Baby only sleeps attached to me!

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    • #8696

      Hi there, I’m back here with baby #2 (now 4 and a half months), who I assumed would sleep better than baby #1. I was so wrong! While #1 was very sensitive & never wanted to go to sleep (and still doesn’t at almost 6 yrs!), this one will pretty much only sleep attached to me or in the car and even then not for long without waking and only while the car is moving. After I get him to sleep at night, if I leave the bed he wakes up, often within seconds. During the night he feeds around 10 times or more… 5 or 6 is a really good night for us & we often have periods of basically constant feeding. If I move away from him in the bed (we co sleep) he wakes up, or often if I even try to remove my nipple from his mouth. During the day… I put him down for a couple of naps in bed, but it’s usually the same story- if I try to leave the bed the nap will only last another 5-20 min at best. He takes one long (2 hour) nap on me in the sling in the middle of the day, but I can’t stay still for long or (you guessed it) he wakes up & also he is a big baby so this is quite hard work and I really can’t do more than this one nap like this. We’re pretty natural parents usually but we actually bought an auto rocking cradle out of desperation… it worked until he figured out I was using it to try and leave him. I’ve also tried white noise, sleep drops, low lighting, spiritual healing, calming techniques etc, but nothing is doing much. Can anyone help???!

    • #8697
      Tabitha Jonson

      Hi Maree,
      Sleep always has so many layers so I’m just going to mention a couple of physical related things that may or may not apply at all and am sure Gen will add to that with some of the other layers.

      It doesn’t sound like it is a new thing so probably not the case for you but did just want to mention that both my baby’s went through a time of feeding constantly at around 4 months for a week or so. I think it’s a time where they feed a lot to up the milk to change composition for the next stage of growing.

      The other thing that was an issue for my second baby who also didn’t sleep well at all was cow’s milk. She was a very unsettled baby and cried a lot and when I stopped consuming dairy (as it was passing through my breastmilk) she was like a different baby. It took about 7 days. Again may not be at all related but just something that some people can find impacts baby.

      How is your little one when they are awake? Settled or a bit unsettled. Do they enjoy short periods looking around on the floor or want to be with you awake and asleep?

      So hard when you also have an older child to care for! It sounds like you’ve really worked hard to help find a solution. 🙂

    • #8698
      Kelly Murdoch

      Hi Maree, this sounds familiar – my son would also only sleep attached to me. It’s really exhausting. Tabitha mentioned trying to remove dairy if possible and would agree this helped us a lot too. There were a lot of other things (broccoli, onions especially) that also made SUCH a big difference when I stopped eating them. Sometimes I would just hold my son and focus on my breath. Because if my breathing was short and shallow then he would be unsettled. But if I could slow my breath down then he would relax too. I don’t have any other advice sorry – it sounds like you’ve tried so much! Just hugs because it really is so exhausting. Sleep deprivation is the worst. I hope everyone gets some rest soon 💙

    • #8699
      Meg Rodney

      Hi Maree,

      How exhausted you must be! I hear how dear your little one is to you, and how you want to help him get restful sleep, but he just isn’t able to sleep for extended periods and is waking frequently. I imagine this is taking its toll on you (and him, as you both need longer periods of sleep).

      You mention that he wakes frequently, but I’m not getting a picture of what he does when he wakes. Does he fuss/cry? Are you trying to prevent crying? The reason I ask is because it is natural for babies to release stress through crying. And this release (in a parent’s loving arms) can help babies relax and thus sleep better. (This is one of the things I wish I had known when my kids were babies, as I did everything I could to prevent crying. If I had known the benefits of in arms crying and how releasing the normal stress of the day through tears, I would have allowed the cries while I lovingly held them.)

      Genevieve has a lovely article on this topic:;hilite=%27Sleep%27

      More about the benefits of in arms crying:;hilite=%27Sleep%27

      I found this one by Aletha Solter, too:

      You may not have any difficulty with cries, but in case you are like me and have a hard time hearing baby’s cries, this article may help:

      Best wishes for good night’s sleep!

    • #8701
      Maggie Travis

      Lovely thoughts and comments above, have you tried to swaddle? Each of my three babes were totally different with their comfort needs. My oldest loved to swaddle, my middle was a binky baby, and my youngest is 100% into silky/velvety lovies. Take deep breaths, know that this is a phase and as dark as it feels now it will pass xox You are a strong mama

    • #8706

      Thank you all so much for the responses- it is so good to feel supported!
      Tabitha- No not a new thing unfortunately and I have almost no allergens in my diet (vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free and soy free). I’m pretty sure it’s comfort thing rather than any physical discomfort.

