24 answers

Bouncing Baby Too Hard?

In order to get our 6 1/2 month old to sleep, my husband bounces our baby while he walks him. I've recently seen him jumping up and down (more like bunny hopping) and he says this is the only way to get our son to stop crying and go to sleep. I'm worried about hurting the baby, but he says he's holding his head the whole time. Should I be worried? Thanks.

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So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. Your responses were very helpful! I asked my husband to stop bouncing our baby so vigorously, i.e. the "bunny hopping". He could see I was really worried, so he did. I haven't talked to our family doctor yet about it. I think I need to so I don't worry that there was damage and it may reveal itself years from now as some women commented - which has gotten me a little freaked out. We are a little nervous that the doctor will think that he abused our baby and may feel the need to report us, but I doubt she would do that. We need to be honest. It was just something to try to help soothe him and my husband had no idea that it could hurt him, although I think he could have used more common sense. I don't know what some women meant by teaching him to self soothe. I have put him in his crib in the middle of the night after nursing and he's drowsy but still awake and he is able to put himself back to sleep. This doesn't work at bed time or for naps yet.

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Go to the library and borrow "The Best Baby on the Block". I don't know the author, but my sister-in-law borrowed it for me when my son was a newborn. Together with swaddling, the techniques for bouncing and jiggling him to sleep or to calm him were great.

I don't know if I would have stood still for my husband jumping with him because there's still a bit of a jar when he hits the ground.

I didn't want my husband doing anything I wouldn't or couldn't do because I was the one at home with him all day. We would have both been miserable if I couldn't have comforted him myself.

1 mom found this helpful

My nephew was just like that since he was just three months old - you had to bounce him to get him to relax and sleep, the livelier the better! He is now one and a half and still loves to be jostled, he's very active and happy, so I think you have nothing to worry about as long as the head and neck are protected.

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M., your concern sounds much like my own was when our son was about that age. My hubby bounced our boy VERY hard on a yoga ball to get him to sleep, or would pat him very hard on the bum. It was the only thing that seemed to work for him, but over and over I expressed my concern that it was TOO hard. It didn't seem to bother Rowan, but I felt it was too much vibration. I say trust your gut. Finally, after explaining that he may not understand his own strength, he mellowed it down and found other ways to soothe our son. How awful would your husband feel if it did do damage? That damage may not be realized for many years.

We eventually did a modified cry it out method since our son got to the point he just wouldn't sleep without us and it wasn't good for anyone. It worked great (though was hard as heck!) and now he sleeps really well, especially compared to the baby that would never sleep! At night, we simply get him drowsy and say night night with a hug in the crib and he wines until we leave the room, lies down and sleeps all night. Yeah! No more bouncing. Thank goodness!

2 moms found this helpful

It doesn't sound like a great idea to me. Not just because of the possibility of hurting him physically (and I agree that just holding his head is no guarantee that the motion isn't shaking him up too much) - but perhaps even more importantly because it sounds like the bouncing is a way of distracting him from his feelings, which I don't think is a good pattern to set up (do you want him to grow up thinking that the way to deal with feelings is by distraction? - which could later be food, video games, TV etc). Why don't you lie down with him and snuggle and/or nurse him to sleep? I did that with my babies till they were 2 to 4 years old, it worked wonderfully and was a very special and peaceful time we had together. Maybe he is crying because he wants his mommy, and if so, he should have his mommy if at all possible - you are his safe haven. If he still seems unhappy when you are snuggling/nursing him, and you're sure there's no other reason why he's crying, he may need to release some feelings or stress by crying for a little while before he can relax and fall asleep, with you holding him and empathizing with him. This is very different than letting him "cry it out" - because you are with him and letting him know that you understand and care - which will help him learn that his feelings are okay and that he can express them with people who love him, and that after expressing his feelings he can relax and be at peace - which is a great gift. I'm wishing you and your family the best.

2 moms found this helpful

I say listen to your gut. If you think he is bouncing too hard then make him stop. My understanding is that it is the force of the shake, not just the head moving that does the damage. Trust me, there are other ways to get your son to sleep. Babies cry. I know as a first time parent that is hard to take, but you have to build up a resistance to always trying to make him stop crying. Just cuddle him and love him and he will stop crying eventually. A lot of babies react to movement so instead of jumping up and down, try walking around the room, walking up and down stairs, putting him in a stroller and taking him for a walk outside. My son was the same way and I just had to keep moving, but never did I do anything that could harm him like jumping up and down. Babies are fragile. Remind your husband that he can hurt him even when he thinks he's is not doing anything to hurt him.

