Baby Only Sleeps While Being Held

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  • I have an 11 week old who won't sleep in his crib, only when held.  So we're holding him every nap and all night long, my husband and I taking turns sleeping so whoever is holding him is awake. I searched the archives, and it looks like others have had the problem of needing to be held for naps, but for us it's also all night!

    We want to follow safe sleep, so we don't want to bedshare or use a bouncer or swing or anything like that, but I'm not sure he'd tolerate those without help anyway. He also won't sleep in the car, stroller, or baby wrap either, for reference. Only in our arms or in our laps in a dark room.

    We've tried putting him into his crib awake but ready to sleep, half asleep, or fully asleep. He'll usually open his eyes right up, but maybe once a day I can pat him and sing him to sleep for a few minutes (his record is 24 minutes. In an entire 24 hours. Most days we're under 10 minutes sleeping in the crib). He's too young for formal sleep training, and our pediatrician said we shouldn't leave him to cry it out yet (not sure if that's a blanket recommendation for this age or specifically for our son; he has had some minor breathing and heart concerns we need to get checked out).

    We're not sure what to do. Other than the crib issue, he's a calm and easygoing child. We can put him down to play, even leave the room for a few minutes, without a problem as long as it's not for sleep. We're mindful of age appropriate wake windows, have a consistent bedtime routine and abbreviated nap routine, his crib is in our room which is cool and dark, we have white noise going, I slept with his sheets so they smell like me, we put a heating pad down to warm up the space before putting him down, and we can't swaddle anymore because he's rolling. 

    Any ideas? We need help! And if you had a baby like this, what did you do? I can't imagine many other parents are really holding their child for every single sleep. I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to do this without falling asleep and dropping him at some point. 

    This is so incredibly hard. I am so sorry you are going through this. Our child is a poor sleeper. We did everything that you were not supposed to do — cosleep, swing, etc. one tip I have is a modified swaddle (Russian Swaddle?) where the arms are out but baby is still wrapped up tightly. It worked somewhat for a while. This type of swaddle is safe for moving babies. 100% cotton and wool sleep sack was also moderately successful. They are very expensive but worked much better than pure cotton or fleece ones. In the summer, we used muslin ones.

    I think somewhere between 3 - 6 months is when you can start sleep training. So, you are really close! Our pediatrician wanted us to wait until around 4 month but many friends of mine started right at 12 week mark. 

    One regret I have is not sleep training. We tried but I couldn’t bare listening to our baby cry for hours, so I just did what my parents and grandparents did — nurse on demand and cosleep and wear the baby as much as possible. I thought the child will grow up in their own times. My kid isn’t fully grown yet, so jury is still out. But, this type of parenting is so exhausting especially when it comes to sleep. You and your spouse need sleep. Your baby won’t magically learn to self sooth and fall sleep. Sleep is such a basic human need, I thought… baby will eventually figure this out, I thought… my 10 year old still cannot self soothe to go to sleep and often needs me to lay down next to them or sooth them at 3 AM. We are now talking about sleep training a 10 year old. I honestly thought sleep training was cruel. Maybe it is. But, chronically sleep deprived parents are seriously no good to kids. Lack of sleep makes us so tired, cranky, and robs us of the energy. patience and clear thinking we need to parent our kids the way we want during the day. (And, I have dropped our baby once. It was very scary. But apparently quite common.) Worst of all, you may grow to resent being parents. In my most exhausted state, I often think “WTH have I done to myself? Life would be so much easier without the kid.” I love my kid and I am a fiercely protective and deeply loving parent. But, I cannot even count the number of times I nearly had a breakdown due to lack of sleep. Do yourself a favor and consider sleep training. My 10 year old asked me to lay down and stay until they fall sleep tonight. They said “I get really scared and when I close my eyes, all the scary thoughts come. Will you please stay and help me fall asleep? I really need to get good sleep because I have a big rehearsal tomorrow for my play.” (There are million cuddly stuffies around.) “they help but they are not warm. They are not mommy. I really need mommy tonight.” I gave in and laid down next to the kid because they had been getting only 4-5 hours of sleep for several days and have been struggling to go to school. (This means I have been sleep deprived and living in a zombie-like state at work and home. I felt very unsafe driving today due to lack of sleep. I gave into the child’s request out of desperation for sleep for myself.) 

    I hope your baby will learn to self soothe soon and you and your spouse can get some decent sleep in the near future. 

    Sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things. I'd consider hiring a sleep consultant and being open to sleep training, 12 weeks is not too young, depending on who you ask. Sleep training was important for our entire family with both our kids, yes including the babies. Everyone was better rested and happier for it. I think the Modified Ferber method could be an option (it's not "cry-it-out" per se since you are still checking on them in lengthening intervals). Good luck, I know how hard this is!! 

    We had a baby who was similar. We found that putting him in the baby swing allowed him to take naps without being held. At night, he slept next to me. I wore a turtleneck to bed to avoid blankets! Eventually he was able to sleep alone, though it did take what seemed like forever! Sorry this is so hard for you! Babies don’t always want to follow what the pediatricians will tell you is the norm.

    I have 2 kids and had 2 very different experiences with sleep at the beginning. My first would sleep swaddled on his back. He had a pretty normal amount of waking up at night and then I sleep trained him at 5 months b/c he wouldn't be rocked or nursed to sleep anymore. He took to it immediately and then eventually started sleeping through the night at 9 months. He started napping on his own and better once he was sleep trained as well. My 2nd refused to sleep on his back and hated being swaddled. He woke up a million times when we tried. He would only sleep on us at night and for naps. We took turns at the beginning of the night and then he would sleep on my chest and I slept propped up. I did this for a couple months but he would move around on me so much that I was literally being woken up every few minutes. One morning by 4AM I was so exhausted I tried rolling him onto his stomach next to me. He passed out and slept SO much better. I slept right next to him and our mattress is firm so I felt OK with this. I know this is not recommended, but it worked for us. I never wanted to share a bed with my babies but I needed to sleep and I was so much more tired the 2nd time around. Once he started moving around the bed too much, I transitioned him into a pack n play next to us, still having him sleep on his tummy. I sleep trained him at 5 months as well. He didn't seem quite as ready as his brother did but he was showing some signs and I was ready for him to learn how to fall asleep on his own. It took longer to stick than with his brother, but he did adapt after a few weeks. He didn't nap on his own until around 4/5 months. Eventually my 2nd started sucking his thumb, which has been huge in terms of self soothing. He sleeps through the night now, but only started probably a month or so ago at 16 months. 

    It will get better. All kids are different and some things work with some and not others. Good luck! 

    Hi! I had a slightly premature baby and had similar challenges (his record was 45 mins). Hubby and I took turns and were too exhausted to function and had fears similar to yours. Every parent/child is different and always listed to the pediatrician. With that caveat, happy to share what eventually worked for us :  We tried 3 different baby wraps. One of those single pieces of cloth things that you make into a wrap, one of those ergo baby ones, and one baby bjorn carrier one. Baby was so inconsistent in which he preferred but ultimately preferred one with one parent and another with the other. I think it had to do with colic. We wore him around the house in the AM to get him familiar with it. So that at night, we knew he was strapped to us and we wouldn't drop him. Slowly we reached the point where we could open one side of it and slide him on to his bed. 

    Crib transfer was impossible. We got a Lotus/guava traveling crib/play yard. So we could transfer him and sleep next to him. We were able to eventually move him to a crib in a couple of months.

    This is controversial and something you should check with your pediatrician - our son just couldn't sleep on his back, or his side. Again it was likely his colic but he could only sleep on his tummy. So one adult would sit next to him reading etc. when he took a nap on his tummy to keep him safe and avoid SIDS. As his nap time increased, his night sleep improved and eventually he slept on his back in his crib. But it was a couple of months.

    My child (now 2.5) was a terrible sleeper as a newborn. Even holding her and rocking to sleep didn’t work consistently. She would just stare at us. Even as a few days old in the hospital! Naps were a much bigger issue than nights, so we decided to start sleep training with naps around 8 weeks old. I found incredible help and community in the Facebook group Respectful Sleep Training. This is a very divisive issue, but it is 100% the best decision we ever made as a family. Sleep is a complete non issue for us. She has slept independently 100% of the time since she was 10 weeks old. There are occasional blips as sleep needs have changed, but her sleep foundation is solid. We used the “core method” at night, and she started sleeping through the night by 11 weeks. 

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. We didn’t have this problem but had other issues getting our little one to sleep. Have you heard of the program Taking Cara Babies? We followed her 3/4 month program exactly and it worked for us. It’s really hard to change these habits but it can’t be any harder than what you’re already doing. The program is somewhere around $100 but it’s really, really helpful. It’s not formal sleep training and it’s not “cry it out.” 

    This sounds extremely difficult. I’m sorry. You could hire a sleep coach. There are many doing virtual visits (unfortunately I don’t have one I can personally recommend.) but usually they give you a free consult to discuss the situation and they let you know if they can help or not. 
    Another thing- my daughter was going through a long period where she was sleeping really poorly and waking constantly, unless held or in her carrier. After discussing with her dr (there were other signs) we decided to try reflux meds in case she had silent reflux. On the second night she slept like a charm and has since, for the most part. Maybe something to look into? 
    Regardless- good luck. This sounds beyond exhausting. 

    One other thought—if you can afford a night doula, they can implement these types of programs for you so you can get some rest and get a break from the tears! We had a fantastic night doula who helped our baby sleep longer stretches.

    Hi there - i'm so sorry to hear that you are struggling with this. Our second was like this - she needed to be held for every single sleep. Daytime was fine - she loved a carrier, but night was hard. The thing that saved us was a snoo. I know a lot of people are against it, but it was the light at the end of the tunnel for us. It took her a few days to adjust to it, but that was our ticket to sleep. 

    We worked on putting her down drowsy and is now a champion napper and nighttime sleeper. We weaned her out of it just fine, and she transitioned to a crib perfectly once she started rolling. She is a thumb sucker when she gets super tired, and never took well to a pacifier. 

    Hang in there - if you need anything else, let me know.

    I had a baby like this. The Snoo helped a lot (I’m sorry to say because it’s so effing expensive). It was still rough because we’d only get 15-90 minute sleep windows, but it was a heck of a lot better than nothing and I know you’re probably on the brink of insanity right now!

    Hi, I am so sorry you are going through this. We held our baby at night for about two months, switching off like you. She never slept in car seat or stroller. She screamed in her car seat. We were stuck in so cal during whole southwest debacle and we drove up. Took us 10 hours and she screamed for 5. It was horrible. She refused to sleep in the crib or bassinet so I decided to try co sleeping. She slept on one side of the bed while I slept couple of feet away and fed her on demand. I never thought I would do that but here we are. It helped tremendously but I still don’t recommend it. I feel horrible all the time for doing it. She’s 5 months now and she can sleep alone for 30 mins for naps and wakes up every couple of hours to nurse at night. A month ago she started rolling so I transferred her to the crib that’s next to me. Some days are ok, some days she just wants the boob all night long. I also can’t get her to use pacifier for soothing so that’s not helping. I am soooo done with it. We never sleep trained our first one and he learned to self soothe and sleep through the night by 1st birthday. He is still a great sleeper now. I will have to sleep train her soon but I just can’t commit to it. And whatever we’re doing now is not working. I don’t really have a good advice for you other than you’re not alone and all children are different and things don’t always go according to plan. Even our doctor said at two months to let her cry a bit to learn independent sleep. They said obviously feed her if you think she’s hungry but don’t hold her. I thought that was cruel and I just couldn’t do it. I think she gradually got better on her own but in 5 months I had 3 stretches of 5 hours of sleep. I should’ve started sleep training a month ago because I don’t think I am helping her with these comfort feedings at all. Again, so sorry for my ramble but I feel for you and I hope it gets better! 

    Sounds like our kid. After a few months, we started having some success using an Ergobaby and DockATot. I'd wear him in the Ergobaby, bouncing and whatnot, until he was almost asleep, then carefully take him out and transfer him to the DockATot. I would hold him in it, rocking my arms a bit, until he'd fall asleep (5-20 minutes). Then, I would keep rocking as I very carefully lowered it down onto the bed/floor. Then, of course, you have to stay awake, keeping your eye on him, because DockATot is not a safe sleep space, unsupervised. Perhaps you could try that with a blanket that you can unroll after you lay him down. We never had success with a crib. We tried everything. Everything. My back and arms hurt a lot. I developed tennis elbow. One time, he fell asleep on his own, on the floor. It was magic. Magic that never happened again.

    I just want you to know, it will change eventually. It's hard, and it's exhausting, and sometimes, it's just the way they are.

    Ours started napping more independently and sleeping through the night around two years old. Since four years old, he mostly goes to sleep on his own. He's a great, happy, energetic kid.

    DockATot/loungers are not considered safe, so I'm not advising you to do that; just sharing my experience.

    Sleep deprivation is torture. So sorry for you all. I would say that you can take a cue from the rest of the world and all of animal kingdom and sleep next to your baby. All mammals do this and your baby is totally normal. Obviously you will be careful to not use heavy blankets. I personally had a side car that attached to the bed. A half circle crib so it’s like sharing a bed but without risk of falling or blankets. I think that it was called BabyBay or something like that. Having decent sleep will mean that you will be more alert and aware of your child it is safer when you are not overly tired. I hope that someone can take the baby for a few hours so that you can nap.

    That sounds so tough!! Our baby was pretty easy to move to sleeping on his mattress so I’m not sure if this helps, but one thing we did to ease the transition from holding to sleeping on his firm mattress was to first teach him to sleep on top of a memory foam pillow. First just his bottom would rest on it (with the pillow on our laps) while our hands were around him and supporting his neck, and gradually we removed support until he learned to like lying on it solo. We never left him alone/unobserved on it but eventually we could put the pillow on the couch/bed and he could sleep on it without being held at all. It seemed to make the transition to the much firmer mattress easier for him than when we first tried putting him directly on the unfriendly mattress! Good luck!!

    So sorry you are going through this! Have you considered trying a Snoo? And if you've never heard of it, it is a bassinet that responds to your baby waking up and goes through a series of rocking and sounds to soothe them back to sleep.

