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Our 5 month old generally gets her head down somewhere in the early evening. We lie the sleeping lump on the bed face up, and she snoozes. Then she rolls over onto her tummy and wakes up. She's at the stage where she's perfectly happy to be on her tummy while awake, if a bit frustrated when trying to crawl (currently she sort of drags herself where she wants to go). However, in the middle of the night, there's normally an exhausted cry for attention, which escalates until we pick her up and either hold her or feed her. At which point she falls asleep again and the cycle continues.

It's driving my slightly-more-easy-to-wake partner to the edge of sanity, and I'd like to save her without joining her on the edge myself.

How can we get our daughter to either not roll over, or to not wake up when she rolls over?

EDIT: An assumption made by most of the answers so far is that she's not sleeping in a cot at the end of the bed. I appreciate that if we move the cot, we "reduce the problem to one that's already been solved", but we're not quite ready for that.

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What you want is for her to be able to go back to sleep on her own when she wakes up rolling over. We all have little wake ups at night, the difference is that as adults we (usually) don't need someone else to come help us go back to sleep. –  justkt Oct 17 '12 at 16:58
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7 Answers 7

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As previous posters have pinpointed the problem (you really want her to be able to go back to sleep on her own), there's no need for me to belabor that point.

However...

Realize that when you mention to your partner that you want to allow your child to CIO (cry it out) you will probably receive a ton of push-back from your partner. It is not in a Mommy's nature to simply listen to her child scream without some type of intervention--and I can tell you from experience that there will be screaming before all is said and done. Having said thus, your partner's enthusiasm for the plan will probably not be equal to yours regardless of her level of sleep deprivation, and could land you in the position of being Sleep-Trainer-in-Chief simply because your partner won't be able to stand it.

Those are my caveats. Sleep training is never simple or easy and typically results in more sleep deprivation before all is said and done. If you find that your partner is not on board with this whole CIO thing, there are some other alternatives you can try. They will not teach your daughter to go back to sleep on her own (she will learn this eventually on her own, I promise you, but just FYI, my 4-year-old will still sometimes spontaneously appear in our bedroom in the middle of the night), but will hopefully allow you and your partner to get some sleep.

  1. If your daughter is only waking up once per night, you and your partner need to alternate nights. Unless there is a pressing need for your partner to be the one to get up (like she needs to nurse), alternating nights is an easy way for you both to at least get a solid 8ish hours a few nights a week. As I told my husband when our oldest was born, "You helped create this child, you will be getting up with him in the middle of the night, too".
  2. If she is waking up multiple times during the night, then you still need to alternate. Additionally, if your daughter is waking up multiple times during the night, it is unlikely that rolling over is the cause of her wakings every time. If you can identify some of the other causes of her wakings, then you might reduce the number of times she wakes up anyway.
  3. You can bring her back to bed with you. This probably isn't ideal for you, but if she is a kid who will peacefully fall right back asleep between mom and dad then it might be a good alternative for now just so you can get some sleep. There is no shame in it; you're just trying to get some sleep--and in the first year of life after a baby joins your house, sleep is elusive and precious. Some kids love this, some kids don't. You just have to try it to see what works.
    1. My disclaimer: I am not a doctor. You know your child and whether or not this would be a safe thing to try: I assume if she can roll over onto her stomach then she can also roll over onto her back from her stomach. If so, then you might try putting her to bed on her stomach. That way, there is no rolling over onto her stomach--she's all ready there! Both my kids LOVE sleeping on their stomachs.
    2. Establish a bed-time routine starting now. It might not be the rolling onto the stomach that upsets her, but the disorientation of not knowing how she got from daddy's arms to her bed. You know what time she starts getting tired. Start a bedtime routine that involves her falling asleep in the room where she's going to be sleeping (your room, her room, whatever). You may have to carry her/walk with her/rock her to get this to happen at first, but you can then start transitioning her over to falling asleep in the bed she's going to be sleeping in. This can also be helpful if your partner puts her foot down and says "No, absolutely no crying-it-out in this house". From here, it should be easier to incorporate some of the more gentle sleep training solutions like The No Cry Sleep Solution, for example, or Dr. Sears who doesn't really advocate sleep training at all.
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Actually, she's exhausted enough to be fine with it. I, on the other hand, crack like a dropped egg. This is really good advice, especially as our initial attempt at CIO led to extremely angry hysterics from the baby. –  deworde Oct 19 '12 at 7:47
    
CIO worked wonderfully for my son, but did nothing but make my daughter more and more angry and more and more awake. –  Meg Coates Oct 21 '12 at 2:20
    
CIO must not be started before 6 months of age. The child is communicating a need by crying. –  DanBeale Feb 9 at 14:59
    
Between the No Cry and eventually limited CIO (our adorable little bundle of impulses has a will of iron and the manipulation skills of a lil' blonde Lex Luthor), this answer worked best for us. It's a good idea to start with No Cry and then move to CIO once you've tried that, especially as you can do No Cry far earlier. Bottom line; systems help. –  deworde Mar 21 at 16:21
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I think you're looking at this the wrong way. The problem is not that she wakes up but that she can't self-comfort herself back to sleep. She'll grow out of this on her own.

Until then, when she wakes she needs to know that you're "there" for her. Go in, pick her up and comfort her until she stops crying, then put her back down and leave. If she starts to cry when you put her down or while you're leaving, ignore her.

If she continues to cry for 5 minutes, repeat the above. Then wait 6 minutes. Then 7. Then 8. Crying will not hurt her though it may break your heart (or at least keep you from sleeping). This is sometimes called "controlled crying".

