cluster feeding". I'm not sure who told babies this was a feeding option, but I do not like them!!!!! :-) He will eat like 3oz at 6, then 3oz at 9, then 3oz at midnight, then 3 oz at 2am. Sound great.... But then at 3am, 4am and 5am he will eat ONE oz. I've tried stretching the time so he goes longer and eats more, but he gets frantic. So I've given up on *trying* to *get him* to do it my way and am just kind of letting him do whatever he wants to do as far as feeding and sleep.

Also he HATES to be swaddled. he likes his arms free. If I swaddle him he arches his back and cries and his face gets all red. So, I have tried the "arms free swaddle" which they suggested in the NICU. That will calm him, but he still prefers to be held!!!!!

The problem........ Now that I am back at work I am falling asleep at my desk all the time. This morning I actually fell asleep in a meeting!!!!!! because I have been pretty much getting like 2 or 3 hours of sleep each night. Last night I went to bed at 10 and hubby stayed up until 2 so that was 4 glorious hours of sleep.

It's been 13 years since I had my last newborn and we've been in the 2-8 foster parent age range.... so I'd love some ideas on what to do (other than just be sleep deprived for 4 months...hahahahaha)?

What can I do next?

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answers from Springfield on

Co-sleeping is a fabulous option. Do not worry about habits. Babies change weekly! Even if it does become a habit, you can change it later. you need sleep now!

Do whatever works. Swing, bouncy seat, carseat, whatever.

The best place for baby to sleep is wherever baby WILL sleep. That's the only way for you to get some sleep.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

I would co-sleep. He sounds like desperately needs as much attachment parenting as can be provided and you need to sleep! There are lots of safe ways to co-sleep with an infant and it totally saved my sanity when I was working and my kids were infants.

That said...can you take more leave from work? If he had been born at his due date and was in a traditional family setting, at this point he would be a) in utero and b) even born early, home with a mom who is on maternity leave. Unfortunately, his needs are still the same even though his life circumstances aren't. If you can't take more time off from work, can you hire a night nanny to help out over the next few weeks? My sister owns her oen business so she didn't take much time off at all when her kids are born and she can't function without sleep, so she hired a night nanny (on top of her day nanny) when her girls were newborns so that she didn't have to do all of the feedings herself. It's definitely cost prohibitive but it was worth it for her. If you can hire one for a few weeks it might get you past this stage.

I think you're right to honor his needs and not attempt to really push a schedule or training on him at this point and just do what you need to do to scrape by (co-sleep, night nanny) until he is developmentally ready for longer periods without food or contact.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It makes my view of the world a lot happier knowing you are in it. Thank you for providing such a loving home to this little guy.

We ended up co-sleeping with our little guys. One needed full contact to sleep (we tried *everything* until finally, out of sheer exhaustion, co-slept and all three of us slept for 6 sweet, sweet hours straight, then another 4...ahhh). Granted, I slept in warm pjs and no blankets, sheets or pillows anywhere near him, and that is obviously not for everyone.

A lot of people swear by whatever worked for them. There are a lot of good options suggested in these posts, and I you find whatever works for you and your little guy.

Thanks again for your care and generosity.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I would look into something like a co-sleeper or some way to keep him closer to you instead of putting him in a crib by himself.
Look into a sling or a comfortable way to wear him during the time you are with him. I would even eat my meals while wearing baby when I had to or I would put a clean towel over them to keep them clean and keep them on my lap.
The cluster feeding is completely normal. There isn't a lot you can do about it beyond trying to get him to take more of it during the day. If he's in daycare all day though they don't have time for that. See if they are willing to work with you to try to increase intake during the day so he isn't trying to make up for it during the night. I remember for several hours before bedtime my kids would cluster feed (I breastfed) before going to sleep.
Being sleepless is hard. Been there. But what you are doing is really great. He'll tell you what he needs and he'll grow stronger each day. It's really only a short time all things considered.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I agree, co-sleeping may be the best option for you.

While my DD was still *brand* new! and I was nervous about sleeping with her in my bed, I just parked the bassinet on my side right next to me. If you don't have one, you can find them pretty cheap. Especially if you check out Craigslist.

Or, do like my buddy did and use a laundry basket. Lol.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have no great advice to offer different than what's been said already, but just wanted you to know --- what a wonderful gift you are giving this child. This is an incredibly selfless venture your family is undertaking. Hugs to you!

