Will My Baby (or I) EVER Sleep Again?

I’m getting desperate.

The kid, 5 months, has gone through a few periods of sleeping pretty well, gradually getting better and better, but lately, things have fallen off a cliff. We can’t get him to nap unless it’s on one of us, and if he does fall asleep in our arms, he wakes up as soon as he’s in the crib. Rarely, we can get him to stay asleep there, but then only for 30 minutes or so. This weekend, we tried letting him cry for 5 minutes, then soothing, then letting him cry for 10 minutes, etc. This just results in hours and hours of crying, and little to no sleep. We spent almost every waking moment trying to get him to sleep.

Nights are just as bad. A few weeks ago, he was down to getting up once or twice at night - last night, he was up almost constantly. But not awake and playful - he clearly wanted to get back to sleep, but was too cranky and exhausted to do it. His longest stretch was from 6:00pm until 9:30; after that I think he slept for no more than an hour and a half at a time. Again, he falls asleep in our arms easily, but can’t fall asleep or stay asleep in the crib.

I’m starting to have thoughts of quitting my job so he (and we) can get some sleep. I’m also terrified that we’ll wind up with a 2-year-old who needs to be rocked back to sleep five times a night.

What the hell do we do?

My daughter didn’t reliably sleep through the night without disturbing until the age of 4. We are now expecting another. I hope this one settles into a pattern on a much quicker timescale!

Ours didn’t either - sleep through the night reliably until 4 or so. Eventually you get past it, but its rough.

You could try co-sleeping. Eventually you’ll need to get him out of your bed, but it might work. Or you can try Ferberizing (look up Ferber and Baby Sleep), which will take a few weeks of hell, but will work (its what you started with the let him cry and go in every few minutes to comfort). At this point I, personally, am not a fan of philosophy other than “whatever results in the most sleep in the house.”

At they age there is a good chance you are in the world of colic. And that will just need to be grown out of while everyone suffers.

My daughter went through a similar phase at about the same age. She absolutely would not sleep unless she was on me. Although it seemed like forever at the time, it really only lasted for 2 - 3 weeks.

I’m not sure that there’s much to “do” about changing the behavior of a five month old, so I’ll just wish for you that he passes through this stage quickly. In the meantime, get a babysitter for a weekend day, check into a hotel, and sleep for six hours. I’m not kidding.

Some people I know who have babies swear by a product called the Woombie. I’ve never used it, but you may want to look into it.

I was told that things would settle down around the six month mark, and so they did for us. Our now-two-year-old still gets up occasionally in the night to get into our bed and/or demand a cup of milk but it’s still nothing like what it was during the first six months.

Hang in there - it gets better.

Have you tried driving him around? My older brother apparently went through a spell like that about that age–Mom says he would scream his lungs out from about 8am till Dad came home from work around 8 or 9pm. Apparently they would load him in the car (they only had the one at the time) and he’d be asleep before they got around the block. I’ve heard other people tell similar stories about putting baby in a car seat on top of a running drier before. Something about the motion seems to soothe some babies.

How are you soothing? If you’re picking him up and cuddling him, or even patting him on the back, you’re doing too much. The idea is to teach him how to soothe himself, not to rely on you to do it for him. After the first session, in which you can gently pat him on the back, you shouldn’t be doing anything more than standing there making your presence known. And yes, this is really hard, but I honestly have never seen it not work if the parents are committed to it. I won’t go so far as to say it always works, because if there’s one thing babies are good at, it’s making adults into liars, but I will say that it’s worked on all 11 babies I’ve been asked to teach, with a wide variety of temperments. ETA: It takes about 4 nights for this method, on average, in my experience. My little genius of a daughter caught on in two! :smiley:

HOWEVER, 5 months is a little young for Ferberizing. Ferber recommended it starting no earlier than 6 months. It’s also not a good choice if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, because breastfeeding babies really honestly do need a nighttime feed until they’ve started solids - breastmilk is just so easy to digest it doesn’t fill the gut all night.

It will pass. My 8 month old went through this a couplle of times too. She would sleep through the night for a month or so and then out of the blue start fighting us the whole night until everyone was miserable. Then out of the blue week later she was back to sleeping through the night again. This has happened twice and each time we wonder if it’s ever going to end and then it does. We made a point of having here sleep in her crib in her room as soon as we brought her home and she has almost every night since. She is generally a crab ass but she sleeps in her crib from 730pm straight through till 630 am now. She can also go into her crib awake and fall asleep on her own a lot of the time, but not all the time.

Be jealous of us but trust me that she is a serious pain in the ass in most other ways though as she is the crabbiest baby of our three by far and yells at us the whole time she is eating anything otheer than ire husks and fruit.

You shouldn’t let a baby cry. This is bad for the baby (making it afraid) and doesn’t serve any educating purpose.

I don’t understand the Western approach of letting little babies sleep alone in an empty bed/ crib/ room at all, either. Babies at 5 months old are supposed to stay near a parent/ adult. They are simply neurologically not able to comprehend that mother absent now = will come back again later, so mother absent = terror.

