The Sandman’s School of Getting Baby to Sleep Through the Night

The Sandman's School of Getting Your Baby to Sleep http://incredibleinfant.com Have you been flunking out in Baby Sleep School?

Are you obsessed with getting baby to sleep through the night, but experiencing nothing but failures?

Maybe it’s not you.  (Phew!)

Maybe you’ve just been listening to the wrong teacher.

Who could be a better sleep teacher than Mr. Sandman himself?

Fortunately for you, he owes me a favor.  (Let’s just say Mrs. Sandman sent me a thank you and leave it at that.)

Here are his five simple lessons for snoozing baby all-night bliss.  

So, class, take out your No. 2 pencils and an extra bag of sleeping sand.

There may (or may not) be an exam at the end.

So look sharp!

*rapping on desk with yardstick*  

STOP! Do Not Proceed If…

  • Your baby is younger than 16 weeks.  Newborns 0-4 weeks can try this, while 2-3 month olds go with this.
  • If your baby is sick or teething.  Snuggle her through it, and then try these tips when she’s healthy.
  • Your baby struggles with acid reflux.  Get the reflux under control first, then work on sleep coaching.
  • You are not 100% convinced he has a full tummy.  Make sure he eats and has refused any more food.  Don’t stop the feeding just because it’s been 45 minutes.  Feed him until he tells you he’s done.
  • You are going on vacation later this week.  Especially for the first 4-5 nights, you need a consistent evening at home with no traveling or major transitions.

This is posted at the bottom of every page on this website, but it bears repeating:  I am not a doctor.  I do not diagnose or prescribe.  Your doctor is your best friend when it comes to your baby’s health-related issues.  

When in doubt, give Doc a shout!

Handling Hysterics

At some point, your baby is going to get very VERY angry with you.

There is crying.

And then there is hysterical crying.

The first is a pout.  It’s like he’s saying “I don’t like this”.

The second is rage.  It’s like he’s saying, “There’s no way in hellenski I’m going to nod off.  You. Can’t. Make. Me.”

The first one can be overcome with patient endurance, but the second will require an intervention.

Here’s how to handle hysterical crying: 

  • Pick him up until he’s calm, as briefly as possible.  Then put him down again while he’s still awake.
  • Shhhh-shush him and make other soothing sounds.
  • Don’t talk to him too much.
  • If you do walk him around to calm him down, stay in the nursery.  Don’t leave the room.
  • When he’s calm, give him a kissy, put him back in the crib and sit down next to him.

The Sleep Lady says… “If you pick him up and he’s immediately calm, you’ve been “had”.  Instead of you training him to sleep, he’s trained YOU to pick him up.  Wait a little longer next time.  Trust your instincts and your knowledge of this child.  You’ll know within a night or two whether picking him up helps or further stimulates him.”  

The Truffle Sleep Shuffle

(Oh….the truffle shuffle.  Such memories….)

The following steps are from my favorite sleep coaching book of all time, Good Night Sleep Tight.  If you don’t own a copy of this book, you really need to pick one up.  It is an incredible reference that goes into much greater detail than what I can offer you here.  She even has an accompanying workbook to help.  

This method is my favorite because it empowers parents to be parents, while at the same time offers the gentle reassurances that babies need so much.

Here are five steps to get your baby into a regular routine of sleeping through the night.  Usually parents transition to each step every 3-4 days.  However, if your baby seems to be “getting it” a lot sooner, go ahead and move the timetable up.

Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night:
Lesson One

Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night #1For nights 1 -3, follow your regular evening routine using tricks like these, getting him drowsy and sleepy, but not sleep-ing.

Pull up a chair to sit next to her in the crib.  (Right next to the crib.)

Chances are she’s going to fuss about this new arrangement.  So, on occasion, reach over and pat or stroke her through the crib.

The key here is to control the touch – so that she is comforted when you touch her, but doesn’t become dependent on your touch to go to sleep.  If you let her hold your finger while she falls asleep, she’ll just wake up when you take your finger away.

Your assignment is to be present, but completely boring until she has fallen completely asleep.  

Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night:
Lesson Two

Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night #2On the fourth night (through the 6th night), move your chair halfway to the door.  (If your nursery room is teeny, skip to Step Three.)

Continue with the comforting shushing sounds you made before.  Only get up to stroke him if it’s absolutely necessary.  Picking him up should only happen if he hits the “hysterical cry” stage.

By this point, you should have a better idea of what comforts him, and what stimulates him.  Some babies actually do better if you don’t touch them at all.

Your assignment is to be present, but completely boring until he has fallen completely asleep.  

Cameron  & Heather’s Secret Weapon:   When it came to the “I want this and you’re saying no and that makes me upset” kind of cry, we found ear plugs were invaluable.  They took the sharp edge off and helped us stay consistent in our resolve of “I know you don’t like this, but it’s best.”  I recommend these corded ear plugs, they won’t become a choking hazard if left out.

Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night:
Lesson Three

Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night #3Starting on night seven, move the chair to the dim doorway inside the room, with the door open.  Occasionally shush her as a verbal reminder that you are with her in the room.

Stay until she’s asleep.  Don’t just leave when her eyes close because there’s something else you want to do.  If you leave before she’s asleep you’ll defeat the whole purpose – which is to make her feel calm and reassured while she’s sleeping.

Your assignment is to be present, but completely boring until she has fallen completely asleep.  

Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night:
Lesson Four

Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night #4On the eleventh night, move your chair into the hallway now, so he can still see you through the door.

Close your eyes so he can see it’s sleeping time.  Shush him when necessary and stay until he falls asleep.

Your assignment is to be present, but completely boring until he has fallen completely asleep. 

Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night:
Lesson Five

Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night #5If she’s still having trouble falling asleep on her own by Night 13, move the chair in the hallway and shut the door almost all the way.

You will need to occasionally use your voice to soothe and remind her that even though she can’t directly see you, you are still there.

Pay attention to her cries, but don’t go rushing in at the first sign of a whimper.  If you MUST go in, stand at the door and offer soothing tones, then step back outside.

Your assignment is to be present, but completely boring until she has fallen completely asleep. 

How to Handle the Nighttime Wake-Ups

When/if your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, simply repeat the position you had in the shuffle the evening prior.

Do not feed your baby, and do not change his diaper unless you absolutely have to.  (And if you have to, keep the lights low and don’t speak.)

Repeat this position every time he wakes up until 6-7 am until it’s time to start the day.

It’s Quiz Time

What?

You thought I was joking about the quiz?

I never joke.

So here goes!  Fill in the blanks:

Your assignment is to be __________, but completely _____________until he has fallen completely _________. 

No looking back and cheating.

I see that wandering eye there, Miss Smith!

Let this principle help you stay focused in the week ahead.  Good sleep is just around the corner, my friend!!

If you’re still having sleep troubles, after following these lessons, use the Sleep Lady’s book.  It has chapters of trouble shooting tips to help you root out the cause and fix it ASAP.

Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night

Has your baby been following this pattern?  What has helped you?

Comments

  1. When do you know if you need to try this? Our little guy sleeps typically 7ish to 5:30ish with a wakeup to nurse around 12/1… Is this method to remove the nursing time? How do we know if it’s too soon to try to eliminate a nursing request?

    • If he’s older than 12 weeks, and doesn’t have any other health issues, he is physically able to sleep from 7 until 7 without having to get up to eat. Usually babies older than 12 weeks who are still waking up are doing so out of habit. They go through a sleeping cycle, and then can’t go back to sleep without your help. This method is a way of helping your baby learn how to do that on his own. That said, you will have to decide if “usually” still applies to your baby. If he’s only nursing for a minute or two before nodding back off, he’s nursing to soothe, and not to eat. If he’s gulping for 20-30 minutes…then perhaps he’s not quite old enough to drop the feeding. Does that help clarify things Michele?

