The 7 Worst Baby Sleep Training Mistakes You Can Make

7 Worst Baby Sleep Training Mistakes You Can Make - http://incredibleinfant.com You need rest. You’re grumpy. Plum pooped.

In fact, you’re slurring sentences so badly people think you have a drinking problem.

In desperation, you start searching the Great Google for answers to questions like…

How do I get this baby to sleep more than 30 minutes?  Or…

How many Red Bulls can be safely consumed in 24 hours?

Suddenly the search term “baby sleep training” shines across the screen like a sunrise in Mordor.

Your heart goes all pitter-patter and fluttery.  After all, the ultimate romance these days is sleep.  But, done wrongly, baby sleep training is the darkest of foes.

It takes those hopes of a restful tomorrow and dashes them on the Cliffs of Crankiness.

There are 7 pitfalls in sleep training babies that trip up many new parents.

I’m going to lay them all out plainly, so you can easily sidestep the mistakes of parents who struggled before you.

Bad Expectations & Misunderstandings

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #1

The first foundational mistake parents often make in regards to baby sleep training is having unrealistic expectations and misunderstandings on sleep training.

  • They believe baby sleep training means having to endure hours and hours of crying.  (There will be some crying, but unless your baby is colicky and cries for no reason, the length of crying time can be minimized.)
  • They assume that just because an older child was easily trained at 6 weeks, their second will follow suit. In fact, different personalities react to sleep in different ways.
  • They have the mistaken belief that once you’ve helped him learn to fall asleep, you’re done.  (Two words for you: growth spurts.)
  •  They think baby scheduling is a rigid form of parenting.  My schedule was always written in generalities: nap 1.5-2 hours after eating, etc.

Here’s the honest-to-goodness truth about sleep training.

Learning to fall asleep is a skill.

Since we wake up and fall asleep numerous times at night (and baby sleep patterns are similar) you have to learn how to put yourself back to sleep.

Your baby will either learn how to do this with your help at around 3-4 months, or he will learn it by himself.

Do you want to risk being his “get to sleep again” crutch until age three?

Let me encourage you to gently start guiding your baby down the sleep independence path.

It’s totally possible.  You don’t have to kiss your rest goodbye for the first 3 years.

I’ll help you.  First by highlighting the things you DON’T want to do, then launching into the things you DO want to do.

Not Having a Routine

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #2

So let’s talk about the easiest step in baby sleep training.  Setting up a routine.

This is NOT a good routine: 

  • Play horsey and tickle monster for thirty minutes.
  • Get him dressed for bed, blowing on his tummy frequently.
  • Give a kiss, lay him down on the crib.
  • Turn off light.
  • Listen to  him scream in rage for an hour, wondering (with frustration) “What’s wrong with this kid?  GO TO SLEEP!

That may work for pets, but it doesn’t usually work for humans.

Would you fall asleep with that routine?  I know I wouldn’t.

I have to be lulled to sleep. Comfy pajamas, a warm cup of coffee (decaf!), quiet music, dim lights…all set the tone for sleepiness to settle in.  Some “brainless” activity is a prerequisite for my snoozes.

Your baby is the same way.

Prepare her for the change in brain waves by giving her by trying one of these techniques:

  • a light massage in a dim room
  • a warm bath
  • light singing or soft music
  • Nursing or giving a bottle (WARNING! – see #7)
  • Burping
  • Swaddling
  • Shush-ing
  • reading boardbooks

Pick a few of my favorite sleeping tricks, and then do them near the same time, in the same pattern every night.   It makes a huge difference in your baby’s long term sleeping success.

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Confusing “I’m Tired” with “I’m Exhausted”

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #3

I know that this seems backwards, but an overly-tired exhausted baby NEVER sleeps as well as just a plain ‘ole sleepy baby.

Learn the sleepy cues, so you can avoid slipping over the line into “too exhausted to fall asleep”.

These are signs that you’re opening the window of sleep.  If you see these, pounce into your sleepy routine.

  • Yawns (an easy gimmie you can’t miss)
  • Turns his face away from you, avoiding your attempts to interact
  • Sucks his thumb or caressing a loved blanket or toy
  • Slowing down from active play to quiet play
  • Eyes have glassed over and have started to lose focus, like he’s staring at nothing
  • Frowns frequently
  • Hiccups
  • A half hour (for newborns), 1 hour (3-9 month olds) or 2 hours (9-12 months) after he’s eaten

If you see these signs…you’ve passed tired and moved into exhausted.  You are going to have to work hard to soothe him down enough to sleep.

  • Fussy, loud cries
  • Rubbing eyes hard
  • King Crankypants: nothing pleases him (also could be a sign of teething…)

Not Considering Outside Factors

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #4

There are a variety of situations that can disrupt a parent’s attempts to sleep train their baby.

For example, premature babies are playing growth catch-up in that first year. They will have an extended time of “newborn sleep”. If you had a preemie, regardless of how old your baby is now, this is a great article on preemie-related sleep challenges.

If your baby has colic or acid reflux, read through this primer for parents of fussy babies. It will give you a great emotional boost.

Another factor is your baby’s personality.  (Yes, he has definite likes and dislikes.)

I wrote a blog post on how personality can affect breastfeeding, but the same info can be used in understanding which sleeping techniques may work best for your infant.

Starting at the Worst Possible Time

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #5

Don’t start your sleep training adventure when your in-laws are visiting.  Or two days before vacation. Or when you’re going back to work.

Open up your calendar and search for a week where you’re home every night.

You’ll need time to help your baby start establishing healthy sleep patterns.

And speaking of starting, unless this is your fourth or so baby, don’t expect to begin sleep training at the hospital.

The 4-6 week old age is a good “sweet spot” to get gently started.  Until then, concentrate on building up your milk supply and bonding with your newborn.

Ignoring the Nursery

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #6

There are nurseries that are perfect for magazines...and then there are nurseries perfect for sleeping.

Shoot for “perfect for magazines” when you have visitors. Zero in on “perfect for sleeping” the other 99% of the time.

Is it Dark?

I have blackout curtains and a old sheet covering our nursery window. Not exactly gorgeous, but all 3 of my children have been consistently late sleepers (8:30-9:00 am) and awesome nappers.

It’s a lot easier to take down ugly drapes for visiting guests than it is to re-program a 5 a.m. waking habit.

Is it Quiet?

The fewer distractions you can offer, the more likely he’ll stay sleeping longer.

GET A NOISEMAKER.

Even if you don’t have other children crashing around the house.

It will drown out the mailman’s knocks, the neighbor’s dogs, and the occasional crazy honking driver that only seems to come by during naptime.

Whichever you choose, make sure it doesn’t automatically turn off after an hour.  (What’s the point in THAT?)

Personally, I like this noisemaker for home and this awesome app for when we’re traveling.

Nursing Your Baby to Sleep

Soon-to-Be Baby Sleep Training Disaster #7

If your baby is less than 3 months old, this mistake doesn’t apply to you. You should nurse that baby whenever he’s hungry, no matter what time it is. It will keep both him and your milk supply growing steadily.

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about nursing before bed. That’s important and part of a good soothing routine.

I’m talking about nursing to sleep.

If you let him snack-to-sleep, he’ll want to do that every time he wakes up.  Whether he’s hungry or not. Don’t let him get into the habit of using your nipple as a living pacifier towards Napping-Land.

Occasionally, when the kids were sick or if we were traveling, etc. I would nurse my babies to sleep.  You won’t be arrested by the “bad parent” police if you choose to do this.

Or perhaps choose to nurse to sleep because it’s comforting for both of you.  That’s cool.  Just be aware of possible consequences.  Breaking the habit later can be done, it just may be harder.

Soothe, cuddle, and then lay her down in the brief few twilight seconds between “awake” and “asleep”.

The one exception I usually made when it came to nursing to sleep was when my babies were sick or teething.  When they don’t feel good, nursing to sleep may be just the good loving medicine they need.  Then, when they feel better, we would adjust back to the regular nurse, then put down sleepy but awake routine.

Leaving The Dark Side, Moving into the Light

The best thing about mistakes is that, with a little sleeping training perseverance, you can usually overcome them.

What is your greatest challenge when it comes to getting your little one to sleep?

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Comments

  1. Taya Okerlund says:

    My seven-month-old baby had colic and food sensitivities that upset her digestion (until we figured them all out–they were extensive). We have been trying to sleep train for the past two weeks. We’ve read a bunch of the books. Have been trying modified CIO, but so far results are pretty spotty. I stay home all day to try to facilitate good naps at regular intervals. We have a routine including bath, massage, stories and songs. We’ve got a noisemaker that stays on. Nursery is not completely black, but is as dim as we can get it using both shades and several layers of butcher paper. We’ve even ordered a new mattress for her crib because the Colgate foam mattress I bought her on safety concerns is too hard. Sometimes I think its working, but we have had so many setbacks. Lately she’s over tired because after an hour of crying before naps she falls into a grudging sleep for about 30-40 minutes and won’t sleep again. She’ll do the same thing in the afternoon until she’s exhausted at bedtime. Then she’ll cry for another hour HARD before falling asleep. Its been very hard for me emotionally, and I wonder how it is impacting her.

    As near as I can tell, none of the above timing problems apply to my little one. Could use some help. We’ve done as much as we know to do.

    • Taya, it sounds like you are covering a lot of the bases. When it comes to sleep training, some babies pick up on it’s a steady climb (like my Lauren). Others are more like waves (like my Elena and Bella). There are days where things are really doing well, and then it seems you go backwards. If she’s SCREAMING, go in and calm her. I did CIO with Lauren, because she rarely screamed and would fall asleep after 20-30 minutes of whimpers. Elena (my more sensitive child) would scream for over an hour, before we figured out that CIO wasn’t going to work with her. So I would go in and soothe her. I couldn’t touch her, since that would just piss her off that I wasn’t holding her, so I would sit in the rocking chair, just out of reach and sing and hum to her, stroking her hand once in a while for her to whimper and then calm down. It was too hard to stand on the other side of the door. There’s a fine line between letting children cry (not scream) and fall asleep on their own, and feeling like a neglectful parent! Each parent has to figure out where that line is in their family.

      From what you’ve written, it really sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Be as consistent as you can. Emotionally, at this stage, babies are working through a stage of development where they are learning that you are there when they need you. Elena learned that I wasn’t going to pick her up (unless she was beyond crying, and couldn’t calm down on her own without me), but I WAS there WITH HER, sitting and singing, and stroking her hand behind her through the crib. That comforted her.

      My encouragements are this: you are doing a great job trying to find that balance. Keep doing the things you are doing, walking the tightrope. If she is screaming, comfort her, then lay her down and try again. You will have good days and bad days, flow with them as best you can. It’s hard to see when you’re sitting inside it, but you really are moving out of the hole. I hope this helps. (hugs!)

      • This is the best way anyone has explained CIO to me. I’ve just been told I need to let my 11 month old CIO and I’m just being a pushover. Realistically, I do let her do her share of crying, but there gets to be a point where she just really needs me and I feel like other mom’s don’t quite get that. Just letting her cry and then me walking in there and patting her back pisses her off to no end. Thank you.

      • Stephanie – I go into more detail about the things I suggested to you in the article I posted today, “The Sandman’s School of Getting Baby to Sleep Through the Night”. Hopefully that can be helpful as well!

      • Hello. I have made a big mistake as of making my son fall asleep while nursing; not only that. At night we cosleep and he is attached to my breast the entire night. I am exhausted. My baby is almost 11 months old and he wakes up more than 5 times at night

      • Juliana, don’t be too hard on yourself. In those early weeks all we parents can think is “SURVIVAL”. So we do whatever it takes to grab the sleep whenever we can find it. The good news is that you can reverse this. It may take a little longer, since he has some habits that he won’t like breaking, but you can make this better. Decide now to take some tiny steps towards creating a new life. I would recommend that you read through my article discussing the Sleep Lady’s Shuffle and start working through those steps, one at time for several weeks. Oh, and buy some corded, non-choking-hazard ear plugs, your baby is not going to approve of the change. Still, sometimes we do things our children don’t like because we know it is better for them and the rest of the family in the long run. :-) Juliana – there is a restful future in head of you and your baby boy!

      • My 8 month old is able to fall asleep on his own for naps and his bedtime although, for the past 5 nights now he’s been waking up at 3am and I’ll do our same routine( lights dim change diaper if need be, and nurse) and put him down for bed again and he would go back to sleep. Now he’s won’t go back to sleep. I tried putting him back like before but he ends up crying which wakes up family. I’ve been sitting there with him with lights dim. No interAction just sitting there. I’m not sure if he’s in the mode of automatically wanting to crawl or more so towards standing. He’ll eventually go back down to sleep and 1 1/2 later. He use to sleep through
        My husbands loud snoring but now I don’t know of that’s what’s keeping him up.

      • You are doing exactly what I would suggest, actually, Monalisa. It’s a lot like the Sleep Shuffle, sit in the same spot for a few nights, and then slowly move yourself out of the room. If you think the snoring could be contributing, try getting a noisemaker to help drown out the extra sounds. Hope this can help!

    • Like you, I had many sleeping challenges. I found homeopathic Chamomilla, homeopathic colic calm, and homeopathic magnesium aid in relaxation. Children’s acidophilus and Aloe gel in distilled water help immensely with digestive issues. I was (and still am) consistent as possible with sticking to a schedule. I also found taking my daughter to a registered massage therapist (esp one who worked regularly with children) at an early age worked wonders. Good luck!

    • candice calhoun says:

      My daughter also has food allergies/sensitivites. We tried sleep training for 11 months and it was terrible. We discovered more sensitivites at 15 months and once we got those under control she started to sleep. Letting her cry is my greatest regret. She was in pain and needed me and I just kept getting frustrated with her. Now with my second child (who has similar issues) I will let him fuss but not cry. They wake up because something is waking them up. Hang in there it will get better. I promise. And never feel bad for going to your baby when they need you.

      • Hear Hear Candice! A great comment!

      • My 16 month old boy has struggled with tummy issues and food sensitivities since he was born. It has been emotionally tough to sleep train him amidst all of it. We never let him cry it out til he was 8 months old, but had to sometimes in order to get our family some sleep and sanity. He still cries it out once a night and I hate it but don’t know what to do. I had some blood testing done to see if he has any allergies, but the test wasn’t super comprehensive and since it can’t tell us of intolerances/sensitivities, I feel like it’s all just a big guessing game. I avoid giving him gluten and dairy, but am not even sure those are the issues. Do you have any suggestions on getting to the bottom of food sensitivities?

      • Kimberly, I’m so sorry to hear about this! It is incredibly difficult to feel like we are hitting a wall when it comes to our children’s health. Since you’ve already had the testing done, the next thing I can suggest is to do an Elimination Diet and see if you can discover the culprit that way. Basically you remove almost everything for a while, and then slowly add in foods and see which ones are causing a flare up. It’s hard work, but it will definitely give you some answers. Good luck friend, you’re being a TERRIFIC mother, and he’s very blessed to have you. (hugs!)

      • I’m no expert on sleep training but I do have three boys who have all had their own issues with sleeping. One of my boys I struggled with sleeping since about 9 months. He did amazingly well up until that point. I have always set a routine and have been consistent with it, but nothing seemed to help. At about 16 months after trying every sleep training option possible I finally decided to put him in his big boy bed (twin). It grew on him quickly and I would stay in the room sit next to his bed, not on it and not touching him at all, until he fell asleep and the I would leave. Every few days I would sit further an further from his bed until I could lay him down and leave. Good luck and don’t give up.

      • Melissa that’s so encouraging!! Thanks for the evidence that these things DO get better! It’s hard to feel like that sometimes when you’re so tired you can’t see straight. :-)

      • What sensitivities were they? I’m starting to think my son might have some. He’s 2 years old and still doesn’t sleep through the night and I’ve tried everything a number of times. I just started cosleeping with him and he’s better. But he squirms alllll night. And wakes up like he’s uncomfortable. I can’t sleep with him cuz he moves around so much, so restless.
        Thanks!

      • Check out this website – google: fed up by sue dengate. It changed our lives figuring out our babies food intolerances to food chemicals!! Also, going to a chiropractor for her was another lifesaver for her reflux!

    • No matter how many times I read about “sleep training” and people’s experiences with it, I am still shocked and appalled everytime. Our babies are helpless and completely dependent on us. They cry because something is wrong. They are lonely, scared, in pain, sad, or any number of things that require a parent’s attention. Letting your baby “cry it out”, even if you’re standing there stroking her hand, is selfish and neglect. If it feels wrong instinctually it probably is. Why are we forcing our babies to sleep by themselves before they are ready? So we can get a good nights sleep? If that’s what you wanted you shouldn’t have had a baby. Now that you do have one its your responsibility to hold and comfort that child when they are sad, scared, lonely and crying. My daughter is almost 7 months old now. I pick her up immediately every single time she cries. It was very hard in the beginning but now she almost NEVER cries unless something is wrong. She nurses to sleep 3 times a day and sleeps for 12 hours at night, waking to nurse 3-4 times. It’s not always easy but having a baby isn’t about being easy or convenient. Do your job and be there for your baby when they cry for you. Or do you want your baby to learn that when she cries no one will come? Or that she must scream her head off in order to get attention? Your baby wasn’t meant to be put down in a crib to cry itself to sleep. Go with your instinct and pick your baby up when it cries. She will sleep on her own when she’s ready.

      • All due respect, Jeanette, as a clinically licensed social worker I’ve seen neglect. And holding your baby’s hand in the crib while singing is not it. My children know that I will come to them when they cry, that I am always here as a rock for what they need. But they have also learned that they can do some things for themselves with me right there beside them. Still, I appreciate your comment as it definitely widens the conversation.

      • I wish I could ‘like’ this…

      • Rachel S. says:

        Jeanette –

        I don’t feel like a bad mother for letting my son cry it out. I am maternal. I can tell the difference between his “I am pissed off because I am not getting my way” cry and his “I’m in pain, something’s wrong” cry. I think that there are a number of healthy ways to parent. There’s nothing wrong with the way that you’ve chosen, and I have respect for how you are caring for your baby. But, in the same token, please don’t judge moms who choose to parent differently than you. I love my son more than anything in this world, and I have chosen the method that I feel works best for him and our family.

        Respectfully,

        Rachel

      • Mom of 2 Great Sleepers says:

        Jeanette,
        I can’t believe how judgmental you are! As a mother of two, I can wholeheartedly disagree with your opinion. Teaching your child how to fall asleep on their own is one of the best gifts a parent can give to their child. HOW EVER one chooses to teach their child that invaluable lesson is up to each parent. Some could say that you’re doing your daughter a disservice by picking her up immediately every time she cries… but nobody is passing judgment here.

        I have done the CIO method with both my children, my sister had done it with all three of hers, and I can tell you that none of our children feel neglected, abused, or insecure. If anything, they are better adjusted children because they have learned how to sleep well.

        My children love their beds, and love to sleep! I am confident that I, like many other mothers, have done a great job in teaching my kids the art of falling asleep. My kids don’t cry when I put them to bed, they lay down and do their thing and fall asleep.

        Please don’t make other mothers feel guilty for doing what they feel is best for their kids. We are all in this together, and we Mommies have to support one another, even if we don’t agree with other’s parenting skills.

      • Mom of one great sleeper and one in training says:

        Thank you for this comment. Its hurtful to judge one another, there is far too much of that when it comes to parenting. I am a licensed mental health professional with a background in treating adults and children, and I assure you that sleep training in no way resembles neglect. I would also like to add that as a new Mom of two, I see the benefit sleep training has offered to my daughter and want that same thing for my son. It is difficult and emotional for everyone but it is whats right for us. Be well.

      • I can see where you’re coming from. If a baby cies, pick it up. But I think that asking for sleep is not selfish. My sister is using baby wise because she has twins. If she picks up a baby every time it whimpers then she would never sleep. Soon as one calms down,the other screams.

      • Danielle Miller says:

        Karina,

        Wow, twins! I’m sure sleep is at a premium! I am very glad she has found something that works for her and of course, you have to trust your mommy instincts on this one.

    • a nony mous says:

      Have you tried a baby chiropractor? She has saved our lives! Good luck!

    • If she has food sensitivities then she may be having ear problems, babies often can only sleep for 30to40 minute before the pressure builds up in their ears and cause pain, have a moist air mister going in her room with eucaliptis (sp) oil in it
      And know it will get better soon, babies often outgrow this in the first year, and then you have about 17 more to go:)

  2. My son is 20 months. It has been a battle pretty much his whole life to get him to go to sleep. Night time waking is not necessarily a problem, but actually going to bed is a nightmare. We’ve had a pretty consistent bed time of 8:00. We read two books and sing about 4 songs. But as soon as I turn out the light and start to leave the room, he loses it.

    We’ve tried CIO, but he has Reactive Airways Disease and when he cries/screams so much he goes into a coughing fit. Anyway, it generally takes about 1 1/2 to get him to sleep. We will stand at the door and shush him, he’ll stop for a minute then start again. Any suggestions?

    • Julee, my suggestion is to get a comfy chair in there and sit for a while. Sounds like he’s needing assurance. See if you can calm him with your voice while you sing, or recite the ABCs, or read a dictionary outloud, etc. Anything to get your voice out there. You may want to stroke his hands through the crib, to give him a little reassurance. I would rest my eyes and rock and sing songs with my girl’s names in them with different tunes. It’s astonishing how calming it is to babies to have you say their name. I would sing, “I love my Bella, I love my Bella Rose, Daddy loves his Bella, etc. to the tunes of various songs I know. It’s repetitious and soothing. I would avoid eye contact, though. Sitting and singing in there for 20-30 minutes if you have to. And then, eventually start moving yourself toward the door…then in the hall with the door open so he can see you, then singing outside the door with it open a hair, etc. So he starts understanding that just because he can’t see you, doesn’t mean you’re not there. Give that a try and let me know if that helps. If not, drop another comment here and we’ll try something else! :-)

      • As a nanny that has been working with and around kids for my whole life, this post is what has done it for just about every single one of my little charges. They really just need the reassurance that you’re close by, and once you get them to a good almost sleeping place then your subtle exit is not cry-worthy. This is really the best advice for anyone sleep training, because as time goes on you need to sit there less and less and baby realizes the world won’t end. :) keep fighting the good fight, and know that it won’t last forever!

      • Thank you so much Kristin! That’s so encouraging to have someone in your professional field (i.e. been around a LOT of different babies) confirm what I’ve suspected. Thanks so much! I love the “world won’t end” comment, since that’s exactly what babies (I want it NOW!) often feel. And you’re right – it FEELS like it’s forever…but it’s just a blip on the parenting spectrum. Reminds me of that saying “days drag by, but the years fly by” :-)

    • Don’t turn out the light, sitting in the room may help but without to much stimuli, just read a book while he calms himself, next week sit in the hallway, and hope then for the best:), it’s only about 16 more years

  3. Danielle says:

    My 8 month goes to bed no problems. We have our nightly routine down,9 pm bath, then story, then a bottle. She lays in her crib and uses her binki and music to fall asleep BUT she still wakes every two hours ever since learning to roll. She use to sleep all night till bout 4 mon old now it’s every two hrs. She’s not wet, not hungry, usually one to two oz and out. I’ve tried letting her whine it out but that eventually turns to waking the whole house screaming. I don’t know how to stop it other then giving her that one to two oz every two hours. I want my sleep back

    • Danielle, is she able to roll back over to her tummy? It could be that she rolls over, gets stuck on her tummy, and gets mad. This used to happen to my Elena all the time. We picked up this sleep positioner and put it under her armpits, it kept her from rolling over. She was a very “must be touched at all times” kind of baby, so it also helped because she felt like she was being held and comforted in her crib. Hope this can help!

      • Danielle says:

        No she can roll front to back and back to front, and even stands up in her crib to get our attention at night by throwing her binki at us onto our bed :( thanks for the advice though. I think the positioner might make her mad cause she prefers her belly over her back

      • My Elena preferred her belly as well. It’s not recommended, but some kids just don’t care about what’s “recommended”. :)

      • Jenn Barrett says:

        Danielle, I’m no expert, but maybe if you can move her crib out of your room things might work better. Maybe because she knows you’re right there she figures you have to be there for her every time she wakes up? I’m not sure, just throwing my 2 cents out there.

      • Very good suggestion Jenn! I concur!

      • My second son I had to move out of our room at 7 months. Knowing we were there made it hard for him to stay asleep. Once he was sleepy he wanted us out. He’s 21 months now and in a toddler bed. He likes me to sit with him until he’s sleepy but won’t stay sleeping if I stay.

      • That’s great Stephanie that you recognized that. Many parents don’t realize that sometimes sleeping in the same room as your baby can stir up sleeping problems. Sometimes the baby wants alone time. (Something counter-intuitive, but there are introverted babies, just as there are extroverted ones.) And sometimes sleeping in the same room can make extra specially jumpy, and actually think the baby is awake when really he is just settling into the next sleep cycle. Smart move! :-)

      • To add to that, my 4 month old was still waking up all night, but stopped once we moved him into his room. Once in there he has slept so much better! I have to wonder if we were the ones waking him up in the night when we shifted around in our sleep or something?

      • That’s great Amy! I think some babies are just more sensitive (or perhaps we are more sensitive to THEM??). So glad you’ve found your solution! :-)

  4. My 8 month old naps well, sleeps well, and we’ve never had much difficulty getting her to sleep but for the past month or so moved from co-sleeper to bed. I don’t mind it ( once in a while I do) but I just don’t want her sleeping with us as a toddler. What can I do? I don’t know how to break this, I’ve somewhat tried but I’m uncomfortable with her crying too much. Also, she is breastfed. I don’t know where to begin. Help?

    • How do you do naps? Does she sleep in the crib for naps? If not, start with naps for a few days. I would also assume that, at least in the beginning, you’ll be sitting in the room with her either stroking her hand or humming quietly so she knows you’re there with her. (Sometimes touching can stimulate them to cry LOUDER in protest, you’ll have to decide if touch helps her or only escalates her. Then, once she’s getting used to you being in the room, but not in her bed (a few days perhaps) move your chair closer to the door for a few days. Then in the hall with the door open, then with door cracked open, etc. etc. See how that’s going? Getting her used to knowing you’re there but little further away.

      Also, if you’re trying to wean off co-sleeping, don’t do any snuggling in the bed, it will only start the cycle over again. Snuggle in a comfy chair or couch somewhere and don’t let her fall asleep in your arms. Put her down in the bed when she’s drowsy, but not yet sleeping. Be consistent, be patient, and buy some earplugs to take the edge off. Start paying attention to when her cries are whimpering out little protests and when they are “I’m so angry there is no way I’m sleeping.” If it’s the latter, pick her up and soothe her to calm down, then lay her down again when she’s getting sleepy (hopefully the room is darkened).

      Remember that babies can’t tell time. She doesn’t understand why she can be in your bed at some times and not at others. If you’re going to wean her out of co-sleeping, it will need to be cold-turkey. It may be a rough week, but be consistent, keep firm in your mind that this is what you need to do, give her the love and comfort in as many other ways as you can, and try try again. :-) Hope these suggestions can help, let me know if I can do anything else!

  5. Cayla Sego says:

    My son is 7 months old and had colic for the fist 4 months from horrible indigestion and it was a nightmare to get him to sleep every night. He had to be walked around for an hr to get him to fall asleep even for naps and the minute we put him down he was back awake. So he then got used to sleeping with me and still does. He doesn’t have too much of a problem napping by himself anymore, he cries himself to sleep for about 15-30 mins, but if he falls asleep on his back hes up in 20-30 minutes. If he happens to fall asleep on his belly he will sleep for 2 hrs.

    He can roll from belly to back but not vice versa so that is a recent issue. He also DOES NOT like his crib. Ive tried everything to get him used to it, but he will scream and scream for up to 2 hrs or more if i make him nap in it. And he never falls asleep.. Its even worse if he sees anyone because he cries harder to get his way so i stay in the next room, but it hasn’t done much of anything.

    I’m not sure how long is okay to cry because after a certain length of time hes missed his regular nap time and hes unhappy for the rest of the day and then he won’t even sleep with me. I also have the problem discussed about breastfeeding as a pacifier and waking up to feed when he’s not even hungry. He doesn’t like his binkie at all so i have no idea what to try next.. Anyone in the similar boat or have any suggestions? I do have a musical mobile by the way and he doesn’t like it.

    • My guess here Cayla, is that since he doesn’t feel good (colic, indigestion, etc.) he’s very sensitive to your comforting presence. Normally, I would suggest cutting the co-sleeping cold-turkey. But due to his health issue, that’s a one-way ticket to insanity. :-)

      Here’s what popped in my brain to try:

      Try putting him in your bed ALONE for naps and sit next to the bed. Put in some earplugs (the corded ones are best, since babies can find the loose ones and choke) and tell yourself that you’re going to give it 30 minutes. I recommend the earplugs, because when a baby is crying 30 seconds feels like 30 hours…and the earplugs can help you stay there long enough for him to see you’re not leaving. If after 15 minutes he’s moving closer to “so pissed off” and away from “whimpering”, kneel down next to him (not in the bed, just leaning over it) for a few minutes, to calm him down and try it again.

      Try that for a 4-7 days for naps, getting him used to not having you next to him. However long it takes for him to get used to “this is how naps happen”. Then once you’ve had a few days of non-fussing for naps, do the same exact thing, only in the crib, with you sitting next to him. After doing that for several days, try it at night. Again, sitting right next to him. IF he wakes up at night, go in and sit next to him again, humming and singing softly. Then start moving yourself closer to the door etc.

      See where I’m going? Try to slowly wean him towards sleep independence. It’s going to take dedication and consistency, but eventually he’ll start to get it. (And earplugs. Must get the earplugs, I can’t tell you how emotionally helpful they are…my secret weapon for sure. I can still hear everything that’s going on, but feel removed enough not to suddenly over-react.)

      Your little man is showing a lot of personality! Yes, it’s torture now…but think ahead. He will never be pushed into anything. He will be a leader. :-)

      • Cayla Sego says:

        Hi, i appreciate your comment and i have tried that.. Taking naps isnt too horrible for him by himself but i have to ignore him or he will cry harder! As if me looking at him or talking to him means the crying is working.. He doesnt get his way i just want to cut down the crying time.. i feel like screaming for 2 hrs just isnt good for him..

      • Two hours is certainly a long time, Cayla. One other thing you could try is to slightly elevate the top of the crib mattress by putting a flat pillow between the mattress and the springs. It’s a shot in the dark, but was another thing that seemed to help my sensitive one, Elena.

  6. Chelsea Hashenberger says:

    My daughter is 4 months old. Within the past couple weeks she has started a new thing where she has to have a pillow or blanket or SOMETHING against her nose/mouth to fall asleep. I’m freaked out! I have to hold a pillow right next to her nose just so its touching but far enough she can still breathe to get her to fall asleep! Then when she is asleep, I will remove it and she will sleep for 4 hours or so until she wakes up to eat. Sometimes she will wake up a few times a night and notices that the pillow is gone and fuss endlessly, so I will stay up until she is asleep and remove the pillow again.

    Any suggestions on what to do??

  7. Brandi Breed says:

    My son is 4 months, we have a night routine. He gets a bath around 7 or 7:30 is up a little bit (depending on how tired he is) then he will nurse to sleep. I usually put him in his crib and he will sleep until 2 a.m Everytime then I would have to put him in bed with me so he doesn’t wake up anymore after that. And now he has to have my nipple if he gets a little fussy in bed just to go to sleep! I know it’s bad that he is in bed with me and not in his crib but that’s the only way I can get a good night sleep. But I want him to sleep all night in his crib! What should I do? Should I give cereal at night so he stays full longer?

    • Brandy, 16 weeks is around the time when you can start VERY GENTLY watching for sleeping cues. You can start by setting up the nursery as I shared above and then helping his daily rhythm. You should be seeing a pattern start to emerge. As soon as he’s passed his 18-20 week growth spurt, and your doctor has given you permission to cut back on night feedings (and if you WANT to cut out feedings) then you can start following the suggestions in this post.

  8. I’m gearing up to sleep train my second lo this weekend and normally he needs a pacifier for falling asleep but spits it out and can’t get it back in his mouth so I am constantly replacing it for nights and naps. He had bad reflux and naps well in his swing but will only nap in crib for a few hours at a time at night. I am also still swaddling him which he always breaks out of and wakes himself up with his hands on his face and if I don’t swaddle he knocks binky out and then he won’t fall asleep at all. Any advice appreciated! Especially regarding replacing the paci while sleep training. Thanks!

    • Oh those pacifiers…I have such a love/hate relationship with them! I don’t have too many ideas about the binky…except perhaps trying to see if using a pacifier clip would help hold it closer to his body??? About the napping, have you tried putting a pillow between the mattress and the crib springs to slightly elevate his head while he’s sleeping? Just thought perhaps that could help with his reflux.

    • Hayley! I just saw this huggable pacifier and thought of you. I wonder if the added weight from the stuffed animal would hold it in place better? :-)

    • kristen says:

      oh my im literally in the same exact boat as you….the huggable pacifier is def better than the regular one but it still comes out. this week I am working on getting rid of both pacifier and swaddle naps/night sleep.

  9. My son is nearly 9 months and has always been a challenge to get to sleep. He will sleep through the night maybe waking once but usually it’s ok. I have tried controlled crying but he gets so upset he is sick. He has reflux so I don’t feel comfortable with this. However some nights I need to sit with him for 3 hours as he fights sleep so much. He has had a bedtime routine since about 2 months. Any suggestions would be appreciate

    • Julie, I wish I could wave a magic sleeping wand and get that little guy sleeping! However, God forgot to grant me that superpower. DOH! I think you’re doing the right thing, sitting with him and not making him cry it out. Normally at nine months, I would advise sitting with him while he was getting settled to bed, but with babies that have medical conditions, like acid reflux, sleep training isn’t really what they need. They need comfort. So until the reflux has healed up and moved away, keep doing what you’re doing.

