Baby only sleeps when being held and bounced - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-16-2010, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
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I am exhausted and looking for any advice. My 4.5 month old son is not sleeping. I noticed immediately that he was a cat napper, and the situation has only gotten harder in the past 2 weeks. He resists napping, and the minute I put him down, he wakes up. I'm resigned to walking and bouncing for the duration for the most part. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a 2.5 year old active boy who misses having his mommys attention. Totally mom guilt! Night time is only worse. I co sleep, both by choice and necessity, since we are living with family and have no other room to move him into until our house is finished, which won't be for atleast 6 months. He goes down with bouncing, nursing and cuddling and will sleep alone for about 30 mins. After that, he is up atleast every 30 mins to hour. He used to be settled by just nursing, but now he will scream until I pick him up and bounce. He seems to have really uncomfortable gas at night, and when I pick him up and bend his legs, it helps. Could this be something I need to look into? Reflux or something? I'm BF, and have been careful about what I eat, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I'm not a fan of CIO, and even if I was, it wakes up my 2.5 year old in the next room, and then I have 2 screaming kids. He is a needier baby than my first, which wouldn't be so bad if it was just me and the baby. But my poor 2.5 year old needs attention too! I know they are only this little for so long, but from where I sit right now, it seems endless. Any advice would be much appreciated!
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#2 of 8 Old 12-16-2010, 09:06 AM
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I'm sorry, I can't give any BTDT advice, but it sounds like reflux could be part of the problem.  Maybe you could try having him nap on an inclined surface, even in his car seat, maybe  (I know sleeping in car seats isn't great, but for something like this...)?  Sometimes that is much more comfortable for a baby with reflux.  Good luck! 

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#3 of 8 Old 12-16-2010, 09:09 AM
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Have you tried a vibrating seat or swing? You can strap baby in so they can't squirm out and get hurt, and the vibration and swinging can help soothe a lot. Often this is the only way DD will nap. We have a vibrating seat that is also a swing, so she gets both. Sometimes the positioning is enough (so we won't turn it on, she just doesn't want to sleep flat), but usually we need vibration and when she's crankier we'll also set it to swing. It's been a huge help over here. 


ETA: forgot to mention, but this could help with reflux too, as it keeps the baby more upright. Good luck!

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#4 of 8 Old 12-16-2010, 09:52 AM
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Can you wear him in a baby carrier for naps? This would allow you to remain active and baby would have the comfort and security of being on you and soothed by the motion. If he does have reflux he would already be upright in the carrier or sling. 


You can find info on carriers and slings here:

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#5 of 8 Old 12-16-2010, 10:06 AM
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All good suggestions from previous posters...hopefully they may work for you...none ever worked for me.

Totally BTDT!! My guy was the exact same way.  I finally just gave in to holding him for naps.  After he was well asleep i could transition into the rocker and hold him for an hour or so.  He was always a cat napper, always needed bouncing, not a fan of any carrier unless we were outside and walking.  I know how tough it is.  Well, I don't really, because i didn't have a 2.5 yo as well!


All i can say is that it passed.  We go through so many phases around here with him and sleep.  I would say month 4 and 5 were the toughest, then we started seeing some signs of hope.  He started taking maybe one decent nap a day...nursed, swaddled, then bounced to sleep.  Super stealth moves to lay him down without waking...then a 40 minute nap...which eventually stretched to sometimes 1.5 hours.  Often we'd have to go in after 40 minutes and bounce him back to sleep.  We co sleep as well...and kept the ball right by the bed.  Sometimes I'd be up and bouncing him 3 or 4 times a night. (particularly during that phase where he woke every hour or so screaming). Other times nursing him back to sleep was enough.  We still have setbacks for a week or so...but i have more faith now that they will pass.


I don't know if this is helping at all.  I just want to say there is most likely a light at the end of the tunnel.  And certainly 4, 5 months was the toughest.  It's by no means a easy road now..but it is so much easier than it was.  I think 4 and 5 months are particularly tough for certain babes.  Good luck.  Oh...and it took me a while to learn this...but just because something didn't work one week, doesn't mean it won't work the next.  I had a tendency to say "i've tried doesn't work"  only to have it work weeks later.  So always cycle through all the suggestions you'll get from mamas, at whatever rate you have the energy to do so.  And just hang in there.  Hugs!!

