How can I get my 6 month old to sleep better without having him "cry it out?"

Susan - posted on 02/17/2009 ( 31 moms have responded )

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I have a 6 month 2 week old son. Since day one he has not been a good sleeper. He gets up at night every 2-3 hours. I have been out of work, so this hasn't been a big deal, because I could sneak naps in...now I am going back to work. I can't leave him "cry it out" because I have a daughter who is in school, and both my husband and I need all the sleep we can get. From what I hear, at this point he should be sleeping through the night or only getting up once (which I could definetly handle). Any suggestion on how to get my little man to sleep better?

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Hughena - posted on 04/06/2013

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Hi moms
I am mother of 4 and have new grandson, he is 6 months, having a little trouble settling him at night, so decided I would do what I was unable to do with my 4, as internet lol, nope did not have computers. Now before I pass on my wisdom, personal opinion I would like to say, that;s all it is, every child is different and so is every mum, so I ask kindly for no replies of people dying to tell me I am from the dark ages and wrong lol. I would like to say I have also been a nurse for 23 yrs and have worked with children, adults and the elderly. So here goes, from this old lol mum. I totally agree with routine, newborns must get their nourishment so they will wake lots, also because they are continuing to bond with mama or dad. But within 3 to 4 months, I so agree with Bath, warmth ,quiet and snuggles for bed. Allowing them to feel it is time to settle. But crying it out, totally do not agree, now if it has worked for you great, but this method bothers me. As with all people I have cared for, family to friends to ones I am a caregiver, we all want that peace and comfort, to know someone loves us and is there to reach out to. Rocking, not rocking, in your own bed, in the crib whatever you can ease your infant to do it, but letting them cry than allowing them to see you for a second and leaving again, yup they may get it, ok they are not going to soothe me, but 6 months old, hmmm I must soothe myself, our babies are not babies for long, you cannot make one routine for all, such a difference between preemies , natural settlers, babies who need little more security, what you see in them now is what you realize is still a part of them as adults, we r all different, some of us need more reassurance, comfort, some of us r more independent, these habits did not arise from routines as infants , it was how God made us, now I do realize that for some people bad things that may have happened to us as children could have created some of these mannerisms we posses , but if we r talking babies, mum's dad's and love, that enjoy every second, there is no such thing as loving, comforting and wanting them to feel a sense of security that is too much, please. So hunny, do what works for you , you will figure it out. My daughter finds that my grandson can be hard to settle some nights, wants little extra rocking, singing, snuggling, oh well , she will be ok and so will he, because she knows in the blink of an eye they r babies no more and the things that exhausted us are replaced with car pools, school projects(up coloring or gluing them till one am) lol, sports, sleep overs, teen angst, not sleeping till they get home and so on and so on, I was tired for 20 yrs lol, but my kids r my world, I work eat, sleep and breath for them, there will come a time for you, we travel, we date (I am talking my husband and I), but I have no regrets about the choices I made about my babies. Life is short, just as this time of tiredness and little sleep is there, it will pass and than there will be something else, it's all in how you look at it, the one thing that is true is our babies are worth every yawn, every tear,every smile, and every snuggle. I wish you all the best, and pray that your baby lives the best, happiest life.
P.S. Your husband is a good man, there are many from every generation who do not support mummy's enough to notice baby crying, he is a good man because he doesn't want to see any of the woman and daughters in his life in any way upset. All the best.

Angela - posted on 02/18/2009

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If there's one thing I have learned about children it is that they can not be put into a box!  I have eight of them (yes, all by the same man) and they have all had different sleeping patterns.  I do things quite differently now than I did with my first: when my three month old wakes me up in the middle of the night  I bring her into bed with me.  Yes, that's right!  I sleep with my babies!!!  Guess what?  Up until a few decades ago all moms did!  And in most places in the world, they still do!



My two year-old son used to wake up every now and then up until his little sister was born.  Guess what?  I'd bring into bed as well!  Remember, children thrive from human contact.  They weren't surrounded by your body for nine months only to come out and be by themselves in some cold crib.  Sleep with your little peanuts!  One day they won't even want to kiss you good-bye!!!



