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I hope someone can help us with our sleeping problems. My son was always sleeping on his back, but at around 6 months, he discovered that he can turn around to his belly, and he likes it so much that he's always doing that, with his head up. The problem is he can't sleep in that posture (I tried to gently force his head down to sleep on his belly but he raises it immediately). He can only sleep between me and my wife if we let him no space to turn around - after a 2-3 hour struggling every night. Then if he wakes up in the middle of the night it starts over (and every time he wakes up he wants to breastfeed, sometimes 8-10 times a night!). Things got worse when he learned how to crawl, sometimes he crawls at night with his eyes closed (I think he's half asleep). We can't put him into his own bed, he gets very exhausted and too tired (but still on all fours!), which makes him unstoppably crying (and I'd never let him cry more than a minute, as some books suggest to put him in there and just leave).

What can we do? I'd really really appreciate any opinions because none of the books mentioned anything about this perpetual motion issue. I understand that his bad quality of sleeping is also because we're moving in the bed and it wakes him up, but we technically can't put him out from there.

  • What happens when you do stay with him and let him stay on his front, but don't try to force his head down? – Rory Alsop Oct 8 '18 at 17:59
  • Infinite crying after getting tired, but not sleeping at all. – Peter Oct 8 '18 at 18:41
  • He's 8 months old - if he can turn over he will be fine on his back. Until the 1990's, the advice was to place all infants on their backs for sleeping, and SIDS was still rare. My children, both, were belly sleepers. After a few sleepless nights we said to heck with the talking heads, the kid's sleeping on his/her belly. – pojo-guy Oct 9 '18 at 18:49
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Have you considered a gentler approach than just leaving him in his crib? I totally understand not wanting to just leave him to cry forever, but what worked for my daughter was to set a schedule and stick to it. When she goes down each night, we set a timer for 5 minutes. If she's awake at that mark we go into the room, soothe her, and return her to her bed. Then 10 minutes, then 15, and so on in increasing intervals. This teaches her that A: we will always come to her and comfort her, and that B: she can put herself to sleep on her own and will have the opportunity to learn how to settle herself.

Every child is different, but after 3 nights our daughter learned the routine and craves going to bed in her crib, and sleeps soundly without waking at 5 months. If your son is getting adequate nutrition during the day (and it sounds like he is!) there's no reason he can't sleep through the night physically. The nursing sessions sound much more like comfort nursing to get back to sleep after breaking out of the sleep cycle. The goal should be to not trigger him to full-wakefulness after each sleep cycle, similar to how you and your husband sleep.

If you're not comfortable with that, then I'd suggest getting a referral to speak to a neurologist. If he's sleep crawling there may be a neurological component, and they may want to do a sleep study to observe him.

  • First of all thank You for your answer! I've read this method as well before, the only problem is that it doesn't matter if we're with him or not, whereever I put him on his back he immediately turns over to his stomach and from then he can't ever fall asleep, hours can pass, he just doesn't put his head down, no matter how tired he is. :( Thats why we can only sleep together - he doesn't have enough space to turn around, after a while he gives up. – Peter Oct 8 '18 at 17:33
  • @Peter That's really interesting! I think it might be worth revisiting outlasting him though--I would commit to a week of gathering information using a soothing schedule like I suggested, recording how long he maintains the pose through the night if left to his own devices. At the end of the week he will either have given it up entirely, or you will have a week's worth of data to show a neurologist or other specialist to show that this is a persistent problem. – Marisa Oct 8 '18 at 18:02
  • You can say, "He does it for hours", but doctors want to see actual recorded data ("I checked at 10, 11, 12:30, 1:30, and 4:30. Each time he was in the same pose and did not appear to have slept.") – Marisa Oct 8 '18 at 18:02
  • @Peter The big thing to keep in mind is that to some extent babies have to figure stuff out on their own through trial and error. If he doesn't have the opportunity to experiment and try to solve a problem by himself (be it picking up a toy, eating, etc.) he won't establish the neural pathways necessary to do it. It's as close to the purest form of "use it or lose it" you can get. – Marisa Oct 8 '18 at 18:04
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    thank you very much for your insight and support, I'm going to try! – Peter Oct 8 '18 at 18:43
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How I see it, you have two issues:

  1. Your baby is not sleeping through the night
  2. Your baby is not sleeping in a safe place

To fix both of these issues, you have got to get this child to sleep in a safe crib, and not in your bed! Adult bedding/pillows is capable of suffocating young children. Your bed is not a safe place to let a young child sleep, ever!

8 months of doing it this way is going to be difficult to undo though. Children like routine, and if they have always slept close to you, you are going to get a few nights of screaming, when you try to change it up, guaranteed!

Don't give in though, when they wake up a night, go in their room, lay them back down, reassure them through whispers & touch, but don't talk to them in your regular voice or flip on lights. You are trying to teach them that nighttime is for quiet and sleep, don't stimulate them with light/sound/voice if you can help it.

They are going to get back up, guaranteed, give them a few minutes of verbally disagreeing with your new approach, then repeat in the same calm manner.

You may be doing this for 30 minutes - 1 hour, but they will eventually give up and go to sleep. You should repeat this anytime during the night they are back up and screaming.

When day comes and they are up, this time flip on lights, use your regular voice, open the blinds, etc. Teach them their is a distinct difference between night and day.

Eventually, they will adjust, and your problem will be solved!

**Source: I am a foster parent, and many times have been placed with children who has sleeping issues. My wife and I have always done this, and it works wonders.

  • Thank You very much, I'll try my best and get back to you with the results, if you or anyone is interested. – Peter Oct 8 '18 at 18:44

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