5 Month Old Not Sleeping

Updated on October 31, 2007
L.S. asks from Dayton, OH
18 answers

I know I put in a request prior to this one about my 5 month old's sleeping habits. We finally got into a bedtime routine of going down between 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. He was still waking for a night feeding once a night, and would continue to sleep until 8:30 a.m. Well, starting this past Thursday, my son has woken up and stays up for at least three to four hours at a time starting around midnight. He will not nap during the day, and I try very hard to put him down. Again, he will only sleep if I hold him. This three to four hour night waking has been going on for three nights now. I'm starting to get extremely exhausted, and I know he is too. Is it possible he is too tired to fall asleep? Is he going through a growth spurt? I don't know if any of you mommies out there have or are going through similar patterns with your babies. He has been suffering symptoms of teething, but there's no tooth insight, so I don't think that's his problem. He is fine once we pick him up. However, as soon as he's asleep and I lay him down, he gets extremely mad. Please help me if at all possible. I really hope this is a phase, because I don't know how many more nights I can go only getting three to four hours of sleep. Thanks so much.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all who responded to my situation. I'm so grateful there's a resource where other moms can hand out advice. It turns out, William was getting so used to me holding him during his naps, he decided he should be held at bedtime too. We had this pattern of sleeping for three hours, crying, falling back to sleep after three hours, sleeping for three hours, and up for the day. He was fine as long as he was held. I know his teeth are on the verge of breaking thru the gums, but I didn't think that was a huge problem. He would never fuss during the day. Anyway, I'm still not a huge fan of the Cry It Out method, but William needed to learn I couldn't hold him to sleep. So, I decided to put him down in his crib for naps every afternoon at 1:00 p.m. It was extremely hard on me letting him cry, but I went up every 10 min. I only ended up going up there once, and then after I left, he would fall asleep shortly. It's helped a lot at bedtime, because now I put him down drowsy, but awake. As soon as I lay him down, he gets on his side and goes to sleep. We are on night 3 of him sleeping from 7:45 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. the next day. Thanks again for helping me ladies. I'm loving this new sleep pattern, but I competely understand it can and probably will be short lived. We still need teeth to break thru the gumline, and his six month spurt. Thanks again ladies.

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answers from Great Falls on

Have you tried the doc. I know it's expensive but I'd see if he has an ear infection. They don't always come with other symptoms. My sister has hearing loss in one ear because she had an infection for so long. I know my kids don't sleep as well laying down as they do sitting up, when they have an ear infection. Try not to worry too much. Good luck.



answers from Kalamazoo on

Have you started feeding him solids yet? I have read and experienced that sleep patterns get messed up once they are ready for more calories and substance. If you haven't already started, that could be something to think about.

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answers from Provo on

The best advice I can give is to get the book, "The Sleepeasy Solution" and read it and try it. I loved the methods and we used them when we were going crazy with our 15 month old daughter and wished we had known about it sooner. Within 3 nights she was sleeping all through the night, no wake-ups and is such an angel all the time because she is well rested. We have been doing the same routine now for over 6 months and actually have been on two short vacations without the kids and they slept all through the night for my in-laws, who were amazed and happy about it. Good luck!



answers from Madison on

It is very possible that he is going through growht spurt. I know around six months most babies do and it can mess up there sleeping. My son did around six months, it seemed like we had to start over with is sleeping routine at six months. But also a growth spurt doesn't last forever. So after awhile when I thought he was waking up out of habit and not because he was hungry we had to work through it and we let him cry some so that he would fall asleep. Which I know is not for everyone, but it seemed to work with our son. It could also be teething. It always seems to bother them more at night. the book we used was Babywise, I don't agree with everything in it, but the basics I do. It can be a lot of work but it seems worth to have baby sleeping more. But there are a lot of books out there. Anyway, I hope it gets better!



answers from Madison on

Oh I'm so sorry for you. I went through the same thing. Your so tired and nothing seems to help. On more than one occasion I called my mom crying because I was just so tired.

Honestly I can't say what will make him sleep. When I was at my limit and called my doctor the nurse suggested a book by Furber but when I talked to the doctor she said I was doing everything right. In most cases I think all that's needed is time. Until this phase is passed just sleep when you can.

I can say that my daughter is now 2 and sleeps mostly through the night. It's never going to be perfect again but at least I feel rested in the morning. Being where you are made me feel really alone and like I was never going to be able to sleep normal again. Just wanted to let you know there are others out there.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Something you might try is to let him sleep near you in your room,If the crib is not in your room put it there. He could be having some kind of nightmares. My nephew used to wake ofen and my sister-in -law changed her nightgown and put the one with the "mama scent" in his bed. Soon afterward he was asleep. Hope this works out for you. Good luck!



answers from Boise on

Hi L.,
Congratulations getting onto a regular bedtime routine. Your son sounds just like my daughter (now ten months). When she teeths, she generally deals well with it during the day and goes to sleep well. But during the night, she but hurts more and gets more expressive of her pain at night. (That is a nice way to say she will scream for two to three hours before she collapseing in a sad exhausted heap.) To help her get more sleep during these times when she is actively teething, I give her at bedtime a dose of tylenol (pre-six months) or ibuprofen (after six months old). She still wakes up, but she is in much less pain and is not in a frantic panic. It is easier to comfort/support her through the pain and she goes back to sleep much sooner.