2 moms found this helpful

When our kids were newborns, they both seemed to respond well to a couple rougher jounces while walking and trying to soothe a crying jag. I didn't jump with them though. It seems like that activity could result in a whiplash type brain injury. You've already received some responses as it pertains to the jumping, so I offer a different perspective. 6 1/2 months old, and you are still soothing him to sleep... Your evenings might be less stressful, if you start teaching your son some self-soothing techniques. Once learned, your son will be able to soothe himself back to sleep when he wakes in the night. Different things worked with both of our sons. We had the most success with a Glow Worm when the kids were young, because they could give it a little squeeze and it would light up and play music quietly. As they got older, we had luck with crib attachments, where they could push a button, and it would play music and light up for a few minutes. We have that attached to our 2 1/2 year old's bed, and he still turns that on in the middle of the night occasionally.

I also share that it is never too early to establish a bedtime routine. Routines make it easier to transition over to big boy beds or to have overnight visits in new places. Our routine is an evening bath, 30 min couch snuggle, brush teeth, take flouride pill and then it is off to bed with a couple of stories. My boys love books with rythm. A couple of favorites are Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

If your son is not sick he should be learning how to put himself to sleep. A good bedtime routine can be a life saver.

I learned this caring for kids who had no bedtime routine or horrid routines. Imagine 3 kids under two who will not go to sleep without at least 30 minutes of undivided attention. Or a child who CANNOT go to sleep without that one special blanket or toy. Heaven forbid if you forgot it. Or the two year old who will only go to sleep if you lay next to them and let them stroke your hair. Or the two year old who only went to sleep while stroking his older brothers ear. I have some horror stories.

When my son was little we would dance (or sometimes rock) to some active music then to slower music. I would cradle him in my arms and dance. He loved it. I would then put him down with some snuggles and pats and I would promise to be back in 5 minutes to check on him. He was usually asleep by the second time I checked.

When he was a little older I would put him in the wagon and take a short walk before storytime, snuggles and bed time. I would still go back and check every 5 minute or so.

He became a great sleeper. He would nap anywhere if he had a place to lay down.

At two years of age, I would bring his nap pad to the river where his cousins were swimming and playing. I put the pad in the shade,snuggled him, covered him with a light blanket and he would go to sleep.

When we went camping, I would set the tent up so he could see me by the fire with my siblings, give him a small flashlight to play with ane he would drift off to sleep. After about 15 minutes or so I would go turn off the flashlight. (I always put him to bed before it got dark.)

Good sleeping habits can and should be learned early.

2 moms found this helpful

I second the one on Exercise/yoga ball- that you blow up. My son loved it and I still use it when he is really fussy/teethy or sick. Your hubby can still bounce him but not as rough...it is very soothing for some babies to be bounced. Another way to really gauge if your husband is being too forceful would be to have him do it in front of your Pedi or another mommy.
L

1 mom found this helpful

Jumping might not be the best idea, but we had GREAT luck with bouncing on our exercise ball. It is more comfortable and relaxing for my husband and I, but still gets the bouncing effect that is soothing to baby. It also limits how high your husband can bounce if you're really worried.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter loved bouncing from day one. We were pretty thankful to have figured this out, because it's all that worked. We put her in a bouncy seat often, because it worked way better than a swing to calm her. As she got older, she loved jumping on her own, and learned to do it way before the average age for jumping. And she has turned out fine. Just be careful, of course. An exercise ball is a great idea.

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M.,

Instead of bouncing/jumping with your son try the five S's.

Sucking (binky)
Swaddling
Shhh-ing (white noise, it also reminds baby of the womb)
Swaying
Side

I've seen this work on Dr. Phil, in the news, and on Oprah (I think). The expert will take a fussy baby, swaddle them snugly, stick a binky in the mouth, lay them on their side on his/her arm, start swaying and shhhh-ing in the baby's ear and the fussy baby is asleep in 5-10 minutes or so.

My kids hated being swaddled, but the other four S's worked well for us. Many a night I remember swaying/twisting with either my son (now 5) or my daughter (now 2) in my arms right at their cribside.

Hope this helps,
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you read "The Happiest Bay on the Block"? Here is the website: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/arts/07grad.html?_r=1&a... . A big part of it is "jiggling", and if you have seen the video, it is vigorous.

You should check with your pediatrician to see if what your husband is doing is harmful. If not, encourage him to parent and soothe the baby the best way he can. It is hard for dads, because they don't have the breast to soothe babies like women do.

1 mom found this helpful

My nephew was just like that since he was just three months old - you had to bounce him to get him to relax and sleep, the livelier the better! He is now one and a half and still loves to be jostled, he's very active and happy, so I think you have nothing to worry about as long as the head and neck are protected.

1 mom found this helpful

The only way my husband could get our son to sleep for the first year was with what we termed "vigorous bouncing." He didn't jump, just fast deep leg squats, he got very fit--Anyway maybe try to keep him from jumping, but I have to say some nights the only one who could get him to sleep was dad doing "vigorous bouncing." The only problem was that I did not have the physical stamina to keep up with him!

