Sleep? What’s that?

Parker is settling into life on the outside quite well, except for the part where we sleep at night and stay awake during the day.  Yes, I’m spoiled that way.  I’ve never had a baby wake me more than twice during the night.  Never until Parker came along.  He eats every 2-3 hours during the day, but more like every hour at night.  He’s punishing me for the ease of my past life.  I’m sure of it.

Yes, I try to nap when I can during the day, but am I the only mom who finds it difficult to relax and let go of consciousness while there are children running around doing STUFF?  What are they doing?  Is anyone watching the little ones?  Did Dad remember to take his lunch?  Have the chickens been let out?  When did Bethany’s diaper get changed last?  Is she wearing a diaper?  And would somebody PLEASE GET THAT DOG SOME WATER SO SHE’LL STOP BARKING AT THE BATHTUB?

If you’re wondering how that is affecting me, you should have seen this post before I fixed the typos.  I thought briefly about leaving them in to illustrate the point, but just couldn’t make myself do it.  Anyway, you probably wouldn’t have gotten the point because it  would be totally incoherent.  Like me.

At any rate, I’m thinking of trying drugs – caffeine, to be specific.  Normally I don’t drink real coffee because after just a cup or two for a day or two, I become so dependent upon the caffeine that I get withdrawal headaches.

For Parker, however, I’m ready to do it.  For the sake of sleep – the mere possibility of sleep – sleep at night, to be specific – I’ll risk a migraine or two.

My hope is that if I drink a cup of real caffeine-laden coffee first thing in the morning, each morning, maybe the little darling will stay awake more during the day.  Then he’ll have to make up for lost sleep by actually sleeping at night.

It’s a beautiful plan, right?  Please tell me it makes sense.  If you already tried and it didn’t work, please don’t tell me that part.  There’s nothing more tragic than the murder of a beautiful plan by a brutal horde of facts.  Or something like that.  It’s a quote, no doubt mangled beyond recognition by my sleep-deprived brain.


  1. You’ve had over 50 offerings of advice on this post, so why do I need to weigh in?? Not sure, but I feel compelled….

    In my experience, caffeine makes babies cry. And get strung out. I have to say, even though it’s only two cents worth, that I don’t think caffeine is the thing to do.

    There are things like chamomile tea that you can give him in a dropper, or colic tablets that are totally natural…or maybe it’s something you’re eating??

    Okay, I’ll leave it at that, but I’ll be looking forward to you posting the solution to this problem!

  2. I feel your pain….as a matter of fact, I’m still feeling it as my number 8, a boy, who just turned one has only slept through the night ONCE. Like you, I was spoiled by my other babies who never woke up more than one time…and were all sleeping through the night by 8 weeks. *sigh*

    I’m sure eventually he’ll get there. In the meantime….LOTS of coffee. 😉

  3. Kimberly Foster says:

    I wanted to add that I did begin giving warm baths right before bed two when Levi was 2 weeks old nightly. He loved the water, and still does. He sleeps so peaceful and content after a nice warm bath!!

  4. Kimberly Foster says:

    I promise you, you will finally get sleep!! My 7th baby, Levi, was up all night, sleep all day, and like you, who can sleep with others moving around the house all day, doing what???? But I promise you those days will be long forgotten and your precious cargo will sleep at night. I was not as lucky as you with the previous babies. All my babies had a spurt or two where they would want to be awake at night or sleep every hour and want to nurse. Levi was worse in this aspect and I felt like a zombie for days. He still wants to nurse often and he is 9 months old now, but he sleeps at night.

    In a few days or week, you will forget all about this time!!!

  5. It’s a wonderful plan, go for it!
    I was never a regular coffee drinker until my son was born. Boys are such piggy’s they suck the energy right out of me.
    I say better living through caffeine!

  6. My boys have been the WORST sleepers…but it will get better! I tried everything as well, and coffee won out. We make ours 1/2 caff. You don’t get the headaches as much and still get the caffeine. Good luck- boys do require more love in the beginning, and maybe they always do. Don’t know if that’s making sense either since I’m having the same sleep deprivation!