      It always helped me to keep a long term perspective. He won’t be doing this when he’s three, thirteen, or thirty. He’s going to heal up, and then you’ll be able to start weaning him away from any bad sleeping habits, and easing him into sleep independence. It seems like FOREVER, but really it’s just a blip on the screen of life. Hang in there, get him feeling better, and then go from there. You’re doing GREAT, mum!

  10. My son is almost six months old and goes to sleep well for naps and bedtime (finally). Our Dr has me breast feeding him every three hours during the day and we have a schedule in place. Our problem is that he continues to wake up to feed every three hours at night. He isn’t taking full feelings and falls back to sleep within 15 minutes of nursing. We’ve let him cio several times but he SCREAMS for an hour or more before falling back to sleep. We are feeding him oatmeal morning and night and plan to start more solid foods at the six month mark. Also, he is still being swaddled and will not sleep without it. He has started busting his arms out frequently so we want to transition him out of the swaddle but again he SCREAMS and SCREAMS! Honestly, my priority is sleeping longer at night and then we can conquer the swaddle. Any advice would be great! Thank you!

    • Sara, firstly make sure he is staying awake during feedings. I would strip my babies down to a diaper, wrap them with a light blanket so they weren’t TOO cold, even gently blow on their faces while nursing to keep them awake. At one point, I even used a warm washcloth to dab on their nose and cheek. If he keeps falling asleep on the breast, he’ll continue to snack all day, which could be contributing to the sleeping at night issue. Especially for that last night of feeding, you want him turning away saying “All done Mom!” Try that for a few days and see if it helps.

      Regarding the swaddle, if you are swaddling him in a large blanket, you may want to purchase a swaddler that has the fabric arms go completely around the body like a straight jacket. (Here’s an example.) If you’re using one of those and he’s STILL conquering it, I would just do your best with the swaddle and concentrate on getting him to eat full meals, rather than snacking. That may help preventing him from waking and realizing he’s not swaddled.

      Start with those things and we’ll see where it goes. :-)

  11. I must recommend the Sleep Lady book (The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy) her approach has been a miracle to teach my daughter to sleep alone ( she is 2.5 yrs old ) … I did the method in my own way and worked like charm.. she was sleeping all night in 2 weeks… totally worth it!

  12. My daughter will be 4 months next week. She was a great sleeper and would sleep in her own room about 6-8 hours. The past 2ish weeks she will only sleep in the pack n play in our room and has been waking up around 2am to nurse. But it has become to the point if she isn’t using me as a pacifier she won’t stay asleep.
    I don’t know how to get out of this habit I have started.

    • I’m assuming you tried a regular pacifier and it didn’t work? I that case, I would introduce a lovey: a small stuffed animal or little blanket that you take with her everywhere and hold with her constantly. The goal is to help her bond with this little thing so it will comfort her when you are not with her. It’s not as effective as a pacifier (sucking soothes babies) but it’s a start.

      FYI, I’m working on an article about different ways to soothe your baby that will be published after Labor Day, so you may find some ideas there as well.

  13. We’ve been sleep training going on two weeks now and have seen HUGE improvements.

    My baby has yet to sleep through the night. He is waking every 2-3 hous. He’s 7 months old and is teething. I’ve been bringing him to bed half the night and placing him back in his crib after a few hours.

    I’m I ruining his ability to self soothe at night? Is the process the same when babies are teething? I feel like we’re going to be sleep training for two years if this is the case.

    • Vivian – teething throws everything off. Yes, if he’s teething, I wouldn’t feel bad about bringing him to bed for comfort and then putting him back in his crib. He doesn’t feel good, so it’s appropriate to cuddle and love on him a little extra. That said, if it’s been more than a week or so, you may want start cutting back on the bedtime adventures and up your nighttime teething relief instead.

      Once the tooth has broken through, most babies stop being quite so fussy and you can resume your normal schedule. Instead of picking him up and carrying him into your bed, try sitting beside the crib and stroking his hand and singing. It will comfort him to know you’re there, but it will also start getting him used to sleeping on his own in the crib.

  14. My daughter is soon to be 4 months. I am breastfeeding her as majority of the time and have gotten her used to taking a bottle with formula when we’re out on the go. Lately she had shown no interest in having a bottle any more and has never gotten the hang of a pacifier and rejects them all the time. I want to start getting her used to eating from a bottle from anyone in the fam instead of being so glued to me (she only let’s me hold her).
    is it possible to have her get used to a bottle more and pacifier??
    Sincerely,
    Marisa

    • My suggestion, Marisa, is start brainstorming and see if you can discover why she suddenly rejected it. Does it smell funky? (After a while of use sometimes bottles can develop an odor.) If not, then try a different brand of bottle. Waaaayyy back in the day I wrote an article listing the most popular breastfeeding-to-bottle bottles, you can see that article here. Keep trying/borrowing different brands until you find one she’ll drink from.

      As for the pacifier, I would try different brands, but sometimes babies just don’t take them. It’s a personality thing.

  15. I have an almost 4 month old little boy who loves his binky. He needs it to fall asleep for naps and at night also. My problem comes when that binky falls out. He doesn’t have a problem falling asleep but usually wakes up at least once during his nap and wants me to put the binky back in and at night I wake up at least 5 times a night just to plug it back in. He doesn’t usually give me any trouble once its in, but he is breaking up my sleep so badly by having to wake up every so often just to put the binky in. Also, his last feeding right now is at 10 and he wakes up so hungry at 5am. I have tried delaying this time by rewrapping him (he’s still being swaddled) and using the binky but he just keeps waking up every 10 minutes or so until I finally give up and feed him. I really do not want to sleep in 2 hour increments and DO NOT want 5am to be his daily wake up time so any advice is super appreciated.

    • About the binky: if he’s being swaddled, try tucking the edge if the binky slightly under the swaddle around his neck. We did this with Elena and it really helped hold it in place.

      As for the wakeup time, here’s a suggestion: dream feed him. This means if he normally wakes up at 5am, go in there at 4:30 and feed him in the dark. Don’t change his diaper, don’t turn on any lights, don’t sing or talk to him. Just hold, feed, bed.

      In many cases, this helps them sleep longer in the morning. The key here is to make sure he doesn’t really wake up. Give these tips a try. Hope they will help! :)

      • Heather,

        With my 4 month old, I’m having the same problem with the bink issue as Jessica, BUT my little dude doesn’t get swaddled. Any thoughts on how I can keep it in his mouth? Duct tape? (JK!)

        Also, being 4 months old, I’ve read babies should be able to sleep through the night at this age. My boy eats 2 tablespoons of cereal with his fruit puree every night about a half hour before bed and 2-3 ounces of formula just before bed (7:30), but still wakes up to eat around 10PM, at 2AM and another feeding at 5AM.

        I want to sleeeeeeep. I almost want to think it’s habit for him. Any thoughts on what else I could be doing?

      • If he doesn’t have any health issues (reflux, etc.) than he should be able to sleep through the night at 16 weeks. That said, 2-3 ounces of formula and 2 Tbs of cereal isn’t much. Try to feed him a bit more frequently in the evening hours. If he’s only eating 2-3 ounces, see if you can feed him those 2-3 hours at 5:30 or 6pm, then again at 7:30 or 8:00pm. (This is called cluster feeding, btw.)

        Then put him down drowsy, but awake. When he wakes up, come in and sit beside him, shush him, put the binky back in, but don’t pick him up to eat unless he’s screaming the house down and it’s obvious he’s not going to bed anytime soon. You want to reassure him that you’re there. Your job here is to be a sleep coach, not a sleep crutch. For more details on how to do this (that can’t fit into a blog post comment!) pick up a copy of my favorite sleep training resource: Good Night Sleep Tight Hope this can help Natascha! Keep trying and tweaking things, eventually you’ll find the sleep you’re looking for. Good sleep is a learn-what-works process. :-)

    • My daughter is now 13 months old and she used to do the same thing. She would wake up countless times during the night due to her dummy falling out. We started waiting to go and retrieve it to see wha t she would do, and we found that she figured out how to do it herself. We did help though, by giving the dummy to her hand for her to put it in her mouth etc.
      We also used to have her in a swaddle bag, but found it was waking her up, as she wanted to have both her fingers and dummy in her mouth at the same time. (Another thing she had to figure out with dummy falling out)

      My daughter also used to wake around 4am and want a feed and this was a hassle beng so early, so I started waking her for a dream feed around 9pm before my bed time, and after a while I stopped and instead gave her a nappy change and straight back to bed until she slept through herself.

      We also tackled the independent sleeping techniques with her fro earlier on. She started sleeping a lot better when I did the same sleep routine every night. Dinner, bath, story, feed and bed.
      We would read a chapter of a CHILDRENS story every night and sing a special song we made up for her. and I found she would be asleep before I’d finished reading most nights. She had a music box that projected lights onto ceiling which she loved, and now she has a glow worm which she can’t sleep without. Worst case scenario I would gradually leave room shushing until I was in Hall, so she wouldn’t link light going off to no Mummy.

      You’ll get there, they just need time to adjust to new routines And skills with some help.
      Just remember if you need to rock them to sleep and get through a tough night, just go back to your routine tomorrow. If they need need you they need you.

  16. My son is 7 months old, he always fights nap time and sometimes at bedtime. Once he does go to sleep at night he usually wakes up 2-3 times during the night, normally he will go back to sleep if i just give him his paci. If i let him cry it out it just wakes him up for good and i cant seem to get him back to sleep for several hours. Im running out of idea! i normally give up and just put him in bed with us but i dont want him to start getting used to that. I need help !

    • Danielle, I think he needs reassurance and consistency. If you read some of my previous comments I talk about putting him down sleepy, and then sitting with him, singing, humming, shush-ing, etc, so he is aware that you are there. I would repeat that when he wakes up at night, letting him see you (avoiding eye contact) and reassuring him that you are there, but that you aren’t going to be rocking him and he’s not going back into your bed. Eventually, when he gets used to you being right next to the crib, you move your chair a little further…and then a few nights later further, etc. etc. until you’re in the hall. Then you sit there for a few nights, and shut the door, singing or humming so he can see you’re RIGHT on the other side of the door. That helps to train him that you are present, even if he can’t see you. Also, start carrying around a specially little blanket or little animal, or something he can bond with and can stay with him in the crib. That will also soothe him and help him start sleeping better.

      The first 3-4 nights are going to be very hard. It’s a habit, and he won’t want to change it. (Get some earplugs to take the edge off.) Eventually, (even if it takes a week!) he will start understand this is the new way you are going to do things, and it will get easier. Stroke his hand next to the crib, but try to avoid picking him up if you can. Once he’s trained to understand that you are there, even if he can’t see you, naptime and bedtime will go much easier. It sounds like he is having a hard time not being immediately with you. Use the Sleep Lady Shuffle I referenced above (the full book is a lifesaver if you don’t have it already) to help him make that transition.

  17. Claudia Galdamez says:

    I have a 5 month old little girl who has reflux, up until she was 4 months she would sleep from 7am til 2am feed and then wake again at 6am feed and go back to sleep til around 8. Now she wakes every 2 hours, I am exhausted. It could be her reflux, but u ways feed her back to sleep, how do I break this habit? Before bed I give her a bath and nurse her til she is drowsy. During the day she will only nap in my arms.

    • Claudia, since she was doing well for a while, I’m guessing it’s not the reflux at work here. It sounds like she hit a growth spurt and hasn’t been able to get herself back on track. In previous comments I talked about the process of putting your baby down drowsy, but awake, and then sitting next to her singing (but not looking at her), humming, stroking her hand through the crib laths, etc. The purpose is to reassure her that you are present and will be with her while she sleeps. I would encourage you to read through several of those suggestions and see if you can’t help adjust her back to sleeping on her own. She’s decided you are her sleeping crutch, and without adjustments (which will be challenging but aren’t impossible!) she will continue to require your presence or arms to put her to sleep.

      Keep trying things, friend. This is a difficult time, but as long as you’re moving in some kind of a direction, there will be progress! The worst mistake of all is to sit around and try nothing, since that’s a guarantee that nothing will change (for a year or two at least). Hope my comments can give you some fresh ideas!

  18. Hey my 11 month old does fairly well, but I have been really struggling with her getting up before six in the morning sometimes its four, or five am. I generally breastfeed her and put her back to bed but sometimes like if she wakes up at five thirty she will not go back to sleep. Her room is completely dark, I just don’t know how to get her over this feeding/waking up early thing. ps her bed time is at 7 pm goes to bed without a fuss. Am I doomed to be a super early morning person.

    • Jen, have you tried dream feeding? Is when you sneak in there before she wakes up and slip in a feeding while she’s semi-asleep. Don’t change her, don’t talk to her, don’t do anything but feed her. Th idea is she will eat while still asleep, and then fall back asleep and keep sleeping because her tummy is full. You could give that a try.

      If that doesn’t work, the next option is to teach her to have a quiet time in her crib. If she’s awake, put a few safe toys in her crib and let her play for a while on her own. Tis teaches her that she has to wait until Mommy says its time to get up.

  19. Hi! We started sleep training my daughter when she turned 3 months. It went ok but not great. We had to take a week and a half break because her reflux meds got messed up. Now that we have started again thing are going bad. She is a tummy sleeper. I walk her till she is drowsy then lay her down. She normally wiggles a bit and the rolls on her back and is wide awake screaming. I roll her back on her tummy but she just cry and then spends a couple min trying to roll on her back and once she does she just screams. Should I teach her how to sleep on her back or do I keep flipping her over? She does this about 5 times throughout the night.

    • Meg, Elena was a tummy sleeper too, so I totally know what you’re talking about. It was especially difficult when she learned to roll unto her back, but couldn’t yet roll back to her tummy! We used a sleep positioner under her armpits to help keep her from rolling at night. It worked pretty well for us. (Elena was/is too stubborn to force her to sleep anyway other than the way she wanted to sleep! :-) )

  20. Courtney Wallace says:

    So I read through your article and a good hanful of your comments and I have to say kudos! This was a pretty decent list! I only disagree with the nursing to sleep because I feel like if both mom and baby like it, why not do it? I didn’t like it. And my daughter actually grew out of it. She would fall asleep nursing but wake up after she would break the latch or after I’d try to break the latch. So I just got firm and once she fell off, I’d snuggle her a bit and put her down. I understand the possible consequences of nursing to sleep but I feel that a nursing relationship is so personal between each mother and child that, while a warning is great, it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. That’s all :) I like it as a “heads up it could be hard” rather than a “ahhh you’re making a mistake” type deal is all. But I really enjoyed this list otherwise. You have such great tips and hints. And coming from a place where I literally tried it all, I love your honesty! To all the other moms, don’t give up! Listen to your baby and know that it will get better.

    • Thanks Courtney! And thanks for adding that part about nursing. I think it could come across a little dogmatic, so I appreciate your help and feedback! You are 100% right on that, nursing is such a personal thing. Thanks for commenting!

  21. I really like you’re article! My daughter is 12 months old and well not sleep through the night. She goes to bed at seven without a fuss and Wakes up at 8 in the morning. She still will not sleep through the night without a feeding or two at night and I don’t know what to do. She had a spurt where she slept all the way through for about 2 weeks but now she is back to her sleep/wake habit. I just don’t know what else to try because I feel like I have tried everything!

    • Christina, she has developed a sleeping crutch (you) and in order for her to sleep the whole night through (which she physically is able to do) you’re going to have to help her break that habit. It will involve some tears (breaking habits isn’t fun) but you don’t have to make her “cry it out” for hours. My favorite method for this is from Good Night Sleep Tight (see that book for the details). Generally you start weaning her off the habit by, when she wakes up at night, go in and touch her so she knows you’re there, but don’t pick her up. Grab a chair and hold her little hand through the crib so she knows you’re there, but not picking her up. I’m guessing this will make her really mad at first. Try to hum or sing, or speak softly to try to calm her down (give it at least 5 minutes). If she’s still screaming her head off and it’s obvious she’s not calming down to sleep, pick her up to calm her, but then put her down again when she calms down. Eventually you’ll move across the room…then out the door…helping her to adjust and understand that you are close by. The first three-five nights could be very difficult, but if you can get through that you should see some vast improvements. :)

      One more thing, I’ve found that using earplugs really helps my endurance in sleep training. I can still be with them, so I’m comforting them, but by not having that loudness against my ears I can stay confident, caring and strong without getting upset and giving up.

  22. Thank you! I will definitely try this!

  23. Sleep help! Okay my baby girl is 6mo old. These are her sleep patterns with me, mama, they are different with dad. Wakes up between 7-8am usually awake for an hour then nurses back to sleep for about an hour. After this morning nap she only takes 2-3 more naps lasting :30 min or less, YES she nurses to sleep. She wants to be laying down nursing not rocking or holding. With dad she will do pretty much the same but only sleep if he’s holding her then she’ll sleep up to 3hrs. But again she falls asleep after having a bottle. This all started back when I tried to sleep train her at 3-4 mo old. She continues to wake at night for short feeds every 3hrs. I really don’t know how to retrain her to eat, wake, sleep. Any thoughts or suggestions…

    • I have several thoughts for you Sarah. :-) 1. Has she started solids? That may be helpful. 2. Her rhythm is definitely off. See if you can push off that first nap of the day until 9-9:30 and if she sleeps 1-2 hours at that point. Strip her to the diaper if you have to. She may not make it to 9:00 right away, if she’s used to napping at 8am after getting up at 7:00, but try to push it to at least 8:30 by playing with her, and keeping her as busy as possible. Then you can work towards a 9:00 nap. Also, the first few days try really REALLY hard to soothe her to sleep with other tricks, instead of nursing. Then, when she wakes up (even if it’s only 20-30 minutes after she went down at first), feed her right away. You want her to start assuming that food comes AFTER sleep (the exception to this is the very last feeding of the day).

      3. At 6 months, she doesn’t need to nurse in bed with you or be held to fall asleep. She just likes those things. Newborns need those things, 6 months olds just really like them. You will need to retrain those habits if you want to see much sleep improvements. Yes, there will be tears, since breaking habits is NEVER fun, no matter what age you are. :-) But you don’t need to make her cry it out. Practice some of the gentler gradually-moving-out-the-room suggestions I’ve given in other comments. I would also buy some ear plugs. They really help you stay “outlast” her cries. Just remember, she has a full tummy, she knows she is loved, she’s just angry. Hold her hand, sing to her softly, but be the parental strength she really needs (even if she doesn’t like it) by gently making small improvements towards breaking these habits. It will take a while, but in the long run you will much better off. You’re about to go into battle with her Me Monster (I want what I want, and I don’t care how it affects everyone else!). Good luck!

  24. Erin Eamich says:

    Hello! I have a 2.5 month old who still wakes up several times a night and doesn’t take naps unless held. Last night he woke up at 3am and didn’t want to eat, just wanted to smile and be held…while cute, I was exhausted trying to get him tired again. I’m thinking he is ready to be sleeping longer periods since he had no interest in food last night…and he has on three occasions slept 7-8 hours at a time at night…but ONLY 3 times…my question is,..is he too young to start sleep training? I want to do the CIO method, I did it with my first son, but I seem to recall he was a little older, maybe 4 months old. Also one more question, he sleeps in a rock n play right now, should I get him used to his crib first then sleep train or just do it all at once??? Help! Thanks!!!

    • I think you’re instincts are right on, Erin. Start sleep training. :-) The Sleep Lady Method is what I used (and highly recommend). It’s a gentler way of teaching babies to transition to sleeping by themselves than CIO, which may be nice since he’s still pretty young. Here’s her book, I highly recommend it!

      • Should I get him use to the crib first before trying the method? Also when training I let him cry to bed initially then if he wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to eat I do the same method?

      • My son is 11 weeks old and has been sleeping in a rock and play up until a few days go, should I get him used to his crib before any sleep training? Also I plan to do the CIO method, my question is if he goes to sleep fine in the evenings but wakes up in the middle of the night for a feeding is that when I do the method? Sorry for so many questions! Thanks!

      • Erin, I’m sorry I just saw your previous comment and my reply! It got buried somehow. Yes, the middle of the night, if he wakes up, go in and shush him back to sleep, hold his little finger, etc. to give him comfort but without picking him up. That should communicate that you’re there, and he can feel comfort, but that you’re not going to pick him up, he can fall asleep on his own. If you haven’t introduced a lovey to him yet, you may want to do that also. Having a little stuffed animal or blanket to bond to can be extremely helpful in getting babies to comfort themselves back to sleep. :)

      • Thank you!!!!

  25. I have an 11 month old who I still nurse to sleep for every nap- so guilty of disaster #7! I used to be able to set him in crib asleep but now he wakes up every time I unlatch him or try to move him. I have an older son so it’s very difficult to sustain holding & nursing the baby for every nap. We did some night training & he can fall asleep on his own after about 30 mins of crying every night & then he’ll sleep 11-12 hrs. Nursing to sleep during the day has caused bad habits where he snacks a lot & so he isnt that hungry for solids. He is at the low end for weight (5%) so I worry he’s hungry & I kept nursing to sleep because I want him to get the calories. But now it’s such a hard habit to break! Do you recommend staying by the crib and stroking his hand like in other comments or is there a step in between to get him used to not nursing to sleep first. He’s a very strong willed baby & everything we’ve tried results in lots of crying in his crib, days of missed naps & a really cranky baby.

    • Erica, it sounds like your biggest challenge right now will be to keep him awake during your nursing sessions. Strip him down to the diaper if you have to, covering him with a blanket, but leaving his neck/shoulders bare. Also try blowing gently on his face, or using a warm wet washcloth to stroke his cheek if it seems like he’s drooping off. Keep him awake as much as you can. Then lay him down for his nap drowsy but awake. Try that for a few days and see how it goes! That way, when you put him down to sleep, you’ll know he’s just mad and not hungry. Then shush him and sit next to him, stroking his hand and singing/humming, but not looking at his eyes. Hope this can help!

  26. Hi!
    My 6 week old Amberly is sleeping well overnight. We have a bed time routine for her and put her down in her cradle after a bath and a feed. But during the day, she won’t nap unless I am holding her. If I put her down before she is asleep, when she is very tired and ready to fall asleep, she fusses and cries and gets very worked up. And wakes herself up. If I let her fall asleep on me she falls asleep pretty easily, but if I then lie her down for her nap, she wakes up vey quickly, within 5 minutes and is very upset. This happens whether I try to get her to nap in her crib, swing, or anywhere! If I let her nap on me she sleeps for hours. I have tried letting her cry for up to ten minutes, with going in and patting her and comforting her, but she gets very upset very fast and seems to escalate and not be able to calm down, even after I pick her up.
    I also have a two year old at home with me so I really cannot sit around for hours at a time while the baby sleeps on me!
    How can I get her to nap in her crib?
    Thank you for any advice! My son was such an easy baby compared to this one! I just dont know what to do!

    • Those second born children…always such an adventure. I have to ideas for you right now (I will post again if inspiration hits me again in the middle of the night!) Firstly, you could sling her or put her in a carrier during nap time. So you can still be productive. Secondly, you could try putting her down to sleep on her tummy. With my 2nd, we discovered that she HATED the feeling of sleeping on her back. She needed to feel something against her cheek and tummy (which is why she slept best being held). I would pick up a SIDS monitor like this one and then try putting her to down on her tummy, standing next to her for a little while until she completely falls asleep. It’s something that seemed to work with our Elena.

      The other option is to put her down, and shush her in the room. If that makes her angrier, put her down and walk out of the room – giving it 15 minutes to see if she calms herself down. It’s not easy, but you’re right, you can’t be her bed all day – especially since you have another sibling. It will get better Beccy! Try the tummy thing, or the sling, or put her down and let her cry for a while. A crying baby doesn’t mean a bad parent. I would give it at least 15 minutes and see what happens. She may wear herself out after 15 minutes. Do that for a few times and she’ll quickly understand that it’s time to sleep. Keep your eyes on the long term “this will get better”. :)

      • Thank you so much for your thoughts! She does nap well in the baby carrier, but she is a whopping 11 pounds and I am not so hardy, so it is good really only for one nap a day. After that my back hurts something crazy!
        I had a friend offer to lend me one of those monitors you suggested, so I will definitely take her up on it and try her on her tummy. She does nap really well on me on her tummy so maybe that would help.
        I really appreciate your website! Thank you so much!

      • You’re very welcome Beccy! I’m glad you can find one to borrow, I wish I had had one of those with Elena, she made me so nervous! We felt we had no choice but to put her on her tummy, no matter if the “experts” labeled me a bad mom! :-) Hope that can help!

  27. Hi there! My almost 7 month old is teething and seems to be going through separation anxiety (I can’t put her down and leave the room without her whimpering or crying). I am nursing her, and have always nursed her to sleep (bad, I know, but it’s what worked, and now it’s the only thing that works). She always napped in her own room in her crib, so at about 5 months I started putting her to sleep at night in her room/crib as well, bringing her to our bed at her first waking. About a month ago she started to become super clingy. She now adamantly refuses to even be placed in her crib during the day, so we’ve been putting her in our bed from start to finish and she nurses to sleep, and a few times/night. I nap with her in our bed, and I put her to sleep in our bed, all by nursing, and I know that she uses me as a pacifier (she refuses to take an actual one). We tried to start sleep training following what was supposed to be a no-cry method, but she SCREAMED. I’m talking wails so loud that her voice started becoming hoarse. Talking to her made it worse. Leaving made her even more hysterical. Sitting in the room, sitting on the floor, patting her belly, singing, saying her name, darkness, low light. I feel like I literally tried everything, but she got SO worked up that it took me almost 30 minutes to calm her down once we gave up. I feel like we’re doomed and I feel guilty and horrible. The pediatrician and so many sites say to calm her in her crib, but what if NOTHING calms her other than being picked up? We tried the pick up put down, but it took hours and didn’t do anything but torture and confuse her. I know that when she was younger we should have put her down awake, not nursed to sleep, and not let her use me as a pacifier, but we did, and here we are. Is it truly hopeless? I just don’t know where to begin and I really truly cannot stomach crying it out (she will throw up and lose her voice, and I won’t be able to live with myself). I know this is a long one, and I appreciate you reading it, I’m just terrified that I’ve set her up for years of dependency and cosleeping…

    • Noa, I’m about to sit down and do some school with my older kids, but wanted to let you know that I will try to take some time to sit down later today and think of some things to try. I don’t want to answer fully until I’ve had some time to think. :)

    • Noa, your baby has a will of iron! :) Still, if you want to enjoy sleeping in your own bed, alone, you’re going to have to bend that will to learn some new habits. The challenge with her is going to be finding the balance between annoyed crying and SCREAMING that leads to vomiting and rips your heart to pieces.

      Your situation isn’t hopeless, but it’s going to take some hard work and persistence to change. Ear plugs are vitally important, friend. They help you separate some of the emotions from what you have to do.

      Firstly, start waiting to feed her until AFTER she’s up from a nap. Even if her “nap” is 20-30 minutes of crying while you are singing and touching her (not looking at her) next to the crib. Feeding afterwards will help keep her from vomiting. She needs to start learning that eating happens after waking. (The exception is when you are putting her down for the night.)

      You are right about the pick up/down confusion. Tell yourself that you’re going to sit next to her with earplugs and sing and shush and stroke for 15-20 minutes and let her exhaust herself if she has to. You know she’s okay, she’s just angry. You are right there, so she knows you love her, you’re just not doing what she has trained you to do, and she’s convinced she can out last you.

      This could require 3-4 days of sitting there next to the crib. If she doesn’t nap at first (after 30 minutes) get her up and feed her like she napped, start a play time, and then when you see she’s getting sleepy, no matter what time it is, read her a story, put her in her crib and sit next to her again while she cries and eventually goes to sleep. Your goal is to catch her before she’s tired, sit down next to the crib, and put her down to sleep in the crib. That’s the routine you’re hoping for, no matter what time it is. Does that make sense? The first few times the “nap” may be just 30 minutes of crying, with you next to her, but eventually she won’t be able to stay awake, and you’re going to sit next to the crib and let her sleep for as long as possible, then give her happy smiles and food when she wakes up.

      Does this make sense? I’m confident you can do this Noa! With lots of loving patience and persistance, and earplugs :) you can get her back in the right track. :)

  28. Heather, you’re so right, she’s a tough cookie! I don’t think I’m strong enough to withstand it alone while my husband is at work during the days, but my mom (it’s funny how once you become a mother you seem to want and need your own mommy more than ever!) will be visiting for a week once/month. I will give it a go! In the meantime, I feel SO much better simply knowing that I was heard, so thank you so very much for taking the time to think about my situation; I appreciate it immensely!

  29. My son just turned 4 months. I battle with him on sleeping at night, There is no routine in what times he wakes up. Sometimes he will sleep almost all night, waking up once to eat. But most nights he wakes every 2-3hrs.

    Around 7:30 I change him into pjs (while doing so I sing to him) rub lotion on him and get him ready for bed. I have a tablet to play music and two night lights so it’s not too dark plus his room light is a dimmer switch one. Then we head to the glider in the living room and I nurse him. As he eats he’ll start to doze off but as soon as I try to detach him from myself he starts crying. I am unable to lay him down unless he is already asleep when I do so. I then put him in his crib, turn on the lullavibe, mobile, radio, and nightlight. My son will not take a pacifier and as soon as I attemp to give him one he freaks out in cries. He doesn’t suck his thumb either.
    One night I tried letting him cry himself back to sleep but in doing so he would cry for about 10min then sleep for 5-10 only to wake up crying again. He is not colicy or anything.

    I feel like the only way he goes to sleep is by being nursed.

    One thing I have noticed (when he sleeps about 8hrs) is right before bed he stops eating, looks at me and smiles, then snuggles me a little bit. I then put him in his crib, turn on the lullavibe, mobile, radio, and his night light, and he goes to sleep no problem.

    Please help me with any suggestions or advice!

    • Maegan, it sounds like the issue here is that he’s not getting a full feeding before he falls asleep, and so is waking up and crying. At least, based on the “one thing I have noticed” comment you made, that’s what comes to my mind. To test this, make sure you keep him completely awake throughout the feeding, don’t let him doze off. Strip him down to the diaper if you have to, use a warm washcloth on his cheek, blow gently on his face…anything to keep him awake and nursing. That way, when he turns his head away, or you’ve watched the clock and notice he’s just playing around with the nipple, you will know that his tummy is full.

      Give that a try and then let me know how it goes! :-)

  30. Hello!
    My daughter is nine months old this week, and still waking up twice a night to eat. I have a hard time telling if it is just habit or if she really is hungry. She sucks down the bottle like she is starving every time. We feed her baby food throughout the day and make sure to do so before bedtime and it has not made a difference. Also, I have tried a couple times to go in a soothe her to sleep instead, but every time I lay her back down she SCREAMS until I feed her. Any thoughts?

    • Madison, if your baby is healthy and your doctor doesn’t have any health concerns, I would say that she’s got a nice little habit. Even if she’s sucking down a bottle at 3am doesn’t mean she’s really hungry, it means that she’s taught herself that to go back to sleep she has to suck down a bottle. My suggestion is to follow the shuffle steps I’ve mentioned in other comments – lay her down, sit next to her and sing or touch her hand (unless that makes her even more angry) and just BE THERE for a period of time. (Earplugs. Not. Kidding.) You are her sleeping crutch. She can’t sleep without taking a bottle, and you’re going to have to break that habit. The first 1-4 nights are going to be difficult, since she’s not going to understand why you aren’t giving her what she wants. Sing, rock, exist in that room with her. (Take turns with your hubby if you have to.) If she gets into “Hysterical” mode where it’s clear she’s not sleeping anytime soon, pick her up and rock her, soothe her down, but do not give in and give her a bottle. WHen she’s calmed down a little, put her back down. Just say to yourself “I will win this. I will outlast her. I’m her mother and I can offer her comfort and love her, but I don’t have to do what she wants.” She doesn’t need the bottle at nine months old. She just wants it. Show her that you love her by sticking with her, lasting through the I’m-so-angry screams. It’s going to be hard, but you can do it! (I cannot over-emphasize the earplugs. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to last 2 minutes. They help your brain separate from the emotionally wail. It’s like magic.) You can do it Madison!