Take care of yourself. Loosing sleep is awful. It has really been the worst part of parenthood for me. Its important to find a way to catch up on your sleep -- Get a babysitter and find a quiet place to take an afternoon nap!



answers from Boise on

That can be so frustrating! I don't believe in the cry it out method they are babies, but some things that could work are sleeping in his room with him for a little while, giving him something with your scent on it, have you considered that he might be teething? This can so mess up a childs sleeping habits, I would give some tylenol or ibuprophen about a half hour before you lay him down and see if this doesn't help, don't forget that you will have to give him another dose at night, but it sounds more like he is really uncomfortable.



answers from Lansing on


I had this same problem with my son.I never had results with anything I tried. I will tell you it did go away and he started sleeping 12 hrs a night. He is 10 now and has been a good sleeper since!

You could try a homeopathic sleep aide. I wish I could help! I know exactly how you feel.

Good Luck!!!!!



answers from Sheboygan on

You could try putting your son down to sleep with a shirt of yours that you have worn. Sometimes all a child needs is just some re-assurance that you're nearby, and this way he will have your scent in his crib with him, giving him the security he's wanting.



answers from Provo on

So, I posted a similar question not to long ago for my 5 month old, now 6, and got a ton of response. You may want to read them. I also went out and got a load of books from the local library and am reading up on as much as I can. I also took the little guy to the doctor to make sure there wasn’t something like the ears bothering him. I first thought that he inherited his fathers sleeping habits but then realized it can’t be so…I am realizing it maybe the sleep associations he has....you holding him to get him to sleep may be the trouble. Anyway, I suggest you read some stuff and think about what you are doing consistently that may be causing him to insist on your attention for his naps.

Good luck, I am going through some of the same and the sleep thing is killing me. The hard thing for me now, to get my husband to believe that leaving him to put himself back to sleep (just a couple of minutes to wait) is a good thing.



answers from Milwaukee on

I know that no parent want to hear it, but I think you need to try the Cry-It-Out method.

We had a similar problem with our son around 5-6 months and after a month of not sleeping I gave in to my husband's request and we gave it a try. Honestly, we had results with in the first week. Periodically he'd cry before/middle of the night through the first 1-2 months that we started this (but not every night) and the crying was usually not longer than 20 mins and rarely longer than 1 hour.

Now we only have problems occassionally when he is sick, and even then we get up and hold him a little while -- give him some medicine and put him back to sleep (evening crying -- again 20 mins tops).

Good Luck!



answers from Appleton on

i know this isnt much comfort, but my daughter started showing signs of teething at about 5 months and didnt get her first tooth until she was 11 mo old. hang in there. sleep when he sleeps. try playing some lulliby cds or something maybe it is just to quiet for him in his room. my daughter couldnt sleep in the quiet



answers from Wausau on

Hi - my daughter started waking multiple times during the night from when she was 6 months to 8 months old. It seemed to start when she had a cold, then she was teething, then learning to sit up, etc., etc. So I figured she would soon get back to sleeping through the night (which she had done from 2 months to 6 months of age.) I finally got so tired and frustrated, that I borrowed my friend's Dr. Ferber book. Have you read it? It is very interesting, and made a lot of sense to my husband and I (as far as sleep routines.) We did the cry it out method, and after three nights she was back to sleeping 12 hours at night. I am so glad that we tried this. I really didn't think it would work, but it did!



answers from Saginaw on

I would suggest the solid thing tooo. If ur not feeding him solids then maybe its time tooo. My little guys started eating solids at 2 months old well i mean cereal off a spoon. It helped with his reflex plus the night time feedings. He actually learned not to take a sippy cup or a bottle to bed with him after he was 7 months old. Weird lol anyways i would try solids if u havn't already. I know some people say oh u should wait.... cause of allergies or u should wait because of weight gain. You know ur baby best and it could be a growth spirt. Good luck !!!



answers from St. Cloud on

I wish I had advice for you, but I posted yesterday about the almost the same problem. Please see J. M. post. Good Luck and if I do get any good avice I will send it your way. Please do the same. My 6 month old has been doing this for almost 2 weeks now. I can relate to how your feeling. It is very hard to keep up with your daily stuff when your so tired. Hang in there, it must get better.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Is he learning something new, like sitting up? A lot of times they are so eager to practice they just can't sleep. I've also heard that babies do this when they are about to have a significant change, like sitting up, crawling, etc. It could possibly be teething. It could be a growth spurt and he's just getting hungry. Maybe he just wants to be close to you.

We've all been there and it does stop! Just never as soon as you'd like it to. Another suggestion that you swaddle your baby in a t-shirt that you've been wearing so they can still smell you. I used to do this with my daughter - tuck in one of my t-shirts between the folds of her blanket (so she could smell me, but it wasn't loose, of course, she was still really little).

Anyway, not much advice, but know it will pass. Just keep doing the same routine you've always done everynight and it will get better.



answers from Lincoln on

If you are breastfeeding do NOT use any caffine, not coffee, soda, tea etc., and not any other stimulants. Sometimes even chocolate will have a little caffine. If you are not breastfeeding are you letting him have any of your drinks? Even a sip can have an effect on a tiny baby.
A walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine is good for a baby and will make them tired and want to sleep, even if they are not the ones doing the walking. A walk in the mall is no substitute for being outside. Nothing can do what fresh air and sunshine do! Go now, before the snow flies!!
Also,I recommend the cry it out method IF you are sure he hasn't got a hair wrapped around a toe or something else making him hurt, and if he has had his fresh air for the day!

Fresh air and sunshine are miracle workers!

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