  7. krisstel says:

    I had an aunt tell me something when I was pregnant with my first child (now expecting number six in the winter) that I have never forgotten- “cherish the middle of the night feedings. It will be hard because you are exhausted but cherish them- the quiet, the alone time with your baby. Looking back, it’s gone in an instant.” I think this is pretty sage advice that has helped comfort me even in the darkest of sleep deprived hazes (especially as the number of children grows and it seems rare to be nursing WITHOUT doing something else for someone else as well!).

    as far as the coffee goes- I take the same stance as I do during the first trimester. I say do whatever you need to do to survive :). During one pregnancy this meant for about 3 months I lived off of thin crust pizza. Sure, not the ideal diet but hey, at least I wasn’t running sick to the bathroom all day! I say that (within reason) you do whatever it is that you need to do.

    I nurse all my babies for at least a year and they have all basically adapted to whatever I ate and drank.

    good luck!

  8. Ugh…been there! I always try to have a very clear difference between night/day. Try not to let him sleep as much during the day. Keep it quiet, as little light as possible at night (I try to keep it totally dark unless absolutely necessary.) Don’t talk to him in the middle of the night. Sleep with him, and latch him on when he does want to eat in the middle of the night. And, I only change diapers at night if they’re poopy! Hope that helps….(mom of 8 so far…)

  9. Go for it!

    It worked for me perfectly on our last baby…

    The only problem is that I am now an official coffee drinker. And I love it. So do my migraines, which have tapered off since I accepted my lot in life as a caffeine guru.

    Hoping it works for you!

  10. Oh I hope he gets those days & nights sorted soon – it’s not fun on the poor mum otherwise.
    I found that waking my children every 3 hours during the day for a feed & then letting them sleep as long as possible at night worked well – with the last 2 (twins) I always woke the second one when the first one woke at night so I could feed them at the same time. Otherwise bring them into bed with you – they seem to get the rhythm from the mothers breathing & often sleep much better – as well as having easy access to “milkys” when required. I did however begin each night with them in their cot, so I could get some sleep without a snugglebug – bring them in the first time they wake!
    As for coffee I only drank it after I had the twins, and found it didn’t effect them at all.
    Hope you get a better nights sleep soon

  11. Caffine made me happy, baby happy, siblings happy, hubby happy….feeling happy just thinking about it! Ok, Honestly, I have no recollection whether or not the caffine in the day helped the baby to sleep at night, but it brought me out of the zombie state for a few blessed moments…..which made all seem well for a bit:)

    Have a cup of coffee and enjoy that baby boy!!!!

  12. Our midwives suggested flipping our son around in a 180 degree circle to straighten him out. It worked !!! Old wives tale or not, but it worked. You might also consider taking him for an adjustment at the chiropractor.

  13. I did this with our twins last year. Only, I would drink my cup of joe at night, usually around 7:30 or 8. It began so that I could stay awake to talk to my husband when he got in at night. I found it helped our Elizabeth. I guess it got in my milk supply the next morning. I also had a cup in the morning. I didn’t sleep forever!!!!!! (I KNEW hers was not lack of milk, she began putting on the pounds VERY quickly. Besides she was a screamer, but would stop as soon as she saw me. She (#5) was our only one so far to be like this. Her twin sister (#6) just slept away!)

    By the way, I did do my own version of babywise, waking them to eat if they every slept more than 3 hours during the day the first weeks. But lets just say read aloud was always interesting. My oldest, 7 at the time, would say, “Momma, I don’t think the story goes like that!” Oh well!! He will sleep right one night, and then you’ll wake up panicked!

