Nighttime pooping and bedtime troubles

_english baby sleep bedtime routine diaper change fussy baby sleep coaching sleep training Jan 11, 2021

Today I answer Jessica's questions and offer my tips for solving her problems, which are:

  1.  Recently, her daughter started to cry more at bedtime 
  2.  The bedtime routine is difficult, because the baby is fussy between 6-7 pm
  3.  The baby poops during the second night feeding and the diaper change wakes her up


Hello Everyone, it's Anna. Thank you so much for tuning in today. You are listening to The Baby Sleep Project Show: the place to learn about baby sleep and sleep coaching.

Today, I'm going to answer a question from Jessica, who wrote me an email three weeks ago. If you have a question too, you can also write me an email. Anyone can ask me questions. And when you do that, you will join the queue of questions that I have received, and I answer those in order. If you would like your question to be answered quicker, consider subscribing to my newsletter, because subscribers jump to the front of the queue and can expect their questions to be answered on this show within a week or two. You can subscribe to my newsletter on my homepage at The form is at the bottom of the page.

Okay. So here's the question: "Hi there. My husband and I have been trying to sleep train our daughter. We started at 8 weeks and she is now 10 weeks old. She made a lot of progress in the first week, decreased crying time and two nights without crying, but seems to have regressed since then. The last several nights, she has cried for 15-40 minutes, quite hard. She goes down between 6:30 and 7:00 PM. We have continued to night feed - one dream feed at around 11:00 PM and then, she usually wakes up around 3:00 AM for another feeding and sleeps until 6:30 or 7:00 AM. She cries often after the 3:00 AM feed, but usually, not for more than 10 minutes, often only three to five minutes of light crying. One of our issues is that she often poops before, during or after the 3:00 AM feeding, which means a diaper change and a much more awake baby. Is there any way to combat this? Also, we have had trouble getting her through a bedtime routine in the evening because she's fussy. So a book, a bath, or other calm activities are not really an option. She was quite colicky from two to six weeks, but she has started to calm down quite a lot, but it seems like from 6:00 to 7:00 PM, it's her witching hour, HELP! Thank you, Jessica.

Okay. First of all, I do not usually recommend sleep training before, three or four months of age. The reason is because, most babies are just not ready. They lack the ability to self-soothe and they need their parents' help to calm them down. Also, there are a lot of developmental changes, their nervous system matures quickly. And, this means that their sleep changes a lot too. And this, unfortunately leads to sleep regressions, just like you described.

So even if you sleep train, you will have to do it again. All in all, sleep training a newborn is rarely successful and often impossible. On the other hand, I know that there are famous sleep experts who recommend some form of sleep training from day one, like Richard Ferber. And, I also know babies personally, who fell asleep independently with very little sleep training and slept through the night when they were only a few weeks old.

So, anything is possible. But, you've wrote this email to me on the 16th of December. That was more than three weeks ago. And by the time you will listen to this, your daughter will be 14 weeks old, that's three and a half months old. So, it is completely okay, to try to further improve her sleep. So, first of all, let's look at the status quo. Congratulations! I think your daughter is doing beautifully. Okay.

So, her night-time is from 6:30 or 7:00 PM to 6:30 or 7:00 AM. That's perfect. And, she feeds twice during the night, basically in four hour intervals, which is great for a three months old. The first feed is a dream feed, which is even better because, this means that you can get seven hours of sleep with just one interruption. And, that is fine at this stage, I think. And I hope you can manage. I would not change anything about this, but, considering your problems, it seems like you have three main problems.

First that recently, your daughter started to cry more, at bed time. Second, that the bedtime routine is difficult because, she's fussy between 6:00 and 7:00 PM and third, she poops during the second night feeding and a diaper change wakes her up. So let's address the last question. The pooping first, because that's simple. My answer is that unfortunately, cannot really do anything about the pooping, but she will outgrow it in a few months until then, you can try to change her diapers afterwards in a way that wakes her up less. So, here are my tips. First move her as little as possible.

For example, if she sleeps in her crib, you change her diapers on the changing table, and you feed her sitting in an armchair, especially if these spots are in different rooms. That means, you move her a lot from one spot to the next. Instead, you can try to feed her and change her in your own bed. If this is comfortable and possible in your situation.

For example, you can put a changing pad on your bed before, you start feeding her. If you breastfeed, you can do it laying down. So, the baby is already on the changing pad during breastfeeding, and after the feeding, you change her right there. And this means, that you will move her around much less.

