Help – My Baby Will Only Sleep On Me!

Help – My Baby Will Only Sleep On Me!

***Today I am welcoming a guest post from Sam, creator of Love Parenting.org. Sam is sharing her personal journey from worries to decisions surrounding her first child’ sleep habits. ***

One of the most common concerns I hear from new parents is that their baby will only sleep
on them. On their chest, nursing or in a sling, they are happy but the moment they are gently placed
down in their basket, they awaken crying and desperate to be picked up again.
This is such a source of worry for a parent who loves their baby and wants to do things “right.”

So much advice is flying around it can be difficult to know what to do, our instincts become
so blurred. Should we “give in” and let them sleep on us? Is it ok for the first 3 months and
then we should put our foot down and set a routine as some experts will tell us? Or would it
be better to put a stop to it early, kinder on our babies if they know where they stand from
the start rather than having to break them of the habit later?

I was the victim of these worries when I became a mother too. My baby boy was a huge
comfort feeder and would stir as soon as I lay him down. The first few months were spent
camped out on the sofa with everything in reach and him feeding contentedly. Then I got
bored and wanted to get on with things. I began to worry that he would never be able to
sleep without me and friends with their own babies urged me to do something about it. The
popular choice for them was something called “shush pat” where you lay your baby down in
bed, making “shush” sounds over and over whilst rhythmically patting their backs.

I decided to give it a go. The first time I tried it my son clearly thought I had gone a bit mad.
He lay watching my face and smiling up at me while I shushed and patted and after no more
than five minutes he was asleep. That’s it, I’m on to a winner here I thought. But the next
nap came around and the moment I placed him on the mattress he began to cry with a
ferocity I had never seen before. I tried to calm him with the shushing and patting that had
worked so well before, but it was clear that he wanted to be picked up and I too wanted to
hold him and comfort him, so we abandoned it. I nursed him to sleep as usual and that was
the last time we ever tried any sort of sleep training. My friends laughed at my efforts when
they heard how easily I had given up, and they promised me that I would have to do it
eventually so why not now? I ignored their advice.

So, for the first 10 months of my sons life, he slept on or with me. We abandoned any
thought of a routine, he would sleep in a sling on my back if I wanted to do things, or
cuddled in my arms nursing if I wanted to rest. At night we quickly realised that he would
wake within 20 minutes if we put him up to bed, so he stayed downstairs with us until we
went up to bed, sleeping peacefully in my arms.

At around 10 months old he began to find it difficult to settle in the evenings so we decided
to start a loose bedtime routine. The times would vary depending on when he was tired but
the routine was always the same. We purposely kept it simple, teeth brushed, cream rubbed
in, pj’s on then a story cuddled up together. This was all done in a low light, then we would
go into the bedroom where either he would nurse to sleep or daddy would rock him to sleep
while a lullaby toy would play quietly. We waited until he was in a deep sleep before putting
him down, which again breaks all the rules in the baby books!

Establishing this routine really helped my son to form good habits, but waiting for the right
time in his life to start it was so important too. By the time he was 13 months old, not only
could he sleep comfortably out of my arms and without feeding through his naps, he no
longer needed (or wanted) to nurse or be rocked to sleep at bedtime. He would have a quick
feed when we went in to the bedroom then roll away and explore, play, roll and climb. After
a while he would lay down and go to sleep. One of us would always lay down in bed next to
him and sometimes he would come and cuddle up to us, other times he would want his own
space.

He is now 16 months old. He has never been left to cry it out, and never experienced
controlled crying. He naps on average for 3 hours during the day and it takes between 2 to 5
minutes of gentle rocking the buggy to get him to sleep. He can still take up to an hour to go
to sleep at night but that hour is a beautiful relaxing time. I often sing to him, we cuddle, I
still nurse him to sleep if he wants. That is becoming more and more rare. It is often over in
20 minutes or less.

And guess what? Those parents who told me that my baby would never sleep are the ones
having trouble now. Bedtime for them is something to be endured, a battle to dread. Their
babies don’t nap for long either. But even if they did, even if I was still needed to nurse and
rock and cuddle my baby to sleep, I would do it in a heartbeat. The trust my son has that I
will always be there for him, that I am on his side, is obvious in our interactions. And
actually, now that he is becoming more independent, I miss sitting on the sofa for hours on
end, holding my precious baby, watching him drift off to sleep.

So where should your baby sleep? The answer is up to you! Follow your baby’s lead, listen
to your instincts and shrug off advice that doesn’t sit right with you. Drink it in and enjoy
every moment, because it will be over before you know it. You have the choice on whether
your memories are of hours of sleep training, stress and tears or instead filled with sleepy
smiles, cuddles and the start of an unbreakable bond which will last a lifetime.

Help! Baby Only Sleeps on Me.

 

Related Resources

The Sears Baby Sleep Book

 

Sam is the creator of Love Parenting a site dedicated to natural parenting, non conformity and living life to the full. She describes herself as a mama to one spirited toddler, a wife, writer, traveler, childcare professional, dreamer, listener and serial cake eater! Find her here at www.loveparenting.org 

***

Join the Positive Parenting Connection page on Facebook for daily inspiration, resources and ideas.

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

70 Responses to Help – My Baby Will Only Sleep On Me!

  1. I did the exact same thing. I rocked and fed my son before every single nap and bedtime until he turned one. I never let him cry it out and I held him each and every time he needed me to. He slept with us, usually on me, for that first year. We kept a solid night time routine. Once he turned one I did a mild version of sleep training, which basically involved rocking him to sleep after his night feeding, then placing him in his crib. He never cried for me, he just stayed asleep, usually through the entire night. Ever since night time has never been a problem. He keep the same routine and he goes to sleep peacefully and easily. He is now two and has recently grown uncomfortable in the rocking chair and points to his bed when he is finished cuddling and wants to lay down.

    I’m very proud of myself for being there for him in that first year. Yes, there was so much more I could have gotten done around the house without him strapped to me during nap times, but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. He is very secure and a truly happy little boy. That first year is so important and I know I did the right thing by being there for him the way he needed me to be.. despite what others advised me to do.

