2 month old baby boy won't sleep in crib

by Shannon

Question: My 2 month old baby boy won't sleep in his crib. If I lay him down totally asleep, he'll either wake up right away and begin to cry or sleep for about 20-30 min and then wake up crying. I've tried putting him in awake, but sleepy and he just screams. Today I tried to just let him CIO, but he cried frantically for an 1 hr and 10 min. I gave up! How long was I supposed to let him cry? He only sleeps on someone or in his swing.

He also hates "tummy time". Again, the second I place him on his stomach, he screams. I'll leave him there a few minutes, but he doesn't stop crying. Any suggestions for a baby that is more stubborn than his parents? ;)

Heidi’s Answer: Dear Shannon,

That’s such a nice way to look at it, your baby boy being more stubborn than you :).

Anyway, 2 months old is still very young to be able to settle by himself, not many babies do that at that age (even if they did the first few weeks). So you have been doing well trying to put him down asleep or experimented with putting down awake.

The crying it out will not do any good right now. In my opinion it is never necessary, but especially this age is too young to be effective, not to mention the health and psychological impact you will want to avoid. Check my cry it out pages for more details.

Right now, the best thing to work on is to have him sleep regularly and enough. You want to avoid him getting overtired as that will make his (and your) days unpleasant and it will make it harder to get him to sleep at all. Have you considered or tried swaddling? A well-fitting sleeping bag may also be a good inbetween try.

What I would like to advise you now to start with:

- Work on a regular schedule with a clear day/night difference as suggested on this sleep schedule page.

- For naps, a baby sling can be a great help. Not only does it help him sleep while you have your hands free around the house, it also gets his body used to sleeping for longer stretches, which will help when you start putting him in the cot again for naps.

A safe and well adapted baby swing is OK too for naps from time to time and when you’re around but it is never safe to use at night when you are not there to supervise.

- When putting him down asleep: make sure you wait long enough. That is, once he fell asleep, keep holding him and wait until his body is all quiet, his eyes are still and his breathing is deep and slow. This typically takes 20 or even up to 30 minutes and then you can put him down. If he always wakes up 20-30 minutes after putting him down: go to him after 15 minutes and gently place your hand on his head or belly to comfort him. This is often enough to avoid him waking up and to keep him asleep.

It’s OK to do all this helping for now, you have several months to go before you will 'have' to work on the self soothing.

- Lastly, if you haven’t recently, talk to your doctor or health advisor. There may be a simple cause that you can easily remedy and that a simple health check will reveal.

Because you also mention he does not enjoy tummy time, you may consider seeing an osteopath, specialised in babies. A stuck vertebral nerve or tiny cranial issue may cause distress and poor sleep but a good osteopath can remedy those, often in a single session. You may find the cranial osteopathy therapy checklist helpful.

Good luck!

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