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Newborn Sleep: the first 8 weeks

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Sleep > Newborn Sleep: the first 8 weeks


Questions More Infant Sleep Topics

Can't get 8-week-old ro sleep before 2am

June 2007

My daughter is about 8 weeks old and goes to bed anywhere from 12-2am. How do I get her to go to bed sooner? I've tried waking her during the day to play, no naps longer than 3 hours during the day.. swaddling her and turning the lights out at night. Is it even possible to train an infant this young? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. anon


My son is also 8 weeks old and he now falls asleep between 9 and 11 pm and sleeps for 6-8 hours straight without waking up. I don't know if I should be taking any credit for his schedule or he is just naturally that way (and of course I realize that infants can change their habits for no apparent reason and my luck can disappear just like that), but in any case, here's what I do. First of all, I swaddle him at night but not during they day (especially after 1 pm or so), so his afternoon naps are fairly short - from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. If he sleeps for more than an hour and a half in the afternoon, I would actually wake him up. And I try not to let him nap after 6 pm or so. Secondly, I give him a lot of tummy time in the afternoon, which he enjoys and this way he spends a lot of his energy holding his head up, struggling and grunting (of course, if you daughter isn't holding her head very well yet or hates being on her stomach, I would find another way for her to exercise). I also give my son his bath around 8pm, which seems to relax him before the night (again, might not work if your child hates baths, which was the case with my first son). And lastly, I feed him more frequently after 6 pm, so the total amount of milk my son gets in the evening before going to bed seems to be enough for him not get hungry for the next 6-8 hours. I am very consistent with this schedule and hopefully him sleeping through the night is an established habit by now, but of course we will see. By the way, we did the same thing with my now 3-year-old older son, who has also started sleeping through the night around that time and we've never had any problems with his night routine. Good luck, Anna
by the time you get responses this phase may have passed! i have 2 children under 2 years and i can tell you there is no solution to this stage of baby development. get a sleep book (''healthy sleep habits, happy child'') that defines these stages for you. it helps to know what is coming and how little you can do to change it. it is a phase of development that is normal in all babies. in regards to training the earliest i could get #2 on a schedule (8am nap, 1pm nap - both about 1.5 hrs, bedtime at 5pm and up at 6am) was around 5.5 to 6 months (she is almost 7 months now). just keep pushing for that earlier bedtime. that will take a couple weeks for 10pm, couple more for 9pm, etc. but that earlier bedtime drives nap schedules, etc. don't waste time waking your child during the day - it does nothing. get rest while you can. beth
Eight weeks--oh, my! Your daughter is too young for sleep training. Let her sleep when she sleeps during the day (this will do wonders), accept when she won't sleep at night. Take her into the sun when she is awake during the day if you think her day/night cycle is off.

And wait. She will settle in, and in a few more months, if you are still up late, you can start adjusting her sleep. It's a tough time for you, but it will get better! let'em sleep


Yikes! First of all, 8 week olds are still supposed to sleep some huge percentage of the time, so I think what you are saying is that one of her lengthy awake times is in the late, late, late evening. And it is not really possible to do any kind of ''sleep training'' at this point, all you can do is kind of get her on board with the rest of the planet with the day/night thing. In other words, it's not a question of ''wearing her out'' so she'll sleep more, it's just switching her sleep times around. One thing you didn't mention trying is making sure she is in the sunlight during the day, of course not in direct sun getting a sunburn but some time outside and curtains and blinds of the house open. I've heard that it's especially helpful to get out of the house and in the sunlight in the afternoon. So try that and make sure you are not wearing her out too much, letting her snooze as much as she wants at least one other time in the day, so she is not over-tired, since that disrupts sleep. A good time for an extra long nap might be the morning, since that will power her up for the day. Oh, one more thing, you might try putting her down ''for the night'' at 7 or whenever her last ''nap'' is, even though you know she is going to get up to eat again, and nurse in the dark, and try to put her right back down. Finally, it really is early days (the two longest months of your life, though!) and this too shall pass. It is not too early to read ''The No-cry Sleep Solution'' by Pantley. anon
Oh, this is such a hard time! I am sure you are doing everything right. It sounds like you are keeping it mellow and dark at night, not talking to the baby or playing with her(?). The key is BORING visits. You also may need to rock her or nurse her to sleep, if you can. But you may just have to wait it out til she is done with the night owl thing.