  31. Hi Heather. I have a 10 wk old(6 wk adjusted she was 4 wk early) wondering if its too early to sleep train. She only goes to sleep if I nurse her or rock her. Naps are becoming more difficult because she won’t sleep unless I’m holding her or if I put her down after finally getting her to sleep she ll wake up because of gas ( she’s very very gassy) and require nurse or rock to get back to sleep. She’s still up every 1.5-2. Hrs at night . I have a 2 yo so can’t spend all this time holding her for naps. Also I’m back to work in November and terrified the sitter or my husband won’t get her to sleep since she’s increasingly dependent on nursing to sleep .she was premature but gaining weight well and only medical issue seems to be immature gut( so she’s very gassy which wakes her and can make her uncomfortable) sorry so long I’m desperate! Sara

    • I don’t think you’re too early to start making a few small adjustments, Sara. Try to start noticing which position she likes to sleep best in. Is it the sitting up? or is she sleeping with her tummy against your chest? If it’s the later, try putting her to bed on her tummy. Some babies, despite all our wishes, just PREFER sleeping on their tummy. Elena was a terrible sleeper until we figured this out. She needed to feel something against her chest and cheek. See if you can borrow or buy an Angelcare to help with SIDS worries. Also, make sure you don’t nurse her to sleep. Keep her awake during the entire feeding, and then start putting her down drowsy, but awake. That’s will be especially important for you when you go back to work. Glad to hear she’s gaining weight! If that doesn’t help, comment back and we’ll try something else. ;-)

  32. Hi! My son is 8 months old and is a great night-time sleeper, in his crib, on his own. He just will not nap on his own. If he is being held or in the baby carrier he will nap for an hour or so once or twice a day, but if I lay him down, he either wakes up instantly, or within 20 minutes. He does not take a soother. He doesn’t really have a “whimper” cry, it’s all or nothing. If I’m in the room trying to soothe him without picking him up, he just gets ticked. He has a fan in his room for white noise that we use for naps and night. Any ideas for me? :)

    • Hey Brett! I think the question I would start with is “What makes him a great sleeper at night but not during the day?” Is the room lighter? is he just such a light sleeper? See if you can puzzle out how he’s figured out the difference. :-) Also, I would make sure you’re putting him down and sitting with him, drowsy but awake. If he’s already asleep and you put him down, he’s going to protest the movement, but if you put him down drowsy (on his stomach perhaps?) and stroke his cheek and sing, hold his hand, etc, kneeling beside the crib…It will take 1-3 days, but I wonder if you consistently do that if he would start to transition over for naps. Just a thought…

  33. Hi,
    I have a 4 month old with some sort of digestive issues or bad reflux. He is not always upset after he eats but he has been refusing to nurse for over 2 months (i can usually get him to nurse but after alot of screaming and he won’t do a bottle). The only way i can get him to eat is to nurse him.while he’s sleepy so he eats while half asleep. Even if I wake him up after eating and put him to sleep he still wakes up after 30 mins. He is now waking up a few times a night and will only fall back asleep if I nurse him (the middle of the night is usually the only.time he nurses without a fight). He is also waking up at 4:30 and wants to be up for the day and he goes to bed around 8 even.if I try.for earlier. Any advice please.

    • Hey Becky! My suggestion is to get him in to see the doctor about the possible reflux. Right now, do whatever you have to do to get him to eat. But eventually you’re going to be setting yourself up for a very difficult habit to break later on. See if your doctor can help you with the reflux, and THEN you can start working on the nursing to sleep issue. :-)

  34. Hey there! My 5 1/2 month old daughter used to be a great sleeper (8 hours at one time) until 2 months ago. I thought she was just in a sleep regression or a growth spurt so I nursed her when she woke up but now 2 min have gone by & she still gets up frequently through night to feed. I have always nursed her to sleep, we tried to break that habit a couple weeks ago & were successful but afraid we just traded it out for a different crutch…rocking, singing/shushing. We do our bedtime routine then nurse/bottle/sing, she gets drowsy with rocking & when she’s almost asleep I lay her down & continue to sing/shush for another min & she’s out (if I lay her down before she’s almost asleep she screams). She’s out cold for 1-2 hours then she wakes up, usually takes 15-30 min to settle her back to sleep then if were lucky she’ll sleep 4-5 hours then she is up every 2 hours for rest of the night. I have tried to not feed her or let her suck for comfort, I try to sooth her in crib, pick her up, rock, stand & sway, sing, shush, lullabies….she screams & screams (usually with her eyes closed) sometimes for over an hour until I break & feed her upon which she immediately settles down, feeds well & goes back to sleep. I can’t get her to go back to sleep without feeding throughout night. Does she need to be fed??? How do I get her to go to sleep & stay asleep for longer than 4 hours! Help I’m exhausted! Sorry its so long.

    • Kari you’ve got the right idea – laying her down drowsy but not sleeping. Babies have a different sleep cycle than we do (making a note to elaborate on this in an upcoming post). She’s cycling through the sleep cycle, but hasn’t quite mastered the skill of falling back asleep again and starting the process over. If she’s getting a full feeding before bedtime, she shouldn’t need to wake and eat during the night. So your first task is to keep her awake long enough to have a full meal. Strip her down to the diaper, do whatever you need to to keep her awake until she’s pulled away and it’s clear that she’s done eating.

      The 2nd trick is to not go in right away after she wakes. Give her 10 minutes after you hear her awake to make SURE she’s waking up. If she whimpers or fusses a little, wait it out for 5-10 min. She’s just readjusting herself to go back into sleep. If you go in too early you’re interrupting her attempt to fall back asleep on her own. If she starts screaming and it’s clear she’s not going back to sleep (again, 5-10 minutes after waking), go in and quiet her as much as you can without picking her up. Put in some ear plugs (so important) and sit next to her shushing and helping her quiet down.

      I would also start getting her attached to a small stuffed animal or blanket. Take it everywhere with her, rock her with it, help her to bond with it. That way, in the of the night, she can hold it and squeeze it – which helps comfort her and fall back asleep. Does that make sense? Try some of these things and see how they go.

  35. I have taken him to a couple doctors but nothing has helped yet..

  36. Heather last night he stayed awake for feeding but used me to sleep. Same results. I’m thinking he only nurses to sleep for comfort not hunger, I’m not sure what to do

  37. amy powers says:

    Hey Heather! I need some advice on how/when to stop swaddling my 14 week old. He has become very “hands in mouth” especially when tired. When we swaddle him now it seems to piss him off, but if we don’t swaddle him he is always hitting himself or rubbing his face and it pisses him off even more. He hasn’t yet discovered his hands and arms totally yet I don’t think. Also, every time he goes to sleep whether it is for a nap or for bed at night he always cries or fusses. We usually have to rock him in his bassinet until he calms down. Is It normal for some babies to have to cry themselves to sleep or do you think its not normal for him to cry every single time? Thanks!

  38. Hi – I am now grandmother to 3 – so have been in your shoes and survived x3 + 3 —
    Many times (we) put baby from warm, squishy arms/breast -usually facing up- onto a hard,cold crib mattress -and you wonder why they wake up and/or protest.put a pad or quilt under the waterproof sheet-It is OK to use a rolled up blanket or towel as a ‘positioner’ if baby doesn’t like flat on back/tummy-this actually mimics ‘arms’ more closely. If your baby has reflux or other digestive issues – definitely elevate the head of the mattress with a pillow under it -or a wedge pillow. Room darkening shades or curtains are helpful as is a white noise machine or room air filter (which is usually less expensive). As for nursing – I had one who loved to ‘nurse and nap’-so had to stop that. If necessary, rub or thump the bottoms of their feet -may make them mad,but should keep him awake. For babies who ‘loose’ their pacies- I’ve seen little stuffed animal ones -which they will learn to find during the night -Years ago I sewed one onto the corner of a small blanket for my son-he would feel the edge of the blanket with his eyes still closed and find his ‘pie-pie’.
    Hang in there moms- give you and baby ample time to adjust to a new routine-
    ‘Co-sleeping’ is often convenient but hard to break.

    • Thanks so much Ghee for commenting! It’s great to hear from someone who’s “gone before” and survived! :-) Love those tips, they are really practical and helpful!

  39. Hi, so my son will be 8 months in just a few days and refuses to sleep during the night. He used to be such a great sleeper, sleeping from 8pm-8am. But for about 2 months or so he just will not sleep through the night.. He’ll wake up 2-3 even 4 times a night. He’ll usually have his dinner around 6ish, bath between 7-7:30 and then bed at 8. He’ll sometimes get a bottle before bed. I rock him to sleep (which I know I need to start working on just putting him bed before he’s asleep) When he wakes during the night I’ll try and soothe him back to sleep (patting, rubbing, shushing, Paci.. A little bit of it all) Picking him up will sometimes do the trick but when I put him back into his crib, he may sleep for 30mins and then up again. I’ll give him a bottle and he’s goes straight to sleep till the next round.. He has 7 teeth and is working on his 8th. I sure hope his gums haven’t been hurting him for two months straight..

    And he also just recently got over a cold and since then he got worse. We were told by our pediatrician to prop him at an angle to help him breath better, which we did but it got where I would have to sleep with him in the recliner. But since his cold he has been soo fussy. During the day it has gotten bad as well. I don’t know if the week and a half he was sick he got soo attached to me and being held and snuggled up with that he now hates for me to put him down and walk away. I’ll sit him down with all of his toys and I’ll walk away and he will sit there and scream the entire time. I’ll wall up and talk to him and show him his toys and he’ll be fine but as soon as I walk away again he goes back to screaming and crying ..

    • I think teething and the cold are the culprit here. Sick babies need more comforting, which often means less sleep, since they wake up more. So what you’re experiencing is pretty normal for your situation. The hard part is, they start getting used to all the extra snuggles and you becoming a sleeping crutch.

      Firstly, stop the rocking to sleep thing. I’m a huge fan of rocking (I rock constantly, with or without kids!), but the “to sleep” thing is going to bite you in the butt. :-) It’s so hard NOT to, because it’s mommy heaven to rock and snuggle with your baby! But especially for the bedtime sleep, you want him drowsy, but awake when you put him down.

      Secondly, make sure his teething pain is being controlled and the cold is on it’s way out. No sense in trying to address the sleeping with those two things hanging around. Here are 57 strategies to help with teething pain, and here are my decongestion suggestions. I hope they can help!

      Thirdly, once you know he’s healthy again, and the teething pain is being addressed, start doing the Sleep Lady Shuffle (a technique I learned from Kim West and her amazing book.) When he wakes up, go in and shush him, stroke his hand, etc., but don’t pick him up or look him in the eye. Sit next to the crib and hold his hand through the slats, singing songs etc. Yes, he will protest. However, you will know that since he had a full tummy when you put him down, he’s really not hungry. He’s just mad. And learning how to go to sleep on his own is best for him. After a while (depends on your baby’s stubborness) he will start to whimper/complain rather than cry, and then you know the end is near. Do this for a few nights, and then move yourself closer to the door. Then eventually in the hall with the door open, then with the door closed, singing and humming so he can hear you. The goal is to train him to recognize that you are near, even if he can’t see you, so he can be comforted and put himself back to sleep.

      Also, if you haven’t already, give him a stuffed toy or blanket or something he can bond with. This lovey will take your place at night. He will wake up, see the thing he loves second to Mom and Dad, and be comforted enough to fall back asleep without raising the house. :-) Give those things a try, and hang in there!

  40. Hi Heather
    So we did as you suggested with giving our daughter a lovely, making sure she was full before bed & going in & calming her down without taking her out of crib…it was a rough couple nights but by night 3 much improved & she slept 7-8 hours before waking. However on the 5th day she started to cut her first tooth… the last 3 nights she has been waking up every 1-2 hours again… I have been picking her up rocking, feeding her through night again cause that’s the only way to settle her down sometimes… I’ve even brought her into our bed to try & get a little sleep… am I creating bad habits again… what should I do to support her & comfort her while her little mouth is sore but not create bad habits that we are going to have to break again later?

    • DANG THOSE TEETH! You were doing so well! Don’t regress, stick with the plan as much as you possibly can. Do pick her up and rock her if you need to, but try not to feed her. Have you seen my 57 Strategies to Defeat Teething Pain? – something there has GOT to work….*fingers crossed*

      Glad it was getting better – keep your eyes focused on that. You are improving! Little by little! xo

  41. My son will be two in January, and I can not get him to sleep in his room. He would climb out of his crib which scared me so I did what most parents are against and put him in our bed w/ us. I wouldn’t get any sleep knowing he would be falling out of his crib any moment so to save us both sleep I did that. We got him a toddler bed and the first night as suspected he woke up in the middle of the night crying and crying his eyes out, since he couldn’t climb out and hurt himself I let him cry (as doctor recommended) for over two hours then couldn’t stomach it anymore and went to try and console him, lay him in his bed, sing to him, pat him back to sleep… as soon as I walked back to my room and laid in bed he was up crying again so I just picked him up and put in bed w/ me and we both fell asleep. I want him badly to sleep in his toddler bed… please HELP!

    • Adana, that sounds so exhausting! Here’s what I would try first: Go in and put him to bed. Then, when he wakes and comes in, don’t say anything, but walk him back into his room and put him back to bed. Only this time, bring in a comfy rocking chair or something and sit next to him while he settles down and go to sleep. Stay and hum or sing. Do this for a few nights. Then, after he’s falling asleep faster, move your chair closer to the door. Do that for a few nights. Then move it to the hallway, with the door open. Do that for a few nights. Then shut the door, but sit on the other side of it, humming so he can hear you. Do that for a few nights, then try to put him back to bed, and go back to your bed and see how it goes.

      See what I’m doing? He has a habit you need to wean him away from. But you have to do it gently, like boiling a pot of frogs (have you heard that adage?). Each time he’s strengthed by your presence as you slowly get him used to the idea that he can do this alone.

      One other thing I would get him bonded to a lovey stuffed animal or blanket. HAve him sleep with it, nap with it, cuddle with it, etc. This way when you’re not there, he can hold it and feel comforted enough to go back to sleep. Does all this make sense? Hope it can help!

  42. Hi Heather!
    I want to start by saying I love love your article. I’ve read several articles over the past 7 months and all of them list “the rules” for sleep training but I can’t seem to find anything on what to do if you’ve already broken the rule(s). =|
    I am a mother of 3 boys. My first two are 9 and 10 years old and my newest addition is now 11 months. You would think after already going through all this twice before I would be a pro but with Kaleb everything is different! When he was first born he would not fall asleep and stay asleep unless he was being held. For the first few months I would constantly be getting up every 1-2 hours to rock him back to sleep. After a few months I was getting way too sleep deprived so I started just letting him stay in bed with me and finally he would sleep for 5-6 hours at a time. Well that somehow led into him falling asleep with a bottle :( So my problem now is trying to get him to sleep in his crib that is in my bedroom and falling asleep without a bottle. He will sleep in his crib at nap time but not without a bottle. I know this is a habit that needs to be broken and soon! I know it’s not good for his teeth and I think it is causing his ear infections. He has a few times fallen asleep without the bottle but he will wake up in the middle of the night and nothing works at getting him back to sleep but the bottle. I think I’ve broken every rule I set for myself when I was pregnant lol Any suggestions on what I can do to fix these bad habits that I started? I appreciate any and all advice! Thanks in advance! :)

    • Lol Nicole! I’m right there with you! The more kids I have, the more I realize how little I know. EVERY child is a whole knew ball game, starting from the bottom! When it’s the third one…well, you let things slide in order to SURVIVE. :) So don’t beat yourself up too much about it. My first idea is to feed him a bottle of formula, as normal, and then lay him down with a NEW bottle, that has a slightly more water in it. Every night see if you can lower the milk nad increase the water so he’s going to bed with a bottle of milk-flavored water. Does that make sense? After that has happened for a few weeks, he may decide he doesn’t want that “watered formula” in his crib anymore and drop the habit altogether. Give that a try, and if it doesn’t work, let me know and we’ll think up something else! :-)

  43. I have a 9 month old who just doesn’t seem to need sleep. He goes to sleep at around 8 , wakes up around 1030 and usually takes until after midnight to fall asleep again. He’ll wake every 1 1/2 to 2 hours until I give up and let him nurse in bed with me unt l he insists on getting up around
    6 . He takes 2-3 inconsistent naps of 30 minutes to an hour.throughout.the day. Our bedtime routine consists if a warm bath, nursing until sleepy, then sitting next to his.crib with my.hand on his belly until he falls asleep singing.

    He had some health issues when he was younger.. he was hospitalized with failure to thrive at 4 months where they.found a tongue tie. Before this he nursed hourly 24 hours a day . He endured a feeding tube for a month, but since then has recovered nicely. He’s extremely active.. he walks well and crawls and climbs anything he can get near.

    He doesn’t want to nurse to sleep or cosleep.. he just wants to be awake. I have 3 other little ones and I am exhausted. I’ve tried to CIO but gave up after 2 1/2 hours. He just doesn’t seem tired.

    He is extremely needy during the.day and wants to be in my arms most of the day. Help!!

    • Wow Sara. You are definitely earning your Mom Merit Badge. :-) He is definitely a tough nut to crack. Hmmmmm….have you tried trying to extend his bedtime? Putting him to bed at 9:00 instead? It seems like he’s treating the 8pm bedtime as a nap, instead of bedtime. IS he napping in the late afternoon? I’m wondering if you napped him in the morning around 10, and then held off another nap until 3, then let him take a little nap at 6, if you could get him to sleep later, and if that would hiccup his rhythm into skipping that 10:30-midnight party-fest. With three other little ones around, he could be seeking your arms as a way to handle all the extra stimulus. Is he able to nap without being wakened by the other kids?

      As for waking every 1-2 hours…that’s got to stop, you’re going to crumble from exhaustion. For the next 3-4 nights, go in there and sit next to him, offering comfort, but don’t nurse him and don’t pick him up. Calm him with your voice by singing, stroke his hand, etc. but don’t look at him. Try to give him the comfort you are there, without giving in to his habit. It’s going to be hard, but it’s the only way I know to break this habit without having to CIO alone. Then after a few nights, move your chair closer to the door and “Work yourself out the room” over the next few days.

      Also, I would see if you can get him bonded to a little stuffed animal or blanket. That can soothe him during the day (may help with the “be in mommy’s arms all the time), and help him sleep better at night. Introduce a stuffed animal or blanket, and then take it with him EVERYWHERE around the house and in the car (I wouldn’t take it out of the car, if you can help it though.) When you rock him, hold it next to his face. Eventually he’ll start using it for comfort, instead of you. Hope this can give you some things to try, Sara. Hang in there! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

  44. Baby turned 3 months 3 days ago and has been rolling onto his tummy then he screams since he hates being on his tummy. He does this during the day when he’s awake and he’s been trying to push himself onto his back with no success so far. So it’s 430am I wake up because it hear him fussing a bit and I see him sleeping on his tummy and he’s quiet. I panic and flip him over on his back. Then a minute later he rolls onto his tummy again and I stand there to see what he will do. So he sleeps on his tummy for about 10 mins then I see him trying to move around I’m guessing out of the tummy position and I feel like the sleep sack he’s in is not allowing him to move out from his tummy position. He starts to scream and then I lay him on his back again and now he’s sleeping on his side for now. Is it safe for him to be sleeping in a sleep sack on his tummy if he’s stuck in that position? Thanks

    • Some babies prefer to sleeping on their tummy. If he rolls over onto his tummy and is still sleeping, you can just leave him. At 3 months, he should be able to lift and move his head around, which helps him get fresh air to breathe. Does that help?

  45. Hello I have a daughter who is eighteen months she has never slept through the night consistently. I think her first to sleeping through the night was at a yr old she has slept through the night a total for 10 -15 times. She wakes up wanting a sippy cup and if I don’t give her one she will cry for 20 minutes and then pass back out but she will be up every 30 minutes after each crying time until she gets the sippy cup. She has never liked pacifiers neither of my kids did when she was an infant she was never nursed to sleep and I wouldn’t allow her to fall asleep while eating I would let her get tired and then put her in bed and she isn’t a cuddler never has so that doesn’t work putting my hand on her back doesnt work if im in there for too long she thinks it’s time to party. I never experienced this my first child was sleeping through the night at 2 wks so I never knew the difficulties a baby can have with sleeping

  46. Hello!

    My LO is 7 months old and has been waking up every hour at night for a few weeks now. Maybe a month. First, I thought it was the roseola, then the teething… But once teething was over, it kept getting worse. Now, after two or three wakings, I’m so tired I bring him to bed and he sleeps-nurses-sleeps through the night. He used to sleep 6 hours, nurse, then sleep 4 hours, and so on…

    He recently started taking the paci. Which was of great help in teaching him how to fall asleep on his own. Now I’m wondering if maybe it’s waking him.

    My feeling is he gets too much of his nourishment from night feedings, and he’s also insecure when I’m not by his side. Could be so many things… Food sensitivities? Too cold? Too hot? But why wake up every hour?? When he started solids about a month ago, I was lucky to have him sleep a whole 9 hours…for two nights. Then, it was back to constant wakings.

    I had started letting him fall asleep on his own in his crib at night. And it worked for a while. But when the sleepless nights started, when he started waking up every hour, I thought I’d go back to what worked for him and went back to nursing him to sleep. But obviously, it isn’t the problem, or things would have gotten back to normal… I just don’t know how to break the cycle now.

    He used to be such a good sleeper, I’m worried he’s really trying to tell me something’s wrong, and I don’t get it!

    Have you ever heard of a baby suddenly waking up every hour? I don’t know what to do anymore. This is going downhill…

    Thanks for any advice you might have…

    • If he’s growing and isn’t showing any other signs of illness (rashes, not eating, listless, fever, etc.) I’m guessing that there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just figured out that sleeping and nursing all night is more preferable than sleeping on his own.

      The hard part of this is that you’re going to have to retrain him. And there will be cries of protest. The good thing is that you don’t have to listen to him cry it out for hours and hours while you bite your lip and feel like crap. I’m going to be writing a post on how to do the Sleep Lady Shuffle later in the month. It’s a system of giving your baby the emotional strength he needs from your presence, but at the same time coaching him to go to sleep (and stay asleep) on his own. Rather than wait on my post, however, I recommend you get a copy of the Sleep Lady’s Book and start reading. Not only will you be impressed by her common sense and gentle approach, I think you’ll be incredibly encouraged.

      I briefly lay out some of the strategies in other comments on this page – reading through those could also be helpful. Hang in there Gigi! It will get better, with a little gentle determination!

  47. my daughter is 14 months and have yet to sleep through the night. at our 12 months check up our doctor told us to try the “tough love” method and let her cry it out, especially knowing if she’s full and not in pain. before then, she use to wake up every 2 hours! since letting her cry it out, she’s sleeping longer through the night, anywhere from 5 to 8 hours now. but should she get up in the middle of the night, i have to nurse her back. and after that, it’s back to waking up every 2 hours. she just can’t sleep past 5 am. i could live with her sleeping from 8 pm- 6 am, happy if she could sleep from 8 pm- 7 am.

    i guess my problem is being her living pacifier! that is the only way to sooth her to sleep, for naps or bedtime. she will fight sleep if i don’t nurse her. how to i stop being her pacifier?!?

    • Nou, the doctor is right and wrong. (Can I really say that about a doctor???) She definitely isn’t hungry, and has a sleep crutch = you. That said, the CIO method is incredibly hard to do with some babies. We tried that (years and years ago) with my stubborn child and she cried for 2 hours. (That was the end of CIO! Never again!)

      Firstly, you’re post is timely in that this week I’m going to be posting an article on “The Shuffle” method of sleep training – which is a very gentle way of training your baby to sleep through the night.

      Secondly, about that 5 am feeding. I would try something called a dream feed. This is when you sneak into room at around 4:30am (yes, set the alarm), and making no noise, the room is still pitch black, quietly nurse her, working VERY hard not to give her any stimulation whatsover. (No diaper changes, nuthin’.) Then you lay her straight back to bed and see if that helps push her wake up time later.

      This doesn’t work with ALL babies, but it’s something to try. Just make SURE you don’t actually wake her. You want her sleeping/nursing at the same time. Make sense?

    • I can relate to this person’s comment more so because I have a 13 month old that I’m still nursing. I don’t think it is realistic to expect any child to sleep 11 hours straight without needing any attention from their caregivers. That is nearly half her day she is expected to be alone. I really didn’t realize my daughter had a “problem” with sleep. She sleeps readily in her crib with a routine but she does wake 1-2 times between 11 and 6ish. Sometimes she needs to nurse a little, sometimes a lot and I can usually track it to what she has or hasn’t eaten for supper. My house has always been an early house and she is my little alarm clock. She is my 5th child and her sleep habits don’t interrupt my life. I kind of feel that if you wanted something you could chart and schedule and tune, you should have gotten a goldfish. Children need us for many reasons. You can’t expect a child that age to keep a full belly and an empty diaper for 11 hours, never mind if they simply get lonely.

      • I’m glad that system works for you, Melissa. Children are hard work, no matter what their sleeping habits. Good work, but hard work. :-)

  48. Hello! I have a sweet little 14 week old boy. I am working hard at getting him on a predictable schedule now since he’s 3 months old and I would like to be able to plan our days better because after the holidays BUSY WEDDING SEASON begins and I will need to be working more (from home)! Weaning him out of the swaddle and swing and into the crib for all naps (except maybe one this week) has been going really well so far. He’s slept in his crib at night from day 3 of life.

    My question is this – my little man wakes up every morning now with a morning poop around 7am. It wakes him out of his sleep. So I go in and get him up and do his cheerful morning routine, give him his first bottle….but this past week I’ve been noticing he’s sleepy again after 45 minutes – 1 hour of being awake! He has been going to bed around 8:30-9, but sometimes earlier too (we’re still working on a consistent bed time!) I feel weird putting him down for a nap at 8am! Is this normal? Should I just go in and ‘pretend its night time’ at 7, change him then put him back down? There have been a few times where he seems like he’s not even that hungry yet at 7, this morning he only took 4 oz. Anyone else have this issue? What did you do? Poor thing I feel like he’d sleep longer if it wasn’t for the big Morning Poop! LOL. Though I am thankful for poop! :) TIA for any suggestions!!

    • I’m ALWAYS a fan of helping my kids sleep later in the morning. :-) If he seems tired and isn’t hungry, I would do a quiet change in semi-darkness and then put him down again. Even if he doesn’t sleep, he may be happy to just have a slower wake up. If he’s an introvert, the time alone in the crib could help stabilize the rest of his day. Definitely something to try!

  49. My son is a little over 4 months old now and is a big, healthy boy- 17+ lbs and is EB, nursing while I am with him and drinking from a bottle during the day while I am at work. He is sleepy early, sometimes by 6 p.m., always by 7 p.m. and I am not usually home from work until 5:30, so our time together in the evening is short. We have an established bedtime routine (warm washcloth wipedown, jammies and diaper, nursing and story, song and sleep) and for several weeks, he was sleeping 6 hours straight his first time down after a peaceful bedtime ritual, then waking every 1.5 – 2 hours after that. Now, he is fussing at bedtime (only wants to nurse to sleep and refusing the paci), waking 3- 4 hours after being put down and every hour or so after- he wants to nurse all night! I am getting no sleep and have a demanding job and a long commute. I end up taking him into bed, because it’s easier. I can’t figure out what’s different. I am pretty sure that being in bed with me is making it worse. I try to offer soothing and the paci when he wakes at night and only resort to nursing if they don’t work- now they never work! Any suggestions would be great. Please help!

    • Cae – I have happy news for you! I’m posting an article later this week that details how to get your baby to sleep through the night. (Which is more involved than I can do here.) I think it will be really helpful. If you haven’t subscribed yet, get on my email list and I’ll email it to you when it’s all shiny and finished!

  50. My son just turned 3 months today. He has acid reflux and is on zantac 3 times a day. He will inly sleep for 20-30 min at a time during the day for his naps and wakes up every 2 hours at night and acts like he’s starving. I give him a bottle and he only drinks an ounce. We have had him on a bed time routine since 6 weeks. At 6:15-6:30 its bath and then jammies then a bottle. He always goes to sleep while eating then I have to keep him elevated for at least 30 minutes before laying him down. But he sleeps longer at night if he sleeps on our chests. How do you sleep train a baby with reflux?

  51. ashley rexrode says:

    Hi there. I have been searching Sleep Training for about 3 weeks now. I found a great plan that I have been using with my 15 week old who NEVER, and I mean NEVER slept. She maybe slept 45 minutes out of a 24 hour period. The problem I’m noticing, is that my baby doesn’t seem to be like anything. She won’t sleep anywhere…not on me, not with me in the bed, not on her belly, or swaddles, or in her swing and she REALLY hates her car seat. I feel like me holding her/rocking her just stimulates her more and she obviously doesn’t like it. I’ve tried using an Ergo and Moby Wrap, but those quickly stopped working. I was/am desperate.

    Comfort checks with her do nothing but upset her. Also, she doesn’t fuss/whimper. She goes right into distress screaming. I am so lost as to what to do. Picking her up calms her down at first, but then as soon as I put her back down she’s at it again. She screams about 6 hours/day when I attempt all of her naps. If I knew she liked napping/sleeping in a specific location or a specific way, I would just do that, but nothing seems to work.

    Her doctors say that she is the worst baby they have ever seen regarding her ability to fight sleep. She has been cleared of any health issues and is growing just fine.

    Nights are getting great. She wakes up once to eat and normally goes right back to sleep. Naps were going decent, but the last 5 days have been terrible.

    What do I DO?! I feel like no one has any advice for me that I haven’t already tried. I do all of the tricks that you suggest to promote good sleep. I want her to know that I’m there for her and the last thing I want to do is make her feel like I’m not, but me being there with her doesn’t seem to help either!

    • Oh friend! I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix all this for you! I do have a post coming out tomorrow with some sleeping tips. It may not help, but it’s something to try.

      I would do two things. Firstly, if you haven’t already, I would get some ear plugs, and wear them constantly.

      Secondly, it sounds like she’s a very stubborn little thing! I would consistently remind myself that this strong will child will grow into a leader some day, and I will look back and see all of this through different, more understanding eyes someday. She will never be pushed or bullied into anything. (I frequently had to remind myself of this with my Elena, and so far (she’s seven) it’s been 100% true.

      Put your ear plugs in, rock her and SURVIVE. That’s your focus. Give the love she needs, with your eyes off the here-and-now and onto the days-to-come. THIS WILL GET BETTER, ASHLEY. You are one day closer to the end of this season then you were five days ago.

      I’m sorry I can’t fix her, but I really hope and pray that I can bolster you up and encourage you to fight the good fight in the trenches you’re in right now. (Hugs friend, you’re doing great. You are the best parent for her! No one else, self included, we be able to do better.)

      • ashley rexrode says:

        oh, man! i was afraid you were going to say that :(

        i have a three year old and it has been extremely difficult on her. she has had to grow up and become very independent, very fast. and i feel downright rotten about it.

        i tried keeping her wake time a little longer this time since she’s been getting good sleep at night. she screamed bloody murder for about 20 minutes. i sat by her crib and sang and rubbed her hand like you said but that made it worse. she just kept looking around for me, red as a tomato. so, i just left. and about 10 minutes later i don’t hear anything.

        i try to pay attention to her cries, but honestly, she only has one. and that is the distressed, coughing cry that signals being over tired. if i could just get her to consistently sleep.

        hmph. so, i digress.

        thanks for the support and hugs. i think my husband is getting tired of me obsessing over it!

      • Ashley, those types of babies are really hard – because it’s hard to just leave – but if she’s fallen asleep after 10 minutes, you may have your answer. Try that a few more times and see if it’s a pattern. Perhaps she’s introverted and doesn’t WANT to have anyone there. (It happens!) Hang in there!

  52. My daughter is 4 months old and is for the most art sleeping through the night. From the beginning she was a great sleeper- lucky us! I was EB for 3 months, then began introducing formula, and now she is pretty much all formula. Her sleep changed when she began getting majority formula bottles. Instead of sleeping all night (9/9:30pm-8/8:30am), she now wakes at 3am and 5:30am. She will usually go right back to sleep if we just put in her paci and shush her for a minute or so. I thought she would sleep even better once she was having formula all the time because I know she wasn’t getting near as much milk from me while nursing as she does now that she is on formula, but she seems to be sleeping worse. Her bedtime routine is pretty standard- begins around 8/8:30 with a bath, then bottle & music, then into the crib she goes, usually no later than 9pm, and falls asleep almost immediately. We also recently switched her from the rock n play to her crib. I am just wondering if you think there is a way to get her to stay asleep all night, without waking and needing her pacifier to go back to sleep. Do you think we should get her to bed earlier? or is this a good bedtime for a four month old?

    • That IS really interesting, Samantha, I would have thought the same thing. Goes to show how much babies being told what to do! I posted a sleep training method that I’ve found extremely helpful today. Give that a whirl and see if you notice any changes. I doubt she’s hungry, seems like she’s just in a sleeping rut you’ll have to help her get out of.

  53. Heather, I just have to say you are amazing! I’m reading all these comments and picking and choosing what seems to apply to my lil one. I appreciate your help so much- thank you for your blog!! :)

  54. Hi, I really hope you can help me. I recently bought the Good Night, Sleep Tight book on your recommendation and thought I’d give it a go because I was rocking my 8 month old to sleep for naps and at night time. She sleeps for 11 hours at night, sometimes waking once or twice a night and her naps have never been longer than 30-40 minutes 3 times a day. She a really happy baby, I’ve always gone straight to her if she cries (which is very rarely without a reason like tiredness, illness etc) so I’m not sure if she needs longer than that.
    Rocking is not working everytime now. Sometimes she starts crying when I put her down and so I pick her up agin for a couple of minutes before trying again. Sometimes she starts crying anyway when I’m rocking her but cries more when I put her down. Occasionally it can take half an hour to get her to sleep even though she’s drowsy and my back can’t take her weight anymore.
    She also wakes up about 30-60 minutes after I’ve put her down for the night and needs rocking for a minute or two to go back to sleep.
    We were away for a week because my Mum was in hospital and now her routine is completely messed up it seemed like a good time to start the sleep shuffle.
    Tonight will be night 4 and, crying aside, she doesn’t seem to be getting anymore sleep. Her naps are still the same length of time so I wait for an hour before getting her up as suggested in the book. She spends most of this time crying her eyes out.
    In the night she’ll cry when she wakes up for anything between 20 minutes and an hour. Stroking her hand or back makes her more hysterical as does saying shh shh etc.
    If I pick her up when she’s screaming she’ll stop straightaway but gets even worse when I put her down.
    I’m aware it’s only day 4 but she’s not getting anymore sleep than before we started and while my back feels great, she’s not her usual happy self. I could put up with the tears if I felt we were making some sort of progress but she now looks exhausted most of the day as she has red rimmed eyes and dark circles that she didn’t have before and comforting her doesn’t work when she’s crying so what do I do?

    • Beany, this is quite a stumper. A few things pop up in my head, though, that perhaps will be useful…?