 

[deleted account]

Well, I don't know the ages of all your children, but my youngest is now 12 and my oldest is 25.  There's one thing I did learn is that no one method works, and do what you think is right.  Laying down with your child, or holding them in your arms, reassuring them, there's a closeness and a bond that you have with your child that if you don't establish when they are in that first year - the signals and connectedness can't happen if you miss the opportunity.   My children sleep wonderfully and I'd say have the time we let them fall asleep in our arms, half the time they fell asleep in the crib.  When the time is right, they will cut the umbilical cord for you and then you will miss all that time, and all those sleepless nights.  When they are on their own and you only speak to them once every couple weeks, you will be glad you did get to be all to them you could be.  Whoever said to establish a routine really didn't have a house of children and many different personality types.  I have children who get tired when the sun goes down, and I have children who will make wonderful shift workers.  Our job isn't to have our kids fit into what we think is convenient for us - it's our job to give them the emotional security and let them feel that we will ALWAYS be there for them, no matter what time, day or middle of the night for hugs and holding.

Becky - posted on 02/19/2009

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Quoting Amy:

I also have 2 girls who don't sleep well. One is 4 and she didn't sleep through the night until she was 2, and the other one is 10 mo. and still waking up 2x a night. Sometimes as mothers I think we get too hard on ourselves and think we should have a solution for everything. But what I've found is that some people have kids that sleep well, and other people don't. That doesn't make you a bad mother who is doing something wrong. Crying it out is cruel and heartless- I can't imagine not getting help if I felt lonely or scared. The fact is that people who don't have "all-nighters" will never understand-they just think that "Kids SHOULD sleep through the night at 3 months because that's what MY child did!" But there is no absolute in life. Keep hanging in there and know there are other moms up right along with you at 3:00 AM-we should start a FB support group because we are NOT a minority!!! :)


Very much agree - I cannot stand the idea that my tiny child should be left to her own infant devices to console herself at that age.  That's why I'm the mama!!!  How could I let my baby ever begin to think that when she's scared or hurt, her mama just ignores her and lets her scream?  She should be trained to know that, as her mother, she can fully rely on me, and that I will allow and encourage her independence to develop naturally.  When your baby is ready to let go of your hand, they will.  That's what God made them to do.  Until then, don't ever take that comfort away - you need to establish yourself as the "default" setting for who your child looks to for comfort, followed closely by Dad, grandparents, and others close to the child.  Babies cry.  It's what they do.  If you're not ready for sleepless nights or babies who want to be held, then I've got bad news for ya...



[By the way...moms should thank God that their babies want them to hold them and rock them and lay with them so much.  They are not so cuddly when they're 14.  And they probably won't let you do that then, anyway!  =) ]



My advice: rock him, sing to him, make sure his tummy's full, do the bath-before-bed thing, and pat his back.  Also, try reading a "goodnight" book - the same one, every night.  I read Goodnight Moon to my daughter every night at bedtime, in my softest, most calming voice.  Begin reading the book when your son is VERY sleepy each night, naptime, etc., and read it all the way through, even if he falls asleep first.  This will become a very calming routine that will "signify" time to sleep.  It may take a bit for him to catch the routine, but it'll be worth it...and by the time he's two, he'll even be able to pick out and read some of the prominent words...an added bonus!

[deleted account]

Hi my son is 7 months old and he used to wake 3 times every night until 5 1/2 months... our pediatritian prescribed him some "tough love." She recommend the book "How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber. This book was a godsend. It has a very gentle "cry it out" method but after reading the book I new exactly what his problem was and I knew I had to try the method. I prepared myself for a week... planning on a certain day that we were going to try it. I was mortified.. thinking I was going to let him wail... but the dr. did recommend it! The book teaches a progressive method of teaching your child to put himself to sleep. It is gauranteed to work in 7 days. It worked in 2 days and my son never cried for more than 8 minutes. He went from waking 3 times a night to sleeping consistently 11 hours a night... waking happy and refreshed. We also followed the book for naps and it worked within days as well. I realize that you asked for something other than a cry it out method but trust me when I tell you... when you wait as long as you have, they are ready! I believe it was so easy for my son because he was almost 6 months old and he was completely ready to sleep. I can't imagine doing it any earlier than that but in this age group it really works.