    My first child was a difficult sleeper -- this was 9+ years ago and I don't think Snoo was even invented then. I heard about it while pregnant in 2019/20 and decided to rent one. The difference between newborn sleep between the two kids was *dramatic.* Baby 2 slept well pretty much from the first night at home. Now, they are different kids and I wouldn't credit the Snoo for all of that difference, however I really think there is something to the fact that the baby is being soothed while in their bed and NOT by Mom or Dad. It helps them learn that they can fall asleep alone in bed. To this day Baby 2 (now 2.5 years) has zero interest in sleeping in our bed. She'll occasionally have a difficult night if sick (or sometimes on vacation) but that's it. 

    You can rent a Snoo, which I found to be a super easy process. When I did it it was $100/month.  Looks like now it's $159 but that there's a free trial. Try it! You won't need it for all that long anyway. It's worth a couple hundred bucks to see if it could be a solution for you.

    Hello, I'm so sorry you are going through this. We went through it too. We finally caved and hired a sleep consultant at about 13 weeks. Randi Johnson from came highly recommended from our neighbors because she follows a no-cry method. She did what's called sleep-training lite because you're right - you cannot do formal sleep training before 4 months because babies cannot self-soothe until then. It did cost $400 total for an in-person 4-hour session plus unlimited text support for a month. What works varies based on the baby. That's why Randi needs to come in, see what you're doing and what works for your LO. For our neighbors, it turns out he just needed the parents in the room until he slept (no contact) and then he'd go to sleep by himself. For our daughter, turns out we were waiting too long before putting her to sleep. We also needed to tightly swaddle and then leave her in the crib for a few mins to let her calm herself down. We also had to give her a pacifier. The room had to be dark, the white noise turned on pretty loud. Then, we had to leave the room. She'd fuss, but not cry. Most days, she was asleep in a few mins. If not, we would go over and pat her butt for a few mins and then she'd sleep by herself. $400 is steep but it was well worth it. In the past 1 month, we have done exactly 4 contact naps in total (and those were days she had bad reflux). Our daughter is going through a regression right now so it's been hard, but we're still able to manage without contact sleeping. Our sleep problems are by no means over, but our quality of life has certainly improved. Baby naps well on her own and as long as we are around to give her a paci when she wakes up, she goes right back to sleep. Also, if it helps, we sometimes miss the days our daughter would just go to sleep on us. She simply does not do it anymore and prefers to sleep on her own. The days are long but the years are short. Pretty soon, your LO will be able to sleep on his own. Until then, you can try what our neighbors did and what we did. If neither of those works, and you have $400 that you can pay, a formal sleep trainer is definitely worth it.

    This is really hard but so, so normal! You don't need to sleep train to get sleep. You can find resources that help you move in the right direction now. Also, safe cosleeping is possible. Check out resources about the safe sleep seven:

    As a society we're so black and white about this but cosleeping is common all over the world, so it's weird that it is so frowned upon here. Plus it is SO MUCH SAFER than falling asleep in a chair or on the couch with your child. I bet you'd be surprised by how many families bedshare but just don't talk about it.

    Here are some great resources about normal infant sleep/behavior/baby temperaments:

    I feel terrible for sleep training our 4 month old. It was too early and not right for her. We slept trained our son at 6 months and it was something we had to do over and over and over again. He's a highly sensitive type and I don't think it sent the right message to the poor babe. Anyhow, I gave up after a couple nights with our daughter and have supported her to sleep ever since, she's 21 months old and she does sleep through the night and has for some time. Night weaning helped a lot but I didn't do that until 18 months. If you want baby to sleep in the crib you can get there! All of the links I shared have resources and tips for getting baby to sleep not on you. It takes practice but you can do it! 

    So sorry you are going through this. My now 5 month old was similar, though not quite as difficult, and my husband and I did the same switching off holding him through the night and through naps. We also had to stop swaddling early on and that definitely made it worse! 

    Some things that worked for my baby, who now exclusively sleeps at night and naps in his crib, and is getting decent at putting himself to sleep - 

    1. A transition swaddle thing that allows for enough movement to be safe if they roll, but also restricts in a way that feels secure. We used the Amazing Baby one on Amazon. 
    2. Keep trying putting down drowsy but awake. Sometimes it would take several attempts but we would get him settled in his crib eventually.

    3. Patting his chest, holding a hand to his chest with a little gentle pressure, rubbing his head, vibrating his body a little.

    4. Trying a pack and play with the bassinet level, if baby isn’t over the weight limit. We accidentally learned on a trip that our baby slept better in this than his crib, I suspect because it sways a bit when he moves.

    5. Once you find what works, slowly reducing supports/time spent settling. 
    6. Time. My baby would only nap for 20 mins at a time for a long time. Then suddenly one day his sleep cycle shifted to 40 mins. Now he consistently does at least 40 min naps and will often put himself back to sleep after waking up.

    I liked Precious Little Sleep as a resource too. 
    Good luck!!!

    So hard!! But also soooooooo biologically normal and healthy. My son was the same way for a long time and at first I felt SO discouraged and I was sure I was doing something 'wrong'. But then I started learning about normal baby sleep and biology and it really helped me. I learned so much from Hey Sleepy Baby. Her tools allowed me to listen to my instincts to hold and nurture him and not feel the need to sleep train which wasn't a good fit for my family or parenting style. I then started to really really savor the contact naps - having my baby be so comfortable and deeply asleep on my chest, while I used the time to slow down a bit and read, listen to a podcast, watch a tv show, or text with my friends. I then used the Hey Sleepy Baby crib guide to help gently introduce my baby to sleeping on his own.... and over time, he learned to feel safe in his own bed.  I have zero regrets about the hours spent snuggling my sleeping baby. Sending love!!!

    I feel for you! Our daughter also required to be held when she was an infant, and it was really hard! (Although I was able to lay down, propped up with pillows, and have her draped across my chest at night). We decided to sleep-train her when she was four months old and I'm very glad we did. Leaning to sleep by yourself is an important skill, and while the first week of sleep-training was ROUGH, it led to a happier, more well-rested family. Sleep deprivation makes it impossible to be the parent you want to be, and it's hard on the kid, too. Our daughter is now 7 and a champion sleeper. (And every kid is different -- our son always preferred to sleep alone). We have friends and family who chose not to sleep-train and even now, years later, their bedtime operation is an hours-long process. Do what works for your family, and good luck!

    I was going to suggest sleep training also....until I read the part about the breathing and heart concerns. That changes everything, and I think you need to address that before you take any advice you get through BPN. Are those breathing and heart issues the reason your baby can't/won't sleep for long stretches on his back? Talk to your pediatrician and specifically ask for advice on this issue. See if your pediatrician can recommend a sleep expert or a developmental nurse. Through Kaiser, I discovered (after months of struggling) that I actually had access to a nurse who talked me through sleep training my son who was rejecting naps. Just FYI, sleep training isn't just "close the door and cry it out", there are many many different levels between "holding my baby to sleep" and "I just walk away and let him cry his heart out". I had to sleep train my son and at 11 years old, he's a great sleeper. I agree with you, you can't hold your baby for sleep forever, but I think your pediatrician is your first step here. Good luck!

    When you can, sleep train when it's appropriate and it will be in a few weeks. I also was afraid of my baby crying into the night and held out for 8 months- that was miserable. And once we were finally in the zone where we could sleep train, it took three nights, and he cried for less than an hour (in total) each night. I liked the method where you lay the baby down, and if they start crying, set a timer for five minutes, then go in, cuddle etc. then set them down, then timer for 7 minutes, go back in if they are still screaming, etc. Getting good naps is essential too to a few hours in a row of sleep. I echo the other reply, you will not be the parent you want to be if you cannot sleep. 

    Our first child was similar, except she wasn't easy-going during awake hours either. I just co-slept with her. It wasn't the best sleep I've ever gotten, but it was a lot more sleep than it sounds like you are getting. I tried a bunch of the stuff you are trying (although I think you have tried more things than I thought of) and nothing really seemed to work. I'm sorry it's probably not what you wanted to hear, and everyone said we were crazy to not just leave the baby crying. She's 14 now (has slept alone for years, barely tolerates sharing a queen bed in hotels now) and I'm still glad we didn't. Maybe you can hire someone or ask family/friends to help out? Since your baby is otherwise easy going, I think there's a decent chance he will one day just move on from this concept. Both my kids would insist on something until one day they just didn't and there was really no rhyme or reason to it. Sorry I don't have more helpful advice, but since you asked what others with a baby like this had done thought I would share my experience. 

    I would checkout the Instrageam Nature nurture neuroscience parenting which will help you feel much much better about what’s going on and how truly normal this is. All three of my kids went through this and the best advice I can give is to hire a housekeeper so you don’t feel stressed by the work that is going undone. I promise you’ll look back on this time fondly even if it can feel like forever in the mOment. My mantra is to be the parent my child is asking me To be. It’s not easy it’s not without sacrifice and I lose it sometimes but that’s my true north and I’ve never regretted it.

    So sorry you are dealing with this! 3 ideas:

    1) While you say your pediatrician doesn't recommend sleep training, i would consider researching a specific approached tailored to younger babies and run it by your pediatrician. There is so much value in giving your baby a little time to try to learn to self soothe. If you are interested, check out the resources in the Respectful Sleep Training/Learning facebook group. There are modified training approaches for newborn babies that involve shorter windows of letting them try to fall asleep independently and then "rescuing".  You mentioned your child has specific health concerns so i would 100% defer to pediatrician for any advice on navigating, but sleep training definitely works for younger babies in general. Mine was able to take all naps independently by 9 weeks and as well as fall asleep independently and go back to sleep independently at night (though i still fed him at night for awhile longer).

    2) Have you tried waiting more than 20 minutes of baby being asleep before transferring to crib? Once they get into a deep sleep around that duration, sometimes the transfer will stick better

    3) They are super expensive and i never used one, but you could consider hiring a night nanny, just to give your husband/you a break and preserve your mental health. I have acquaintances who used them and said it was game changing, even if just to get one or two nights a week with a break.

    Good luck - you will eventually get more sleep i promise!!!

    I’m so sorry you’re in this struggle. I know it well. My husband and I have now had two of these kinds of children; our older is 3.5 and the younger 7 months now. The only way we got through was bedsharing. At some point when my older son was very young I woke up to the sound of him screaming and walked out of the bedroom to find him on top of my unrousable husband, who had fallen asleep holding him on the couch. My husband didn’t wake up until after I took our son out of his arms. That’s when I decided to bedshare and looked up resources for how to do it as safely as possible. At a certain point, I came to believe, it’s safer to bedshare than to be chronically, severely sleep-deprived. 

    I understand, though, that this is not a choice others are comfortable with, and I get that. 

    My younger son is much more easygoing in general than the older, though he too would only sleep while held for the first few months. Among other things, he had a really strong and long-lasting startle reflex, and it was basically impossible to put him down without triggering the reflex. So I bedshared with him too—I still do sometimes, but we did start formal sleep-training a month or two ago, and it has helped quite a bit. Now the baby will go down for a few hours at night, and has learned to put himself to sleep. Because of illness and travel, we haven’t been able to push him much more than that, but even just having a few hours is wonderful. (FWIW, my older son did not respond to sleep-training basically at all and does still require help sleeping, so the results are not guaranteed in my opinion, though few people really believe that we didn’t just do it “wrong.”)

    I guess all that to say, it is really hard, but you are probably rather close to the point where you can try to sleep-train, and usually that does help at least somewhat. Good luck to you. I know all too well how hard it is.

    Sleep is hard and you're in survival mode. Totally normal to need to be carried/held for naps and to be put down to sleep at night totally asleep or needing additional patting/rocking in the crib. We loved the book Precious Little Sleep to help us learn about helping our first baby sleep. Now with twins we did formal sleep training (note that crying it out is just ONE method for sleep training. There are gentler sleep training methods but all involve some crying). The guidance is to start sleep training 16 weeks past the due date (so adjust if your baby was born late/early).

    Not sure what you're following for wake windows. Our twins sleep training group recommends 60-75 minute at your baby's age (aim for the lower number). That's not much more than eating, diaper change, and a few minutes of cuddles/play.

    I’m also sorry you’re going through this. We have a 3.5 month old and daytime naps were really hard (her eyes would fly open every time I laid her down). But right at about 12 weeks we started using the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit and her sleep improved significantly (it’s like a little cocoon). It’s seriously magic. We put it on before every nap to signal that it’s time for sleep. And eventually we’ll use it to help her transition from bassinet to crib. I started out rocking her to sleep in it before laying her down to nap. But after a couple weeks I was able to lay her down drowsy and then fully awake, and she’s able to fall and stay asleep. I hope this helps! 

    (I’d also get blackout curtains if you haven’t already!)

    We had this issue with our child, and it was scary to have him sleeping on us overnight. Anytime we tried to put him down on his back asleep, he would wake up within 10 minutes. After talking with a friend about it, she told me she had this issue with one of her kids and had him sleep on his stomach. I started doing that in the daytime just for naps and watched him while he slept on his stomach (he was fine). I nervously asked our pediatrician about stomach-sleeping and was surprised we were given the go ahead (around six weeks of age), but he was healthy and there were no risk-factors for SIDS. If you search on the BPN archives, you will see many posts about stomach-sleeping. I felt like this was our "dirty little secret" at the time, but it was a complete game changer for us. In retrospect, putting him to sleep on his stomach was probably a lot safer than having him sleep on us. Maybe have a chat with your pediatrician if this is something you want to consider.

    What you are describing sounds so hard but I believe it’s actually very normal. We went through the same thing with our daughter early on and really struggled with it. What helped was learning about safe bedsharing (Safe Sleep Seven from La Leche League and James McKenna’s book) and techniques like Kangaroo Mother Care. Sleep training never felt right for our family so I just want to let you know there are other resources out there to get more sleep. If you are on Instagram, @heysleepybaby, @cosleepy, @motherbabysleep, and @restinginmotherhood have lots of free info as well. Take care!