      1. Regarding naps, I didn’t understand the “I wait an hour before getting her up as suggested in the book,” I have to confess I don’t remember reading that advice (it’s entirely possible I missed that). If she wakes up, and it’s clear after 5-10 minutes that she is UP and not going back to sleep, go get her, don’t wait for an hour. At the beginning, even if she sleeps only 10-minutes, and then wakes, go in after 5 minutes all smiles and cheers as if she’s had a full nap. Then try it again in an hour, seeing if you can stretch that 10-minute nap into 15. You want her to fall asleep on her own. That’s your first goal. How LONG she sleeps…that’s something we can work on later. Right now, if she sleeps AT ALL, go in as soon as you know she’s not going to fall back asleep and reward her with your smiles and hugs that she did a good job. :-)

      2. Make sure when she goes down at night that she is 100% full. The 30-60 minutes after waking makes me wonder if she’s still hungry.

      3. I would start getting her bonded to a lovey. A little stuffed animal, a special blanket (you can tuck under the crib, so only the corner tip is near her, so she can touch it). Every time you hold her, have that item in your hand. Everytime you are cuddling and comforting her, have her hold it. The point here, is that she will bond with this item as an extension of you, and it will comfort her as she’s sleeping.

      4. Make sure she’s not teething. If she is, you should pause everything and comfort her with these teething remedies.

      You’ve been rocking her to sleep every day and night for 8 months, Beany, so I’m not too surprised 4 days hasn’t shown you much improvements. Rocking our children is definitely one of the sweetest moments of parenting. (I still make my kids rock with me. :-) ) However, for this little one, she is extremely confused and feels very out of her element right now. It’s going to take a while for her to adjust.

      Hang in there friend, you’re doing a good job. Just adjust a few things, change your expectations, and dig your heels in. :-)

  55. Thank you so much for this! With my first baby (now four), she would wake up every 2 hours till she was a year old. I now kkow it was because I gave her a bottle everytime she woke and she’d have a full diaper. I got so used to the routine of waking that I didnt think twice about it. I’m now on my second baby (5 mo) and my husband thinks I’m so strict and crazy on our sons sleeping routine. He gets put to bed the exact same way every night. And he’s slept through the night since he was a month and half old. It’s been a blessing to not have had to be “THAT” exhausted mom. I hope more future moms get to read this!

  56. Hi, thank you for getting back to me. I don’t know if in my sleep deprived brain fog I mis-read the ‘wait one hour after waking from nap’ advice in the book. It’s in the 6-8 month section where she talks about prolonging naps. It says if you can’t get her back to sleep again after trying for an hour and she’s only slept for 20 or 30 minutes to modify her schedule for a while until napping improves. I assume that means leave her in her cot for an hour after she wakes? If she still seems sleepy then I wait about 10 minutes after she wakes up in the hope she might fall back asleep. Otherwise I only wait a few minutes.
    I already got her used to a lovey a few months ago so she always has that with her.
    She’s slooooowly starting to sleep a bit better in the day now. She’s been having a 1.5 hour nap for the last 2 days which is a massive improvement! The other one is only 20-30 minutes and she looks really tired when she wakes from it so she’s having a quick nap around 3:30/4:00.
    Tonight will be the 2nd night of the 2nd shuffle position. I hope it’s less upsetting for her than last night. She was grizzling rather than screaming which is an improvement but it’s still made her lose her voice :(
    I used to think perhaps she was hungry when she wakes up 30-60 minutes after going to bed, I tried for a few days feeding her up to 3 times in the couple of hours before bedtime but she still woke up. It wasn’t that she needed a nappy change either. It’s always when we’re eating our dinner so maybe she can smell the food? I’m hoping it’s just a habit she’s got into and she’ll get out of it again. Having said that though, last night she woke up and got herself back to sleep again with no interference from me! Woo hoo!
    I wasn’t expecting miracles in 4 days but I think maybe my expectations were too high. Now I’ve seen a couple of changes I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know it’s all just going to take time and perseverance.
    Thanks again for your reply. I’ll let you know how we get on :)

    • That’s wonderful Beany! I’m so glad to hear it. So often it feels like “two steps forward, one step back…”, it can be hard to see that things are actually improving. Please do keep me posted as to how things go! You’re doing a great job. :-)

  57. I am at the end of my rope and so confused! I have read I feel like everything and now I can’t tell up from down. My 8 month old daughter is a terrible sleeper and I know it is my fault. :-( She has never slept through the night and during the day will only nap if I hold her. I am a stay at home mom and I feel very guilty if I don’t let her get naps in. I have tried laying her down drowsy but as soon as I put her down she wakes right back up and seems to get a second wind which last a short time then she is overly tired and fights it hard. At night it is worse, I tried cry it out but she has a earthshaking scream and will cry so hard that it seems she cant catch her breath and she jerks! I was scared to death and went in and grabbed her up. She stopped crying within seconds of me picking her up. She can roll back and forth and can pull to standing but is very clumsy and I am terrified to attempt cry it out again thinking she may fall and bump her head and also because of the horrible cry. I have tried music doesn’t seem to help. I just feel lost. I don’t know how long to let her cry and when to pick her up and do I need to sit in the room with her or will that make her even more upset. PLEASE HELLPPPP!!!!

    • Samantha, first of all, don’t blame yourself for sleeping issues. There are a whole HOST of issues that can cause hiccups in sleeping. Teething, colds, baby’s personality, a bazillion things. Don’t feel guilty for things out of your control. And it sounds like you are trying to control the things you can control…which is a sign of a great mother. :-)

      Samantha, try these suggestions on how to adjust your baby’s sleeping in a more gentle manner and let me know if it helps. Try it for a 5-7 days and see what happens.

  58. My 6 month old has never been a good sleeper. He’s had colic, reflux(getting better) and allergic colitis. I have a hard time trying to figure out a good routine with him because he is a “cat napper” he will take 4-5, 30 minute naps a day and wake almost every 2 or so hours at night. Sometimes though he will take 2, 2 hour naps but still have the wakings at night. He still eats 1 sometimes 2 bottles during the wakings, but takes all 5 ounces during these feeds. When he does wake and is not hungry he has terrible has that i assume woke him up. He stays with my MIL during the day. We recently tried solid foods to see if that would help and it actually made things worse with his colitis :( we are stopping the foods for now until his little system is more developed. Any suggestions to the night time for us? Sorry if I seem a little all over the place but it has been a rough 6 months for my husband and I

    • Holley, that DOES sound like a rough 6 months for you guys! The first question you have to ask is “Is he capable of sleeping all night without food?” Normally, at this age I would say yes. HOWEVER, in your case, due to his GI issues, that answer isn’t so simple. You will have to think about him and how he eats at night (grazing vs. guzzling) and make that decision on your own. Perhaps he is hungry for one, but not the other? When he wakes up because of gas, and it’s clear he’s not hungry, I would suggest giving these gentle sleep coach steps a try.

      Don’t worry too much about the napping, at this point. Work on helping him drop one feeding during the night…then two….and then we can start on naps. Hope this can help!

  59. My son who is now 16 months old has been sleep trained sleeping in his crib since he was 5 months old through the whole night. He has been on the same routine bath, pjs, bottle, and bed. You literally just had to put him in his crib and he used to cry for about 10 minutes then go to sleep when we started and after about3 weeks he started falling asleep on his own. He used to wake up in the middle of the night every once in a while, maybe once every 2 months or so, and would look around, cry for less than a minute and pass back out on his own. Now for the past week, he has been going through what I believe in separation anxiety. I lay him in the crib after his normal routine and he immediately stand up and starts crying and screaming. I have been rubbing hsi back until he falls asleep because it is the only thing that has worked. Only issue is, when he moves in the middle of the night, which he always does, he peeps his eyes open, sees no one is there and stands up immediately and starts crying and screaming again. He has been doing this every3 hours in the night now. This literally came from no where as we have always been those lucky parents that just lays him inthe crib and he eventually falls asleep andwakes up the next morning after×12 hours of sleep. I need some suggestions please!! I have tried the whole 5 minute trick, where I let him cry for 5 minutes, then rub his back for a minute, then leave, then let him cry for 5 minutes and do it all over again until he calms down and puts himself back to sleep. But no luck! His screams started to get louded and he got even more mad because he was getting more tired and kept leaving after soothing him. I want my perfect little baby boy back!!! HELP!!!

    • Julie, those little spurts of anxiety are the pits. It’s like a dangling carrot of “Remember when I used to sleep for you?” Torture! That said, a few things popped in my head I thought I would share. (Because who knows? perhaps they’ll be helpful!) Firstly, I would introduce him to a lovey, if he doesn’t have one already. A small stuffed animal, little blanket, something that can smell and be “you” when you aren’t there. Take it with you everwhere, have him hold it when you’re rocking and feeding, everytime you have a sweet moment with him, make it be right there in his hand and against his cheek. That’s the first step.

      The second step, if he’s feeling anxious about your not being around right now, is to follow these Sleep Shuffle steps with him for a few days/weeks. The key here is to not leave until he is completely asleep. This way, he will feel like you are there, even when he’s sleeping. Start there, and then let me know how it goes and we’ll come up with a Plan B. :)

  60. Heather,
    YOU are a godsend. Literally. Our little guy just turned 4 mos. He had severe colic for the first 12+weeks. Evenings were torture for him and frankly were tortured too bc there seemed to be nothing that helped. The list was a mile long of things we tried. No two nights were the same as far as what worked to calm him. The ONLY t hing that helped (after hours and hours spent reading onnthe subject) the evenigs be less traumatic for us all, was helping him get sufficient rest throughout the daytime hours. So we learned to do “whatever works” real fast. So needlees to say the nursing to sleep, the rocking, the swing I know has all become a crutch. (All things I had to use to get him the much needed day rest)
    He does pretty well through the night. He is being treated for reflux but can still sleep 9 hours. He is in a cosleeper/side car next to our bed. (Wanted to get him napping in his crib in his room as he will quickly outgrow sidecar and we already nurse and swing and day diaper change in his room) However, he is gaining weight poorly (in the 7th petcentile) so consequently his Dr. would like me to wake him every 3-4 hours. (If he sleeps that long…some nights he sleeps only 3-4 hours) For now, I have no camplaints about nights.
    It’s those darned naps. I started with vowing not to use the swing as I know he wasnt resting well in it even after a 3-4 hour nap, he would wake grumpy. Plus I knew we would have to eliminate it sooner or later and knew the longer we waited the harder it would all become. I started gradually with no rocking. Then breaking his latch but he wont let me lay him down w/waking. So knew this too need to change. But laying down drowsy would also result in him waking every. single. time. He has become so reliant on being nursed to sleep and then either held or. placed in swing for every nap. I tried the whole laying down drowsy then walking away and only coming bk if he had been actually crying for two minutes. It made him so upset that I left him even that long and he wouldnt calm bk down in his crib so not picking him up was not an option for me. By then, it could b 2:00 pm and no real nap after several attempts. I had a very overtired baby. It felt cruel.
    Then I tried pick.up put down method and he was so confused why i kept p/u & p/d he would scream and scream. After 27 xs I knew it would never work. Furthermore…he decided that evening he would start hate being laid down for his usual bedtime even. The next I couldnt put him down anywhere even to play bc he would scream. I swore we would never do pick up put down ever again.
    We tried getting him drowsy in our arms and rocking and shhing but it went on for 30 minutes and not ever close being asleep. It made him upset bc I was holding but not nursing him.
    I went bk to my old ways for a few days as his his 4 month chkup was scheduled with vaccines. I still only let him to nurse to sleep maybe once or twice anf kept trying to lay him down and stay by him. I would get him up after an hour then try later.
    I kept searching for a solution meanwhile. I knew there had to be something besides CIO. That would have NEVER been an option for us. Everytime I googled helping your child nap, I got one of two answers. CIO or the other extreme. (“Never ever lay them down alone. You are a selfish mother. Always soothe to sleep. Just wear your baby for its naps. Cosleep.”) I knew this was not practical either. I almost gave up and thought maybe we will try at 6 mos. although I knew it would be even harder then after 2 more months of habitual napping in swing or on me. And two more months of rushing thru however few daily chores I could manage to get done during his wake time. I felt his wake time was never fun for him as I was constantly laying him here, there and everywhere telling him when he got fussy, “Mommy’s coming!”
    Then I googled “I don’t mind night feeding my 4 month old but he wont nap anywhere but on me” and found YOU!
    So many people offer cut and dry solutions to solve sleep problems without realizing no two babies are the same. Others offer tailor made solutions but you must pay to hear their advice. Then there is you and this thread. I couldnt believe I had found someone who spoke my language. I had already been doing almost all the right things. I even had a big green ugly blanket up over the blinds to block extra light from coming in! And a barstool has been by his crib this whole week! I just couldn’t believe you were replying to people on here; answering their questions free of charge. Just genuinely helping anyone who asked!!! I read without stopping all of the comments and answers! Hearing other real moms describe their issues and reading your ideas what could help really helped also. The one thing I needed to change was no eye contact and never leave his side for a minute during the soothing process! The very first time (this morning!) it worked like a charm. He fussed but never cried for 30 minutes. I was just about to get him up and try again after a little play but he settled right down at the 30 minute mark. No binki, no rocking, just me placing my hand on his chest then head. He slept 30 minutes! (A record in his crib!) I was there when he woke so proud of him!! The next nap is going on as I speak. He settled in 5 MINUTES with just his hand wrapped around my pinky!! Now another 27 minutes he is stirring!!! You have no idea the relief I feel right now! I dont have to resort to one of the two extremes. I just needed a few more pointers! I also put the little thin matress out of his cosleeper on top of his regular matress in his crib thinking it might feel more familiar! And put him in his sleep sack he wears at night. These are the only things I have done differently. What an incredible change!!!
    We will work on nights when he starts gaining better and hopefully the yrsnsition to his bedroom at around 6 mos. will be a smooth one since he will already be used to his crib!! :)
    Any pointers on his weight gain. Exclusively bf. Wont nurse longer than 10 minutes one side. Even wide awake. He pulls off and very rarely hoes bk on or takes the second breast. He likes to eat every 2 or 2.5 hours during day? Right now I dont want to push him to 3-4 hours unless u see it helping in some way?!
    Thanks again for everything you do! Just a huge enormous thanks! God bless you!

    • Oh sweet friend!! What a Godsend YOU are! I’ll have to confess, today has been one of my “moodier” days and I was feeling grumpy and worn out (because even website moms have these days) when I read your oh-so-encouraging comment! Brought me to tears, to hear that somehow God is using these typing fingers to help a fellow mom-in-arms. It has totally made my day, thank you so much. It’s exactly what I needed to hear on a very busy Monday afternoon! So thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. and I’m BEYOND EXCITED to hear that it was able to help you and things are improving.

      I think many times Moms just need more options. And then the freedom to know that they can make good decisions for their kids. :-) That’s all I want to do, list some ideas and options, and then encourage parents to confidently choose what’s best for their families. You have good instincts, you just need a slightly older mom to confirm that what you THINK is a good idea, really IS. :-)

      As to your breastfeeding issue – have you seen my post on nursing personalities? It may have some things for you to try. :-) Here it is: The Muppets Solve Your Breastfeeding Problems Hope it can help! Do me a favor, and spread the word about my little blog will you? Incredible Infant is relatively new in Cyberspace and every recommendation is appreciated!! Hugs!!

  61. My tenth-month-old started crawling recently and since then she is awful at sleeping. Naps are worse than bedtime, but it is all awful. She used to sleep perfectly, would put herself to sleep, but all of a sudden now she screams her head off, literally for hours. She spends several hours at night screaming and nothing helps her. We give her time to try to put herself back to sleep, but to no avail. Rubbing her back sometimes helps her fall asleep, but when you stop, no matter how long or short it has been, she wakes up immediately and sits up and cries. And, I can’t lean down into her crib all night long rubbing her back. We have resorted to giving her a middle-of-the-night bottle because absolutely NOTHING worked, but now that doesn’t even calm her down. She just wants to be awake and play. We feel like we have tried EVERYTHING, like follow everything that you’re supposed to do to teach babies how to sleep, but NOTHING works! She rejects a lovey–literally throws it out of the crib sometimes. She rejects a pacifier. The bottle doesn’t work. Holding her doesn’t even settle her down. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Judy, firstly make sure she isn’t teething. If she IS teething, try these pain management tips.

      Secondly, I would commit to working through the Sleep Lady’s Shuffle for at least a week to see how things go. Don’t rub her back, because you’re exchanging one sleep crutch (rocking or nursing to sleep) with another (patting her back for eternity). She needs to learn how to put herself to sleep without any interventions from you. The good news is that the Sleep Shuffle is the gentlest way to teach her this. Give that a week, knowing the first 3-4 days will probably be HELL, but by the end of the week, your consistency will give her a rhythm to hold on to. Then let me know if we need to come up with a Plan B.

  62. Hi! I am a nanny for a now 11 month old boy. I haven’t had trouble putting him down for naps (he sleeps twice a day, one at 10am and one at 3:30ish) but sometimes he will wake up after 30-40 minutes screaming. If he sleeps anywhere from 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 he is happy as can be. If he wakes up early, he won’t go back to sleep and screams like he’s dying. I have tried going in there and patting him back to sleep both IN his crib and on a boppy on the floor (so I can keep him laying down more easily). This doesn’t make him go to sleep but it makes him happy. He will just lay there either with his eyes open or closed but as soon as I put him back in his crib or leave the room he starts screaming again. I know he’s still tired but he won’t go back to sleep. If I leave him to “cry it out” he usually just screams until he calms down, but does not go back to sleep. I know he needs the sleep because he looks so tired, but he won’t go back down. Should I just give up and let him get up? Usually if I do that, he stays cranky until his next nap (which usually goes about the same way strangely enough, I would think it would be long since he didn’t get a good morning nap) but I’m not sure what else to do. Any suggestions??

    • So, if I’m reading this right, Cassie (and correct me if I’m not) the main issue here is the waking UP, not the putting DOWN. Besides trying to minimize noises and lights and things that could wake him, I would say if he wakes up, he’s probably going to be up. Trying to get him to go down right away again is going to leave you both exhausted. I would let him get him, but then I would adjust the schedule and everything to put him down again for a nap sooner than I would have had he slept the entire time through. (Does that make sense at all?) Another good option for an 11-month-old, is to let him have the rest of his nap as a “quiet time”. Put him in his crib with some safe toys and books and let him play quietly until the nap time is over.

      This teaches him “naptime is over when I say it is”, but also gives him a chance to practice playing by himself. I made all my kids have “quiet times” if naptime wasn’t finished. In fact, I still do! Every afternoon, since they don’t nap (sob!) they go in their room and have a time of listening to a book on tape, or playing and reading books, for an hour. It’s a wonderful way of teaching independence, while at the same time giving me the break that I need! :-) Hope this can help, reply if you have any other thoughts/questions!

  63. Hello

    I need some advise.
    My 17 week baby is still waking up through the night. we have a bedtime routine and i try and get her to bed for 7pm. i was reading a book ‘save our sleep’ and it says to dreamfeed at 1030 so we do n she normally takes about 60ml – 90ml we put her back in her cot, she then wakes at 1 or 2ish for a 90ml feed.. then she will not go back down in her cot n i end up co sleeping. she then stirs at 430- 5am n wants another 90ml feed at 5am she sometimes then wakes. in the day she will only take 90ml feeds. she has a nap about 9-10am for 40 mins and thats about it. she was 5 weeks earlier, does this affect her sleep? how can i encourage to eat more?
    Many thanks
    Sam

    • Samantha, your instincts on her sleep are correct. Since she was a preemie, everything she does has to be filtered through what age her BRAIN thinks she is, instead of what she really is. If she was 5 weeks early, according to adjusted age calculator inside my Milestone Marker, her brain thinks she’s 12 weeks old – roughly 3 months. Hopefully that can help you understand where she is developmentally.

      Now, to your sleeping issue, the best advice I can give you is to start using the Sleep Lady’s Shuffle at night. It’s extremely gentle, and highly effective in coaching babies to have better sleep habits. I lay out the shuffle here. Try this for a few weeks and see how it goes. Good sleep is close by, Samantha! Hang in there!

      • Does this mean i have to wait to wean until her prem age is 4 months?and shold i carry on feeding her still at night?

        many thanks for getting back to me so quickly x

        and thank u so much for the advise health visitors here are no help x

      • If she is guzzling down everything at night, then you’ll need to wait. If she’s just snacking on a few ounces, than she’s eating more out of habit than hunger and you should start the Shuffle. :-)

  64. I apologize that this is going to be long, but it feels like we have tried everything.

    Our son is almost 9 months and has had sleep issues pretty much from day one. Our pediatrician said he was one of the few truly colicky babies he had ever seen and told us to let him cry it out for a few minutes at a time until he fell asleep. We have tried for months and he has never fallen asleep while crying.

    The first two months of his life he would scream almost constantly when awake, fall asleep for about 20 minutes then wake up and scream for a few hours while I rocked and shhhshed him, until he was exhausted from screaming and flailing, then fall asleep for twenty minutes again and repeat, never sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time for a total of maybe 3-4 hours per day.

    His third month he finally started to sleep for several hours at a time at night, but would never nap during the day, even in a dark room with me holding him for hours humming to him.

    By the fourth month he could no longer be contained in any of the swaddling devices on the market and was back to screaming all night, even while being held, rocked, hummed to etc. He would only fall asleep in short intervals and only in his bouncy seat with us there bouncing him all night. We tried to let him cry it out with us coming in every few minutes to pat his back, we tried it sitting in the rocker and humming while he was in his crib, we tried it letting him scream it out without letting him know we were there until he was choking on his screams and flinging himself into the walls of the crib so hard he would get big bruises. His bedtime has always been about 6:30-7:30 pm and we start getting him ready for the day around 7am. For most of the next few months he screamed all night, 12 hours straight without sleeping for even a second, even when we were there to comfort him.

    Around the start of month eight he began to sleep from about 7-10pm in his crib, but only if he was already asleep when we put him in it. He then wakes up screaming and continues to scream until after dawn if he is not in the bouncer with me sleeping beside it and bouncing it anytime he starts to scream until dawn.

    We have had several friends and relatives tell us we must be doing it wrong, that we are being too lenient or not giving him enough time of screaming to cry himself out. We have invited those people to spend the night and witness the endless screaming and flailing themselves, and they all change their tune saying they have never seen anything like it. He does not cry and fall asleep. He screams for 12 hours straight. He has started to nap in the past two months, typically 40 minutes to 2 hours in the late morning and 40 minutes to an hour in the afternoon.

    We have spoken to the pediatrician about it several times and he keeps telling us that our little guy is perfectly healthy and can’t hurt himself, but he is tearing at his face and slamming himself into the sides of his crib for hours on end no matter what we try.

    It is not teething – when his teeth pain him he has a specific syllable he always repeats while looking at you and pointing to or rubbing his gums. He also screams almost any time he is on his back, and has been checked for any issues or ear infections. Everything about him physically is apparently completely normal.

    The strange thing is our baby is perfectly happy during the day, very social, playful, laughing, curious and clever and he has hit every milestone (cognitive and physical) at least a month or two early, so there are no developmental issues physically or mentally. He has shown no signs of food issues and he is a good eater, is at the 97th% for height and 70th% for weight.

    We have a bedtime routine we start after dinner, around 5:30pm. We turn down the lights and start reading books and playing quietly for a bit. We give him a warm bath by 6:30, or earlier if he starts to yawn or seem to be getting at all tired. We then have a bottle followed by rocking for a bit singing softly in a very dark room with a gentle ocean waves sound machine and the humidifier running.

    The temperature in his room is kept at 68-72 degrees and he is dressed appropriately. Having stayed awake all night in the room myself on numerous occasions I know there are no lights or noises to cause issues. He is put to sleep on his side since he will scream if we put him on his back, and he usually rolls onto his stomach (which he was able to do at two weeks old, even when swaddled!)

    I am not concerned about us getting sleep (eventually I know we will), but I am worried about how this is affecting him. I am also worried because our guy is very, very tall and he has pretty much outgrown all of the swings and bouncers on the market so that trick won’t last much longer. We still try for a few nights each week to keep him in his crib with all of the various methods and levels of CIO, but he continues to scream until dawn. He has also started to have what appear to be night terrors – shaking and screaming in his sleep without waking up, even when we pick him up and try to wake him. We are at our wits end as to how to help him. At least we know this too shall pass, but we really want him to be getting the sleep we know is good for him.

    Thank you for reading the longest comment ever written and for any advice or just good old fashioned encouragement you can give!

    • Wow Karen. You and your husband definitely get my made-up Parent-Survivor-of-the-Week award. I’m glad your post was longer, because I would have probably told you to do a lot of things you’ve already done. :-)

      Firstly, try putting him down straight on his tummy. I know that’s not recommended, but with some kids…it’s inevitable anyway, so try it right away and see if that shows any improvement. Also, try propping up the crib so it isn’t a flat surface. If he likes the swing and bouncer, that makes me wonder if he prefers the incline. I show some tricks on how to do that safely in this article. If you’re going to put him on his tummy, I would put a tucked in blanket or something at the bottom instead of the “U” shape, since his bum will be in the air so the “sitting trick” won’t work. Or perhaps put two rows under each armpit or something, play around with that a bit. (That will make sense when you read the article.)

      Secondly, thinking about the colic itself…I know we don’t know what causes colic…but I’m a “keep trying until I find a solution” kinda gal, so I would start fiddling with his food and see what happens. If you breastfeed, I would cut out all dairy for a few weeks and see if anything improves. If you use formula, try using a hypoallergenic formula for a few weeks, making sure you switch wisely to avoid extra tummy troubles.

      Start with those, and then we’ll go from there. You’re right, Karen, you WILL get more sleep, and he WILL get better…but if we can hurry that process along a little faster, why not? :-)

      • Thanks Heather! It has been a crazy week in our house hold with a sick kitty and all of the Christmas hoopla. Luckily things are calming down a bit now, so we may have a chance to try the crib at a slight angle soon.
        I should have mentioned he is on a hypoallergenic formula already – we switched to it when he was two weeks and it made a big difference! My milk never came in (seems to be the case for every woman in my family) so we have him on Nutramigen which has been perfect.
        We have been putting him to sleep on his tummy some of the past week and he seems to settle down faster that first part of the night. Still no luck after he wakes up – although he did strangely sleep for a full night once last week. I couldn’t believe it and kept going in to check on him. Several times I found him crawling around, babbling and sitting up all in his sleep, but he never actually woke up! I have seen our little guy exhibit some other baby versions of sleepwalking and night terrors so perhaps that is part of the issue. I was a sleepwalker as well when I was a child, although I slept well as a baby.
        Thanks for your support!

      • I’m so glad to hear this Karen! Always freaky-exciting when our babies surprise us and SLEEP. :-) Keep doing what you’re doing, and as always, let me know if I can help with anything!

  65. I have a 2 1/2 almost 3 year old that refuses to go to sleep on her own I have to sit beside her bed every night and hold her hand till she goes to sleep this can last from 10 minutes to an hour. She also wakes anywhere from 2-5 times a night. She tries to crawl into our bed but I take her back to get bed and then have to sit there holding her hand till she goes back to sleep! I usually give in and let her into my bed around 5 in the morning because I’m so exhausted! Please help me on what I can do! We are trying for baby number two and I want her to start being a big girl!!
    Her room is dark but we have put a nightlight in her room and she had music that plays all night, it’s the same music she has had in get room since she was a couple months old.
    Please help!

    • Tina, I would encourage you to start moving out of the room, slowly in little steps, to get her used to having you NOT in the room when she falls asleep. (Here’s how.) Also, instead of holding her hand, pat her hand every now and then. If you hold her hand the entire time she’ll start thinking your hand is her teddy bear and she can’t sleep without it! You need that hand! :-) This is totally fixable, Tina. Try the steps above and then let me know how it goes!

  66. I have a 7 week old little girl. My last baby was
    6 years ago, so I feel like I’m a new mom all over again. How long is a 7 week old supposed to nap for during the day and how often? Also how do I get her out of my arms during her nap and into her bed. My boys never gave me this issue as babies. So I think its cause I’m out of practice. I get her to sleep but as soon as I put her done she wakes up and starts crying. I think I need help! You can’t help but feel useless when you can’t figure what she is trying to tell you after 7 weeks.

    • Pamela, I felt that way after every stinkin’ baby. So you’re in good company. It’s like I had the memory of a fly – had to relearn everything over again, which actually, is how I got into the writing-about-babies-online business back in 2007 – I was trying to remember how to do all this! :-)

      At 7 weeks, try this article on newborn sleep, I think it will help. Also, this article talks about how to help crib-hating babies. I hope that can help as well. Don’t worry, you will get the hang of it again!

  67. Heather,
    Reading your articles and all of these comments are helpful. I have a 5 month old baby girl who used to be an amazing sleeper. She was sleeping through the night starting at 6 weeks old. From 2 months old-4 months old she was sleeping 10-12 hours straight each night. She has always been pretty easy going down at night. She Never wanted to be rocked, just put down in her crib while awake with her paci and falls asleep. Up until 4 months, she was swaddled and then started going through the 4 month sleep regression. She was also starting to roll, so we took her out of the swaddle. She is still very easy to put down. We have our usual routine of bath time, nursing, reading a book, songs in the rocker, and then put in crib while awake. She goes down without any tears and falls right asleep. However, then she wakes up numerous times per night. Some nights, we have to go in there 10 times. We don’t run right in and we let her try to get herself back to sleep. Sometimes she will and other times we have to go back in because she can’t settle and put her paci back in and rub her back and she falls right back asleep. She now loves to sleep on her side and will stay asleep if she is on her side. However, when she rolls back to her back or to her belly she wakes up crying. When we put her paci back in she falls back asleep, but then will eventually wake up again. She isn’t waking up because her paci falls out, but when she wakes up she spits it out and cries. It is frustrating because in the past 7 weeks, she has slept some 6-8 hr stretches and some nights she is up after 45 minutes of being put down. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Sarah, you are so close!! It’s like a dangling carrot of rest! How frustrating. I do have some thoughts for you, hopefully they can help.

      Firstly, read through this postand start doing the steps when you go in there at night.

      Secondly, I would try to prop up one side of her, so she’s semi-sleeping on her side, but can’t roll over while she’s sleeping. Does that make sense? A rolled up towel secured with hair ties or something, slide under the crib mattress sheet, and placed under her shoulder. See if that helps her stay in her favorite sleeping postion. If these things don’t work, let me know and we’ll try again…

  68. My LO is almost 5 months. He cat-naps during the day, but puts himself to sleep for 90% of his naps (occasionally when I’ve missed the window I rock him to sleep or if we’re out he naps in his car seat) with no crutch, just a blankie and a quick story before naptime. We have a bedtime routine: bath, stories, nurse, swaddle, nurse again until asleep. He sleeps most nights 5 hour stretch and then wakes and I feed him, he sleeps another 2-3hrs and I feed him then another 1-2 hours and it’s morning. (Sometimes if we’re lucky it’s 6hrs and 3hrs and then it’s morning) He’s also still half swaddled (one arm out, alternating arms each night). My question is this: if he’s sleeping 5+ hours and I’ve seen him stir and go back to sleep with zero interventions, he’s obviously able to put himself back to sleep, so when he wakes up in the night, what do I do? Feed him? When I do feed him he eats like he’s very hungry and I hear lots of swallowing. Thanks!!

  69. My son will be 5 months old on the 31st of December. He went from 5-6 hours a night back down to 3-4 so I figured growth spurt. But that’s been for 4 weeks now….

    The most difficult thing is he’s not a sleeper – he’s like mr social butterfly even at day care. He fights sleep like no one’s business until he’s so exahausted he falls asleep mid activity. We are waiting after holidays to start, but daycare is going to work on more regulated nap times in his crib in Jan. On weekends at home he doesn’t sleep regularly and will fall asleep when he’s just had it.

    I am a nursing mom and plan on weaning, so he’ll be fully migrated to formula and solids by end of January. I want to get him sleeping better at night, less for me as I actually function pretty well off 4-5 hours sleep but because I think HE needs more sleep. He goes down the “1st” time between 7:30-9:00pm each night. I guess probably my mistake is that I’m nursing him and when he falls asleep I put him in crib. He will make it 30 minutes to 4 hours. He is not swaddled (that lasted like 2 days and he hated it) and has no use for a binky (thankfully he just refuses it or spits it out shortly afterwards and has since birth). We have a sound bear (heartbeat) we use that I think helps.

    So the point of all this prattling on, is a solution to put him to bed the same time each night (say 8pm)? And when would I feed him? I am trying cereal at night (started a week ago) but he’s usually too tired and gets cranky after 2-3 bites he refuses to eat any of it. He doesn’t seem to really like it at all. Again at this time I nurse him and then put him to bed. I get him out of his crib when his baby monitor goes red for sound level, else I wait.

    Much thanks! I’ve enjoyed reading the mom’s input also as I think every situation is unique so hoping to gleam a little here and there for help!!

    • Diana, thanks for posting your comment! First of all, I would focus on this goal during naps/bedtime: BORE HIM TO TEARS. (Well, not literal tears, but you get my meaning.) Mr. Social Butterfly enjoys everyone because he finds it all so interesting. So the first step will need to be boredom. Put sheets on the window if you have to. He will need it pitch black in there, otherwise he’ll find something interesting to look at. Also, I would create a solid bedtime routine. Being so active, he needs a “let’s get drowsy!” routine that will help his little mind shift from playtime to dreamtime. He needs you to slow him down so he can realize he’s sleepy.