    • thank you so much for sharing your experience, it sounds like you and your son have a wonderful connection 🙂

  2. Every child and parents’ decisions are different and no one is right or wrong. I have three children and I nursed my son until he was around 18 months and I had the same type of experiences with him, not wanting to go to sleep without me. However, I let him cry and I had a consistent routine with him as well and it didn’t take long to “train him” to be able to sleep without us. We just stayed consistent in what we had decided to do and he is fine today and so is our relationship and he is now 13 years old. The same was with my other children, breastfed all three and they slept in their own bassinet/crib from when they were a couple of months old and again, all three are fine and it didn’t take them long to adjust.

    There is nothing wrong with letting your child cry a little and you are not considered to be a “bad” parent and on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with your choice of letting your child sleep with you either, but there is no right or wrong method to it and there is no need to judge one parent’s decision over the other. It is what works the best for the family. No love is lost either way. God Bless!

    • Bernita, thank you for sharing your story and your experience here. Allowing children to cry or not cry to sleep can be a touchy and difficult topic/decision for parents to make. It often comes down to balance and what feels right for each family while understanding what is healthy for the baby. I appreciate you taking the time to share your personal story.

      • Hi I crossed this site while desperately trying to find a way to get my son to sleep in his bed and not on me.
        This is my 4th child and for the 1st week of his life he was in special care nursery for a infection he caught from the birth.
        After becoming well in the hospital we brought him home. He started crying and I would put his temperament as the colicky baby.
        I never let him cry alone and I’d try and comfort him when ever and how ever long he cried.
        Sleeping in me was the only way he would get any type of sleep.
        Nursing him,rocking him, shhhshing in his ear. Was all I could do to keep him at least of try to keep him content during his crying spells.
        Now thank God at 13 weeks his colicky crying has gone but he still sleeps on me while we both sleep on the recliner in the loungeroom.
        My back is very sore and my other children tend to be a little neglected most nights.But thank his they sleep 99 percent of the time.
        After I read your blog I felt like ahhhh someone is and has done what I am doing.
        My son is lying on me right this minute sound asleep and my toddler is behind me standing on the table touching my hair.
        I pray she isn’t going to fall so maybe she should get off.
        Naughty little girl.
        As I smell the sour milk smell coming from his beautiful neck I say thankyou for the reassurance that my motherly instincts to not let him cry or to ignore him “as from my own mother’s advice”. That I’m letting my son know that he will always be cared for and to trust that I’ll be there for him with all his needs.

        • Hi,Bernita
          Babies are so innocent and wonderful. I am a mother of four. 3boys 1girl and let me tell you each was different in their own special way. Two of my boys where like this. I would suggest get a blanket put it between both of you it will eventually smell like you both. I did this woth my boys and they started sleeping on their own with their security blankets because it feels like in tight there all the time. My 2yr old loves his blanket and cuddles with me and his blanket for naps at times or he naps with his siblings. My bond with my kids is strong and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had family giving me a hard time about my kids but there different in parenting than I am. So you do what makes you feel happy. I can reasure you that this temporary, cherish the time. Trust me he’s eventually going to outgrow this stage and you will only have memories. 🙂 I took pics just to remind them when they get to their teens how the weren’t always been to big to need me.lol.I wish you blessings and alot of little kisses that will come your way. FYI I get way more kisses from my son than his dad and everyone else.

  3. I too struggled against all the comments and sniggers when I refused to ‘control cry’ my first boy to sleep. He sleep on my chest for the first 3 months and co slept until 4.5 years. My second boy slept on my chest day and night whilst I sat up on the lounge until he was 7 months old. At just under 2 he is finally sleeping through the night without a feed. I was able to break the overnight feeds by waiting until he was old enough to be encouraged to be a ‘big boy’. Both now happily take themselves off to bed when they are tired. As hard as it was I am really proud of us for sticking it out.

  4. I love this post as it reminds so much of the feelings I had as a young mother. The only doubt that creeps in centers around the idea that co-sleeping is being touted as dangerous because of the risk of infant death from parents rolling over onto their children. Far and wide, we educate parents to put babies to sleep in a crib and on their backs. Will this go out of vogue the way that strict formula feeding did thirty years ago?

  5. It is so refreshing to find your article buried in a sea of online sleep training advice. As I sit here holding my six month old during his afternoon nap I feel reassured to know that “going with my gut” and holding him tight when he needs me is never the wrong thing to do!

  6. I’ve been feeling like I need to get my 5 month old son to start sleeping in his crib (he currently sleeps with us and naps in our bed during the day). I like getting the cuddles with him but I figure the longer I wait the harder it will be.
    So today I started putting him in his crib for naps….omg what a disaster. He wakes up the instant I put him down. At first he would look up and smile at me, hey mama whats going on! He wouldnt go back to sleep. Each nap time I would try to put him back in there and he got more and more upset and I had less and less patience.
    I was looking up articles for getting baby to sleep in their crib when I came across this! I dont know why I was pressuring myself to get him out. He’s currently (finally) sleeping in our bed and thats where he’ll stay for the forseeable future!
    Now I wish there was wine in the house lol

      • Well we are almost at 15 months and….he still sleeps with us lol I’ll put him in his crib for a nap and he will wake up within 30-60 minutes. Then he will sleep for another hour with me in the rocker. Any attempt to put him back in his crib after that first wake up and that’s it, nap time over. At night I put him in his crib at the beginning of the evening and he usually wakes up when we are going to bed so he comes to bed with us.
        Some improvement…still not where I would like to be, which is him in his own room. But we’ll get there!

  7. Hello, my daughter is 8 days o,d and will only sleep on me or my husband. I don’t want this for I’m afraid of the obvious things that could go wrong as we doze off with her. We have tried every baby device out there. She freaks when we swaddle her i just dont know what else to do. Any advice would be helpful. I was thnkingof getting a baby nurse to come in and put her to sleep inbetween her feedings which I am breastfeeding on average every 2 hours. Thanks

    • Amy, I see that you want to do what’s right for your new baby, I would encourage you to reach out to your pediatrician with questions and to look into all the safety information about co-sleeping so you can make the decision that works best for your family. The early days with a newborn are often challenging but also truly special. Best wishes and welcome to parenthood!