    First, I just want to mention that there wouldn't be so many books about infant sleep, and so many opinions if there was one thing that would work for all families. It sounds like you are doing everything you can, and you say that he's a happy baby otherwise, so he's getting enough rest (even if you and your partner are not.) Given the medical issues you mentioned, there might be something going on that makes it harder for your child to sleep. Ours was born a bit prematurely, and had some digestive issues, and mostly did need to sleep on someone's chest for the first few weeks. We did a bassinet next to the bed which made it easier to doze/sleep and notice if there was sleep apnea. We also did end up sharing a bed in the interest of everyone's sleep. In terms of safe sleep, there are ways to do it to make it relatively safe. The situations where people run into problems is co-sleeping when the parents use drugs or alcohol. The early months feel like an eternity when you are sleep deprived, but in the end, pretty much whatever the parents do, almost all children learn to sleep.

    One suggestion is the Snoo crib. You can keep swaddling even though your baby is rolling because the Snoo swaddle holds them in place on their back. It's basically a little zip up sleep sack with a velcro fold to swaddle the arms, and then you hook the whole thing into the the Snoo so they can't roll. They are expensive, but we got one used on craigslist for half the price, or you can rent them through the company. It basically mimics the feeling of being in the womb by gently swaying or jiggling depending on how upset the baby sounds and increasing the white noise level also. We liked ours a lot because you have the peace of mind that the baby is safe and not going to roll. 

    I have been there! First, a big hug to you! You must be exhausted and it is going to be ok, I promise. Our 1st child was exactly the same, I don't even think they ever made it to 24 minutes in their crib. What will work for everyone is different, but what worked for us was co-sleeping. I know you said you don't want to, but why not give it a try? We made a space in between us up at the pillow level, and I would lay down with them in that spot, my arm on them, and then they fell asleep and I could move my arm. Then I would fall asleep next to them, and they stayed asleep all night from VERY early on. We co-slept for about 18 months before they transitioned into a toddler bed when # 2 came along and it was totally fine. FWIW, #2 did NOT like to co-sleep and was fine in their crib from the beginning. Each kid is different!! Good luck finding what works for you - it will happen, I promise! It feels like it will be this way forever, but 'this too shall pass' has been my parenting mantra and you know what? It's true! Best to you! 

    Hi Mama! I have a baby (now 25 months old) like this. I hear how hard and surprising it is to have a baby that will only contact sleep! These early days take so much out of you and reveal so much hidden strength. You’re doing it! 

    While our culture views this as strange and challenging (a big disservice to new parents!) this is really normal infant sleep stuff. You are not doing anything wrong. He is not a hard baby. Babies are hard wired to want constant closeness to parents. To nurse/ feed often. To seek your warmth and comfort. Yours is very good at advocating for himself! 

    We are all different with different needs. And there are a lot of good reasons to make different choices around sleep as you see what your whole family’s needs are, as maternity leave shifts, as you navigate work. For me, embracing safe co-sleeping allowed me to attend to my baby in the way that she needed and get maximum rest. Dr. James McKenna wrote a great book on the topic called “Safe Infant Sleep” if you want to explore further. 

    Know this will change as he gets older and it is an enormous gift to allow your baby to feel safe and held in these early days. 

    I’m including my name if you want to reach out and chat further. You’re doing great. 

    Similar boat to the prior person who responded!

    Our baby is now 19months and we wish we would have done more aggressive sleep training before he was 1. Definitely wait until your baby is four months or of a certain weight (is it 11 or 13lbs?) before attempting this. It's super hard to not sleep! You are NOT alone. For those early weeks, I used a mybreastfriend nursing pillow and propped it up from underneath (more blankets and pillows etc) and all around myself so baby wouldn't fall off. I just sat in bed with the baby against me but resting on this nursing pillow which also gave my arms a place to secure our baby from rolling if I accidentally dosed. It totally sucked and was stressful, but I had peace of mind to relax a little more because that nursing pillow is pretty firm and flat. Also, a red light is helpful! It doesn't disrupt sleep at all but will spare you from feeling like you're in solitary confinement sitting in a dark room.  Baby breathing and heart concerns can definitely benefit from skin to skin, so there will be positive things from you holding your baby while he sleeps despite how challenging it is right now!

    Once you do sleep train, the most critical part will be the initial "going to sleep" and laying them down. The start of naps and bedtime- drowsy or awake. My husband and I wish we had been way more aggressive about this but it is hard when they nurse at night and fall asleep on you while feeding. Currently our baby (or toddler I guess?) is throwing horrendous tantrums because we wont hold him so he can fall sleep but that practice has incited behavioral insomnia for him and often times I only get 1-3hrs of sleep at night. Learning to fall asleep is definitly a learned skill. You don't want your baby rolling over, waking up a little and deciding to be awake for 2-5 hours while you try rocking them to sleep again. SOOOO now we are doing insane sleep training which is brutal. BRUTAL!!!

    Hang in there! When the time comes to sleep train, put them down drowsy, stick to it and you'll be in great shape and thankful you did. I wish I'd followed that advice as a new mom! We are certainly paying for it now. Until then, I know it is super hard to sit up, awake for extended hours, but your baby will benefit from it and this will be a distant memory!

    I'm so sorry you are having such a struggle with this!  The majority of newborns do sleep best when in physical contact with mom, or another loving caregiver, and need parental support and attention to fall asleep and stay asleep for long, but in most cases they don't need to be literally held in arms only in order to sleep.  It sounds to me like the root of the problem is the assumption that a crib is the only place your baby should sleep.  Sleeping alone in a crib is simply not something that human babies are wired to do, and I promise, you will all be happier and heathier if you can give up on the notion that a crib is safer than bedsharing. There are safe and unsafe ways to use a crib, and there are safe and unsafe ways to bedshare.  A baby with breathing and heart concerns, who is at a higher risk of SIDS and *should* wake frequently, is likely safest sleeping very close to a responsive parent, ideally the baby's breastfeeding mother.  And statistically, co-sleeping mothers sleep better than mothers whose babies are put down in a crib, too!  I promise you, it does not last forever and "sleep training" is not a required obligation of parenthood.  Babies do grow into big kids who don't need you to stay at their side until they're sound asleep, and then into young adults with their own apartments where they manage their own bedtime rituals just fine!  (My own kids are now 18 and 22. Neither ever 'cried it out', we adjusted bedtime and naptime routines at various times to meet their needs without undue burden on the rest of the family, and both developed healthy independent sleep habits gradually, just as they gradually developed other healthy independence around hygiene and feeding themselves.)  Also, you said that your baby does not sleep in a wrap, but only held in arms, and that's probably something you can change.  A wrap or other soft baby carrier should mimic in-arms carrying well enough to allow your baby to sleep the same way, and some adjustment to how you're wearing the wrap may solve that problem. Check out Bay Area Babywearing's free meetings with volunteer educators!  After a long pandemic hiatus, we're back; Berkeley meetings are now the 3rd Sunday of each month at Walden School.  "Wrap naps" are a wonderfully convenient thing! My own babies always napped in a sling, or later in a meh dai or SSC on my back, and my younger kid (who confounded us by rarely falling asleep nursing) was also routinely put to sleep at night by her dad walking around the block with her in a carrier (while mom read bedtime stories to the elder child).  It worked, and wasn't forever.   The good news for you is that most babies develop a more consistent sleep routine and associations somewhere around 12 weeks, so you're almost there, and this is a great time to figure out what kind of supports you want to encourage - a "lovey", white noise, etc. should work much better soon than they have so far. It can be a slow process though, so you will get much faster relief and everyone will get better sleep if you set up your home and routines to lie down next to your baby at night. :)   Best of luck to you!

    First, I feel for you and am so sorry you’re going through this!! I am curious/it might be worth re-considering the strict “sleep safe” rules. Of course that is ideal, but it isn’t always real world. I recall feeling the pressure to follow all the rules and was glad to have a pediatrician who was also a parent and said be as safe as you can while doing what you need to survive this period (which won’t last forever). If you can afford a night nanny, even once a week, that would allow you to continue safe sleeping habits, but the night nanny holds him during sleep so you both get some rest. Both of our kids started out sleeping on us at night (because that’s all they would do) and then both transitioned to the snuggle me in the bassinet. It makes them feel held and snuggled. We have one if you want to try before you buy! Our daughter used the snuggle me alone and our son we used the Ollie wrap in combination with the snuggle me. Also we didn’t use the snoo, felt too expensive, but if you think it would help, you can rent them (baby quip) again to try it before spending all that money! Sending you good vibes. This sounds so rough and I hope it gets better soon.

    I noticed your baby is rolling. Back to front or front to back? If baby isn’t rolling back to front (11 weeks would be really young to be able to do that) you could try the Merlin Magic suit. Also makes them feel held without holding. Didn’t work for our daughter but did for our son. Again, I have some if you want to try it before investing in a new one.

    Have you looked into sleep coaching programs? I haven't tried it but I've looked into Batelle Sleep School, which is an online program that promises to get your little one sleeping well in under 2 weeks. All the feedback I've seen online has been super positive. It's expensive at $1500 for the class but I think they provide support for you until your child is 6 years old. I'm not sure what the minimum age is though but it says 0-6 years on their website. Might be worth a shot for you if you are at the end of your wits!

    I know hard this is! My gosh! I'm sorry. My son was exactly the same way. I held him for the first 5 months or so staying awake from 1am to 7am everyday. He was never, and is still not a good sleeper. But I really feel like with some things, you just get who you get. I don't believe in crying it out but that is a personal decision. I am a single parent too so it was really hard cuz there was no one to help me and I'm the sole breadwinner. Parenting is hard! But it has gotten better. You're not alone. 

    I would seek out bodywork for baby--cranial sacral therapy or osteopathy or acupressure. I would look into reflux and airway sleep issues. The Merlin sleep suit can be helpful if you haven't tried that.

    Oh, I feel for you!  First of all, congratulations for making it through 11 weeks.  When I had my baby and told our pediatrician about this at our ONE week checkup, she said "that is not sustainable" and recommended we get the Snoo.  We rented the Snoo from rents4baby (much less hassle than buying it and trying to re-sell) and it did not solve the problem, but allowed us to get a little more sleep and basically survive until we did cry-it-out sleep training.  We started sleep training around 16/17 weeks and it was successful by 19 weeks.  I would suggest talking to the pediatrician about your child's specific possible health issue(s) and if they think there is a *medical* reason to not cry it out once the baby is just a bit older.  What I mean is, your pediatrician might not "recommend" cry-it-out sleep training, but they should be able to talk to you about if there are any specific reasons regarding your baby, or if it's just their general thinking.  We worked with a sleep consultant and she said 16 weeks is the ideal time to start sleep training for most babies, but of course if there are medical concerns it might be different.  My mental and physical health improved so much after we got our daughter to sleep independently in her crib.  That was two years ago and she is really thriving, and loves her sleep.  Btw, the sleep consult was really there to help the us, the parents, get through sleep training - I needed some reassurance that we would get through it.  Another resource that was super helpful was the Facebook group Respectful Sleep Training/Learning.  In summary, I agree with the first commenter - you just need to get through a few more weeks and you'll be on to the next phase.  

    That's so hard! My baby needed to be held/bounced for naps but we had a night doula for the first month. She instilled the habit of baby going into the crib for night sleep, so that was a great starting point for us. My baby also did not sleep in the stroller or the car, and actually was a terrible sleeper until she learned to do it independently. (She actually sleeps more now at nearly 19 months than she did when she was a newborn...)

    I highly recommend the book Precious Little Sleep, as well as the associated Facebook group if you don't have the mental wherewithal to read an entire book right now. The group can give you tips if you give them wake time and bedtime, wake windows, and bedtime routine. I've definitely seen posts from parents exactly in your situation. IIRC the general tips are to put them down completely awake (no nursing to sleep here!), then pat them on the chest until they fall asleep. The next night, pat them less. It's not quite so simple IRL, but the idea is to replicate a bit of the movement while also giving them some space to learn how to sleep on their own. This is what I did for my baby's contact naps, and she was taking most of her naps in the crib by herself about a week later. The first time I did the patting, she screamed in my face for an hour, and slept for 20 minutes, hah. But it was better the next day already. (And then I learned she actually did better when I was out of the room entirely, so that got easier!)

    I started trying some of the tips about wake windows and bedtime routines when my baby was 9 weeks old, and she took to it extremely well! To my utter surprise, she actually started sleeping through the night on her own with no feeds at 13.5 weeks. (I had expected to do night feeds for months.) She's never stopped sleeping through the night, no sleep regressions. I'm confident she can sleep on her own, so if she has trouble, I know it's time for a schedule change.

    Best of luck! They're so little but they're capable of learning so much if you give them the space to do so.

    For babies like yours you might want to try renting a snoo.  You're almost at the end of the point where you'd still be able to use it, but I've had a number of friends get some much needed relief from it.  You might also try looking at some of the advice in the book Precious Little Sleep.  My partner and I thought that was one of the better books we came across for sleep.

    It's important to also know that you shouldn't blame yourself or think you're doing anything wrong, especially at 11 weeks.

    Oh, gosh, this is so, so hard. I'm sorry, I know it feels like it will be this way forever. What you are going through is so common with infants this young; you're still in the 4th trimester! It's natural for newborns to want to be close to their caregivers. I know you said you want to avoid co-sleeping, but I would recommend looking at the "safe sleep 7". It is really common to co-sleep (most countries outside of the US do!), and you want to make sure you are doing so safely. I know you don't want to put your baby in an unsafe situation, so I highly, highly recommend learning how to sleep together safely.

    It's not forever! Babies CAN and DO learn to self-soothe. You are in the trenches right now. It gets easier, I promise. I had a child who was similar, wanted to be held all the time. We co-slept until he was almost a year, and contact napped as much as possible. Once he turned a year, he transitioned to the crib and mostly sleeps through the night still at 2 years old. We chose not to sleep train, and he still developed the tools to help him sleep independently. All children are so different and change typically doesn't happen quickly, so please take care of yourself!

    I'm sorry you're going through this, sounds so hard. As a mom of a 4 year old who has gone through lots of sleep deprivation, I feel you! 

    Short term fix: Have you tried using a baby carrier or sling so you could at least fall asleep sitting up in a chair without fear of dropping him? 

    For better long term advice I really recommend this facebook group: We had and continue to have lots of sleep issues and I keep finding support and useful advice there. 

    My child was like this - a very challenging situation that I've seen referred to as "barnacle babies." It's so difficult to balance safe sleep with sanity. First, just know you're not alone and you're not doing anything wrong. It sounds like you're doing all the right things in terms of trying to create a good sleep environment. My child also preferred to be held while sleeping. It's so difficult physically and mentally to be that sleep deprived.