      You are right about the nursing-to-sleep thing. That’s teaching him that he needs you or he can’t sleep. Make sure he’s completely finished and his tummy is full, then put him down drowsy but awake and start the Sleep Shuffle. It sounds like you’re a working mom, perhaps this would be a good week to do the Shuffle? Will you be home for several days? He is waking at night out of habit, not hunger. Gently work through the Shuffle to help him learn how to drop those feedings. He should be able to sleep for 10-12 hours at night (confirm that with your doctor, preemies and babies with health issues may not be able to). Don’t worry. We can make some small adjustments to help him get there. :-)

      4-5 month olds should go to bed between 8 and 9 pm, but as they move closer to 6 months and they start sleeping less during the day you’ll want to move that up to 7 and 8pm. Since he doesn’t nap well, you may want to watch for his sleepy cues and start the bedtime routine closer to 7:30. If you wait too long you’ll miss the window and he’ll get overstimulated, making it harder for him to get to sleep.

      If he’s not a fan of solids, set it aside for another month. Waiting until 6-7 months for solids is perfectly fine. My Bella was very stubborn with solids, she didn’t start taking to the whole thing until she was 7.5 months!

      I hope this can help Diana! You can make some small adjustments and see some big changes. Be gently persistent! :-)

  70. Hi there , I’m having some trouble sleep training my 1 year old daughter . I usually only have my daughter every other weekend as me and her mom are split up . This winter I have her full time and can’t deal with her needing to be rocked to sleep (or pushed in the stroller ) and then waking up every 1-2 hours . Her mother has never tried any thing so I feel it’s my responsibility for the well being of both mine and my daughters sleep .

    So far this past week I have broken the cycle of having to rock her to sleep and I’m happy to say I can put her in the crib say goodnight and she gets to sleep on her own with little to no fussing . However I’m still having the problems with her waking every hour or two just to be held then going back to sleep . I’ve read many websites and the majority of them say not to pick her up just try and soothe her till she calms down . But nothing seems to work , unless I pick her up . Do you have any other ideas or Is picking her up just ruining everything I’ve tried doing .

    She’s never had a routine at moms house but here it’s dinner 5-5:30 play till 6:30 then bath , story and a lullaby then into the crib for 7:30 . To sleep . I feel I’m headed in the right direction but need all the help and advice I can get .

    Thanks

    • Steve, you are doing great. You’re instincts are spot on. I do agree that picking her up is just teaching her that you will pick her up, and could be ruining what you’re working on. Still, you don’t have to let her cry for hours and hours. Follow my steps to do the Sleep Shuffle when she wakes at night, and I think you’ll start to see some real improvements. Let me know if you get stuck, or if I can help you with anything else!

  71. Wow. I am a mother of school age children who go to bed easily and sleep soundly all night, with normal curtains and without pacifiers. They were never sleep trained. At all. Ever. I’m a Social Worker too and I undertake specialist assessments for court where there are concerns about neglect. Obviously to do my job I need to be well informed about child development and attachment. Apparently the author of this article doesn’t. I notice a lot of the positive comments are from new parents. I think this is very sad. Please respond appropriately to your little babies, by meeting their needs in a timely way… don’t train them to sleep, or you will reap what you sow. The idea of little babies self soothing is a myth.

  72. So what do you do when your routine works pretty well at home but not at day care? My daughter is 8 months and sleeps well at night (5:30-ish to 6am, currently with 1-2 wakings after midnight because she has a cold and eats less at a time but more frequently). At home on weekends and days off, she also always takes 3 naps, 2-3 hours total. But at day care there are 4 other kids in her group who all just nap once a day. They can NOT get her to nap well when they’re all up and playing (duh, I guess). The only time that works OK is midday since then they dim the lights and turn down the noise, but if she wakes between sleep cycles, they usually get her up so she doesn’t wake the others. White noise is not helping. Would any day cares actually have a more separate (darker, quieter) sleep area? I’ve toured several centers now, and none of them do – I’ve been told they’re required to be able to “watch” the kids the entire time. I visited some in-home day cares back when I was still pregnant and was pretty shocked at what I saw, so centers had seemed like the better solution until all this. Did I just get a few bad apples back in the day – is in-home the better fit? Help!

    • Ela, daycare choices can be so tough! If you find the right in-home care, it can be a real blessing. Websites like Care can help find an individual to come to your home, which is the best of all worlds. I did that, so it’s not as expensive as you might think. You know it’s safe, because it’s your home. And it helps with the rhythm during the week, since there’s very little disruption. You may not even have to wake her earlier in the morning, which means she can stay up and have more time with you at night.

      That said, if she’s not showing any negative signs from the disruptive daytime sleep (still sleeping at night, napping on the weekends) it may be something you can live with. You’ll have to decide if moving to a different form of daycare is worth the benefits/costs of the switching process. I would do a ton of research on your options, then make a list of pros and cons for each and see where you land. :-)

  73. I agree with Jeanette. The lady writing this article is using outdated information and the narrow view point that babies should be convenient. Read about the benefits of attachment parenting or how different cultures raise their children ( many indigenous cultures hold and carry their offspring all day and their babies cry an average of fifteen minutesor less per day versus the US culture of convenience where babies cry an average of three hours per day.
    There is growing psychological evidence that attachment parenting (or instinctive parenting / parenting with compassion) creates more compassionate and intelligent kids. If you can’t trust and depend on your parents, who can you depend on? There are numerous adults who cannot get to sleep on their own, why be so worried and controlling with children whose brains are not yet developed.
    It is sad to see an “educated” person spreading this archaic way of parenting.

    • I don’t think babies should be convenient. In fact, it’s impossible, by definition, for a baby to be convenient. For the first several years, everything must revolve around them. However, I don’t think parents should be slaves to their children either. Once the baby is old enough to physically be able to sleep through the night, I think gentle coaching is a kindness to them AND to you. I’ve spent many nights rocking sick children at night and carrying them during the day. I read articles and books about caring for babies, so nothing here is “outdated”. Research and culture is great. But I don’t care about un-cited research. I care about how happy, adjusted, and intelligent my children are. Cite the evidence here if you want to, as it would be great to share with the other parents reading this who would like to see empirical evidence to consider (as they should). But I write here about what I have learned in my own research, apply it to my family, make suggestions to other parents, and then let them make their own conclusions. You are free to use attachment parenting as your model, I think that’s just fine, and great for some families. We didn’t chose that, and my children are not suffering for it. We are a loving, happy, well-adjusted family. Every parent must decide what is best for their family. It sounds like you found yours, which is great. Just because my husband and I have chosen a different way doesn’t make us archaic or “less educated”. Please refrain from casting judgmental aspersions upon the lives of others whom you know absolutely nothing about.

  74. Hi there, I have an almost 11 month old that gets up twice at night. I have to go back to work soon and need to wean him as well as sleep train so I can focus in the office. He’s a great napper and knows the bedtime routine well so he goes down generally with no issues. Its the getting up at night and still being exclusively breastfed that I’m struggling with. If I don’t nurse him at night he won’t go back to sleep. I only have a few weeks to get these both resolved and don’t know what to do. I’ve tried 3 different nipples with no luck. He used to take a bottle a day then I stopped giving them for a bit so he refuses now. Should I tackle these one at a time or together? When should I introduce formula? My husband feels sleep training is terribly mean and that I’m heartless for thinking about it. Please help

    • Amy, I would encourage you to try the Sleep Shuffle. It’s my “perfect world” of giving comfort to your baby during the adjustment of sleeping through the night, while at the same time teaching him to get past those waking sleep cycles without you. At 11 months, he’s able to sleep through the night without eating, it’s just a habit now. He needs your loving guidance to help him learn how to fall asleep without you. You can do this Amy! :-)

  75. My 13 month old has been having some sleep problems. I use to rock her to sleep with a bottle. I have been slowly breaking her of that habit. She has been falling asleep in my arms without bottle/ rocking.When she falls asleep, I put her down. But she will wake up 3 hours later crying for me. I will go in her room and hold her till she sleeps. But this will continue throughout the night. I was very against crying it out, but sometimes I feel that I have no other choice. I guess Im a big softy. Sometimes during the night, I will take her to my bed where she will fall asleep till morning. I know that I helped create these habits and I know I cant continue on this path. Sometimes she wants to drink water out of her bottle and she’ll go right to sleep. But I dont know if she is thirsty or using it to soothe herself. Any suggestions?

    • Gigi, I think it’s very hard not to be a softy with our kids. My kids had to spend the night at my sister’s last night, since I’m working today (long story) and my middle child wasn’t happy about it. Needless to say, it was a tough night for me, even though I knew she was asleep and cozy in bed with her sisters.

      I doubt she’s waking because she’s thirsty. She’s waking because she isn’t getting through her natural sleep cycles without falling back to sleep without you. Before you do the cold-turkey Cry-it-out route (which may be necessary, but let’s see if we can avoid it…) try the Sleep Shuffle. It allows you to give your baby the comfort of your presence, while she learns how to get through that “partial waking” period of the sleep cycle.

      I would also introduce a lovey – a stuffed animal or blanket she can bond with that will be “you” when you’re not there. Place it between the two of you during naps, cuddle it with her during feedings, and let her start associating your smell and love through it. It will help her jump the gap on that part of the sleep cycle that is tripping her up. You can do this Gigi! There can be good rest for everyone. Hang in there, and let me know if I can help in anyway.

  76. So I have a problem maybe you could give me some advice on. Well actually me and my husband are the problem, just need to know how to fix it and where to start. My son is 2 years and 5 months old. We don’t have problems sleeping through the night. He will sleep all night long and when I don’t have to get up early for work, he will sleep late. It is getting him to sleep that we need help with. He will only fall asleep by himself if he is just wore out from playing. Any other time he wants to either rock with daddy in daddy’s recliner or lay on the couch with mommy. When he does either of those two, he doesn’t fall asleep instantly but once he does we take him and put him in his toddler bed where he stays until morning BUT his toddler bed is also in our bedroom because I think his room is too far away and I wont hear him over the bathroom fan, sound machine and humidifier that we sleep with! HELP!! Where do we need to start?!

    • Tiffany, it sounds to me as if he’s just gotten into the comfortable routine of having someone else put him to sleep. I would strongly encourage you and your husband to set some sleeping guidelines for him to follow. Firstly, I would read through the Sleep Shuffle and start doing that at night. Sitting with him in the room, but not rocking or letting him use you as his bed at first. He really needs to learn how to put himself to sleep at night. He won’t like this…but it really is best for him, and for you guys, for him to learn how to adjust his sleeping habits.

      Secondly, give him a longer routine at night. No tickling or playing, quiet music playing, a few books, I would avoid a bath if it gets him excited. Perhaps coloring, or you can rock him for a little while, getting his busy brain caught up with the rest of his body – that he’s TIRED and need to go to sleep.

      Thirdly, since he’s older, what if you tried a sticker chart? Create a chart and let him put a sticker on it when he lays in his bed at night while you (or your husband) sit next to him and falls asleep. Then in the morning, perhaps he gets a special breakfast, or to watch his favorite TV show, or some bonus to reward his awesomeness the night before. Something to motivate him to begin the shift. If he gets 5 days of stickers, or something, perhaps he gets a special gift or something. (Whatever would really make him excited and happy for working so hard.)

      Start with those things, and see how it goes. Let me know if I can brainstorm with you further! Be gently persistent, and you can see this ship start to turn around! :-)

  77. Our daughter is 10 wks old now. She naps for about an hr 3 times a day. Around 7pm we do bedtime. Bath, massage, pj’s, swaddle. My husband gives her a bottle and then she is asleep usually by 730. Sometimes she will go until 1-2am, othertimes as early as 11:30pm and is awake again. She us usually up to eat around 3-4 and then again at 6 and up for the day at 8am. Should we be doing something different with her? Not putting her to sleep with a bottle? Letting her nap in the evening agian and pushing bedtime back? We are also struggling with giving her a pacifier or not for naps or at night. Thanks for any incite!

    • Grace, sounds like you guys are doing great! I’m a fan of the pacifier, it helps babies to self-soothe and get back to sleep on their own. I’ve found that breaking the pacifier habit is a LOT less difficult than breaking a thumb-sucking habit. Plus, studies have shown using pacifiers can help reduce SIDS risk, so I would let her keep it. That said, you’re her mom and dad, so you’ll know what’s best in your situation. At her age, I would start concentrating on a few sleeping habits at a time. This article should get you started. When you feel it’s time, start the Sleep Shuffle at night. I think both of these will help you get her sleeping sorted out. Good luck!

  78. Brenda Martinez says:

    Hi! I am so glad I found this site! I’ve read most of the comments and have learned quite a lot. I still have questions and am feeling quite torn, guilty and desperate, so I am hoping you can help. My situation is I’ve fostered 4 bad sleeping habits and I know I need to wean my daughter off of them, but not sure how. . . My daughter 1. uses my nipple as a pacifier and won’t go to sleep unless she is latched on, 2. won’t stay sleeping unless I put her down when she’s in a deep sleep, 3. won’t stay sleeping unless she is swaddled (but she is just learning to roll over so I know she shouldn’t be swaddled, and 4. doesn’t like to sleep in her crib (she’s been sleeping in her bassinet in our room). This is what happens each night: My husband or I give her a bath, read her a story, feed her (usually a bottle, then breast because she won’t go to sleep without it), then wait till she’s in a deep sleep to swaddle her and put her down. We use a noise machine that plays ocean sounds. If she wakes up, I pick her up, she cries until I give her the breast again, then she immediately falls back asleep (so I know she’s not hungry, she just wants to pacify) and I put her down again. She won’t take a pacifier either. She will then sleep 5-6 hours, wake up for a feed, and go back to sleep for another 3 hours. I know this is good sleep (she’s not constantly waking up), but she won’t go to sleep with my husband or anyone else because she ‘needs’ the nipple. She’s cried with my husband for almost 2 hours (even with him holding and soothing her) before I break down and take her. Yesterday, we tried breaking just two of the habits because we thought it may be easier. So I gave her the breast and waited till she was in a deep sleep, but didn’t swaddle her and placed her in the crib. Well, she slept about 2 hours the whole night (1 hour, then two 30-minute increments)!! She was up from 1-6am fussing and just wouldn’t fall asleep- even started playing at one point (by herself). Part of me feels like there’s nothing wrong with what I’d been doing before because she goes to sleep fairly easily (with me) and stays sleeping for a long time. But part of me feels these are bad habits that will be harder to break later on. I know she HAS to sleep in her crib (she’s outgrowing her bassinet), and HAS to sleep unswaddled for safety. And if she remains dependent on my nipple for pacifying, neither my husband nor anyone else will ever be able to help with sleep/naptime, and when I go back to work it will be a big problem. So. . . I guess we have to do something about it. It seems mean to wean her off all 4 at the same time, but just the two didn’t work and I feel the picking up/nursing made it worse. And I also feel like she’ll have to go through this crying spell twice instead of once if we split it up. Should we just do it all and get it over with, or split it up, or just not do it at all?? She’s almost 4 months old, by the way and I’ve read this is the prime time to sleep train. Sorry this post is so long. Thank you for your time and help!

    • Brenda, don’t beat yourself up too badly about the sleep crutches. In those early months, we do what we have to do to get through. :-) You are right, though, that now is a good time to start changing some things. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a tough go at the beginning. Psych yourself up before starting, repeating what you said above – that this is best for EVERYONE, and that you’re determined to see it through. Then get some corded earplugs. They will take the edge off if there’s crying (and there probably will be). But she won’t be crying because she’s hungry, or feeling unloved, or hurting. She’ll just be crying because she’s mad and unhappy with the change. You, however, being the wiser older parents, can outlast her because you know a little bit more than she does, and you know this is best. (Personally, I hate hearing my kids cry for any reason, so the earplugs helped me stay rational. :-) )

      Let’s address the last two first. Firstly, start giving her happy quiet times in her crib where she can play with fun toys and safe books, while you sit beside her for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. The goal is to start changing any negative associations she has with the crib – that she sees it as a happy fun place to be, with mom or dad right by her side. Then read through this post and see how you can change the crib to help her natural sleeping preferences.

      Since she won’t take a pacifier, introduce her to a safe stuffed animal or taggie blanket she can bond with as a lovey. Hold it between you when she’s nursing, let her hold it when you’re cuddling, and let her start to associate your smell and comfort with the lovey. This will really help her at night, since she will feel she has a piece of you with her at all times. :-)

      Now to the two real toughies. These are going to be the hardest habits to break. She MUST learn to fall asleep without the nipple in her mouth. The first thing I would recommend is get her GOOD and DROWSY. Start making the distinction that nursing is for food, not for sleeping. This means keeping her awake during feedings anyway you can. (Warm washcloth on the cheek, stripped to the diaper and wrapped in a blanket, anything you can.) Then wrap her in a swaddle (or something she can’t get out of like this woombie) and lay her down in the bassinet without feeding. (Let’s start in the bassinet at night. Once she’s doing better with the no-nipple-thing, you can throw the other curve-ball at her (no bassinet). Plus, that gives you time to start introducing the crib as a happy place.)

      Start doing the Sleep Shuffle. It’s going to be difficult, but try to stick with it as best you can. Give yourself a small goal – that you’re going to give the first step 4-5 days of hard effort. Then let me know how it goes and we’ll make adjustments. We can do this! Nothing can’t be fixed!

  79. I need help! I have been researching and talking to other Moms and I just can’t figure out what to do. My 8 (almost 9) month old son will not sleep without being swaddled and without going down with a bottle. He is formula fed and takes 2 naps a day, both an hour or longer. He is just recently starting solids and eats one solid meal a day, other than that he only eats when he has his bottle to sleep. He is waking up 3-5 times every night and I am getting NO SLEEP. My biggest worry is that he isn’t getting proper rest either. Like I said, he won’t go down to sleep without being swaddled and having a bottle but I NEED to break these habits. He has reflux (very minor and we got it under control with thickened feedings) I’m thinking that taking a bottle in his crib may be irritating the reflux and is likely what is waking him, but he will only go back to sleep if I give him a bottle, he absolutely refuses a binky and gets frustrated when I try to rock him back to sleep. I have tried letting him cry it out- my heart can’t. I need to know how to wean him from being dependent on the bottle and the swaddle. HELP!

    • Brittany, you have been through it my friend. Firstly, since he’s had reflux in the past, I would angle the crib mattress up a bit. (I talk about that in this article.) That may help some. It does sound like he has some sleep crutches you need to replace. The good news is that you don’t have to leave him alone in the room to cry for hours. The bad news is that there are going to be tears because he’s not going to like the “no-mom-feed-hold” plan. :-) So if crying is difficult for you, arm yourself with some corded ear plugs. Then read through this article on the Sleep Shuffle and start with the first position for a week. Crying was tough for me, but I used this list to reinforce that she wasn’t hurt, hungry, or anything. She was just pissed at me. And that really helped me take an emotional step back and think to myself: I’m the Mom here, and I know what is best for you. I will sit beside you and calm you as much as I can, but I’m not going to feed you when I know you’re not hungry, you need to go to sleep.” and so on and so forth in my head. Hang in there Brittany! There is better rest around the corner. :-)

  80. Loved this! Couldn’t have said it better myself.
    I just want to comment about people who think that we are neglecting our baby while letting them cry it out. It’s not neglect, babies need to learn how to sleep, just like they need to learn how to do everything else: eat, talk, read etc. My son would cry in my arms while trying to put him to sleep every time. What’s that saying? He didn’t want me, he wanted to do it himself but just didn’t know how yet. I let him cry it out at 6 months. He is now 2 and is the happiest boy. He goes to bed with no fuss, wakes up happy. He comes to me numerous times throughout the day to give me a hug and cuddle. Neglect? No. You know what is neglect? Ignoring him now with my 4 month old daughter. Watching him play sadly alone while I try to rock her to sleep and hold her the entire time she naps, while he says “mommy come play with me”. But I can’t… The days when she sleeps well on her own, my son is so happy, hugs me contstantly through the day. The days when she doesn’t sleep well and I need to pay attention to her, I can tell I am neglecting him and he KNOWS it. I can’t continually do this, because my son is going to remember, my baby will not.
    It’s a fact. Babies need to learn how to sleep and we are responsible for helping them. It is much healthier for babies to sleep through the night than to constantly wake up. That being said. Obviously every one has their own problems and sometimes babies just don’t do it. I’m not saying crying it out is for everyone, I just wish people wouldn’t judge us saying we are neglecting our babies by doing this.

    Anyways! My 4 month old daughter constantly wakes from her naps to burp. Sometimes 1 or 2 times, sometimes 5 times. I have tried to let her cry it out but she will cry for an hour, only to wake up 20 minutes later and need a burp. I just can’t do that to her if she’s always needing to burp many times throughout a nap. She only nurses 5x a day and only takes her 5 mins each time. I also have a problem with having too much milk, getting mastitis a lot. I got it 6 times with my son, and 2 times already with my daughter. At 6 months i’m going to switch to formula and hoping this burping problem resides. (I’ve also tried cutting out gassy foods). Have you ever had any problems with this or know anyone?
    I’m also going to try this sleep shuffle once I’ve weaned her. I know she likes to hold my hand or arm while trying to sleep on her own, so hopefully I’ll be able to eventually make it to the door. Will probably be back here once I start for some tips :)

    • Thanks Jennifer for your thoughtful comment! Parents have to take a hard look and try to figure out how they want to “do” this parenting thing, and find a solution that works for the entire family. Those first few months are almost aways “toss out all the books and just do stuff to survive”. Somethings you reject, somethings you keep, and then keep trudging forward the best you can, changing and tweaking things along the way. It would be nice if there was an easy “everyone do it this way” formula…but life is seldom that neat and clean. :-)

      I can’t really give advice on whether to wean and switch to formula…It’s very possible formula can help with the gassiness – especially if it’s a protein issue. But it’s also possible you may have to go through a ton of formulas to find the right one, and once you wean, there’s no going back. (I don’t say that to dissuade you, but to tell it as it is.) If you decide it’s time to wean, I would begin with Good Start Soothe. It’s my favorite non-hypoallergenic formula for gassy/fussy babies.) Then start tweaking and trying from there. (Here’s Soothe on Amazon so you can see what it looks like.)

      And finally, good luck on the Shuffle! I’m very confident with this approach, and think that even if it takes a while, with the right adjustments it will do the trick. I mention it in the article, but Kim West is by far the most down-to-earth sleep expert I’ve ever met. I’ve read her stuff, interviewed her, and feel she has the golden ticket to happy sleeping babies. :-) If you want the full sha-bang, you can see her book here on Amazon. It’s wonderfully comprehensive and one of my favorite baby shower gifts :-)

  81. Thanks for the reply!
    Before I look into buying that book, is this technique used for both nighttime and nap time? I have a toddler running around at home and wondering if it will be easy to do with him. Maybe I should buy some movies for him to watch while I need to sit in the room during nap times?

    • Jennifer, one of the reasons I like the book is that it deals with sleeping issues up to age five. Many of the others require you to buy multiple books, but this is a one-stop-shop of good sleeping tips. I would do whatever you have to do to keep your toddler safely occupied while you’re sleep coaching the baby – so if that means some movies or iPad time for a little while, so be it. If you don’t think you can leave him alone in a room unsupervised (some kids are more curious than others) try to sleep train your baby while he’s down for a nap, or put him in his bed with some books and toys with instructions not to get out of the bed until you get him, etc. You’ll have to figure out how to keep him safely occupied while you’re working with his sibling – and that’s different with every family. :-)

  82. can u help me pls! I have 2 sons elder one is 6 yrs and younger one is 3. if they taking nap then they do not want to go to sleep at night. I want to know how much time they have totake nap? when they have no school they wake up at 10 and do not want to take nap and do not want to go to sleep at night . after 2 am they will sleep. what to do? pls give me some advice. pls. thanks .

    • Ripa, I would wake them up earlier in the day. It’s very common for the 6 year old not to nap, and 3 year olds will often drop their afternoon nap as well. So I would wake them up around 7-8 am in the morning, bracing yourself for a day with VERY grumpy children, and then put them to bed around 7-8 in the evening. Do that for a few days and they’ll be VERY ready for bed at bedtime, no more 2ams!

  83. My 14 week old was sleeping like a champ going into the holidays. He went to sleep at 8/830 every night and slept til 430/5am, fed and went back to sleep until 8:30.

    The week between Christmas and NYE was crazy and he didn’t get his daily naps, etc. Now, he won’t go to sleep without being held–before I merely had to lay him down and he would go to sleep on his own. And, he doesn’t go to sleep until 11pm! I am using our old routine (pre holiday week) and he is horrible!

    Give him more time to readjust or what?! I go back to work on 1/21/14, so I am nervous about these late nights and cranky baby!!! Help!

    • The holidays are a mixed bag, aren’t they? Good AND bad on the schedule! Good for a break…but hard to get back into a rhythm. Use the Sleep Shuffle method to get him used to falling asleep on his own again. Rock him and get him nice and drowsy, then put him down right at the cusp of sleep and sit beside him when he fusses for a bit.

  84. andrea ross says:

    Hello! Love this page and all the advice. I’m lucky in the fact that my 9 week old woke up one day and ecided he wanted to be on a schedule and finally sleep at night instead on all day (dumbstruck doesn’t even cover how I felt the first week lol). Anyway we are at 11 weeks old now and after reading your blog I have two concerns. First being that with my little ones acid reflux we have to hold him upright for 30 mins after he eats, (mostly an issue going down for the night when I top him off and his one feeding during the night since hes a wake up and eat baby intead of a eat to sleep baby), so hes usually alseep before we can lay him down. And secound when he naps he usually has to be held and soothed until hes completely asleep, even with a binky he spits it out as he falls asleep and then the world ends till he has it again. Which is funny cause he wont take it unless hes dozing off. I guess I’m just afraid I’m setting myself up for issues since he never falls asleeo on his own or without a round of fussy wimpers/cries. Any advice?

    • Andrea, those are great questions! Regarding the first one, I would consider letting him sleep in a baby bean bag or I would use my tips to safely incline the crib mattress. Try putting him there for a week and see how it goes.

      I think you’re instincts are right about the “setting yourself up for issues”. That is the path you’re currently on. You could try to soothe him to sleepiness, give him a binky (perhaps using a wubbanub would help hold in the binky?) and then start walking through the Sleep Shuffle with him, getting him used to being comforted beside you rather than ON you. Start there Andrea, and see how that goes for a few days!

  85. I am having trouble in the 2-6 time range. My son is 7 weeks and I do not expect him to sleep through the night at all, but 2-3 hr stetches would be nice! We do a bed time routine between 9-11 and he is usually asleep easily. From 11-2 he sleeps no problem, not a peep. But after that it’s up every 1-2 hrs until daylight. He naps during the day quite on schedule w out too much difficulty. I believe at night he may be falling asleep before getting too full. Also he wakes with gas and grunting a lot in the 2-6 am range only. By daytime it’s gone. Any suggestions?!?!

    • This may be a risk Jennifer, but I would try to dreamfeed him at 1:30 and see if that helps him push past the usual wake up. Sneak into his room at 1:30 and feed him – no talking, no diaper changes, no lights, as quiet as you can so he “dreams” right through the feeding. Then put him down again and see what happens. It’s risky because there is a chance he may “be up” for a few hours, but it’s worth trying I think. Do this for a few days, and then stop and see when he wakes up again. :-)

  86. Hi Heather!

    This website has been very helpful and I appreciated that you took the time to answer each question. I figured I would ask you mine to see if you had any advice!

    My baby girl is 6 months old and HATES to fall asleep. Once she is asleep at night, she has no problem sleeping all the way through – it’s just the process of getting her there. We put her down in her crib when she appears to be getting sleepy (but not all the way asleep) and she will whimper for a bit, but that soon turns into a scream. I have tried to stay in her room and soothe her from outside the crib in at attempt to avoid getting to the screaming level, but inevitably it will happen. Once she starts screaming, no amount of soothing will calm her down – we have to physically leave her room and walk around the house with her for a good 45 minutes before she calms down. Bedtime is turning into a 2 hour process and is EXHAUSTING.

    Any advice you might have would be welcome!

    • Anamarie, you have quiet the little stubborn baby on your hands!! It’s tough now, but keep in mind that when she’s older, she won’t be a sheep lead easily led into bad things, but will make her own decisions, that you can help guide her towards. (That’s what I focus on, anyway, with my Stubborn One. :-))

      The first thing I would do is to try to identify the cause of the crying: Is it the crib? Is it the process of being put down? Does she cry everytime she’s put down? or just in the crib? If it’s the crib, start putting her in the crib for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon and trying to play with her while she’s inside the crib. It’s possible she’s got a negative association with the crib. By playing with her, or letting her play in the crib while you sit beside her, you can start rebuilding her opinion of “The Crib” to a positive “I like being here” feeling.

      I would also start trying different sleeping positions with her. Does she hate the wide-open feeling of not being touched? Try putting her down on her tummy (SIDS is a very low risk at 6 months, and you can get an Angelcare Monitor if that concerns you.) Or use one of these suggestions to prop her safely up on her side and give her the feeling of being held. It can create a little more coziness to the cold stark crib.

      Start with those two things and then let me know how it goes. We’ll keep tweaking. :-)

      • Hi Heather!

        Thank you so much for your reply. I have started with your first step in identifying the cause of issue: she HATES falling asleep.

        As you suggested, I let her spend some time in her crib outside of nap time or bedtime, and she has no problems with it whatsoever. She will play and smile and lay there for a little while by herself. However, as soon as she realizes that either A. it is time to sleep (via low lights, noise machine, soft music, ect.), or B. she is feeling a little sleepy, that is when she loses it. We actually struggle to put her to sleep even when we are holding and rocking her.

        So – I suppose my real question is, how do we get her to associate falling asleep as a positive experience?

        Thank you so much for your time!

      • Anamarie, well it sounds like she and I could be sleep-sisters! I also hate going to sleep. (My 7 year old is similar, she says she “only likes sleep in the morning” lol.) I also think you’ve done a great job figuring out the root cause of her struggle. Did you try different sleeping positions for her? If so, what was the result? If you put her on her tummy and rubbed her back, and sat next to the crib, would she eventually peeter out? or escalate? Just want to get that answered before we go on to the next thing.

      • Haha! I LOVE what your daughter said – I would agree. The morning is truly the best time to sleep! :)

        Unfortunately, I have tried that and she escalates. She has strongly disliked tummy time since the first moment we tried it and does not enjoy being on her stomach at all.

      • Okay, Anamarie. I’m regrouping. I think your little girl may have hit the “separation anxiety” mark a little early. :) Firstly, I would introduce a lovey to her, if you haven’t already. This is a stuffed animal (something small enough to grab, but not too small to eat) or a blanket. It will help her cope with nighttime separation. Cuddle it with you whenever she’s being fed, refer to it and hold it next to her cheek when you’re rocking her. Soon it will start to smell like you, and she’ll start to associate your love with this little item. (Bella’s lovey had a little taggie ribbon she would finger while she was sleeping as a soother.)

        I would spend the next 5-7 days working on helping her build that attachment, let her sleep anyway possible. If that means you rock and sing her to sleep, so be it. A week of extra cuddles and lovey-bonding isn’t going to create big issues we can’t work on later. Then after you feel she’s bonding with the lovey, try the drowsy-but-awake strategy, leaning as far over to the “Drowsy” as you possibly can. :-) What do you think of this plan? (REALLY hoping you don’t tell me she already has a lovey…otherwise I’ve got some more research and reading to do! :-)

  87. Hi Heather! I’m so glad I’ve stumbled onto your site! A lot of your sleeping tips are very familiar to me since they were successful techniques I used to get my first child to sleep. I used the controlled crying just to readjust the slight tweak that crept into my daughters natural sleep pattern and although there was a bit of fuss, (From daddy and daughter- mum is definently the tough one!), it was well worth the effort. My darling daughter is now 2 1/2 with a 6 month old brother and she adores him to absolute pieces. I can’t emphasize how lovely that is (no sign of sibling rivalry yet!), but it’s been incredibly disruptive to any of my attempts to get some decent sleep into him, especially during the day. I’ve tried some controlled crying and he absolutely hates it. He loves being cuddled and held and seems to know exactly when you’ve left the room, even in his sleep, then wakes up promptly. I’ve been putting him in his rocking chair and rocking him, sometimes with a bottle or tucked in tightly with a wrap blanket and a dummy. I have no idea what I’m doing this time. My kids are as different as night and day. My daughter was a terrific sleeper with a natural routine that worked wonderfully and incredibly indepentant. My son is a terrific eater (read, devours everything and anything his sweet little eyes and hands can get hold of) but only plays by his own rules when it comes to sleeps. Any advice you could give me on how to get him to sleep independently with another child around would be fantastic. I feel like trying to live like this for another six months might be pushing it for me.
    Thanks!!

    • Sophie! I totally know what you mean! It’s amazing how different kids can be. :-) I would make sure you have a noisemaker in the room to help drown out household toddler noises. If your daughter likes feeling all maternal, it’s possible you could get her to help you by talking about how important his naps are, and letting her participate in the put-to-bed routine. That may help minimize disruptions, in that it gives her a special role to be quieter so he can nap.

      Elena (my 2nd) was similar in that she really preferred being held and was had (has!) a much stronger will. I started keeping a journal for 4-5 days and realized that if we put her down on her tummy, and used some of these crib-tricks, she would sleep a lot better. Also, you could also start using the Sleep Shuffle to help him feel more confident in sleeping by himself.

      As an FYI, I’m going to be offering a webinar class in a few weeks that will go deeply into the world of naps – outlining strategies, troubleshooting, and offering resources to help parents help their babies get better daytime sleep. If this interests you, you can find an email form inside my last post that will notify you when registration opens up. :-)

  88. My little boy is 9 months old at the end of this month and since the day he was born I have been unable to get him to nap without nursing him to sleep. I can’t let him CIO because of his eczema on his face and his habit (from the day he was born) to rub/scratch his face when he’s tired. He doesn’t know how to just fall asleep. I try reading books, soothing activities etc but the moment I put him down in the crib he cries and starts to rub and even pull his hair. He quickly transitions into a more intense cry where I have to pick him up and at this point nothing calms him down except nursing him. Funny thing is he doesn’t do this at night. I can put him down awake and he eventually falls asleep – I’m assuming it’s a combination of his sleep sack and darkness. He still wakes up at least 1-2 times a night and again only nursing will calm him down. Any suggestions as to how I can get my little boy to nap when he’s tired?

