Sleep Help Needed for Colicky/reflux/preemie Infant

Updated on December 05, 2007
H.R. asks from Mesa, AZ
4 answers

My son was 5 1/2 weeks premature and right now he is 20 weeks from birth, but approximately 14 weeks developmental age. He has been extremely colicky, with a milk protein allergy that caused us to go from breastfeeding to using Similac Alimentum formula. He also has acid reflux and is on two medications (Zantac and Prevacid) and takes rice cereal in all of his bottles. He also is currently teething.

We can get him to sleep no longer than 4 hours at a stretch. After 4:00 pm he becomes absolutely hysterical and inconsolable. Therefore, we start his bedtime routine at 5:30 pm with a bath and feeding and put him down at 6:00 pm. He is swaddled every night, we use a humidifier when he is congested, we don't talk to him or turn on the light at night, we play white noise all night, and don't change his diaper unless he poops in order to not disturb him too much. We try to do a dreamfeed (come in and feed him while he is asleep)every night at 10:00 pm, but sometimes he wakes before this. After the dreamfeed, he seems to wake always around 1:30 pm or 2:00, in which we feed him again and then he is waking at 5:00 am.

He eats on average about 4 ounces and he is about 13 pounds. We cannot seem to get more that 4 ounces down him and many times he eats only 3. There have been a couple of times when he's eaten 5 ounces, but this is not regular.

He goes to daycare and is not a scheduled routine, but eats about every 2 1/2 hours. It is hard to get him on a schedule when he's at daycare and I'm not there to oversee it.

Please help! My husband I both work full time and want more sleep! It is not too hard to get him down at night and after the 1:30 feeding, but we would like him to sleep at longer stretches. We are not expecting sleep for 8 hour stretches at this point but would like to move forward and maybe get 5 hours at a stretch. Are we doing the right things?

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answers from Seattle on

HI H., I feel you on the difficulties with preemies. My twins were born at 28 weeks, and they spent 3 months in the NICU at Banner Desert. I think the thing that helped me the most when they first came home was trying to keep to the very strict schedule that the NICU had them on. Feeding and diaper change every three hours, and take no more than 30 minutes to do this. It is kind of hard to stick to, especially if you are out doing any running around, or now with the holidays coming up and family coming into town (or you going to them, whatever your case may be), but just try to stick to it. It will be very hard to get back into, but if you can tough it out for a week or so, it will just become habit for him. If he knows that he will be fed every three hours, his body will eventually not be hungry until that time, and he won't fuss if he does get hungry, because he will know that he is going to be fed soon. Also, make sure that you are changing his diaper every three hours, even if it is only pee, otherwise he will be very susceptible to diaper rash. My best friend also used to change her son only after a poop, and he had very bad diaper rash all the time. I finally had her try changing every three hours, and he hasn't had one rash in the last three months. And make sure to use a wipe every time. I know it sounds silly, but even pee has bacteria in it that needs to be wiped away. That could be part of why he is so colicky. How would you feel if you had to stay in a dirty diaper? One more thing... since he does have reflux, when you lay him down to sleep, you might try putting him in a Boppy. It says right on the Boppy "not intended for sleep", however, I found that it helped my daughter (who was on Reglan for two months until I discovered this trick). If you do decide to put him in it though, you do so at your own risk, and should check on him often until you know how he will react. I know that it all seems daunting right now, but you will get through it. Schedule is the key. Good luck!!




answers from Phoenix on

Hi There,
Wa daughter was also colicky and had acid reflux. So I can understand the stress you are under. Unfortunatly my best advice is stop fighting it. Keep with the schedule you have, but try not to get worked up when he doesn't follow it. Finally around 5 months, we let my daughter cry it out. I knew she wasn't waking up becuase she was hungry, it was nerely out of habit. I would check with your Dr. and make sure he is a healty weight for his age and then you might want to try it. I know some people are very against it, but it is usually successful. Habits are hard to break for big people and little people, but never the less, it needs to be done. It usually takes close to a week for him to get the hint, so you'll have some pretty rough nights before it get easier. Good Luck with whatever you decide. This too will pass.



answers from Phoenix on

Have you considered co-sleeping? My husband and I have our own business and needed sleep at night and we found this to be our only solution. It might not be the best for one's relationship, but it worked wonders for us. We would sleep with our children if we had to do it all over again. We do not regret it. There are safety concerns, but I am one to not move very much at night and so I cuddled my babies close to me on their side and I on mine and slept that way.

As for the colic, have you tried standing and rocking him in your arms? My sister is a NICU nurse and recommended a special rock to me for my daughter. You hold the baby on their belly across your arms-horizontal to your body. You then rock them side to side and forward and back. This was a miracle for us and my daughter would settle down within minutes.

I wish you the best of luck. Congratulations!



answers from Phoenix on

Hi H., relax, this is very common for a lot of new parents. My son is now 8 months old and he slept ok in the beginning but it got worse around four months, i would say that it did not get good again untill 6 months. Babies have a very small stomach, especially premies. don't force him to eat, he is only eating what his stomach will hold. The bigger he gets the more he will eat and sleep, go with the flow, take a nap in the early afternoons when you get home, wake up then do dinner and bath. It is hard in the beginning but it gets easier. Befor 6 months it is very hard to get a baby on a schedual. Even now mine is still changing. I have two boys, think about doing this with a baby and helping the older one with homework.:) I found taking a day to get away even if it was just for an hour, get a pedicure or even going to the grocery store was relaxing. Husbands are really great at knowing when we need a break. As for the nights, it will come, time is the only way, my advice is sneak a nap when you can. Also, i used gripe water for mine and it worked great. it is natural and is found everywhere. Also, at one point i told my husband to sleep on the couch (so he could get better sleep)and the baby and i slept in our room. They seem to sleep longer when they are near you. I still had to get up and at six months i put him back in his room. From that day on he slept all night.Their is really nothing different you can do, you are doing a great job as it is. good luck and don't get discouraged. They are only babies for a short while.

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