Manipulative 8 month old?

Help!  My new charge is 8 months old and has been held for every nap his entire life.  His former nanny was an elderly lady who sat in the rocking chair for the baby's naps.  I refuse to do this.  I have other things that need to be done like caring for 4 other children, cooking, cleaning, and idk...eating lunch or going pee!  He detests the swing and stands right up if I put him in the crib. I've tried laying him down once asleep but he wakes up immediately every time.  I let him cry today and he went on for over an hour before I couldn't take it anymore.  I swaddled him tight and put him in the swing where he finally fell asleep.  There has got to be a better way so I come to you all for help.

Before I get bashed for letting him cry.  Just know that he's a manipulator!  I know it's quite incredible at such a young age but as soon I  come into view, he quiets right down and smiles.  There aren't even any tears and snot!  I've never in all my years of taking care of kids come across an infant that can shut it off like that.  I see acting in his future.


NayTheNanny said...

Sounds stressful but have you spoken with the parents about their views on CIO? I wouldn't ever do it without their permission and though I have worked for amazing families who I wouldn't trade in a million years who were totally against it, I would never again accept a position like that. I don't like letting ababy cry without some comforting, but I prefer the method where you let them cry a bit longer gradually and comfort less and less withOUT picking them up. Bottom line make sure you and his parents are on the same page with whatever you try. Good luck.

JustAnotherJennifer said...

I had this problem with my charge when he was a few months old. What I did that really helped was swaddled him and put a boppy in his crib. Once he has fallen asleep, lay him down on the boppy (under his neck and head like pillow), it will have him feeling like he's still being held. Now I have no problem at all putting him down. Good luck.

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Bethany said...

I’m assuming your charge sleeps fine at night and his parents are okay with you doing your own thing when it comes to night time training.
The first thing I suggest you do is figure out his cries so you know what he sounds like when he is extremely upset or scared, when he’s sleepy crying and will fall asleep, and when he’s test crying or play crying.
At his age he is probably ready for a loosely framed schedule . Try to have scheduled naptimes. Keep in mind he is still young and will somedays need to sleep a little earlier or later, but try putting him down at the same times each day. This will help his little body get into a rhythm and might make sleep teaching easier.
On average kids his age sleep around 3 hours total during the day so figure about an 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon. This isn’t exact, he may do 3 one hour naps or a 1 hour nap in the morning and a 2 hour nap in the afternoon .
Assuming he can do 1.5 hours at a time and can be awake for about 3 hours at a time try a nap at 9 am and again at This isn’t the most important thing right now as your first goal is to get him to fall asleep independently.
During the time he is awake make sure he is active. I like to do awake times in cycles of active play and quiet play . Before naps I do a quiet cuddle time. Cuddle time for me means soft lullabies, snuggling in our favorite chair, and reading stories. That might be too much for your little guy, so do what relaxes him.
With my charges now that are about the same age I change their diapers and we snuggle on the couch and read stories before putting them in their cribs with a kiss and goodnight. This takes about 15 minutes so I try to start this routine 15 minutes before I want them in their cribs . It’s okay to be flexible here too somedays they do not want stories and want to go straight to sleep which is fine.

I’m extremely softhearted and can’t put a baby that is used to being rocked straight into a crib and sleep teach cold turkey.
I would wean him off of you first. Sit in the chair with him, relaxing and snuggling patting his head( pat his back if he has started sleeping on his tummy) until he is drowsy put him in his crib before he falls asleep.
Keep patting his back until he falls asleep. As he is falling asleep tell him goodnight and give a kiss. He will likely wake up. Wait 5 minutes before going back in. Do not get him out of the crib unless he is crying a frantic scared cry, even then try to calm him in the crib first. Once he is calm put him back in the crib and start again. After a few days put him in the crib while awake you can pat his back until drowsy and then tell him goodnight and give a kiss. Now wait 10 minutes before you go into the room and calm him. A few days after cuddle and relax time put him in his crib place your hand on his back give him a kiss and a goodnight and leave the room. Now wait 15 minutes between cries. Every few days increase the time, for me personally I would not go beyond a half hour of normal crying.
Keep going for the full nap period. It will be a tough few weeks.
I normally don’t swaddle babies his age, but if he needs the comfort, maybe you can try a sleep slack, you can also where the sleep sack around you or have mom wear it so it has a comforting a familiar smell while he falls asleep. You can wean him off that after, that is much easier to do once he knows to fall sleep.
Keep in mind that even when he learns to fall asleep on his own there will be times he has trouble, sickness, teething, figuring out a new milestone, a big interruption in his routine etc.
Also he might be a baby that needs to “talk” himself to sleep so don’t worry if he likes to talk for a few minutes before sleep.
The babies I have now babble to themselves or each other for 10 to 15 minutes before falling asleep. It’s cute to hear over the monitor. Some babies sleepy cry instead of talking.
Hang in there.

MissMannah said...

