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How to change sleeping habits of child sleeping in a swing?

Answered by
Dr. Sumanth Amperayani

Pediatrician, Pulmonology

Practicing since :2003

Answered : 8097 Questions

Posted on Thu, 5 Nov 2015 in Child Health
Question: I apologize for the length, however I hope to offered any possible needed information, to save you having to ask for more info.

My 16 lb, 4 month old grandson had two undiagnosed hernias from age 2 weeks until they were removed by laproscopy one month ago. They would cause him to grunt very loudly, appearing in pain, for 14-16 hours daily, mostly at night until his bowels moved by noon the following day. It was impossible for my grandson, his parents, or us, his grandparents, after we began keeping him 3-4 days weekly so at least his parents could get some sleep. He was diagnosed with colic by his first doctor and prescribed gripe juice, which didn't help. Athe two months old, she advised us to put him in a room by himself so we wouldn't be able to hear his grunting, enabling us to get sleep.

After that horrible advice, we found a new pediatrician, who we're very happy with. She requested we record his grunting, which I did. She used the video to ask the opinions of several other pediatricians and a pediatric cardiologist, but all were baffled as to the cause. Even his pediatric surgeon didn't think it was related to the hernias. She could only offer that it might be some weird form of colic. A hernia appeared on one side, leading to his surgery. We blame no doctor for the undiagnosed hernias, as it was obviously a rate symptom and thankfully, the grunting immediately stopped after surgery and hasn't returned.

Because he slept better in a swing when he had the hernias, it's mostly where he slept, with adult supervision for mostly all but two weeks of his 4 month life and occasionally in crib if he would. Two weeks ago he completely stopped sleeping in his crib and would wake at least every other hour. After realizing he was refusing to sleep in his crib because he wanted in his swing, we stopped letting him use his swing, cold turkey, eight days ago. After the first nightmare few days, we assumed he'd eventually get sleepy enough and learn to sleep in his crib but he didn't. After a week of my sleep deprived, grumpy grandson, who only sleept 20 minutes on Saturday from 10am through 8pm, we relented on Sunday and let him sleep in his swing during the day, so he could finally get some good sleep. He did. He slept fairly well in his crib last night, too.

Do you have advice to offer to help with a transition him from sleeping in his swing to sleeping in his crib. Maybe cold turkey was the right way. Maybe a time limit. Maybe thetesthere'sthere's other advice you know of. We don't know and need help. My daughter has temporarily moved in with us so we can devote 100% to whatever needs to be done to help him. We're not expecting it to be cakewalk but a 4 month old barely sleeping day or night can't be a good thing for him. I know it sure wasn't for the parents or grandparents! The swing weight limit is only nine pounds away.

Thank you for any advice.
Answered by Dr. Sumanth Amperayani 38 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Use swing for time being but gradually wean off

Detailed Answer:
Hi...I appreciate the way you have given me a clear picture of the problem. I understand your concern. I agree its not an easy way to put a 4 month to sleep well.

Here are some tips -

1. As for time being you can use the swing, but its not advisable to use it without constant adult supervision which is difficult practically. Moreover the car seat type or sitting swing models have been seen as a risk factors for SIDS. I suggest you gradually wean off the swing habit though not suddenly.

2. I suggest you devise other methods to grab his attention like gentle reading from a book.

3. Most importantly- there should always be a same systematic approach... For example - if you song a lullaby for him, it should be the same lullaby daily and that too as much as possible, at the same time.

4. Feed him full and exclusive breast feeding before putting him to sleep so that hunger will not irritate or disturb his sleep.

5. Playing a gentle and same music from daily at same time at bed side can be another option.

6. Another issue is that, in this particular case the baby due to initial hernias and grunting might have got adjusted to this disturbed sleep pattern and it might take a while before he gets back to his age expected normalcy. So you may need to wait it out.

But one thing is for certain - baby who is growing normally and developing normally is a well baby and you need not worry about it.

Use the swing as if now to regularize his sleeping habits and once a daily routine is established, try the other soothing methods which I have suggested above.

Regards - Dr. Sumanth
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vinay Bhardwaj
Follow up: Dr. Sumanth Amperayani 48 minutes later
Thank you so much for such excellent, thorough advice. It's appreciated and we will surely follow it. I think I only have one more question: how would you advise we wean him from swing? Ex: should we reduce use to every other nap on weekly or bi-weekly? Another method? We'd just like to possibly avoid messing this up a second time as badly as we did the first! I hadn't heard about some XXXXXXX swing relation to SIDS and will definitely let my two pregnant nieces know. Thank you, once again, for such detail to help with a much slower transition. We feel more confident doing this now.
Answered by Dr. Sumanth Amperayani 11 hours later
Brief Answer:
Gradually wean off by 1-2 hours per week

Detailed Answer:
Hi...I suggest you gradually wean off by 1-2 hours per week so that the baby may not be able to notice the change immediately.

I wish your kid a speedy recovery. If you need any future medical consultation and suggestions, I will be glad to help. You can approach me at the following link. Please find the link below -
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Sonia Raina

The User accepted the expert's answer

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