      In fact… this article…… is perfect- thank you Meg!!
      In answer to your question about what he does when he wakes up- during the day the problem is more just that he has such incredibly short naps and once he’s awake, he’s awake again until the next one, unless I am still in bed with him to feed him back to sleep or carrying him in the sling. At night he is rooting around for the nipple and barely even wakes up as long as he finds it. If he doesn’t he will fuss and then cry and the cries escalate until he gets it again. That’s basically it- needing the nipple at all times, night and day, whether his tummy is full or not.

      He is very sensitive and while we had a beautiful home birth I had some issues afterwards and faced a lot of anxiety, which I think may have put him on edge and now he is constantly comfort feeding. The article talks about how they can become used to the boob being a distraction from the stress they need to release. I was prepared to try in arms crying during the night later on, but was assuming he was too little right now, but having read this article I’m going to give it a go (at least during the night time periods where he just won’t let go of my nipple). I had also been reluctant as this will involve me being awake even more at night, at least temporarily (I’ve been just passing out straight back into deep sleep as soon as I’ve got the nipple back into his mouth each time, which has just increased him being used to having it)… so wish me luck!

    • #8707

      Hi Meg, thank you for your reply- the Aletha Solter article is so helpful! I’ve replied fully below…

    • #8709
      Meg Rodney

      Hi again, Maree,

      I’m so glad that the Aletha Solter article resonated with you. It sure does sound like your little guy is comfort feeding, and I imagine the in arms crying will help. He probably has a bit of a backlog to offload, so you may have a little less sleep in the short term, but I’m cheering for you and hope this helps him relax and settle so you both start getting beautiful, restful sleeps. Best wishes! Please keep us posted 😊

    • #8716

      Hi Maree, great to see you back in here and seeking the support you need. You’ve already received lots of great advice and support above from Tabitha, @kelzjnz, @maggie and @mrodney Meg has shared the articles I was thinking to share. So good to see they’ve been helpful, especially Aletha’s crying for comfort one. It might be good to also get hold of Aletha’s book The Aware Baby, hopefully they’ll have it in the local library. Otherwise, it’s on my books page here with Book Depository;

      How stressful and disappointing to be having sleep difficulties again and I can only imagine the intensity of feelings this must evoke at times when it’s been a six long year ongoing issue! I hear and understand that hesitation and uncertainty about supporting in arms release cries with your baby boy, and yes I agree he’s not too young at 4.5 months, in fact he will at times be attempting to release his stress through his cries and the challenge of course is to try and identify the need being present in any one moment. If you read my article “children and babies heal through their cries” that Meg recommended above, I talk about adding the stress releasing cry possibility to the checklist. It’s usually either not on the radar at all, or it’s always at the bottom of the checklist and so doesn’t get seriously considered as an option OR people read Aletha’s books and it goes to the top of the checklist, sometimes leading to missing other possibilities. I would say don’t be afraid to offer the breast as an option, but when he’s either not interested or you’re very confident that he’s not expressing hunger, then instead of providing one form of motion after another (rocking, the car etc), just sit with him and be present and attentive and empathic as he cries. Your very calm reassuring presence may be exactly what he most needs. And when you sit and be present in that way, you’re more likely to be able to slowly but surely reduce your own stress/ anxiety and return to a more centred state, hence spreading the same to him. Mirror neurons are your friend here!

      How are you getting on Maree, what’s the update?

    • #8719

      @mareedel34 I ran out of time the other day, but just wanted to add more encouragement to do the not fun and not easy, but very important work of working with those difficult feelings that the situation will bring up. I definitely don’t think that you JUST need to work with your emotions, I do believe that the situation at the moment is unsustainable and hopefully you’re starting to see little glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel if you’ve been putting some of the above advice into practice. But I do believe that working on those triggers and emotions is at least as important as any physical changes we make because ultimately the more stressed parent is, the more stressed the child/ren will be and the more settled and secure the parent feels, the more settled and secure the child will likely feel. There are many factors but this is a biggie. I really liked Tabitha’s response to another parent who was having similar challenges on another thread. Here’s the link;

      In it she talks about two things that I wanted to recommend as well; journalling and listening to my first track of my stress relief for parents cd (all the audios are in the resource library which you can also find through your village map or the drop down menu from your profile pic in the main menu). The track will help guide you through the process of becoming mindfully aware of the sensations that arise in you at these stressful times and just witnessing and kind of listening to and learning from these sensations. And the journalling is a tool that I’ve used since I was about 17 years old and is definitely an ace card for me when emotions build up or get stuck. There’s something about writing out in a stream of consciousness way that brings movement to those uncomfortable feelings and triggers and can really bring a lot of relief, if it brings tears, that’s usually a really good release.