  8. Thank you so much for this post. This had be me feel so much better about my decision to put all the “advice” to not co sleep, and let my daughter cry it out or train her because “ill regret it some day” has been killing me inside. I refuse to let her cry it out despite what my well meaning family have advised and I couldn’t be more proud of myself for doing it. So seeing your post and the comments of other mothers out there who feel exactly like I do gives me a lot of reassurance!

    • Its exactly the same way withne and my baby who is almost 11 months abd still naps on me and sleeps in bed with us. Everyone has been telling me to get her in her own bed and own room but when i lay her down in her crib…oh heck no, she wakes right up…so i sometimes put her in our bed for naps and she sleeps right next to me at night. She sleeps straight through the night and sleeps for a couple of hours when she naps on me…when she doesnt nap on me she only sleeps for 30 mins max. Everyone keeps saying that its going to be super hard to transition her and that i need to do it now but my daughter i feel isnt ready for that. Im glad there are others mothera like me and babies that are older ans still sleeping this way. I hope that when she is ready to transition that she will just let me know…she is a very smart and pretty easy and happy…oh so happy little girl:)

  9. Hi, that sounds like the situation I am currently experiencing. I just wanted to know if your husband was on board? And what about going to work as well?
    I think that is one of the biggest stresses I am facing.
    It is actually causing me quite a bit of anxiety. And it turns out I will be needing to go back to work soon (financially unfortunately), so how do you do all that, and the housework :$
    Sorry about all the questions, I am getting very overwhelmed by it all.
    Thanks

  10. Sounds lovely and I would love to be able to provide that to my baby, only problem is my baby does not “peacefully drift off to sleep” despite being nursed to sleep every single sleep in her entire 4 months life. She screams because she does not want to sleep. If fact it is a battle to get her to close her eyes that I have to put a small piece of cloth over her eyes so she can’t see, otherwise she will not close her eyes. She also sleeps in my bed, so basically I do not get a single minute to myself all day, it is exhausting. I don’t believe in CIO or comforted crying – however there has to be another way which doesn’t involve me not getting any sleep or space.

    • Christina,
      That sounds ever so tiring and frustrating for both you and baby. As I read about your challenges I immediately thought about Alanna McGinn because she is a very gentle minded, healthy and knowlegeable non cio sleep consultant for parents. I have zero affiliations with her so I’m truly just sharing her site and name with you in case you want to see what she has to offer. I hope you have some support so you are not dealing with this on your own. This is Alanna’s site:

  11. Wow, after another day of researching i came across this article. I have a gorgeous nearly 6 month old who is ebf. We have always had sleep issues but have been able to put him in his crib or cot. However since he got his teeth at four months he will not last longer than 20mins.We have co-shared in the past during the early weeks (otherwise i may have given up after an exhausting end of pregnancy and labour) so many people say you’ll ruin him or spoil him if you let him sleep with you.I will hopefully go to bed tonight without the guilt. Thank you and if you have any studies i can read on the subject that would be excellent. Xx

  12. Thank you for writing on this difficult topic. I feel that there is a lot of judgment around, whichever path you go down! My boy is 5 months old and, until recently, would only sleep in a sling in the day. I have joint problems and it was getting pretty painful for me as he grew! I also sleep very deeply and am very active in my sleep, so we decided co-sleeping was not a safe option in our case. So really, all that’s left is sleep training. We’ve looked into a few methods but have landed on our own version of shush-pat now, combined with a little book-music-cuddle routine before each nap. It’s helping but hard work, and posts like this make me worry that perhaps I’m not doing the right thing, as the bond with my baby means the world to me. Ultimately though I wasn’t previously able to enjoy the time when he was awake because I was exhausted and in pain. I feel that, as long as you’re not traumatizing your child, there are not really any hard and fast rules, and everyone should try to be a little more sensitive to the needs and insecurities of other parents. It’s not a competition, after all!

    • Hi I’m a mother of four and each of my babies where different. My first bottle fed and nursed. She would eat and sleep and that was it. Only time she has issues where dirty diapers. My second my boy only wanted to be held and slept on me or a sling. My third baby swing. My fourth is only taking naps while I hold him but at night he sleeps fine in a crib or co sleeping. Every child is different and my relationship with each of them is priceless. My boys loves me so much and wanted me all the time but once they get older the only want dad. Go figure.I have a sister in law who tries the cry out method and now her little boy now 3 won’t let her out of his sight he’ll scream and cry if she leaves or he can’t see her.

      • Rosie, thank you for sharing your story. It’s amazing and beautiful how each child can be different, which personally I think is a great thing, otherwise how boring would life be if we were all the same!!

