5 Month Old Fighting Sleep

Updated on February 20, 2008
A.S. asks from Middletown, NJ
8 answers

I have a 5 month old little girl, my first. She is such a joy and is so happy until... she gets tired! I call her the Ultimate Sleep Fighting Champion. For awhile we were able to get away with rocking her to sleep pretty peacefully. She would cry once or twice but then snuggle into the crook of your arm and go right to sleep. And then we could very easily transfer her to the crib and she'd stay asleep. Now it seems like she is fighting it so much more. She knows that when we cradle her in our arms that its time to sleep and fights it RIGHT AWAY. Then I was getting her to go to sleep if I rocked her in my glider, but now she gets upset (back arching and screaming) when she sees me head for the rocker/glider. The carriers worked for awhile too, but now she knows that will make her sleep and she fights that as well, plus I am fine with some minor sleep props, but having to put her in the Ergo carrier, Mei Tai or other carrier JUST to get her to sleep seems a bit ridiculous to me. So the most frustrating part is that she wastes so much time that I think she is shortening her naps. If she would go to sleep when she was tired instead of fussing and fighting it for a 1/2 hour or more, she wouldn't wake up hungry as soon. And lets not even mention yet the fact that she does not even remotely sleep through the night. She goes to sleep around 9 and the best I can do is she may sleep til 2a, but I honestly think that was ONCE!? I am reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer right now, but I just don't have much faith. Anyone have a similar experience to share or some encouraging words??

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and encouraging words. For one thing, I think my little one is cutting her first tooth. I feel a little ridge of something on her bottom gums, so perhaps that is why she is fighting us so sternly on the issue of going to sleep. I have to say I am not a huge supporter of the cry it out method, but if she keeps up the way she is, I will certainly be re reading your lessons on that method of sleep training. At this point, sometimes I feel as if she is crying it out in my arms, so why not in her crib! My concern right now really is not that she does not sleep through the night, but simply that she seems to be fighting the idea of going to sleep everytime we head in that direction. If this tooth does not make a difference, then I may be back for some support!! Thanks again and keep the ideas comin'!!

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answers from Albany on

prolly cutting a lower tooth in. Sometimes babies just cry. Consistency is always good. Babies sleep when they want to. She will eventually even out but maintain flexibility. The lavender suggestion seems to sound sensible.

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answers from Elmira on

Hi A.,

Imagine, if you will, that you are your daughter. You grew inside this amazing vessel (YOU). You only knew the sounds of the heart thumping, the lungs inhaling and exhaling, that soft sweet mama voice. For almost 10 months, your whole existence thus far, this was your safe place your home everything that you know.
One day you are pushed out into this bright loud world but you hear that mama voice clear and sweet and the world starts to right itself again. You sleep on her chest and nurse. Almost like being back in your home but, it works because you have your mama holding you.

Now imagine that you are totally separated from that mama and you feel her frustration and wants to abandon you while you sleep. Not a good feeling. Babies need the muffled thump of our hearts and other bodily sounds to be at peace and sleep, thats why the ergo works. Eventually, she will sleep on her own and then go to sleep on her own.

My 10 month old daughter would only go to sleep in one of the carriers and did not nap much. Babies DO NOT NEED schedules. They do what is right for themselves at each moment. So, 'nap time' happens when they are ready. I do not think my daughter has taken a nap at the same time EVER. Eventually, as she was more physically and linguistically independent, started self soothing and putting herself to sleep. Although, not without complaining (not crying but complaining, like she was mad that she was tired). Now when I see she is tired (heavy eyes, rubbing eyes) i hold her, nurse her a little bit so her tummy is happy, give her hugs and cuddles, tell her I love her, sing a song and lay her down. We have this 'rhythm' that we follow WHEN SHE IS TIRED, not when i want to 'put her to sleep.' She doesn't fight it and actually goes down without fussing or complaining anymore.