      Do you have much emotional support at the moment Maree? Is there someone who you can pour it all out to who really hears you?

      And as you know, I’m also a big believer in herbs and the healing power of nutrition from whole foods. For me I found it easier to eat really well when my first child was a baby than when my second child was born, it’s just all so very busy it’s hard to juggle it all. I also know how hard it can be to get on the computer and even join these conversations, but know that we’re thinking of you and sending love and support <3

    • #8720

      Also Maree, if you can find the time to listen to this audio, I think it could really help. It’s not specific to settling babies, but children in general, but all the same concepts apply. It’s called bedtime struggles and you can find it as one of the audios in the resource library at any time.

      As well as talking about the triggering, I also talk about some of the settling techniques that help children drop into that super relaxed state.

      Bedtime Struggles

    • #8725

      I just posted a long reply, but some how it disappeared! I’ll try and rewrite…
      Thanks for your replies Genevieve. Yes I have good emotional support and lots of tools to bring awareness to my emotions. We listened to your bedtime struggles audio for our daughter a couple of years back and found it helpful also thanks.
      To update… we’ve been trying some night time crying in arms and I think it’s working, yay!
      We started on Friday and I decided to only feed him when it was more than two hours since his last feed and let him cry in arms if it was less than that each time he woke. That night we had three periods of crying- the first with me he cried for about 15 min and then went to sleep for about 10 min before waking and crying again… this repeated 3 times before he went to sleep again properly and slept for about another hour at which time I fed him (it had been 2 hours since a feed then). The next time he cried it only took one time to get him back to sleep. Later in the night my husband took a round and he (baby) definitely cried louder and longer with him but eventually settled. The next night he slept much better than usual! There was still a period of crying, but the rest of the time he slept for 2 hour intervals and we both just felt he was really peaceful and that the crying in arms had really helped. Sunday night was a big step back with lots of crying and us wondering if it really was ok for him and 2 very sleep deprived parents on Monday morning… but then the two nights since then have both been a big improvement and I even feel like he is more settled in the day.
      I don’t want to get too excited until a little more time has passed, but I’m feeling pretty positive, so thank you! I’ll update again and let you know how it is going.

    • #8727

      Hi Maree, great to read your update. Great that yourself and your husband are working as a team to help your wee boy become more settled, and for him and you and all of you to keep moving towards longer stretches and more sleep. What you share about him generally being more settled during the day this is just such a great sign that you’re going in the right direction, and that he has maybe really needed to have some release cries. One of the possible tell tale signs that a child has been developing a feeding control pattern and hence not gaining the release of stress that they need to gain through release cries is that the child will generally be more fussy and irritable and unsettled when feeding, as well as generally in their day. And on the other side of it, one of the reassuring signs that the stress release cries have been what your child has needed is often that they start to better settle and relax when feeding. There’s less going on and off the breast, less pull off crying then back on but squiring and arching and pulling off again and on and on. There is so much to take into consideration, but generally the fact that he’s been more settled during the day and that he’s starting to stay asleep for slightly longer stretches are all very good indicators that you’re likely meeting his needs really well.

      I know it’s all very day by day at these times, so do keep us posted and let us support you and your boy to reduce stress and increase sleep and generally both feel more settled and secure <3

      Re losing what you wrote 🙁 I wrote a post in the general forum about this, main thing is to make sure you're logged in before pressing submit and then when you click submit, waiting a couple of seconds and making sure that it worked and then lastly as a precaution, copying what you wrote before pressing submit (just until you feel more confident this won't happen again).