  2. I’m in the same boat over here…my 6 month old typically goes down at 9 *crosses fingers* without a fight (we massage, bath, bottle, lullaby, bed), & lately has been finishing the bottle, twisting around in my arms to say ‘it’s time for bed’, then into the crib & sleeping after a few minutes of back rub. The last week of September, he started sleeping 9p-5a (yay!) then October hit & we had a sleep regression (every.2.hours) & growth spurt (boo!). Come November, back to sleeping 9-2 or 3ish, 4oz bottle, then back to bed til about 730…is the middle of the night bottle just a habit now? Because I know he can make it through 9-5…oh, & now we are teething, so when he wakes up at night I feel like I should do something….thoughts mamas??

  3. My 18mo old goes sleeps very quickly (with a bottle) but wakes up usually once (sometimes more) and needs me to pop a pacifier in to go back to sleep. I was always hoping she’d just sleep through the night one day by herself [insert laughing from all moms here!]. She has a few times slept through the night, just to tease me, it didn’t stick! I’m learning here that I HAVE to start training her to go to sleep without any bottles or pacifiers if she’ll ever sleep through on her own – is this right?
    Upside: I may succeed and get better sleep myself, eventually.
    Downside: Even though she wakes up a few times, she goes back to sleep immediately without my help, and she goes to bed super quick, so time spent dealing with her lack of sleep is pretty low even though I still don’t get consistent sleep. Sleep training per your article seems like lots of tears and lack of sleep for several weeks. Currently she goes into the shrieking screaming version you noted at the beginning when put down in the crib when not fully asleep! She’s so old now too, she’s got more attitude about what she wants, perhaps harder to train?

    • Tania, every child is different, so it’s hard to determine if there’s going to be a lot of tears and lack of sleep. I used this method with two of my children (didn’t know about it with my first). Elena (of course the middle stubborn child) took about a week. The youngest Bella took only 4 days to go through all the steps. As soon as I felt we’d made progress, we moved to the next step. So it’s hard to tell how long it will take.

      If she goes back to bed super quick, I’m wondering if you should wait longer before going in there. Perhaps she will mull herself back to sleep if you waited 15 minutes? As for going down at bedtime, at 18 months, she’s got some harder habits to break. You can do this Tania! Tell yourself you’re going to try it for 4-5 nights and see what happens. If you see absolutely no improvement after 5 nights, we’ll have to do some adjusting. You’re not stuck friend. We can keep trying things to catch those consistent nights. :-)

  4. Hello other mums,

    I have a six month old who goes to sleep wonderfully…between six and seven we get the pjs on, go for a wee walk around the house chatting with the other family members, give kisses, walk through a dark hallway into a dark room, she curls up and buries her face into my chest, rubs her eyes, I lay her down and in minutes she is sound asleep; rarely a tear falls. But lately she has stated waking up around 9:30 or 11:30, and very quickly gets herself in a tizzy, just wailing, and all my regular soothing methods only fuel the fire, so I nurse her and after five minutes she is back to sleep. I have come to the conclusion that this is completely habitual, as every now and again she throws in a day where she won’t wake up, but as for the other days I don’t know what steps to take to curb it, as all my usual techniques just don’t work. What should I do?

    • Kate, give some of these tips a try. Go in and comfort her, but don’t pick her up and nurse her. Then sit with her and see if you can calm her down. Also, have you checked to see if she’s teething? That could also be contributing to her wake up. You may need to try some of these teething pain strategies. Hope this can help!

      • I have tried most of those tricks, but she just screams, leaving the room works, but then when I re-enter, she just looses it again (which is how I know she just doesn’t want to be put down again). She may also be teething, so I think I’ll hold off on any major interventions. She is such a bright baby, and very hard to trick into new habits. She is so different than my first baby, who slept through the night, 7pm-7am, at 6 weeks old. I guess I was spoiled.

        Thanks for such a great blog!