    What we did was rent a snoo. That helped with night sleep. The motion of the snoo seemed to help my child forget that they were no longer being held. We held our child for naps until 6 months old when we slowly started working on placing in the crib. It seemed by that age our child was more ready to nap in the crib. At 5 months old we hired a sleep consultant who basically walked us through Ferber. Unfortunately, it didn't work for us. Even the sleep consultant was surprised and said she didn't expect so much crying after weeks of sticking to the plan. If you are thinking of hiring a sleep consultant, make sure your sleep consultant is flexible and will tailor the plan to your baby. I felt ours did not do that and that's perhaps why it didn't work. For us, sleep training was a pretty painful process to end up with no results. Looking back, I wish we had hired a night nurse or doula to allow us to catch up on sleep and perhaps work with our baby on being put down for sleep. Once our baby become bigger, we started cosleeping (I was vehemently against the idea for safety reasons) and it has made a difference. Another thing that has helped has been to be prepared - when I'm going to put my child down to sleep I wear an air pod and listen to a podcast to keep me engaged. Sleep stuff is so hard and and there is so much judgment. Please know that you're the expert on your child and you're doing your absolute best! Feel free to message me if you want to chat further. 

    This sounds so so hard. I wonder if there could be something going on that makes your baby uncomfortable when placed on his back? Something like reflux or muscle tension? I have found that doctors are sometimes really dismissive of sleep issues, but you could try pursuing a referral for evaluation through PT, craniosacral, or another specialist if your intuition tells you there could be something there. 

    Absolutely no judgement if you ultimately decide that sleep training is right for your child and your family. But there is a lot of misinformation out there, pushing the idea that sleep is a learned skill. It is possible to be responsive and supportive of your baby, while also setting realistic and developmentally appropriate boundaries. And those boundaries can change as your child gets older, just as they will in other areas of your child's life! No study has shown a correlation between older children or adults' sleep quality/independence and whether they were sleep trained. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, there are things you can do to work toward more independent sleep. If you're on Instagram, I highly recommend @heysleepybaby and @paulamoralesmcdowell. To address your worry about falling asleep with your baby - that is so real! That's why learning about safe cosleeping can be really important and empowering. For that, I'd check out @candacestjohn.mph and @cosleepy.

    Sending love and support for this challenging season that you're in!

    I was given the book Sweet Sleep, published by La Leche League international, and found it very reassuring. It is well researched, covers a lot of sleep issues and challenges, and it helped me feel comfortable with our choice to bedshare. I've also read reviews for Safe Infant Sleep which seems like another good one. The basic message is that it's totally normal for a baby to want to sleep on his mom-- you are his source of comfort and basic survival-- and it can be done safely with a few common-sense precautions. The US is an outlier in the no co-sleeping recommendation. My 8-month old still only sleeps on a person (in the ergo carrier) or in the stroller or carseat (I have occasionally tried to see if I can set him down or sneak away, and he usually wakes within 5 minutes) but it's not a problem for us. I do look forward to independent sleep some day, but I get plenty of sleep with my baby in bed with me.

    Co-sleeping sounds like it may be out of the question for you, but one of the points made in Sweet Sleep is that when an exhausted parent falls asleep with their baby by accident, because they are trying to follow the no bed-sharing rules and sit up awake with their sleeping child, that is actually far more dangerous than intentionally sleeping with your baby. You could end up dropping him, or sleeping on an unsafe surface where there are suffocation hazards. Even if you don't want to cosleep as a habit long-term, you might consider it as a necessary emergency compromise, and make sure you do it safely.

    This seems like quite a struggle I can't even imagine. Though it seems like you have tried everything I thought I'd throw out a couple more ideas. A friend who has 4 kids visited to help me for week when ours was a couple weeks old and helped us realize she was too cold. We kept adding layers and eventually she now sleeps solidly. She wears socks, 2 cotton onesies, and a 3.0 sleep sack, and uses a pacifier. The room is about 67deg for reference so it's way more clothing than suggested by charts but take one layer off and she will fuss the entire night.

    Another controversial suggestion is to consider researching how to bedshare safely and go that route. It's the norm in many other cultures just not here in the US. We just moved from Europe and it is much more common and less shamed there, and I know it's the norm in many Asian cultures. From what you describe is happening, it may be the more sustainable and safer option for everyone. 

    It is incredibly hard and you have to find what works for you. We swaddled and co-slept (which can be done safely), and sounds like it may not work for you, but we wore our baby in a Moby and bounced (taking turns so one of us could sleep). Also used a night doula for a short while. We never used a crib and don't regret it. We also never sleep trained. Our child is much older now, and we are still glad we did what we did because she had biological issues we weren't aware of then and she would have had a very hard time, unreasonably hard, with sleep training or any kind of forced separation. Still, all families are different and you have to do what works for you. There's plenty of time to learn to self-soothe.

    I highly recommend sleep training, which we started when our kid was 12 weeks old! We use Sleep Wise Consulting, who helped with an individualized sleep plan and coach. Our kid still sleeps 12+ hours a night, and took excellent naps. Best money we've spent as parents. Good luck!

    This is so hard, but it gets better. Our son was exactly the same, wouldn't sleep alone and we tried everything. The one thing that kinda of helped for night sleeping was we got a travel pack and play with a zip window. We put him in there with the window unzipped, one of us would lay next to him till he fell asleep then after about an hour we could zip up the window and get a few hours of sleep alone. I know it doesn't seem like it now but you'll look back years later and appreciate all the extra cuddle time you had.

  • My husband and I live in redwood heights neighborhood in Oakland. We have a 2.5 week old who is extremely gassy and refused to sleep anywhere but our chest. She only sleeps if one of us is holding her. She’s uncomfortable and screaming when she is in the bassinet. We are desperate and need help training her to sleep at nights. 

    Please advise on night nurse services I can use starting immediately. We are extremely sleep deprived. 

    thank you so very much 

    Hello. You might want to check into whether your daughter has acid reflux. When our daughter was born she hated lying down flat in her bassinet (even when we were still in the hospital after birth). In fact, once when I needed to wake her up I simply laid her in there and she woke up right away! Lying down increases the symptoms. Our daughter's sphincter muscle wasn't developed enough, so acid was going further upward. Once she was diagnosed, we were given a regimen (keeping her sitting upright for 15 minutes after feedings, putting the bassinet in a leaning position at the top so she would be angled downwards when lying down) and medication. Sometimes she also slept in a baby seat that kept her in a more upward position. She had to be on the medication a full year (which was the upper end of their estimate for now long she would need it), but things definitely improved. Good luck!

    Oh I feel for you and your little one! You may have already done this but have they ruled out any medical conditions that may be contributing? I hope you find someone soon who can provide some much needed relief so you can get some rest. Hang in there!

    Not sure about availability but I recommend Nikole Dennan without reservations. Hope you can get the rest you need soon!

    Solidarity! We also had a very challenged sleeper with similar issues (she is now 20 months and things are much better). We used a few different night doulas and would recommend Nikole: and Denise Macko: They can let you know an age-appropriate approach for helping you get more sleep. 2.5 weeks is really in the thick of it and too early for classic sleep training (if you go that route), but they can help you troubleshoot things like helping your baby get used to sleeping on their own surface.

    Also from one parent of a gassy baby to another - one of our night doulas (not listed here because she has stopped taking clients for now) recommended the Snoo. It was a lifesaver. In addition, the night doula clipped a very light, small pillow to the back of the Snoo, which rested on our daughter's legs at night and which helped keep our daughter's legs from flailing about.* The doula figured out that when our daughter would kick her legs up (and she would kick them into a 90 degree angle with her body at the top of her sleep cycle), this would activate her gas and she would wake up screaming. Without the leg kicking, the gas stayed settled until I got up to nurse her. The doula supervised her with this approach for a number of weeks before we were comfortable trying it on our own, but that along with the Snoo rocking was a game changer for us. At any rate, an experienced doula has seen everything and can figure out something that works for you. 

    *If you don't know anything about the Snoo, your child clips into it such that they cannot role or spin around in it. Because our daughter was fastened in with the Snoo clips, and the pillow was fastened to the base of the Snoo, there was 0 chance that the pillow would accidentally wind up over our daughter's head. I flag that here, though, because this approach should absolutely not be tried with any other setup.

    Just wanted to second the comment about the snoo, and the pillow-on-legs trick. We used safety pins to make sure the pillow didn't move, and she slept much better. The Snoo website also has a suggestion with using a bag of rice for babies who only sleep on people. I don't know if that's recommended anymore since apparently weighted sleep sacks are not, but worth a look. You can rent the Snoo to avoid the giant price tag. 

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3 week old wants to be held all the time

February 2003

Help! My 3 week old son wants to be held all the time. I cannot put him down without him crying within 5-20 minutes. He sleeps with me at night, and other than that, only sleeps if someone is holding him. I've tried white noise and womb sounds. Everyone keeps saying he's too little to have him cry it out. He's barely 8 pounds. Thanks for any advice. lee

When we had this problem we discovered that our newborn would sleep in the carseat, or in the reclined stroller. Unfortunately, later we had to wean him from sleeping reclined and have him learn to sleep more flat, but we were able to wait until he was a few months old (though he slept in the carseat far longer than we would have liked.) We ended up buying a special wedge that went under the crib sheet so he would be somewhat reclined, but it was not until he was about 5 months old that he would sleep in the crib consistently. I think it was worth it not to have to hold him constantly, which was exhausting and we wouldn't have gotten much sleep. It is worth a try, good luck. Laura

Have you invested in a sling? Try wearing him a sling so that your hands are free but you don't have to put him down. 3 weeks is still very very young, he doesn't know that he's not still a part of your body, so by keeping him close you'll help him to feel secure so that you will be able to put him down eventually. I know it's a hassle to have to schlep a baby around everywhere you go, but at least the sling will provide you with some freedom to use your arms and hands Jill

This sounds totally normal. It won't last for ever. In a matter of weeks he'll be interested enough in staring at the world around him that you can put him down for longer. And he'll just keep getting more independent. I read something interesting in, I think, one of the Sears books: Human babies emerge much less developed than most animal babies (much more dependent, for longer) so think of the first 9 mos. out of the womb as the second half of gestation. That means a lot of holding. For now, get a sling and a baby bjorn. Let him sleep in the sling while you read. (At some point you might find you can slip the sling off and put it on the bed or in a crib and he'll remain asleep. It will smell like you, which will help.) Get a headset and you can chat on the phone while he's eating or sleeping. And nap with him because you probably need more sleep! If friends are still offering to help, enlist them in some babyholding, while you cook or shower or do whatever you need to do. Go out to cafes with him in a sling or baby bjorn. Good luck. mary

You might try a bouncy seat. Take off the stimulating toy bar and turn on the vibrator. Our two kids slept well in the seat (make sure you get one that reclines nice and far) and it had the advantage of being a safe, portable place to put them while they were awake. They could watch us work and do things and nod off if they were sleepy. virginia

Most newborns want to be held all the time. It's the nature of a baby. Get a sling that is comfortable for you (the new native sling seems really good for young ones and are often on Marketplace on this list.) annon

Most 3 week olds want to be, need to be, and should be held and cuddled as much as possible. You are its mama, it is your baby - follow your instincts, not the dominant paradigm (detachment parenting). It really is ok to hold your baby as much as possible. In fact it is the best thing that you can do for your little one. You can't spoil a baby with love, and at 3 weeks old, its wants are its needs. Do you have a sling? Last bit of advice - read up on the negative aspects of the cry-it-out method, and make an informed decision on whether or not you are willing to subject your child to it. Congratulations! Marianne

My now 10 week old was the same as your child for his first 4-5 weeks. Hopefully your child will outgrow this stage as mine did. Try to remember that for 40 weeks your child was in a comfortable place and the outside world is a new and pretty wild environment. It was hard but I would hold my son, feed him and sleep with him all day and night until he was ready go it alone. The baby bjorn would help while outside and preparing meals. When I did put him down, I would swaddle him in a blanket so he would feel comforted and secure. There were times we had to let him cry it out while I would play with his older brother or while driving and that was tough -- I have been through lots and lots of breast pads. Try your best to enjoy it and put all housework, cooking and moderate personal hygiene aside until he grows a bit older. I did, and now feel I have happy infant who will ''play'' (sit/lay down) independently while I tend to other things. He is now moving into a daily routine that includes 3 naps and 6+ hours sleeping at night in his crib!!!! Courtney

It is exhausting to have a baby that needs to be held all the time, but your friends/relatives are right -- he is way too little to be ''crying it out.'' Get some help if you can but give in to your son's needs. He's learning about the world and whether to trust the people around him to take care of him. Sign me, Believes in cuddling babies

My daughter was like this and I actually held her as much as possible, usually nursing her, as well, until she was about three months old and her need tapered off somewhat. I took the opportunity to finish some long novels (I recommend Proust and a big armchair). She was my first child and I thought I would give her what she wanted/needed as much as I could. When I started back at work, we hired a nanny who also held my daughter A LOT-- this need (not all the time, but still more than my friends' children) continued until she started nursery school at age 2 1/2. Now, this daughter is five, and I'm glad we held her as much as we did. She is extremely sensitive, compassionate, and intelligent, but also happy and content. She is not spoiled. My feeling now is that if we hadn't held her and given her what she wanted/needed as an infant, she would not be happy and well- adjusted (although of course there's no way to know for sure) because she is extremely sensitive--both artistically and physically. Also, she is very connected to me--despite my working a lot--and that really does help us get through tough spots. It is difficult to hold a baby all the time, but it's your one opportunity to do so in her lifetime and, in my experience, is worth it. Get a sling. Co-sleep. Do your best. Time will fly by and you'll be glad you held your baby, believe me. And good luck. Carrie

There's nothing wrong with a 3 week old baby wanting to be held all the time. If you need a break, why don't you try to get someone else to hold the baby sometimes? Danielle