  14. Dalas Mueller says:

    Our sweet little darling did the same thing at first. So my midwife suggested that whenever she fell asleep during the day to just lay her on a hard surface (like the floor), unwrapped so that she would not sleep as soundly and wake up more often. After two days of that she quickly figured out that nighttime was the time to sleep! Good luck 🙂

  15. Drink the coffee! I have had caffeine with each one of mine, and it really didn’t bother them. As long as I drank it early enough, say before 2pm, it didn’t have any negative side effects. And it made me a much more tolerable Mama!

  16. Kathryn says:

    Would not recommend Babywsie at all ( but I highly recommend Elizabeth Pantley’s “No Cry Sleep Solution” and Dr. Sear’s “The Baby Sleep Book” if you’re interested in literature on the subject.
    Otherwise, just keep listening to your mama instincts and sneak in a little coffee when you can (I couldn’t live without it!)

  17. Kim,
    He is small so maybe he doesn’t get out of his swaddled blankets, but all of mine always got out of the swaddled blanket. I found with Bella and Noah that if I used one of those swaddling wraps on them they would sleep better at night. Of course with my older boys the only way mommy got to sleep was when they woke up to eat the first time I would get them and nurse them in bed till they fell asleep and then I would. If they were in bed with me they would sleep if I moved them they woke up and thought they needed to eat again. Those boys were so hungry all the time and night time was no different. Of course with Steven he was sleeping 5-6 hours by 2 weeks old at night. Nathan was pretty good about that to and Andrew. But Marshall and Brandon thought they were starving to death if they had to go longer than 2 or 3 hours.

  18. I’m sorry Kim! I just had baby number 6 and she seems to be an excellent sleeper, so far. But the four middles were awful, and the first was a lot like Victoria. I’ve done both with and without coffee and it doesn’t seem to affect them either way, but then again I don’t really feel any more or less sleepy with or without either so I wonder. Hope the coffee helps you! I totally understand the sleep deprived thing, but I’m not one to talk now, I’ve let her sleep with me when she’s fussy and that seems to get her to sleep longer. We’re all comfortable with different things. Hope you find a way to get the little man to sleep more at night! I thought washing her hair would wake her up but my little sleeper LOVES to have her hair washed, maybe I should use COLD water 😉

  19. Read Babywise by Gary and Ann Ezzo! Don’t agree with all they do but their baby scheduling is the best out there! You’ll be sleeping 12 hour stretches in no time! Best of luck!

  20. Well I almost feel silly speaking up since I have birthed all of one child so far but…

    I drank coffee when he was born. I am a half-decaf drinker. I have a coffee grinder at home and I mix my own beans at the store. I don’t know the alternative but it seemed to help me and not bother him.

    Also, don’t know if others mentioned this or if you haven’t already thought of this but… fan and/ or white noise machine at night. I personally woke my little guy up regularly during the day too for nursing.

  21. I also want to thank you for the inspiration to start walking. I’ve been doing 2 miles in the evening, started at about 23 weeks.

  22. give it time it will staighten itself out in a few weeks after birth skip the caffeine

  23. My caffiene of choice is Diet Coke. As long as I don’t have it past 1pm or so, it doesn’t affect him at night. I have a 7.5 month old who is still waking several times a night. The emotional pain and trauma being sleepless for the past 2 years (my last baby was the same) has been very trying.

  24. My youngest did the same, and I am not a coffee drinker, so I didn’t have that option, lol. However, I did figure out that he was missing the NOISE at night. 5 years later, he still needs noise to sleep. If its quiet, he wakes up and plays. So, we put a CD player with classical music on in his room, and it replays through the night, and he sleeps peacefully. However, since he sleeps in your room for now, I don’t know if that is really an option:/

    • Karen,
      You might be onto something with the noise. With 12 people in a small house, this boy is definitely used to a certain level of noise, and his sisters have found that music puts him out *instantly.* However, I’m not sure if there’s much to be done about that at night. We can hardly maintain our daytime noise levels. 🙂
      We do run a fan in our room day and night through most of the summer so he should be getting a certain level of continuous and familiar noise.