So find a way to let the baby sleep in your bed.

Also: If every time the baby cries, you turn on the light and make a big commotion, that is “rewarding” the wrong behaviour (crying for attention). If the baby sleeps in the same bed, you just reach over and let her feel that you are there, but the lights can stay off, no big deal, just comfort over its anxiety.

I most certainly would not worry about behaviour carrying onto 2 year old. There is a rule of thumb:

It’s impossible to spoil a 6 month old baby. It’s hard, but possible, to spoil a 1 year old baby. It’s possible, and sometimes too easily, to spoil a 2 year old kid. (By giving in to the “demands” of the child.

See, that’s the thing - we can soothe him to sleep really easily. If he’s the least little bit tired, all I have to do is hold him, and give him a pacifier if need be, and he’s out in 5 minutes. If I keep holding him, he’ll sleep for hours - and if he does wake up, I can just rock him a little and he’s out again. But the problem is, we can’t just hold him for hours at a time - especially not at night. He needs to be able to sleep in his crib, and soothe himself to sleep, or back to sleep, as the case may be.

People who generalize like this are aggravating. There is no biological or psychological need for a baby to sleep in the same room as mom. That may be your perception but it’s not true for most babies. IMHO babies end up in moms room because it’s easier for mom, not because it’s better for baby. Then when they are 2 years old mom will start threads about how baby won’t sleep in her crib or toddler won’t fall asleep in his own bed help!

Oh wanted to add that we experienced this exact issue for a week or so when she was about 5-6 mo. The solution? We stopped swaddling and put her on her belly to sleep. She immediately fell asleep the first time and has slept on her tummy through the night ever since. 8 mo old now.

That’s all well and good - and we’ve considered it - but what about naps? He’ll only sleep in our arms. Sleeping next to me is one thing; sleeping on me is quite another.

That’s exactly what we do, at night. If he cries, we go in immediately, no lights or talking, silently pick him up (we don’t even look him in the eye, or he smiles and wants to play), hold him until he’s back to sleep, and put him down again. He’s still up constantly. I just can’t see it being that much different if he’s in our bed vs. his own.

Yes, I’m exclusively breastfeeding. We’ve started giving him a little rice cereal, and he takes it fine, but is certainly not getting anything like a full meal of it yet. The thing is, I’m not looking to cut out night feedings entirely, if he can’t hack it. Just a couple of weeks ago, he was getting up only once or twice a night, and he eat and go right back to sleep. That was totally fine. I just want that back.

How do you feel about slings? Some babies adore being worn, and they free your hands during the naps. My favorite is the Maya Wrap, but there are dozens of different styles.


Yeah…that was before he had a growth spurt (which he’s in right now, I’d bet.) :frowning: It will get better, I promise it will. Just maybe not tonight. The best thing to do is to keep the lights off, keep feedings as boring as possible, and return him to bed as soon as mealtime is over. Make it less exciting to be up than it is to be asleep.

Two things:

First, some parents don’t like the rigidity of this method, but my wife and I swear by Babywise. Our three-month old has been sleeping through the night (10 pm to 6:30 am) for the past month. She sooths herself to sleep at night and for naps during the day.

Second, does your baby have a problem with spitting up alot? Acid reflux is a common problem with babies, and is sometimes diagnosed as colic. Babies can take antacid medicines, such as Prevacid. You might talk to your pediatricin.

FWIW, Junior is about a month older than your little one and went through a similar thing at 5 months - in his case it was because he was teething and his poor little mouth hurt. When he was awake and playing he was distracted but when he tried to go to sleep it kept him (and me) up.

Have you checked for that? If that’s an issue a bit of baby Tylenol before bed worked very well for Junior (although I recognize that some folks prefer not to give Tylenol and the like to their babies).

Junior now sleeps for about 5-6 hours when I first put him down and then is up about every 3 hours after that to nurse - we’ve just started solids and that seems to be making a bit of a difference.

The other things that have helped are I nap him in his swing. He’ll fight it when I put him in there but the lull of the swing is too much for him to resist and he’ll be out in about 5 mintues - he only naps for about an hour at a time now though. Also, we got one of these giraffes. It has an ‘Inside Mother’s Womb’ setting that not only puts him to sleep in about 30 seconds, it puts ME to sleep in about a minute. :slight_smile:

Good luck - it really does get better.

I agree with Alice that it might be teething pain. If you don’t want to go the Tylenol route you can freeze a wet face cloth and let him chew on that before bed to soothe his gums a bit.

I do remember my daughter would only sleep on people for a while, and in her case it was just a habit we’d all gotten ourselves into. Eventually she became a really good sleeper, but I can’t say that’s because of any smart technique of mine.

Also someday you’ll be wondering how to get your teenaged son out of bed in time for school, so there’s that. :slight_smile:

Hang in there.

Your baby WILL sleep again. However, by the time this happens, you’ll have forgotten how to.