PS. My problem was that I always put him to bed already asleep. I would nurse him to sleep and gently put him in his crib. The book teaches you to feed them (if that's what you do before bed) until they are very sleepy and then transfer them to the crib when they are very aware of where they are. This is key because when they wake at night they are afraid because they are not where they remember being. If they are aware of the fact that they are falling asleep in the crib, when they wake they will not be scared and will easily but themselves back to sleep. This was my experience and it is amazing!!!



I promise... on the third day... 11 hours. :)

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31 Comments

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Marlene - posted on 02/19/2009

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Sleep? What's that. My 1st born only slept through when he was 4 years old. My 2dn son is 10 years and still wakes. A sleep specialist put him on 'Melatonin'. Its a herbal "pill". Its not a sleeping pill. What it does to allow the mind to clam down and relax... enough to actually go to sleep. It works for my son and believe you me we've tried everything on the market.

Susan - posted on 02/19/2009

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Thank you for all the advice. My baby doesnt' have trouble going to sleep at night, he actually does that quite well. And he's been on solid food for a while now. He wakes up, I give him a bottle and he's back to sleep...it's just the getting up part. After reading what everyone has to say, and trying to let him cry it out for over 40 minutes...I think I'll just drink more coffee and hope he falls into his own regular pattern. My daughter didn't sleep through the night till well over ayear, and even then she had regular nightmares that would wake her up (and still does and she is 8). I guess my resolve for now is that I am just not blessed with good sleepers... But I think if I can't handle it when I go back to work, I will definetly look into those books mentioned or try the cry it out method again! Thanks again for all your advice! It's just comforting to know that I'm not alone in the world of bad sleepers :D

[deleted account]

if you havent already tried solid foods try feeding him more every childs eating habits are different some need more then others due to they grow faster then others

Jenny - posted on 02/19/2009

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Quoting Kelly:



I used the "pick up/put down" method with boy my girls.  My older daughter (now four) was a great sleeper from the beginning.  My younger daughter (now 7 months) was alittle more trying, but still a good sleeper.  She sleeps from about 8 p.m. -7 a.m.  I read a book called the Baby Whisperer when my younger daughter was born.  It helped me train them both to sleep on their own.  Basically...you have to stand over your son's crib and pick him up when he cries but as soon as he stops crying, you put him down--even if he starts crying before he gets to the mattress, put him all the way down.  then pick him up when he starts again and put him down when he stops.  repeat over and over again.  the first time i did this with my 7 month old (she was almost 3 months old) I had to do it for awhile--like 45 minutes.  But the time got shorter and shorter and now I just put her in her crib and she sleeps.






I would try that and get the book The Baby Whisperer.  It helped me a lot! Good luck!






 





I think this is a great Idea, it reinforces that you will be there and all they need to do is cry. I guess that teaches security to them. I slept with my hand in the crib for a couple weeks and gradually moved away.

[deleted account]

You also might want to look at the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and PreSchoolers, by Elizabeth Pantley. Pantley notes that half of all toddlers wake up during the night, and even into preschool years it is very common. We also have a 3 year old who has *always* woken up often during the night. We finally seem to have a combination of things that work (okay--for the past two nights!): just the right temperature in the room (have to experiment), making sure he is full and has had plenty to drink before bed, changing his diaper just before he is ready to go to sleep (we realized that we may have been putting him to bed wet b/c our bedtime rituals started so much earlier than when he finally fell to sleep!). Also, putting him to bed at the same time every night, and having a routine (e.g. brushing teeth, putting on pjs, turning on night light, reading several books, singing song, etc.) helps them know what to expect (if he has trouble falling asleep to begin with). These are just some ideas...keep reading and listening to others' experiences, and don't be pressured by the "must let him cry" philosophy.

