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Baby Whispering - A Different Perspective

When Rosa posted this comment, my heart went out to her sleeping woes.  Do you think we can workshop this one together?

I love all these comments. I am a first time mom and am stuck on what's supposed to be "normal". I have a 3 month old who really hates to go to sleep. He gets visibly tired and then cranky but once we swaddel him he starts to wail at us and push and scream. Both my husband and I get worn down from it and have not been able to keep him on a consistent nap routine. What we have learned is that no matter how we handle it, he is going to scream for a while. Any ideas out there at making the process a little less painful?

We also tried out the Baby Whisperer and couldn't even make it through the first day. I almost passed out from all the shushing - 45 minutes or more of shush and pat did not work to calm him at all, in fact he seemed to escalate once he associated it with being put down to sleep. Then I was having a really hard time dealing with a sleep deprived baby. Anyway, I was pretty disappointed for a while, in myself mostly. I would say the parent would need to be a certain kind of temperment to successfully manage the Baby Whisperer process but it makes a lot of sense. My husband and I really did gleen some good information from the book but at this point I think doing what feels right to us is working better - not great but better. I'd just love to get him over the fight to sleep. Is this normal, do most babies really hate the idea of sleeping? Are there any new ideas out there for calming a baby - I'd love to hear them.


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Don't be disappointed in yourself. Each baby is different, but a baby that does not want to nap on his own is not a sign that you are not doing a good job. My daughter would not nap on her own (except in a car going over 35 mph) for 4 months or more. (She's 10 months now and I'm already forgetting the details.) As she would sleep when I walked with her (in a pack or stroller), we walked a lot. At some point I felt ready to have a consistent routine (that didn't involve us moving all the time) and she was responsive to that. Before that my husband and I just followed our daughter's lead.

Don't forget that your child will change over time. He may not be ready for routine yet, but that does not mean he never will be.

I wonder if 3 months is too old for him to be swaddled? My son liked it at first, but started to protest it when he was just a couple months old, so I stopped doing it. I felt like I was putting him in baby prison. I get the whole theory behind it, but maybe it's not for everyone? Just an idea. I'm so sorry about your sleeping woes. My son fought sleep too...it was so hard! But they do grow out of it. In the immortal words of J. Airplane: "Keep your head."

Oh, mama, I feel your pain! My first son was not a sleeper either, and it drove my husband and I to the brink of madness.

I remember taking the baby to the pediatrician and listening in disbelief as he told me, "Yes, most babies this age sleep between 16 and 18 hours per day." He saw my expression and added cheerfully, "Of course, there are those who thrive on far less than that, and you've got one!"

The one thing I can say to you is, just try to ride it out. Three months is WAY too young to even attempt any kind of "sleep training." Maybe you've heard the first three months referred to as "the fourth trimester"? (The idea that human babies are born too early in order to get them out with those big heads). Your little guy is so young, he probably still doesn't distinguish day from night. You can't expect any kind of consistency from him.

Try not to fixate on what is supposed to be normal. Where babies and sleep is concerned, there is no normal. The only thing you can do at this stage is to go with the flow and believe that it will get better. Because it will, really. I think my son was over six months old before he began to nap with any sort of consistency.

What about nursing? I could always get my baby to sleep at the breast. It was impossible to put him down without waking him, but if I held him and kept popping the boob in whenever he showed signs of waking, and prepared myself with a good book close at hand, I could usually get a decent nap out of him - and a break for myself, which was the main thing.

Also, life got dramatically better once I figured out how to nurse him lying down. I'd nurse him on our bed, and once he was asleep, since he was already lying down, there was no need to transfer him, and I could just slip away.

Sorry to go on at such length! Hang in there.

Poor things! At around that age we had sleep problems also. I had grave doubts about doing what seemed to work (co-sleeping) because I didn't want to set up 'bad' patterns for later. I finally 'gave in' and we all slept better - until that didn't work anymore and we had to find a different solution. The only constant is change, as they say.

At three months, however he will sleep and you are comfortable, do it, and don't worry about setting up patterns. Sleep 'training', if necessary can be done much later when you are all a little more settled and baby is older.

Is it possible that he's getting stimulated at times when he would otherwise sleep? Does he ever just drop off (at the breast/bottle, in the swing, in the car) on his own? If so, build on that. Let him sleep in the swing a while even if it looks uncomfortable. If he were uncomfortable, he wouldn't be asleep! We were so goofy - our little one was dozing off at seven and we thought that was too early because his first stretch of sleep was always his best - when we finally realized that part of his trouble going to sleep later was that he wasn't sleeping ENOUGH - and moved 'bedtime' much earlier, life got easier.

