Night-time Sleep Problems in 3 Week Old

Updated on March 08, 2011
M.S. asks from Fullerton, CA
18 answers

My 3 weeks old was a great sleeper for the first week and a half. Then would not sleep unless she was being held between 9pm and 4am. Slept on the couch, holding her, for a week. Worked well for her but I missed my bed and feared I would drop her. For the past 5 days, she cries (more like a scream) off and on during this time. Been able to put her in her crib once she's asleep but she wakes within 30 minutes. Nothing seems to comfort her. Tried feeding (exclusively bf), burping, changing her diaper, holding her in many different positions, swaddled, unswaddled. The few nights she's not screaming we have this cycle: feed, change diaper, rock to sleep, poops again, change diaper, wakes up, cries, rock to sleep, put in crib, wakes up, cries, calm her down, time to feed again. I'm exhausted, frustrated and end up crying along with her every night. Didn't experience this with my son so I'm not sure how to comfort her. My husband bought something called Colic Calm. Not sold on it yet. It hasn't consistently stopped the crying/screaming enough for me to attribute it to that. Don't believe it's my diet as she sleeps fine in her crib, bassinet and/or pack n play during the day. She has a nightlight and white noise machine in her room. She's too young to cry it out. Any suggestions on ways to prevent this or comfort her so we can both get some sleep?

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answers from Chicago on

Will she take a paci? She might just need to suck.

Otherwise, I'd start trying everything else. Sleep in the carseat, swing, whatever. There has to be something that will work.

Sorry mama, I know how hard it is to not have any sleep at all, and it's non-stop. Just remember, it will end. You won't be doing this forever. It might be another week or two, but for me, it always helps to remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Hang in there.

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answers from Miami on

To me, it sounds like she is needed comfort from you. Are you open to co-sleeping with her in your bed? I never co-sleeped with my 3 children but looking back, I can see that at times co-sleeping might have remedied the need my children seemed to have to be close to me. Now I am pregnant with my 4th and I intend to try co-sleeping for a little while. I know your frustration and exhaustion. I've been there many a nights. Colic, to my understanding is hours and hours of un-consolable crying. Yes, she is way too young to cry it out, I'm glad you are not willing to even try it. Many moms believe a baby needs to learn to sleep on their own. While this mentality is true for an older baby, your baby is an infant and NEEDS you. This is why she is crying. My sister co-sleeped with her baby for about a year and she never had sleep issues with her son. She transitioned him to his crib just fine, but then again, every baby is different.

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answers from Springfield on

You poor thing! I feel your pain. My oldest was like this. It is tough, but it really does get better. One thing to keep in mind, the best place for baby to sleep is wherever baby sleeps. In other words don't get locked into the idea that baby is supposed to sleep in the crib. Our oldest liked the swing, and our youngest liked his car seat.

Co-sleeping is definitely a great option. Some babies really need the security of sleeping with Mommy and Daddy. Once I got the hang of the side-lying nursing, I would lie down in bed, nurse him to sleep, then get up or go to sleep myself. Both my kids just naturally grew out of the habit and sleep in their own beds.

Please don't worry about setting bad habits. That's not really something to be concerned about at this age. Do what works. You need sleep too :-)

Mom of One - Country Music? Too funny! My husband swears blaring Van Halen or ACDC works for him :-)

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answers from Tampa on

co-sleep, co-sleep, co-sleep!!!

Babies - especially breastfed babies - need to have constant skin to skin and mommy to baby contact. It's part of their biological design for development.

It's also REALLY easy to nurse when baby wakes up when all you have to do is turn on your side, attach her and let her feed until she falls asleep. Breastfeeding causes a chemical release that makes both Mommy and baby tired - so take advantage of that!

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answers from Chicago on

They always sleep great the first week, and then they sleep like a newborn! They need to be fed every 1.5 hours. When they are great sleepers, they start sleeping around week 5-7.

She wakes after 20-30 minutes because of the nature of their sleep cycle.

Also, she is most likely screaming because she is overtired. She should be going down for naps within 1.5 hours of waking. Please go get yourself Healthy Sleep Habits with Weisbluth, also, "No Cry Sleep solution" by Pantley. You will relieve a lot of your stress if you understand infant sleep. Another great book is the "Wonder weeks."

