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My son was born on 26th January this year. My wife currently cannot breastfeed, so during his time in hospital he was fed every 3 hours: 0:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00, 21:00 with Nestle NaN baby food.

Currently we are having a lot of trouble at night, because the baby does not want to sleep, and always wants to eat. We always have to wait/or give him the food earlier, ending up with more feedings, and cast-iron heads.

Now, are there any recommendations, is it possible to somehow alter the food schedule, so the baby will sleep more at night?

Also, I'm especially interested in European/American practices. We are from Russia, and here they recommended us to feed him at night for about a year.

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    A month old is a little early to be concerned about sleeping through the night. Every 3 hours is about par for the course (normal) for a child of that age. One of my kids started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, but only for about a week or two then was back to 4-6 hour stretches. It may be inconvenient to you and your wife, but because your baby's stomach is only about 2-3oz big, they need to be fed often. – Ron Beyer Feb 10 '18 at 22:47
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    If the baby wakes up before the scheduled time to eat, do you wake him up to eat for the next scheduled feeding? Is the baby gaining weight properly? – aneder Feb 10 '18 at 23:23
  • @aneder no, we do not wake him up in that case. During the time in hospitale he lost about 20 gramms of weight or so. He was 3670 gramms, now 3650 gramms – BakedPotatoWithCheese Feb 10 '18 at 23:25
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    i think this is a wholly unrealistic expectation. Some people are lucky, their kids sleep all night from very early one. Mine are eight and three and still don't – bigbadmouse Feb 12 '18 at 14:11
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First of all, your baby is still very young. At less than one month, it is normal that he needs to be fed around the clock. His stomach is still very small, so he can't really stock up on food! Also your baby probably doesn't know the difference between day and night yet.

Sleeping through the night is not really about how the baby is fed or how old is the baby. It's a question of brain development and maturation and it's different for every baby. For example, I breastfeed both of my babies in the same way, but one slept through the night at 2 months and the other at 10 months. They were just different.

I have no magic solution to make your baby sleep through the night (and I'd be rich if I had one!), but at this stage I think that it's important that you help your baby differentiate day and night. For example, you could have a particular routine for the last feed of the day (feed baby in a special chair in his room, dim the lights, have a quiet environment, sing a night time lullaby, etc.). This will help to establish his sleep routine. While feeding during the night, keep the lights to a mimimum, keep baby in the same room where he is sleeping (if possible) and keep interactions to a minimum (do not speak to the baby, sing or play). In the day, it would be a good idea to feed baby in a different setting than at night, for example in the living room with the normal noises of the house and the sun light coming in.

Keep a consistent routine and your baby will eventually sleep in longer stretches. Typically he will have his longer period of sleep right after the last feeding of the day, and will progressively sleep longer and longer (regressions will happen, but they are normal).

Concerning the feeding schedule, I don't know much about bottle feeding but if your baby is gaining weight well and is generally in good shape I would advise to follow your baby's cues. Wait for the baby to show you that he is hungry and let him establish his own schedule. For example, my babies would typically feed more in the evening as they were preparing for the night. Follow your baby and don't forget that his needs will change from time to time as he is growing and developing at his own pace.

Sleep deprivation is HARD, but I'm afraid it's just the nature of caring for a newborn baby. I have the mantra "it's just a phase" and it helped me through many parenting hardships :)

  • The suggestion to begin differentiating b/w day and night is a good one. You should definitely do that. But a word of caution: babies eyes are very sensitive to light, so if you find your baby sleeping a lot during the day, it might be because he/she is overstimulated (by light). I found that light filtering shades worked best, or rooms that only got indirect light, so baby wasn’t tempted to shut his eyes at the wrong time of day. – Jax Jul 27 at 1:25
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My baby was born in January too and she also only sleep for 3 hours. She was fed at 21h00, 00h00, 03h00 and then 06h00. And lately she starts to have 4 or 5 hours of sleeping and someday she will sleep for 8 hours like us.

One tips we did in order to avoid exhaustion is to sleep as she sleep. So we could rest for 3h 2 or 3 times. Sure it's not like resting for 8h but it helped.

I found this letter from (NHS Ayrshire Maternity Unit) that gives us some strengh and comfort.

Dear Mummy and Daddy

Please keep this letter from me in a place where you can read it and re-read it when things are rough and you are feeling down.

Please don’t expect too much from me as a new born baby, or too much from yourselves as parents. Give us both six weeks as a birthday present, six weeks for me to grow, develop, mature, and become more stable and predictable – six weeks for you to rest and relax and allow your body to get back to normal.

Please feed me when I am hungry, I never knew hunger in your womb and clocks and time mean little to me.

Please hold, cuddle, kiss, touch, stroke and croon to me. I was always held closely in your womb and have never been alone before.

Please forgive me if I cry a lot. I am not a tyrant who was sent to make your life miserable, the only way I can tell you I am not happy is with my cry, bear with me and in a short time, as I mature, I will spend less time crying and more time socializing.

Please take the time to find out who I am, how I differ from you and how much I can bring to you. Watch me carefully and I’ll tell you things which sooth, console and please me.