Your 3 week old is quite normal. My daughter who is now 5 months, also needed to be held all the time for the first few months. And the advice you have been given about your child being too young to let cry it out is CORRECT. Your child does not understand the consequences of his/her actions. In fact, your baby does not understand that you and he/she are separate entities! This faze does not last forever. Your child will eventually feel comfortable playing by his/herself. As for sleeping on you, that too is natural. We began ''sleep training'' at around 3 months. I would recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, it has helped us tremendously to give our daughter what she needs and also give us time for ourselves. I remember how exausted and difficult it was when she was 3 weeks, but it WILL get easier, and you will get sleep! Just think how challenging it must be for a being that has only been in this world for 3 weeks and is growing and learning at a fenomenal rate to adjust. new mom

Hi. i have an 8mo old who still wants to be held most of the time. i know most of your family and friends probably tell you to just put them down and let them cry but i think this is a terrible way to parent. babies need to be held. they are new to the world and need to know that their needs are going to be met by their parents. they may need to eat more than you think or just be comforted by nursing. we co sleep and my son would only sleep in my arms so he always slept on my chest at night. not meeting their needs in this critical period could lead to insecurity and confidence problems later on. La Leche meetings are a great place to get advice from other compassionate moms. and their weight has nothing to do with how long they should sleep or cry. don't let anyone tell you differently, please. i dont' know any babies , esp breastfed babies, who sleep through the night. my son is 8 mo old and wakes up about every 2 hours to feed, sometimes more. The Baby Book by Dr. Sears is a decent book with advice on this subject. best of luck. Julie

I understand how you can be frustrated at holding a child so much, but I would like to offer you support for holding him. He just came from your womb, where he was in constant contact with you. He seems to still need that contact. Don't rush him. He will start to need that contact less as time goes on. I know it seems like this is going on forever right now, but it will end. I know the pressure to let a baby ''cry it through'' is heavy, but I encourage you to stand up to it. We expect our babies to grow up way too fast. But I can sympathize with the desire to have a moment to yourself. Being a new mom is the hardest job I've ever done. I recently published a wonderful article, ''Connections'' in BOOKS AND BABIES by new mom Carla Weiss Jeffrey which might help you feel that you are not alone in all that craziness. You can find it by copying and pasting the following long address into your web broswer window: Good luck to you! Amy

I'm sure this isn't what you want to hear, but your baby may need to be held a great deal of the day. 3 weeks is way, way too young for crying it out -- at this time in his life, your baby can't differentiate between something he wants, and something he needs -- and if you leave him to cry it out he will only become insecure. Your baby sounds like he might be a high-need baby (Dr. Sears explains this concept pretty well in his Baby Book), and putting him down a lot may make him even more fussy than he already is. In most non-Western cultures, babies are held almost all of the time, and there is quite a bit of evidence that this makes them healthier, faster developing, and independent earlier than babies who are put in carriers and cribs most of the day. There's a great book called ''The Vital Touch'' by Sharon Heller that explains these theories. I'm sure you can't do this all by yourself, though (moms in non-Western cultures tend to have lots more help than we here in the US do). Are there any resources that can help you? Spouse, grandparents, friends? Can you afford a part-time nanny? Or can you get a sling or Baby Bjorn carrier, so that at least you can have your hands free to do other things while carrying him? Also, at 2-3 months babies tend to mature a little bit, and be able to sleep for more extended periods of time, especially at night. This may ease the burden on you. anonymous

My child was much the same as yours -- drove me nuts, but what to do? This was his nature. So I (sort of) accepted the fact that my life was temporarily no longer my own, held him all the time and read a lot of books! Don't worry, this too shall pass. Anon

Yes, of course your baby misses the womb. I can't imagine anything more heartbreaking for a newborn than to be allowed to ''cry it out''. I know you're going to get a million responses telling you to get a sling or a carrier like a Bjorn. You did not mention that you are using one. I wouldn't have been able to make it through my baby's first 6 months without my sling and my Bjorn (I used both). You can go about your life AND hold your baby. I would also like to suggest Dr. Sears' Baby Book. The book discusses at length how to resolve your issues with your newborn. Mary

Yes, your baby is MUCH to young to be left to cry (even assuming you think it's okay to do that to an older baby) and his needing to be held so much is NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL. Get a sling, or a front carrier. ''Wearing'' your baby will allow you to go about your day without putting him down and is likely to result in longer naps. Get as much help as you can from loving relatives and friends; having someone come over to hold the baby while you shower can be a godsend. You can also try a swing, vibrating bouncy seat, or similar things; often a baby who is tired but won't sleep can be soothed by gentle, consistent motion. One way to provide that is to hold him and walk around, but sometimes an artificial substitute will work for a while.

And then, wait. It's perfectly normal for newborns to insist on being held at all times, especially in order to sleep; after all, they're used to being 'held' in the womb 24/7 and adjusting to life on the outside is HARD for an undeveloped nervous system! In about another 9 weeks, more or less, you'll find that your baby is more and more able to be content in a bouncy seat or on a blanket on the floor, watching you or batting at toys. As for sleeping, wait at least a few more months before you resort to ''cry it out'' training methods. In the meantime, please read the book ''The No Cry Sleep Solution'' by Elizabeth Pantley. It will help you develop gentler methods of helping you and your baby to get enough sleep. Good luck! Holly

My baby insisted on being held all of the time until he was 3 months old. I tried every trick in the book to try to get him to sleep on his own. Nothing worked. As I was preparing to go back to work, we successfully Ferberized him (although it took him 3 weeks to really get the hang of going to sleep on his own). Anyway, he is now six months old and is far more independent. Hang in there and try to enjoy the cuddle time! I think it's just a phase. Anon

Congratulations on your new baby. I have a 9 week old. My 2 1/2 year-old daughter sounds similar to your child. She would only sleep 30 min. at a time, sometimes only if being held. She pretty much wanted to be held all the time for the first 6 months of her life. I am convinced it is temperment. My new little one is completely the opposite. What worked for us was pretty much wearing our daughter in a Baby Bjorn pack all day. We could do what we wanted and needed to do and she was content. We also found that when we spent all day trying to put her down, we were resentful of her and worn out. Once we gave in to her need to be held, we were all much happier. Dr. Sears books were very helpful and supportive for us. HH

Sorry you're having such a rough first few weeks. I only have one child at this time so I don't know how much help I am, but my feeling is that for the first few months you just have to do what you have to do to stay sane. If that means holding the baby all the time, then just do it. It will pass. Parenthood is the most demanding job on the planet and just remember you're not alone. AH

My daughter was very similar to this...we used a sling to carry her around while we did other things. Also, we used a vibrating bouncy chair...this would often put her to sleep for at least 1 hour. Also, if she fell asleep in her car seat, I would bring it into the house and leave her in it until she woke on her own. I wouldn't let her cry it out...the first 6 months are all about teaching your child that he/she can trust you to meet their needs. It will get better. Keep trying to put him down for short periods of time too...this will work better as he gets older and becomes interested in his surroundings and toys. Good luck. cecilia

I want to preface my ''advice'' by saying that I am very biased toward baby holding. Now here it goes. Some babies have a stronger need to be held than others. Our son wanted to be held non-stop for many months, and we listened to both our intuition and advice we trusted and held him as much as he wanted. We've never regretted this decision! Close physical contact is the norm in some cultures, and many people think it is an essential need for infants - some are just louder about it. You may want to read the Sears' Baby Book, and/or their ''Fussy Baby and High Needs Child'' book (I think it's called a different name now). Both books were life-savers for us. Another book that may be helpful is Meredith Small's ''Our Babies, Ourselves'' - a heartbreaking, compelling study she cites concluded that African babies in a very poor region who were most ''high need'' had much higher survival rates than their quieter counterparts - because their needs were attended to more! Even though you're not talking about physical survival, I believe emotional well-being requires trust that our needs matter and will be attended to as much as possible. In short - trust that your baby is telling you what he needs, and as much as you can, try to meet his needs. It may mean getting more support than you ever imagined you might need, inclusing having as many other people holding him as you can find. Connecting with ''attachment parenting'' groups in the area and/or with La Leche League might also be helpful. A very helpful ''prop'' for us was the Baby Bundler (you can find it on the web, I believe) - a long cloth that wraps around mother and baby together and gives back, shoulder and waist support to hold the baby's weight. It saved my back and neck. Good luck, and enjoy your wise little one! Inbal

Do you have an infant carrier, either a baby bjorn, sling or some other carrier? If not, run out and get one today - it will make life with new baby so much easier. The carrier allows you to hold your baby, while giving you two free arms. Get used to wearing her constantly and you will be a lot happier! When my daughter was born, I was not prepared for how much I would have to hold her. She needed to be held all the time which for me was the hardest thing about adjusting to motherhood. I had pictured her sleeping most of the day away in the bassinet - which was so far from reality. She would cry as soon as she was put down, and slept only when held. As soon as she weighed enough (8 lbs?) I strapped her into the baby bjorn and basically wore her all day long. (There is no weight minimum for a sling, and I would have used one the day I came home from the hospital if I had known it would work so well.) It is the natural thing for newborns to need to be held close by their mother or parent or whoever. Some people may tell you that you need to put the baby down so they learn to be independent, etc. etc. I totally disagree with that - I wore my daughter in a baby bjorn constantly - it was the only way I could survive those first few months, get anything accomplished and feel like a half way normal person - and today she is as independent and happy playing by herself as any other 12 month old. Good luck to you - trust me the time flies by. hmb

Get yourself a sling - one of those ''New Native'' types that's like a big pocket - and plop your newborn in. He'll think he's back in the womb, all scrunched up warm next to you, and probably go right to sleep. Meanwhile, you'll have both hands free to go about your business. You'll both be happier. Good luck! Julie T.

My first child was like this (but not my second). She wanted nothing to do with strollers, car seats, etc. Boy could she cry. At naptime I would nurse her to sleep, put her in the cradle and 2 minutes later she was up. Aaarrgh! It took me awhile to recognize that she happily napped for 2 hours in a sling or being held. Yes, this lasted 5-6 months and voila! she was through with that and napping in the bed. It was a mystery to me since she was my first. The good news is we are not alone. I have heard many stories like this. Crying it out at this age (or any age for that matter) I wouldn't recommend. Talk to your pediatrician, try a homeopath, do infant massage. Read Dr. Sears books about high-need children. Get a good baby carrier. I liked the sling, the baby bundler-this one especially for long periods, and the baby trekker. You can still get a few things done while carrying your little one. I know how draining this can be. I definitely would classify my daughter as high-need from the get go. Once I accepted that it made it easier to meet those needs. Anon

One more tip: My son, now 17 months, would wake up the moment he was put down when he was an newborn/infant. We held him as much as we could, but we also discovered that if we swaddled him very snugly so that his arms didn't get in his face, he would stay asleep after being put down. We still put him to bed this way (awake). Good luck! Deborah

I have five children - to varying degrees they all wanted to be held most of the time they were awake as newborns. My second child especially would cry if I put him down at all. I remember reading at the time that in some cultures it is considered bad luck to let a child touch the ground for the first six months of life. It took some adjustment, but I found that the best way to handle things was to give a newborn all the holding they needed. I think my first child used to breastfeed every twenty minutes...I mangaged to sleep (very well) by sleeping with her in the bed beside me. While other mothers complained about exhaustion, I felt strength returning, and I think the closeness was reassuring to the child. I felt protected from the terrors of 'cot death' by knowing my child was right next to me, and hopefully I would respond to any change in her breathing at night. It wasn't very compatible with studying! (I was in the middle of a demanding undergraduate course when my daughter was born.) Yet somehow I hope giving my children what they needed as infants may have made them stronger, more compassionate people...I'm still finding out, as we move through the teenage years.

Hi! My baby wanted to be on my hands all the time - up to age 2 months i think. I held her with pleasure first but then she got heavier and my back was so sore! here's what we did - when she feel asleep on my hands we placed a blanket on her back ( so you can lift her on it later) and press a pillow or a flat thick blanket against her back. She falls asleep and then you put her down ( slowely) - she doesn't feel because she had the pressure of the pillow on her back. Sometimes it worked. But consider just waiting - she is very small yet and she will outgrow it very soon. I remember myself complaining to all my friends about the same thing. Also later i let her cry a litle bit in the crib and then she fell asleep. Two- three days - she got used to falling asleep on her own. nBabies are amazingly adjustive creatures! You can teach her to play on her own in the crib or bassinet also. E-mail me if you have other question! Good luck! Natalia

7-week-old must be held - screaming and not getting enough sleep

Sept. 2004

My son is a little over 7 weeks old and has developed some sleep patterns that we need advice on. When he was about 3 weeks old, he decided that he would not sleep in his bed during the day. He takes great naps, but only on people or in the Bjorn. He won't even stay asleep in his stroller for more than a short amount of time. I could accept that he just needed to be close to his parents so I let him sleep on me. However, about two weeks ago, he began having these screaming fits in the evenings. This is not just fussiness, this is him screaming hysterically until he loses his breath. The fits last from 10 minutes to an hour. It seems to me that they are caused by exhaustion. The kid seems to need to sleep, but unable to let himself. The nights when the screaming lasts longer follow the days when he has not gotten that much sleep during the day. (This is connected, I think, to his need to sleep on people all day long, because sometimes he will wake up when I adjust him or when a noise startles him.) Sometimes I can rock or walk him to sleep during the fits and sometimes they last so long that he gets hungry again and I am able to nurse him to sleep. And by the way, usually the kid sleeps like a champ at night. He falls asleep nursing and sleeps for long stretches in in his bed. (The only exception to this is when he has not slept much during the day and then he is overly tired and wakes up more frequently.)