  25. Julie Dierks says:

    We have 7 precious children so far and what works for us is to bed share. Everyone sleeps with no disruptions and baby can latch on and off throughout the night. We even did this with our twins and it was blissfull. The way God intended. To satisfy at the breast day and night!

  26. I can’t imagine how tired you must be!! I’m up twice at night & napping during the day & I’m still bushed most of the time 🙂

    I can’t speak to your caffeine theory, not being a coffee drinker. (makes me *sick*) For now -that is until I have a baby that proves me wrong- I swear by a nice, tight swaddle in a thin flannel receiving blanket & co-sleeping with the baby lying in a sleep positioner so they don’t move into us or us into baby. And I use specifically flannel because it sticks to itself better. The swaddle not only mimics the womb, but holds the hands in so baby can’t swipe at their face which seems to wake them sooner. Our little one is nearly a month old & had days & nights mixed up for 3 days.

    We keep them with us for 6-8 weeks before moving baby across the room to a bassinet. But keep the swaddle (modifying it to just bind the arms if they’re too big to stay in otherwise) for a transition period. No one wakes until it’s time to eat usually once/night or until teething ;D

    Hope things turn around for you real soon!!

    • Quinn,
      Thanks for the link. I actually do something like this with a baby blanket, folding it in half lengthwise then rolling the sides under. Maybe I’ll try letting the little guy sleep in our bed if he stays on his own side. It could be a good compromise for both of us while we’re getting adjusted.

  27. I know you don’t want a load of facts about the coffee, but as the mother of the Baby That Never Slept, I can tell you this: sleep begets sleep, so if he is awake a lot during the day at this point, he will probably be up and screaming all night too, and then you’ll really be crazy (trust me on this). I did the caffeine thing too, out of sheer desperation for my own sanity, but it didn’t help him at all.

    Also, most babies get days and nights mixed up for a while; it usually sorts itself by 3-4 months (which sounds like an eternity from now, I’m sure, but really isn’t). 🙂

    Good luck!

    P.S. I totally get not being able to sleep when the baby sleeps–who thought up that fiction? Probably a man.

  28. I say it’s worth giving it a shot! another thought is maybe you have less milk? I’ve noticed a trend of decreasing milk supply with my each of mine. Maybe it’s just me. If he’s hungry that will keep him up. Maybe if you could up your milk supply it might help. Just a thought. Best of luck to you and remember this time passes quickly. He’ll be sleeping through the night in a matter of weeks.

    • Celee,
      My midwife inquired about the milk supply too, but I don’t think that’s the issue. There seems to be plenty. He often falls asleep on the breast before it’s empty, so I think I need to work on keeping him awake a bit more. I might employ his siblings, who are more than happy to keep him awake.

  29. Seems like every baby is different (who knew?!). My youngest got bad colic from my caffeine intake; once I stopped drinking it the colic went away and he started sleeping more soundly. Guess you’ve got no choice but to try it out and see what works. Hope you get some rest soon.

    • Arlene,
      You just reminded me of a reason to be thankful: Parker doesn’t seem colicky at all. In fact, I’ve never had a colicky baby. They’ve all been very easy to keep happy, as long as they get exactly what they want when they want it, and Parker is no different in that respect. He just saves most of his wants for the wee hours of the night, the little booger.

  30. Caffeine doesn’t seem to effect my newborns. Once they get a few months old it start wreaking havoc with the naps, but not when they are newborns.

    The way that has worked great for my seven kids on setting their day/night clocks is just to bring them in bed at night when they wake up. I’ve found that all our newborns are happy to sleep all night long snuggled up next to momma and getting to nurse when needed. I put them in the bassinet right next to the bed whenever they are content and asleep (I don’t want to train them to cosleep for very long), but if they are hungry or awake I keep them snuggled up next to me and able to nurse. That way they just get used to sleeping at night. It’s what’s worked for us!

