This is my first time posting, but I've been following other's posts for a while now. I'm having trouble putting my 5 month old DS to sleep without him crying almost every time. Because of a low milk supply I was unable to breastfeed after the first week of his life (please no judgments, I tried everything I possibly could at that time to increase my supply), so he has been bottle fed ever since. Every night after his bath and massage I rock him and feed him to sleep. When I attempt to transfer him to his crib (no matter how slowly I do this) he wakes up and fusses or cries. I then pick him up and rock and feed him some more. Then I attempt to put him down again. I sometimes repeat this 3 or 4 times before I just stand by his crib and pat his back while he cries himself to sleep. He has never cried more than 8 min tops (usually 3-4 min) and I never leave his side. Still, it breaks my heart to watch him struggle to sleep. I've tried letting him cry in my arms, but he just squirms and tries to fight me while getting more and more upset. He does this for naps as well. He's only been doing this for about 3 weeks now. I used to be able to transfer him to his crib without waking him and everything would be fine. I'm not sure what has changed. Bedtime and naptime is starting to become more and more stressful for both of us instead of the peaceful transition I would like it to be. Any suggestions on what else I can try. Do you think it's hurting him to let him cry for a few minutes with me by his side?
Crying to sleep
You said this started 3 weeks ago and that your son is 5 months. Have you ever heard of the 4 month sleep regression? It's worth reading about, especially since the timeline seems to fit here. You can do a search here on MDC and find hundreds of past threads on the subject. A goodle search will render even more info.
As for it hurting him to cry to sleep, you will probably get mixed answers here. Some will say that yes, without a doubt it is hurting him to have to cry like that, even for just a few minutes. They will tell you to put him in your bed with you, that it's unnatural for a baby to sleep on his own and that's why he's crying. Many will tell you to listen to your instincts, which are clearly telling you that something isn't right since, as you said, it breaks your heart to see him do this.
Personally, I think that's a little harsh. I would never systematically let a baby cry it out in order to sleep train, but my son has gone through periods where, no matter what I did, he "sang himself to sleep", as Dh put it. Somehow describing it like that made me feel better about it. If I were in your situation, I would try letting him sleep with me to see if that stopped the crying. If that still didn't work, and he still fussed himself to sleep, I would, at that point, feel confident that he just needs the crying right now to release some steam before sleep and that it he'll be just fine. I would come to that conclusion only after I tried EVERYTHING I knew of to meet his needs.
Don't stress yourself out too much about it, though. You sound like a loving, attentive mama. I think almost every baby goes through periods of poor sleep, but just like everything else, it, too, shall pass.
Thanks for the advice...and support! I will try to put him to bed with me for the next few nights. We co-slept for 6 weeks (when he was 1-2.5 months old) and I LOVED it. When my husband got back from a TDY (he's in the air force) he wasn't keen on the idea of sharing our bed with our DS. Many of his coworkers and friends are into a more "hands off" approach and warned him of the "bad habits" co-sleeping can create. But I guess that's neither here nor there now that we've decided to give him his own bed.
I read up on the 4 month sleep regression you told me about and it definitely makes sense! Even though I think it is mostly geared toward bf babies, it sounds like mine could be going through it as well! He wakes up 2-4 times a night, and always has, so that's not really an issue at this point. It would be great to get more sleep, but I've accepted the fact it's just not going to happen right now :)
If sleeping with me seems to help him for the next few nights I think I will look into one of those "Co-sleepers" you can connect to the bed. Hopefully that will be a good compromise for my husband and an easier transition back to the crib when he's ready.
If putting him in my bed doesn't seem to help him, I will continue to be there for him and help him get to sleep as best as I can. You might be right, he might just need to blow off a little steam before he goes to bed. Thanks again for your help! I'll keep you posted!
A co-sleeper sounds like a great compromise, but unfortunately I don't think they're considered safe for babies that old? However, you could look into sidecarring your crib for the same effect--google it for instructions galore. Good luck, and I hope you and your DS get some good sleep soon!
I would def try side-carring the crib and see if that helps..
as far as the crying to sleep-- both of my kids have had trouble getting to sleep as well. My DS2 FINALLY started letting me lay him down to sleep at around 5.5-6 months old. How are you laying him down? Have you tried laying him on his belly and patting his back if he stirs/wakes during the transfer? The only way I can lay my DS2 down now is if I have a 2 pillows laying on the bed about 4-5 inches apart, and I lay him in between the pillows... also he has to have a blanket wrapped around him (makes it easier to transfer if my hands are not actually touching his skin..lol), a binky in his mouth, and I usually have a fan going for white noise... it is a process, but it works. lol.
