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Old 08-11-2011, 02:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Newborn won't sleep on her back

My 6 day old daughter won't sleep on her back at night. From 11pm to 5am, any time she is put on her back, she wakes right up, even out of a sound sleep. This means someone has to be holding her in order for her to sleep during those 6 hours, obviously a huge problem.

Here's how it goes: She's 100% breastfed by Mom, and having no problems with that. At 11, she'll get breastfed until full, and she usually falls asleep at the end of the feeding (after a half hour-ish). We have tried variations of letting her sleep for 10 minutes and then putting her down, or putting her down right away. We have both a bedside cosleeper (ArmsReach) and an on-the-bed cosleeper. Either way, within a minute of being put down, she wakes up crying, which quickly changes to a wail. Picking her up, we can quiet her back down with 15-30 minutes of shushing and walking / rocking. But if we then try to put her back down, same thing happens. Even if she's been asleep for 15 minutes in our arms.

This is true even after it's been 3 hours of this, and she's clearly exhausted. She'll fall asleep nearly instantly in our arms, because she's so tired, but put her down and she's awake instantly. We've tried swaddling and she mostly hates it (even though she seemed to like it in the hospital).

Note that this is not a problem of her just being wakeful at night - she definitely is tired and wants to sleep... she just cries when she's on her back.

Any help would be much appreciated. I've spent the last 3 nights walking and rocking her for hours and hours in the middle of the night. I don't expect her to sleep through the night, but sleeping at all would be nice - and it seems like she wants to, and just can't for some reason.

Oh, one more thing - she sleeps fine on her back during the day, if we put her down next to us on the couch, for example.


Last edited by NateDad; 08-11-2011 at 04:31 PM.

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Old 08-12-2011, 09:37 AM   #2
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Re: Newborn won't sleep on her back

So, I think we finally nailed it down last night. My daughter, Lily, was finally sleeping 1.5 - 2 hours at a time between feedings.

One or more of the following things seemed to be contributing factors:
1.) use of a white noise machine. This was not a cureall, but it may have evened things out a little bit, and made it easier for her to stay asleep.
2.) Moving the nightlight. My wife needs a night light in the bedroom to be able to see to breastfeed. We noticed it was right in Lily's field of view, and she'd wake up looking at it. Maybe it was too bright in her eyes? So we moved it out of her field of view.
3.) Her umbilical stump fell off. Maybe it was being irritated?

Whatever the reason, she slept like a normal baby last night, and it was heaven. Yes, she still woke up every couple hours, but we got to sleep during those two hours, as opposed to me pacing the bedroom trying to keep her from wailing while Mom tried to get some rest.

Old 08-13-2011, 09:02 PM   #3
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Re: Newborn won't sleep on her back

Most newborns do not sleep flat on their backs. They sleep on their sides.Roll a small recieving blanket into a tube shape and prop her more on her side not flat on her back.

Old 08-13-2011, 09:17 PM   #4
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Re: Newborn won't sleep on her back

Hi Nate,

I totally feel for you and your wife! My husband and I had our second child this past January, and we were not prepared for how different he is from our daughter in regard to sleep!

My husband would stay up all night with him, and sleep during the day b/c of it. Thank the sweet Lord he was not working at the time! I needed my sleep so I would be able to attend to both my son and then 3 1/2 yr old daughter.

Don't be afraid to pull out the baby swing during the evening. We had Benjamin's swing in the middle of our tiny living room for the first two months. It was the only way he could sleep at the time. We didn't even transition him to the crib until he was about 4 months.

I think the white noise is a great thing you're doing. It is what your little girl is used to from being in the womb.

Also, gardenandcats is correct about newborns preferring their sides to sleep. We also rolled up small towels and positioned them against our son's back so he could be on his side. This worked very well.

And of course, don't forget the obvious - Lily is going to wake frequently because she doesn't yet know how to put herself back to sleep and b/c your wife is breastfeeding. If you know she is not hungry and just waking, you can try a pacifier and checking the temperature.

My kids always do/did best when they're in footy pajamas and no blanket. We keep the temperature at about 68 degrees, which is comfortable to us.

You're probably tired of my advice, but I just want you to know that it's not just you! It's your right of passage that is SO short lived. And remember you cannot spoil a newborn.


Old 08-14-2011, 12:32 PM   #5
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Re: Newborn won't sleep on her back

In time they do sleep it maybe at 3 months or it maybe at 6 months.All babies are different. New parents do not realize that there notion of a pink cheeked sleeping baby that wakes just for a bottle is soooooo wrong.
Its endless nights of broken sleep and crying for most. In time you will look back on this time and say remember when.
Do try the swing they even make cribs like the swing that run by battery.

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