Sleep Issues for a 6 Week Old Baby
The wealth of knowledge from your birth and postpartum doulas is almost limitless. This is a copy of a group text string between a client and her two doulas that was too important not to share.
Sidebar - yep, two. Any time you hire doulas from Tulsa Family Doulas, you get two. Twice the support, twice the experience, twice the information. These doulas immediately go on call for you. We don't wait until 36 or 38 weeks to go on call. Whomever is on call is the doula that attends your birth and then comes back to your home for the two postpartum visits including 4 hours of complimentary postpartum doula support. Sounds lovely doesn't it? It really is.
Okay, back to the reason for this blog - 6 week old babies, 6 week old mamas and sleeeeeeep.
Let's read the texts!
Client: Hi ladies! You had mentioned that around 6 weeks old, you can start getting baby on a sleep schedule, is that right? Are there any resources you recommend for guidance? Baby girl is on a sleep strike and I'm not sure what to do. I've never ever had trouble getting young babies to sleep until now. She doesn't cry really, she just sleeps about half the time she used to at night (now just about 5-6 hours) and I'm lucky if she'll take one nap during the day in my arms.
Doula 1: Not a sleep schedule, but more of a patterned routine - nursing, bath time, story, darkened room, white noise, swaddling and consistency. She is much more alert now and is affected by her surroundings. You are teaching her body to respond to sleep signals and find comfort in knowing what is coming next.
Start her bedtime routine sooner in the evening and at her first yawn or eyeball rub, get her diaper changed, fed, if needed, and down for her nap.
She may also have lighter sleep cycles where she makes noise like she is fully awake, when in reality, she isn't quite ready to be up. Give those noises some time to settle and she just may go back to sleep. You'll know she is hungry if her tone changes from moderate noises to frustration. Give her time to figure out how to go back to sleep as well. Self-soothing is a fantastic skill that she can begin to learn starting around this age.
Doula 2: Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child book!
Doula 1: That too!
Doula 2: Watch for her to develop three naps a day. She should only be awake about an hour, so whatever time she wakes up for the day, she should go down for nap 1 about an hour later, sleep an hour or two, awake for an hour, sleep an hour or two, wake for an hour, sleep an hour or two then its bed time! Which usually puts them to bed between 6-7pm. This is BIGGEST sleep trick of them all, following that routine. If you do that, you will eliminate the "witching hours" in the evenings!
Client: Is it normal for her not to want to nap during the day? A phase maybe? She doesn't really do any sleepy cues unless it's her one nap for the day. Swaddling, darkness, shushing, nothing helps. She's wide awake and alert. Even after nursing.
Doula 2: Just because she CAN stay awake longer than an hour doesn't mean she should!
Client: I can't wait to get to 3 naps a day! 😂 If I put her down, she cries. If I'm holding her, she wants to be up on my shoulder, looking around, pushing off with arms and legs.
Doula 1: Are you swaddling?
Doula 2: Yep she is showing off her reflexes. Swaddling will help.
Client: Swaddling does help to calm her, but she'll still be very alert and not sleepy.
Doula 2: That's fine. Try starting with watching the clock for that hour mark and sleepy cues, swaddle and lay her down calm even if she's awake and walk away. She may need to fall asleep without stimulus
Doula 1: That's exactly what I was going to say. If she is getting any interaction at all, she is always going to prefer Awesome Mom Time with sleeping. No eye contact, no playing, no interaction, dark room, time to sleep.
Client: Sounds good! We will do that! Thank you guys very much!
Doula 1: You've got some serious momming skillz you're creating!!
Doula 2: You're doing great already!
Client: Thanks! It was so much easier when I was a nanny and it wasn't my child and I wasn't sleep deprived.
Doula 1: #truth
Two Days Later
Client: Ok, another question, sorry! Things have been going much better with sleep. That book is fantastic! However, she just slept from 11:30pm-9am...9 hours straight. Is that okay for an almost 6 week old?
Doula 2: Yes! Just make sure you're feeding her often during the day and watch for stacked feeds in the late afternoon early evening. So if she woke at 9, be ready for her to take another nap around an hour or so. Check the book for how long a six week old should stay awake. I can't remember what I told you if it was one hour or two. As she gets older two hours will be her max
Client: Amazing! I thought it had to be too good to be true. Doing a sleep routine and hour-between-naps have helped so much! Her sleep cues are so much more apparent now.
Doula 2: Yeah!!!! Once you know what to look for, it's so easy!
Happy Mom, Happy Baby
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