5-Month-Old Will Only Sleep in My arms or in a Swing!

My 5 month old used to be a pretty good sleeper as a newborn until he hit 3 months old and then everything changed. Since then I have not been able to get into any sort of rhythm with his sleep. At this point, he will only sleep if I put him in a swing (must be swinging the whole time) or if I hold him while we sleep in a chair. He has had a problem with very bad eczema and used to try to scratch his face all night. But it’s pretty well cleared up at this point. I’m at a complete loss as to what I should do now. I can just wait it out, but I’m worried that I’m just encouraging very bad sleep habits that will be difficult to break down the road. Everyone keeps saying I should try the “cry it out” approach. I have tried it here and there with no success. He will cry for an hour or more, and only gets more hysterical when I go to sooth but won’t pick him up. I also have an older child in the house and am worried that the crying will keep him from sleeping. Any advice, encouragement or suggestions is appreciated! BTW, he is exclusively nursing and hasn’t started solids yet.


Good for you for following your baby’s cues and for providing this wonderful diet. Eczema is almost always a sign of food intolerance. It sounds as though your baby wants to always sleep upright. This can be a sign of reflux and the most common cause of reflux is food intolerance. Being held in arms or rocked in a swing can relieve discomfort, such as from food reactions. I may be off-base but your description sounds as though your baby may be suffering discomfort from reactions to foods in your diet. Cow’s milk protein is the most common offender though there can be other foods as well. Try removing all dairy ingredients from your diet, including casein, whey, cream, yogurt, cheese, and goat’s milk, and see if your sweetie’s sleep improves. If it seems appropriate, you can do some elimination dieting to see if there are other foods that are problematic (my book, “The Baby Bond,” explains this whole process).

Please see my very recent post on sleep, as much of this pertains to you as well: http://mothering.com/co-sleeping-13-month-old 

In any advent, despite what your critics say, I guarantee you that just because you allow him to derive the restful sleep he needs in the manners he can best attain it, you won’t have to buy him a giant electric swing when he goes to college.