    • For anyone reading this post, I know it has been 3 years since, I thought I could give some advice. I had a c section, but I’m very sure birthing your baby can end up being just as uncomfortable and painful after. But, just wanted to say that I didn’t move nearly as much as I did before the c section as I was healing. My son slept on my chest because he loved it there and I didn’t have to get him in and out of a bassinette every 2 hours. I just didn’t take any heavy pain killers so I wasn’t groggy. I had a side rail up, and after a month or so I got him used to being rolled off of me and he slept beside me while I slept in a cuddle curl position. I never fed him laying down as that just hasn’t worked for us. After a while though I started to suffer from sleep paralysis, so consciously not being able to move scared me, so I took a crib and strapped it to my bed frame and he slept there for months. Look up side cars and how to convert a crib into one. Its great too just for people with small beds. This helped me feel like I wasn’t going to unconsciously roll onto him and not be able to move. Really though. I wake up if he makes the smallest peep. Now that he is 6 months and able to roll, he’s taken to rolling and reaching out for me. So, oddly he now sleeps right beside me again. But no more sleep paralysis because he sleeps longer now. And I’m not so exhausted. I’d dealt with the sp in the past so it didn’t freak me out, just knew it was from being too tired. Now, for naps, hes sleeping on me right now for his morning nap! Ha. But every other day for the past week i put him down beside me on the couch really cozy in some blankets (its winter here and I’m in a basement so cozy blankets help during the day when he can safely use them) and let him have his naps there till it gets closer to bed time. Then at bedtime he gets his warm jammies on, and his overnight diaper, and we go to bed and either he nurses to sleep or I sing him to sleep on my chest. Then I put him down beside me. The crib right now serves as a comfort for me, and when he’s not quite tired yet at bedtime. He does some tummy time and exploring on his crib mattress.Oh, and im putting him down every other day because him sleeping on me is getting hard on my back (he’s in the 85th percentile), and hes starting to get uncomfortable when hid teeth are shifting. No teeth yet but he’s been teething since he was born! Anyways, there’s always a way to co sleep safely, but it definitely needs to fit your comfort level. If your not comfortable with your set up, you won’t be sleeping, and the whole point of all of this is to get some sleep! Expirament and make sure you study co sleeping and bed sharing practices. Sweet Sleep is a great book to read. It helped me alot when I had my mother telling me that I was going to crush my baby and that I needed to start pumping my breast milk so I could have someone else feed my baby at night. Not sure why people think pumping is easier. I bow to mothers have to work and pump! Happy sleeping everyone!

      • Also, this was supposed to be a reply to what rose said in 2013. Thanks for this article though! I like many others on here started feeling like I should be starting to get him to sleep on his own, and this just reassured me that my gut instincts aren’t wrong. THANKYOU

  13. My first baby took all naps until about 8 months. I enjoyed it. My challenge now is that my second child appears to be the same and I have my 2.5 year old who wants and needs me. If I don’t lay down our sit/carry my second she naps for 20 minutes. Any tips?

  14. Thank for this! Every baby and every parent is unique. Your experience is the closest to my own that I’ve found online and I find this post very comforting. My 6 month old is happy, sweet, intelligent and stubborn. He wants to nurse to sleep and keep nursing through naps and all night co sleeping. Sometimes I worry I’m doing the wrong thing and try other things. “Maybe I can roll away once he’s deeply asleep…” “Today I’ll try putting him in the pack & play after he’s asleep…” “Will the swing work?”
    He’s not having it. If he’s at daycare or alone with daddy he’ll sleep in the swing, but if I’m there he wants to nurse. I’ve finally decided not to fight it or CIO. I just can’t help but think he’s telling me what he needs and I have no reason not to accommodate it. This post helps me feel more secure about that choice.
    Even though he’s only 6 months, I can already see him outgrowing some of those intense needs. His independence is exerting itself in small ways while he’s awake so I imagine he’ll eventually become independent in sleep as well.
    I’ve chosen to cherish this time–it already feels so short. Everything that is meant to happen will happen and someday, probably sooner then I’ll be ready for it, he won’t need me for sleep. When that time comes I’ll revel in all the time to relax or (snicker) get chores done. But I’ll also miss it so much–the sweet smiles, cuddles & baby breath.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m bookmarking it to read it in those moments when I forget myself and start to doubt.

  15. I needed this today! My 6 month old sleeps on my chest all night. I put him down for 30-45 minutes at a time before he stirs and wants to be held or nursed again. Same thing for naps. My friends all tell me to let him cry. It’s so refreshing to read something that says what I am doing is ok!

  16. My son is 3 months old and “still” sleeping on my for day naps.
    Thank you for the assurance that this is normal (for some of us) and perfectly ok. After many tears today, I needed that!
    Thanks!

    • I have an 8 month old who has been sleeping on me for every nap. I nurse and rock her to sleep and let her sleep on me for her naps. If I try to put her down she’ll wake up or she’ll only sleep for 30 minutes. She’s a wonderful and happy baby when she gets her sleep. She’ll wake up smiling And babbling. Her night time consists of nursing and falling asleep into arms and then being put down in her play yard in our room. She usually sleeps 8-7. However lately she has been waking up more at night wanting to be picked up. She’ll scream and cry until I pick her up. Everytime it happens I feel like I’m reinforcing this negative behaviour and teaching her that by crying she gets what she wants. But I also feel horrible and guilty letting her cry it out. She’s still not sleeping in her crib and I feel like she’ll have a really hard time adjusting once we try to put her in there. I am also afraid that as she gets older she’ll protest more and more to being put down and sleeping on her own at night. Everyone says it’s my fault that I got her used to being held in my arms. I don’t know how to change this now as she’s older and it breaks my heart to let her cry it out. Please give me some advice!!

      • It’s going to be ok:)
        My son was like that but it just there attached to you. I’m a mom of 4 beautiful kids and their all different. My two youngest where very attached to me and its due to nursing and going to sleep together. Eventually they replaced me with a blanket and I miss the times they cuddled me.They are very happy and independent of me. So cherish it because they grow up fast. ONCE she starts walking around you’re going to miss these days and another issue will begin. Lol

        • Thank you for that. I wish my friends were more understanding. I hardly have time to do anything around the house but I am so much happier spending this time with my daughter. I just don’t want her to grow up too dependent and also I’m reading all this info on sleep training and it all states how basically what I’m doing in creating a “bad” habit as I’m not teaching her to fall asleep independently. It’s also sometimes hard because she’ll have a hard time falling asleep in her stroller or carseat because she’s not being held so it’s hard to go places. We always have to plan outings between her nap schedules. I just hope her night waking are not because I have caused it by holding her and getting her too dependent on me for sleep. Also how should I go about it putting her in her own room and crib. Since she’s still sleeping in our room in her play yard! But I loved reading everyone comments on here who have similar views on baby sleep and parenting 🙂

  17. I had commented on here a long time ago. I think my baby was around 6 months maybe? Well he is 20 months now. He sleeps in his big boy bed all by himself. At nap time he falls asleep with me in our chair and I move him to his bed. At bedtime I lay in his bed and snuggle him until he falls asleep. Sometimes he makes it all the way through the night, sometimes not. But usually he makes it at least most of the way. When he wakes up he comes to bed with us. We did it without crying, we did it slowly over time, gently encouraging him to push a little further. I realize now as we are thinking about another child and people are already telling us not to let him sleep with us or we’ll have to go through it all again, and I want to. If I hadnt stressed so much about what he “should” be doing by a certain point I couldve just enjoyed our time so much more. I just wanted to give everyone an update. One day all those snuggles will lessen. It changes little by little and one day you will realize that they dont need you quite as much. Cherish it.