  5. Thanks Heather :) yes, he has popped out 2 teeth since my last posting, & we went to the ped & found his ‘slight ear infection’ on the right is now ‘a raging double’…augmentin to the rescue! Hopefully once this is resolved we can make some sleep progress….he seems better regarding the teething pain now that they have both broken through the gum. As for remedies, we are using some homeopathic Calcarea Phos & Ferrum Phos…1 tab twice a day dissolved in water. I think it is helping…he is much less drooly & irritable since starting it…but we are also effectively treating his ear infections, so…could be either one. Thanks for such a great, real life blog for us new mamas! And the Milestone Marker is awesome…printed a copy & put it in a binder….I love marking down when he does something new!!!

  6. Found this post while desperately searching for answers at 11:30 pm. Our five month old daughter doesn’t have any problem putting herself to sleep when she goes down at seven pm. When she’s finished with the bottle, we simply lay her down in her crib and she puts her self to sleep in minutes. But lately, she’s been waking 2-4 times at night and can’t put herself back to sleep. She works herself into hysterics. CIO hasn’t seemed to work, she only gets more angry when we try to gently speak to her or hum or stay nearby as suggested. She will go for an hour plus just screaming, struggling to get back to sleep. Help!

  7. I have read your blogs and they are all wonderful, but I feel as though I am on an island by myself :) lol I have a 10 month old who we get to sleep in his swing for naps and bedtime and then when he is sleeping we take him out and put him in his crib. He is also still getting up 2-3x a night where sometimes he eats 8 plus ounces. He is too big for the swing so it’s game on. I just don’t know how to handle the transition. How long do I leave him in his crib if he is happy? I have a feeling that he will stay in there forever playing? But then what happens if he gets upset? He is very strong willed and very smart. I know I waited too long but now I have no choice. He will not let me rock him and he doesn’t take a pacifier so the swing was our crutch. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Shayne

    • Shayne, as for the nighttime habits, follow the steps above, I’ve yet to meet a parent who didn’t see improvements after a few weeks once they dug in and did it!

      As for the transition…have you seen my post on “why your baby hates his crib”? It talks about different ways to give your baby the feeling of being in his swing! when he isn’t. That may help.

      If he’s happy, let him hang out in there as long as he wants. It actually may help you, by helping him get more comfortable being in the crib and not the swing. Once he starts fussing and telling you to “come and get me” go in to him all confident smiles. It will reassure him that playing in his crib is a good thing. Hope this helps!

      • First I want to thank you for the courage to try to go without the swing today….So, we did the no swing thing for naps today and for bedtime! Success for the three times. Now I’m worried about the nighttime wakings because I usually feed him back to sleep. Any tips?

        • I’m so glad to hear the swing thing is working itself out! Well done Mom! Don’t feed him back to sleep, instead offer your gentle shushings and presence. But don’t feed him! That’s reinforcing the thing you need to change. Follow the steps above for two weeks to help him feel the comfort of your presence, instead of your breast. :-) You can do this Shayne! You’re doing great!

  8. My 6 month old is going to be transitioning the next two weeks when I am on winter break. He hates to even remotely lay on his back (likes his side the most) but cannot roll over yet in order to put himself in that position. I will be starting to use the techniques above but does anyone have any tips if I should elevate the mattress to help or use a towel? He hates to go to sleep without his father rocking him as well. He loved his rock n play but has outgrown it!

    • Amy, I wrote an article talking about different crib tricks you can try – have you seen it? Just in case you haven’t… Go through that and see if it gives you any ideas! Specifically, try the towel-under-the-sheet crib, but instead of making a “U” shape, make a snake and stick it under his shoulder, so he’s slanted.

  9. My 6 month old is having major sleep regression. She’s slept 8-10 hours through the night since she was 6 weeks old. But, we moved her into her room and into her crib about 3 weeks ago and ever since she’s been getting up 2-3 times at night. (she was in the rock and play before in our room). I go in each time and feed her and put her back down. I know I’ve probably started a bad habit now although she still eats every time I go in there so I’m worried she may be actually hungry? She just learned to roll over and that seems to have something to do with it too because she’ll roll from back to tummy and then cannot roll back over and gets upset. Sometimes she’ll sleep on her tummy but not always. I also think she’s starting to teeth, but it’s hard to tell. If she’s crying and I go in there, she immediately stops crying and smiles at me. Is she just playing me?? At nap time she’s been crying too and we follow a pretty consistent schedule and know that she needs to go to sleep about 1.5-2 hours after waking or she’ll get fussy, but she still cries when we put her down for about 10 minutes. She typically only naps for 45 min each time, like clock work. Any advice?? Thanks so much!!!