    • #8757

      Hi again, well we are very up and down at the moment! I still think baby is more settled from the crying in arms BUT we are still having a LOT of crying… about the same every night, without it decreasing much, which starts to make me doubt if it’s the right thing at times. Is there an amount of time that would be considered too long? It’s roughly two times every night, between half an hour to an hour? And even that is with me giving in to the constant feeding again around 5am as if I don’t he will just have us up that early each day.
      Now on top of that my body has started saying no to carrying him in the sling for his main nap each day so I have stopped, which has been disasterous! He is getting hardly any nap time at all on some days. I can get him one nap by walking with the pram, but other than that I have to stay in bed with him and constantly put the boob back in his mouth or he wakes up again… and when he’s awake he cries if I leave him on the floor (with toys), leaving me with almost zero time to do get anything done (I’m typing one handed right now in bed with him on me!) Does anyone have any suggestions for the day time? I just have no idea how to get him to sleep off of me now that he is so hyper sensitive to me trying to do that. Not sure how crying in arms for naps would work- at night he will eventually sleep again, but in the day if he’s wakes and cries then he’s just awake, with no going back and just gets more and more over tired.

    • #8760
      Meg Rodney

      Still so intense, eh, Maree? I’m afraid I don’t really know the answer to if there is an amount of time that would be considered too long for the crying (@Genevieve will likely have good insight for that). My instinct is that your little one likely needs a bit longer to cry and that this might be one of those situations where things may get worse before they get better (having come to peaceful parenting when my boys were older, I found this to be true for my 9 yo when I first started transitioning to pp. He has a couple of nights of hours long rage. It was scary and hard for me. I was totally doubting myself, but I stayed with him and actively listened. Huge turning point for us).

      I found this interview with Aletha Solter where she discusses her own experiences with in arms crying and how with her son there was crying for an hour initially. She goes into more details, and I found it helpful for getting a deeper understanding:

      For the nap, could you lie with him instead of carrying him?

    • #8790

      Hi Maree,
      sorry to not respond sooner, always feel free to tag me using the @ symbol, type in first letters and it should bring up options of members with a name starting with those letters. Or message me or email me to prompt me.

      Yes that interview with Aletha is very interesting, good one to share Meg. And yes it can be hard to know if there’s another need that’s not being identified. I’ll say something about some of the other possible needs then hone in again on the feeding/ crying.

      Did you take him to have cranio sacral therapy done when he was newborn or since? If so, how did he respond and what was the feedback from the practitioner? When my baby was a few weeks old, a lovely cranio sacral therapist travelled from another city to our house and gave my baby and I both treatments, it was such a transformation! He’d had colic and cried for many hours a day, I was back and forth between allowing release cries and trying to figure out what was wrong. Looking back later, I could see that I rarely sat down to just BE with him when he was crying, although I was telling myself he maybe needed to get it all out, I was very anxious and couldn’t stop doing the walking and rocking and bouncing and all that, whereas with my second child I very rarely did any of that and as a consequence she was much better at having very clean releases from the beginning.

      Your anxiety/ stress levels. As you know Maree this is such a biggie, how are you doing? Are you getting the support you need? Are you having opportunities to really cry hard and feel heard? Without this it’s very hard to relax into the baby’s cries and upsets and be truly very present. Big ask I know! 🙁

      I’m a big believer in essential oils and flower remedies, these have played a big part in my healing journey and talk about them to clients quite a bit. I’m pretty sure you’re very switched on to all of this, but it can all feel like a lot to manage when exhausted, so just a reminder that these could help you and him to feel much more calm.

      Food, gut issues. The baby’s digestive system is so immature and so susceptible. Apparently the blood from the placenta of babies these days has thousands of chemicals because they’re all so hard to avoid and sadly the toxins get passed to the baby in utero. It sucks I know, I’ve always been very sad about this and wish I could have provided a completely clean environment for my babies, but alas the toxins are everywhere; food, water, air, hygiene products, furniture, cookware, even so many of the spray free veggies at our local farmers market are in plastic. But to move on from this depressing thought (sorry 🙁 ) there’s also so much that you can do to help your baby’s gut to be stronger and hence help him to have more balanced chemistry, while helping his system perform the functions of detoxing. As hard as it is to deprive ourselves when we’re struggling, it could be worth cutting out all the classic offenders for a few days to see if that makes a difference, then re-introducing them one at a time and noticing if there’s any difference. Meat, dairy, coffee, gluten, even grains. Does this sound possible or depressing? For me the hugest shift happened when I got it together to do a huge detox when Ayesha was little; cut out gluten, dairy, sugar and upped my consumption of veggies, fruit, high % of raw, green drinks, juiced veggies, more flax and chia and flax seed oil and omega threes and all that good stuff.