(and, of course, I wish you good sleep too!)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I agree with Hell on Wheel...Babywise gets a bad rap, but it works. Basically up at the same time everyday, eat, play then sleep.You feed the baby whenever he is hungry, but instead of letting fall asleep while eating, you play with him until he's tired.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Stationed Overseas on

What you are describing is completely normal. Remember he is a newborn (adjusted). This is what they do. He wants to be held, he wants to feel comfort, he wants to feel secure and safe and to feel that way he needs to be close to someone. He also has just come home from a bright and noisy place to somewhere that is quiet and probably not so bright. Try leaving the radio on or get a white noise machine. A noisy humidifier works well too. It may take him a while to get on a schedule but try not to force it as they will just make his life more upsetting. Yes you are going to be sleep deprived a bit. See if your partner will help with the night wakings otherwise if you feel it's not a good fit you might see if they can place him with someone else. I personally have preemies but I BF them and coslept which I found worked best for us. A lot of preemies hate to be swaddled because it was never done in the NICU (at least not mine) and now they are being forced to keep their arms and legs all bundled up. It really pissed my kids off. They were used to being able to move their arms and legs plus they were connected to a million monitors. If you do decide to cosleep please research the best and safest way to do it.


answers from San Francisco on

My suggestion is to read BabyWise. I'm telling you, it was a life saver for me!

If he is only eating one ounce at 3am, 4am, and 5am, then he's not really hungry, he just eats because there's a bottle in his mouth. My advice for that would be to wait a good 5 minutes after he fusses, and see if he doesn't settle back down on his own. He might just be sleeping lightly and fussing in his sleep, and given the opportunity, he might fall into a deeper sleep. I know it's hard, but watch the clock for 5 minutes. If he doesn't ramp up and get really upset, leave him be. If he is still fussing after a full 5 minutes, go see what's wrong. Could even be changing his diaper and giving him a pacifier might work.

My other suggestion is to put him to bed for the night at 6pm. I know that sounds crazy, but babies' internal clocks are wired differently from ours, and 6pm is the magic time when babies can fall asleep and sleep for a LONG time. Make sure you're not feeding him to sleep (don't allow him to fall asleep while you feed him - change his diaper, undress him, whatever you have to do to get him to stay awake for a FULL meal). With a big, full meal in his tummy, he can probably sleep for 4 hours at a stretch. At this age, he might wake at 10pm (again, same drill, make sure he doesn't fall asleep until he is really, truly full), and again at 2am. Within a few weeks, he will drop the 2am feeding. My little ones were sleeping 12 hours straight through by a bit over a month old following this method, eating like champs, and gaining weight right on schedule. The best part was, we all got a good night's sleep, which made the next morning SO much better. :)

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Have you tried having him sleep somewhere other than the crib? He might do better in a swing. With my first, he would go to sleep in his crib at the start of the night, but once he woke up to eat, it was so much easier to put him back to bed in the swing. Might be worth a try.

Also, full term babies usually have a three month growth spurt. I have no idea if super preemies experience the same thing, but it's possible that the cluster feeding is related to growth. If that is the case, it should get better in a week or two.

How long has he been home? He may also be adjusting to life at home after many weeks in the NICU. He might not be used to the noise level (I would imagine it's quieter, right?) or the light level might be different. It could be causing him to wake up as he adjusts.

I think taking in foster children, especially one so young and tiny, is a truly wonderful thing. I wish I had more advice for you, but I don't have experience with preemies, so I only know what worked for my full term kids. I hope it gets easier quickly.



answers from Los Angeles on

You are to be commended. Thank you for fostering this infant. You are
Try different things:
-no swaddling
-having him sleep in a cradle next to your bed
-feed him but burp him & keep him next to your body for 10-15 mins then
put him down. Lean way down into the crib while holding him so he doesn't feel like he is falling. This is why a cradle is better than a crib at
this point.
If he's susceptible to not burping put his cradle up on books next to your bed so his cradle is at an incline.
-try sleeping in a recliner. I even had my infant sleep on my tummy while I was relcined in the recliner so I could get sleep. We both slept
-Don't swaddle if he doesn't like it. Just make sure his pj's are warm
-Try to keep him up during the day more so he'll sleep at night. Engage with him etc.
This will pass. You just need to try anything &everything to see what works for your little guy.



answers from New York on

We took it in turns, hubs and I. Tried to do the co-sleeping thing (which I promised I would never do), but it didn't work for me. I couldn't let myself go to sleep for fear of smushing DS.

If you can't afford a night nanny, get a child minder on the weekend for some catch up sleep. A few more days of sleeplessness, and you will be able to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow regardless of what time of day or night it is.

F. B.



answers from Houston on

My kids slept in their cradle swing for the first 6 months or so. They would just sleep a lot longer stretches this way. White noise helps too, I would just use the music that the swing played. They all transitioned to a crib easily. I always gave/give my kids a warm bath before bed and make sure their bellies are full.



answers from Des Moines on

since you already have a crib, what i did was take one side off of it, raised/lowered the mattress in the crib to the height of the bed and pushed the crib mattress to the bed. There will be a gap between the crib mattress and the opposite side of the crib to which i shoved lots of blankets into. Since he is not mobile, this is safe. That way, he is near you, co-sleeping....but not right next to you if this scares you.

Also....I put the last three (of 4) kids on their bellies to sleep and it made a world of difference. The last one, however, slept most of her nights on her belly...on my chest with her head under my chin. I guess she liked the feeling of bone on her head from the womb.

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