I don't think him crying for a few minutes while you are right there is going to damage him.. some babies really do need to cry a little before finally settling to sleep. with my DS1-- he'd scream no matter HOW you were trying to get him to sleep. it was awful.. every nap.. every night... I'd hold him and rock him and nurse him and he'd just cry and cry before finally passing out. Around 9 months old he FINALLY outgrew it for the most part.. though I think he was closer to 12-15 months before it stopped completely. He just DID NOT WANT TO MISS A THING.. so that meant he didn't want to sleep.
Another option--- is wear him in a carrier or hold him for naps for a week or so and then start trying to lay him down again..
And-- teething could be the reason that he is fighting sleep
I didn't even think about him being too big for the co-sleeper...thanks so much for pointing that out! Catherine, it sounds like you've kinda been where I am. I think your idea of wrapping him in a blanket is great. I will try that. I remember he loved being swaddled, but I stopped doing that when he started to break out of it and I couldn't keep him in anymore. I do play lullabies on a loop all night as well as have a humidity controller/diffuser on all night (I only put water in the diffuser!) I'm glad to hear your DS finally outgrew it...even though I bet 9 months seemed like a VERY long time! I do think he could be teething. He shows a lot of the signs of teething, but since I haven't had any experience with it I'm not 100% sure. I'll let you guys know how tonight goes putting him in bed next to me!
my DS goes through phases like this - and i think it probably does line right up with the mental "leaps" that the kiddos take. (think "wonder weeks".) i think it's important to remember that (at least as far as i know) babies won't forget how to sleep, but they do go through transitions that interrupt their sleep, and make it harder for them to sleep. if your DS was doing okay in the crib before, i'm sure he will "normalize" again. for me, if DS is really fighting sleep hard, i stop trying to "force"it, and let him stay up a little longer and try again in a little while. many times he was fighting sleep because he had to poop, and once that's done we don't have too much trouble. if he's totally overtired he will cry too, but that's a different type of tears that sometimes we just have to work through before he will go to sleep.
at about 5 months, you should be rounding out the "four month sleep regression", but other things to keep in mind are - if you are introducing solids, the new digestive sensations can keep kids awake - if he is teething, he may be having issues with discomfort - learning a new physical skill - or this is also a normal time period for babies to adjust their nap/sleep schedules, so it may be that you can experiment with that. if you think that he may be overstimulated and letting off steam, then you could maybe try extending his sleep time routine to help him settle a bit more before he gets too tired...and white noise always helps my DS (and me!) sleep.
We actually restarted the swaddle with DD at around this age, using one of the blankets with velcro that she couldn't get undone. It really helped with transitioning to the crib, as did keeping pressure over DD's chest and legs for a while after I laid her down. Oh - and I couldn't just lay her down flat. I actually had better luck kind of sitting her upright and then lowering her back down. Ultimately, we began cosleeping full-time again and still haven't stopped (she's 15 months). I'll warn you that we tried sidecarring and I found it really awkward to actually get the baby into the crib from the bed. I think it's easier if you're nursing to sleep in bed and can just roll the baby over into the crib afterwards. We were bottle-fed, too, and I could never get comfortable doing it in bed. Maybe you'll be better better at it than me! Good luck, and remember that baby sleep phases are really brief. Try to just do whatever allows you and the baby to feel the most peaceful about things, even if it means making some changes you didn't intend/expect.
So I thought I would update everyone! Things have gotten better the past few days/nights. I put my DS in bed with me for 2 nights and the first night he still cried going to sleep and then one of his night wakings, but the 2nd night waking he went down peacefully. The next night he only cried when I put him back down after his 3rd night feeding, but bedtime and the first two feeding went beautifully! The past 3 nights he has been back in his crib and has not cried at all except for one time last night after his 2nd night feeding. It's been really great! I guess it was just a phase like some of you were saying. I'm so thankful for all of the advice and input from all of you! It's so nice to know there are helpful people out there with the same mothering beliefs and mine!
Good to hear! Because babies go through so much during their first few years of life, it's to be expected that they have "bad" periods and trouble adjusting to all the changes their little bodies and brains are going through. I know I have trouble sleeping when I'm in transition or feeling stress ...I can't even imagine how overwhelming it must sometimes be to be baby!
It sounds like your son is what they call a "stress releaser" when it comes to crying before bedtime. This means that it seems like your son might have a tendancy to cry in order to relax. My son is like this. No matter what, he cries. I felt so bad about it for a long time, but then I just stopped. Some of us toss and turn before settling in for sleep, my son just cries. Don't feel like you're doing something wrong if you're a gentle mama and he still cries before he goes to sleep, that just could be how he is. Now, Daniel only cries for like 30 seconds before putting his head down and settling in to sleep.