It is too early to sleep train officially, but those are the things you can do now to let her know that nighttime is sleep time. She is pretty little, so she could still just be getting days and nights messed up.

The day my son turned 4 months is the day we started sleep training. We had an actual phone call session with Dr. Marc Weissbluth who wrote Happy Baby Healthy Sleep Habits... or whatever the title is. He says 4 months is the earliest. Feel free to email me with sleep questions, as what we learned from him was magic (cry it out, but magic). Jenny


Dear Parent I have a four months old daughter, and if it were up to her, she would fight going to sleep all night long. I have discovered that if I give her a bath just before 8pm, and give her a bottle right when she starts rubbing her eyes, she falls asleep with the bottle in her mouth in about 5-10 minutes.

This seems to work most of the time, give it a try, it may work with your little one. Also, something else I've noticed, if i give her a toy she gets a bit more agitated, but if I just swadle her up in her favorite blanket she goes to sleep much faster. I've noticed that she likes to pull the blanket over her face to fall asleep, this too you could try. Best of luck, eszter


My girlfriend still has this problem with her 4 yr old, so I hope that doesn't happen to you. I had good luck getting my daughter to sleep as an infant by laying down with her when she was tired. (I was tired, too, and I almost always fell asleep too, which wasn't always convenient, but that was a different problem....) but within 20 mins. she would be asleep--how long she would sleep was dependent on lots of things-hunger, diapers, developmental stage, etc. This worked so well that I still do it with my now 4 yr. old. Also I discovered that when she was a little older than your baby she had sleep/awake intervals, and that no matter what I did I couldn't change those, so I had to accept and adapt my own schedule to them. That is, she would wake, be awake for 3 hours, nap for 2, be awake for 3, nap, etc. and the awake intervals got bigger as she aged, but the interval concept remained, for ex. at one she was awake for 6 hours, slept for 2-3, then was awake for 6. That means if I put her down for a nap at 2, she would sleep until 4 and then be awake until 10 and there was no way she would sleep before 10. Now she is on a 12 awake, 12 asleep, so I have to wake her up by 7:30 if I want her to go to bed at 7:30. Make sure you aren't messing with a natural pattern, that in the end may be a healthy thing, just not convenient to you. You may have to stop what you are doing in the evenings and make her sleep the thing you take care of for a while--a few weeks, to get things on a schedule you can live with (not necessarily one you plan or like) good luck

2-week-old sleeping too much?

Feb 2004

My 2-week-old sleeps almost continually. He does rouse often enough to be fed 7 or 8 times a day and is gaining weight well. He probably has 2 half-hour periods per day when he is alert. But the rest of the time he is fast asleep. I know I should be counting my blessings but I am also worried that something may be wrong (is he ill?). Is this normal? anon


Yes, count your blessings! My 5 month old daughter was exactly the same way as your son. I remember days where it seemed she only woke to eat. She slept SO much. She gradually had more awake periods; probably most noticeably after about 10 weeks. I look back on those first couple of months fondly, as I could just hold her in my arms for hours at a time. Ah, so precious! Remember that you typically hear about AVERAGES, i.e., ''newborns sleep X hours per day''--whatever the number, it's an AVERAGE, which means some babies sleep MORE. Be happy you were blessed with one of those. Enjoy!! Tracy
I also have a two week old and he is sleeping all the time. I believe this is normal...it was also the case with my first child. They say that they ''wake up'' around 3 weeks, so enjoy this quiet time with your sleepy baby. best
I could have written your post seven months ago. My son slept ALL THE TIME. My poor parents would be the most disappointed, because they would stop by to see him and he would undoubtedly be asleep or on his way. It was for us--and I think in the vast majority of cases it is--entirely normal. Birth is traumatic and growing takes lots of energy! Isaac's ped has marked on his charts ''doing super'' at every single well-visit since his birth, so I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy his long naps while you can! Ginna
Birth is a lot of work for infants too, and he's just sleeping it off. I wouldn't worry at all -- take advantage of it! :) Anon.
Yep, it's perfectly normal for a 2-week old baby to spend all his time when not feeding sleeping. anon
If you are worried feel free to call your pediatrician for advice. I spent many anxious moments as a new mother until I realized that pediatricians expect to get called alot about newborns and it is their job to answer your questions. It never hurts to check these things out. That said, by the time you read this your son is probably sleeping less as they are very groggy the first two weeks of life.

