Sleep help...I'm desperate :-(

My little boy is 5 months old now & has never been a good sleeper. He's never gone more than 3 hrs at night without waking & his daytime naps are very hit and miss.

For the last 3 weeks or so I have really struggled with him. He doesn't fall asleep on his own, he is rocked or fed to sleep so I know I've brought this on myself but he's my first baby and I live and learn...

Anyway he falls fast asleep in my arms after rocking or feeding and then as soon as I put him down he wakes & cries...almost every time. He had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago & since then his sleep has been even worse. He seems to only want to sleep on me.

Iv tried shushing/patting without picking up, iv picked up & settled but he wakes when I put him down, iv changed his nappy, checked he's not too hot/cold and even tried a bottle feed at about 3am (he's usually breastfed). I know he's not hungry, he just sucks to settle. He won't take a dummy no matter how hard I try.

I'm at my wits end. I would never ever shout at him but I feel like screaming in his face when he wakes after he's been fast asleep in my arms. I dont know what to do now. I would hate to do controlled crying but is this the only way? Is he too young to do this yet? Has anyone else experienced the same problem? I feel so alone, I'm desperate for help x

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23 Replies

  • I have no experience of baby's yet but have heard to preheat cot with hot water bottle so when layed down they can't notice the temp difference.

  • Hi thanks for replying. Iv already tried that. Iv also got a fleecy blanket on his mattress as he likes to snuggle into my dressing gown so it's the same feeling but that doesn't help either. Iv also tried putting something next to him that smells of me. X

  • Sounds tough. I still have all this to come so that is where my knowledge ends. I won a book called ' the blissful baby' that seems to get rave reviews (just skimmed) but the reason I mention this is the author is happy to be emailed and give you one to one advice- for free. I have seen a lot of stories of success with her help(naturally any that don't work won't be so published) but may be worth a try. Most of the help asked for is about sleep. Her name is Lisa glegg. Google blissful baby.

    Otherwise all I can wish you is luck and the hope you figure something out. Other ladies on here I'm sure will try to help. Xx

  • Thank you for that, I'll take a look :-) x

  • Hey Jacksonla,

    Im kinda in the same boat as yourself right now as my Lil one has just turned 5 months old (last week), the worst thing is she was quite a good self sleeper since birth but all of a sudden she´s started to be extremely fidgety and just wont go down easily.

    I'm afraid to say i think its just one of those kinda growing pains we didn't seem to hear about before becoming mothers and we´ve got to grit our teeth and deal with it.

    i believe the teething stage dosent seem to help much either as it somehow makes them feel as if they want to be close to us more than usual,- ive found when my Lil one is tired and getting quite agitated i lay her on her side on my bed or cot and pat her back in a steady rhythm and this usually helps to calm her down enough to nod off to sleep.


  • Funnily enough I tried patting him on his back last night whilst he was on his side & it worked until I stopped! I don't mind him sleeping in my bed apart from the fact he feeds more coz he can smell my milk which is why I always try to get him down in his own crib. So I think tonight I will just have him in my bed when he wakes & try patting him for a while. Then move as far away from him as I safely can without waking him so he can't smell milk as easily!

    I truly hope this is just a phase & he grows out of it. Even going back to 3 hour sleeps would be good! X

  • Haha, - oh yes

    My daughter does the same thing too I think I just pat her for as long as I possibly can just before my arm feels like it will drop off completely LOL!

    I have good nights & bad nights at the moment so I truly do hope it's a phase for us & hopefully with any luck they may go to sleeping through the night ( wishful thinking) :)