Also, please do not hold your baby if you are upset. Your anxiety creates anxiety in them, so it's best to let hubby hold the baby if you are upset as they need your calm body to calm them, since their systems aren't developed yet. They are not capable of self-soothing till much later, 3-6 months.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Two of my four children were like that. It is so tiring. My oldest actually ended up just sleeping with us because I was beside myself. This approach is not the best solution for long term in my opinion but it helped. Even though it is the same time at night every night, it could still be your diet. Maybe try taking out some of the foods you know can be a problem and see if it helps. I also found the Baby Bliss Gripe Water to work wonders. The bummer is, I cannot find it anywhere. There is a version of Gripe Water (not by Baby Bliss) that I have found everywhere but it is not the same as the stuff I used with my second child, he had silent reflux and was miserable! The Gripe water I found in the stores now just does not do anything for us (I have an 8 week old).

Good luck! These little guys are all different and I am convinced here to challenge our very souls. = )

P.S. I just hopped online and found the Baby Bliss Gripe Water. Try that, don't even bother with the stuff in the stores.

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answers from Youngstown on

I could have written this post myself. My daughter was like this for 3 solid months, then to a lesser degree until 18 months old. I did the sleeping on the couch too. We ended up co-sleeping in our bed and she slept much better.

Some babies are just not good sleepers. You do what you have to in order to get some rest, be that co-sleeping or whatever. It helped my daughter when she was a newborn if we played loud music. I know it sounds crazy, but we discovered that if we blared country music, she would fall right to sleep and sleep for quite a while. Try some different things and see what works for you. All I can say is it DOES get better lol. My daughter is 2.5 now, and she is an excellent sleeper, and she sleeps alone in her own bed. Co-sleeping does not mean they will be in your bed forever. Good luck, I know how tough it is!

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answers from New York on

She is 3 weeks old. Of course she is waking up multiple times a night and wants to be held.

I like to refer to the first three months of a newborns life as the 4th Trimester. Being born has got to be somewhat traumatic. To be held close inside Mommy's tummy all warm and comfortable only to be thrust into the cold world and wrapped in a swaddle and put in a crib where you can't hear or feel mommy's heartbeat. I'm sure I screamed too. lol.

I never expected, at 3 weeks, that my son would have ANY type of sleep regularity. I was nursing on demand and he became very colicky at around 6 weeks. There were so many late nights that my husband and I would put him in a carrier or the stroller and just walk around the block over and over again.

This didn't surprise me though. The most common complaint of new parents is the lack of sleep. Thankfully ALL parents share this lack of sleep experience with anyone who will listen so it shouldn't come as a surprise. It is part of being a parent of a newborn.

I have lots of friends who swore by "The Happiest Baby on the Block". There is a book and a video. They say the techniques really worked for them.

Sorry you are so tired. I remember how hard it is. Good luck.


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answers from St. Cloud on

This is not for everyone, but we co-sleep. I also EXCLUSIVELY bf our 2nd for 9 months before starting solids and our 3rd is now 6 months and we are shooting for the same goal! (Bf till 18 months!) Co-sleeping is great! The kids have ALWAYS slept better when they are in my arms. I just set up a little "nest" for us in our bed and we both sleep great!

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answers from Washington DC on

There were many nights when my DH or I slept on the couch with DD in the swing next to us. Often it was me because I was also nursing. Ours was a papasan style swing and we put it on low to rock her to sleep. If that didn't work it was a lot of walking, music, whatever we could think of.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

They always sleep great the first week then they start to wake up. She could be hitting her growth spurt early, could be reflux, colic, she just wants to be near you. I wouldn't put her in her crib to sleep at night that's too large of a space the bassinet is better and place it right next to your bed when she fusses put your hand on her and rub her tummy or you could cosleep we all slept better once we started co sleeping with our second.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Sarasota on

I think that it's pretty normal for babies to go through cycles of needing more from you--mine both did. That first week is a honeymoon! You can't possibly spoil her, so comfort her as much as you can. During the day, I loved using a wrap sling with my son at this point. The site has great tips on doing it safely. I did NOT use a sling with my daughter, and she had a much harder time sleeping on her own. I don't know if that's personality or the security of being on me all day.