    • Corrie, I think you’re being played. ;-) Especially since she was sleeping like a champ before. My guess is that she hit a growth spurt or was teething and that threw everything off, and now she’s just having a hard time getting back into that rhythm. Regarding the rolling over, try the towel trick in this article, but instead of creating a “U” shape, put one on either side of her armpits, so she’s on her side, but can’t roll over and get stuck.

      Make sure the room is dark for naptime, and there’s a noisemaker going to drown out signs of life around the house. As for her nighttime sleep, do the steps above at night, sitting in the place you were sitting during the “put to bed” shuffle” when she wakes up. Comforting her using whatever works, but resist picking her up as much as you can, and avoid singing or anything that may stimulate her to “totally awake”. The goal is to help her get past the “partial awakening” section of her sleep cycle, and back into the deeper REM sleep without your intervention. I hope this encourages you! Let me know if I need to clarifying anything or can help with something else.

  10. Christina says:

    Great Blog Heather! Some super useful tips…and I feel like I have read a lot of them :)
    I’d like to hear your advice on tackling our sleep issues with my 6.5 month old. She slept like a champ from Day 1 until around 4 months when she learned to roll over (and get stuck) and started teething (yes teething!) now she won’t sleep unless either in my arms or co-sleeping. Morning nap requires no effort except lying next to her in our bed. She drifts off for 45-1…sometimes longer if I do heavy hands during transition. Afternoon nap is in my arms on the couch for 2-2.5 hours. Though she probably needs a third nap, I have a 2 year old who is home and makes it difficult for the little one to take a catnap. Night time has become awful. Routine is in place (diaper, massage, nurse,book) but she must be held until dead asleep and then wakes sometimes every 45-1.5. Still nurses at 2am (though am thinking its habitual these days) Gradual withdrawal worked for our older girl at 10months (when she started to walk and had 10 teeth). I am hoping it will work for this one. We are anxiously awaiting for her 6th tooth (yes 6 already!!!) to break before starting anything. Do you think this is a wise move? Should I tackle it all cold turkey? The co-napping, co-sleeping after night feed, the night feed…any advice would be awesome! I feel like I don’t know where to start with this girl. And having a toddler around makes it all a little more difficult :$

    • Toddlers do add a whole new level of “busyness” to parenting! She has some pretty engrained sleep crutches that you will need to start chipping away at. I would begin to do the sleep shuffle with her at night. Make sure she has a full tummy when you put her down at night, so when she wakes you can be confident it’s out of habit and not out of hunger. Other things I would start doing…

      1. Give her a lovey – something soft she can hold and cuddle with. Then use it whenever you are holding her and cuddling, so she can associate those warm cozy feelings with a little stuffed animal or blanket. Then put that in the crib with her during naps. It will provide the “you smell” and comfort that she’s looking for.

      2. Put her in the crib for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon and then either play with her inside the crib, or sit beside her while she plays inside the crib. I would put my toddler inside the crib too with some toys and books and let them play together for a little bit while I sat beside them in the rocking chair. The purpose here is to get her used to being inside the crib, and thinking that the crib is a happy place to hang out. This will help dissociate any negative feelings she may have about the crib.

      3. Try angling the crib up a little bit, so it’s not a flat surface. If she’s used to sleeping on your chest, she’s used to sleeping on an incline. Put a semi-flat pillow under the mattress against the springs to create a slight incline. Then read through these other crib tips to see if there are other ways you can make the crib easier for her to sleep on.

      4. Make sure the nursery room is as dark as you can get it (I hung two dark sheets and blinds on our window), and have a 24/7 noisemaker to drown out toddler sounds during naps.