  • It's nice to know I'm not alone but I feel ur pain! My lo was settling ok wouldnt sleep for long though a couple of five hour stints in the early days... But he has really bad mucus and chokes on it when he is asleep at night I've tried raising his cot but didn't make a difference now he is in my bed and wakes up every 2-3 hours won't take a dummy or a bottle! ... so I hear u! U can try the pick up put down method so maybe try introducing a bottle feed at last feed so he isn't attached to u and try putting him down sleepy and let him wriggle about when he starts to cry pick him up and soothe him then put him back down again till he starts to cry and so on and so forth tool he actually is so tired he falls asleep on his own... Well that's what is supposed to happen whether it does or not that is another story. ...ive yet to try it as my lo is just getting over a virus... apparently u should only need to do this over a period of an hour or so not days but good to do before they are over 6 months... If u give it a go pls let me know how u got on. ..everything is so easy on paper but when ur exhausted it is hard so don't be hard on urself...everyone has their own methods and ways....x

  • These babies definitely like to challenge us don't they?! I have read about the PU/PD method before & I have tried it but it wasn't for very long so it didn't work. I was too tired & emotional at the time, I need to be in the right frame of mind. Iv read that consistency is the key and to never give up but as u say when you're exhausted it's incredibly difficult. He takes a bottle and does already have one just before bed so I can try it at some point & let u know. I have a feeling it may take a while lol!

    At the moment he feeds more at night than during the day as he just wants to suck all the time to settle himself. It's so frustrating that he is fine with a bottle but hates a dummy.

    Had a very emotional moment this morning after a bad night & then he wouldn't go down for a nap either...I had a little cry in the shower!!

    Thanks for responding. Good luck to you too xx

  • Hey, I hadn't read up on this as a method, but I've found we got into bad habits of sleep when my little ones been poorly and like yours has struggled to sleep without me. I just picked him up very time he was upset and popped him back down when he was calm, and repeated as much as necessary. it was exhausting, and some nights took a long time, but was a definite improvement. in the last few weeks we did this, and he's now sleeping in his own bed from 7pm, and rarely waking until about 5am (then still working on) but was just first 3 or 4 days i think to get over main hurdle. If i were you I'd maybe have him in your bed a few nights so you can get some rest first. and if you have a partner, or anyone else who can help I'd recommend you ask for the help, as can try on your patience, and you really need to stick at it for it to work. especially when so tired. we've done this a few times, and always worked well, and i felt much more comfortable doing this than leaving him to cry. main thing we found is trying to have everything the same as wen he went to sleep as when he wakes up, keep a night light on all night. also we found 'euan the dream sheep' pretty great, oh and the room temp made a big difference for us too- keeping about 18 degrees. Good luck, regardless of what you try!! i hope you get more sleep tonight.

  • Hi Merida thank you so much for replying that's really encouraging to hear :-) iv just put him down to sleep & he went straight away so I'm going to get a couple of hours sleep before the night shift starts lol.

    How old was your LO when you were doing this? Did it take longer than an hour each time?

    I keep hearing great things about Ewan the dream sheep. I wonder if we're too late to start using it though as he's 5 months? A lot of people used it from birth so the LO's got used to it. I play white noise all night so maybe that's just as good as the sheep would be. I imagine the womb noise/heartbeat is good though.

    Will definitely be getting support from my husband when we try to get over this hurdle!

    Thanks again for replying :-) x

  • hey, I'm afraid it did take more than an hour sometimes for the first few nights as I think he was crying out expecting to go into our bed. We've used it a few times, can't remember age exactly but younger than 5 months first time, and roughly five months too. Trouble we had was getting into bad habits again when he was poorly and having to do it again! We rely on Fynn's dummy so feel for you! :s

    Sounds odd, but i found that if he was already asleep when i put him down he would wake up upset, so now i wake him up a bit so he's just sleepy when i put him down but falls asleep in the cot. I guess would be strange waking up somewhere different! but i put him down asleep, when he was really struggling and gradually stopped. We're trying this just now to get Fynn to sleep past 5am, and is getting slowly better!! :) managing to settle him in his cot now and some nights is sleeping later. fingers crossed! hope you at least get a few hours gap, good luck

  • I know this may not help but your babies behaviour is completely normal and to put your mind at rest you have NOT got him into any bad habits. A baby is born with the instinct to survive and they know that they have a higher chance of survival if they stay close to mum. They don't know that we live in a nice safe house as far as they know we still live in the wild ! If you think about it every other mammal keeps its baby close to it until it's self suffucient. Leaving the baby to cry or 'self soothe' will do nothing except upset both of you. I know its hard right now but it will be over in the blink of an eye and you'll long for those night time cuddles. Mums worry that having baby in bed with them means that they will never leave and they will have a clingy baby. Research actually shows the complete opposite , babies that are kept close, regularly cuddled and not left to cry are actually more confident, secure and independant children x

  • Thank you so much for saying that, it's really comforting to hear :-) even one person saying that to me has made me feel better.