Ugh, are you serious? 8mo babies are NOT manipulative and it made me very angry to even see the title of this post. This baby has been trained to sleep in arms and is having a tough time breaking the habit. OF COURSE he starts smiling when you walk in the room, he's figured out cause and effect. Crying=getting picked up. This is not manipulation! I have to echo some of the other posters and wonder if you're right for this job.

Ness, why did you have formula in your house if you didn't want the nanny to feed it to the baby? I have a hard time believing she went out and bought a can.

Anonymous said...

I purchased a can for emergencies to leave in the car but did ask specifically that she NOT give it unless breast was unavailable (like out with my kids longer than anticipated). She also ocasssionally put my 20 month old forward facing in the car "because it was fun!" Despite specific direction on this. Discovered that after she left. Anyway, so formula was not the only issue.

FormerNanny said...

I totally agree with Ness. While you might not think it is a big deal, I would be livid if my nanny did something like this behind my back. It has to make you wonder, if she does this, what else is she doing without telling MB. Trust has been broken, and I would be hard pressed to give someone a reference that I knew had flat out lied to me. Can you imagine what could have happened if that baby had allergies to certain formulas????
Whether the nanny thought baby slept better with formula or not, it was NOT her call to make. Ever.

MamaBear said...

You sound like an awesome nanny. This is great advice.

amomma said...

I have nothing to add on how to get him to sleep.

But until I had my 3rd child I always scoffed at people who said their babies fake cried and where manipulative.

I didn't think it was possible, and then I had my 3rd child.

In his 18 years of life he has managed to challenge everything I thought I knew about children and being a mother.

RBTC said...

Op - your questions are reasonable and you have much potential - you did a brave thing by coming forward asking for advice on the web - sometimes you have to wade thru some haters to get to the valid helpful advice - please do that and check back with us again and let us know how it helps !

what mm said said...

Miss Mannah said it perfectly.

NannyJenn said...

OP, I've been there, but with younger babies. Both of my former charges were basically held their first four months of life until their mom when returned to work. Then I was left with 2 or 3 young children to take care of and I just physically couldn't hold the baby all the time. I's difficult, but you can get through it.

First of all you need to talk to the parents and see what sleep training method they are comfortable with. Then do some research on your chosen mehod and come up with a plan.

Did you stick him in the crib and let him cry for a whole hour? If you go the CIO route, I would suggest using the method where you go in and check on the baby without picking him/her up instead of just leaving him in there.

BTW, I would think 8 months old is too big for a swing or swaddling.

Kristen said...

Holy crap. You took a job caring for 5 kids?! I hope you're making 6 figures.

NanaDarling said...

You have to talk to the parents. Sometimes there tends to be an us vs. them attitude, but it should really be more of a partnership and the only real way to develop that is by establishing trust. I'm totally fine with letting kids cry themselves to sleep. But the parents may not be and you're there to put their parenting styles/beliefs into effect as much as possible. (As long as it's a decision that's just a matter of opinion and not safety, of course.) You should always be able to go to them with your concerns and an idea and say "So I've noticed this problem, and here's what I would like to do to fix it, and here's why." I wanted my charge to lose her binky way before her parents did, but I didn't press it because in the end it's not my decision.

I also agree it's very difficult to believe an 8 month old is being manipulative. They've just figured out a cause and effect. They scream, you come back, they smile. If you see them as doing things out of spite before they're, like, two, you're in for a lot of frustration.

As for ways to wean the baby off of being held during naps, I've known these methods to work:

1. Rock the baby until they're in deep sleep and then put them in the crib.

2. The swing.

3. Put them in a stroller and push them back in forth until they fall asleep. Then push them into their room and close the door.

If they have a security item, of course, make sure they have it. If they don't, maybe you can create one. A favorite stuffed animal or blanket that gives them comfort. Make sure they have it and you to start, then eventually wean them down to just having the item.

I also don't recommend trying to get them to nap on their own cold turkey. They have to understand exactly what you want from them before you can use the letting them cry method.

Make sure they have an established routine, too! It helps them know what's expected of them.

Hope this helps!

OP said...

OP here.

Thanks for all of the helpful advice. I think I found something that works. I had tried swaddling him and putting him in the crib that way but he flipped over then got stuck on his stomach. He was extremely stressed and freaking out because he couldn't turn back over.

I tried the "nice" CIO option where I went back in and reassured him. He flipped out even worse every time he saw me and I felt bad to keep going in and upsetting him even more. He never fell asleep that way either.

I tried the "mean" CIO option where I leave the room, shut the door, and hope for sleep. It never worked and he just cried the entire nap time.

I tried getting him into a deep sleep in my arms but the moment he touched down into the crib, hysteria began.

I tried feeding him his bottle with him already in the crib but he isn't allowed to hold his own bottle and it was extremely painful bending over waiting for him to finish it.

Today I pulled the crib mattress out of the crib and onto the floor. I made a cozy little bed and laid with him for all of about 5 minutes until he fell asleep. He slept for over an hour and didn't care that I wasn't there. YAY SUCCESS!!