  31. I’ve never had morning coffee bother my nurslings.

    Last week I accidentally fell asleep while my 17 month old was still up and wrecking. I woke up in a panic to find a note from my sister-in-law (who’d come home while I was asleep) saying “Rita- DON’T freak out. I took Thomas outside.” But it didn’t quite work because it took a moment for me to notice the note. My sleep-addled brain had me wake up yelling for him.

  32. I’m so sorry! My firstborn screamed night and day for the first 5 months of her life. She only slept when we were pacing the house with her. I got about 2 hours total in every 24-30 hours all week and then on the weekends my husband would pace with the baby all day while I slept and then I’d pace with her again all night while he slept.

    WARNING! I’m sorry, I know you didn’t wanna hear it but the caffeine for me would always hit my milk supply at bedtime and then it was a snowball effect. I would get 0 sleep and would need the caffeine MORE the next day which would again result in 0 sleep. I’ve had 2 so far and both of them have woken every 2 hours or more until they were 10 months old so I’ve been there and tried everything and caffeine was always something I would regret. Oh how I would regret it. I tried drinking caffeine-free pop for the sugar pick-up and to trick myself into thinking I was getting caffeine but the fizz gave the babes terrible gas. Again, not condusive to sleep. 🙁 I wish I could help but for me it really was just a matter of surviving those first 5 or 6 months until it started getting better or I got used to it- whichever came first. **HUGS**

    P.S. I’m 6 1/2 months pregnant and just started walking the last 3 days: 8 blocks, 12 blocks, then down to 8 blocks last night again because the day before’s 12 blocks almost killed me. Lol! Just wanted to let you know you inspired me to start walking even though I’m already in the 3rd trimester. 🙂

  33. I’m mom to only 3 so far, and the youngest is 4-months-old and sleeping well, but I say definitely go for that coffee! 🙂

    I’m really enjoying your blog – I found it through advertisement about the Baby Conference. We were really hoping to attend, but just can’t pull the finances together.

    Bless you guys, and congrats on your gorgeous newby!

  34. With my crew of 7, it always helped to give them a little bit of “awake time” after nursing during the day, rather than letting them doze right back to sleep. Even 15-20 minutes after nursing helps them to distinguish between daytime and nighttime. It’s worked with all of mine – some had their days/nights pretty thoroughly mixed up when first born, but after several days of my diligence with trying to keep them up a bit more during the day, they started sleeping longer at night. Whew – that was quite the run-on sentence, but you know what I mean. Enjoy these precious days…

  35. I drink coffee, I had one baby that would get colicky when I drank it. So with her I couldn’t drink any.

  36. You know, I must be the only person I know who actually can drink coffee in the evening without much effect (the greatest effect might be needing to go to the bathroom if the coffee– or water, or tea, or whatever –is too large).

    I handled my non-nighttime sleepers in two different ways: I would get up out of bed with the child and read aloud while nursing (they got the biography of Ghandi or the Narnia Chronicles, for example) or I made a concentrated effort to keep the baby awake during the day time.

    Never tried caffeine (I just started drinking coffee over a year ago, last child was born 3.5 years ago…), so I cannot say anything to how that might work out.

    Regardless, we are praying for you. It is truly amazing what a mother experiences during the lifetime of a child… and each child is unique. Enjoy Parker, as I am sure you will.

    (And on the side: I could have the deepest 10 minute naps, amazing. Short enough and deep enough to refresh me yet not let too much trouble happen while mom is conked out…)

  37. I know how you feel!!! For the past 3 years I’ve been dreaming of a coffee IV that I could have it on my all the time LOL

    My kids all have a great appetite and need to nurse every 2 hours day and night!!! And with breastfeeding this often means lots of diapers change (they are peeing constantly LOL)

    So for the first 10 months or so (they started sleeping trough the night about that time) I look like a lunatic LOL I call it the new mama’s look, you know when people look at you and you could swear that they see the flag from Microsoft into my eyes! You know when your computer goes to save energy mode, my body does the same while awake too!

