Do some babies really need to cry themselves to sleep? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I have heard this on here and other message boards before and never knew what to think of it.  My first two certainly didn't.  With both I rocked/walked them to sleep, gently laid them down and if necessary (usually it was) patted them until they settled back into a deeper sleep. 


This new baby though.  Wow.  He has certainly thrown me for a loop every step of the way, from conception.  He is 4.5 weeks old and seems to have completely different needs.  Lately he never seems happy when he's awake.  So it results in me nursing him which usually works only for the duration that he's nursing and then I give up and put him down for a nap.  Sometimes he falls asleep easily (either me holding him on my shoulder and patting or swaying or walking and bouncing around, swaddled always) but usually, especially lately he acts super alert, arching back, eyes wide open, won't lay his head down and just relax.  Once he did this, and I NEEDED to get some school work done with the older girls and there was no way he would not be content to just chill while I taught. We had already taken several weeks off between moving at 37 weeks and the new baby being born so taking it easy for another few weeks possibly months is just not possible.  So I set him in his swing hoping it would at least keep him fussing as opposed to crying for 5 minutes.  I hurried downstairs, began lesson plans, and then I realized it had been at least 10 minutes of silence.  I went up to check on him and sure enough he was asleep.  No fussing, calling out, and never any crying.  I couldn't hardly believe it.   That has worked well at times for the past few weeks. 


Yesterday I spent over an hour trying to get him to sleep.  I would try the swing and he would just fuss and eventually cry.  I tried holding him but he would keep waking up after a few minutes so I'd have to start all over.  Finally I put him in the swing so I could get some chores done and spend a little time with the girls.  They have been so good with the new addition, but they are starting to crave attention. It definitely was not to CIO.  He cried hard for a few minutes and just when I was about to go get him, he went quiet. I went in and he was staring blankly out the window and when he caught me in his line of vision he just continued staring at me.  At this point I was stuck.  Do I leave him there since he's content now?  Will he cry again if I leave?  What does HE need me to do?  I started feeling incredibly guilty that he stopped crying (gave up?) before I got to him.  I didn't time it, but it was about 3-5 minutes.  So I picked him up, because I didn't want him to think I didn't care, or that I wasn't coming to get him.  I walked with him, he fell asleep, and I transferred him to the swing and again he began crying.  At this point I wondered if I made a mistake, maybe he would have fallen asleep w/out any more crying if I had just let him be and now I made him more tired, more miserable, and more overstimulated.  At this point dh was home so I had him take him and he fell asleep instantly in his arms.  Dh was exhausted so they took a nap together in the recliner for 2 hours or so, with LO never making a peep.


Today, I started our same routine this morning.  IDK if it's relevant, but we had a rough night last night, with him up every 30-45 minutes from about 3am on.  I know I was exhausted and I assume he was too. IT was about 7:30, the older two came into my bed which of course wakes him up, but it was about that time anyways.  I fed and changed him, then began breakfast.  He is rarely happy during breakfast, but doesn't fall asleep after the first feeding.  I shuffle between giving the girls some attention, cooking breakfast, and keeping him happy.  I do have several baby carriers, but find it difficult to get anything done, and he only tolerates them somewhat.  I eat while holding him, and when the girls are finished with eating breakfsat they do whatever.  By this time it's usually around 8:45, so I nurse him again and hope he goes down for a nap. Today I put him in his swing (asleep for the most part this time) and started school with the girls.  9:45 he was awake.  I picked him up, tried walking him back asleep (which has worked at times for another 45-1 hour) and he was rooting around like crazy.  I fed him, he did not fall asleep at the breast so I thought maybe he might be ready to be awake for a little bit.  I got one extremely short lesson in with one of my dd's and he was back to crying.  I picked him up and he was wiggly and fussy.  At this point I was frustrated and about to lose my cool.  I put him swaddled in his swing (he is always swaddled for sleep, doesn't seem to sleep well without it) and he immediately began crying.  I went online for 5 minutes, was about to go get him, and he was quiet.  I went in and he was asleep so I left him.  Dd2 comes up 20 minutes later or so and asks to go in his room.  I say no, because he is sleeping, and she says he is awake. I go to look, and sure enough he is awake, staring out the window (I'm pretty sure the window is the real reason he likes his swing so much, he always looks out it while falling asleep).  I let him be, checked again after a minute and he was out.  Every time I have checked since, he has been asleep.


It breaks my heart to hear him cry, but I have two other kids to attend to, and house that has been pretty neglected. Dh is helpful when he is home, but he is exhausted from working, kids, and housework too. I can't imagine ever leaving a 4 week old to CIO (or any age for that matter) but it does get me thinking.  Maybe he really does just need to cry sometimes?  Does anyone have any experience with this?  He probably would sleep ok, if I had the time to walk around with him and hold him the entire time, but like I said, he is not my first, I have two other kids who need attention from their mama, and I cannot devote all of my time to the baby.  He does not go down in 15-30 minutes like my others would this way either, it's always an hour or more, and that doesn't guarantee I would need to repeat the whole process in 10 minutes. 