      Back to the feeding and sleeping (or lack thereof!). I’ll assume that your milk supply is all good Maree, as you would have mentioned if there were problems there? And he’s thriving weight wise? How is he generally feeding during the day? Referring back to this bit I shared above, how would you describe him during feeding, quite relaxed and settled, floppy arms, or more fussy and squirmy, pulling on and off, struggling to settle into the feed? Again it can be hard to know sometimes what this relates to, but it can be indicative that he’s developed a control pattern and hence craving to feed instead of working through the discomfort of letting the frustrations out through the crying, yet not able to fully relax into the feed when the urge/ need to have a release cry is pushing forward in him.

      You shouldn’t need to carry him in the sling for him to settle to sleep Maree, again this usually comes back to control patterns. With my first, I struggled to believe this, but the more I shifted into trusting that he could settle and sleep well without all the carrying, bouncing and jiggling, the better I got at being present with him and giving my full attention when he cried and the more and more settled he became. And having said all that, the big shift around this happened when I received that cranio sacral treatment which drained heaps of that stress out of his system and mine. There really isn’t a formula to answer the question of how much crying is ok, except that it’s often a lot more than you would expect.

      I can imagine it would be hard to get up to Whangarei, but if you can arrange it, I’d be happy to do some energy balancing on you both. There’s bound to be some amazing cranio sacral therapists down there in Auckland.

    • #8794

      Hi @genevieve_simperingham, Hi @mrodney,
      Sorry it’s taken me a while to reply. What can I say- school holidays!
      I’m pleased to report things have gotten much much better since I last posted. Yay for crying in arms! We now sleep mostly for 3 or even 4 hour stretches at night! And last night that even continued once we got to around that 5am point where he had been returning to constant feeding (or awakeness). There has also been much less crying and he has been settling more quickly when he does cry.
      The day time is still an issue, but there have even been some improvements there. Yesterday I felt instinctively to have another try at putting him to sleep in bed and leaving him and he had two one hour naps in bed by himself- a huge improvement on me barely being able to even take my nipple out of his mouth during a nap. Today was back to 15 min naps when I tried to leave…
      To answer your questions above though… We did have one cranial session for him at around 4 weeks, but he seemed slightly worse afterwards. My one trusted Cranio sacral therapist lives in Tauranga but I will keep an eye out for someone else here.
      My feeling is that it is more an emotional need than anything else… I don’t eat any allergens except (whole) grains and I don’t feel like his tummy bothers him. Milk supply is good and he has definitely grown- I’ve just started putting him in some of his one year old clothes, it’s crazy!
      He’s very sensitive… our whole family is. I have an ongoing tendency towards anxiety, but day to day I am very calm and have lots of good tools to deal with it. I’m fortunate enough to get in a yoga practice each day before my husband leaves and it is only for occasional moments that I ever feel overwhelmed, despite things having been difficult, so I think that is pretty good really as I know so many parents deal with total overwhelm daily.
      So I feel like things are really moving in a positive direction and thank you again for all your recommendations and support!
      My biggest problem now is really just dealing with these day time naps as I have found that since I have virtually no time with him out of my arms during the day (except for yesterday), I am having to constantly put him down, run around, have him grizzle, rush to get what I can done before he completely loses it again, pick him up, start again… and of course it is impossible to get through everything like that so I find myself leaving him crying for a few minutes at a time while I make a lunch or get those last few things in the car or whatever else I can’t do with one hand… which I feel so guilty for and which must be causing him more stress despite all the positive stuff 🙁 I just can’t carry him in the sling any more unfortunately, as my body really started saying no. It’s so strange to be a parent of 5 1\2 years but to feel like “but what do I DO with this baby?!”
      So yes, positive, but still some stuff to get through. Isn’t it amazing how each new baby sends us on a whole new journey? x

    • #8797
      Meg Rodney

      Hi Maree,

      Thanks for the update! I’m glad to hear that things are moving in a positive direction. Yay! I hope the daytime naps improve as the night time sleeps improve. You need some time!

      It is amazing how different each child is and how we grow as parents (and people!) with every step.

      Best wishes, and thanks again for the follow up!

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