So my questions for you are:
- has anyone had a similar experience and what did you do?
- what can we do to make sure he sleeps enough during the day?
- is there anything we can do to prevent the nighttime screaming fits?
- if not, any advice on how to cope better? any idea how long they last? Lupine

sears birth to 2 years has a really good section on sleep. small babies take about 20 minutes to fall into deep sleep - then you can move them with impunity. I used to have my son fall asleep on a pad or blanket and then move the whole as one unit to lessen the disturbance. it worked really well.

as for the screaming sounds like maybe a bit colicky? not really an issue for me but he did get pretty fussy in the evenings and sometimes just cried the whole time. we bounced him to sleep holding him on an exercise ball (usually while watching a DVD with subtitles and the volume low). around that time too we started nightly bathing which distracted him from crankiness and relaxed him. good luck anon

11 week old needs to be held for naps

July 2007

My daughter is almost 11 weeks old. She sleeps very well at night in her own crib. She goes to bed at 10PM, and usually wakes twice for feedings before 9:00AM. Once she wakes in the morning though, she will not nap in her crib or bassinette. She needs to be held for her to sleep. She will take little cat naps in her bouncy chair or swing, but other than that I'm holding her all day. I appreciate the time with her, but I am concerned about her being able to sleep on her own since she will be going to daycare next month. I don't have the heart to leave her in her crib and let her cry herself to sleep, is this my only option? anon

Get a sling! I got a hotsling with my second and swore by it... I give it as a gift (along with a my breast friend pillow) for every preggo woman I know. You can just tote the babe around with you with your hands free. And PLEASE don't worry about people who tell you that your baby will be too ''clingy'' later if you sling her. My now 16 month old is a fiercely independent little girl who is uber-confident and funny. My oldest, who was not in a sling b/c I lived in a cave when I had him (well, Bakersfield... close to a cave) is more cautious and shy (but still very funny and confident... just more attached to us now at 3 years old). weird how that worked out... it's nature, I guess. And don't worry about daycare. They work magic, believe me. They will get her to sleep... you'd be surprised how adaptable babies are. Slinger

get the book, ''healthy sleep habits, happy child.'' it might be early to expect too much from your child in terms of sleeping habits. however, with two of my own, i usually got them to sleep in their crib alone by this time. but, i did nurse them to sleep and sneak them in until they learned to sleep alone in there. my second is 6 months now and sleeps well alone in her crib. she was harder - i could only ''trick'' her into sleeping in there for a few months, then i had to let her cry it out to get her to sleep since she would wake up after the breast. they are so resisitant since life is so fun, but the earlier you set up ''rules'' the better. it is for their own good. anon

I don't exactly have any great information for you. My daughter is almost 8 months old now, and we have had the same issue with her since she was born. She is a WONDERFUL nighttime sleeper--so we're not complaining!--but she won't nap if you put her down. I stayed home for 4 months and I held her in the sling so she would nap. Everyone thought I had spoiled her, but it was really more that the sling was a response to the fact that she would never stay asleep if I laid her down. In retrospect, it turns out that she had reflux which was waking her up--I guess by nighttime she was too exhausted to wake up--I don't know, it didn't make sense to me--but by the time we figured that out, she had definitely become accustomed to being held all the time. Now at 8 mos. she will nap for only a short period of time in her crib without waking. White noise has helped some. As has rushing in at the first sound of waking and nursing her back to sleep before she wakes up completely. That usually gets me about another 30 minutes. Elizabeth Pantley's book ''no cry sleep solution'' has some info on napping which was helpful--like you, I am not willing to let her cry it out--but good luck--it's really hard to get any info (or sympathy) on what to do with a good nighttime sleeper who won't nap! I'm well rested in the AM, but EXHAUSTED by the end of the day with my cranky, tired afternoon baby! anon

I had lots of issues at that age with my daughter not wanting to sleep or nap. By that age, we would rock her to sleep, she would sleep most of the night in her crib, many times we would resort to the swing in the middle of the night and all her daytime naps were in the swing or car seat. We read parts of two books for help: Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. I think you are right that your daughter is a little young for letting her cry. We started full on sleep training at 4 months (because I was going back to work as well). The key for us was not nursing/rocking her to sleep and getting her into her crib ''drowsy but awake'' at bedtime. The naps fell into place later. Here are my suggestions for you now: Try getting her on a nap routine now. Don't let her become overtired during the day. Babies this age take 3-4 naps a day. If she has been awake for 2 hours, try getting her to take a nap. Work on getting her to nap in her crib at the morning nap first. It tends to be easier. Watch for sleepy signs - yawns, eye rubs, staring off - then take her into her room. Do a mini version of your going to bed ritual (i.e. draw the shades, read her a short story, turn on music or hum a lullaby, tell her softly that its nap time). Nurse her/hold her/rock her if you want until she is really drowsy, then put her in the crib. You can continue to rub her back or stomach and sh-sh her if she fusses some. But try leaving her in the crib until she falls asleep. For the other naps in her swing or bouncy seat, turn if off before or once she is asleep. It may take some time to accomplish this, but the key is to choose your plan and be consistent! Hopefully you'll soon start to see a pattern and that will make it easier. Good Luck. vic

2-month-old will not sleep alone during the day

August 2001

My two month old baby is wonderful and sweet and loves to be cuddled. The only problem is that he wants to be cuddled constantly. He goes to sleep in his bassinet at night, but after he wakes the first time, he sleeps in bed with us. But he WILL NOT sleep alone during the day. I can hold him for 15, 20, 30 minutes after he's fallen asleep nursing, but as soon as I put him down and walk out of the room, he's screaming. I've tried putting him to sleep in our bed, but that's no good either. I often wear him in a sling, where he sleeps wonderfully, but sometimes my back wants a break, or I'd like to shower, or have both arms fully functional to play with my 3 year old. Does anyone have any suggestions? Things I should be doing differently (my first was not like this)? Also, I remember seeing a blanket in one of the baby supply catalogs that was supposed to absorb mother's smell and therefore comfort baby. Does anyone know if these things work and where I might find one? Thanks all. Heather

Have you tried a baby swing? We put our son in right after nursing, and it would rock him to sleep. He really liked movement, and still, at 3, loves to swing and finds it soothing. Ann

My baby was like that at first. The only thing that worked for me until recently (he's 1 now) was to nurse him to sleep, then very gently lay him down in his car seat. If he looked like he was about to wake after the transition, I'd rock the car seat with my hand on his chest (or covering his eyes--if he saw me, the game was up). I guess the cradle-like hold felt more like Mom than lying flat. Barbara

Part of the request asked if anyone knew where you can buy those little comfort blankies that supposedly absorb mom's smell - they are made by Comfort Silkie and the website is (I ordered my backup blankey on-line). I slept with it before my baby was born and gave it to him right away - he latched onto it pretty quickly (it's really easy for babies to clutch) and now at age 2-plus he's addicted. He's always been a great solo sleeper which I suspect is due more to his nature than the blankey, although the blankey probably deserves some credit -- I remember the first time he slept through the night I heard him wake up, fuss a little, find the blankey and then heard the chomping noises coming through the monitor while he fell asleep again. It is not particularly attractive to see your child sucking/chewing on this thing, but, he loves it. It is definitely very soothing, and also helps a lot when travelling and sleeping in strange places. I bought the backup after I realized how indispensable it had become. I started giving both to him hoping that Blankey No. 2 would acquire some of the delightful traits of Blankey No. 1 - what happened is that he started wanting both; now he clutches No. 2 and chews on No.1 (of number 2, he says I can't eat this one - it's not good.) If you get one, I do recommend periodically washing it before your baby is wedded to its cruddiness rather than its softness. And don't, whatever you do, cut off the satin tag!!!! It's the best part!!! Fran

When my first son was in such a phase, I cut up a shirt that I had worn and put a piece of it in his bassinet. (You can also order what's called a Snoodle, essentially a hankerchief with a soft doll head, from One Step Ahead) Then I figured he liked the warmth so I put a warm water bottle in it as well. You can get really cute ones with animal covers etc. at places like Baby World on Piedmont Ave. Then I put the mommy's heartbeat bear nearby and voila! It took some time but not long, and with each nap he slept longer on his own. I think a big issue here is, however, not to get him dependent on any of the above. So the trick is to wean him from you, for lack of better words, then start withdrawing these other things one by one. Of course they like, and need, to be held and cuddled but I think we often go to the extreme where we end up giving up our life, which, in the long run, will not help them either. Good luck! Petra

Your baby sounds exactly like my now 13 month-old. She pretty much wanted to be held at all times, including for naps. We also started her out in her crib at night and then brought her in with us. We did let her nap in the sling. She seemed to outgrow that need at about 4 months. Also, we reevaluated our definition of a nap. I was thinking she couldn't nap alone because she would only sleep for 20-30 minutes when put down on her own, not the 1-3 hours I was expecting from my reading and other babies I'd experienced. Turns out, she's just a catnapper. She took 4-5 20-30 minute naps a day until 9 months. Now she takes 2 naps--1 20-30 minute nap in the morning and 1 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon. So, my advice is, if you don't want to do the cry it out thing (which we did not), just wait it out. Also, look at whether your kiddo is a catnapper. I also found that when I gave into my daughter's needs and pa! tt! erns and didn't spend my day wishing she were different (slept more, independently, didn't need to be held so much, etc.) we were both MUCH happier. Hardin

Mine did that, too, and I thought I'd never be able to put him down. I ended up carrying him almost all the time while he slept, and then once he woke up, I'd run around the house doing what I needed to do. Maybe you can try putting him in a bouncy seat or gymini while you shower, or in the crib to look at a mobile. If you can stand it in the short run, it will eventually pass. Now at 5 months, my baby doesn't like to be held while he sleeps because he wants to move around on his own. Like all the other little phases babies go through, it probably won't last too long. WhitWalk

My son was the same way, because for 6.5 months he was colicky 24 hours per day. Are you sure yours doesn't have a similar problem? Either way, the only thing that worked for mine was to put him to sleep in a baby swing. If that doesn't work, try putting him in the swing and manually swinging it back and forth at high speed until he falls asleep...that's what we had to do! You could also try a vibrating seat. I know some babies like noise; and ours did a bit better with one of those soothing noise-makers, or a humidifier. And this last comment may not be popular, but I definately wouldn't try the let him scream for 5 minutes more at a time until he learns to sleep method. Your little one may just be a bit more insecure without Mommy than your first was...not too unreasonable for someone who can't do a thing for himself yet! Michelle

your little baby is so new in this huge world and he/she feels the difference and mom is the only thing that makes that OK. My boy was the same way. I literally could not take him off my chest for the first 6 weeks. Now at 6 months he takes his day naps in his crib and sleeps with me at night. I can see how he is happier with the world more and more. Just be patient and I know its hard to have the baby glued to you...but in 18 years when he/she are out the door in their own life you'll be glad youhad these special times and you are building a strong foundation in these most important early times...good luck Lloyd

You totally describe my first child. Nighttime sleeping wasn't a problem, because we shared the family bed. I didn't want to have to get out of bed for nighttime nursing.

I was, however, incredibly frustrated that my daughter didn't take any daytime naps unless she was sleeping on me. The second I put her down she was awake. Here is what worked for us after a lot of trial and error: A battery operated baby swing. The movement lulled her to sleep and she would stay asleep for a minimum of a half hour, if not more. For added benefit we draped a used nursing bra over her chest so that she could have my smell. My husband also had a lot of success in calming her down when he held her by draping the used nursing bra over his shoulder.

Not every kid likes the swing, so you may want to try to borrow one before buying one. Also, you may want to try just driving around with the baby until he sleeps, and keeping the sleeping baby in the carseat until he wakes up. My recommendation is Arlington Boulevard (a.k.a. The Cholic Route) because you can drive virtually uninterrupted from Berkeley to Richmond. Hope this helps. Daphne

We had this same experience with our son, and let me extend my empathy! It was very difficult. How did we handle it? He is our first, so we had the luxury of holding him for naps much of the time. I also planned errands and dog walking around naps so that he could sleep in the sling or Baby Bjorn (he absolutely would not tolerate being put in the stroller and would usually wake up within 5 minutes of being put in there--I remember being so jealous of the moms in my mom's group because they could put their babies in the strollers for naps and get breaks and I never could.). Even if he fell asleep in the car, as soon as I'd put the carseat down in the house, he'd wake up! It was so frustrating! I got some minor relief at home when I purchased a vibrating bouncy seat. Once he was asleep, I could place him in the bouncy seat and he would give me about 20 minutes to do things like prepare a quick dinner. I would shower while he was awake, putting him in the bouncy seat in the bathroom with me. He never seemed to mind that.

When he was three months old, I was applying for a bunch of training programs and had many essays to write and applications to complete. He was still not napping independently, so I hired a high school student to come over and hold him and rock him in the rocking chair while he napped and I worked at the computer (It was an easy job for her--she just watched TV!). When he was four months old, we began to experiment with placing him on his stomach for naps in the living room on the couch with a piece of furniture pushed up against it. He would actually stay asleep on his stomach for over an hour! I was incredibly nervous about doing this, given all the warnings to put babies on their backs for sleep. So I would just stay in the same room with him and watch him almost constantly. When he was six months old, he began to tolerate naps in his crib, on his stomach, with us checking on him literally every five minutes. As time passed, we relaxed a bit and checked less frequently, and were even able to put him down on his side. By 8 or 9 months, he was a stellar napper!! At 22 months, he takes great, long naps once a day (all by himself)! Hope this helps. Alisa

Ah, my now 3-year old was the same, only he was only able to sleep if either nursing or in motion (so a little worse, it seems)! On the most practical level what saved me was the Baby Bundler, much much more comfortable than a sling (for my back, shoulders, arms and neck). You can probably find it on the web. It's a large piece of cloth in which you wrap the baby onto you in a way that truly distributes the baby's weight throughout your body.

As to how to get the baby over this need, I didn't find anything that worked. Some people thought that we had created the problem by practicing attachment parenting, but we believed, and still do, that it was our particular child's temperament and needs. And of course, in some other cultures babies ARE held all the time, so it seems pretty wise of these little ones!

What helped us the most was to really see that we were giving him something that he clearly expressed a need for. We started calling it an extended womb experience -- he was on our body pretty much 24 hours a day for months -- and it somehow eased the stress of it. I truly believe he needed this degree of contact and don't regret meeting his needs at all, even though it was an incredible challenge. At about 8 months he started being able to sleep without being in motion at least some of the time, and slowly developed the ability to nap on his own.

A couple of suggestions: - Bundle the baby on your back so your arms are free. - Get help! Any neighbor with 1/2 an hour to spare, friends, relatives, mommy's helpers.

