Help! My 3 months old son needs to nurse to sleep.

Vanessa - posted on 05/11/2009 ( 19 moms have responded )

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Hi, My son is almost 4 months now. My doctor tells me that he should be able to sleep through the night, however, we are not even close to this. He co-sleeps with me and needs to be either nursed or rocked to sleep. He has never slept longer than a 4 hour stretch, recently he's began teething so now he doesn't sleep longer then 2 hours. Lately I feel like I'm nursing him all night long. I need to fix this habit. I've tried to get him to sleep in his crib since birth but this has never worked. I call it the "Alarm Clock" no matter how deeply he is sleeping he wakes instantly when I put him in it. My doctor is a strong believer in the Cry it out method. I tried this one night and it was incredibly stressful for my son and myself, and it didn't work. I cannot see myself using this method for a long period of time. Has anyone had this problem?? Is the cry it out method the only solution???

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[deleted account]

Honestly, I think your doctor is crazy. Most 4 month old babies don't sleep through the night, and even hardcore cry-it-out proponents don't suggest using that method with a baby younger than 6 months. Especially if your baby is breastfed, very likely he still needs a mid-night feeding or two. My only advice is to follow your instincts, and do what feels right for your family. You can get your son used to sleeping in the crib slowing without resorting to letting him cry. There's no need to rush the transition. You can rock him at night and then set him down groggy and see if he'll settle down to sleep. Try warming the crib mattress a bit with a hot-water bottle so the temperature change doesn't wake him. But even if these things don't work, he will learn to go to sleep on his own in good time. I still often nurse my 8 month old to sleep, but over the last two months or so he's become quite good at going to sleep on his own - and staying asleep, too. He's needed very little intervention on my part to learn this.

Esther - posted on 05/11/2009

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You need another doctor!! My son has only just started to sleep through the night at 16 months. My friend's son started sleeping through the night 2 months ago - at 2.5 YEARS old!! Granted, most kids don't take that long, but to say he should be sleeping through the night at 3 months seems insane to me. And I would definitely not use CIO on a baby that young! Crying is their only means of communication. I personally don't subscribe to CIO at any age, but most definitely not when they are that young.

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Lissa - posted on 03/30/2011

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I agree with the ladies!! Get another Doctor, you do not leave four month old babies to cry it out! It is perfectly normal to have to nurse him frequently through the night at this age, he only has a tiny little stomach he needs little and often. If you want him to sleep in a cot rather than in your bed, sleeping with a blanket one night then putting it in with your baby so he can still smell you works for a lot of babies.

Liz - posted on 03/30/2011

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No way jose!!! I think the cry it out method is one of the most horrible things you can do! I know I wouldn't want to fall asleep while screaming my brains out, would you? I want my baby to fall asleep in a warm, comfortable place, and if that means she's cuddling, and nursing with me, then so be it, we both sleep better that way. If he gets sleep, and you get sleep, leave well enough alone, that's my philosophy. God gave us breasts to feed and nurture our babies, so I think anyone that tells us not to use that gift is completely crazy. Furthermore.......in a baby as young as yours, breastmilk goes right through them! He probably shouldn't sleep alone all night anyway, because he may need to wake up and eat in the middle of the night. If you really want to sleep without him, try nursing him to sleep, then putting him in a pack and play, or a cosleeper in your room, that way he can wake up and eat, and you're right there, you know? Good luck hun!!

Tara - posted on 05/11/2009

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Quoting Jenifer:

Honestly, I think your doctor is crazy. Most 4 month old babies don't sleep through the night, and even hardcore cry-it-out proponents don't suggest using that method with a baby younger than 6 months. Especially if your baby is breastfed, very likely he still needs a mid-night feeding or two. My only advice is to follow your instincts, and do what feels right for your family. You can get your son used to sleeping in the crib slowing without resorting to letting him cry. There's no need to rush the transition. You can rock him at night and then set him down groggy and see if he'll settle down to sleep. Try warming the crib mattress a bit with a hot-water bottle so the temperature change doesn't wake him. But even if these things don't work, he will learn to go to sleep on his own in good time. I still often nurse my 8 month old to sleep, but over the last two months or so he's become quite good at going to sleep on his own - and staying asleep, too. He's needed very little intervention on my part to learn this.