Jessica - posted on 02/18/2009

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I was in the same boat as you until I read the book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". It's all about establishing sleep patterns that help your child in the short and long term. It has transformed our daughter completely. She went from waking every 2 hours to sleeping straight through the night. This was in a matter of three days! She is also much more pleasant when she is awake. I hope it can help for you!

Dawn - posted on 02/18/2009

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please let him CIO. seriously, it will take ONE week of no sleep & then you will NEVER have the problem again. you CAN do it...you just dont want to. lets face that fact. i think you guys can go a week to save yourselves in the long run!!! trust me, my friends who have listened praise me for making them do it :)

Sarah - posted on 02/18/2009

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my son is 3 in april and since he was 3wks old he has hardly slept through the nite he wakes between 5-8 times a nite some 4 10mins and some 4 up2 2hrs. nothing is wrong wiv him he just doesnt want 2 sleep. i am now giving him medication 2 help him settle of 2 sleep and now he only wakes 2-5 times a nite. i tried everything the drs and health visitors have said like leavin him 2 cry til he falls asleep but he doesnt give in i left him 2 cry 4 2hrs b4 now then finaly had enough so i ended up wiv him in my bed just 2 get a few hrs sleep..

Andrea - posted on 02/18/2009

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You can give a warm bath or a warm bottle of milk just before you get ready to lay him down and yourself to sleep. Or you and your boyfriend or husband can just both lay on the side of him to help them feel safer cause that's what me and my boyfriend did when our daughter was 6 months. Now she's 14 months and doing better.

Samantha - posted on 02/17/2009

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Ugh i know how you feel my daughter was a pain to get to sleep, but i started a routine to help ease into a full night of sleep and its working quite well. I give her a bath, then go into the room (make it pretty dark) feed her a bottle and put on the white noise (its more like an ocean sound) and maybe rock her or walk around the room with her a bit until shes fast asleep and she sleeps through the night now, only wakes up once to eat then falls right back asleep. It took a few nights in row to get her on the schedule but its worth it to try...good luck

[deleted account]

I understand what you are going through, but unfortunately the crying out game is your only way out. We did the same thing with our first son and it works. The first few nights he cried for about 30-45 minutes, we kept going in there to reassure him, but we never pick him up from the crib, just gave him hugs and he tried to hang on and we would put him down. Every night after it shortened to a point where he would lie and bed and sing and do his thing until he fell asleep. We also got a gift from a friend which helped alot it was Taz from Leapfrog which gives you 6 minutes of bedtime music to help them fall asleep, it really works because he's 2 now and still needs it, but for only 2 minutes. Good Luck!

[deleted account]

a tired baby will usually fall asleep after a few minuets of drawing a figure 8 on thier forhead lightly with your finger/fingers. The passing of your hand and the calming touch relaxes them. This worked with my son from day 1, he still askes for the 8 if he cant sleep...he's 13

Amy - posted on 02/17/2009

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I also have 2 girls who don't sleep well. One is 4 and she didn't sleep through the night until she was 2, and the other one is 10 mo. and still waking up 2x a night. Sometimes as mothers I think we get too hard on ourselves and think we should have a solution for everything. But what I've found is that some people have kids that sleep well, and other people don't. That doesn't make you a bad mother who is doing something wrong. Crying it out is cruel and heartless- I can't imagine not getting help if I felt lonely or scared. The fact is that people who don't have "all-nighters" will never understand-they just think that "Kids SHOULD sleep through the night at 3 months because that's what MY child did!" But there is no absolute in life. Keep hanging in there and know there are other moms up right along with you at 3:00 AM-we should start a FB support group because we are NOT a minority!!! :)

Nichole - posted on 02/17/2009

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my son is13 month and he finally sleeping though the night i found it help making sure he had a full stomach before bed. a warm bath and astory with a bottle of milk. i also only lets him sleep for a short time in the day a hour tops. thats only if i can get him to nap before3 pm the later the nap the less sleey he at night so he wakes up more

[deleted account]

I'm afraid I don't have any advice. My daughter is five months and we have the same problem (We attempted the CIO method one night and decided philosophically it wasn't for us). We believe part of it may be teething, but even with Tylenol she still wakes throughout the night. Thanks everyone for the helpful advice for those of us with the challenging sleeper!

