25 answers

Baby Won't Sleep Unless Held

So my friend just had her first baby two weeks ago. She called me crying today because he won't sleep unless someone is holding him. He is on formula because her milk never came in so they are trying to find the right one for him so I'm sure discomfort is part of the problem. She is also upset that he only sleeps for an hour and a half at a time and she is exhausted. She's tried letting him sleep everywhere- swing, carseat, etc. No luck. She knows that is kinda the way it goes with a newborn but does anyone have any suggestions on how to get him to sleep in his crib or bassinet.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I would definitely get the book "The Happiest Baby on The Block". www.thehappiestbaby.com (Great website too!) Someone else suggested the 5 S's and they work miracles for people. It says that when you combine all five actions at once it is an automatic off switch for babies. I didn't have a problem with the sleep thing, but after reading that book I was ready if it happened!

Also you absolutely cannot spoil a baby that is under 6 months old by holding them too much! That is the way it was the first 9 months. So I agree with all of the baby carying ideas! I hope all of this advice helps her!

I second the babywearing. My daughter sleeps fine at night but I do notice that if she's in the baby carrier, she naps a lot longer. Wraps are good. I actually wear an asian baby carrier, or mei tei. Both the wrap and mei tei spread out the baby's weight with straps over both shoulders - plus the straps are wide to also spread out the weight. It really is comfortable. The baby will sleep better & cry less.

I have had success with warming up the crib/bassinet with a heating pad prior to laying the baby down, so the spot where the baby lays is already warm and cozy-similar to mom or dad's warm body and arms. Then the transition from being held to laying down in bed isn't as noticable.

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Sounds like the baby knows exactly what he needs. It is very shocking to have your first baby - and then discover that little bundle of joy is "high needs". That's exactly what happened to me.

My son was the epitome of "high needs". Just like the baby you describe, he had to be held 24/7 or he screamed constantly. When he was in arms, he was happy. My son slept on my chest for 6 weeks, because that was the only place he was happy. And when baby is happy, the whole family is happy.

It was pointed out to me, by some very wise mothers, that babies - especially newborns - know exactly what they need and they will tell you. They don't have any agendas. Just like you, they feel scared, intimidated, unsure and overwhelmed, etc. They don't have the tools to deal with those things yet. The only thing they know is the warmth and comfort of mama's smell and the steady thump of her heart.

We had a pretty traumatic birth and post birth experience, so that very well could have been the root of my son's "high needs" issues.

Tell your friend to go buy a comfortable sling and wear her baby. It's the most natural thing in the world and best for baby. There is a school of thinking called NINO, Nine In Nine Out. Meaning the healthiest thing for brain development is nine months in the mama, nine months ON the mama.

Blessings,

M.

1 mom found this helpful

When my children were newborns they loved to be swaddled. Wrap them in a receiving blanket like they do at the hospital. Then I would take a beach towel fold it in half then roll it lengthwise and form it into a "U" shape and lay the baby in the middle with the arch part of the towel under his legs. This way he'll feel like he's still being surrounded and held. I also used to put a standard size soft pillow over their tummy and legs and took it away later once they started kicking around so much. I also would leave a shirt I had just worn near the baby. Babies rely alot on their sense of smell when this young. My daughter did the same with her children.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with the other responses. I just wanted to add a bit of encouragement. My youngest wanted to be held all the time, sleeping or awake. He didn't like the bassinet, the bouncer seat, or the carseat for more than a few minutes. He wanted to be held, and would only sleep that way. So we held him. I ignored anybody's comments on spoiling him - he was a baby and babies need to be loved.
Well, now he's 5. He is very indpendent and loves kindergarten (he was slow to warm up to things for a few years, until he was about 3, and didn't like new caregiver situations like the kids club at the gym, but was fine with grandma). He is also very sweet and loving. And cooperative. He's still a normal little boy, rough-and-tumble and sometimes devious, but I can certainly say that all the attention in his first year did NOT spoil him, and very possibly helped him be so well adjusted now. So let your friend know it's OK! Baby-wearing, sling, friends' help, all good and she will have a healthy, happy little boy!

1 mom found this helpful

I have had success with warming up the crib/bassinet with a heating pad prior to laying the baby down, so the spot where the baby lays is already warm and cozy-similar to mom or dad's warm body and arms. Then the transition from being held to laying down in bed isn't as noticable.

I am sorry your friend is so exhausted. I completely understand because my first child was insistent on being held for months! I couldn't even shower with her in the car seat where she could see me.

I really like the advice to baby wear that some have suggested. My daughter hated it on me but once in a while would let my husband do it.

My best advice is to take a soft t-shirt that mom has worn all day and put it with the baby. It smells like mom and will comfort him. The sense of smell is the most powerful one and this trick usually works a charm. I just laid it flat under my second daughter and it worked the first night she wasn't sleeping with me (at about 4 months). I recommend this trick to all new moms. If the shirt is big enough, maybe she can use it in combination of the swaddling that many have recommended.

Keep being the supportive friend that you are! Remind her that it is overwhelming right now, but in the blink of an eye she will want to hold him and he will be on his own!

Please let us know how she gets along. She will be in my heart through this difficult time. L.

Has she tried swaddling him? You know, the baby burrito wrap? LOL Otherwise, she may want to start looking into medical problems.... acid reflux is common. Has she tried lactose-free formula? Not soy, but lactose-free. Try burping, gas drops. Swaddling has always worked for my 1ST and 3rd boys, though. My 3rd boy is now 5 months and if he's having a rough night occasionally, it still works to swaddle him.

Good luck. I had LOTS of trouble with my 2nd boy not sleeping longer than 45 minutes at night time. Never looked into possible medical reasons. Thankfully your friend has a friend like you around to help out!

My advice is a combination of everyone else's:

1. Mylicon. Do NOT waste your money on the brand name version - about $11.00 a bottle. Go to Walmart and get the knockoff version with the exact same ingredients for $3.50.

2. We use a blanket that we got online called the Miracle Blanket (www.miracleblanket.com - I think). It is a swaddling blanket. Pricey at $30 but worth every penny.

3. Our first son would only fall asleep with white noise in the background - he loved the cricket noise and so did mom and dad! Timex makes a nature sound alarm clock - we got it at Target. I saw that someone in another post recommended a white noise machine that she got from Brookstone. It sounded really great!

I second the babywearing. My daughter sleeps fine at night but I do notice that if she's in the baby carrier, she naps a lot longer. Wraps are good. I actually wear an asian baby carrier, or mei tei. Both the wrap and mei tei spread out the baby's weight with straps over both shoulders - plus the straps are wide to also spread out the weight. It really is comfortable. The baby will sleep better & cry less.

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