Otherwise, I would just keep meeting her needs (sounds like you're doing great) and wait it out. It seems like forever when it's happening, but it doesn't really last long!

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answers from Janesville-Beloit on

We had luck with one of those bouncy/vibrating chairs. My daughter was the same way during the first month or so. She just couldn't sleep at night flat on her back. I would sleep on the couch with her (swaddled) in the bouncy seat next to me. That way when she would start to fuss I could just reach out (practically in my sleep :)) and bounce the chair a little bit. Another thing that worked really well for us was The Miracle Blanket (sold online). It is a swaddle blanket and I found it to be the best. It really helped us turn the corner at about 2 months to getting more sleep. 5 1/2 months later we are still using it! Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

Sounds like Colic. There are a few different colic drops out there, so try them all (Colic Ease is one, Baby Bliss Gripe Water is another). Try co-sleeping in your bed. Try white noise, try gentle movement. My first son was colicky and it was a nightmare but this, too, shall pass. She will grow out of it at sometime between 6 and 12 weeks old.

What helped my son was that I would put him in his stroller in the house, sit in a recliner, and put my foot on the stroller to push it back and forth while I rocked back and forth. I also had to wave a hair dryer slowly back and forth behind the stroller. If I stopped waving the hair dryer or stopped moving the stroller, he'd start up again. Exhausting!

Recruit some help if you can for the first part of the shift. See if there's a good friend or relative who will take, say, the 9-11 shift so that you can get some rest before taking over later in the night.

You may find some relief from drops, movement, noise, etc. but unfortunately, the only cure is time. Really, this will pass.

PS I would not change to formula. Maybe try it once to see if it's really a hunger thing but I doubt it is and you're just adding yet another complicating factor to this.



answers from Chicago on

she is only three weeks old...I am sorry mama that this is difficult..Lack of sleep is awful...Keep trying the Colic calm and the gas drops. Also the happiesty baby on the block video really helped us with our third. He loved to be swaddled. Keep the white noise machine going. Also, at this time she may have her days and nights mixed up because their internal clock is still developing and will eventually learn the difference. If you are BF try at least pumping and get her used to the bottle. I would suggest you and your hubby take shifts. I did that with my DH..I'd go to bed from 8-2 and then start my shift at 2. He'd be able to sleep 2-8 a.m.


answers from Detroit on

Maybe she is not getting enough milk and is hungry? This happend to me. I tried formula and had better luck with the sleeping. I continued to BF as well, but gave a bottle at night.

I feel sooooo bad for you. Baby number 2 was ROTTEN for us. No colic, just not good. A lot of screaming and crying right from the beginning. It is very difficult on you and your spouse because no one knows how to "fix" it. Best of luck. It will get better!



answers from Honolulu on

Are you producing enough milk?
Is she latching on properly?
If not, then she will not be getting enough intake. Hence hunger, even if at breast, and baby will not be satisfied.
That happened, to many of my friends. And it did not get better, until their baby was getting more intake,

3 weeks is a growth-spurt time in an infant.
Infants also do what is called "cluster feeding' in which they need to feed even every single hour. Normal.
Thus, you need to feed on-demand always.

Or does she have an ear infection?

Or gas?
Try Mylicon Infant Gas drops.
My daughter as a baby, had bad gas trouble and pain.
And she acted like your baby.

Breastfeeding, is arduous. But you must feed on-demand. Intake has to keep up with baby. And by feeding on-demand, it also serves to make your body produce enough milk to keep up, with your baby.

My kids as babies, had GINORMOUS appetites and fed often.

Also, is she napping? Newborns typically nap a lot.

ALSO though, babies can act like that when over-tired. AND, they also cry/scream... to Shut-Out external stimuli. If/when tired and/or when over-stimulated.
At this age, even a bath, can over tired them or over-stimulate them.

I would also try, a sleep sack.
If you look on Amazon, they have many.

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