So that's a couple of strategies -I hope it helps!

Thank you all for the great support and advise! I feel much better. It's nice to hear you had some of the same challenges and you all found a way to get through it. It really helps to know that you all found a different solution as well. Thank you, thank you for helping me relax!

Wow I feel like you have decribed the first three months of my daughters life. We also had so many problems with the seep issue. We found a couple books really helpfull. "the Happiest Baby on teh Block" By Dr. Karp. and the Sears Baby book. At the peak of the sleep crazyness we made the decision to just cosleep, and we all got much much more rest because of it. It is not for everyone but it works for our family. We also read the baby wisperer, and it did not work for us either. There is not instant cute, but please know this is only a phase. Our girl is almost 11 months now and she sleeps like a champ most nights. The fisrt few months are about getting to know eachother, your child is just giving you more awake time to do it in! Good luck.

One other note: our culture puts too much emphasis on "good" sleeping - since it's really the only behavior they've got at the beginning (well, crying is another, I suppose) we all attach so much value on whether baby is a 'good sleeper' or a 'bad sleeper' and it's hard after a while (at least it was for me) to detach just plain 'good' and 'bad' from that. I like Emily's comment, though it might sound crazy from the depths of sleep deprivation. With baby #2, I'm determined to try to be more relaxed about sleep and just love whatever my baby does and is. (Ask me again in about January!)

Hang in there. We chucked the Baby Whisperer book against the wall a few times because it made us feel like bad parents and we felt like the writer was a little too Mother Superior for us. But that's just our take on it - like everyone said, every baby is different. Once we relaxed and just listened to our son's cues and didn't try to conform to the "guidelines" of how much sleep he should be getting, things got better. He still doesn't nap as long as other kids do, and he doesn't sleep as long at night as others do, but we know he gets enough sleep for him.

Our solutions during those early months that worked for us: car rides, white noise CD (For Crying Out Loud is great), swing, stroller rides. As long as our baby was in motion, he got to sleep faster. Maybe not for long, but he got there eventually.

I would echo what others have said, namely, try to do what feels right or works for now without fearing that you're setting "bad habits" for a lifetime. This is precisely what irritated me most about _The Baby Whisperer_. I know she means well with her mantra, "Start as you mean to go on" (or some version of that), by which she basically means, ask yourself if you want to be doing this (rocking the baby to sleep, nursing to sleep, driving around in the car to sleep, you name it) every day into the future. If not, she says, don't do it now. For me, this was one of the most anxiety provoking pieces of advice I heard, because it put pressure on me to think beyond just today (which, as we know, is hard to do when you're a sleep-deprived new mom). I did all of the above "bad things," and 6 months later my daughter was sleeping well and predictably even so. So I guess my point is that, for me at least, learning to KEEP from looking too far ahead into the future and worrying about setting bad patterns (if I do this now, will she NEVER sleep through the night?) provided me lots of relief.

You are getting some of the best advice ever from this blog - sometimes you just have to go with the flow. My daughter would not sleep more than 10 minutes if you put her down, so I didn't - I wore her in the Bjorn or just carried her close to my body for like the first 4 months. When I was holding her, she would sleep for 3-4 hour stretches - gold! I also read The Baby Whisperer with fear and disdain. The mantra is good and think you should think about what habits you are setting - not from a good or bad perspective, but simply from what sorts of things your family is comfortable with in the long run. That being said, I rocked or bounced my daughter to sleep religously and now, at 16 months, she doesn't need or want it and has been a great sleeper for a long time. The bottom line - do what feels right - your baby can tell when you are stressed and it only makes things worse. Good luck and remember, this too shall pass!

Hi, ditto on all of the comments above (wish I had the wise urbanMamas a year ago) But I especially echo Molly's advice to not feel like you're starting bad habits now. Your baby is still so young, so do whatever feels right to do, and if that means rocking/nursing to sleep, co-sleeping, sleeping in a carseat/swing, whatever, just do it if it works. Just keep your goals in mind, and a few months from now you'll probably notice that he'll be ready and able to do more self soothing on his own and you'll be able to implement some of your own strategies.

We really beat ourselves up because when our son was 9 months old and still waking up every 2 hours every single night we felt so defeated! Not to mention exhausted... We'd started to "sleep train" him around 6 months and nothing was working...so we finally just gave up and started co-sleeping again. The motto at that point was "as long as everyone's sleeping, we're not worried about where they're sleeping!"