      It’s not going to be easy to help her make this transition, but it can be done. She’s going to cry, but not because she’s unsafe or you’re being a bad parent, she’s going to cry because she prefers sleeping on you and you’re changing the game. Start fiddling with the sleep shuffle above, testing whether she does better when you’re with her and occasionally speaking and touching her hand, or if she does better if you sit there and close your eyes and am just THERE, or if she does better if you leave the room entirely. Go in when she’s hysterical and it’s obvious she’s getting hyped up and calm her down, rock her, etc. and then put her down again. On days I was really tired and easily frustrated, I would put my older child in her room for a playing “quiet time” and put in some ear plugs. I can still hear things, but the crying isn’t as abrasive. Since your toddler is only two, put him/her on your bed with your phone or ipad, or in front of the TV, so that you know he is safely occupied while you are working on his sister’s sleeping issues.

      Concentrate on the nighttime sleep first, doing the sleep shuffle. During the day, do whatever you do to help her nap. As soon as her nighttime sleep is being managed, you can start using the same techniques for napping. Give it a sold week, Christina, and I think you’ll be encouraged. Just hang in there. :-)

  11. I have a 4-month old and I don’t have any problems getting him to sleep at night. He goes to bed between 6:30 and 7, then usually wakes up for a quick feeding at 1:30 (although he has made it to 4am before without eating), then goes right back to sleep. My problem is he usually wakes up between 5 and 6:30 every morning and is ready to get up for the day! There has been a handful of times where he has slept until 7, but I would like him to sleep until 7 every day! How do I get him to sleep longer? I usually just ignore his crying and sometimes he will doze back off, but this morning he made noises for an hour before I finally went to him at 6. It throws off his entire nap schedule when he wakes up so early, and I am very tired as well.

    • Hannah, I would recommend trying something called a dreamfeed. Basically what you do is sneak in there a few minutes before he usually wakes up and feed him. Don’t talk, don’t change his diaper, don’t turn on any lights, you want him to dream right through the feeding. Then put him down immediately and let him keep sleeping. Do this for a few days, and then stop and see if it helped him push past that block. It’s a risk, since if you’re not careful he may be “up”, but it’s worth the try. :-)

  12. I am having difficulty, this is my pattern: my daughter is 21 weeks old I also have a 4 year old son what I do it after my sons tea I bath them both at 7 feed my daughter (Breastfeeding) she will always fall asleep I then pick her up and attempt to burp her put her in her grobag and lay her in her crib sometimes she’s awake but mostly asleep I turn off light and shut door and then bed my son an hour after she goes down she’s up I have tried leaving her but she gets so upset then she wiggles and twist so she sideways in her crib and gets stuck so I have to go and pick her up to turn her round this is the same all night until 12 when I go to bed she then goes to sleep nursing and stays asleep till 6-7 feed her then goes back down till 9 (when my son gets up) I would love to have just a few hours to myself do you have any advice thank you x

    • Rachel, you are in the trenches of motherhood. The good news, is that it can get better. The first thing I would start to work on is keeping her awake during feedings. You need to know for sure that she’s completely finished eating, and isn’t eating halfway, then falling asleep only to wake up again hungry an hour later because she wasn’t finished. Do whatever you can to keep her awake throughout the entire feeding. Strip her down to her diaper and cover her with a blanket, or use a warm washcloth on her hands, or gently blow on her face, whatever you have to do to keep her awake until she indicates that she’s finished. Then start putting her down drowsy, but awake. If she’s always sleeping when you put her down, she will start relying on you everytime she wakes up to get her back to sleep. That’s a habit that really costs you in the months/years to come.

      So start with the no-sleeping-while breastfeeding. Then work on the putting her down “drowsy but awake”. And then start working through the sleep shuffle steps above. You can do this Rachel! You don’t have to feel like an exhausted Zombie all the time. You can help your children get the rest they need, and help YOU get the rest you need at the same time!