  18. Thank you so much for this article! I cried tears of relief when I read it knowing I’m not alone and not crazy for choosing to hold my baby when he sleeps. I have stopped telling friends I hold my almost seven month old everytime he naps for fear of their ridicule and the embarrassment I’ll feel. While it would be nice to get things done while he naps I do cherish these moments and know they won’t last forever.

  19. This post and the related comments healed my heart a little. My husband and I take shifts sitting up overnight in the recliner with our 6 month old baby sleeping on our chests, as well as for daytime naps, and we’ve received a lot of criticism and advice. The thing is, we did the same with our older child, he’s nearly 6 years old now, and for the past 5 years he has slept through the night in his own bed with zero issues. So although we know eventually our baby will sleep fine on his own, even we harbor doubts when we get criticized all the time for allowing him to sleep on us. Neither child wanted to be away from us, and if they just fussed a little when we put them down we would have let them, but both got so extremely upset, “crying it out” was never a possible option. Our younger child also has severe reflux which has also complicated matters. How we’re handling our children’s sleep is what works best for our children and family, and I’m so relieved to hear we’re not alone.

  20. Thank you so much for this! Our sweet little girl was a great sleeper until about four months. She then started waking frequently and the only way to get her back to sleep was nursing her again…even if she had just eaten. She would peacefully drift off in our arms, but the second We put her down, boom awake! My husband and I tried everything. We came up with every reason: she’s teething, she’s growing, she’s making a developmental leap… We were so exhausted we sought the help of a sleep consultant, and even though there would have been no alone crying, I felt physically sick about doing it. I decided not to try it, wasn’t for us! My days were spent exhausted and obsessing about sleep, until a dear friend of mine told me she had slept with her babies, they were peaceful, she slept, win win! I needed to read this. There is so much pressure to “train” babies. I’ll enjoy my baby’s cuddles and peaceful sleep. We will take each day as it comes and stop obsessing about doing the “right” thing.

  21. Thanks so much for this and all the comments-especially the updates from Elizabeth. As I’m writing this, my 4 month old is asleep in my arms. She’s always napped happily in my arms during the day but recently I’ve faced comments from others about setting up bad habits, how I need to have “me” time, etc. I realized I felt pressured to “improve” her sleep and as a result I’ve ignored my own gut feelings and have ended up with her sleeping worse than before! The bottom line is she’s only my baby for such a short amount of time and I truly want to feel I’ve done what works best for us right now. If it stops working we’ll change it, but I’m going to savour these sleepy moments while I can.

  22. greatest blog I’ve read so far! i swear i had tears in my eyes as it made me feel so relieved and gave me hope and encouragement that i am not doing it wrong…my 4 months old precious lil girl had napping issue from day 1 she was born….she would nap anywhere between 45 to 30 mins on her own and be up and ready to play but towards the end of the afternoon or early evening she becomes very grumpy and starts crying out of over tiredness. I tried everything possible to get her to nap longer such as crying it out (i couldn’t bear it for more than 2 days off and on – i failed), controlled crying, shush and patting – just name it but the issue wasn’t falling asleep but STAYING ASLEEP. My last resort was holding her in my arms, rocking and patting her bum every time she stirred after her first sleep cycle and this will prolong her sleep to at least an hour and she will wake up happy most of the time. Of course as a first time mum, i googled and read every possible sleep advise and every advise made me feel like a lousy mom for assisting her to sleep. I was worried that my daughter will never learn to sleep on her own! The funny part is that she has no issues to self settle as she does it for her night sleep. I put her in her cot after a routine and she goes to sleep on her own from the age of 8 weeks. Thank you for making me feel that i am doing it just fine as a mother 🙂

  23. Hi, thanks for the wonderful write up. I have been reading your article frequently for the last 9 months that I had sleep concerns for my wee boy and had self doubt. He has always been nursed to sleep and keeps nursing in between his naps. His night waking has reduced gradually to 2-3 per night. He always slept on my chest until he turned 7 months old and then started sleeping by my side. He also had terrible reflux until he was 6 months old and sleeping upright ish helped him.

    My current concern is that I need to return to work in the next couple of months and worried how he would manage his naps in the nursery. Also I would be working nights a few days every month and not sure if he would cope without nursing to sleep.

    I would never do CIO or any similar thing. I am wondering if I need to start weaning him off breast or get him used to bottle soon. Would that possibly help reduce his sleep association with breast feeding? If not for working nights, I would happily have continued breast feeding for much longer. I would still co sleep all the days I would not be working.

    • Dear Shree, could you talk to the nursery staff and find out what their plan and routine is for helping babies transition from napping at home to napping in nursery? When screening for a placement in a nursery, searh for places that care for babies with caregivers that are attentive, kind and respectful. Many places offer gradual placement so the baby can get to know the caregivers and this gives you time to work together with the nursery to create a sleep routine that is nurturing and healthy. Best wishes.

  24. Oh I just love love love this, it’s really the only thing I need to hear/ read on the subject. I’m in the can’t leave the couch part of the journey with my one month old, so thank you!

  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am not alone. I am not wrong. My little girl will sleep on her own in her own time. Yes, I selfishly consider all the things I could accomplish (type A personality) if she would nap alone. But I remind myself that this is temporary. She is only three months old and as a first time mom I already she how much she has grown and changed. I will miss our time together dreadfully once it is done. I lie in bed with her at night and just gaze at her. Those perfect little fingers, delightful tiny toes, adorable sucking motion even after she has finished nursing and rolled over. I treasure our time and I hope to encourage the next mom who stumbles across this post. I’m crying because you all spoke to my heart and I have renewed energy to raise my girl lovingly and gently.