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#2 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 09:51 AM
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My son went through a period where he would fuss/talk himself to sleep when he was  a few months old. But he did that regardless if he was in arms or not. I would vastly prefer it to be in arms, myself, if babe needs to cry.


my daughter often just wants some sort of physical contact while she's drifting off - just to hold your hand, not necessarily be held. (though she might prefer that).


Have you tried wearing your LO, esp on your back, if you have 2 other littles? this has been a godsend for me. Baby Girl is perfectly content up there, either waking or sleeping, and I have my hands free to deal with house, etc. I can even wear her sitting down, since I don't sit back in my desk chair anyway.

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#3 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I too prefer the crying to be in arms, but when it was less than 5 minutes in the swing, but 1-2 hours of overstimulated restlessness in my arms, I have to wonder if HE would prefer in arms.  If only babies could just tell you.


I have not tried a back carry, that is one that I haven't tried yet.  I do have a pouch, mei tei, ring sling, and moby.  I guess I don't even know where to begin with a back carry?  And also how would I transfer him from back carry to sleeping in our bed, a crib, etc?  I absolutely don't mind wearing him for some naps, but at this age, he sleeps all the time (no jaundice, growing well, etc just...sleepy I guess).  Or am I not recalling correctly and that 4-5 weeks babies don't have much awake time at all?  I thought by this age with my others, there were awake for 30 minutes or so after naps before needing another one.

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#4 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post

 He probably would sleep ok, if I had the time to walk around with him and hold him the entire time, but like I said, he is not my first, I have two other kids who need attention from their mama, and I cannot devote all of my time to the baby.  He does not go down in 15-30 minutes like my others would this way either, it's always an hour or more, and that doesn't guarantee I would need to repeat the whole process in 10 minutes. 

You seem to intuitively know. Also, babies in general are quite clear about what they need in order to get their needs met. It's when we try to alter their behavior that things can be more challenging.


The difference in your situation versus others in more traditional societies is that there would likely be an older child, or aunt or grandmother to hold the baby. Where as you are doing it all on your own. You have a very nice selection of carriers. What does he seem to tolerate or which holds (if any)?


My other thought is that he may need to nurse more often. Maybe he would settle more easily if he fed more often (?). It may be worth a try. Even feeding several times an hour is considered normal in many societies.


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#5 of 9 Old 01-10-2012, 01:28 PM
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I just wanted to share that my baby's personality was much like you describe. For the first 3 months, he rarely seemed happy or content. He fussed and cried a ton and wanted to nurse every hour for about 20-40 min at a time, so I was constantly nursing him. He's almost 5 months old now and is pretty happy most of the time, so I just assumed that he was just colicky or having a harder time adjusting to life outside the womb than other babies have.


Does your DH have any time to help out around the house a bit more? If so, explain to him that this baby is different than the other two, so you need his help more than before.

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#6 of 9 Old 01-11-2012, 01:21 PM
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My 8 mo. old DD is the same way. I was actually about to get on here and ask the same question. This has just recently begun though. I'll do a separate post so I don't take over yours, but I was letting you know I can commiserate!

DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)

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#7 of 9 Old 01-13-2012, 08:19 PM
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Tried to post this a minute ago but page froze, sorry if this ends up twice:


You have described my first few months with DD, now 3 and the cheeriest kid ever. It took me a long time to realize that that kind of hard-to-settle crying meant that she was just overstimulated. (At other times she would nurse, be worn, or be strollered to sleep, but we had lots of those neverending crying moments.)  I got really hung up on the no-CIO thing and it made us both basket cases. I needed to realize that she really just wanted to be put down, so then I'd put her in her crib with a hand on her, or just sit right next to the crib (room was as dark as we could make it even in the daytime), and let her try to relax. She didn't want rocking, feeding, singing, soothing...she just wanted a break. Somewhere in there she was also on Zantac for reflux and that seemed to help too, so you might look into that. 

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#8 of 9 Old 01-14-2012, 05:07 AM
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I think that there are a couple different kinds of babies. There are babies who release tension by crying, and there are babies who increase energy by crying. If you treat them both the same way, you're going to have trouble, so it's key to figure out which kind of kid you have.

(Ask Moxie is not a pro-CIO site, btw.)

Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

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#9 of 9 Old 01-15-2012, 02:03 AM
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Mine does. I read about the "Stress Increaser" and ""Stress Decreaser" on Ask Moxie before my DD was born, and I'm so glad I did because that is my daughter. She has needed a short fuss before bed up until a few weeks ago. I learned quickly how to tell if she was crying (needs attention) or fussing it out (will go to sleep momentarily). The fussing usually lasted about 2 minutes.We always called it the "HEY-how-dare-you-put-me-to-be-I-was-PLAYING-oh, maybe I'll just" cry. She is 14 mos. old now, and some nights she starts her protest on the changing table, but is over it by the time she's ready to go into the crib and goes straight to sleep. It probably still lasts about 2 minutes or so. She's also a very picky sleeper. We planned to keep her in our room in the bassinet until 6 mos, but she showed an early preference for her own space. She will NOT sleep anywhere other than her crib. Not on a lap, not on the nap mat at daycare, not on the couch while we're watching a movie, just the crib, thanks. Figuring out those two things so that we could let her have the things she needed to sleep has been sanity saving for our family and helped us all get better sleep.

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