1 mom found this helpful

I recommend using a "yoga ball". We used one with all three of our kids. You just sit on it while holding them and bounce. It soothes them and controls the bounce a little. Unless you're worried about sleep-exhaustion or violence in your husband's movements, I think it would be hard to accidentally cause shaken baby syndrome. I'm just saying that from what I remember our pediatrician saying - I don't really know. I think you should ask the pediatrician about it next time you go. Ours reassured us about that very thing when ours kids were little babies.

1 mom found this helpful

Go to the library and borrow "The Best Baby on the Block". I don't know the author, but my sister-in-law borrowed it for me when my son was a newborn. Together with swaddling, the techniques for bouncing and jiggling him to sleep or to calm him were great.

I don't know if I would have stood still for my husband jumping with him because there's still a bit of a jar when he hits the ground.

I didn't want my husband doing anything I wouldn't or couldn't do because I was the one at home with him all day. We would have both been miserable if I couldn't have comforted him myself.

1 mom found this helpful

Get one of those exercise bouncy balls, and have your husband (or yourself) sit on it while your son is bounced to sleep. The ball should prevent your hubby from getting too carried away with things. Bouncing is great for some babies, but when a baby is crying...and mom/dad are overtired and cranky and just want baby to sleep...sometimes things can get out of hand. Vigorous bouncing CAN do damage to a baby's brain. Your concerns are valid...try to compromise with the bouncing and have him sit on a ball. I don't think you can get too out of control with those things.

Hang in there. Things should start to get better when your son starts walking....at least that's when we started getting better sleep at our house. The rapid brain development associated with that milestone finally made our son get some sleep....without having to do any acrobatics to make it happen.

1 mom found this helpful

I had to bounce up and down on the bed with my oldest son. I too was worried about the jarring effect, but it doesn't seem to have hurt him too much - at 11 he is a star athlete in football, basketball, and baseball as well as scoring in the 99% percentile on standardized tests. Some kids just seem to need the extra "bounce". However; I agree with the mom who said that you may want to start teaching your son to self-sooth. I know it's controversial, but cry it out is the only thing that worked for me with all three of my kids. The last one likes to sleep with a glo worm and one of my shirts.

1 mom found this helpful

If you are at all concerned it might be a good idea to give your pediatrician a quick call. Protecting the neck is good but I think their little brains are small and can bounce around in their head. You want to make sure regular, normal bouncing isn't going to do anything that could potentially damage the growing brain.

I second what Hamsa said!!!!!! I first thought it was too much....but it wasn't.

I have to agree with the THERESA's post. 6.5 months is most definitely old enough to start "sleep training". There are many approaches to sleep training [no-cry sleep solution, Cry it Out (Ferber method), etc.] and that would be research you need to do to find what works for your family. My husband and I were advised by our pediatrician that 4 months is old enough to start sleep training.

I'd be concerned with the jarring impact jumping up and down with a little one causes on the neck/spine/base of skull, especially if it's part of the "routine".

I had to bounce my colicky son on a yoga ball for endless hours it seemed. The harder I bounced the more it soothed him. The 5 S's did not work at all for him, made him more mad to be swaddled and wouldn't take to a pacifier either. Swaying him while on the ball gave my body a bit of a break from the up and down motion.. but bouncing was definitely the thing that worked. I did hold him securely next to me being careful of his neck, never used devices like swings and such because I was attachment parenting. One caveat of using the yoga ball and bouncing is the core stabalization that is required on your part.... I tell you my abs and back got right back into pre-pregnancy shape with that routine! LOL!

Invest in a swing, it's safer. Jumping up and down by an adult is nothing in compared to the jumping that's going on inside your baby's body. Holding their head will minimize the chances of whiplash but not the bruising of the brain or organs inside their bodies. If he's crying at 6.5 mo old, then he's either hungry, wet or just wants to be snuggled. Do one of the three. His body clock is changing as he gets older. Babies like the movement, so a swing will work, I've had some friends who sat their baby seat on the washer during a spin cycle. There are motors that you can attach to your crib that will gently rock/shake the mattress. Sweet dreams!

You should google "shaken baby syndrome" and show it to your husband. There is alot of damage to be done by jumping up and down with a baby.

Hi M., I know I'm weighing in on this one pretty late. i just wanted to say that just because he is supporting the head, the brain inside the skull is still bouncing at the same speed as your husband is bouncing him and is hitting the inside of your child's skull. Need to listen to your gut.... better safe than sorry. Might talk to your ped about this too.

I would be concerned about Shaken Baby Syndrome for sure

http://www.dontshake.org/sbs.php?topNavID=3&subNavID=23

Even though he is not "shaking" the baby, it could still have serious consequences.

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