    • Vivian, I do have some thoughts on that – but they would be WAY to long for a comment. :-) I’m going to be teaching a webinar on napping on February 1st. I would encourage you to sign up for an email notification when the registration begins, it will lay out all the things I’m going to be teaching – including strategies and troubleshooting for all kinds of napping struggles. You can find the email sign up form inside this post.

  89. I like the tips, especially the one about not having a routine. I believe routine is very important. While reading up on sleep training, I stumbled upon this http://www.alternative-mama.com/a-letter-from-a-sleep-training-baby/ It’s a heartbreaking piece about sleep training from a baby’s point of view,

    It made me cry when I read it, and now I’m wondering if sleep training is really the right thing to do.

    • Thanks for sharing this Jenny. It’s a very interesting post. However, I think it’s important to remember that it is fiction. So although I appreciate the way it’s written, it comes across as somewhat emotionally manipulating. It takes every mothers worst fear – that our children will think they are unloved, and then creates a story that communicates that every time my baby cries and I don’t pick them up they feel the physical pain of rejection. That is, I think a stretch that is convenient for the agenda/philosophy of the writer, but not so helpful towards those mothers who are struggling with a baby who just cries and cries, no matter how quickly picked up.

      It’s an interesting piece of literature, that can be considered, but I’m not a huge fan of emotional manipulation for the sake of achieving a desired goal (“you are a neglectful bad parent if your baby cries and you don’t immediately pick him up”), and that’s how it mostly reads to me. She obviously feels her baby responds that way and has transformed that feeling into a prose-post that’s quite artistic. But using it as evidence on “how to parent”…? (Not sure if that was her intention, but that was how it felt to me.) Presenting both sides and leaving the emotions on the sideline would be more helpful, I think.

      Recently I’ve been reading medical studies and research that share just the opposite of what the author is claiming. A study done by child psychiatrist Dr. D.W. Winnicott on the emotional maturment of babies in “The Capacity to Be Alone” (published in her book The Maturational Processes and Facilitating Environment, and another study surveying how the pick-up-at-every-cry method actually backfires and hurts infant sleep patterns (as opposed to pick-up-with-certain-cries) in a study called “Behavior Characteristics and Security in Sleep Disturbed Infants Treated with Extinction” published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology by Dr. France. (Both of those are easily googled, if you’d like to read them.)

  90. Hi Heather!!! I first stumbled on your website looking for much needed advice when my now 7 month old was a few weeks old and now have arrived again :)
    Miss 7 month 2 weeks has been waking 1 – 2 times a night and then waking at 5am and talking away in her crib until around 6 when she starts to get cranky and wants up. At the moment she is away to bed at 6pm aprox. If not she becomes miss overtired (as we struck last night) and is a right nightmare to get down but if striking it right putting her to bed is pretty simple and she falls asleep on her own. When she wakes in the night I have only been offering water which she only takes a couple of mouthfuls of then a quick cuddle and back to bed ( when she was Ill with the flu however I was feeding her thru the night, thinking back this may be when the waking started ). The 5 am wake up has been going on for awhile now and because she is chattering until 6ish I don’t bother going in but this means her day starts at 5 and mine too as I always wake to her talking.
    Also she will nap generally great for her morning nap which is between 9 and 10 for 1-2 hours but the afternoon nap has always been a nightmare and often she refuses. I have now started putting her in her sleeping bag for both naps too as she just kicks all her blankets off otherwise and rolls around the bed.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated, this mum is heading back to work in a couple of weeks and isn’t sure she’ll cope on 4-5 hours sleep with bare minimum of routine :( Thank You in advance

    • Wow Louise! So glad to have you back! :-) Firstly, looking at the nighttime wakeups, make sure she’s really awake before you go in there. It’s very possible she’s transitioning through a sleep cycle and is in the “partial wakening” part. If you go in there too fast, you’ll flip it from “partial” to “full”. If she really is awake, go in and see if you can soothe her without the water, rubbing her back (or tummy). Don’t say anything at first (in case your voice stimulates her) then try some shushing. IF it escalates, pick her up and rock her to calm her down, then put her down again and give her a minute to wake up. The sleep shuffle is really helpful for these types of wake ups.

      As for the 5am wake up, I agree…that’s brutal. :-) One way you can try to break that habit is to set your alarm for a few days and sneak in there at 4:30am for a dream feed. Basically you pick her up and feed her without really waking her. So no diaper changes (unless you HAVE to), no talking or singing, just feeding and straight to bed. The hope is she will sleep later because her tummy is full. Obviously there’s some risk in that if she does get stimulated and wakes up…your day has started at 4:30. (If that happens, add a nap at 7:30.) But the pay off…that she learns to sleep later in the morning, is worth it. Do that for 2-3 days, and then don’t and see what happens. Hope this can help!

  91. Hi hope u can help me !
    My son is 16 months old a real happy funny cheeky. But good boy during the day ?!
    Night time he’s not a happy bunny ;(

    Wen he was a baby he settled himself so so well all the way up to 14 months
    At 14 months he discovered he could climb and jump out of the cot so naturally we had to remove the sides for his safety
    Since doing this. He needs one of us to sit with him till he falls asleep and is waking up so much in the night and each time we have to sit there till he asleep. This can happen up to 6/7 times a night. So we have to sit there about 20 mins a time. Which is not good for him having disrupted sleep and also hArd for us especially as my partner is full time wrk and I’m part time. Plus 12 weeks prego

    So we tried all sorts of methods and tonight decided to try the controlled crying. He has a child gate on his Door for his safety as we in a flat and he can gain access to a lot with out it we read a story and gave kisses and cuddles and left the room
    He got out of bed I returned him to bed saying it’s night time
    Again saying night time
    Again saying nothing
    Agin saying nothing
    Then let him cry for 5 mins
    Returned him to bed saying nothing
    Let him cry for ten min then returned him to bed
    ( breaking my heart )
    As he started crying agin he made him self sick every where so we had to stop turn on light and.wash and change him and clean the sick so as partner cleaned sick I sat next to his bed. And he fell asleep
    So this long story has a point
    1: what do u do in a situation like that
    2: is this going to happen regularly
    3: wen he wakes in night tonight what do I continue with sit my bed routine and not contact or. Controlled crying
    4 : do I start controlled crying again Tomoz. ? Please help
    A very tired. Emitinol mummy
    ;(

    • Nikki my friend! That’s so hard! I definitely think you are have the right idea, this really needs to change. With a new baby on the way, EVERYONE (including sweet big brother) needs more sleep. I would encourage you to try the sleep shuffle method with him, only using him in bed instead of a crib. Put him in bed and sit beside him while he falls asleep. (This should be easy, since he’s used to this.) Then move the chair slowly out of the room, doing what you’re doing putting him back to bed, without talking and giving stimulating. I’m wondering if it will go a bit easier this way (And avoid the vomiting) since instead of cold-turkey leaving the room, you’re slowly getting him used to the idea of being alone in the room at bedtime. Does that make sense? What do you think?

      • That’s what we have been doing since Christmas but to be honest it seems to hinder him more as he keeps getting up looking not relaxing into sleep ,, I’m happy go continue this. But do I do the same wen he constantly wakes. Through the night ? Some times he goes right off to sleep snoring then I get back to my room in bed manage to fall asleep and bam half hour later he awake and needing me and have to go through whole process again ;(
        ..I think to my self how long is this ment to go on for ?
        Thanks do much for ur advise

      • Nikki, the snoring is an interesting comment. Is it loud, like “grandpa” snoring? Is he frequently thirsty at night? Does he seem sweaty at all? or will sleep in strange positions?

      • Sorry for late reply he doesn’t like to drink his water in the night and no it’s just a light snore and sleeps either on his side or on his back this is the norm right. ? Thank u

      • All babies have favorite sleeping positions, so it’s entirely possible he likes sleeping on his side or back, and that’s just fine. If he prefers his side, follow the “U shape” instructions in this post, but instead of making a “u”, make two parallel lines, one to prop up one of his sides, and the other to keep him from sliding.

  92. So i have a 5 month old who just sprouted and tooth AND learned to roll over but shes not displaying the teething signs and rolling over happens AFTER shes already awake and crying as if shes doing it on purpose to get me to come back..just want to say that disclaimer first…

    My baby cries immediately when i put her down..fully rested, lots of good naps, nurses before bed but bam immediately its a fight. I do the one minute two minute, but she only sooths for like a second and WHILE i am soothing her she starts screaming again. No whimpering here. And then she gets worse because at some point i need to walk out rite? Whether its right away or a minute of soothing shes pretty much crying the whole time. Then that process takes 2+ hours and combined with the 2 times a night shes also waking up i get no sleeep… So theres that

    Cry it out means i wait til shes shaking and beside herself (happens within ten minutes) and im also crying and feel like the most horrible person ever. So ya simple as that it doesnt work.

    The only thing that works HALF the time is nursing to go back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night, but nursing before bed does nothing so yeah..

    I have no solutions. I dont wanna have her nurse every time she wakes up, i want her to learn to fall asleep on her own, supposedly she needs all this sleep at night but during months 3-5 when she went to bed at 10, woke up at 3 to nurse, then woke up at 8-9 am she was the best and most consistent. Now i have to do this routine earlier because im back to work and the whole thing just fell apart. HELP.

    • Kelly, firstly I would ditch everything and start with a fresh new approach. This is a VERY tough age, so don’t think it’s “just you”. :-) Firstly, if you haven’t introduced her to a lovey, I would recommend giving her a small stuffed animal or a blanket that she can begin to bond with. Everytime you feed her, let her hold it close to both of you. Everytime she goes down, make sure it’s right next to her. The idea is that you want this to become an extension of yourself, so when you’re not immediately with her, she can still smell you and be comforted.

      Also, start giving her 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon of playtime in the crib. You either play with her inside the crib, or sit beside her as she plays. This is to help remove any negative associations she may have with the crib, and say “Hey, this crib isn’t such a bad scary place after all!”.

      For the next week, I would soothe her anyway you can when she wakes, without nursing. So if you need to rock her to sleep, whatever you need to do. The skill we want to re-work here is the “nursing to sleep habit”. Of course, if she starts getting into that “hyper-hysterical” cry zone, go ahead and nurse her.

      See how that goes after a week, and if she seems calmer and is doing better, you can start working her through The Sleep Shuffle. This encourages her that you are right beside her in the crib. But until she’s okay with being set down next to you in the crib to sleep, it won’t work. That’s why I suggest we start with the lovey, the happy crib time, and the nursing-to-sleep change. What do you think?

  93. HI!!! My baby is 4 months old and he is a terrible sleeper.
    I have the worst time getting him to nap, and then at night he will wake up after 3/4 of feeding him. I’m exhausted, and I understand that in order for him to get a good night sleep he needs to rest during the day, but it seems impossible. I’ve started the routine of FEED, PLAY, NAP but he just will make a 30 minute nap and that’s it.
    At night I follow the same routine since he was born, massage, bath and feeding him. Sometime he falls asleep while breastfeading, sometimes he doesn’t. If he doesn’t I burp, cuddle and then put him to bed with his safety blanket, pacifier and sleep sound… he sleeps fine but then after 3 hours… he wakes up again. What can I do? Should I still feed him? I tried feeding more during the day, but he vomits a lot.
    Another thing is that 5 days ago he started to wake up all wet, I tried changing the size of the diaper, but he still gets wet.
    What do you suggest? Is there hope?

    • Tere, firstly it’s very common for 4-5 month olds to go through a “What the crap!” stage in sleeping. :-) So you’re in good company. A few thoughts for you….

      1. Concentrate on the nighttime sleep first. Don’t nurse him to sleep, make sure he stays awake for the entire feeding, then rock and get him good and drowsy, and then put him down “sleepy but not sleeping”. Follow these instructions for the Sleep Shuffle – when he wakes up at night, sit where you were at night and start the process over.

      2. While you’re working on his nighttime sleep, do everything you can to get him to nap, don’t worry to much about the napping schedule, this can come later. I’m teaching a webinar class on napping in a few weeks, you may find it helpful. Sign up here and I’ll email you when the registration doors open for the class. The only thing I would try hard NOT to do during the day is to nurse him to sleep. That needs to be the first sleeping crutch you work on breaking. You need to be sure his tummy is full. Strip him to his diaper and wrap him with a blanket, blow gently on his face, use a warm washcloth on his cheeks…anything to keep him awake and nursing. You want him to be awake to say “All done mom!” and not “I fell asleep but I’m not full!”.

      3. The soaking through…you can double diaper him at night, purchase the next size up (sounds like you tried this one?) or purchase some overnight diapers. See if those help with the soaking problem.

      I hope this can help!

      • Heather Thanks FOR YOUR HELP!!! Yesterday was a total disaster again, I will definitely try all your advices.
        1- I will do that. When he wakes up at night should I feed him? If I pick him up he will start screaming.
        He usually goes to bed at 830/9,then he wakes up at 12/1230- 330/4 -6 30. After that it’s mission impossible to get him to bed, today I struggled until 10 am, and now it’s almost 2 hours and he is still a sleep. Yesterday he did the same.
        2- Go it, I won’t nurse him to sleep (today I did that) and urgently sign up for your seminar.
        3- Night diaper plus another one, soaking problem solved :)

        Thanks again!

  94. What do I do if I can’t lay my baby in her crib because me my husband and 3 year old and 11 month old all sleep in the same room . And my lo just got out of the hospital so she is very clingy to me and won’t sleep with out me

    • Shannon, that’s a great question! I would find a safe-cosleeper that lets you snuggle her right next to the bed, but protects her from extra blankets or getting rolled over on (tragic, but it happens). Here’s a safe co-sleeper on Amazon, as an example. The option we chose for the first few months was to have a bassinet next to the bed.

      Also, keep in mind that if your baby is very young, and since she’s just out of the hospital (at any age) this isn’t the time to try to do any sleep training. Just snuggle and survive any way you can. Your expectations should be very low: feed the baby, sleep, putter around the house…and that’s about it. :-)

      Once she gets older, and everyone’s all healed up, then you can start thinking more seriously about encouraging better sleeping patterns. But for now, just relax, and take the moments as they come. :-)

  95. Hi heather,
    My son first started off sleeping in a swing due to reflux and it worked great. We moved around the time we was 5 months and he outgrew his swing so he started sleeping in between my husband and I. He loves to nurse to sleep. We do have a routine with bath, bottle then book time if he hasn’t fallen asleep he likes to nurse. When he falls asleep sometimes we move him to the crib but it never lasts. When he was younger and we tried (6mo) he’d last until 2-3am. He’s a 9pm on the dot sleeper. He gets up around 830-9am every morning too. He occasionally wakes in the middle of the night and wants to nurse. I give in bc I’m so tired. How can I get him to stay in his crib? My husband and I want our bed back! Thank you

    • Kristine, I think I’m going crazy…I wrote this long reply to you, and was just about to turn off the laptop and call it a night…only to see that it’s disappeared. I’m hoping that my computer is being tricky…but just in case, I’ll do my best to recreate my original reply (sorry if this is repeated somewhere!)

      You’ll want to do the crib transition in stages. Stage 1: happy playtime in the crib-room during the day. Play with him there during the day, do all his diaper changes there, hug and cuddle him there, you want the room to become familiar to him. After a few day start Stage 2: napping. Start doing the Sleep Shuffle with him during the day, getting him used to napping there, but still cosleeping with him at night as usual. Part of him learning to sleep alone, is being able to self-soothe. This means you’ll also want to help him break the “nursing to sleep” habit. Nursing to sleep is one of the sweetest parts of newborn hood, but eventually it’s the enemy of good family rest. Try to keep him awake during the entire feeding (stroking his cheek, blowing gently, a warm washcloth on the cheek) you want to put him down sleepy, but not sleeping.

      Once he’s started to get to used to napping in the crib, I would start the transition to the crib at night, doing the Sleep Shuffle at night as well. The only difference here, is I would add a step where you are actually co-sleeping with him for 2-3 nights (only) by adding a mattress or something on the floor and sleeping next to the crib. Then on the 2-3rd night, sit in the chair and follow the rest of the steps.

      I would strongly encourage you pick up a copy of Good Night Sleep Tight. The book has a chapter dedicated to co-sleeping, and it is an excellent trouble-shooting guide when you need one. (And you almost always have to do some troubleshooting. No two kids are alike!) Hope this can help you Kristine! Just remember, once you switch to the crib, you should never go back to the bed. You’ll need to stick with it until he’s got the rhythm of it. Otherwise, you’ll just confuse him. So make sure he’s doing well with the naps during the day before hitting the nighttime sleep.

  96. Jacqueline says:

    My 10 month old is a good sleeper… sleeps at night for 12-13 hours. He only has 1 nap a day (from 11.30am to 2-2.30pm). He’s goes to bed around 7.30pm-8pm.

    it’s all good except… that he only nurses himself to sleep. At night if he’s not quite asleep when finished nursing, i can put him in bed and he cries for 1-2 mins and then talks himself to sleep.

    BUT during the day it’s a different story! I have tried putting him to bed sleepy, tired after nursing but he stands up and cries. There is no point me staying in the room since it makes him absolutely mad…

    since this is his only nap during the day, i don’t want to make a huge battle out of it. Should i keep at this? Will he just ‘grow’ out of this stage? any suggestions would be very helpful!! Thanks!

    • Jacqueline, I can definitely understand what you’re saying about not wanting to make a huge battle out of it, especially since his single nap is a pretty good length and he’s sleeping well for you at night. My thought is if you’re happy with the current situation, I would leave it be. He may grow out of it. The question is, if he doesn’t, is this schedule okay with you? You don’t have to stop nursing him to sleep if it’s working for your family. There’ no need to push a change just because it’s not matching the “usual” way of doing things. If it works for you and it works for him, I would just let it be. If at some point, you decide this isn’t working (his single nap is shorter, and he seems overtired, or he’s snacking all day long) then perhaps the battle may be worth it, but it’s totally your call. :-)

  97. Hi Heather, i am new to your blog as I m trying to seek help from various resources for my struggling baby girl sleep. She was born 6 weeks early … She was a great sleeper till 4 months but suddenly she changed her routine. She is catnapper whatever I m trying to do still she is taking 30 min naps, have tried CIO but one week it worked ur the second week she stopped crying ..I let her play till her nap time end steno grabbed her but by the time I grabbed her it’s already her second nap time. I fed her and immediate she slept 30 min then again same thing happened. At night time she was agood sleeper she slept straight 7 pm to 4pm but after that it’s impossible to make her sleep.. But now she is always cranky throughout the night. Doctors calledit night terrors. Can you help me .. Or just I have to let my baby be fussy all the time … Please help me

    • Kanchan, one thing to remember is that since your precious girl was a preemie, her brain thinks she’s 6 weeks younger than she actually is. Even though she was born early, developmentally she’s 6 weeks behind all the other babies her age. (She will eventually get caught up, don’t worry!) I mention this because it’s important that you don’t have wrong expectations. Always look at the milestone, sleeping, eating expectations of a baby 6 weeks younger than her current age. It will help prevent frustrations, or feeling afraid when she doesn’t do some things as fast as everyone else her age (including sleeping).

      I’m actually going to be addressing “The catnapper” in my webinar on nap training coming up. I’ll be going into some detail on how to overcome that blasted 30 minute line that causes so many babies to wake up prematurely. If you’re interested, you can fill out an email request form inside this post and I’ll email you as soon as the registration doors open. (Which is soon, I’m finishing things up this week.)

      In the meantime, try working through the Sleep Shuffle at night. If it is night terrors, it will help comfort her that you’re always close by, while at the same time avoid building any sleep crutches you have to break later on. Hope this can help you Kanchan! You’re doing great. Things will improve!

  98. I have a almost 9 month old baby. She has alwaysbeen a good nnap perbut asince about 3 months old has been a terrible sleeper. She wakes up every half hhour to an hour for the first 2 to 3 hours of sleep. She goes to be between 7 and 8 when shesstarts showing signs of being sleepy. I rock andnurse her and sing to her. She usually unlatches a few minutesbefore actually falling asleep. I try to out her in gher crib before she’s 100% asleep. She iusually nurses around 1130 then sleeps until between 230 and 330 then sleeps until 730 or 8. She is Teething but I can’t figure out why she sleeps better the second half of the night the first. She was waking up only once a night and then started this pattern with eating twice about a month ago. I’m so tired. I tried CIO but instead of going to sleep she gets more and more worked up. I’m at my wits end. Please help!

    • Kate, you poor thing! I’m amazed you were awake enough to type your comment! The first thing to comes to my mind is to make SURE she is 100% finished eating. Give yourself a good hour if you have to, to make sure that she is as full as she can be and won’t want more. The every hour-to-half-hour makes me think she may be snacking. Secondly, you may want to call your doctor and run this change by his experienced ears, just to make sure he does’t see anything we’re missing. :-) Thirdly, she could be waking because of the teething pain. This article gives some teething remedies you can try before bed.

      • Thanks for responding Heather. I plan on talking with her doctor whenwe go for her 9 month check up in 2 weeks.

        I think she is eating enough before going to bed. She isn’twaking up looking to eat in the beginning of the night. When I go in and pick her up she immediately settles in for me to rock her back to sleep. She usually only eats once over night sometimes twice. She usually just wants me to rock her back to sleep. She sleeps much better whenn she’s in my bed with mebbut I don’t sleep as well.

        I’m thinking a big part of it is teeth. It’s been much worse since she started cutting teeth but started at about 3 months old. She was sleeping from 9pm to 5am for almost 3 weeks when she hit her 3 month growth spurt and it’s been like this ever since. I will definitely check out the link for Teething remedies. Thanks again.

      • That sounds like a good plan, Kate! I would also recommend starting to wean her away from the rocking over the next several weeks. Getting her used to slower, then shorter, then sitting still, etc. So that there’s no drastic changes. (Hope that makes sense…)

  99. Our little man is 9 months old. He was an amazing sleeper from about 6 weeks until he was around 6 months old. Then he started waking up every 1.5 – 2 hours at night. He was born with a blockage in his urethra that caused major problems with his ureters, bladder, and kidneys. We were told he will likely have kidney failure when he gets older. :( With all of this going on I was too afraid to let him cry it out. I would nurse him and he would go to sleep (naughty, I know) and as soon as we would lay him down he would completely FREAK out. It got to the point where he would only sleep if he was being held or he was finally so exhausted he would sleep for a short amount of time in the rock n play. I finally got to the point of being so exhausted that, a couple weeks ago, we decided to finally let him cry it out. It’s been VERY hard, as I always wonder if he’s waking up because he’s really thirsty all the time (even though his doctor reassured me that is not likely the case). After 4 days of him crying for over an hour, I gave up. Feeling defeated and still extremely exhausted. We went right back into the same thing every night. Nurse to sleep. Lay him in the crib. He wakes up ticked off. Pick him up. Cuddle, rock etc. He goes back to sleep in our arms. Lay him down again. Repeat all of the above.

    EXHAUSTING.

    So this week, we started letting him CIO again, This time, I feel like it’s pretty successful (so far) Tonight he only cried for about 20-30 minutes before falling asleep. I do have some questions though…

    He usually sleeps anywhere from 45 minutes up to 4 hours. When he wakes up after 45 minutes I’m at a loss of what I should do. Do I let him CIO again? Do I nurse him? Pick him up?

    If it’s been at least 4 hours I will usually nurse him.

    The other thing is, this week, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, he poops when he’s crying it out. I don’t know about it until he’s fallen asleep and I go in to check on him. Has anyone else experienced this? Is he straining too hard when he’s crying? Is he scared? Or is he simply on a really bad pooping schedule? (We see his Ped in a about a week and I’ll ask him as well)

    Sorry this is so long, and thanks in advance for your responses.

    • Kim, I don’t blame you! With all those health struggles, I’d want to snuggle that man every night too! If he wakes after 45 minutes, I would go in and soothe him, rub his back, however you’ve found is the best way to soothe him, and see if you can get him to fall back asleep. If it’s obvious after 30 minutes (again, talking about the daytime), walk out of the room for 60 seconds, then come in all smiles and announce that naptime is over! Then watch use cues and put him down when he seems sleep again (which could be anywhere from 45 minutes later to 2 hours…depends). The leaving the room is meant to communicate that naptime is over when Mommy comes in and says it over, and not because he wore you down.

      At night, I would just try to snuggle him back to sleep, sitting next to him and soothing him with shushing, and strokes, and other ways. As for the pooping, I’m not sure if that should be something to be concerned about or not. I’d definitely bring that up to your doctor. I would also talk to him about the sleeping issues, and get his take on it as well. With your son’s medical history, it’s important he be kept in the loop. Hang in there Kim, you are doing a GREAT job as his mother. He’s very lucky. (hug)

  100. These are great tips Heather! Very in-depth and varied steps to sleep-train. We actually had someone write to us asking how to reverse her mistake of having their 3-month-old sleeping with them on the bed, since as a newborn they slept through 7 hrs straight and only just now refuses to sleep in their crib. Dr. Rutherford (clinical psychologist) suggested that that long of a stretch can attributed to residual exhaustion in some babies, but that they usually do need to eat every 3-4 hrs that early on: http://conversationswithmymother.com/how-do-i-get-my-baby-to-sleep-in-the-crib-rather-than-in-my-bed/ . Hope this helps soothe some anxiety!

  101. HI,
    I need some help, my 20 month old girl is not sleeping much anymore. Not that she has ever been that great, but it has gotten worse. She falls asleep on her own in her cot, i leave her wide awak and she falls asleep, no issues, same with nap times. I did sleep training with her and so she can soothe herself to sleep. But she wakes a number of times at night. It used to be just once at about 1am and then at 5am, but now it is almost every hour from say 10/11pm. I am exhausted and she is also now asking for a bottle when she wakes. Which i don’t give her, just water. And it is not as though she is crying, she calls for me, and if i don’t come then she starts crying. I am at my wits end, she often wakes her brother who is a wonderful sleeper and goes right back, but i am exhausted and need some sleep now. Why does she keep waking and why can’t she just go back to sleep like she usually does on her own. She was a sick baby and we weren’t able to do sleep training early, her Silent reflux was only discovered at 9 months and an ear issue that was then operated on at 16 months. After that operation she started sleeping well, pretty much through. but only for 2 months and now she is waking more then ever. Wht can i do?

    • The first thing I would do, Steph, is call your doctor and get her physically checked out – especially with her previous health issues, I think a doctor’s input (or two) would be very valuable. Since she can self-soothe, the million dollar question is “What is waking her up?” Start with your doctor. Let me know what he says, and then we’ll go from there. :-)

  102. I have a 4 month old son who has NEVER fallen asleep on his own! Since the day he was born..he’s always relied on us to “put” him to sleep, either by rocking, walking around, nursing, etc. Once he’s asleep the only way to keep him asleep during a nap is to rush over to the swing and put him in it while trying to make it rock at the same time as put the tray down and push buttons to turn it on. At night he nurses til sleepy and if we put him in his napper (where he sleeps in our room) while hes just drowsy he immediately gets wide awake and wont go back to sleep until daddy gets him and rocks him to sleep…then he can be put in the napper where he may sleep from 11-2. He then wakes up to nurse and stays in bed with me all night. He will sleep forever as long as he’s being held and warm but as soon as hes moved away from your body he wakes up and is wide awake again until he is so sleepy he cant stand himself. I’ve tried putting him in the crib, pack n play, bassinet…nothing keeps him asleep for any length of time..its just little catnaps that give him enough energy to last another hour or so…i’ve tried putting him in his crib..not really wanting to leave him SCREAMING for long as im not sure what age the CIO method really should be started. Just kind of at a loss right now…i understand at 4 months a nursing baby may not sleep all night..but i really dont want a toddler sleeping with me all night long…hes such a light sleeper any bit of movement in the middle of the night wakes him up and then he wants to nurse all over again..just using them as pacifiers..which is one thing that he will not take btw!

    • Ashley, first of all, you’ve done a GREAT job as his parents. You have given him all that he needs, as lovingly and patiently as you can. That meant a lot of sacrifice and struggle, but you’ve done it and you’ve gotten through. The good news is that 4 months is a great time to start teaching him how to do some of these things by himself.

      Reading through your comment, these are the the issues that popped up:

      1. Needs to be in a swing/rocked
      2. Cosleeping, but not necessarily because you want to
      3. Catnapping
      4. Not sleeping through the night

      Regarding the swing: start slowing down the swing so it’s barely moving at all when he’s sleeping. Then do a few days when you turn it OFF once he’s asleep. Then do a few days when you put him in the swing, but don’t turn it on at all. The idea here is to try to change things just slightly so he barely notices, then get him used to that…then change something else slightly…you see?

      As for being held, we discovered with our Elena that she just needed to feel tightly constrained, like she was in the womb. Here are some of the tricks we used effectively with her in the crib to “recreate” that feeling of being held, even though she was in her crib. Give some of those a try.

      Sleep begets sleep, so usually when I’m dealing with catnappers, the first thing I encourage is to help get the nighttime sleeping patterns improved a bit. After you’ve seen a little improvement in the rocking/swinging thing, try working through the Sleep Shuffle at night.

      Finally, I am going to be teaching a webinar on the 8th called Napping Know-How: Learn to Gently Coach Your Baby Towards Better Daytime Sleep. I’m not quite finished setting up all the details, but if you subscribe to the Incredible Infant newsletter, I’ll send out an email when the registration doors open. The class will go over all kinds of napping issues, including how to overcome the catnapper. :-) Hope this can help!

  103. My 13 week old does great going to sleep. We have a bedtime routine (bath, book, bottle) then I put her down while drowsy but not completely asleep between 7:30 & 8pm. She falls asleep on her own with no problems. Our issues happen at 1 or 2 am when she wakes to feed. She takes 4-5 oz in 5-10 mins, so I know she’s hungry . I keep the lights dim & have as little interaction as possible but she will NOT go back to sleep. She is wide awake, happy & playful. As soon as I lay her down she cries & will not self sooth. She will frequently stay awake until 5 or 6 am. She tries to sleep all day but I limit naps to two 1.5-2 hrs & one 45 min to 1 hr nap. How do I get her back to sleep without waking my 3 year old? She wants to party like a rock star from 2-6am & this momma can’t party that hard anymore!

    • Katie, I would let her sleep more during the day. Your party girl has her nights screwed up. :-) 13-week olds usually have three naps a day – a morning nap, an early afternoon nap, and then a shorter late afternoon nap that usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour. I’m actually going to be posting an article on this topic this weekend, so if you’re a subscriber you’ll get it in your Inbox. :-) See if you can get her sleeping a bit more during the day and see if that helps.

  104. For the love of all that is chocolate i need your advice!! Im a sahm and my so works nightshift. Our 9mo babygirl is killing me!!!! I can never get her to sleep till no earlier than 1AM!!!! I can’t do the cio thing because even if im in there just soothing her, she cries so hard she starts to hyper venilate(sp) within ten minutes!!! The worst part is, I have horrible insomnia. The later she stays up means I stay up even later!! So i wind up sleeping till she wakes me up and by then half the day is gone!! I haven’t taken any sort of medicine for it since i got pregnant so i cant take anything now or else I wont wake up with her. I can’t fix her sleep schedule unless i fix mine first it seems!! Ive been begging my so to let me take a melatonin on one of his off nights to try to get things started and hes finally agreed to do so this coming weekend (i think cuz he knew i would kill otherwise). Do you have any advice till then?!?! I feel like i havent slept in eons >.>

    • For the love of all that is chocolate!! My goodness, I definitely can feel the gravity of your situation now! To swear by chocolate is a sacred thing… I will do my best to uphold this heavy responsibility! :-)
      http://incredibleinfant.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?paged=1#comments-form
      I would recommend working through the Sleep Shuffle with your little girl, soothing her and sitting with her as you slowly build up her confidence that you are always with her, even if you’re not RIGHT THERE. There’s hope Scy! Give that a try for a few weeks and let me know how it goes. Be gently persistent. It may be difficult at the beginning, but it does work. :-)

      If she starts to get into that “hyperventilate” state, pick her up and soothe her so she’s calm again. Bop her up and down, whispering in her ear, etc., calming her and getting her drowsy. Then sit next to her and sing her songs, or once-in-awhile, stroking her hand (as long as it doesn’t get her too worked up). Smile at her, and give her a reassuring face, that this is okay, and you’re going to sit with her while she sleeps.

  105. Hi, i have a 4 month old son that has never, not once, fallen asleep on his own since the day he was born. He has always been rocked, nursed, or swayed to sleep. We’ve tried putting him down drowsy, we’ve put him in his crib and left him crying, tried to be calm and reassuring, but he just wont give in. I’ve left him in the crib crying until i start to feel guilty and go get him up and by the time i walk from his room to the living room he’s asleep. I put him back down he immediately wakes back up and is so ill he cant stand himself. The only time he sleeps is if he’s being held or sometimes in his swing (you have to put him in the swing almost completely asleep and when sitting him in it, you have to keep it rocking while closing the tray and pushing the buttons all at the same time!). At night he sleeps in a rock n play beside our bed and he has to be rocked to sleep and then quietly put in there where he may sleep for 4 hours or only 30 minutes it really just depends on how deeply he was asleep when laid down! Then he wakes up and goes to bed with me to nurse. Any advice? Im not that stressed about it..but also dont want a toddler sharing a bed with mommy and daddy..or our 2nd child may be our last ;-)

    • Ashley, my first suggestion is to start having some playtime in the nursery room with him every day. Perhaps 15-30 minutes in the morning and 15-30 minutes in the afternoon, where he sits inside the crib and you play with him, or let him play while you sit next to him. You want him to start enjoying the nursery, and get more familiar with the crib as a place he doesn’t mind hanging out in.

