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Sleep challenges are par for the course when you have a newborn.  Every baby is different and finding what works best for your little family takes time as you try out different routines and schedules.  I’ve been lucky though, my daughter has been a pretty good nighttime sleeper from the very beginning.  In the first few weeks she was up every 2-3 hours at night but by the time she was 3 or 4 weeks old she was pretty consistently sleeping 4-5 hours at night.  She was also napping on a pretty regular schedule by 4 weeks old too.  Unfortunately, things seemed to change when we returned from our trip up to Canada for Christmas.

While we were in Canada she continued to sleep pretty well.  She would occasionally only go 3 hours but most of the time she was sticking with the 4-5 hours (and even sometimes 6 hours).  Towards the end of our trip she came down with a cold and that, of course, caused her to wake up more frequently.  The poor little thing could hardly breath at night.  For about 2-3 nights she was up every couple of hours because she was gagging or couldn’t breath (I was up most of the night as I could hear her labored breathing and couldn’t fall asleep).  By the time we got home the cold was starting to improve, but the sleeping habits were getting worse.

For the first couple of weeks after we got back from our trip she was up almost every 3 hours pretty much every night.  There was the occasional night where she would sleep longer (usually in a really big chunk of 7-8 hours, I think she was exhausted), but for the most part it was every 3 hours.  I talked to the pediatrician about it at our 2 month check up and she said that there were probably several things that were disrupting her sleep schedule, the trip, overstimulation from getting way too much attention from way too many people while we were in Canada, the cold she had come down with, and maybe even a growth spurt thrown in there for good measure.  The pediatrician advised that often times when something is changed about a baby’s routine or they are suffering from too much stimulation they will regress a little in their sleeping habits.  The good news, I was told, is that they usually go back to their regular routine after a little while.  She gave me a couple of recommendations for the next time we travel that may work (of course there is no guarantee), try to stick with the same schedule she was on at home (even if you are changing time zones), try to keep her from getting overstimulated even if that means ticking off a few relatives by saying no they can’t hold her, make sure she spends time playing, again even if it means having to say no when someone wants to hold her.

After a few weeks of lack of sleep (on my part) she seems to returning to her regular sleeping schedule.  For the last few nights she has gone longer stretches at night and is sleeping more soundly too.  I hope that by the end of this week we’ll be back to normal.  I’m glad that the pediatrician was right about babies typically returning to their schedule after an interruption.

It is amazing how a little 10 day trip could cause such chaos.  What I learned was that the best way to try to maintain a good sleep schedule when you travel is to stick with your routine, avoid overstimulation (which is really hard to do when everyone wants to hold her all the time), and hope for the best.  Luckily she’ll be older the next time we travel with her so that should make things easier.

This past couple of weeks of little or no sleep has really made me realize how lucky I am to have a good sleeper.  I can’t imagine how those parents who have a baby that doesn’t sleep well do it.  Do you have a baby that doesn’t sleep well?  What tricks have you learned that you think might help other parents who are going through the same thing?

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4 Responses to My Baby: Sleep Challenges

  • My baby is almost five weeks old and has the same sleeping patterns you describe. However I wanted to ask how much is she eating? I worry that when she sleeps for those long periods that she is not receiving the nutrition she needs…

  • Adriana,

    My daughter usually eats every 2-3 hours during the day and then as I mentioned above she goes longer at night. She is 11 weeks old now and is going between 4-7 hours on average at night between feedings. She is growing well so I’m not worried about whether she is getting enough to eat. Babies are pretty good at taking in what they need during the day so they can go longer at night. If your baby is gaining weight and your pediatrician hasn’t said there are any issues I would say your fine (and lucky).

  • Amber says:

    Your little one and mine seem to be one the same schedule. My question is how do you manage feedings or pumpings at night so that you don’t become engorged or get a clot. Do I need to wake up when he is not to pump? I want to stay on his schedule so that I can keep putting him to the breast and can avoid giving him breast milk in a bottle. He will be going to daycare with his breast milk in bottles soon and I want to continue to breast feed him when he is at home.

  • Amber,

    It is normal for a baby to begin to sleep longer at night and your body will adjust. You may feel engorged for a few days but as your body gets used to not needing to produce so much milk at night it will slow down. Our bodies are fantastic things and are very good at produce milk at needed times of the day and slowing down production when not as much is needed. Enjoy the extra sleep you will now get.

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