I wish that someone had told me some of these things a year ago...it's true that we seem to just talk about whether or not our kids are good or bad sleepers, and no one seems to talk about the fact that it takes a LONG time to get into a regular sleep routine for some babies, and that doesnt mean that he/she is a bad sleeper.

For a good 6 months or so, Anders took his "good nap" of the day in the swing, swaddled...the older he got, the more nervous I got that the kid refused to sleep in his crib, laying still. And a girlfriend constantly teased me that if we didnt stop swaddling him, he'd be coming home from a bad date some night 15 years from now and need to be swaddled! :)

So just be patient and do what feels right, it might be too soon to be trying any of those strategies in the books.

I remember this well! My son would push out of his swaddling at two months and not sleep. So we stopped swaddling him...but that didn't work either. Then some friends said that they swaddled their boy until they were four months old and recommended that book by Karp that was mentioned in one of the earlier posts here. If you get the book, the chapter that saved our lives was the one on "the five S'." So we started swaddling him and after a few long episodes of the shushing/swaying stuff, he caught on and calmed down and started sleeping a lot longer. Then again, could have been that he grew out of that "stage," but who knows... and just consider it a compliment that he doesn't want to sleep. Means he loves being around his Mommy and Daddy! haha Also, everyone always told me not to let him fall asleep in my arms. Honestly, I did just that, and often. And it never had any adverse affects. Kid is very independent, sleeps on his own, and I have wonderful memories of my sweet angel sleeping in my arms. Hang in there! As "they" say, this too shall pass.

My son refused to be swaddled from Day One, home from the hospital. We were mystified... it was supposed to be the magic thing that calmed the crying and put him "out" -- anyway, ditto on all the other advice. You can't spoil him at this age.

My angel is 7 mo old. Never any kind of pattern at that age around six mo she gave us cues she was ready to make 11 ish her "official" bedtime. Still fights like hell but nothing like the wail a thons of 2-5 mo. hang in there your doing better than you think.

As everyone else says, hang in there. I am going through the same thing right now! --and it is hard, frustrating, exhausting work. My little guy (our second) is simply not the sleeper that our first one was. We've spent the past four and a half months walking, bouncing, doing whatever it takes to soothe our fussy boy.

The book that has helped me is the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD. What I finally gleened from doing a sleep log was that if he was fussing we were already too late to get him to sleep without crying...a lot! So, our days revolve around *trying* to soothe him *before* he gets fussy...which is about every hour and a half! It takes about 30 minutes of soothing for a 40 minute nap, but he needs it (actually we've found that if my husband soothes him it only takes about 10 minutes -- we've speculated that he doesn't smell my milk and want to nurse again).

Needless to say, this has been the hardest thing I've ever experienced (and I felt like it shoud be easier the second time around). It's also really hard to be kind to your spouse when you're both sleep-deprived, so try not to beat yourself up about that one either. Best of luck to you all!
p.s. with my first son I nursed him to sleep for every nap and at bedtime. That worked great. For this guy, if I nursed him to sleep he woke up in an hour wanting to nurse again -- or with gas pain...go figure!

Thanks, this stuff is great! I had a good day with him yesterday - in fact it was the best yet. I think it's because I told on him:) Anyway, today is more challenging. I'll just keep trying and it's great to have this bank of information. Thank you for all the ideas and for the feeling that I am not alone.

These are good observations from so many mamas, and a reminder that everyone eventually seems to find their own unique solution. I am writing just to add that Dr. Weissbluth's book was one of the least helpful things I looked at during my son's early months (I am so glad that it has worked for others). After wading through a lot of extraneous academic blather, the only concrete advice I was able to take away was, "set and enforce a 7pm bedtime." Since my husband and I have a long commute and are rarely even home at 7pm, this was a non-starter....

I SO wish you all were around 2 years ago when I was fighting with my now-2-year-old to go to sleep!!! My only advice is try to keep a sleep log/journal and see what works and what doesnt cause God knows you wont remember 2 days from now.
I found at 3 weeks old that my 3lb preemie wanted her own room and own bed, to be swaddled as tightly as possible and to cry for 15-30 minutes. I used to go downstairs and wash dishes and cry for those 30 minutes because I felt like such a bad mom, but it was the only thing that worked. She cried for that amount of time no matter what I did and me being there made her more worked up.
Moral of the story~ listen to your gut and do what works! She still to this day spends 30-45 minutes playing/reading in her bed before falling asleep. Go figure, I fall asleep in 10 seconds on the couch watching Survivor at 8pm =)


I'm dealing with this problem right now, too. My daughter is 12 weeks on this upcoming Monday and her sleep is erratic at best. A few weeks ago before I started trying to get her on a schedule it was WAY worse. She was probably only getting about 9-10 hours a day. Now I'd say she's getting about 14-17 depending.