  26. Thanks for a great article. I think it’s important to highlight that all babies are different and a “cookie cutter” approach to parenting fails more often than not.

    I think it’s great that “He has never been left to cry it out, and never experienced controlled crying.” I took the same approach with my son and also had great results. I am now expecting a 2nd, so fingers crossed it wasn’t “Beginner’s Luck”!

  27. Thank you for posting a positive, nonconformist alternative to sleep training. I have heard every criticism of my methods of nursing and snuggling my son to sleep, but I try to stay strong and ignore them, because my son bonds so strongly with me during those nighttime snuggles. Also, as you said, he sleeps better and longer than his peers. It is refreshing to read about a similar method to mine that worked long term.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging piece.

  28. I just found this article it in an randome Google search done exhaustion. I’ve really appreciated it and the comments. My high intensity 9 month old little boy will only fall asleep on me or sometimes my husband(sometimes because he works out of town a lot). And he’s waking up a billion times at night. All this to say, I was exhausted and frustrated, and afraid he would never fall asleep and I was ready to rebuild his crib, which is in the attic, and kick him out of our co-sleeping bed even though in my heart I didn’t want to. But I am encouraged by this article and a chat with my (out of town) husband that we’re doing the right thing for our family in the long haul. Thank you.

  29. When my daughter was 3 months old she would only sleep in my arms or in bed with me. She would scream if put in the cot and wake up every 10 minutes at night. I am a single mum. I couldn’t go anywhere because she had to be in my arms. I couldn’t have people at my house because she was asleep in my arms. I found it very hard to clean the house or prepare meals as it was dangerous to have her in my kitchen. I had to lie on the bed with her from 5pm at night and she’d be crying when I left to go to the bathroom. I ended up deeply unhappy, unwell, exhausted, extremely thin and completely disconnected from my beautiful little girl. I ended up using a type of ‘shush-pat’ through Tresillian because I had no choice. She has never been left to cry. I simply could not continue as I was very close to a physical and mental collapse. You should not feel pressured to ‘control cry’ but no one should judge you either if you don’t embrace the ‘natural’ method of cosleeping. I now live with family who support me and I get to enjoy my smiley nine month old treasure and I feel joy at being her mother. We all have to find our own way.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for sharing your story. What you shared about each family finding what works for them is very true. Sleep is a tricky subject that can bring up all sorts of disagremeents. I’m very glad you have found a way that worked for you and that you found a way out of what wasn’t a good situation. Wishing you many many wonderful moments your smiley baby 🙂

  30. This is so refreshing to read. I’ve read your story countless times over and every time I do, I have tears in my eyes. My child is almost a month old and has a reflux issue, where she’s prone to throw up after a feed. Since week 2 she has only slept while on my chest. At first I felt extremely guilty for having her sleep on my chest, and tried everything to get her to sleep on her own, but it never worked. Our society has convinced us that if we do not follow their guidelines and recommendations then we are doing things wrong and more inclined to have our babies die in their sleep. I have come to learn that every family is different and what works for some won’t always work for others. I feel reassured and comforted knowing that I am not a bad mother because I am allowing her to sleep on my chest during the night, so thank you.

  31. It’s nice to read your story, but you’re one of the lucky ones! I have friends who, like you, have ended with a good sleeping toddler with no tears. I 100% believed it was best to cuddle him and nurse baby to sleep and that he would grow out of it naturally.
    But my sons 18 months now, he won’t sleep without feeding, he’s unconsolable if I try to put him down. In the night I can’t even get out of bed to go for a wee without inducing a huge meltdown. I wish I’d have listened to all the advice that I had frowned upon about sleep training. It would have been easier with a baby that didn’t understand and adapts easily rather than it is to a toddler that knows exactly how to get his own way. The moms I know who sleep trained, although they have early risers, they have been getting uninterrupted nights for about a year now, where I still haven’t had a night to myself. 🙁

    • Hi Sophie, I hear that sleep is a struggle for you right now, it’s certainly very challenging to feel like you don’t get a good night of sleep. Especially over time sleep deprivation can have big consequences. There are many gentle and healthy ways of helping a toddler learn to sleep well that are not harmful. Two resources I can reccomend are Elizabeth Pantley “No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers” and The Good Nite Sleep Site – Alanna McGinn is someone I can highly reccomend. She is a mother and truly an expert in all things sleep – wihtout resorting to harsh training. You don’t have to keep eduring the sleeplesness – I know first hand how awful that can be and finding Elizabeth’s work was wonderful for me. I hope you will find a solution that works for you as well. Best wishes.

  32. Hooray for all these mothers who found the right path of sleep for their children. My experience as a daycare
    infant teacher is frustrating when a mom has spent all of her maternity leave holding and cuddling her precious child and then has to return to work. I totally understand how she feels! This is the only time I will have 24/7 with my baby and I am going to enjoy him/her to the max. I would probably be tempted to do the
    same. Do you have any advice for the worker who received this child into her room and is trying to help the baby adjust. After all, we cannot hold a baby the whole time they are in our care! What advice would you give
    the mother? Thanks for your response.

    • Hi Julie, my baby boy started nursery at 11 months of age. His nursery teachers did the best they could to help transition him to full time day care. He was mostly carried around or sat with in the first month of settling. Thereafter gradually he started getting used to them and sleeping on his own. He started off with 1-2 20 min naps whole day in pram and over 5 months progressed to 1 2 hour nap. This involved a bit of crying I suppose, which he had never experienced at home. But, I left it to the experienced staff at nursery. He is mostly happy there now and has adapted well to the nursery.

      Back home he still wants me by his side for naps and bed time. He is 17 months now and I am hoping he ll progress to sleeping on his own at least for naps and a couple of hours at night, to help me do some chores, when he stops breast feeding.