Andrea - posted on 02/17/2009

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I let my son CIO at 9 months. He would only sleep for about an hour at a time. But, it doesn't mean that you just put them in their crib & leave the room. Make sure you have a good, soothing & consistent bedtime routein. Put him down drowsy, but awake. If you let him CIO, it shouldn't take more than 3 or 4 days & the crying times should lessen a lot. I went in every 5 minutes to kiss & reassure my son until he fell asleep. The first night it took 2 hours, the second 30 minutes, the third was about 10 minutes & the fourth night I put him in bed, he laid there babbling & laughing & then went to sleep on his own.

Megan - posted on 02/17/2009

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I hate to be the pessimistic one, but I have a little one that has been a TERRIBLE sleeper.  I tried every book - even the ones mentioned.  I tried massages, baths, putting my clothes in his crib, singing, classical music, stuffed animals, lavendar, putting my hand on his back, rocking, nursing, and yes we did LOTS of crying it out - everything that any mother or grandmother suggested.  None of it worked.  Doctors told me that he would eventually go to sleep if we let him cry it out.  My husband and I listened for 3 months while my son cried every night - all night and took no more than 20 minute naps during the day.  We took him to see a lot of Dr's to see if there was anything wrong and while they all agreed there was nothing seriously wrong, he shouldn't still be having so many problems.  You should try everything you can, but it may be that you might just have a difficult kid that has a hard time sleeping.  It has been the hardest experience of my life and I DO NOT do well when I am sleep deprieved because my son was crying all the time.  I found I was a much better mother when I had slept.  Get help from friends and neighbors so you can get some rest and your son will eventually figure things out.  My son is 14 mnths old and still has difficulty sleeping, but he has come a long way and we ALL get much needed rest.  whatever you decide to do, BE CONSISTENT.  This will make all the difference.  Good luck and I wish you lots of love and support to get through this.

Tara - posted on 02/17/2009

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There is a book called "The No Cry Sleep Solution"  which I have heard is really good if it is impossible to let your baby cry it out.  I let my babies cry it out though...I thought it would be terrible but it really wasn't.  With my little girl who is 1 now, I let her cry and the first night she was asleep in 20 minutes (which was 20 agonizing minutes).  The next night was 5 minutes and since then she has gone down without a fuss.  I have heard that some cry harder on the second night but I haven't heard of any crying past the 3 or 4th night.  The key is to NOT go to them.  If they cry for 20 minutes and you go to them because you can't stand it anymore then they think if they cry for another 20 minutes you will come...it only gets worse if you let them cry longer and go to them then.  I had a friend who made this mistake and her son would cry for 1 1/2 hours.  You might try just getting in a routine of letting him cry it out when you first put him down at night (when the rest of the family is awake) and you might be surprised.  Once he learns how to soothe himself to sleep at that time he might be able to do it at other times throughout the night.  It is normal for all kids to wake up a few times during the night, the difference with babies who "sleep through the night" is that they know how to soothe themselves back to sleep.  Hope this helps!  Good luck!

Laura - posted on 02/17/2009

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I had the same experience with the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth as a previous post said.  I started my ilttle girl, now 11 months, with the routine when she was almost 4 months.  She has always slept from 6 pm-6:30 am with naps during the day.  Every now and then we have an off night, but so do adults!  She has learned to fall asleep herself even if she would wake up.  Usually she is looking for a drink, which I leave a sippy cup with water in her crib (always in the same place) and she finds it and falls back asleep.  Her bedtime routine starts about 5:30 with dinner, bath, bottle and crib.  We do the same every night and even if we have a sitter, as long as the routine isnt broke, she is fast asleep!