By doing this she knows that she's not isolated and that her parents are always around but also learns that being alone isn't a problem. I went through this for about two weeks (though it felt like two months) with my son when he was weaned off mid-night feedings.

If sleep-deprivation is really bad, then the two of you should alternate sleeping somewhere quiet for a night. Don't change her sleeping arrangements.

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She's 5 months old. She shouldn't be left alone to cry. How can you know that it doesn't hurt her? –  Dave Clarke Oct 17 '12 at 13:46
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I am not anti-CIO--it worked beautifully on my son; not so much on my daughter, but it seems poor judgement to attempt it on a child whose object permanence is far from fully developed. Yes, you know that you're in the next room, but as far as your five-month-old is concerned, you've quite possibly disappeared entirely. Even in the article you cited above, the children were all 7 months old at the beginning of the study. Additionally, other research seems to agree that extinction or graduated extinction methods of sleep training are not appropriate in children under the age of 6 months. –  Meg Coates Oct 21 '12 at 2:40
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The point I'm making has nothing to do with the feeding (I've sleep trained before, I'm aware of the process), it is my contention (and that of many experts) that sleep training in most forms--not all, but most--(especially the methods that advocate CIO) are not appropriate for children under the age of 6 months. Since most children do not achieve the concept of object permanence until 8-9 months, a parent can wait until their child is 6 months old before they begin sleep training and still avoid the separation anxiety pitfalls if that's your concern. –  Meg Coates Oct 23 '12 at 14:11
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CIO is not harmless, it results in damage to the brain. A 5-month old can't rationalise that the parents are in the next room and that she is in fact safe, she actually believes that she's been left to die alone. How anyone can be so cruel to their child is beyond me. –  Mia Clarke Mar 19 '13 at 12:54
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@Brian White, 5, 6 or 7 minutes is a long time for a baby, especially a crying one. Research shows that denying your baby touch and comfort and letting it cry damages the brain [Schanberg, S. (1995). The genetic basis for touch effects]. I will never do that to my child, as I believe it's a cruel thing to do. I believe being a parent is about more than just tending to just the very basic needs of a child, and that means never letting my child learn that I won't come if she needs me, which is what CIO babies learn. –  Mia Clarke Mar 19 '13 at 19:33
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I don't think such thing is really possible.

  • If you prevent her from rolling over she will most likely feel "trapped" and wake up just from trying to roll over.
  • If the act of rolling over is waking her up, you can't really change this.

I fear you will have to revert back to making her get back to sleep by herself, in addition to the numerous tips you can probably find I will give my own two cents:

  1. Assuming she's using a pacifier put at least two of those in bed near her when she goes to sleep.
  2. When she wakes up at night go and calm her then give her pacifier.

  3. When she wakes up again just give the pacifier, putting the other one in her hand so that she can use it herself.

  4. Repeat the previous step and at some point she will start taking the pacifier herself and calm herself to sleep.

Took us several weeks when my daughter was at your infant's age, and it's totally worth the time and effort.

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I know what you're going through, my daughter flips over and also cries non stop, until either 1 of us goes in there and turn her over instantly she back to sleep quietly. I feel so tired from doing this 3 or 4 * a night. There is no solution. She has to learn how to turn over maybe practicing with her, even that hasn't worked for us. When it's time to go to sleep I usually would put a pillow to block her from turning over. I will leave the door open and check on her every 5 minutes. When she's finally asleep I will take the pillow out of the crib. When I put the pillow in the crib I make sure that it is as low as her hips, just enough to boost her back to her position. I could say that's the best I could do because through the night she will keep movin and turning over and I wouldn't ever leave the pillow in the crib it's not safe so don't lay down while you wait. I know someday this too will end. : .. (

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CIO (Cry It Out) works perfectly and all schedules are best started as early as possible. I dont have an article to quote, just experience. I swaddle my son and he doesnt roll over/and sleeps throughout the whole night and has since a surprising 2 months. He stays up 90% of the day to make up for that though (haha). About CIO hurting the baby, I firmly believe it all depends. Studies do show that it helps develop thier lungs and helps prevent asthma/related issues. I caught a glimpse of that article. Wish i could find it again, but nonetheless I know this is a "bit" of an old post. Hope whatever you chose helped :P

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We have a cradle swing that our 4 month old often sleeps in. It lets us strap her in so she dosent roll. She sleeps well in it, and we can add motion to help her fall asleep, or turn it off.

Perhaps an "in bed sleeper" will keep her on her back. I'm not sure how large her cot is, but if it's large, narrowing it may stop her flipping. Google "The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper"

Good Luck!!

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Maybe she wakes up because she is hungry - it is hard to tell.

Perhaps the solution for you is not to try to prevent her from waking. I would suggest you to bottle-feed her yourself and perhaps you might try to sleep together with your daughter in another room some days/week so that your partner can sleep.

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I think his partner is waking up from the infant's "cry for attention" so can't see how sleeping in another room would help? –  Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 12:14
    
@ShadowWizard Thanks, I inserted "together with your daughter" which was what I meant :) –  AD. Oct 17 '12 at 12:18
    
The issue here is "another room". I was taking the baby to sleep on the couch during the early months, but that's apparently highly dangerous. Suppose I could crash out on the floor... –  deworde Oct 17 '12 at 13:11
    
@deworde Yes, sleeping on the couch might not be so good. If I were you I would invest in a cradle or something similar which is easy to move. We borrowed one from a friend. –  AD. Oct 17 '12 at 14:13
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