      My second suggestion is to start working on getting him to sleep in your arms without rocking. So instead of cold-turkey putting him in the crib, let him sleep in your arms, only don’t rock him. After you’ve done that for a few nights, I would consider doing your co-sleeping on the floor of his nursery with him for 2 nights (just two!) on a mattress or something, so he experiences sleeping in the room with you for a few nights. Then the next 1-2 nights, put him in the crib, and sleep next to him on the floor. And then start the sleep shuffle and go from there. Hang in there, friend!

  106. margarita says:

    Co-slept from the first day. 6 years later still do… Love it. Never had to struggle wit the bed time routine.
    Her smell and warms of her body is so presious!
    Everyone is different, indeed.

  107. This is an amazing post. I couldn’t agree more with all the points you’ve made. Now if you could just send it back in time 5 1/2 years so I read it then, that would be great. ;)

  108. My son just turned 4 months. He usually sleeps 10 hours at night in a bassinet in our room. I usually nurse him to sleep. Not sure how to with out waking him up. He just passes out. If he doesn’t fall asleep while nursing we have to bounce him to sleep on an exercise ball. This is horrible! It can take 15 minutes or more until he is asleep. We also do this for his naps, but with his naps, if we set him down he wakes up either right away or 30 minutes later. If I’m holding him for his naps he will have two, two hour naps. We need to stop bouncing him, transfer him to his crib, and get him to go DOWN for a nap. My question is should we do it all at once, or just one problem at time? If we tackle one at a time, where do we start? Also, thank you ahead of time.

    • Jerrica, the good news is that nothing is in stone. These things can be tweaked and changed. :-) I would start with one thing, and then move on towards the others. (It’s less overwhelming to everyone.) But of course, if you’d rather go all-in, you certainly can! You know your baby and your situation best.

      Why don’t you start with the “nurse to sleep” side of things. Just work on keeping him awake during feedings, so you know he’s 100% full. Then let him fall asleep in your arms (don’t worry, that’s next) and once he’s sleeping, sneak over and see if you can put him down and let him sleep without being touched. (You may need to lean waaaay over the crib, so there’s less of a “putting down” feeling.)

      I’m finishing up the details on my Napping Webinar where I’m going to talk about things like this more extensively. If you’re interested, make sure you’ve subscribed to the Incredible Infant newsletter and I’ll notify you when registration is open. Hope this can help you Jerrica, you’re doing a great job!

  109. my son is 8 months today and he has been teething since he was 3 months and started having alot of trouble falling asleep and he would only fall asleep when i nursed him, now hes 8 months and he still has a hard time falling asleep because he is still teething, he is not a grumpy baby to fall asleep he doesnt get fussy he just wakes up and rolls around everywhere wining but he still only gets comfortable when i feed him, and i recently found out about sleep training. i work til 10:30pm and my son will not go to sleep if im not home and not only because he wants to eat because he will just want to be up with me, he hates being swaddled and doesnt like being held like a baby (hes been that way since he was about 2 1/2 months, in your opinion what can i do to help him to start putting himself to sleep?

    • Alma, have you seen my article on the Sleep Shuffle? I would read through that article and consider whether that might be a good thing to try for a few weeks. I would start there, and then let me know if I can do anything else to help! It will take persistence, but it’s possible for everyone to get better rest. :-)

  110. I have read so many books and articles on line regarding sleep training. My daughter is 6 1/2 months old and wakes every 2 hours during the night. She has also been refusing to nap in her crib for the past 1 1/2 months. She would only nap for 35 minutes at a time in her crib. We put the swing away when she was 4 months old but got it back out 2 weeks ago so that she would get some sleep during the day. With my first 2 children CIO worked great. They cried for about 40 minutes and then fell asleep and slept through the night. With this child she’ll scream hysterically for about an hour, fall asleep and then wake up every hour or so and cry for 30-40 minutes. I gave up on CIO with her. I put her to bed awake but drowsy. I usually sing to her for a couple minutes until she falls asleep. If I leave before she falls asleep she gets hysterical. Sometimes I have to actually hold her hand. When she wakes up every 2 hours the only thing that gets her back to sleep is nursing. I’ve tried just singing and giving her a pacifier but that won’t settle her. I am getting SO exhausted. I don’t know what to do. Why won’t she sleep longer than 2 hours? I have a good milk supply. How do I teach her self soothe? The longer I wait to respond to her at night the more worked up she gets and the harder it is to get her back to sleep. And she wakes the older kids up if we let her cry too long.

    Any advice? I’ve tried everything with this baby. I’ve even tried letting her sleep with me.

  111. It’s 5 am and I didn’t read through all the comments so please forgive me if my questions have already been answered. My 9 month old is refusing to sleep train. She cries for hours if I try CIO, and even modified CIO doesn’t work because the second I put her down she’s awake and screaming more. And those are the nights she might actuall sleep using a method. She’s just learned to pull herself up so she usually just climbs up on her crip and bounces until she’s completely exhausted and THEN screams for hours as I try to get her back to sleep. I make sure she has a clean diaper, is fed and warm and calm. We have a routine, (dim room, bath every other night, book, singing and white noise with a fan to drown out other sounds like the bathroom and kitchen as the next two rooms by hers) and before I tried this sleep training she actually was a great sleeper! She would fall asleep after about 10 minutes, sleep for 3 hours, nurse, then sleep through the night. Naps were 1 to 2 hours with no problems. The only problem was that she was only falling asleep in a mai tai baby carrier while I walked and occasionally would sleep for her dad while he paced with her. I’ve stuck to my guns for almost a month now and all of our sleep habits are completely deteriorated. i even tried co sleeping but all she does is toss and turn. She’s down to only sleeping in 30 minutes intervals. Please help me.

    • Alyse, it’s so discouraging to have a backwards sleeper! I do think, however, that we can find some things to try. Firstly, have you read through my Sleep Shuffle article? That may be a good place to start. Secondly, I’m going to be teaching a few webinars this week on nap training. They are about 1.5 hours but they are extremely comprehensive. I’m sharing everything on the planet in regards to reading your baby’s cues and how to adjust the schedule,and then how to troubleshoot when everything goes down the crapper. I think you may find it encouraging and helpful to have some new things to try at night and during the day. Click here for more details on that. Sounds like the collapsing started when you tried to move away from the holding-to-sleep. Like that’s a sleep crutch that started the ball rolling down the hill. Does that sound right?

  112. My 5.5 month old baby fusses when put down to sleep, but doesn’t fall asleep. Last nite I put her down at 9 pm and she had 2 hrs of whimpering with lots of quiet pauses. She did not cry or scream at all. During this 2 hrs I didn’t check on her since she wasn’t really crying, but after those 2 hrs of not falling asleep I got concerned. So I went in the run pick her up, nurse her to sleep and only slept 1 hr. then up again and not falling a sleep. I turned on the lights removed her pijamas, put her a new diaper and finally gave her a massage. When I put her down she started crying so I just patted her till she calm down and finally slept. She slept for 5 hrs. then nursed and slept. 3 hrs later nurse and slept. 2 hrs later nurse and slept with mommy. At 10 am she finally woke up. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. She wakes around 9 am and have naps every 2 hors and sleeps for 1 or so. and now I don’t know whats happening. Im trying CIO but she just cries on her naps and doesn’t get to sleep. Night time has been horrible, she also doesn’t get to self settle and sleep. Help pls

    • Maria, have you seen my article on the Sleep Shuffle? I would start trying that at night, and then seeing how the naps work out during the day. If that doesn’t seem to be helping, you may find taking my Napping Know-How Webinar helpful. I recommend parents start with nighttime sleep, but I go through a LOT in the webinar (1.5 hours) that can easily be applied in nighttime sleep as well, and can help you know what to do when you start working on naps during the day.

  113. Hi! Where to begin, my 6 month old son has never been a good sleeper. He only slept well for the first 4 days in the hospital, even in my belly he kept me up all night. For the past 2 months though he started waking up hysterically crying and screaming and nothing but Tylenol seems to help. I tried homeopathic chammomile, the room is as dark as can be, I play sleepy baby suite for him everytime, I give him a bath with lavender Johnson’s shampoo and body wash, I let him be active during the day but always put him to nap when he shows signs of being tired, and yet he never naps more than 30 minutes. He won’t take a pacifier and he screams even louder if he wakes up at night and I don’t nurse him. Or even if I just sit near him or rock him. If I give him tylenol it’s once during a day and most days I won’t, but I feel like a terrible mom for giving lt in the first place.
    This is also my first child and my entire family lives in brazil and the father doesn’t help much let alone his family. So the fact that my son rarely sleeps at night and is unconsolable during the night is starting to drive me nuts.
    Thank you

    • Virginia, firstly megahugs for doing what you’re doing. I know it doesn’t feel like much, but you are hugging, and kissing, and rocking, and bathing, and doing all the things good moms do when trying to soothe your baby. That’s wonderful. I think he’s overtired, which is why he’s not sleeping well at night and napping well during the day. Firstly, talk over with your doctor his medical history and ask if he’s ready to go longer at night. You need to know for sure he’s not suffering from reflux, or teething, or other things. If his doctor gives him a good bill of health and says he’s ready to start some nighttime sleep coaching, you could start working through the Sleep Shuffle at night. (Since you’re nursing, you could decide to keep a nursing session at night if you wish. It’s very possible to keep nursing at night and still help him get better rest.)

      I would also recommend doing some nap training. I talk about nap training in my Napping Know-How webinar. It’s almost 2 hours, and it gives different strategies and covers EVERYTHING in regards to nap training – including overcoming the 30 minute catnapper. Click here to see the next class time.

      I want to help as much as I can. Hopefully these things will give you some more information and things to try! Hang in there, we can work on these things. :-)

  114. Hello
    My seven week old has reflux so I have to hold her after she feeds. She inevitably falls asleep in my arms and then it’s impossible to lay her down. I spend many nights sitting
    Up with her asleep on my chest. I’m ready to lose my mind. Any suggestions?

    • Terry, there are several things you can do to help reflux babies sleep better. Firstly, talk to your doctor about possible medications. Zantac can help make the bile less acid-y, so it burns less, and Prevacid helps cut down on the amount of bile she creates. Both have been used effectively in babies to help manage reflux. Secondly, talk to your doctor about giving her probiotic drops (on Amazon). New studies have shown probiotics to be helpful with reflux babies, but since she’s so young I would run that by the doctor first.

      Not sure if you’re breastfeeding or using formula, but thickening the breastmilk with some rice cereal could help (again, ask doctor for specific instructions) or they have pre-thickened reflux formulas you may also find useful. Finally, she will find it helpful if you avoid laying her flat on her back. So use either a bouncer or a baby bean bag, or you can try one of these crib tricks to angle the mattress up safely. I hope these can help Terry! Keep asking the doctor for help as well. That’s why he’s there! :-)

  115. For the last month maybe my now 15mth old has taken a turn for the worse. i will admit we may have some bad habits but after nursing for one year she just started sleeping throught he night at 12mths and in her crib and that i am happy with. i have only been giving her a bottle at night maybe for 3weeks because i am now pregnant and i believe my supply has disappeared. We take a bath, get on jammies and i put her in the rock n play to drink her bottle. at first she would fall asleep watching something on tv or something on the music channel whichever i decide after that i move her to the crib and she sleeps all night. NOW she drinks the bottle and 20min-1hr later she is still awake and bouncing around. if i put her in bed with me she thinks its time to play so here lately i have been putting her in the crib to cio. she is asleep in 5 or less min. the longest it has taken so far is 15 min and that was wtih sparatic crying. i have tried giving her the bottle in the crib so she could fall asleep there but she screams as soon as i leave the room not even drinking the milk. how can i get her to skip the rock n play and all the playfulness and just fall asleep in her crib. i really dont like the cio method but i dont know whatelse to do. oh she only gets one nap at daycare and one in the car on the way home. the bedtime routine begins at 8 in the past she was alseep by 9 at the latest but now at 10 she is still awake fighting her sleep.

    • Mikki, sounds like her main struggle is that she doesn’t know how to fall asleep on her own – without nursing, or you, or a TV to help her. Because of this, when her sleep cycles moving around, and she goes through a partial awakening period, she can’t fall back asleep.

      My recommendation is to read through this article on the Sleep Shuffle, and then pick up a copy of Kim West’s Good Night Sleep Tight book (here on Amazon). It is by far my favorite sleeping resource. Very easy to fall, very gentle to use, and if you are consistent, it always works. It’s NOT cry-it-out, but is a gentler way of helping your baby learn sleeping skills. There will be crying, because she has some bad habits that you’ll need to retrain (and retraining is never fun), but you will be responding to her cries, which is why it’s not considered CIO.

      BTW, I also teach a webinar on the weekends called Napping Know How: How to Gentle Coach Your Baby Towards Better Daytime Sleep. That may be helpful as well. Click here to see class times.

  116. I have a year old baby girl who only recently turned into a good sleeper. For the first 10.5 months of her life she woke after 30 minutes. It wasn’t “hello I am awake now” it was petrified screaming. Or she was in pain. Hard to tell, all of her crying sounded the same. I suspected she had food intolerances (diarreah and failure to thrive were issues). Our dr and I did two things: started her on Zantac and stopped breastfeeding. Things settled down right away. The biggest indicator we were on the right track was the first time I picked her up when she woke up crying, she was so much more relaxed and soft in my arms. She had been tensed up for so long I didn’t know it until she wasn’t. The better sleep came after that. Once I stopped breastfeeding her and put her on a formula only diet, she regulated everything. When she woke up crying, I had been nursing her for hunger or comfort. This was causing her to react to what I had eaten (ANY grains, not just wheat it turned out). The cycle turned into a spiral and we were down to 30 minutes of sleep at a time once during the day and all night long. Formula stopped that. Turned out she could tolerate dairy but little else at first.

    Culturelle probiotics fixed the diarrhea and cleared up her stuffy nose. All of the sudden her teeth came in, she didn’t lose percentile points for weight and she was sleeping great. All of the sudden she had different cries I could tell apart. The differences grow every day. We have set backs and we haven’t figured out all of the issues but the overall change is for the better.

    If you suspect that she is not sleeping because she CAN’T sleep, check for food intolerances.

  117. Thank you so much for writing this!!! I am really struggling with getting my 5 month old to sleep. We have fallen into some bad habits and I don’t know if we can get out of them! Around 4 mos he started a sleep regression and was only sleeping 1.5-2 hours at a time at night. He would scream angrily for another 2 hours before falling asleep so I’ve gotten into the habit of nursing him back to sleep every time he wakes up (I also thought it was teething pain). Now it’s just easier to co-sleep and nurse him all night so we can all get some rest, though I’m not getting serious sleep at all! I nurse him to sleep/drowsy state and place him in his crib in his room. He wakes up an hour or so later, then I spend about an hour trying to soothe him back to sleep before just bringing him in bed with me and beginning our cosleeping/nursing marathon. Please help! ;)
    Very much appreciated!!

    • Gina, the good news is that nothing is permanent! With gentle persistence these things can be adjusted. :-)

      The first thing I would do is go back to your doctor/lactation consultant with a 48 hour nursing log, and discuss how much food he’s eating during the day and during the night. Then discuss how often he should be eating at night to keep him healthy and your supply up. If the doctor gives you the thumbs up to start doing some weaning, decide how many times you want to get up during the night with him to feed, and then choose what those times are going to be. (11pm, or 1pm, or 3pm, etc.) Then decide how many times you eventually want to feed him at night and start shaving down on the other feeding times by 2 minutes every night, so that on those feedings you’re trying to wean off he’s eating just a little less every night until it’s a 2 minute feeding. Then the next night drop it.

      Obviously, the feedings you’ve decided to keep you don’t want to start weaning him off. But the point there is that YOU have decided the feeding times. If your doctor has decided he’s ready to do some sleep coaching (no reflux or other health issues), then you could start doing the sleep shuffle with him at night and when he wakes at night and it isn’t a set feeding time.

      There may be some protest crying, but if the doctor has given him a healthy green light, you can know that he’s just trying to adjust to the new schedule. You’re not crying-it-out, because you’re sitting there with him responding once in a while with a pat or a shush for reassurance. You’ll need to start putting him down drowsy but awake, perhaps nursing him and then reading a book, or having a bath, or having Dad put him down, so you can break the sleeping crutch of being nursed to sleep. This way he’ll start to learn how to fall asleep on his own, and not rely so much on you putting him to sleep.

      Does this make sense at all? The importance here is consistency. If you’re inconsistent you’ll confuse him and he’ll cry more. So think through some of these suggestions, read the shuffle article and then decide what you want to change. Please let me know how it goes! or if you have any other questions! :-)

  118. My one year old nurses to sleep. He has acid reflux and was born with a heart murmur. He was also a big boy when he was born and had some problems nursing. In order to get him to sleep with all these problems, nursing was the best way. Now he is a year and the only problem we are dealing with is the acid reflux. I love our time together when I nurse him to sleep but now that he’s been doing better, I want to start the sleep training process. I’ve tried a few things but as soon as I put him down, he wakes up and stands in his crib and starts screaming crying. Even when I nurse to sleep, sometimes I’m in there for hours. He falls asleep pretty fast but as soon as I move to put him down, he wakes up screaming. Any suggestions would be very helpful!

    • Kristi, we do what we have to do in order to help our babies – and in your case, that meant nursing to sleep! There’s no shame in that. You were being who he needed at that time. If you feel his reflux is managed and he’s ready to start doing better, here’s what I would suggest.

      1. Firstly, decide how often you’re going to nurse at night – ask your doctor or lactation consultant how many times they feel you should feed him. Keep a nursing journal for 48 hours so you can see exactly how long and when he’s nursing at night. You could decide to keep a feeding or two, or you could drop all of them, but I recommend running this by your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant for advice.

      2. Then whenever you decide he doesn’t need to eat, start decreasing his nursing time during those feedings by 2 minutes every night. So, for example, if you all decided he doesn’t need a 11pm feeding, decrease the amount of time you nurse by 2 minutes (do that with all the feedings you’ve decided to wean). Every night decrease that by 2 minutes until it’s under 2 minutes, then drop it completely.

      3. His sleeping crutch is clearly nursing, so when you put him to bed, nurse him and then stop and do something else like read a book, or bathe, or have Dad put him down in his crib drowsy but awake, and not sleeping. He will probably fuss at the beginning, because he’s a little confused about this new way of doing things. I would encourage you to use the Sleep Shuffle method to reassure him while he’s adjusting. He’s going to cry, but you’re going to respond with the occasional touch, or shush, or stroke – which is why this isn’t “cry it out”.

      This is a very VERY basic approach. I would highly recommend getting a copy of Good Night Sleep Tight. Author Kim West goes into much more specifics and has troubleshooting suggestions, etc. Much more than I can detail here. I hope it can get you started though! :-)

  119. My daughter is 5 months old a is a completely different sleeper to my now 5 year old son, which has left me back at the drawing board. He did CIO for a couple of nights, nothing too traumatic and done. My daughter just screamed and screamed, so after the last few weeks of a more gentle approach to sleep training (still with some crying) we have gone from nursing to sleep every time to putting her down drowsy, about 15 mins of crying and then she goes to sleep. However, there is a big BUT. I still have to go in after 15 min of crying and pat her on the tummy for less than a minute and she falls asleep. If I leave the room again just before she’s asleep, the crying starts again. If I leave her to cry she just keeps crying and will get hysterical. I know this is a lot better than feeding her to sleep but I still feel she relies on my being present to actually fall asleep. Have you got any advice on how to remove her need for me to fall asleep?

    • Emma, firstly WAY TO GO on the first step! Putting her down drowsy but awake!! That’s a huge step in the right direction, because she’s actually starting to put herself asleep. I would recommend you look over my article on the Sleep Shuffle Method, I think this approach may be exactly what you’re looking for! Please let me know what you think. :-)

      • Thanks Heather. I actually stumbled upon your sleep shuffle method and have implemented it over the last couple of days and yesterday, she fell asleep for all naps and at night time without me. Yay! But now she’s waking every hour through the night. I’ve been feeding her back to sleep each time but maybe I should try the sleep shuffle method through the night? Only problem is that she’s in my room (but not my bed).

      • Emma, as much as I would LOVE to take the credit for the brilliant sleep shuffle method, I have to pass it along to Kim West in her book Good Night Sleep Tight. All the methods I use were developed by her over the years. I’m just thrilled to pass them along to parents like you! :-)

        As for everything else: yep! You’ve got it exactly right. It sounds like she has become dependent on your feedings in order to fall asleep. Use the sleep shuffle method to help her learn how to get through those sleep cycles and partial wakening periods without needing your help. Just sit beside her in the crib, and then move yourself out of the room until she falls asleep. Or, could you hang a sheet or add a divider so that you can “move yourself back to bed” instead of moving yourself out of the room. Either way, you want her to grow in her confidence that you are there and will respond if she NEEDS it, but also give her the confidence that she can do this fall-back-asleep thing on her own.

        One more thing: I’m not sure how old your baby is…but I only recommend the shuffle for babies over 4 months old. :-)

  120. Nicole Skavik says:

    My 6 month old daughter is a great night sleeper and has slept through from about 8pm to 6.30 am for about 2 months now, but the problem is she is a very poor daytime napper and consequently she is verrrrry grumpy in the daytime.
    Our routine at bedtime is bath, book, feed then we hold in arms until basically asleep and put into cot, sometimes having to resettle on the odd occasion.
    During the day, I use the feed-play-sleep method looking for tired signs, but then after cuddling and rocking to almost asleep, she will only nap for 15 mins to a maximum 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day. She has just also started screaming and crying inconsolably when we walk her into her room for the naps.
    If one more person tells me I should feel lucky for having her sleep through the night I think I could strangle them!!!! The emotional turmoil my husband and I go through during the day is so draining and we are both at wits end. Any suggestions?

    • Nicole, firstly the naps are often the HARDEST part of sleep coaching. So thousands and thousands of parents reading this will give you a hearty “That’s me too!”. If you’ve already worked on making the nursery nap-friendly (dark and a noisemaker), I would suggest taking my Napping Know-How Webinar this weekend. The class is almost 2 hours long because I cover EVERYTHING to help you understand what’s going on in “the nap” and then how to actually work to extend those catnaps past 15 minutes. (Much more detail than I can give in a paragraph, or even a post!)

      I won’t lie – it’s hard work and requires a lot of consistency. But it can be done. :-) Here are the times coming up.

  121. I have two beautiful girls. Our first daughter mastered falling asleep on her own and sleeping most of the night at a fairly early age, just needing to nurse once a night until about 9 months old. Our baby is 4 1/2 months old and is only occasionally capable of falling asleep on her own and, unfortunately, wakes almost every hour. All we need to do is go and put her pacifier in her mouth and she’s out cold again, and she usually needs to eat once a night, but she’ll eventually just start screaming if we don’t go in and give her the nuk. This is getting exhausting, especially since I’m back to work and am an RN so work all sorts of crazy hours. Should I take the nuk away? Do a modified CIO? Is she even old enough to sleep train?

    • Kim,

      It’s very common for the 4-5 month period to be really hard – sleep wise. She’s about to go through some major developmental changes that disrupt everything. So this is very normal. In my experience, if a baby isn’t old enough to sleep train, you’re looking towards weeks and weeks of a lot of crying. It’s best to survive, wait until she IS ready, and then get her sleeping through the night faster, with less crying.

      Firstly, make sure there’s no medical reason (like acid reflux) for her wakenings. Not all reflux involves a lot of spitting up – check with your doctor about this to rule it out.

      Secondly, I would help her practice her pincer grasp during the day. This is the ability for her to hold things between her thumb and finger. The faster she learns this, the easier it will be for her to put her nuk in at night on her own. Some parents have reported that the wubbanub is helpful in keeping the nuk in the mouth as well. My only caution there is to make sure that she can’t pull the little toy over her mouth and obstruct her breathing. She needs to be swaddled or be able to roll over.

      You could take the nuk away, but this is how she’s self-soothing, so that’s a risk as well. If you remove it, she’ll need to replace it with something else for awhile. I would work on these things, perhaps bringing her into a bassinet next to your bed so you can replace the nuk without really having to wake up. Hang in there!

  122. Hey!
    Your website is so great and its so amazing how you answer back to everyone in so much detail. So my 5 month 6 days old son is used to being rocked to sleep. Earlier he was sleeping like a champ and even falling off to sleep himself but then i don’t know what came along, i assumed it was the 4th month regression but its still going on till now so could be anything from teething to bad habits getting developed while the regression was taking place. Point being, he has to be rocked to sleep and keeps waking up during the night. I pick him up instantly, and within 3 seconds he falls back right asleep. Sometimes he has to be rocked or shushed. But I’m exhausted from waking up again and again so i started sleep training today. I’m not really sure what method I’m doing. I let him cry for 5 mins after which i picked him up, comforted him and put him back in his bassinet once he was drowsy/half asleep. I think over time i can put him to sleep on his own no problem. But what to do about the nightwakings???? I read that even if not sleep training you shouldn’t rush to a crying baby and wait for 10-15 mins before deciding to intervene. When my son wakes up crying in the night, letting him cry for even 7 mins makes him proper awake and then when i do go in to pick him up, it takes all the more long to calm him and soothe him and usually i have to rock him to calm him down. What should i do? Should i not pick him? He doesn’t stop crying just by listening to my voice or pats. I’m so confused!
    Sorry for the long rant, but need your help!

    • Rafia, this is a very difficult time for sleep, so be encouraged this is normal. There’s a lot going on with him, developmentally. The very first thing you should do is talk over his night wakenings with your doctor. I would keep a 48 feeding log, and then show it to your doctor (and LC if you’re nursing) to discuss how much he needs to eat at night. I don’t recommend starting to do sleep coaching without first talking it over with your doctor.

      Secondly, start putting him down drowsy but awake. So rock him, but not asleep. Rock him until he’s drowsy, then put him down in his crib. Then follow the shuffle steps. Since he’s used to being picked up, the first few days are going to be rough. He’s going to want you to pick him up, and when you don’t, he’s going to get angry. If he starts really getting fussy, pick him up to help him calm down, but put him back down in his crib before he falls asleep. He will immediately protest this. Try to wait another 20 minutes before you pick him up again. You can shush him and pat him, and give him reassurance you are there. But you are also the mom and know that he needs to start learning how to fall asleep without your rocking him. It will be a rough start, but as long as you are consistent, it will even out and get much better.

      I would also encourage you to get a copy of Kim West’s book Good Night Sleep Tight. She goes through all kinds of troubleshooting tips and suggestions all the way to age 5. A great resource to have on hand. :-)

  123. I guess what I’m trying to say is, whats the point of letting him cry it out if in the end he has to be calmed by rocking. I’d rather just then pick him up instantly as soon as he cries so that theres no rocking and he falls back asleep. What say? If i want to CIO with checks and PUPD how do i go about it? i’m supposed to increase the interval every time? Or would you recommend just staying in the room with him but not picking him up?

    • Rafia, good question. Eventually, you want him to be able to self-soothe. I recommend starting with the shuffle (like I shared in your other comment). However, if you’ve done that for a few days and it seems like your presence is STIMULATING him rather than calming him, than I would go to Timed Checks. This is when you put him in his crib, drowsy but awake, and then check on him every 8 minutes. If you have a spouse, partner, or friend who can do the shuffle, that may be helpful – since they may be able to be more consistent and handle the crying better, but it’s totally up to you. Hope this can give you some help!

  124. Tricia says:

    Hi
    I have a 4 week old who started waking up an hour earlier every morning , so 5 am not 6am (which is his next feeding)
    He is not hungry just wants to be held or comforted
    My husband really wants to just let him cry it out bit I think he is still too young
    I am not finding any info or support in regards to infants this young…
    Any help or suggestions?

    • Tricia, four weeks is very young for crying it out. Babies this little haven’t learned how to self-regulate and calm themselves down. He may also be going through a growth spurt, and needs those extra calories. I recommend feeding him on demand, when you feel he’s hungry. For now, I wouldn’t worry so much about the clock. You can use the clock to help you spot his cues, but if he’s hungry, it’s important to feed him. This is also the time you want him to feel attached and confident that you are there when he needs something. I would share some of these things with your husband, and let him know that there will be a time to allow some crying in order to teach sleeping skills, but that’s not for another 3-4 months. These early weeks are really hard, Tricia, but things do improve. Just try to get as much rest as you can!

  125. Rhonda says:

    I have a 10 month old twins. My baby girl sleeps great I put her down kiss her giver her Blankey and she goes to bed most of the time. At night same scenario and without interruption from her brother she generally sleeps 10 to 12 hours. My son on the other hand has gone through several sleep challenges beginning with reflux and having to sleep in an inclined chair inside his crib and most recently I have started to rock him to sleep or hold him until he falls asleep because it’s the only way I could get him out of the incline chair. Ever since he learned to sit up or stand in the crib as soon as he wakes up he stands up hold onto the side and cries for me. Sometimes he’s up for an hour to two hours in the middle of the night waking up every 20 minutes or so. I would like to find a way to help him sleep on his own I’m even open to cry it out but I’m not sure can I concentrate on nighttime sleep and work on naps later? Or when I start the process do I have to do naps and nighttime sleep at the same time. Should I separate my daughter while we’re doing it? I am so exhausted because I a lot of times I can’t fall asleep until midnight even though they go down at eight. And then there up from about 1230 or one until 330 and he gets back up between six and 630 almost every morning. Please help me I’m getting desperate!

    • Rhonda, I would recommend giving the Sleep Shuffle a try before trying CIO. And I would check again with the doctor first to make sure the reflux is under control and he feels it’s okay for you to start easing him into better sleep at night. In your situation, I would concentrate on nighttime sleep first, and then naps later (since you have so much going on!) The key is to be consistent in whatever approach you decide to try. Try to start putting him down drowsy but awake during the day and at night, so he can start to learn the sensation of falling asleep without being rocked or held. If your daughter is doing well, I would put her in a pack and play or some other safe place during the coaching period. This way you don’t have to worry about her waking up. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel Rhonda! (many hugs!)

  126. At 5 months, I did CIO method because my son had regressed to waking up every 2 hrs at night. After two nights, he was sleeping from 7pm to 5am, quick feed and then sleep until 7am. It was successful for a month or so. He sleeps in his own room which is very dark with a fan going all night. I nurse him in the rocking chair before bed, I put him in his crib drowsy with a soother. He has regressed again to waking up twice a night wanting to be nursed. I feel at 7 months he should be able to sleep through the night with no feeds. He goes to bed at 7pm. Would you recommend the CIO method again? I like the CIO method because I feel going in and soothing, just triggers him to cry again. Is 1 hr your maximum for crying? I’ve never had it last that long. Maximum 30 min. I think I am ready to do again. I do feel guilty because if he wakes up at 2am thats 7 hrs and he probably is hungry. Do you agree that a healthy 7 month old should be able to go from 7pm to 6/7am without feeding?

    • Becky, pertaining to your questions: “Do you agree that a healthy 7 month old should be able to go from 7pm to 6/7am without feeding?” I can’t answer that question, there are too many variables. Some babies need to be fed more often. That’s an answer best sought with your pediatrician. If he is needing a feeding, you could try to do a dreamfeed at around 10-11pm for a few nights (in case this is a milestone growth spurt), moving that dreamfeeding up by 30 minutes every few days until it’s close to bedtime and you can drop it altogether. Have you noticed he’s been mastering a new skill? It’s very common for babies to need a little more food when they are hammering out a major milestone like crawling or sitting up.

      As for the CIO Method – that’s totally up to you. If you feel your presence stimulates him, you could do something called Timed Checks – where you go in every 8 minutes to offer reassurance and pick-up to calm if he needs it, before putting him back down drowsy but awake.

      Talk with your doctor about the feeding and see if he really needs those nighttime calories. If he does, see if you can’t work that into your plan, being consistent at all other wakeups, but still feeding him once if needed. (Does that make sense?)

  127. My breastfed 7 week old son sleeps, on average, 8 hours at night without waking. He normally wakes up at 7am, eats, and then goes back to sleep around 8 until 11am. He sleeps in his own room, in a bassinet. The bassinet is placed in his crib for two reasons. 1-to get him used to sleeping in the crib and 2-so my camera is on him. If he was on the floor, I wouldn’t be able to see him.

    HIs morning nap is in the bassinet. I put him in there after he is fed and changed. I have no problems with the morning nap. If I try to put him in there for an afternoon nap, he cries. I’ve tried nursing him to sleep and putting him in there asleep and have also tried putting him in there drowsy. Nothing works. I have a 3 year old that naps wonderfully, so letting my baby CIO isn’t an option because I don’t want my 3 year old to wake up.

    I’ve been putting the baby in a baby bjorn and wearing him all afternoon. He’ll sleep 2-5pm until I take him out to nurse him.

    I have two questions:

    1. Will wearing my baby all afternoon create a problem later on? I want him to eventually take 2 naps a day, on his own.
    2. How do I transition him from the bassinet in the crib to sleeping in the crib, on his back? I’ve tried putting him down at night and for naps on his back in the crib and it doesn’t work. He doesn’t have acid reflux or any problems like that.