Please remember that I am resilient and can withstand the many natural mistakes you’ll make with me. As long as you make them with love, I cannot be harmed.

Please don’t be disappointed when I am not the perfect baby you expected nor be disappointed with yourselves when you are not the perfect parents.

Please take care of yourself; eat a balanced diet, rest, and exercise so that when we are together, you have the patience and energy to take care of me. The cure for a fussy baby is more rest for Mum.

Please take care of your relationship with each other. What good is family bonding if there is no family left for me to bond with.

Keep the “big picture” in mind. I’ll be like this for a very short time, though it seems like forever to you now. Although I may have turned your life upside down, please remind yourselves that things will be back to normal before long.

Enjoy me – I’ll never be this little again!

  • What a wonderful letter. Thank you for sharing. – Bugs Mar 6 '18 at 15:13
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My young child (almost 3) still does not sleep through the night. When he was a newborn, we were in the same situation as you, except he would often only sleep 45 minutes to an hour at a time before waking up hungry. Now he wakes up at least once a night to use the potty, which he needs our help with.

I don't have a solution to have the baby sleep through the night, however I have an alternate solution. Once we stopped breast feeding, my wife and I took turns. One night staying up and tending to the baby would be my "job", the next night it would be hers. This meant that we could each get a decent sleep every other night. Depending on the size of your home you may need to consider earplugs and eye-mask so you can truly get a full sleep while the other is tending to the little one.

Getting a solid 6 to 8 hours, even every 2 or 3 days, makes a big difference.

Good luck, this is a tough time but eventually your child will settle into a schedule and things will be easier.

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You asked for a European/American perspective, so I’ll do my best to relate what I’ve heard from my doctors and pediatricians, and what I’ve learned from my two babies.

  1. It is normal for a newborn to lose up to 10% of their birth weight before they start gaining weight. This usually happens within the first week.

  2. Newborns are expected to feed between 6 and 8 times per day. (Once every 3-4 hours). As long as he has dirty diapers on a regular basis (particularly wet diapers) he is probably getting enough to eat.

  3. Once baby is 10 pounds (not sure what that is in grams), then his/her stomach is big enough that it is POSSIBLE to sleep through the night (from a purely nutritional standpoint). But don’t expect “through the night” to be 8 hours. It will probably be more like 5-6 hours, then wake and feed, then sleep another 2-3 hours. I know that probably sounds like heaven right now :)

  4. If you’re getting ready to go to bed for the night, you may want to “top him off,” Meaning feed him a little extra (until he no longer wants to eat). This can be a little tricky with newborns because they don’t always know when they’re full, and he might eat until he throws up - so when giving him extra give him breaks for a minute or so so he has a chance to feel full.

  5. Babies need LOTS of care when they are this little - they need to know you will be there for them whenever they need something so they feel safe and secure. This will help them sleep better in the long run. So for now try to tough it out and get up whenever he needs you. When he’s about 3 months old (or when he starts sucking his own fingers) then you can start sleep-training him.

What this looks like:

A) do your bedtime routine. at the same time every night Change his diaper, feed him, wrap him in his blanket, lie him in his crib (awake but drowsy), sing him a song (this was my routine).

B) leave him to go to sleep. This doesn’t mean let him cry forever - it means let him cry for a few minutes (maybe 15) and see if he starts to calm himself down by sucking his fingers etc.

C) if he hasn’t even tried sucking his fingers/other self-soothing after 15 minutes, he probably isn’t ready for this, and you should rock him/do whatever you normally do to help him fall asleep. If he has sort of calmed himself a few times but hasn’t gone to sleep yet, then double-check that his diaper is still clean, make sure he doesn’t need to burp, remind him you’re still there to take care of him, and lie him back down to try again.

D) if he still doesn’t go to sleep, try going in to remind him you’re there, but don’t pick him up this time.

E) repeat step D if it seems like it’s going to work. Otherwise he might not be ready for this yet. 3 months is maybe a bit young (but my kids were fine with it). He should be ready for this by 6 months at least.

A few tips:

  1. DO set a timer for yourself when giving him time to calm himself down. You are going to want to go to him sooner than 15 minutes if he is crying (it will feel like forever). But sometimes right when you think they’re really going to lose it, they suddenly go to sleep (this is what my second baby was like - he would get louder and louder until he suddenly fell asleep. Sometimes he wasn’t even upset but would just TALK really loudly).

  2. If you are totally at your wits’ end, remember that your baby will be ok if you lie him down in a safe place and just step out for a few minutes. And if you feel like you’re going to pass out from exhaustion, it is again ok to lie your baby down in a safe place and sleep for a few minutes. It’s hard to balance your needs with those of your baby, especially because he is so helpless, but make sure you guys are taken care of enough that you can keep taking care of him.

  3. If he seems to have a hard time going to sleep at night generally, this may (counterintuitively) mean that he is not sleeping enough during the day. Try putting him down for a nap every time he seems drowsy during the day - frequent napping can help him to not get wired at bed time, and will give him more practice with going to sleep. Remember newborns sometimes sleep 18 hours a day.

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