Very Long Periods of Awake Time for Newborn

Updated on March 01, 2010
T.P. asks from Tucson, AZ
19 answers

My 2 week old baby girl (3 days out of this past week) has been awake for a period of 12 hours. During this time she can only be consoled by being held- if that is done.. she doesn't cry. My husband (a father of 3) and I have tried all possible interventions we can imagine to soothe and console her to sleep..or at least to be out of our arms for a bit... and it aint happening! At times she will relax in a sling on me but still doesnt love to be carried in a front pack. I'm sure you can imagine how stressfull this is.

It begins in the early morning (between 2:30 and 4) and she doesn't fall asleep at all that day until about 3 in the afternoon.

Our pediatrician reports that this can be unfortunately normal for some babies and that because she does stop crying if held it most likely isn't heavy reflux that needs to be treated or colic. She is also gaining weight at the normal pace.

Any ideas- suggestions- advice out there?

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Albuquerque on

The only thing that worked for my youngest son was swaddling. I have seen a few other mom's here mention Karp's book "the happiest baby on the block". While I didn't agree with ALL of his thoughts on things, the swaddling was a life saver. And so was the loud shooshing sound in my son's ear. However the trick to swaddling is to do it right and to do it TIGHT. The more restricted she feels, the more she'll feel like she's in the womb. My husband takes great pride in teaching other mom's how to swaddle because he got it down so great! LOL. In the book that I mentioned, it has a diagram on how to swaddle correctly. Just don't be worried that you're going to swaddle TOO tight. Good luck. I hope things get better!



answers from Phoenix on

My two daughters were the same way and the only thing that helped us was the Ergo baby and the heart to heart insert. My youngest is now nine months and when she is extremely fussy it is the only thing that calms her down and allows her to sleep. Good luck!

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answers from Cincinnati on

Have you tried ideas from the Happiest baby on the block by Dr Karp?

He uses the 5 Ss
• Swaddling - Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support the fetus experienced while still in Mom's womb.
• Side/stomach position - You place your baby, while holding her, either on her left side to assist in digestion, or on her stomach to provide reassuring support. Once your baby is happily asleep, you can safely put her in her crib, on her back.
• Shushing Sounds - These sounds imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb. This white noise can be in the form of a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer, a fan and so on. The good news is that you can easily save the motors on your household appliances and get a white noise CD which can be played over and over again with no worries. If crying, the noises needs to be as loud as the crying
• Swinging - Newborns are used to the swinging motions that were present when they were still in Mom's womb. Every step mom took, every movement caused a swinging motion for your baby. After your baby is born, this calming motion, which was so comforting and familiar, is abruptly taken away. Your baby misses the motion and has a difficult time getting used to it not being there. "It's disorienting and unnatural," says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.
• Sucking - "Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system," notes Karp, "and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain." This "S" can be accomplished with breast, bottle, pacifier or even a finger.

he also talks about how the noise inside the womb is louder than a vaccum cleaner and that the sleep enviornment actually needs to be loud not quiet (using a white noise machine or he has a CD)

hope that helps. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Hello T.,
It sounds like your new little one is in need of being held. She was cradled in your womb for the last 9 months and will not be used to life outside the womb for some time. She is not used to feeling hunger (she never did in the womb), pain, stress, or most of the other sensations she is suddenly feeling. She needs the comfort you can provide to help her get used to these new feelings and emotions. The best way to help her do that is to hold and comfort her. The more you hold and comfort her, the more she will calm down. See if she will tolerate being swaddled and then see if she will let you wear her in a sling - not a front carrier. She is the most important thing right now and her needs take priority over anything else. It will seem like forever in the beginning, but they are only small once and they grow so fast. Give her the time and attention she needs. This time will be over before you know it.

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answers from Washington DC on

Have you tried swaddling her? I did this with all 3 of mine and it is when they were happiest , during the daytime at that young age I wasn't too bothered about them sleeping in bassinet , I swaddled and then put them in the bouncy or swing chair. From around 6/8 weeks is when I started trying to introduce a routine of them going in the bassinet awake etc.

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answers from Albuquerque on

She needs you to hold her. She's making that very clear. Try a wrap sling or ring sling or something that holds her body close to yous. You and your husband should try doing this shirtless, as well, to give her skin to skin contact. She really needs you right now. It's not the time to teach her to put herself to sleep.

You could also try baby massage (not just rubbing her like we like to be massaged. Look into the kind of touch babies need) in case she is overstimulated.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Your daughter is awake for so long because she is overtired. No longer than 1.5 hours after waking, you should be rocking, bouncing, nursing, swaddling the little one back to sleep.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sorry but I do not agree with your doc. My son was colic and the only thing that helped was holding him. The second I put him down he screamed. I really wouldn't worry about her sleeping in the bassinet, try the bouncy seat, swing, whatever works. Also, does she take a pacifier. It was my only saving grace. It took a few different ones to get him to take one but it saved me. Is she formula fed or nursing. I had to use Neutramagin formula that also helped. I also swaddled him which helped he hated to be arms free and naked. He would startle when he was on his back. I would lay him on his tummy next to me on the couch and just pat his behind he loved that I guess it calmed his stomach. Also, try a bath, a bath can also help to relax. I feel your pain I remember literally crying and passing out from exhaustion once he did fall asleep. In the meantime do you have any other family that can lend a pair of arms for you to get a break?



answers from Detroit on

sounds like a normal newborn to me. The only thing they know is being held. swings and bouncy chairs are substitutes for your arms so you can do other things..

some babies are easy some not so easy.