    And yes I do find that I misplace most of my stuff, like loosing my purse to find it under a pile of dirty laundry or milk carton in the tub???!!!

    I pray that it will get better for you soon and that you could have some sleep!!!

  38. See, typos are your friend! I meant to type “Good Luck” instead of “Good Lyck” but my baby brain prevented it (I am 8 weeks along). Too bad I can’t have that cup of coffee right now…LOL!

  39. Do the caffeine, Mama! It works for me and I totally plan on my morning cup every day when this baby boy gets here…..any day now. 🙂 Enjoy your java.

  40. I would try drugging yourself and the baby that way – not healthy. I would maximize resetting his body clock with lots of sunlight in the AM hours and diming the house as much as possible in the evening. Also don’t insist on quiet during the day (guessing you don’t already) so he gets used to hearing activity and learns to sleep around it. A fan or white noise machine at night is a wonderfull thing too, for you an him. It is just enough to cover the little baby noises he makes in his sleep so it doesn’t wake you, encourages him not to wake up when hearing you shift in your sleep, and gives a great womb mimic .

  41. Kim, I’ve enjoyed a cup or two of morning coffee after every birth and found it didn’t really affect my babies but did wonderful things for my mood and energy level! You’re an experienced mama and you will quickly know if the coffee doesn’t agree with Parker so give it a try! I always have to spend the first 6-10 weeks holding my babies while they sleep and think your good little sleepers are amazing. Good Lyck and God Bless!

  42. Go for it, Kim!

    I’m usually only an aromatic coffee drinker (more for the lovely aroma and the warm feel of the mug in my hands) and rarely finish an entire cup.

    However, these days, I have two cups of coffee in the morning, and a homemade frappuccino in the afternoon with whatever is leftover in the pot. 🙂 I think if you start when your baby is young enough, they adjust quickly…and after my coffee, I’m much more able to smile and be friendly with my busy Littles after a severely sleep-deprived night. I have to admit though, on one especially tough day, I doubled that amount of coffee, and my Precious Little One had an especially tough night…

    And since you know you ARE able to quit coffee when the need is passed…I figure you can cross that bridge when you get there. I’ve crossed it many times. 🙂

  43. Try lots of protein instead! Lots of eggs right in the morning, I would favor carnation instant breakfast (double chocolate!). Also, do you have a wave machine or fan going in your room at night? the white noise will mimic the womb and might lull him to sleep. But you know, it is a phase, this too shall pass!

    Peace, Melissa

  44. You aren’t the only mom that can’t fall asleep and loose consciousness when the children are up doing STUFF. I never can.
    You should have one good cup of coffee in the morning and see how it goes. If nothing else it would be refreshing and get you started nicely for the day.
    So he likes to play at nighttime?

  45. You mean you’ve survived this long WITHOUT caffeine? I’ll admit I generally feel more energetic whenever I’m completely off coffee, but my 2 littlest (2 and 9 months) still wake up 2-3 times a night. Each. So I approach the coffee pot gratefully every morning. I say go for it!

  46. Keep in mind this plan could backfire on you… it depends on how quickly/slowly your body will process that caffeiene and into the breast milk. What if the coffee hits Parker about 8pm and he’s REALLY awake when you are about to crash.

    I might be clouding things with facts and trivial items like that, but as good as that idea sounds right now. I’ve said a prayer for you to be able to nap today instead. I be he just has a few more days of this backwards stuff and then he’ll get in line.

  47. Aw man! Sorry about that. I have heard that boys are worse sleepers in the beginning. Maybe that’s true? Johnny was a horrible sleeper until recently. Hope it gets better soon!

  48. Angela Warrick says:

    It sounds like a good plan to me.

  49. faith marandola says:

    I drink coffee in the am too….have with each child (all have nursed for at least 18 months), as long as i don’t go back for the second cup….we’re all ok! Have a cuppa, throw some chocolate frosting in it….(did I just say that out loud?) 😉 …just remember to follow immediately with lotsa water!

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