    Last night was much better than the night before. He went down in his cot for 3 hours then when he woke & fed he wouldn't go back down so I put him in bed with me. After that was a bit of a blur as I didn't watch the time but he fed every now & again and the next thing I knew it was 7:30am! I think we both slept much better by being close to each other.

    Thanks again for your reply :-) xx

  • Hi, I just wanted to say don't do CIO if you feel you don't want to. My daughter went through EXACTLY the same thing after Xmas when she turned 5 months. I couldn't do anything - same at night, she was literally glued to me, didn't want to go into cot after previously being happy in it etc. I tried pu/pd but it exhausted me so I just gave in and co slept which made a big difference to me - she still woke lots but I stayed half asleep through feeds. She's now 8 months any fairly happy to fall asleep in cot - still ending up in bed with me later but tbh I love it ;) Good luck, hang in there. It's just a phase like everything else. X

  • Thank you for the reassurance :-) xx

  • I have edited as behind my laptop, not laying in my sons cot! :-)

    My LO is 7 months today and we have had ongoing sleep issues since about 4 months, prior to this he was sleeping through lovely but was a poor napper, was much harder to convince him it was a good idea. At about 4 months he has sleep regression and also started to hut developmental milestones, starting with rolling, only when he rolled onto his front when sleeping he would wake and cry, then I would find him up on his knees rocking like a mad creature. I would say in the last month he accepted that he likes to sleep on his front and does not always wake himself rolling about....when he wakes in the night, he will always be on his knees, rocking, head down and shrilling!

    On top of this, our little man has also had teething troubles, although not cut any yet, a bad cold and more recently started with separation anxiety and he has leant to sit, crawl and stand with help....its a very busy time being a baby.

    I have read book after book, googled for solutions to his short naps and night wakings! We are still getting up every 3 hours on the dot, his internal body clock last night had him wake at 22.45, 01.45, his age he is more then capable of sleeping through, minimum of 5/6 hours but I think what we have now is habitual waking so now I have to find a way to break this cycle :-(

    I have tried PU/PD a little but it killed my back! He was 8.5kg at last weigh in and getting him in and out of cot so frequently was back breaking. We have agreed not to rock him off to sleep but always seem to end up doing it as you get to 'anything goes' to get him to sleep day and night and this has probable not helped me as I nurse him when he wakes. I don't feel he is eating enough in the day as he feeds so quickly as there is so much more exciting stuff to be doing and he is not really taking any solids yet, its just grazing and playing.

    As I write this I am actually in his cot! First time ever to try and reinforce the security of it, that it is a safe and cozy place to be and because I want to try and extend these catnaps of 40 minutes by being here ready to get him back to sleep when he rouses and to be here when he wakes as I find that if they do not self settle and you help them, the last thing they remember is being in your arms and they wake up elsewhere.

    I have also been trying to offer a transitional object like a 'comforter' that he was self settle with.

    I have had daddy bottle formula feed and put to bed last few nights to observe any difference and that too has been a massive drama, I think it comes back to 'Mummy does this and where is the Boob' and I have also noticed that he woke more during the evening and needed assistance to get back to sleep and he is making more Mantra sounds then I have ever heard before. I am back on my own for the next 3 nights so will see if he does the same when I put him to bed and I will breast feed him, his favourite way to fall asleep.

    Who'd have thought teaching your baby to sleep would be so stressful and complex!! I don't think there is a one size fits all, I think you will just have to find what works for you when it comes to settling him.