I agree with Jenifer. Most babies your son's age don't sleep through the night (mine sure didn't!), and even people who use cry-it-out don't recommend it for any baby younger than 6 months. One thing that worked with my daughter to get her to sleep in the crib was I wore a shirt all day and kept the blanket she normally has in her crib where she could lay on it for the day - at night I put the shirt under the fitted crib sheet and put the blanket in with her - worked like a charm. I also made certain to put her in the crib while she was drowsy, but still awake. Babies often associate comfort with your scent so it may work for you. I also did the cry-it-out just before my daughter turned 1 (she was sleeping in 30 min - 2 hr chunks) - it is stressfull, but what I did was ease into it - a few minutes at a time. It took about a week of being consistent, but she now sleeps through the night consistently and has a good nap schedule.

Shaelee - posted on 05/11/2009

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No way! What's wrong with co-sleeping and nursing until you wean? It helps give you two a strong attatchment and lets your son know deeply in his psyche that you are there for him.

I think the most important thing advise anyone ever gave me was to trust my heart, no one knows your kid better than you and what they need.

In case it helps here's what I did: When my nursing son hurt me as he was teething, I made him nurse a different way (pulled him away when it hurt, he got the idea soon enough). He nursed until he was almost 2 (before bed at least) and then suddenly his teeth started to hurt bad, and I was able to communicate it to him at that point. He was able to understand and didn't fight it at all. What I thought was going to be stress and pain was a very peaceful process.

(I personally think that the cry it out method screws people up! I have known a few kids that were raised that way that have *horrible* relationships and no trust in their parents now that they are teens. Not to scare you or anything - just do what you think is right! trust yourself!)

Jennifer - posted on 05/11/2009

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My son slept through the night at 3 months old, he took two naps during the day and we played. He was really sleepy at bed time. My daughter, now 14 months old, still has to nurse, either before bed or once in the middle of the night(not every night, but often enough) Every child is different. Your little one will develop his own schedule on his own time, don't rush him. If he needs you be there for him, and when he is ready for independence, let him be. And just let him know you are there ready with hugs and kisses if he needs them. :) They grow up too fast to sweat the small stuff. Good Luck.

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Get a different doctor. I would recommend finding a Le Leche Group in your area and then finding out which pediatrician many of the ladies in the group use. If it helps, I am going through the EXACT same thing with my daughter right now (she's 3 months). She'll sleep for hours in the swing, but only 15-20 minutes in her crib. Have you tried swaddling your son? My daughter acts like she hates it, but it does make her sleep for longer periods of time.

Tamara - posted on 05/11/2009

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Quoting Jenifer:

Honestly, I think your doctor is crazy. Most 4 month old babies don't sleep through the night, and even hardcore cry-it-out proponents don't suggest using that method with a baby younger than 6 months. Especially if your baby is breastfed, very likely he still needs a mid-night feeding or two. My only advice is to follow your instincts, and do what feels right for your family. You can get your son used to sleeping in the crib slowing without resorting to letting him cry. There's no need to rush the transition. You can rock him at night and then set him down groggy and see if he'll settle down to sleep. Try warming the crib mattress a bit with a hot-water bottle so the temperature change doesn't wake him. But even if these things don't work, he will learn to go to sleep on his own in good time. I still often nurse my 8 month old to sleep, but over the last two months or so he's become quite good at going to sleep on his own - and staying asleep, too. He's needed very little intervention on my part to learn this.


I agree 100%.  If your little guy is not taking to the crib well, can you try cosleeping?

Tamara - posted on 05/11/2009

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Quoting Jenifer:

Honestly, I think your doctor is crazy. Most 4 month old babies don't sleep through the night, and even hardcore cry-it-out proponents don't suggest using that method with a baby younger than 6 months. Especially if your baby is breastfed, very likely he still needs a mid-night feeding or two. My only advice is to follow your instincts, and do what feels right for your family. You can get your son used to sleeping in the crib slowing without resorting to letting him cry. There's no need to rush the transition. You can rock him at night and then set him down groggy and see if he'll settle down to sleep. Try warming the crib mattress a bit with a hot-water bottle so the temperature change doesn't wake him. But even if these things don't work, he will learn to go to sleep on his own in good time. I still often nurse my 8 month old to sleep, but over the last two months or so he's become quite good at going to sleep on his own - and staying asleep, too. He's needed very little intervention on my part to learn this.


I agree 100%.  If your little guy is not taking to the crib well, can you try cosleeping?

