I have a 3.5 month old, and once he falls asleep, he sleeps comfortably through the night (usually 2 feedings).

However, for the past couple of weeks he has suddenly started crying A LOT before he falls asleep. He cries for a bit then quietens down for a few minutes and then starts crying again. Every night, we go through the usual checklist: food, diapers, comfort, cuddle, walk around holding him etc, but nothing seems to help. This goes on for almost an hour, an hour and a half before he finally calms down.

Have other parents experienced this? What has helped?

asked 18 Nov '09, 05:39

Umsd's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 19 Nov '09, 02:24

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦

With our son, who went through much the same sort of issue around two months in, we tried two approaches:

First, we tried a no-tears method; we would do roughly what you're describing, we held him, stayed in the room with him, and did everything we could to stop him from crying whenever he'd start. After about two or three weeks of this, he was up to three hours of crying before he'd finally exhaust himself and go to sleep.

After that, we tried a much different approach. We steeled ourselves as best we could, and after we read him to sleep, we went downstairs, ears pressed to the monitor, and let him cry it out. It was not easy, but it's worked. He would sleep for 45 minutes, wake up distressed that we were not there, and then after 1-20 minutes of crying he'd sleep solidly for the rest of the night, and wake up (i kid you not!) after 10 hours of solid, restful sleep with a big grin for mom & dad.

YMMV, of course.


answered 18 Nov '09, 06:57

offby1's gravatar image

accept rate: 100%

I completely agree with the cry it out method although it is very tough! It is worth it in the end!

(18 Nov '09, 07:15) Melissa 1

Thanks for sharing your experience. We used a similar method successfully. It's hard, but is effective relatively quickly. Unfortunately 5 minutes of your child crying feels like hours.

(18 Nov '09, 17:59) Scott ♦♦

Our 3 1/2 month old went through the same thing. It turned out we were putting her to bed too late. We started taking her upstairs to start her bedtime routine an hour earlier (or when she looks and acts tired - whichever comes first) and that seems to have done the trick. Could your little guy be overtired?


answered 18 Nov '09, 09:37

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accept rate: 10%

edited 19 Nov '09, 02:22

Once we started putting her to bed earlier, then she started fussing again, and we realized she wasn't tired yet, so we would play with her for 10-20 minutes then try again and usually she'll drift right off. If not, we'll put her under her mobile or play with her again for another 10-20 minutes, lather, rinse, repeat.

(26 Nov '09, 22:47) Fun2Dream

When our daughter gets like that it's usually associated with teething. Are there any other signs of teething, increased drooling, gumming things more then usual, red cheeks (these are some of the things we noticed)? Our daughter started the teething rituals around 3-4 months even though the teeth didn't come until 8 months.

I remember calling the public health nurse when she was around 4 months because we couldn't settle her and it always appeared to be when we put her down to sleep. After listening to the list of signs, and the fact that she didn't have a fever or otherwise appear to be ill, the nurse said that often the baby will experience the throabing pain of teething when they are trying to sleep as they are not distracted by other things.


answered 19 Nov '09, 02:32

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Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

I would agree with Tammy that its likely teething. The other thing to keep in mind is that they are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and they start early with training (or trying to train) us as parents. If you have addressed all the items on your checklist, and they are clearly not ill, you could try Tempra or your brand of infant pain releif of choice and see if that helps. If that fails too then I would agree with Offby1 that its time to get tough and let them cry it out. Every parent I have ever spoken to that has done the CIO (cry it out) method will agree that its one of the worst things to go through at the time but ulitmately is the best thing they could have ever done for themselves, their child and their household as they end up with solid sleepers. This is my opinion based on my personal expereice - hope it helps.

In response to comments - I don't believe Dr. Sears to be the definitve authority on child rearing and I really think it depends on the mental ability and intellect of your child. You are right that some kids may not be able to effectively train/manipulate/sway their parents from a young age but I can guarantee you that my child learned that skill from a lot less than a year of age. She would bait us to go back in and check on her and in the beginning we fell for it but as time when on we wised up. We would watch in her video monitor as she alternately tried and then gave up and played until she ultimately went to sleep. She has many talents - including puckering up for a kiss when you go to leave a room, only to go back for that kiss and she turns away, she just wanted you back. If that is not manipulation, I don't know what is. And just for the record she knows exactly how to deliver non manipulating kisses and does so generously too.

On the topic of medication, when you know your child really well and know that they are not ill, and all their needs have been met, where is the harm in giving them tempra? There are no studies out there that say its detrimental. I think its actually quite cruel not to give them pain relief just because they are incapable of telling you exactly what hurts.If you are tune with your child you will know that something is wrong or that they are out of sorts. Imagine yourself in a paralyzed state and not being able to convey pain. Wouldn't you hope that someone caring for you knows you well enough to know that you are in pain or discomfort and is willing to help you, even if you cannot directly ask for it? I WOULD!


answered 19 Nov '09, 05:42

dreamerisme's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

edited 19 Nov '09, 20:58

to the downvoter - care to share why you disagree?

(19 Nov '09, 14:23) dreamerisme

This post discusses the research behind why CIO is not necessarily a good idea. Also, Dr. Sears (among others) disagrees that infants can train parents.
This Wikipedia article explains the Attachment Parenting approach, which is one I follow. Specifically it says: "Dr. Sears advises that, while still an infant, the child is mentally incapable of outright manipulation." (continued)

(19 Nov '09, 19:33) Fun2Dream

Also, I try not to medicate unless absolutely necessary. Your suggestion that the original poster should give infant pain relief, when we don't know for sure that the baby is teething, seems excessive to me. If the parents do think it may be teething, they could try giving their child a frozen washcloth to chew on, or a teething toy, or try other more natural methods to see if that helps relieve the pain.

(19 Nov '09, 19:34) Fun2Dream

Sorry about the links - can someone with better HTML skills than me fix that?

(19 Nov '09, 19:35) Fun2Dream

Fun2Dream: It will be interesting to see if you still hold the same opinion in 6-9 months time.

(19 Nov '09, 20:37) dreamerisme

Dreamerisme - the OP asked about a 3.5 month old, not a 9-12 month old. I certainly may change my mind, but these are my thoughts now.

(19 Nov '09, 22:34) Fun2Dream
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Asked: 18 Nov '09, 05:39

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Last updated: 19 Nov '09, 20:58