I wish I had something more practical to offer you -- I imagine it's much more daunting with a 3-year old who is also wanting your attention! I hope you find a way to make it work and still meet your baby's needs. I wish you lots of help and great patience. Inbal

Oh how I wish I could give you the magic solution that would make your baby take two or three good naps a day and sleep through for 6-8 hours at night. However, I can only offer that I have been there and it has gotten better. I too had a baby that I had to hold CONSTANTLY. She is now 17 months old and still prefers to sleep with us or in my arms. However, she now goes to sleep in her crib every night and my husband puts her down awake. Most nights she wants to come to bed with us around 4:30. And, she takes at least a 45 minute nap in her crib before wanting to lie down with me for the rest of her nap. If I had it to do over again, I would have read Jodi A. Mindell's Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep when she was 2 months old. I like Mindell's approach as it seems to be somewhere in the mid-range between Ferber and Sears. Anyway, I would have let Emily learn to put herself to sleep when she was 3 months old. I would have come up with gentle loving sleep rules with my husband and stuck with them (i.e. no sleeping in mommy and daddy's bed until the sun comes up, or no nursing before the sun comes up, etc) Now I realize that by being wishy-washy with the rules of sleep and catering too much Emily, we have set up an unhealthy situation. However, I try to remind myself that in the big picture, having a daughter who doesn't sleep through the night or take 2-hour naps on her own is a very small problem. Also, she won't want to sleep with us when she's 12 or 13 and I know at the point, I will miss the cuddles and love she gives when I do hold her to sleep or let her sleep in my bed! Lisa

You could be describing my 14 m.o. daughter! I tried lots of different things, and finally came to terms with her temperment: she prefers to sleep with me and simply sleeps better when she is with me. I did what you described, letting her nap in the sling being the most successful. I would try every week or so to transfer the sling off my back into the bed. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't. If my back was really sore, I would just sit and read in a rocking chair while she napped. I also hired a mother's helper (a college student), who sometimes spent her time with the napping baby in the sling while I got things done.

Does my daughter nap alone now? Sometimes. She's still not a big napper (20-30 minutes solo is usually her limit), and she still takes her best naps when I lie down with her. I do sometimes envy friends whose babies take 2-3 hour naps in their cribs while they freely go about their business. Perhaps this is not what you want to hear, but there are trade-offs. Some of my friends have expressed envy at how cuddly and snuggly my daughter is. I've simply given up on the idea of nap time being a chance for me to do anything significant. Because I've had to figure out how to do things with her around, I think she's knows a lot about how things work in our world. She constantly surprises me with her understanding. Please feel free to email if you want more strategies for getting specific things done (showering, housework, etc.) with a baby who likes to be close. Ilana

My daughter still prefers to nap together but she's slowly but surely becoming able to solo nap more and more. She started by sleeping a lot in the sling. Which was fine with me. I also sleep with her at night (which we both still love at 14 months). For naps, I took our bed off the frame and put it on the floor. I lay on the bed with her and nurse her down, and when she drifts off, I slip off. This works very well for us. If she wakes up crying I assume she has not napped sufficiently and nurse her down again. If she wakes up smiling and bubbly (the more usual case), I assume she is well rested no matter how long the nap. Also, I've just discovered tiny waves at the Y. She is napping unbelievably well after spending just a half-hour in the water. I'm loving it. Best wishes to you. Cheryl

3-1/2 month old only naps when held

Dec 2007

I'm at my wits end and would appreciate any advice/encouragement anybody can provide! My baby boy falls asleep okay by being walked around the house, but as soon as we try to put him down he wakes up with his little arms flailing. At night, i'm able to put him down (swaddled in the Miracle Blanket) after he reaches deep sleep (about 20 minutes), but this doesn't work during the day. My pediatrician told us we should continue to hold him through naps for the time being because his sleep is so important. Has anybody else dealt with this? Linda

Linda, we had the same situation. Our daughter would nurse down and stay down at night for a few hours (as long as she was swaddled like a straight jacket and didn't get moved from bed to crib). During the day however, she had to be held AND we had to be moving. It was crazy, really. All those books say to ''sleep when your baby sleeps.'' HA! that was just a joke for me, i got my exercise when my baby slept! It isn't that odd, and we could talk more offline if you'd like, there are some helpful resources for parents of HN kids (including a yahoo group). Take care of yourself, it isn't easy, but it will ease up eventually. Julie

I had the same issue w/ my daughter. I got a new native carrier and would walk around the house w/ her in it. After she was sleeping very soundly I would take it off her shoulder and lay her down in the crib. I only did that at a certain age when I thought she wouldn't get tangled in it. It helped me a bunch & I used it for a very long time. j

4-month-old doesn't nap well unless she's held

Jan 2005

My 4 month old sleeps very fitfully during the day unless she's cradled in someone's arms. If I lay her down to sleep, she only naps for 15 minutes or so and wakes up still tired and cranky. If I hold her, she can sleep for an hour or more (sometimes 2!). Oddly, she sleeps fine by herself at night. In some ways, I don't mind holding her because I know she's only small for so long and I should enjoy the time I have with her. But she takes quite a few naps during the day and I get extremely tired holding her (especially as she gets heavier) and it limits what I can do around the house. I've tried using a sling, but she hates it. I've also tried having her sleep in the same place she sleeps in at night -- but it's no use. I'm worried that when I go back to work, no childcare provider will be willing to hold her the way I do during her naps and she will have a tough transition. That said, I'm not going back to work until she's 9 months. Is this something she'll grow out of? Should I train her out of this now? What's the best method? If anyone has had this experience before, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks!

My 8 year old daughter was just like your baby. I was in disbelief that a baby wouldn't sleep without being held but I was desperate. She did this until 6 months then she started sleeping in our bed for her naps. Hang in there and once in a while try putting her down and see how it goes. I promise it will change. mary

Congratulations! This is completely normal. Enjoy your little one and you chance to admire her while she sleeps....the time will fly by and she will learn to sleep just fine without any special help from you. If you need to be getting things done while she's sleeping, slings are great! Mom to 3

You're one step ahead of where we were when our baby was that age . ! . . at least your baby sleeps well at night! Our daughter never took a nap longer than 30-40 minutes until she was 9 months old, when we did sleep training, unless she was in my arms. Even now, at 18 months, she will only sleep an hour or so for a nap when she's at home, although she goes down eagerly and happily. (At day care she routinely sleeps 2-3 hours.) When she was 4 months old, I remember that she took a 30-40 minute nap every 1-3 hours. Very inconvenient. And I think 4 months old is too early for sleep training, though I'm sure others would disagree. I, too, was very concerned about how my daughter would sleep at day care, since she was such a poor sleeper. (She got up every 1-3 hours at night until we suffered through sleep training.) She and her day care provider worked it out, although there were a couple of months where she would only sleep 30-45 minutes each day and those evenings were very hard. At her current day care, all of the other children nap together in one room, and our daughter is in another room . . . otherwise, she won't sleep. In retrospect the only things I would do differently with are: 1) I'd start sleep training earlier, maybe at 6 months, and 2) I'd let her cry a bit longer before picking her up. I tended to pick her up within seconds because I just couldn't bear to hear her cry, but I think it interfered with her ability to soothe herself, maybe? Who knows. Babies are all so different. Good luck! Mom of Wakeful Daughter

My son would never nap anywhere but on me either, and not in a sling, though sometimes in the baby bjorn if i were out walking about. I don't believe that at four months of age you can humanely or even possibly get a baby to sleep on their own if they don't want to. For whatever reason your daughter needs to be held while she sleeps. It provi! des her with something that her developing brain and nervous system require. What you can do is figure out ways to get other things done while she's napping. I would situate myself where I wanted to be while I was nursing my son down to a nap. Sometime it would be at the computer so I could work online. Sometimes, I'd sit in front of the tv and knit. Or I'd read. Or sometimes I'd just lay down with him and nap too. When your baby is mobile you're not going to have time for these pleasures again. You may not be getting housework done, but you are giving something invaluable to your daughter and allowing for some adult relaxation and entertainment for yourself; something that will be in short supply for years to come. human cradle

Yes, you probably want to train her out of this now, lest you perpetuate the situation. Though, my daughter did grow out of it somewhere around 4 to 5 months, meaning, she started to not sleep so soundly nor for! as long while I was holding her. I took that as a cue to start putting her down by herself in her crib. The things that helped her nap for longer periods were: a very dark room (invest in blackout shades), a toasty temperature (I used a space heater), and lullaby music playing very softly. I think the continuity of the background music helped her go back to sleep if she started to wake up. She only took 45 minute naps by herself, as opposed to a 1 or 2 (or more!) hour nap on my lap in the late afternoons, however, she was growing out of that nap pattern anyway (as I mentioned, she started to not sleep as long on my lap). Your baby will transition through different nap patterns over the next months. Are you putting your daughter down by herself for naps when she is awake or already asleep? If she is already asleep when you put her down, I'm not surprised that she wakes in 15 m! inutes, as she surely is sensing the change in environment (where did that warm body go?) and finds it hard to resettle herself. I was able to nurse my baby to sleep and put her down for a nap, but, again, I had the other things going on (dark room, warm temperature, soft music) while I was nursing, so she still had those three things as a constant when she roused a little, so she was able to put herself back to sleep. Tracy

Thank you for this post. This was me two/three months ago, before I knew about the Berkeley Parents' Network as a resource. It was uncanny to me that she could be bounced around on my shoulder and arms without batting an eyelash, but as soon as her head hit the bed, she would start wailing as if I had dropped her on her head. She's now six months old and sleeps in her crib, and with that comes good news and bad news. The good news is, she sleeps in her crib, AND even falls asleep on her own! It took a great deal of ''training'' her though. I followed the advice of Tracy Hoag (not sure about the spelling), the author of The Baby Whisperer. I put our baby in her crib and would pat her leg and make shooshing sounds. She SCREECHED the first few times I wouldn't pick her up, so of course I gave in and picked her up. Once she stopped crying I would put her back in her crib and leave. If she started crying hard and loud again, I would do the same. This slowly evolved into NOT picking her up and just patting and shooshing, which slowly evolved into just putting her down when she was tired (eye rubbing and a couple of fly-catching yawns). Every once in awhile, she'll be cranky and need a few pats and shooshes and some kissys, but she's pretty good about going to sleep on her own. One! other thing that helped was to gently hold her legs and one of her arms down while patting and shooshing, to keep her from flailing about. I would lean over her and get really close while shooshing so that she could look right at my smiling face (which, luckily, my baby seems to fancy). This really helped to calm her down quickly--I'm guessing it's the same concept as when we swaddle them when they're younger. They've outgrown the swaddling but not the discomfort of their still foreign limbs floundering about in the wind.

You might also try the 5, 10, 15 minute version of ''crying it out.'' I tried this method, and still occasionally use it, just because personally I don't believe in the more resolute ''cry it out'' version, though it has worked for others. The 5, 10, 15 minute version, as I practice it, is where you put the baby down and when s/he starts to cry, you wait 5 minutes and go in to start the patting and shooshing, then leave. If s/he starts crying again, you wait 10 minutes and do the same. If the crying persists, you continue but at 15 minute intervals. The next night you start the process over but increase each interval by 5 minutes, so initially you wait 10 minutes before going in, then 15, then 20 for the remainder of the night. There's a formal name for this method (named after the person who invented/advocates it) that I don't recall at the moment. I think the method works! . We never have to go in more than twice and I feel better that I\xc2\x92m not leaving her to stew in her own tears until she exhausts herself and falls asleep. Granted, I don't know if it makes a difference in her mind if I'm gone for 5 minutes or an hour, but it does make me feel better as listening to her scream for just 5 minutes is heart-wrenching enough.

More recently she\xc2\x92s started to wake up a couple of times during the night when from birth she slept through, so don\xc2\x92t be discouraged if your little one starts doing this\xc2\x97I\xc2\x92m convinced it too shall pass. The upside of when she does wake up (and it\xc2\x92s not every night), is that she wakes up singing and babbling in such a way that\xc2\x92s wildly entertaining (thank God since her crib is a foot and a half from our head). All in all, it took at least a month to get her to go to sleep on her own, even though Tracy Hoag suggests it takes a few days (ha-ha, you can imagine my frustration).

I don\xc2\x92t know if this helped or not, but take heart that you are not alone! I\xc2\x92ve come to appreciate, after reading and listening to tons of advice, that every baby is just as unique as every adult you meet. And over time as I get to know this little person better and she gets to know me better, I\xc2\x92m learning that it\xc2\x92s OK to \xc2\x93give in\xc2\x94 to lots of extra hugs and kisses at nap/bed time (I mean, when I think about it, the reason I had a baby was to pamper her with oodles of kisses, hugs, squeezes and the like!), even if it means picking her up to do it, and she\xc2\x92s learning that it\xc2\x92s OK to be left alone and that I will come back, and that sleep is actually an enjoyable thing. Take Care! Laura

Read The No Cry Sleep Solution by Pantley sarah davis

Yes, she'll outgrow needing to be held while she naps. But there's no saying when! Meanwhile, keep trying with the sling -- you may have better luck with a different position -- or other carriers -- you might do better with a different type of sling, a frontpack, a wrap, or a mei tai. Lots of good advice on that subject is available in the discussion forums at When the time comes to choose a childcare provider, first, recognize that different caregivers are often successful doing things that Mommy can't, but also, simply make it a non- negotiable that whomever you entrust your child to must carry her if that is necessary for her to sleep. Most nannies are used to that; mine used an Asian cloth back carrier, or, especially as baby got older, a stroller to induce good naps. Please don't try to ''train'' your baby out of this need now because of what you're afraid will be necessary later -- the attempt will only frustrate both of you. Babywearing mom

8-month-old only falls asleep in sling

August 2003

Okay, so I have done the crying thing at night for my 8 month old son....we now have it down to about 7 minutes. The only thing is, it's really hard to get him down for a nap - even though I know he is tired. Are naps supposed to be ferberized too? I have to hold him in the sling until he falls asleep - not always easy to do 2-3 times a day. Any advice would help. Thanks! anon

I don't think ferberizing is necesary. your baby is almost at the age where he will tak only take one nap per day. I continue to rock, or nurse my 16 month old to sleep for his one afternoon nap. I enjoy the connection. women have been rocking their babies to sleep for thousands of years. Studies have shown that ''ferberized'' babies initialy do sleep better, however over the period of a few months the ferberized babies end up with the same sleeping patterns as ''unferberized'' babies. If this is so, I don't know if it is worth the heartache for you or the baby. enjoy your bonding moments, you won't have them forever. anon

8-month-old won't nap on his own

HELP!! I need some advice about an eight month old infant who will not sleep alone for naps. Our infant sleeps with us through the night in the 'family bed.' During the day she takes two naps (Anywhere from1-2 hrs.), and at night one before bed time (same time amt.). Up till about 4.5 mos. she would sleep by herself in a swing, or bouncy seat. We returned from a trip and she would no longer continue sleeping when I would lay her down. Now, she takes all her naps in the front carrier( Baby Bjorn). (She does sleep in the car, but that's really no help) I tried at one point to put her in the crib and she cried solid for 45 mins. and ten days straight. She's terribly unhappy when she doesn't sleep (and so am I) and I realize this is a situation that I am not going to be able to keep up much longer. Is this just a phase? Has any one else gone through this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

My baby was very finicky about naps also- he is now a year and a half. For the first few months he would only sleep on me. Then, he would nap in our bed but only if I was there, napping next to him. If I left, he would wake up in 20 mins, and I would have to start all over again. He has always slept with us at night, and we do not even have a crib. Now, at a year and a half, things are alot better! However, I must say that he is still nursing and he always nurses before napping/bedtime if I am present. Some tips: Does your baby go to daycare? Mine does, and he takes a nap in a small crib with wooden slats on wheels. They rock the crib, and he goes to sleep without nursing. I noticed during a recent vacation in a hotel, where we got a portable wooden crib just for fun, that he wanted to go in the crib and we would rock it, and he would go to sleep! So now we are buying one of these cribs for naps. It doesnot work with the plastic portacribs- I think it is because he is used to his wooden crib at daycare (he's been going since 3.5 mons). Also, at home for naps, we lay down on our bed, nurse, he falls asleep and now I can pretty much get right up and go. Same with bedtime now. I am hoping that I can reduce/replace the nursing with rocking in the crib. I am a first time Mom, and I am sure by experienced Mom standards I am being too softon my baby, but this is my choice. It seems to me that my baby just needed a body next to him for a long time. Now he is more confident in all areas of his little life, including being able to sleep without a parent next to him all the time. I have a long way to go before he sleeps on his own in his own room at night- but I am in no hurry. This involves an attitude of my husband and I. We still both like having the baby in the bed, and we are all able to sleep better and better together. I think it is a stage, and it is great for your baby if you can be near her as much as possible. It does get better!