Tara - posted on 05/11/2009

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4 months is way to young to "cry it out" You can actually hurt him by doing this. And not every baby is the same. My oldest daughter will be 2 next month and she still wakes up at lest once a night. When she was a baby it was very hard to get her to sleep in anything, she would only sleep in my arms or in her car seat. Which can cause sids. So I stopped that. What I do with my 2 month old is rock her to sleep and wait 10 mins after she is fully asleep and then lay her in her crib. It usually works. Sometimes she sleeps 6 - 7 hours. He may wake up because it is cold in his crib. When you hold him he is taking your body heat. Try swaddling him with a blanket or if possible put a blanket in the dryer until it gets warm and wrap him in that when you lay him down. Hope this helps. Good Luck =)

Melanie - posted on 05/11/2009

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Every baby is different. Both of my little ones have always seemed to require not very much sleep. We had a pack and play by the bed for a really long time with both of them, so when they did transition from nursing to bed it wasn't a long walk or light change. They both nursed several times during the night until well after 4 months. As all these other moms said: Trust your instincts. You will know when the baby is just waking up to see you instead of being hungry. At that point, my husband and I had a deal, if the baby woke up before the designated time, he went to tend to him. Dad wasn't as exciting, I guess, because this slowed down the night waking a lot. Good luck. This won't last forever. Meanwhile, nap when the baby naps whenever you can!!

Silvia - posted on 05/11/2009

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I think your babyis a little young for the cry it out method. Have you tried laying your baby in the crib with an item that has your scent on it,a blanket or a t-shirt. It helped my daughter stay in her crib..

Sarah - posted on 05/11/2009

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My baby is 6 months and still has to be nursed or rocked to sleep, although now it doesn't take as long as we can tell when she's tired. At around 4 months she started sleeping 7 hours a night for a few weeks, then began waking up in the middle again, possibly due to growing or teething? (I have a friend with 3 girls who said all her kids did this too for a while). Now when we get her to sleep, we put her in her own crib and if she wakes up in the night I'll bring her to our bed and nurse her right back to sleep.I'm not worried about it and would never let her cry herself to sleep. I think it's great that you are concerned but like the other ladies said, trust your instincts. This is a minor hurdle and I think you're doing everything right.

Denise - posted on 05/11/2009

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try lying him on something that smells of you. i use johnsons bedtime bath before bed and he sleeps for 11hours and he is 4 and a half months. or rock him in his moses basket or crib.

[deleted account]

I agree with all of the others - your doctor is wrong, 4 months is really young to be sleeping "through the night" and having that expectation is not realistic. Four months is pretty early to not nurse/parent to sleep IMO so it might be difficult to make that transition at this point but some of the suggestions above are great but may not work for a baby this young.

Sarah - posted on 05/11/2009

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These ladies are steering you in the right direction. I'm sorry you have been stressed and probably have been scrutinized by your doctor as well. Welcome to motherhood! Trust your instincts over your doctor when things aren't improving with their advice. A great website for nursing mommies is www.llli.org (la leche league). Both of my kids slept in baby swings until around 12 weeks and then I gradually moved them into the crib since it was getting cramped in the swing. My daughter did need rocked to sleep for awhile but by a 10 months or so, she was falling asleep on her own in her crib. Babies will do things when THEY are ready, we just nudge them along and when they are ready they will! You are doing a wonderful job by trying to get help, shows a mother who really wants to do her best for her baby!

User - posted on 05/11/2009

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i completley agree with both these ladies, also, it is likely that he is feeding more because of a growth spurt! it will pass :o)

you are doing a fantastic job!!

if you want to break the nursing to sleep, try feeding until very very nearly asleep and breaking the latch and cuddling him close, he still has the comfort, but not sucking to sleep.

they do sleep through eventually, they do find their own way to sleep and their own beds, all 5 of mine have, altho it is nice when one or two come in for a middle of the night cuddle now ;o)

Keisha - posted on 05/11/2009

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Jenifer is dead on!!! I COMPLETELY AGREE with everything she said...including thinking that your doctor is crazy! :) This is completely normal for a 4 month old baby. The cry it out method should not be used on a baby this young. He will learn to get to sleep on his own soon enough, however at this age he still needs regular and rather frequent feedings. Since you're nursing him it would benefit you to have him in the bed with you. My husband and I are pretty still sleepers, so we didn't have a problem, I would just roll over nurse my boys and then fall back to sleep. When I was comfortable and after they were able to turn over on their own, I eased into putting them into their cribs at night. Good Luck and it sounds like you're doing the right thing...dont let that doctor confuse you.

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