Also some kids sleep alot. I was really alarmed when I saw how much my brother's six month old daughter slept, she hardly seemed to be awake for more than a short time before she napped again. My son was never a big sleeper. But after a while my niece woke up more in the day (sleeps great at night for long stretches!) and has the usual nap schedule. Kids sleeping patterns (and behavior in general) vary much more than you would ever guess from reading parenting books. I found the ''Baby Book'' by William and Martha Sears very reassuring for all my baby questions. I consulted it numerous times a day :) Congratulations on your new baby!


From what you've said, it sounds normal. Eating 7-8 times a day and gaining weight are the important things. 2-week old babies have darn little ''quiet alert'' time. That will change! Enjoy your little one! those were the days

Constantly Breastfeeding 1-month-old not sleeping

July 2002

My one month old breastfeeds constantly. Sometimes over two hours in one sitting, and four to five hours with small ten minute breaks! I think it is a combination of being a slow eater and having a strong sucking instinct. I understand she has a small stomach and I believe in feeding on demand and don't mind her sucking for comfort. However, it gets to the point where she clearly isn't hungry anymore and is very tired but won't go to sleep. She starts frantically pecking at my breast and then starts howling. There seems to be no way to comfort her except to continue feeding her, although I know that she is TIRED not hungry. The only other way I've successfully found getting her to sleep is by driving or taking a walk with her in a sling. But she usually wakes as soon as we've stopped moving and wants to feed again. Any advice on how to break this cycle and get her to sleep?


When our daughter was an infant, she did the same thing. We were reluctant to use a pacifier, and she refused to keep it in her mouth anyway, so we ended up offering our pinkie fingers a lot of the time, just to give her something to suck on. At about 3 months she finally decided to take a pacifier, much to our relief! Then she spit it out and never went back to it atr about 7 months, but that was another story... Good luck. Lauren
It will get better. My son was the same, and now at 11 months I can hardly get him interested in nursing. I found that as a first-time-mom I was constantly trying to ''fix'' things that were going to change regardless.

Some people would say that your baby is crying because she needs to vent stress, and that the best thing you can do is hold her, talk to her, and look at her so that she knows that she is loved a supported while she gets to the bottom of it. I experiemented with this and I think there was merit in the idea, although nothing applied 100% of the time. Anon.


Time is what will work. In fact, I think it is a decent bet that by the time you read these replies, your baby will have a new pattern. Keep on feeding on demand, and when the babe is clearly tired switch the sling to dad, send the two of them out for a walk, and either take a nap or a bath - or both! Good luck, and hang in there - the only constant with newborns is change. Debbi
I would strongly suggest you contact a lactation consultant. You want to confirm that your little one is getting enough milk, and why she is taking so long to feed (need? nurture?). I had almost the same problem and it turns out my son (at one month) wasn't getting enough milk (among other issues). I worked very closely with a lactation consultant for my 2nd child and resolved the issues that I had with my first. Even if all is well with you baby - I would try to find out why she is nursing for such a long time for your sanity!! I highly suggest Janaki Costello, lactation consultant, at 525.1155. Best of luck. Elizabeth
Hi, My advice, which may be taken ill by some (I know _I_ would have taken it ill with my first child) is try a pacifier. It sounds as though breastfeeding is well-established. You didn't say how your baby was gaining. If the baby is slow in gaining, maybe it might not be a great idea, but if your baby is putting on weight fine, I would try a pacifier. I didn't do the pacifier thing with my first one, but after several sleepless nights getting up with a 21-month-old and a newborn I decided to give it a try with my second. Wow! It suddenly became clear why so many people do use them. Just pop that thing in and they go right back to sleep (if you can get them to take it.) We had to work at it for a while, and my daughter only took it for six months, but what a wonderful 6 months they were! Being wary of the whole pacifier thing anyway, I was careful about not popping it in every time she squeaked, but it was so nice to 1)get her to go to sleep easily 2) calm her in the car (we endured so much screaming in the car with my older daughter because we just had to get where we were going and nothing would calm her, which completely frazzled us.) 3) get her to go back to sleep at night when I knew she didn't need to nurse, for instance, when she had only been asleep an hour or two, or when her flutter sucking after nursing was keeping me awake, but if I popped her off she'd wake up. I could slip the pacifier in and we could both sleep. Oh, and my second daughter also did what it sounds as though yours is doing: she wanted to nurse to go to sleep, but wasn't hungry and would howl and pop off when the milk let down. The pacifier was a good solution to this problem.