My second tip, is keep your baby warm. So, cold wakes babies up. If it is cold, where you live and you keep the bedroom cool for the night, then when you undress your baby the cold can wake her up, and she can become very alert. And, cool temperatures are very good for sleep. So, don't change that. It is very good when, she's bundled up in a sleep sack or in a swaddle. So instead, you can put an infrared lamp above the changing pad, or the changing table and switch it on for the diaper change, so that you can warm that area up a little bit and also Do you to keep your baby warm while she's naked? Especially, if you use a plastic changing pad, which can feel very cold for a naked bottom.

So consider, either heating it up before putting your baby on it or to use a cloth changing pad. Which is, I know it's more difficult to clean. The other thing, is if you use wet wipes to wipe your baby's bottom, consider preheating them before you use them. A cold wet wipe can wake any baby up. So, just put one or two on the radiator or heater, if it is possible, or just keep them in your hands for a few seconds before you use them. And, if you use a washable wipes, then use warm water to wet them before using them. Okay.

My third tip is light. Keep the lights low for the diaper change. A warm orange or red color light will wake her up less than, a bright bluish or white light. And forth, don't talk too much only whisper, shush, and do not engage in playing or looking at her eyes for too long, during the diaper change. So, these are my four tips, for minimizing stimuli, during the diaper change so that your baby will wake up less.

Okay. Let's look at the other two problems, which were fussing during, bedtime routine and crying at bedtime. These two problems maybe related, maybe your daughter is just too tired by the time you start the bedtime routine. So, I have two tips for this. First, keep the bedtime routine minimal.

For example, bathing is absolutely not necessary every day (unless of course, if you live in a very hot climate). If you want to bath your baby every day, you could do it earlier in the day. It's absolutely not necessary to do it right before bed time. As for books, reading and bedtime stories, you can introduce them months later.

It's no problem for a newborn. Just putting on a sleep-sack and feeding is absolutely enough, for a bedtime routine. You can add a short, lullaby before you put your baby to bed, but there is no need to elaborate a bedtime routine at this stage. You can do that later when your baby's older.

And my Second tip, is that may be the awake window before bedtime is just too long. Practically, there are three ways that you can shorten the awake window before bedtime. First, is you rearrange her naps so that the last nap is closer to bed time. I don't know your babies daytime schedule. So, I'm not sure whether this is possible. The other way is by introducing, a short cat nap before bedtime, just an hour or an hour and a half before bed time. Short like 15 to 20 minutes, cat nap. Even, if it's in your hands or on you, or if you have to rock her or hold her just for a short cat nap, it is absolutely okay, to do this. And, this could help your baby to get through the rest of the evening easier.

Then the third way, to shorten the awake window before bedtime is the shift bedtime earlier. So, your baby's bedtime is 6:30 to 7:00 PM. Which is relatively early, but maybe is still too late for her. Actually, my daughter used to do this as a newborn. She used to go to bed with us at midnight and her bedtime shifted earlier, and earlier. And, I thought that for a two, three months old baby, a bedtime of 7:00 PM around 7:00 PM, is okay. So, I tried to put her to bed at 7:00 PM, but she was very sleepy and tired well before, bed time. And then, sometimes she kind of merged or connected her last nap with the night-time sleep. So, I put her down in her daytime clothes without feeding, without changing or bathing at around half past five, say for her last nap.

And, I expected her to wake up half hour later. And sometimes, she decided that this is already night time and she didn't wake up until her 10:00 PM feeding. So, she started to do this more, and more often. Until, I realized that I have to give in, and I shifted her bedtime to 6:00 PM, and 6:00 PM was her bedtime for several months. Actually, I know this is sounds crazy early, but it worked beautifully for us.

Okay. So, to sum up, my advice is that until your baby outgrows pooping at night, try to keep the stimuli at minimum during night-time diaper changes. Think of moving your baby less, keeping her warm, decreasing the light, and noises. And for, solving the bedtime troubles. My tips are to keep the bedtime routine minimal, and to shorten the awake window before bedtime, either by rearranging the naps or by shifting bedtime earlier. I hope this helps and good luck!

So that's it for today. I hope you found this episode useful. If you would like your own questions about baby sleep coaching, to be answered on my show, you can send them to [email protected]. You can check out my book about sleep [email protected]. See you tomorrow!