    • Marne, congrats on your newest little one! :-) Here’s some thoughts for your questions…

      1. No – it won’t create a problem later on. At this very young age, the goal is sleep – however that happens. Nothing you do at this point cannot be relearned and adjusted later on, when he’s old enough to start sleep coaching (16-20 weeks). So do whatever you need to do to help him sleep during the day. Also, watch him closely for his sleep cues. At this age, he could be ready to sleep again after only an hour or so after waking. CIO isn’t a good method at this age – he will scream and scream, and learn nothing. There are gentler ways to help him learn to sleep when he gets older. :-)

      2. At this age, don’t worry too much about where he sleeps. Again, it’s more important right now that he’s sleeping, than where he’s sleeping. However, when you feel it’s time to head to the crib, here’s an article that should help. :-)

    • Hello.

      I wanted to thank you for your advice a few months ago. My then 7-week baby is now 6 months! How time flies. He’s sleeping in his crib all the time now and taking 1 really long afternoon nap and a smaller morning nap with a cat nap in between (usually in the stroller or the car). He was sleeping 9-9.5 hours at night shortly after I posted my first comment. Everything has been going great until a few days ago. Now, he’s up at the crack of dawn (4:30am-5:30am). He’s only getting 8 hours of sleep now. Is it due to the 6-month growth spurt? He wakes up ravenous. I try rubbing his back and calming him down w/out picking him up. That has worked in the past. Not now. I have a 3 year old so I don’t want him to cry for too long as I don’t want him old waking up. He’s breastfed with one bottle at night (4 oz. formula & 4 oz. breastmilk). He drains that in less than 10 minutes. He’s a big baby. 90th percentile. He’s not fat though. Just big. He goes to bed around 8:30 give or take 1/2 hour. We do the same bedtime routine every night. He doesn’t stir at night at all. I just don’t like these early morning wake ups. I know he should be getting 14-15 hours/day, but he only gets an average of 12. Is he overtired? With my first son, we hardly went anywhere so his morning nap was a given. Now with 2 kids, we’re usually out and about in the morning from 10-noon. My baby will take an early morning nap right after he wakes up and eats around 5:30-6:00. I’m wondering if he requires another mid morning nap (bigger than the 1/2 hour he gets in the car/stroller)? Thoughts?

  128. Any help for me? My son is now 3 and I probably made every mistake possible. He does not fall asleep on his own, he has to be in our bed. I put him in his bed once asleep and it’s about 2 hours before he’s crying and coming in our room. I’ve tried creating a bedtime, that didn’t work. Tried laying in his bed with him, that didn’t work. I don’t know what to doď

    • Amy, there is absolutely help for you, friend! You will just need to take a different approach than the baby-mamas here. :-) I would recommend working one-on-one with a sleep coach. You can see my credentials here. If this interests you, drop me an email at heather@incredibleinfant.com and I’ll send over the details on how that process works. I’ve worked with older kids before – it’s sometimes a longer process, but it’s definitely doable. :-)

      If you’d like to try it alone first, you can try the Sleep Shuffle method here. It’s a good starting point!

  129. Michelle says:

    So, what if you don’t know for sure that baby is teething? Our son was going to sleep on his own (we used a gentle method to help him learn to put himself to sleep, in his crib, from an awake state). He was doing great for 3 weeks, going to sleep happy and falling asleep within 10-15 minutes, but now suddenly can’t seem to do it anymore, and only naps after nursing, which he’s never done before. We used to rock him to sleep before training, but I always dissociated nursing and sleep. He’s also waking up more at night (no nursing then, only wants his pacifier), but for now he does go to sleep at night on his own, without nursing, and puts himself back to sleep after his night feeding also on his own. I suspect teething, and he isn’t feeding as well as before, but I don’t know for sure. I don’t want to create a new bad habit, but on the other hand, when nursing before his naps he’s really eating. A good 4-5 minutes of gulping, then off the breast, I give him a pacifier and he falls asleep. Am at a loss :/

    • Michelle, you may find this post on teething helpful. See if any of those signs apply. Also watch him for milestones – it’s very common for there to be sleep disruptions when a child is about to conquer a new milestone or is hitting a growth spurt. (I’m not sure how old your son is.) Feeding is the most important, so if he seems hungry and he’s eating, I would continue the nursing plan – perhaps reading a book before putting him down to help prevent any new associations. Keep in mind, if he IS teething, it’s probably soothing for him to nurse, which is a good thing. :-)

  130. Lucy Devito says:

    My baby is 7 weeks old and I don’t know if i am expecting to much from him. We got off to a rough start with feeding and was finally diagnosed with a tongue tie at 4 weeks. During this time he was extremely unsettled and would not sleep in his mosses basket at night and would only sleep on some one during the day. I have now put him on a bottle and he is sleeping better, but I have to rock him to sleep at night and he wakes in the day if I put him down. I am worried I have missed the opportunity of put a sleepbaby in a basket and him just falling asleep. We have started to try and get into a bed time routine. Bath bottle then bed. Last night I tried to put him down while still awake but tired but he jusr screamed. I ended up rocking anover tird baby of to sleep. He wakes twice in the night for a feed, I have to rock him to sleep after each feed. This takes me over an hour each time, so by the time I have got him down, its time to start all over again. I am so tired and worry about how much longer I can do this.

    • Lucy,

      The good news is that you’ve not missed your opportunity. At this age, the goal is “sleep however”. If that means rocking him to sleep, let yourself rock him to sleep (and enjoy those cuddles). Nothing you’re doing now can’t be adjusted LATER when he’s older and ready to learn sleep skills. That’s great that you’ve started to put together a bedtime routine! Don’t feel guilty about picking him up when he’s screaming. He’s too young at this age to really “learn” much. This stage is about bonding with your little one, and each of you trying to get as much sleep as possible, however that’s done.

      That said, you could try using a swing to help him sleep. Also, watch for signs of reflux – does he seem really grumpy when you lay him down after feedings? Is he spitting up a lot? I will share a secret with you friend, I’m in the process of finishing up a seminar for parents like you, whose babies are too young for a sleep coaching program, but still have some sleep struggles and need some practical suggestions and tips to get through this (very difficult) season of life. I’m working on it all next week and will be launching it in July. My announcements always go out to my subscribers first, so if you haven’t signed up to get on my email list, you may want to. You can head here to subscribe, or put your name in the box on the right side of the page. Hang in there! I’m very excited about this webinar, it’s going to have a LOT of helpful information!

      • Lucy Devito says:

        Thanks Heather, after looking on line, I am wondering if he has silent reflx. He has been unsettled all day today, i have spent most of the day trying to settle s unhappy baby. has only slept for 30 mins in his chair. He grunts alot just as he seems to be asleep. He sneezes alot and dribbles. He is always trying to get his fists in his mouth and is happier being upright. He is sicky but sometimes appears to be swallowing milk that he has brought up.

      • I definitely think that’s something you may want to bring up to your doctor, Lucy. He will need to do a physical exam to make sure. However, if you can get a diagnosis, there are several helpful medications out there that could help!

  131. Hello Heather!

    I have a quick question, because I honestly agree with all you are saying, am on my third baby, and have done almost exactly what you are saying for the first two. My question is this: my third baby is sucha great sleeper from the get go! Amazing! I had no idea babies could be like this: I watch for his cues and put him down and hes fast asleep. However, hes a tummy sleeper, (always been big and strong, he’s at three months he was already 14.6lbs — ‘m not interested in the debate there about Sids… though I wish more blogs addressed the other factors of mattress chemicals and the risk that that plays into tummy sleeping, etc. anyways, back on track) and I would love to know when to let him put himself back to sleep since he just turned four months old and instead of continueing to sleep longer stretches – he was waking only @ 2 after a dream feed @10 – he is waking every two hours after midnight. I put the paci in and he usually goes back to sleep. He is not hungry anymore but …. tips for when to let him CIO in nighttime? do I wait for him to learn to roll over? I havent had a tummy sleeper or a baby that goes to bed awake but drowsy each time on his own and takes long naps, etc. Also, my other kids are 6 & 3.5, so its been awhile! lol Thank you! AMy

    • Amy, so glad to hear your third is a champion sleeper! What a blessing! As for tummy sleeping…some babies just are, and that’s that. In my opinion, parents can weigh those risks and make those decisions that are best for them. (Confession: My Elena was a tummy sleeper too…took me a while to come to that. This was before things like the Magic Sleep Suit to help turn tummy-to-back, and we decided that for family sanity, it just had to be that way.) So no guilt from me, friend. :-)

      As for his nighttime wakenings. Usually I recommend waiting until after 18 weeks, and after their major 4-5 month growth spurt. It’s possible that he’s hitting that growth spurt now, and that’s why he’s waking. (You’ll have to watch and notice if he seems abnormally hungry, or if there are some new skills he’s just shown off.) The CIO method is not my favorite method – not because it’s not effective (because it is) but because it’s SO GARSH DARN HARD! And some babies are just stubborn, turning that CIO attempt into a 1-2 hours screamfest. My favorite method is The Sleep Shuffle, created by Kim West and shared in her (very wonderful) book Good Night Sleep Tight. It’s a very well-balanced approach.

      Make sure you talk to your doctor first (and Lactation Consultant if you have one) to talk about how often he should be feeding at night (if any). I hope this can help Amy! I will share with you that I’m working on finishing a seminar for parents to discuss some of the strategies and ideas you can try to help extend that sleep. It will be be launched in the next few weeks. Subscribers will be getting the first seats, so if you’re not already a subscriber, you may want to sign up on the right! xo Heather

  132. hey. Im worried i might have started a bad habit by getting her to fall asleep by putting her into a swing and letting her rock herself to soothing herself to sleep. And i want to eventually just put her right into her crib (right now using a rock and play for her to sleep in cause she will just randomly spit up.) can you give any advice on how to ease her out of the swing, or put her down to sleep without her fully being asleep. Because if i put her down before she’s a sleep she usually wakes up screaming or will just wake up and never go back to sleep at all. And she will not take a pacifier to soothe herself to sleep… any suggestions would be amazing! and hopefully helpful

  133. My son is 3+ months old. I have been trying to set up his feeding(breastfeeding) and sleeping schedule. All in vain. He has developed a habit of sleeping only while feeding. I try hard to but den I have to breastfeed so that he can sleep.please help.

    • Param, rest easy – it’s very hard sometimes to get rhythms this early. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. There are many factors that can make early scheduling difficult – including the baby’s personality, milk supply, sleeping environment, growth spurts, etc. So don’t feel guilty or bad that his day seems chaotic. The goal right now is to 1) feed him when he’s hungry so he grows and your milk supply stays high and 2) sleep whenever possible. Give him another 2-3 weeks and then try to put him down just ONCE a day drowsy but not sleeping, practicing that for a few weeks and building up from there. For right now, you’re doing everything you need to be doing. :-)

  134. I’m a new mother my lo was born June 21 & already we are attached to each other. He will only fall asleep in my arms/on my chest and putting him down to sleep for the majority of the time does not last long. I know its a new world for him and for me with him but I would like to start it off on a good foot so the transition to his crib is an easier one.
    Eating: he will eat 2 – 3 oz at a time and fall asleep waking a little later to snack on more.
    I tried pace feeding & that was a flop – bc of the above.
    Naps: I have no routine he falls asleep when he wants
    I tried the baby whisperer schedule – EASY and I can’t seem to wake him for the scheduled times or keep him awake for activities.

    I know its only been 3 wks WHAT DO I EXPECT!
    I guess I want some advise so getting in to the proper routines/schedules /sleep habits will “hopefully”be an easier one for all.

    • Friend, trying to schedule a baby this young is like trying to herd cats…you’re just going to get frustrated. I would recommend learning his baby cues and using a VERY loose routine like this one to see what to expect form day to day. (Are you keeping a feeding/sleeping log? That would also be helpful – then you can start to notice patterns and know what more to expect.)

      Don’t restrict or pace his feedings. It’s really important that he eats exactly when he needs to. His stomach is VERY small, so it’s reasonable he will need to eat so often. Be encouraged, everything you’re experiencing is very normal for this age. You aren’t going to screw up his sleeping so badly it can’t be adjusted when he’s older. Nothing you’re doing now can’t be relearned and adjusted when he’s older.

      I know this may not be want you want to hear, but trust me – trying to force a newborn into a schedule is like forcing a round-peg in a square hole. Allow him to dictate the days for several more weeks, and make small adjustments as you go. Your goal right now is to 1) Feed him so he will grow healthy and strong and 2) Get as much sleep as you possibly can – both of you. I know it seems like the days are an eternity, but I promise the days will go much faster than you think. :-)

      • I just want to thank you for your reply and calming my already stressed nerves… U read so much & everyone of ur friends and family have ideas /suggestions about what you should and shouldn’t do. This was very helpful :)

      • I’m so glad it could encourage you! Just remember, you know this baby better than anyone else. YOU are the best mom for this child. :-)

  135. I have twins that I have been “sleep training” since 8 weeks… what works for us is ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE. Followed by rice cereal in the bottle (controversial, I know. you can read more on my blog about this decision here: http://bit.ly/1sUPZBn) then swaddling and putting babies in their cribs AWAKE! This is so they learn to fall asleep on their own. :-)
    You can read more about what works for us in regard to “sleep training” (using that term loosely!) http://nikkieandbabies.blogspot.com/2014/06/sleep.html

    • Thanks for sharing this Nicole! I’m sure it will be really helpful! It’s always nice to hear from moms who are actually managing the balance. :-)

  136. Samantha Day says:

    AWESOME tips! Where were you when I had my first child! lol ;)

  137. Errickah says:

    I have a 2 month old and I try to put her down before she’s completely asleep. But the movement, no matter how hard I try to make it smooth, makes it so she’s wide awake. Now I’ve just settled with letting her fall asleep in my arms and pray to god when I lay her down, she will stay asleep. Someone has probably asked this already but your so popular I couldn’t read all the comments. Any suggestions would help before it’s too late. Thank you

    • Errickah, it’s okay at this age for her to fall asleep in your arms. However, if you’d like to move her away from that habit, I would consider trying a swing or using some of these crib tricks to “recreate mom’s arms” in the crib. (If that makes sense.) The good news is that it’s not going to be “too late” anytime soon. All these habits can be re-trained and coached when your little girl is older. Just because she’s doing these things now doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with this forever. When she gets older and can self-soothe better, you can coach her to overcome these habits. :-)

  138. Lucy Devito says:

    Hi Heather

    I have a 3 and half month old who will only cat nap in te day, he starts the day happy and content but as the day goes on the more over tired he gets the more miserably we both become. He goes down no problem, awake inhis basket with his dummy (pacifier) and puts himself to sleep. Half hr on the dot he is awake. I have tried so to read hi cues making sure he isn’t over tired, but this gets harder as the day goes on as he is just tired. I try to make sure he isn’t over stimulated, turning the tv off and widing him down. He sleeps well at night, but I am at my wits end with day time naps. I end up letting him sleep on me, so he gets more than 30 mins, but this isn’t practical or something I can carry on doing long term.

    Thanks lucy

    • IS the room as boring and dark as possible? Easily stimulated babies can find all SORTS of things to look at to keep them awake. Is there a mobile above the crib, and can he see the outline while laying there? Try to look at the room through his perspective and see if you can eliminate anything that can stimulate him. Also, try to sneak in the room before he wakes on that 30-minute dot, and soothe him back to sleep with your voice alone (you may have to hide so he can’t see you). Some babies will get too excited to go back to sleep when they SEE you, but can be lulled back if they just HEAR you. Something worth trying…

  139. Love your blog!! I have a nine week old that I bedshare with and nurse to sleep, but it is not working out and I want to move him to his nursery. I saw my pedi today and she actually recommended doing formal sleep training now! I was really surprised because I have heard that babies should be at least four months to do an type of crying method. I’m not comfortable with that, but I’m getting pretty anxious about having baby in my bed. Is it better to sleep train when they are so young because they aren’t as social and the habits are not that strong yet? I go back to work at 12 weeks and was thinking to try gentle techniques at that time (sleeping on a mattress with him in his room). If that fails I may consider a controlled crying technique, which I hate! I’m going to recruit my hubby to do so, but how do you account for middle of the night feedings? My baby is 12 lbs and eats every 2-3 hours still and is EBF. How do you know if your baby is hungry or just crying because he wants you? I plan to leave the house and let my husband stay with baby, but obviously I’m going to have to endure some of the crying during the night when he wakes up for feeds. I really hate the idea, but I’m getting so tired.

    • Caroyln, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! As far as sleep “coaching” goes, most people do recommend waiting until they pass their 4 month mental milestones (you can tell because they suddenly seem a whole lot alert), but there are a lot of things you can start doing now to help shape his sleeping. Firstly, try to create a bedtime and naptime routine. Secondly, I think you’re exactly right about sleeping on the floor on a mattress for a few nights with him. (Good instincts!) Then put him in the crib and you stay on the floor. Then start putting him in the crib for the morning nap for a few days…then the afternoon naps…etc. So it’s a stairstep approach of helping him get used to the “new way we’re doing things”.

      If you try to “coach” a baby who’s developmentally not ready, you end up with twice as much crying at twice the intensity, for twice as long – and then you end up getting success at around the same time. Work on the location of his sleeping, and the routines for sleeping and eating throughout the day. You may make any formal “coaching” unnecessary when he’s older. IT’s hard to know at that age why a baby is crying, which is another reason many don’t recommend the formal coaching until later, when you know him better (and his routine) and you can be assured that this is a protest-cry and not a feed me-cry. :-) You may want to sign up for one of my sleep coaching workshops later this month. I go over how to create a sleeping plan for these ages, and how to keep some feedings at night (and ditch others). I normally don’t recommend it for babies younger than 4 months, but if your doctor has given you approval, you are welcome to join us. You can see the workshop details here.

  140. Omg! This is hell on earth…

    So my little rascal is nearly 8 months and won’t sleep through the night and I’m not coping well as I’m now back at work..

    So he goes to bed fine… Around 7.30pm… Same routine and Pjs, swaddled and has a bottle… That part is fine but then he wakes up through the night. I have been giving him milk and he then goes back to sleep although won’t go back to bed after 6am… but when I’m up 6+ times before this… I’m exhausted. :(

    So tonight on my health visitors recommendation I’ve bought water to bed and man is he not impressed! He is crying and I’ve tried to sit with him and comfort him but it’s making him more cross so i keep leaving him (im still in the room) and shushing gently but it’s to no avail.
    …He has escaped his swaddle and then hits himself and also the side of his cot and that makes him crosser.

    Argh!!!!! I don’t know what to do. I’m desperate for some sleep back.
    Right now I just want to give him milk so he will calm down.
    Any advice?
    One tired mummy

    • Faye, ugh! I’m surprised you’re awake long enough to write that little synopsis! I can totally see why you’re frustrated. I think there are several things that may need to be worked through in creating an effective sleep coaching plan for him. (The swaddle, milk weaning, handling night wakeups, etc.) Look through this post on the different kinds of ways I offer coaching education, and see if any of those sound like they would be a helpful match.

  141. My son is 8 months old. The first four months were very difficult. He had a whey allergy and was in constant pain until we ended up in the emergency room (I had no idea milk had “code” names and was hidden in EVERYTHING!) That being said… I suppose you could say I have spoiled him now. I didn’t try to train him before because I didn’t want to make a mistake and let him cry if he was actually in pain. So he sleeps with me every night. Still. And wakes up 2-3 times a night to nurse. I feel like a failure. I have figured out his sensitivities and allergies and avoid all said foods, but he will scream non stop every night. I am worried I have “spoiled” him too much! It was completely acceptable before because he was I. Pain and I didn’t know why… but now… I’m at a loss.

    • Meggan, you are certainly NOT a failure! You have done a GREAT job helping him through all his feeding issues and giving him the reassurance he needs that you love him and are here for him. That shouldn’t be under-rated. You’ve done a great job. You survived, and he’s firmly bonded. That’s success. :-) You haven’t ruined everything. You can start fresh. I would recommend you read through my Shuffle article on one technique that’s been very effective with some babies. And if that goes no-where, consider signing up for one of my Sleep Coaching Workshops, where we talk back and forth about your baby’s struggles, I share multiple strategies and then we start creating a sleeping plan you can feel confident in. You can definitely do this. It’s not to late! :-)

  142. Hello,
    i don’t know what to do with my 11 month old daughter,from birth she is very bad sleeper,waking up at nights and sleeping bad during day aswell,im nursing her,so she could be always on my breast,never slept in her crib,and now she started sreaming v badly if i try not to give breast when she wants it,was trying to wean her off,but three weeks she was constipating v badly cause not taking anything else to drink apart breastmilk,tried to leave her to cry but she cried for half an hour and screames couldn’t handle it….

    • Sandra, I would love to help you with this. (It’s my passion, actually.) I will need a lot more information, though, about her history, things you’ve done in the past, medical issues, etc. etc. I would encourage you to consider signing up for one of my baby sleep coaching workshops. Not only will the intake form help me see the big picture, but we can talk over it “face to face” so to speak and get to the bottom of what’s going on.

  143. Thanks for the helpful article. My daughter is 8 weeks old and consistently sleeps 6 hrs every night and has been since she was born. The problem is getting her to sleep. She has no drowsy state and if she does, im missing it. She has been bright eyed since she came out of the womb so she is either bright eyed awake or asleep. I used to be able to put her down and she’d sleep like an angel. The last week or so, she falls asleep nursing and I have to find the perfect sleep cycle to put her down otherwise she is wide eyed awake within minutes and will NOT go back to sleep. I’m trying to establish a bedtime. She was falling asleep at a decent time but lately it’s been 11-12:30. That is too late. Even I’m exhausted at that time. In your opinion, am I doing something wrong? I don’t want her to get used to sleeping on me or falling asleep on me. I have an understanding of how habits are formed ever this young. My doctor says based on this info, she’s too young to be sleep trained. Putting her down while “drowsy” or what I have perceived as drowsy results in a very awake little girl and at least another hour of getting her to sleep/calm down. So anyway, that is my long winded plea for some advice :) thank you!

    • Kelli, there’s a growth spurt at 8 weeks that can completely mess with a child’s sleep. My guess is that you’re working through that. Don’t try to do “Drowsy but awake” at this age. Do whatever (and I mean whatever) you have to do to get her to fall asleep. If that means nursing her to sleep, so be it. When she’s older and ready for sleep coach you can adjust any bad “habits” you may have made. The name of the game at this age is to survive. Put her down asleep, so she’ll stay that way. In a few weeks, perhaps try to put her down “Drowsy but awake” for her morning nap, which is usually the easiest. You’re doing great, friend. Just remember that whatever things you do now, habits you may create, we can ALWAYS re-train them when she’s older. :-)

  144. So here’s my story and I could use help! My baby is 16 weeks old (almost 4 months) but she was induced at 37 weeks – so I guess we need to adjust for age.

    ALL her naps are in the carrier. She always needs to cry and be soothed before falling asleep. At night, she just nurses and goes to sleep (we co-sleep), she’ll wake up and nurse and fall asleep, no drama.

    What do I do? She can’t fall asleep on her own and we can’t put her down.

    I’m so torn bn sleep training and her being too young.

    I don’t know what to do.

    • Michele, I think you’re instincts are good on this one. She’s still too little. Adjusted, she’s only around 12-13 weeks. I would continue to do whatever you can to get lots of sleep and feed her when she needs to be fed. One thing you could start doing is to try to put her down drowsy but awake for the first nap of the day. (Why the first nap? It’s usually easiest.) You could also start nursing her, then “reading” her a book or cuddling (or have Dad put her down to bed) to start getting her used to not eating right before she falls asleep. That’s ambitious though. Don’t feel any rush to do that. You’re doing great!

  145. I started doing sleep training a week and a half ago and there has been no progress. Baby is almost 5 months and a half. Though she now sleeps through the night, she will cry (sometimes scream) for an hour before falling asleep. I think she’s overtired because she doesn’t nap well during the day. I tried putting her to bed at 7 but she wakes up at 4:30 – 5am and it takes 2 hours for her to fall back asleep. I would put her to bed later but she gets so cranky from not taking her 5pm nap. I don’t know what to do. How do I know when her bedtime should be? I’ve only done de training for her night sleep, as I’ve heard you should establish the night sleeping before moving on to the naps. But the sleep training isn’t going to work well if she doesn’t sleep during the day! I can only get her to nap more than 20min if she sleeps on me, in the stroller or the car seat. Not sure what to do next…

  146. Hi Heather!
    Where to start, my little one is now 13 months. She has always slept through since 2,5 months, but the past week and a half she wakes up 11pm and cries until some one comes to her and sits with her until she falls asleep. She will then sleep 30 min to an hour and this ENTIRE circus will start again. This will last right through the night until the sun rises. We have always had a set routine with her and have not changed anything in that. She normally used to fall asleep with her bottle and then I would put her in her crib, but lately she drinks her bottle empty, she is wide awake and wont sleep unless some one sits with her. We tried the cry it out method, but after three minutes she cries herself into a hysteria and will start throwing up! If i then go in to soothe her, she will NOT stop screaming,,,,,this can persist for an hour. I am so exhausted as I work full day as well and maybe get two hours sleep a night. Monday night out of desperation i went to sleep on her hard floor next to her bed, when she would moan i would stick my hand through the cot and she would then pass out. She sleeps 3 hours during the day, takes two naps basically, one at 8;30am and one at 2pm. She eats very well, and drinks 3 bottles of 250ml a day. We have a “white noise” in her room since birth, so it drowns out any odd noises. Do you have any advise? Thank u in advanced.

    • The first thing I would check is that there are no medical issues at play here. Is she teething? Or perhaps has an ear ache or a cold? Then I would start thinking about anything that changed recently that could be shaking things up a little. Did you return to work recently? or has there been any big stressful changes? 8:30 is pretty early for a first nap. What time is she waking for the day? It may also be that she’s overtired by the end of the day, which is making bedtime harder. This sleep averages printable may help you – it shows what the average “Waketime” window is for that age group, and how much daytime sleep she needs. The waketime window is the amount of time she can stay awake before getting overtired. Take a look at that and see if any lightbulbs go off on things you could adjust.

      If you are still stuck, I would be more than happy to talk through these things with you and help you create a workable solution. Every month I do a series of baby sleep workshops that let me talk (via the computer) with parents, teaching various sleeping skills and coaching methods that you can use to create a workable solution. You can get more information on the workshops here.

  147. I just started the CIO method and I’m already feeling like a failure. The last two nights, my 6 month old has cried for a total of 3 hours each night before I finally give in and rock him to a sound sleep. I know it takes a while, but how long are you supposed to let it go on? I go in to soothe him every 5 to 10 minutes, but it seems futile. I know he needs to learn how to self-soothe, and I don’t want to give up. I feel like I am reinforcing his crying by picking him up, but 3 hours is an awful long time for him to lay in bed and cry. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

  148. I’m so glad I found this post and will be checking out some of your others. Thanks for your diligence in replying to everyone’s comments. I’ve learned through those, as well. You are so encouraging. I know I need to break some habits with my 9 month old, including napping and/or falling asleep in the bouncy seat, rocking him to sleep before putting him in the crib, and giving him bottles when he wakes up seemingly hungry every 3 or 4 hours. Thanks for your tip about the ear plugs. I’m sure I’ll need them.

    • Carrie, I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying the website! I try to respond to every comment, or have someone I trust help me. Sometimes it takes me a bit longer, but I think it’s worth it in the long run. It’s hard to break sleep crutches! If you ever need help and want to talk back and forth with me, I’d love to have you join one of my coaching workshops. It’s the best way for me to really connect about specific problems. Good luck friend!

  149. I don’t sleep! My wonderful son is six months old. He doesn’t like to be cuddled and will scream if anybody tries to cuddle. Therefore he hates being swaddled or restricted in any way! He doesn’t know how to sleep on his own, so if he wakes up at any time he instantly stats crying!! : ( I’m up and down all night to give him a binki or roll him over or to feed him! (I pump, so i usually have a huge process to get his milk ready) His room has a night light, should I turn that off? We only can get him to sleep by putting him in a bouncer and rocking the bouncer ourselves. He also hates swings. He doesn’t nap and so he cries all day! Allllll dayyyyy!!!!

    • Nicole, friend I can see why you’re so exhausted! A cranky tired baby makes parenting so. much. harder. My first thought is to make sure he’s been checked and there’s no refluxing or medical issues contributing to his discomfort. As far as the binky goes, start handing it to him, instead of popping it in his mouth. It’s good practice for him, and it will be really helpful at 3am if he can soothe himself! Then leave a pile in his crib so there’s always a binky at the ready if he needs one.

      As for the night light, as long as it isn’t stimulating him to look around at night, it’s probably fine. Start with the binky and asking your doctor to make sure there are no medical reasons for the wakeups. Then you can try coaching him through wakeups without touching him. Try this article, or sign up for one of my sleep coaching workshops and we can talk through several methods that may work for his temperament.

  150. Reese Clark says:

    I am a first time mom so I feel like I am guessing a lot of times regarding what to do with my baby. For the last week she has been sleeping through the night which is a blessing for her and us. However she will not nap during the day unless she is held, and on the occasion that she does sleep when I put her down during the day it would only last 20 minutes tops. I don’t understand why she can sleep on her own at night and not during the day. She is 3 months old, is it too early to sleep train her? All the resources seems to be about sleep training for night time, but it’s for day time naps that I need; is there a difference?

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Wow, Reese! I remember that “I’m guessing about almost everything” feeling with my first. I was scared most of the time that I was going to ruin him. :) The good news is that babies are resilient!
      The first thing I would recommend is Heather’s Napping Know-How webinar. It is fantastic and would really help give you a sense of confidence in this area. You can go to the napping registration page to start the process. Secondly, I suggest you try some of the ideas given in this sleep training article such as, check the nursery: is it dark, is is quiet (guessing it is if this is your first!)?
      Keep up the good work, mama! Your little one is blessed to have you!

  151. What awful advice. Babies should sleep through at 16 weeks? According to whom? That’s not the way babies are made unfortunately – that’s why most babies do not sleep through at that age! If it were normal behavior they’d all be doing it. In addition to physical needs like food and drinks, babies also have emotional needs for comfort and closeness, especially at night. Why are you recommending these be ignored?

    • Susana, you are absolutely correct that 16 weeks is too early to try to train babies to sleep. That comment (the one I think you’re referring to) was written in 2013, before I finished my sleep coaching studies and achieved my certificate. I have amended that comment to reflect the knowledge I have learned since then. The earliest a parent should start gentle coaching methods is 18 weeks, or after their child has passed the 4 month milestones. I never recommend we ignore the needs of our children. I recommend that we help them, when they are old enough to learn to start doing somethings for themselves – and that includes getting through the partial wakening periods that happen in sleep cycles. My error, which you caught, was suggesting that too early. I’ve fixed the comment. Thanks so much for letting me know it needed an adjustment!

  152. Hannah Lewis says:

    Hi Heather,

    Please can you help? My son is almost 10 months old and I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep since I was pregnant.

    Henry has suffered from reflux and was slightly colicky as a newborn. He is currently on prescription milk with a suspected cow’s protein allergy and is also being weaned.

    After reading Good Night Sleep Tight, I’ve managed to get him into a routine with two consistent naps in the day (roughly an hour-2 hours both morning and afternoon), and our bedtime routine is pretty good, with quiet playtime, bath, baby massage, bottle, story, falls asleep swaddled in a blanket in my arms. He has a lovey and the room is blacked out (with a dim night light) and a noise machine.

    However, Henry still will not sleep through. He will wake approxiately 2-3 hours after he has first gone to sleep wanting a bottle and then will not go back to sleep for another 2-3 hours. He plays in his cot, chucks his dummy and toys around, cries to the point of almost-hysteria and then only when he is exhausted will he fall back to sleep.

    He has been ill and was teething recently, although this has calmed down now. I am in the process of getting him allergy tested too as he still has terrible wind.

    Do you have any suggestions for helping us to break this awake-cycle at all? I can almost set my watch by it! Me, Henry and my husband are exhausted!

    Sorry for the massive post! Hannah x

    • Hannah, I’m assuming you’ve been doing the sleep shuffle? it’s hard for me to give advice on a situation like yours- because you’ve done all the first step procedures. I would need to have a back-and-forth conversation and see a health assessment before I could start making good guesses as to what’s going on here. I would encourage you to take a look at attending one of my sleep coaching workshops, or hiring me for a 4-5 week individual coaching. I do have a coaching class coming up next Saturday (Nov 1st). Click here to see the upcoming schedule. I wish I could offer more in a comment, but there are just so many questions flooding my brain right now, they won’t fit in my comment box. I would love, though, to talk things through with you over the phone, skype, or via my workshop.

  153. Kelli Carr says:

    My nearly 9 month old baby won’t sleep unless I lay down with her. She was colicky when she was younger and would scream for hours if her dad tried to put her down. So, we finally switched to me breast feeding her to sleep. And it’s been like that since. For the last 6 months we’ve also been in transition (selling our house and buying a new house). I’m currently still setting up her room, so it’s been hard to get her settled.

    She generally won’t take naps for longer than 30 minutes, unless I lay with her the whole time. Then, she will sometimes sleep longer, but not often. She wakes up several times a night and will only go to sleep if I nurse her. We’ve tried just the pacifier, time to go to sleep words, etc and none of it works.

    I’m not sure how to get her transitioned to her crib (which should be ready in a week or 2) and then help her to sleep through the night.

    Help!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Oh Kelli! Sounds like it’s been a challenging time for her and for you! Transition does make it hard to settle into a reasonable schedule. However, it sounds like you are in your new house now and you can begin some sleep training. I recommend reading Heather’s articles on sleep training here. If your little one continues to struggle please consider attending one of Heather’s sleep webinars. You can find more information here.
      Hang in there, you can do it!

  154. Hannah Lewis says:

    Hi Heather,

    Thank you for your speedy response, I appreciate it. I’ll have a chat with my husband and will be in touch.

    Hannah x

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