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#6 of 8 Old 12-16-2010, 10:29 AM
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Big, big hugs!  This was my life with my son.  By all means, be sure to rule out food sensitivities and reflux, but this was not the answer for us.  Reading the Dr. Sears article on "high needs" babies helped me mentally even though nothing actually changed.  The most helpful thing for us was our Ergo and the yoga ball.  Our son was bounced for every nap and bedtime for at least the first year.  I couldn't usually get away with getting up and doing other things while he napped because the motion didn't work for him.  I used those nap times as my computer time or for reading.  Is there activities you can set up for your older child at a table and you can bounce next to the table and then still participate once the little one drops off?  For us we had to do strong bounces on the ball to get him asleep but then could get away with gentle bounces to maintain sleep.  And no advice about the co-sleeping...same boat here and I just matched my schedule with his.  I didn't have another child to care for though.  Everyone's experience is different so don't let this scare son is almost 3 and it can still be tough to sneak out of bed.  IF I can pull it off, I might get an hour before he wakes.  I firmly believe though that this is just what my child needs at this time and I have been impressed again and again with seeing how his independence grows.  It has been tough at times to not get regular time to myself, although it helped me a lot to redefine was that even means.  What I miss most about the bouncing stage is that Daddy can't get him to sleep any more.  We went from bouncing to sleep to nursing to sleep.  One night last week he fell asleep snuggling Daddy, oh how I hope that will start to become more the norm!  Back in the bouncing days, anyone willing to bounce could get him to sleep.  You may want to read about sensory integration issues as well.  That has come into play for us and we work on it ourselves.  Hang in there!  Some day, before you know it, you'll be looking back on this time.  I still remember how consuming and overwhelming it was and so many people in our life didn't *get it*.  We have much better support now.


ETA:  Just wanted to be clear that for us the Ergo only worked for our son if we were bouncing on the ball or if we were outside and walking.  Wearing him around the house never worked and boy was that tough!  I could get away with wearing him to go down to the cellar to do laundry but I would get away with only about 5 minutes if I was lucky.  And he hated the swing, would occasionally tolerate the vibrating bouncy seat for about five minutes IF he could see me.  lol, oh OP, I'm still sane somehow!  Looking back on it, it was nuts, I just remember being grateful to have the few tools I did have to keep him happy...but now I see how nuts it was.  I wouldn't change a thing though, it was best for him.

Mama to 3 year old DS and awaiting #2 in June
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#7 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 08:22 AM
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DS1 was a totally healthy, happy baby - but he was high needs when it came to sleep.  He was the same - needed to be walked, bounced, etc. 

DS2 is much more easygoing, but had lots of tummy trouble, and he also what our doc called "silent reflux" (he has outgrown that though).


DS1 needed all the tricks from Happiest Baby on the Block.  He needed a tight swaddle (we used the SwaddleMe blankets from BabiesRUs), a pacifier (since he had a huge sucking urge and wanted to suck on something 24/7), white noise (CD of ocean waves), and a swing.  As he got older, he needed less and less help getting to sleep.  But boy - it was a hard slog for a while.


DS2 is a great sleeper, but when he was super tiny he hated being prone.  He would sleep peacefully in the swing though, which has a deep recline but it's still slightly upright.  That position made the gas and reflux less painful.   With both boys, we use the Lovin Hug swing, and the one I linked to plugs into the wall (awesome!).


Also, routine is really important.  All the baby sleep books mention it, because it's true.  Even little DS2 has a specific night routine that cannot be messed with, or he will fight sleep.  Jammies, food, daddy cuddles, swing. 


Hang in there - you will find what works, and it will get easier.

Mom to two intact boys, born at home. DS1 11/07, DS2 9/10
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#8 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 06:01 PM
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I too have btdt and nothing worked but the ergo and things changed every 4-6 weeks so that I'd have to change things a bit. Things got better around 9 months, then one year when he dropped to one nap and finally things transformed completely when his teeth came through.

I too did not have another child. I'm wondering if you can take advantage of living with family and have them take your youngest for an hour or so a day so that you can have quality time with your oldest son?

babyboy.gif: 01/10/2009 and 09/29/2011

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