My Baby Can’t Fall Asleep

My Baby Can't Fall AsleepMy nine-week old daughter has developed a distressing habit. My baby can’t fall asleep.

My daughter, Arya, has started her own sleeping schedule in the past few weeks since Mommy has gone back to the clinic. We think that my wife’s schedule has forced our baby to develop a schedule of her own. Unfortunately part of my baby’s new schedule involves not being able to fall asleep.

My wife and I think that our baby’s self-imposed schedule is causing her insomnia. Our family now schedules activities based on Arya’s nursing sessions. We suspect having consistent nursing times has affected our baby’s ability to fall asleep on her own without being nursed.

My wife nurses our baby and we both put Arya to bed each night. We have varying degrees of success and timing, but generally our daughter is fast asleep by 8 p.m.

Baby wakes up two-to-three times each night and I feed her with a bottle. She promptly falls back asleep overnight even though it takes her up to 40 minutes to be content. My baby had a little difficulty with the first stage of her main, overnight sleeping and no difficulty falling back asleep throughout the rest of the night.

In the morning my wife plays with and then nurses our baby just before leaving the house around 8 a.m. Arya always falls asleep for at least an hour following the morning nursing. On some days she can be a bit grumpy, but she consistently takes a short morning nap.

Baby is always awake at 11:30 a.m. when she and I go for her daily lunchtime nursing. Arya then falls asleep immediately after lunch nursing and naps for between 45 minutes to two hours. She never has trouble falling asleep after lunch nursing.

The next, and last, nap session of the day is a disaster. Arya and I both enjoy going for a walk in the afternoon. She loves looking at tall buildings and watching random people on the street. I get to combine exercise with household errands. But we both dislike what happens after we get home.

Arya shows clear signs of being tired everyday after we get back from our walk. She rubs her eyes, yawns, and makes droopy head movements while being carried. Despite her lethargy, she simply cannot go to sleep.

I have tried a dozen different sleeping locations with close to 50 precise permutations. The locations include her crib, our bed, her rocking chair, the corner of one couch, the indentation of a small couch, on my lap, carried in my arms, the infant carrier, the other infant carrier, the stroller, the whale tub, and the car seat.

Variations include more clothes, less clothes, with pacifier, with white noise, with other noise, with music, with TV sound, in sunlight, in total darkness, with clean diaper, with bottle, with fan, next to air conditioner, with window open, next to open freezer, next to warm thermos, with me reading a book, with me talking, and with (my bad) singing.

During every weekday afternoon for the past two weeks Arya has screamed for at least an hour before finally falling asleep.

Research has shown milk allergy to contribute to infant sleep disorders. We have experimented with a soy-based formula for the small portion of times we run out of breastmilk. The soy-formula makes my baby constipated and doesn’t otherwise seem to provide a benefit.

Traditional healthy sleep recommendations for babies generally discuss sleeping at night or night waking.

Nor do I believe breathing problems are to blame. I also do not want to resort to medication to put my baby to sleep.

I wouldn’t be at all concerned if Arya just had insomnia during the late afternoon. Babies often have trouble falling asleep. My worry is that her insomnia is specific to the lack of nursing before that specific nap.

Ignoring the night-wakings, my baby nurses immediately before falling asleep on every occasion other than the late afternoon nap. Early morning, lunch time, and evening sleep sessions are all precipitated by my wife nursing her.

If our baby consistently needs my wife next to her to fall asleep then we will have severe issues over the coming years. For now the proximity of our apartment to my wife’s clinic allows me to take Arya for lunch every day. In addition, my wife’s current schedule allows for a morning nursing and an evening nursing.

However we will likely move next year and wife’s schedule will definitely change after she graduates. Our baby needs to be able to get to sleep without my wife for at least some naps during the day.

Having Arya just skip the late afternoon nap is not a possibility. On the days she took especially long to fall asleep, she was so tired by 5 p.m. that she couldn’t lift her head or her arms. She only falls asleep thanks to exhaustion.

It will take more research for me to decide whether nursing to sleep is necessarily harmful for our family. Other than the hour of screaming in the late afternoon, we haven’t seen any problems from our baby not being able to fall asleep without nursing.

As with many problems related to babies and sleep, for now I will simply ride out the fits of crying each afternoon and hope my baby learns to fall asleep by herself as she gets older.

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