We still swaddle her even though she is very long and sometimes her feet pop out the bottom. Sometimes she requires a tight swaddle and lately she's been able to sleep with the blanket loosly swaddled around her.

The main thing I've found that helps is just to be consistant. Have a few things (turning out the lights, putting on a soft cd, changing her diaper) that you do in the same order before each nap. Then I rock and sing to her until she is yawning and starting to feel heavier. Then I swaddle her. She usually starts crying as soon as I do the first tuck, but I just go ahead and finish and pick her up and rock some more. To get her quieted I jiggle, sshh, sigh (high pitch to low pitch quietly by her ear), sing to her, pat her bottom. Make sure to burp them!! I find this is usually the culprit.

She'll settle and I'll continue to rock back and forth standing right in front of the crib. I yawn a lot to and occassionaly whisper "sleepytime". After about 10 min or 3 songs on the cd player either her eyes will start to droop or she'll start to squirm a bit again. I've found that this squirm is her signal that she's ready to be put down.

When I leave the room her eyes are usually still open and she'll soft cry for a minute or two before falling asleep. This is what works for me, maybe something in here will work for you.

good luck!

I second all the motions. You know how we get our 3 1/2 month old to sleep this week? Roll her on her side, pop her pacifier in her mouth, throw her "lovey" over her face, and jiggle her butt rapidly for 10 or 15 minutes. Violates every sleep rule, from SIDS to depending on someone else to sucking to sleep. But it works: she naps more and better, and we're spared what was up to 2 hours of screaming every night. Of course, we know that within 2 weeks, we'll have to have another solution...

I have to preface this with I haven't had my baby yet, so I might be full of it. My cousin gave me a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, happy baby. The main gist is that you can't wait for your baby to act tired- by then they are overstimulated and overtired and it will be harder to make them go to sleep. It also advocates putting your infant to bed early - around 7-8 pm. I'm only part way through the book, but my cousin swears by this method and she has one of the happiest two years olds I've ever met and she was quite a colicy baby until they started this method.

I ditto so much of what has been said. I'll just add a few things I found with my daughter and the Baby Wisperer frustration.
1) at 4 months the Baby Wisperer stuff started to work and it worked like magic.

2) I swaddled her (at least her arms) until 7 months and then I would hold her down in her crib which was essentially the same thing. She NEEDED it

3) She would cry herself to sleep no matter what - and she NEEDED that too. If she cried herself to sleep she slept longer! I would stay around so she knew I was there but she still needs to 'sing' herself to sleep.

4. I finally figured out that all the calming and getting set for sleep stuff was as good as a nap so that by the time I put her down she was wide awake again. Now she goes down when she is most hyper active and she pops off to sleep! Another lesson in the fact that each baby is different even though the books aren't!

5. Now 17 months, he is at the same place in her sleeping times and hours and methods as all those other babies who were rocked, fed, nursed, swung and used as many 'props' as they wanted to!

good luck.

I had a front carrier with my first and struggled with sleep issues with him, but I used a sling carrier with my second and it was wonderful! she slept when she needed to and was nearly always with me. I also had hands free to work with my older shicla nd do chores around the house... the squatting instead of bending over (so she wouldn't fall out) was Superior conditioning for my body! Occasionally I would loosen it and slip out of it after laying her down on her bed. I didn't worry about nap time... she rested when she neeed to and nursed when she needed to also. Once i learned to let my children cosleep either in our bed or beside it in their own "bassinet" type bed the sleep problems disappeared. I had to learn to respond to thier needs... they can't easily adjust to ours. I nearly always nursed them to sleep. It was what worked and was peaceful and loving for all of us. They are wonderful well adjusted kids and I don't regret one second of the "spoiling". I cherish those memories!

Hi! I am a fellow mom who helped my baby learn to sleep after many sleepless months and then started helping countless other families. There is hope!

I started a sliding-scale sleep training consultation business after helping many families get the sleep they needed.

sweet dreams pdx offers in home consultations, followed with email and phone support. You are not alone!

sweet dreams pdx is here to support your family in reaching your sleep training goals.

Don't give up! Contact Mitzy at http://sweetdreamspdx.com/

I work with all types of families. I offer help with co-sleeping, night weaning, transitioning to crib, sleep training, re-training after sickness or traveling)

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