    • Hi Julie, thank you for sharing your experience. I wonder what type of arragements you make with the families that start new in your daycare rooms? Ideally, an infant needs to gradually be exposed and get to know a caregiver to adjust well. A “getting to know you” for several days in a row, with the parent present would be ideal, in order to build trust and to see you as a secondary attachement person. A parent needs to help the child see the caregiver as a trustworthy person and ideally both parent and caregiver work together to develop rapport and a working relationship for seamless care. Regardless of how the infant arrives and transitions, treating the babies with respect and attunement is key – attending to their cry, using baby carriers to keep them close, playing simple, gentle attachement games, making eye contact, using a soothing voice are all ways to help baby feel seen and understood. Tears per se are not a problem, they are simply a release for a baby, the important thing is to atune to these cries and make an effort to respond kindly, with the intent to help the baby meet her needs. I understand it’s not ideal for you that mothres hold babies….but for the baby, it is 100% ideal that mothers do hold them, attend to them and atune to their needs in the early months. It would be detrimental to development to do otherwise. More than anything, I would reccomend working WITH the parents, and the daycare staff to have enough hands on deck to offer babies continuous, attentive care, which clearly you are trying to do since you are taking the time to read about this…so keep caring, I’m sure the babies you are caring for are very lucky to have you as their daycare infant teacher.

  33. It is very encouraging to read this post. My first child who is now 5 years old, as a newborn would nap anywhere (our chest, being rocked, swaddled and pacifier) although he had stomach issues until he became 1 year old. Despite the fact he fussed and cried, he managed to sleep in the first 2 months anywhere, at 3 months of age he needed only 10 minutes of being gently rocked with a baby carrier and then would sleep in his back. At 4 months he had sleep regression for which we were not aware, after a visit at a “cry clinic” (schreiambulanz in German, we live in Austria), we were told we are overstimulating him to sleep. Then we always cuddled him, and with his pacifier off to sleep he went. Fast forward to today I have a 8 week old baby girl, who is so different, we are battling naps, she cries so much, she has also witching hours, once she accept my breast after excessive crying she doesn’t let go for 2 hours and sleeps longer. She takes no pacifier and we are not succeeding putting her to sleep. I can’t read her cues. The moment she takes my breast for breastfeeding she doesn’t let go. Out of desperation yesterday I let her nurse and use me for a pacifier. Today did twice. I thought better she spits up, and my hands get tired than desperately trying to rock her/walk her/strill her listen her cry 70 minutes before each nap and not even succeed putting her to sleep. I was wondering if letting hernap on my breast will harm her later? Like maybe her body isn’t getting all the milk she needs or is this type of napping restorative? My breasts are not in pain, i just want my baby to be well rested…

    • Hello Inja – Do you have a visiting nurse / midwife (hebammen) that is following you? It’s difficult to offer help just in a comment, I think talking with either the pediatrician or midwife might be best to rule out if the baby has anything that needs to be sorted out – things like reflux, thrush, gas can all translate into crying so best to have someone in person take a look. In general, napping by the breast in the first weeks of life is natural and wonderful, something that can be changed later as baby grows. But you don’t need to go through this alone, so If you are uncertain as to what is best for you and your new baby please do reach out to a trusted person that can see you and the baby and give you personalized help. Congratulations and best wishes as you all adjust to being a family with 2 little ones!

  34. I so needed to read this article today. It has been a difficult week with my daughter-she is just 9 months, and I feel like sleep goes up and down….this has been a down week. She used to have a fairly solid 6:30 bedtime-however this week we have been up until 9:30, and I am sooooooo tired. I work hard to get her to sleep before getting her into her crib-it’s a total crapshoot whether it will work or not, but we keep trying until she stays put. We don’t do CIO. I am happy to nurse her back to sleep during the night, and we often cosleep and nurse (however I recently threw out my back, so was not able to). Reading all of the comments makes me think that as she gets older, she will do better on her own. We are not interested in sleep training with CIO. She has just started putting her head on pillows and thinks it’s funny. I wish she would think it was comfy and just fall asleep! I think my biggest problem is that my husband and nanny both wear her for all naps. They have not been able to get her into the crib. I am worried that this is hurting all of my hard work, and on nights like these when I am exhausted (and hubby is going out of town for the rest of the week, so I’m on my own), I just get tired and resentful. Once baby goes down and I have 5 minutes to myself to stretch out and close my eyes I’m fine, but still so tired. Thank you for the article-I will share with my husband who is starting to think that CIO is a good idea-not like he ever puts her to bed anyway..

    • Hi Jillian,
      Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes that time and effort to transition babies into sleep can feel difficult, particularly because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are looking forward to the relaxing. I wonder if it would help you to focus on the present moment first, to notice how you are helping and caring for your baby that trusts you to help her find sleep. Personally it helped me a lot, not to think “when will my baby fall asleep” but “oh how lovely I am here helping my baby find sleep, we are together” It was a small shift in thinking but it helped a lot. Another thing I learned is that when they start moving away from their usual sleep time, they may be re-adjusting their needs (babies so love to do that!!) and so I would watch for tiredness cues and adjust our rhythm as well – maybe 730pm instead of 630…if you know what I mean? Hope that helps!!

  35. Thank you so much for this. I’m sitting here with my 9-week-old who has been napping on me for the last four hours! She will go in her crib at nighttime – from about 6 weeks old – and I guess I was looking for reassurance that it’s OK to carry on with this in the daytime. Like others here, I’m hearing advice to keep trying to put her down, but my instinct says no.

    I love that comment about helping them find sleep, rather than being desperate to get them down so we can have me-time – or in my case, even just time to sterilise her bottles!

    One day, rocking my beautiful girl to sleep, I put on a new CD of lullabies. There was one called ‘Summer lullaby’ and the lyrics made me cry: “Close your eyes, and be with me, and let this lullaby catch your dreams”.