it will get better as she gets older but this is quite normal for a newborn.. swaddle her give her a paci and try to rock her to sleep.

newborns dont know how to go to sleep you have to help them.



answers from Phoenix on

Please try swaddling you child. My youngest NEEDED to be swaddled or she was simply unhappy. It may explain her need to be held. The last months inside your womb are very tight quarters and she becomes accustomed to that pressure around her. Here is a link to a video instruction:

God bless you and your family.



answers from Tucson on

Yep, I remember this well. I have an almost 13 month old who, for the first 4 MONTHS of her life, was awake for 10-12 hours a day straight. It was alarming, disheartening and exhausting. We tried EVERYTHING. Spent hundreds on sleep training books, swings, slings, wraps, swaddler blankets. then one day we realized, this is just her natural sleep pattern. I'm happy to say that she now sleeps 11-12 hours straight every night......but she still only takes a 30-60 minute nap ONCE per day. I don't want to tell you what you likely don't want to hear but like your pede said, this is normal for some babies. The don't all sleep 15-20 hours a day. On the upside, my daughter at only age 1, has over 50 words she says very clearly and has an incredible understanding of the world already. My husband and I joke that she was awake all the time so she could learn how to take over the world by age 3.

Good luck and hang in there.



answers from Phoenix on

Sounds about right. Enjoy the time you spend with her sleeping in your arms, that's a good time for you to take a nap or read to her.



answers from Portland on

In The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp advises that you make young babies feel as much as possible that they are still in the womb. This includes such tips as snug swaddling, holding the baby sideways while swinging and jogging fairly vigorously, introducing a loud shooshing sound, and holding the baby's belly against your warm body. Be sure to support all "loose parts" firmly so she feels safe.

I agree that the more you can relax your little girl, the more she'll sleep, even if briefly at first. And the more she sleeps, the more she'll be able to sleep. It is exhausting, but less so than if you allow her distress to continue. Good luck.



answers from Augusta on

My daughter was like that. She's now been diagnosed with ADHD.
I ended up having to co-sleep with her. I spent many a night up with her walking her around our apartment. I put on 101 Dalmations on tv and it captured her attention , the black and white movement. I used to lay on the couch with her on my chest with it on and that's the only way I could get her to calm down enough to go to sleep.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi T.,
I am a post partum doula and mother of 4 and I can give you a couple of suggestions. Fist of all babies don't like it if you are trying a bunch of things, they need to feel secure and feel that you know what you are doing. It is best if you start the day with a routine, e.g. bath the baby, feed her , put her to sleep. In the night keep the lights off during feeding, make it a short and functional happening. If she has a hard time falling asleep in the crib, carry her in the sling until she falls asleep and a solid 10 minutes after, than you can easily put her down and she won't wake up, make sure she is warmer than you think she should be, swaddle, extra blanket etc.
Good luck



answers from Miami on

my baby was the same. so please do not worry. I will echo the below and add a bit.
1. try Karp's book. it is a very good explanation of a baby's intrinsic needs during the first 4 months and beyond...

2. penelope leach, another child development expert, notes in her book (and i paraphrase from memory, so don't quote me :)), that some babies are naturally awake more often than the average. these babies are usually more curious, and may possibly develop some skills a bit faster later.

3. my lo did not always like a front pack either.... good for you for trying to "wear" her. There are other softer slings available that she may be more comfortable and soothed in.




answers from Tucson on

The 5 S's from the book The Happiest Baby on the Block work wonders. I have a 3.5 month old and she now sleeps great thanks to the techniques used in this book. There is also a DVD if you prefer to go that route. Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

I'm sure you've tried this, but how about an auto. baby swing? Mine looooved hers and she'd be in it for hours. I had one that swung side to side and back and forth and had a mobile with a light on the top, which captured her attn. I think she was a few weeks older than yours though when I first put her in one. Yours is still so little and new, I'm sure something will change for you soon!

I also have a white noise CD. Also, my sister in law turns on this little shark vacuum in her son's room, and he is instantly out cold when he hears that... white noise and all.



answers from Phoenix on

I had twins so I have definately dealt with lots of sleep deprivation! I started my twins on the "Babywise" method at 5 weeks and they were sleeping from 10 to 5 by 7 weeks. You can get the babywise book but here is the general idea. Put the baby on a schedule of eat/play/sleep. NEVER try to sooth the baby to sleep in your arms because as soon as the baby is out of your arms she wakes up. Instead nurse or bottle feed and don't allow your baby to fall asleep. Burp her and then play with her for 30 minutes - 1 hour. (Playing with her also includes times she may play by her self in a playpen etc.)You will have to adjust the play/sleep times according to how aften your pediatrician says you should feed her. I am assuming a 3 hour feeding schedule. Feed your baby and then play with her for 45 minutes and put her down to sleep for 2 hours. When you put her down to sleep I suggest a tight swaddling so that her arms flying out don't wake her up. The room should be cool and quiet. Put her down dry and full and walk away. She will probably cry but let her. With my oldest I didn't do this and I had to endure 4 - 5 hours of screaming and trying to climb out of the crib at 1 year old. With the twins the longest they cried was 45 minutes and within a few days they didn't cry at all. After 2 hours wake your baby up to nurse or bottle feed. This regular schedule makes your baby feel safe and cared for. She fits into a schedule that you have set rather than making the whole household dance around her schedule. There is one exception to the waking up rule. After the last feeding of the day (around 10 o'clock) have a quiet awake routine - perhaps a gentle bath with some lavender. Then allow your baby to sleep as long as she wants. This will become her nightsleep which will last as long as 9 - 10 hours within a month. Good luck :)

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