We had no problem getting rid of the pacifier (she rejected it a 6mos), and never had any nipple confusion problems --- she never had a bottle, so she never got the idea that food could come from an artificial nipple. Our only problem has been ending the nursing fixation! I weaned her 3 mos ago at 2 years and she still grabs me and shouts ''IT'S MY NIPPLE!!''. Always, of course, in public.

Now, on to other things. I believe in nursing on demand, but in moderation. :) In other words, try to stretch out the time between feedings with distractions, back patting, walking, whatever. Also, there is no need to nurse your baby as long as 2 hours. The baby gets the most milk at let down. Ten minutes or fifteen minutes on each side should give her plenty of milk, or if you are not comfortable with that, even half an hour per side. She won't be getting much in the end anyway. Then see how long you can get her to go without nursing. I never let my daughter cry, I just tried to gently space things out a bit, to 1-1/2 or 2 hours between feedings. Do it during the day, and the nights will follow. You need rest, and she really doesn't need to nurse that much. Remember to take care of both of you! She needs you to be well-rested. Well, at least decently-rested... :) Good luck to you! another nursing mom


If you can't find a solution to the constancy of feeding, I hope that you can nurse in the sidelying position. I slept and read novels while my hungry hungry girl gorged/slept/sucked. You might try nursing one side per nursing, especially if you also are seeing green poop periodically. There could be too much fore milk (the clear sweet stuff) and not enough hind milk (rich full creamy opaque) getting in. This might also make for tummy trouble and comfort seeking...where? you guessed it, at the breast. Some people have had luck w/ vibrating bouncy seats as sleep inducers. I sniffed at such 'gizmos' when shopping pre birth, but will try anything and count it a success if it works once. It's also okay (and will be more so as baby gets older) to pass the baby over to your partner and they can bond while you get a break, even if there's lots of wailing. You should probably leave the house though! I could never take it. Jessica
Have you tried giving her a pacifier? Sometimes babies need to suck in order to get themselves calm enough to sleep. anonymous

5-day-old only sleeps during the day

From: Mike and Angela

My husband and I are parents of a five day old infant that has a nocturnal sleep schedule. He has a difficult time falling asleep in the evening, sleeps for short periods of time and often wakes up and will cry and scream for an extended period of time. We feel very badly because we live in an apartment and our baby wakes up our neighbor at wee hours in the morning. During the day, our baby can sleep for hours and needs to be woken to be nursed (falls back asleep while nursing). We have been told to try to wake-up the baby during the day, but are not sure how to do this and how to keep him awake. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


From: Georg

First don't worry about your childs behaviour. It is quite normal for a newborn not to know the difference between day and night. It can take weeks or months until your baby finds to a stable nursing/sleeping schedule. He might need to drink now every two hours during the night. If you are lucky the intervalls will increase to four or six hours at night within the next weeks. It might be more comfortable for mother and baby to sleep in the same bed so you don't have to get up every time the baby wants to drink. Second I think everyone has to accept that babies cry -even at 2am. There is no "turn-off". To minimize crying and keeping you and neighbours from sleep I would again suggest to take the baby in your bed. At the worst he would fall asleep on your stomach. While nursing at night keep the room dark so the baby can easier learn day/night difference. Good luck and give your baby time to learn and to adjust to life on earth.


From: raff

Based on all the reading and research I've done, it is quite normal for a newborn to have very irregular sleep, including sleeping in the day and being up at night more. The best way to help a newborn get used to being outside the womb is to keep it on its mothers (or fathers) body with some kind of carrier. I think the sling is best, but other carriers can work as well. We have a nine month old child, and the sling has been the favorite piece of equipment. Not only does it keep her close and give her the comfort of our body warmth and heartbeat, but it also frees up our hands and lets us do things. If a baby is on its parent's body during much of the day and night, that should help the loud crying at night. There are lots of other ideas for helping with baby crying in "The Baby Book" by Sears and Sears. Our other favorite source of info. was the book "Our Babies, Ourselves" by Meredith Small. It provides cross-cultural comparisons on different aspects of parenting. Really well written and there is chapter specifically on sleep. Best of luck!


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