Maybe this is a simplistic solution, and not what you were looking for, but what I always did with my baby was to lie down with her to go to sleep at naptime and nurse her. She would fall asleep, and I didn't have to move her, all I did was get up...although of course sometimes I would fall asleep too. Maybe this is setting up bad habits in some ways, but I now have a 2 yr old who falls asleep w/o nursing although she is not weaned and doesn't need me to lay down next to her, just be close by. For me this was the path of least resistence. Also, by 8 months, I'd say it is much more comfortable to have a napping child in a back carrier, which my girl also slept in many times (because I was working, not because she needed to be close really) - and we have worn out 2 so far! Good luck.

My child also wouldn't nap alone, until he was about 7 months old; I always had to carry him, or lie down and nap with him. Then I started being able to nurse him to sleep in our bed, and slip away after he fell asleep. I just kept trying this and it gradually got easier. He's had a couple of little periods for a week or two where it hasn't worked again since then; he just wakes up as soon as I try to leave. But mostly it's worked well, and he's generally in a pattern of sleeping anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. He did go to one nap a day pretty early, probably because I didn't want to be lying down with him 2 or 3 times a day, but he seems to be fine with this. I'm sure some people would say this is a terrible habit, but he's a year and a half now and it's worked well all this time, and I figure he won't need me to fall asleep eventually. He's already starting to fall asleep on his own occasionally when I just lie down next to him, so I'm just going to let it happen as he's ready.

9-month-old will only nap reclining on mom

Dec 2007

Any parents of high-need/spirited babies out there who can share some similar experiences and insight? Our 9-month-old son will only nap on me when he is laying on my chest while I lean back in a reclining chair and try to take a nap. I would be okay with this if he were lighter, but he already weighs 24 pounds now. It often feels oppressive (I've got chronic neck/shoulder/back pains from holding him so much) and I feel like I never get a break during the day.

I know I'm lucky he'll sleep 9-10 hours straight in his crib at night (after a long, heart-wrenching process of sleep training) though he wakes by 4am and will no longer sleep on his own after that time.

I have tried pretty much everything others have suggested. My son usually nurses to sleep (or I'll hold him and sit on a fitness ball to bounce him to sleep) but will not nurse in our bed or sleep in our bed. He has a lovey but it's not enough. He never wanted a pacifier. He refuses to sit in a stroller. He'll occasionally fall asleep in the car but will wake when we stop moving. He'll sometimes fall asleep in an Ergo carrier but not for long. If I manage to put him down when he's in a deeper sleep he'll wake within 30 minutes (after the first sleep cycle) and cry hysterically (while he will nap an hour and a half laying on us). This also happens if I keep him laying across a boppy pillow on my lap after he nurses to sleep.

We have tried crying-it-out methods (from Ferber & Weissbluth) but last week, he was able to go three days without sleeping during the day and could cry nonstop for up to 2+ hours standing up in his crib if we let him. I couldn't take it anymore and have come to a conclusion for now that crying it out simply will not work for spirited babies who are more sensitive and persistent than most children.

I know many of our family and friends think I am crazy for letting my son nap on me. Then there is the attachment parenting perspective about not letting your baby cry-it-out. I feel so conflicted, and I keep hoping he will grow out of this so that I don't have to resort to trying the nap training again.

I'm interested in hearing specifically from parents of high-need/spirited children who have dealt with similar sleep challenges. I have yet to meet another parent whose baby is as spirited (as described by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka in ''Raising your Spirited Child'') and high-need (described by Dr. Sears in ''The Baby Book'') as mine. Exhausted Mama

Dear Exhausted Momma- I feel for you--we had the same situation and our daughter is now 3 1/2. I have lots of empathy for you, it is quite hard not to have an independent sleeper at that age, especially when everyone else around you is getting these 2 hour naps out of their kids! My only thoughts are to just pace yourself. Your son isn't likely to change his sleep needs anytime soon. Find yourself some support (can a loving grandmother or sitter walk him around the block for a nap now and again?), get help with your body (massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc.) and remember that it is a marathon and not a sprint with kids like this. Take care of yourself as much as is humanly possible given the situation and otherwise just know that your son is getting his needs met. It's just that simple. His needs are different from other kids and while it is exhausting, it's not wrong or bad. Please feel free to email me offline if you want to talk more. There is also a yahoo group for parents of HN kids that is really useful. Julie

That sounds so familiar! Our 9 month old son refuses to nap on weekends when his father and I are both home (he naps quite well on weekdays with his nanny - about 4 hours/day). On the weekends, though, we have to wear him in a sling or Ergo until he falls asleep, and then lie down with him on top of us. I have chosen to take the attitude that this incredibly sweet experience will end soon, and he will be so independent that I will treasure the time when he only wanted to be with us. We are lucky, though, in that we don't experience any physical pain. Maybe try setting up some wedge pillows in bed to support your back and nap there? Mama of snuggly boy

We had lots of sleep problems with our baby, too. Karen Pollak made a tremendous difference for us and I highly recommend her. She's a very professional sleep consultant. Her website is anon

11-month-old only sleeps in sling or in car

Feb 2002

Has anyone out there successfully done sleep training (Cry it out) for naps? My 11 mo. daughter is very, uh, driven and only falls asleep for naps in a sling listening to mellow music or in the car. This is okay for now as a 20 pounder but I'm thinking about the future. She falls asleep on her own at night (we sleep trained at 6 mos.) and usually sleeps through. Anyway, if you have, I'd like to read a description.thanks!

We sleep trained our daughter for naps when she was about 4 months old (she is now eight months.) I have found it to be largely successful, although she sometimes protests going to sleep more than she does at night. I basically decided that no matter what, she should have some down time in her crib every day, so I put her down for a nap at least once a day. I chose the nap times by first observing when she was tired each day, and found that a pattern emerged. Now I just put her down at those times. Occasionally she boycotts her naps, but that seems to be her way (once in a while she wakes frequently at night too.) She seems much happier for it, and is certainly a more cheerful baby with enough rest. It has been a tremendous relief not to have to fight to get her to take a nap by having to drive around for hours or take endless walks. I think we both appreciate the routine. Good luck!

We sleep trained our daughter for naps when she was about 4 months old (she is now eight months.) I have found it to be largely successful, although she sometimes protests going to sleep more than she does at night. I basically decided that no matter what, she should have some down time in her crib every day, so I put her down for a nap at least once a day. I chose the nap times by first observing when she was tired each day, and found that a pattern emerged. Now I just put her down at those times. Occasionally she boycotts her naps, but that seems to be her way (once in a while she wakes frequently at night too.) She seems much happier for it, and is certainly a more cheerful baby with enough rest. It has been a tremendous relief not to have to fight to get her to take a nap by having to drive around for hours or take endless walks. I think we both appreciate the routine. Good luck!

I followed Marc Weissbluth's recommendations on sleep training for naps in his book ''Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child''. He talks about getting babies to sleep just *before* they are really tired, when they are most susceptible to sleep (when you go beyond that window, they get wired with their second-wind!). He also discusses the importance of consistency in nap times and nap places (he's against car naps, for example). It might be useful to read. As for me, when my infant was about 6 months old, I put her down after nursing & patting for a few minutes. The first two days she cried 45 minutes (which was hard since that was the duration of her naps at that age!) but finally went to sleep. By day 3 she was falling asleep on her own. (By the way, I sleep with her at night so she had a different nap routine than nighttime routine, which didn't seem to matter too much.) Since you've already done sleep training at night it shouldn't be that new for her. Just try to be home for naps and follow the same routine and time each day (at least at first).

Our son changed his schedule around the age of your child from taking two shorter naps to one longer nap a day, so perhaps the resistance is due to this sort of change. We found it helps to have a routine for naps just as you would for going to bed at night. I try to keep naptimes regular from day to day (as with his rising and bedtimes) so that I am not trying to put an overtired baby down. At that age, I began taking him out every morning for an hour plus of physical activity like the park, etc and because he could walk, run and motor around, he would be worn out by the early afternoon. He eats lunch and then about 1/2 hour later after some subdued activity like reading or watching a video perhaps, goes down for a nap. I tell him it is naptime and take him down to his room. I close the blinds in his room, give him a bottle if he wants it, and put him in the crib with his blankies, which is pretty much the same as at night with the difference being the light level and some singing. It seems that he knows what to expect and he does well on a regular routine. He may fuss a few minutes but generally settles down pretty quickly. If he cries in a really distressed way for say five minutes, I go pick him up and make sure all is OK. A few days he has just not wanted to nap, and if he isn't asleep after 1/2 hour I would get him up and try later. Good luck.

I would like to offer a counter balance to the sleep training responses. I look to other mammals for examples on how to help my baby learn to enter the world of sleep with confidence. Puppies, kittens, bear cubs, gorilla babes...none are left to sleep alone. Mammal babies left alone are at risk so they instinctively cry so the mother can find them. Responding or not responding to the cry may be a rational decision on our part, but making the cry is not for human babies as it is not for kittens. So why do we say we should not respond? A mother bear would not put her cub in another cave and listen to it cry, occasionally going in and patting it. If we humans find a not-yet-walking-puppy left crying outside the nest, we put it back in among the other sleeping puppies out of pity and concern. Why then, do we humans sometimes leave our own babies to face the perhaps confusing and frightening world of sleep alone, waiting for the baby to give up trying to get us to respond? I think we humans may have over-intellectualized issues regarding sleep and children. Maybe mothers who find it difficult to let their babies ''cry it out'' should trust their gut feelings and not let others' ideas interfere with their quite normal emotional response.

13 m. old ONLY naps being held

November 2002

Okay: I know everyone has sleep problems with her kids but I am DESPERATE. I have recently changed nannies for my 13 month old and apparently her original nanny got her in the habit of only napping while being held. I think what would happen is the nanny would give her a bottle and then rock her until she was basically asleep, but then the baby would cry when she was going to be put in the crib, so the nanny would just hold her for 2 hours. I did not observe this on the weekend (though she would often fall asleep in the car I could still put her in her crib).

Now the new nanny has pointed out the problem to me. The baby will be completely asleep in the nanny's arms, but when placed in the crib, will cry and cry and stand up until picked up.

At night, I can give her a bottle, cuddle in the rocker and then put her right down in the crib awake, and after sometimes some minor protests she will voluntarily lie down and sleep (usually with some back-rubbing from me, and she likes to have me stay in the room until she is pretty much asleep).

But then, she is often up 3 times per night, say 1, 3 and 6am. I think we are minimizing that, but obviously she is conditioned to have me pat her back to get to sleep.

But what about the naps? I don't want to have her cry it out (especially since I work full time and don't want to entrust the nanny to do that). Do I have to ''not get her back out of the crib'' once she is put in? How on Earth do I get her to nap in the crib? I would love your advice. Thanks!

This was my kid when he was little! It is very difficult. From infancy, when he was very colicky, he would only fall asleep being held and with his wriggly fingers inside my mouth (weird, I know). He still woke up every hour until about a year. Around that time we finally had him falling asleep just holding my hand, and he would ''only'' wake up four or five times a night. He used to have his own room, but we quickly learned he did better sleeping in ours.

We slowly continued to work with him, pushing him a little beyond what he really wanted (to be held constantly) but not to the point where he was crying and miserable. At about a year and half he made a decision to try it on his own, and began trying to fall asleep by himself. He still woke up at night, but would go back to sleep with a simple pat and reassurance. By two years old, he had become one of the best sleepers we know. By three, he'd tell us he was tired, and put himself to bed on his own.

Just trying to encourage you a bit. I believe the reason he's such a great sleeper (anywhere, anytime he's tired) is that we allowed him to develop the skill at his own rate. I know lots of people say you train your child to wake up, and I'm sure it's true, but it was more important to us that he learn he could depend on us to always be there, and I think it's paid off in the long run.

One more thought. We made a huge leap in sleeping when we moved him from his crib (where he'd only slept a couple hours each night anyway, before moving to ours), to a mattress on the floor next to us. A portable guard rail kept him from falling off, he didn't feel ''jailed'' anymore, and I could just sleepily reach over the side of my bed if he started to wake up.

Don't know if you nanny will be willing to ease your kid over the hump like this, but thought I'd just pass along our experience in case it was helpful. Good luck, and hang in there. Michelle