Many of us recall saying “My baby is an angel – she just feeds and sleeps and really is a very good baby.” Then at two weeks old, we wish we hadn’t been quite so public with this piece of news. For many babies the two-week mark ushers in the challenge of sleeplessness. There are a million theories on why things change at two weeks but the reality is that it does. You will find your baby is harder to get to sleep and will be a little more fractious. Some babies even develop colic (3 hours of crying at a stretch usually in the early evening).
What we do know is that if you can get your little one to sleep well in the day, you will avert colic to a great degree. Let’s look at 5 reasons your newborn may fight sleep
Once your newborn becomes more awake and alert, it may seem that she is awake most of the day and you cannot get her to sleep. This becomes a vicious cycle – the less she sleeps, the more she will resist falling asleep. Make sure she is put back to sleep every 45 minutes during the day. Time this from the time she wakes until you put her down for the next sleep. All care giving, playtime and feeds should happen during her ‘awake time’. Her ‘awake time’ will increase incrementally through her life until as a preschooler she will be able to stay awake from morning to night.
The immature nervous system of the newborn can only cope with limited stimulation. Just being awake is stimulation enough as your baby takes in all the new sounds, sights and smells of her world. If you focus heavily on stimulating your baby every waking hour, you will find she becomes fractious and resists falling asleep. The average newborn can only cope with about 10 minutes of stimulation, such as being under a mobile. Watch your newborns’ signals and when she turns away from a stimulus, remove it from her line of vision and just let her be or help her to fall asleep if her ‘awake time’ is up.
A hungry baby will wake at the end of a sleep cycle and frequently at night. Since newborns need to feed frequently and also go through growth spurts, try to feed your baby on demand during the day and wake her from day sleeps if she is not feeding frequently enough during the day (at least 3 hourly – if she sleeps for monger during the day, she will need to fill on with night feeds)
If your baby is really not settled day and night and is waking very frequently during the night, rule out reflux as this is a common cause of discomfort in new babies which can impact negatively on sleep.
Day & Night muddled up
Some newborns take a while to differentiate day and night. For these babies, keep day interactions more animated and alerting and keep night feeds very calm with as little interactions such as changing nappies as possible. Wake your baby to feed if she sleeps for longer than 3 hours at a stretch during the day.
Most importantly, keep a level head – your newborn will have ‘off’ days – when she fights sleep and is fractious. Don’t despair. Just start each awake time as a new one – aiming to get her back to sleep within an hour but accepting that nothing is a rule with little ones. Cherish those newborn days they go by in a flash.
By Meg Faure