It is a long process of being selfless and reading your child well. Good luck.




answers from New York on

I had one of those - imagine a 4 month old who wouldn't even fall asleep in the car if there was something interesting to look at. I HIGHLY recommend a book called "On Becoming Babywise" (or maybe just "Babywise"...I gave away my copy to a desperate friend). Once we used the principles in the book, our daughter started going to sleep for us and sleeping through the night in about a week. You have to prepare yourself for a bit of a battle of wills, but really, it's good preparation for the twos and teens! It worked well with our other two children as well, though they were not nearly as stubborn as their oldest sister. I know someone else responded that babies don't need schedules, but I certainly do! Try "Babywise", and learn how to get in control of the situation. Good luck!



answers from New York on

NIP IT IN THE BUTT NOW!! It may seem harsh, but she doesn't really know anything yet. If she naps during the day she may have her days and nights mixed up. Feed her more often during the day. At 5 months she should be sleeping atleast 15 hrs. You just need to put her in the crib and let her cry, going into the room every 5 minutes - up to 30 minutes, to reasure her that you are there, try giving her a pacifier, swadle her, put her in a swing, a blanket with your smell on it or the smell of lavendar. I did this with my son and it took just 4 days to break the habit. I would go into the next room and put the headphones on til the 5 minutes were up and just repeat the process. It is hard, but be consistant and it will all work out. Also playing wordless music and wordless lullabys, helps to calm down. My sons are now 13 & 9 sleeping with blankets with lavendar getting a much needed nights sleep. I'm so glad I did it. Be strong, & consistant. Good Luck!



answers from New York on

Sometimes I wonder if they just sense that we want them to go to sleep and that is why they are fighting us on it...



answers from New York on

Hi A.,

When I was reading your story I felt like it was me talking. I had the same exact experience with my daughter at 5 months old. Unfortunately it lasted until she was 9 months she is now 10 months. She did the same exact thing, fight sleep at every cost. And took 1/2 hour naps during the day, at one point it was no naps for a few days in a row. I feel your pain and frustration. I bought the baby sleep book and it had some good tips in it. That's the "No Tears" method as oppose to the "Cry it out" method. Personally I don't really like the cry it out method but there were some nights I just could not take it and she cried for 2 hours. The doctor said to just let her cry which is easier said than done, he told me he didn't do it with his kids. But that's suppose to be the best why for the babies to learn to self soothe. Try using one of those noise machines with the wave sounds, or the mothers heart beat. I found a could one on line its a sheep that attaches to the outside of the crib. Also try really really hard not to pick her up. When she wakes up just go in and rub her back, use soothing tones "go to sleep baby" repeat it over and over. You can also try to put a teaspoon or two of cereal in her bottle before bed that might help keep her belly full for longer stretches. I thought The Baby Sleep Book was very helpful. It talks about different ways you can chose to get your baby to sleep better. Sometimes it worked if she woke up and I moved her to the pack and play she would sleep there for awhile. It will get better I noticed that by 8 months she started to sleep longer but she still wakes up once or twice at night but with some soothing words and rubbing her back so usually goes back to sleep pretty quickly. I hope I helped a little. Good Luck Keep the faith. J. SI NY



answers from Rochester on

As much as you don't want to hear this, it's time for you to let her cry it out. I went through it with both of my boys, now 5 and 2, and it was difficult. Unless you go through it though, you're never going to get her to go to sleep on her own. I'm not saying just stick her in the crib and let her scream, but I am saying you have to stick to your guns.

Put her in the crib, turn on a little music, give her whatever it is that she's attached to (other than YOU:)and walk out. She'll cry. Let her do so for about 10-15 min. (really however long you can stand it). Then go in, let her know you haven't completely left her, and walk out again (DO NOT pick her up). Repeat this, waiting longer intervals between visits. If you stick to this, within 1-3 days, you should have a true napper and bedtime should be easier too. At bedtime, when she wakes, you should be able to go in, tell her you're there, tuck her back in and walk out. She should go back to sleep on her own.

Babies follow routines, they like routines. If she knows what to expect and what is expected of her, even at 5 mths., she'll do it. This is REALLY hard, so give yourself a break. I hope this helps. Write back in a few days and let us know how it's working out.




answers from New York on

I agree that you just have to let her cry it out or she will never sleep alone. I made that mistake with my son & my daughter, make sure she has a full belly lay her in her crib with some soft music, and leave her in the crib, go back in the room after about 15 minutes and let her know mommy is still here but DONT PICK HER UP OR TALK TO HER, then leave. It will break your heart it did mine but you just have to let her cry. It may take a couple of days but she will learn to sleep by herself.

I know this is not easy for a mother to hear her baby cry and not rush to comfort her but you are not doing yourself or her any favors. I let this go till my son was 2 years old and it was much harder to do it then, dont let it go on like I did,

Good luck

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