    Have you written down a typical day and night over say 3 days/nights to see if you have a pattern? What his tired signals are and responding quickly to them? What about getting out in the day, does he sleep then? Car? Buggy? Any particular time of day? X

  • Haha I love that you wrote that in his cot! I can see me having to try that at some point too! :-) iv just had my own battle with getting him down for a nap...he's having none of it. I don't understand why babies aren't born with the ability to fall asleep when they are tired, why is it something that they have to learn??!!

    It's so nice to hear from other people who are going through the same thing. I felt like I was the only one who was struggling. I felt like everyone else's babies just fell asleep on their own by this age but that's Google for you. It's nice to talk to real people!

    Thanks for responding and good luck :-) xx

  • Hey, I have just edited my original reply. I don't know why it is so difficult, I try to get out most days at a particular time to encourage a nap so that I only have to do the battle once a day, makes it more bearable.

    Something I am working on really watching for the tired cues, then creating a quiet pre nap wind down routine, similar to that of bedtime for sleep cues but at the moment he still needs a lot of help and that for me is cradle position hold and sing a favourite song with a gentle sway and I can get him off, its picking the right moment to put him into cot...he will only nap for 40 mins/one sleep cycle, so much for babies need or should be having 3-4 hours naps a day....who says and where are these babies lol.

    I hope bedtime tonight was not as bad as naptime xx

  • I want to know where those babies are too...the ones that have 2 hour naps 3 times a day then sleep all night!! We are no where near where we "should" be in terms of hours for his age.

    Putting him down at bedtime is actually the easiest time of day. He's usually pretty tired so we can feed him then rock him to sleep quite quickly but the fun starts after that!

    We do have a bedtime routine but not a naptime one so this is something I do need to work on. If we're out he will often fall asleep in the car or in his pram but only if I cover it with a muslin so he can't see out of it. He's so nosey that he would stay awake for hours just looking at everything that passes by.

    There is some truth in what iv read which says he should be asleep after every 1hr 45mins of wake time. Unfortunately life gets in the way & I'm not always in a position to get him to sleep that often so then he gets overtired & then it's even harder to get him down.

    I will write a log of his days & nights, that's a good idea. Sounds like I'll have plenty of this to come whilst he's reaching all those important milestones. Never a dull moment!! Xx

  • my baby had small twenty minute cat naps during the day,At night he went in my bed at 7 or 8 I put on his monitor and pat him to sleep he was usually out in five or ten mins.I could do all my jobs ,then go to bed at ten eleven give him has last dreamfeed then get a few hours kip with out running to his cot all night.I did this with all my boys who have done great and flourished and thrived,they go in their own beds when they are two.Do whatever is easy for you and your baby.Its harder when they get older separation anxiety teething crawling weaning,so stick to whats easiest for you and don't let baby scream it out,a baby needs you until he knows better.

  • Hi, my wee one is two and to be honest still isn't the best sleeper but i think some babies are just like that so don't beat yourself up about it. It's not what you want to hear but controlled crying was the only thing that worked for us. We waited until 11 months but wish we had tried it sooner. A dummy worked wonders but like you he wouldn't take one until a friend told me to try an old fashioned cherry shaped dummy dipped in jam. In an act of desperation tried this at 4am one morning and never looked back!! Trust me, the time will come where you'll try anything. Good luck. X

  • Oh your certainly not alone lol! Many of first mums do this ! We spoil our first and learn with out second like me. My first was the same and I just thought he was to adorable to put down so I carried on for months ! Got exhausted and fell asleep many of times with him led on my chest which got uncomfortable the more he grew a a obv there's the worries of them Being to young led on you. So I started putting him in his cot or Mossis basket with my hand through the cot holding his hand which also got uncomfortable but eventually he settled with that and I got used to it. I did that til he was about 1 then I had to just hold his hand until he was asleep them let go. Now he's 5 in his own room and fine . It does end but you do have to be cruel to be kind and not be to soft or do things to make it easier for you cause there actually making it harder for you, you'll get very tired, run down and emotional x

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