    Close your eyes and be with me. My baby just wants me to be with her and I intend to enjoy every moment. 🙂

    • My son is now 2 and he went through this stage and we are the closest in the world. He looks to me for comfort always even if his dad is near. His first kisses are for me and his good morning hellos also.My husband is a bit jealous of his affection towards me but I tell him it was those days of us bonding and me holding him during those day naps that made our bond stronger. I tell him he will have his full attention maybe in 1 or 2 years.:)

  36. As a mom of 4 beautiful kids (1girl 3boys) I can relate to different types of kids my sons all suffered from colic my daughter on the other hand was easy. Feed her she slept like a rock.My husband was a stay home dad with our first for the first 3 months of her life. He would tell me that he didn’t struggle with our girl our boys totally different. I nursed and had them use me as a pacifier, swing you name it. Its hard when you are alone in this but there’s hope. You may not see it now but it will pass. I know. I hated when people said this to me. I felt no one understood. But here are some pointers. If its possible hire gelp for the chores. Some people ask family but mine wasnt around. Some of my friend’s would drop off some meals or help pick up my other kids. My church group would come by and help hold my baby so I can take a nap or take a much needed shower.I remember my pastor telling me it takes a village to raise a baby. Lol is all I can say now. My bond with my boys is strong.Stronger than my husband’s and my daughter’s. My boys always tell me they love me and that I am wonder woman to them.Cherish this time. Soon they will grow and before you know it there pree teens.

  37. What an excellent and reassuring article! I drove myself crazy for the first four months of my sons life worrying about his sleep. The Internet will have you feeling guilty and feeling that you’re doing it all wrong, so I say get off the internet and follow your heart! I wouldn’t of had all that stress, worry and guilt if I hadn’t of read so much crap. Sleep deprivation made me desperate, but once I accepted some things (like my son just doesn’t know how to self-soothe right now but one day he surely will), started taking better care of myself with vitamins and herbs and stopped reading all this “expert” advice, everything became much easier almost overnight. Babies were born with instincts that make sleeping alone to them an abnormal thing. Throughout history, and even in many societies around the world today, babies are never left alone as this ensures their highest survival. Furthermore, babies are constantly changing, and as a result it’s nearly impossible for them to form “bad” habits in their first year of life. Babies don’t know manipulation anymore than they know how to read a clock. These experts should stop trying to make babies grow up faster and stop trying to make them more independent at a faster rate. Babies tell you what they need and as parents we should acknowledge them. They have plenty of time to grow up, and they will grow up so fast you’ll miss it all. So, hold them, kiss them, spoil them…. They’ll be happy and you’ll be happy you did.

  38. i did attachement parenting with my daughter. Intuitively we slept together in the same bed and i nursed her until she was 25 months. However she is now 3.5 years old and refuses to sleep by herself. I have a 4 month old that i am nursing during the night and my toddler will wake up periodically and cry for me. She wants to sleep ‘on my tummy’. I have to lay with her for at least an hour every night before she falls asleep. What am i doing wrong? Our bedtime routine starts at 6:45pm. We clean up toys, watch 1 tv show, books, snacktime, brush teeth. Any suggestions?

  39. My son is 6 months old. When he was born he was the same way. I literally slept without moving for the first two weeks because he would only sleep on my chest. Then I slept alternating sidelying and him laying on top of me for the first two months. My arm was going numb in sidelying. Completely numb. If he wasn’t attached to my nipples, then he wouldn’t sleep. At 2 months, I was in tears. I hadn’t slept more than 2 hours in a row. I felt that I couldn’t let him cry, even for 30 seconds, so I was on edge all the time. He would nurse all night long and then get gassy at 1 am and would just cry and cry the rest of the night. Then we had a postpartum doula when my husband was out of town, and she ended up putting him down to sleep in the spare bedroom. He slept 3 hours straight and went 5 hours without nursing. We learned that we had to put him in the spare bedroom and that he, and we, slept better separate. We had a good few weeks and then it fell apart. He would only fall asleep on us and then when we put him down he would wake up. We tried helping him fall asleep in the crib. That worked for a little while. But we were back to being up all night after 1 am or 2 am, with my husband and I holding him while he slept. We tried bringing him back to bed, but he slept so lightly and squirmed and wanted to nurse all night again that I couldn’t sleep a wink. So, we did cry it out with 4 minute checks. In one day, he was sleeping through the night, in two days he was sleeping through the night and falling asleep on his own for all of his naps. I’m now a big believer that cry it out is o.k. Before we did CIO, he was banging his head on our heads and chest in the middle of the night. I didn’t understand what was going on, but now I realize that he was so exhausted. Every baby is different. Cosleeping just doesn’t work for everyone. In comparison, a parent in our parenting group did cosleeping and their baby learned to fall asleep on her own…

  40. Very enjoyable article. Most of the moms will find this experience the closest to their own process of making baby sleep.Most of the babies keep napping on their moms most before gong to crib or getting sweet blow on swings. the best part is to helping them find sleep, rather than forcing them to go for sleep, so that the parents can find their own time.

    Close your eyes and be with your baby coz your baby ants to be with you and enjoy his/her sleep in peace 🙂

  41. Thank you so much for writing this and letting me know not alone in this! This is my 3rd child but he is so different from my first two. My oldest who is ASD would cry for about 5 minutes and then pass right out all night in his crib. My daughter who I suspect is also ASD has always kept to herself and can sleep through anything no problem. But my newest baby he is 11 months old and can barely sleep without me. Urged by a professional to have him “cry it out” I did so once… he cried for too long and it only got louder and more intense until he actually started losing his little voice. Never again. So he sleeps with me or on me or in my arms more often than not. I get little to no sleep myself but it’s getting better. He does finally sleep a couple hours a night in his crib so that helps somewhat. Reading your story gives me hope that it will get better. It’s a strange feeling actually being demanded for comfort. My other two like to snuggle sometimes and they come to me for comfort occasionally but my youngest actually cries for me and calms the moment he ends up in my arms. I enjoy it but I can’t lie it can be exhausting. Thank you again this has brought a lot of comfort to my heart.

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