Lisa - posted on 02/17/2009

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Well I know most mothers hate making their babies cry them selves to sleep but really that is the best way because they need to learn how to sooth themselves or they will depend on you forever to do it for them. I know truely it is hard but I really think it is the best way

Cynthia - posted on 02/17/2009

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I have a daughter the same age and had the same problem. We tried to let her cry it out at first which was SO hard for me. We stopped for a few weeks then started again and it really worked. I know it is hard, especially with another child in the family but if you can do it, it may work. We let her cry for aboutn 15 then went up and clamed her down to sleep and put her back down when she was asleep. It did finnaly work adn now she sleeps all night which is great!! Good luck...I know this is hard.

Amanda - posted on 02/17/2009

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I was feeling very sleep deprived two months ago when my now 4 1/2 month old son would only nap for 20 min stretches and wake often in the night. All along, I thought that the sleep routines would evolve naturally and I just needed to wait it out.

Then I came across a terrific book that taught me that I was wrong. The book is titled, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. After changing a few routines in our household, I saw results in a matter of 2-days (longer naps and sleeping through the night!)

In short, I discovered that I COULD influence my child's sleeping habits. We would always wait to hear his tired cry before preparing for a nap or bedtime. By that time, however, he was overtired and would have a terrible time going to sleep. And on top of that, he would only sleep for short spurts. The short naps led to an overtired little boy at night, which ironically did not mean he caught up on sleep. It was an unpleasant cycle. Lucky for us our little guy maintained a happy temperment...which is surprising when I compare how much sleep he is getting now.

Now we have learned to coordinate naps and bedtime with our son's natural sleep rhythms. We did not have to use the extinction method of crying it out. If he was crying, it was typically our fault because we missed our ideal sleep window. (We chose instead to soothe at timed intervals during our transition phase.) The author offers other options for coping with a fussy little one in addition to the well-known "cry-it-out" method. That was a selling point for us as parents. We just don't have the personality to follow through with that approach.

This book was an easy read and it taught me so much. It will be a resource for our family for years to come as it outlines strategies through preschool age children as well as special sleep problems. I would reccommend it to all moms.

Best Wishes for a future of sleep filled hours!

Kelly - posted on 02/17/2009

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I used the "pick up/put down" method with boy my girls.  My older daughter (now four) was a great sleeper from the beginning.  My younger daughter (now 7 months) was alittle more trying, but still a good sleeper.  She sleeps from about 8 p.m. -7 a.m.  I read a book called the Baby Whisperer when my younger daughter was born.  It helped me train them both to sleep on their own.  Basically...you have to stand over your son's crib and pick him up when he cries but as soon as he stops crying, you put him down--even if he starts crying before he gets to the mattress, put him all the way down.  then pick him up when he starts again and put him down when he stops.  repeat over and over again.  the first time i did this with my 7 month old (she was almost 3 months old) I had to do it for awhile--like 45 minutes.  But the time got shorter and shorter and now I just put her in her crib and she sleeps.



I would try that and get the book The Baby Whisperer.  It helped me a lot! Good luck!



 

Julia - posted on 02/17/2009

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My son is the same age the only differentences is he was a good sleeper from day one, but he does have his moment when he will cry out and there's nothing wrong with him except the fact that he is tired... I try to play with him then I will give him a bottle because wen he eats before bed he wont wake up till the next moring after a bottle I will either sing to him or play music or u could even read him a book as long as they here your voice it is so soothing to them and once u start a regular routine I think your little man would be fine...GOOD LUCK!!

Michelle - posted on 02/17/2009

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My son is now nine years old and he did this also.  Does your son have night terrors?  I went to numerous pediatritions when my son was little and finally after searching and pleading I had one doctor who suggested putting a table spoon of cereal in his bottles and starting him early on cereal and soft food.  Is your son already eating?  They had also suggested lavender baths to relax him before bed.  I would like to say it magically disappeared but he still has a lot of trouble sleeping.

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