      • Ok I tried it (in uk) fed her till she refused then put her down awake she went to sleep for 1hr then woke so I tried above method did not work she screamed so hard she made herself choke I calmed her down and laid her back down but after a while she just continued to scream took me an hour to calm her down after another attempt with same outcome I gave up out of exhaustion and laid her in her rocker in the lounge and she fell asleep within minutes :-( on the plus my toddler can sleep through all this lol x

        • Okay. Let’s go back and do some troubleshooting. When you put her down, was she semi-conscious and sleepy? or wide awake? When you put her down, did you sit or stand next to the crib? You did the right thing, picking her up and calming her. And it’s okay that you gave up and laid her in the rocker. :-) Little steps. Does she normally sleep in the rocker? And if so, is the rocker on while she’s sleeping? If that’s her favorite place to sleep, we may want to start with transitioning her to the crib first, before we try to do the Sandman steps above.

  13. I have a six month old who has always been nursed to sleep or settled with a dummy. This isn’t working anymore because at night he can wake every 2 to 4 hours wanting his dummy or to be nursed.
    I am TIRED!
    I tried your strategy above for an hour with no success. I eventually rocked my son to sleep. How long do you suggest sitting there for? Should I stop and give him a break. For example if he is not asleep in 15min is it wise to stop and just try again later?
    Here is a bit of background
    1. He is on a 4 hour feed, play, feed to sleep routine with 3 solids meals in between milk feeds.
    2. He has had a night routine of bath, massage, feed, story, then dummy or nurse to sleep.
    3. I tried the elevated bed with no avail.
    4. I tried him on his tummy and side and he rolled over to his back so I think he didn’t like it.
    5. When I wrap him he sweats a lot, even if he is just in a nappy.
    6. During the sleep training, when I picked him up and calmed him down as soon as his body touched the mattress he screamed. There was no fussy crying? Could this be because he was over tired already?

    Thanks

    • Lucy, Thanks so much for posting this, I’m confident we can work out something better. Firstly, how are his naps during the day? You are right in that if he’s over-tired at night that can be contributing to it. (And yes, I think you did the right thing picking him up.) Is he napping twice or three times a day? and for how long? What time is his last nap and feeding?

      Hang in there, I’m happy to help you come up with some things to try. :-)

  14. I can’t wait to try this advice. My LO
    Is 8 months old and I’ve co slept her since birth and nurse her to sleep/walk her and bounce her sometimes. I’m the first to admit lately that I’ve created a sleep monster because neither of us is getting any. She wakes every two hours still to nurse for less five mins and falls back asleep.during the day she refuses to nap and once I get her to sleep and lay her down she seems to wake right away or will only sleep
    For ten/20 mins. I’m at a loss now
    I’m so tired and I know she must be too. How can I tradition her to crib and get her to sleep longer through the night when she’s used to waking so much. ? Please help!

    • Firstly, Heather I would write down all the issues you feel are contributing to her sleeping problems. Sounds like she’s snacking a lot on the breast, so that’s one. Rocking her to sleep perhaps would be another? She’s not used to sleeping in the crib, right? Write down any and all of the issues that you’d like to see changed, and then start concentrating on them, one at a time. So perhaps the first goal is to get her to stop snacking throughout the day/night. Then work on falling asleep without Mom, then work on the crib sleeping, which would translate into better nighttime sleep.

      So starting with the snacking, I would make sure try to lengthen out her feeding sessions by 10-15 minutes. Firstly by making sure she stops falling asleep during meals, but is completely finished eating. Then try other ways to soothe her to sleep – try bouncing her around, or using a binky, or singing, or rocking her to sleep – however you can get her to sleep is okay, because at this early stage the first thing is the not-nursing-to-sleep thing. That’s the first sleeping crutch to break. Once she’s eating at specific times, and not snacking, work on putting her down drowsy-but-awake, soothing her through touch and your voice next to her. Then, you can start transitioning her into the crib. But firstly, start working on the full-tummy before bed, and the soothing in other ways other than nursing. IT’s going to be a rough few days, but hang in there. After you start to see progress in this area, we can work on the others. You WILL see progress, but it’s going to take a few days of gentle persistence. :-)

      Oh, if you still want to continue co-sleeping, that’s just fine – but I would recommend we start to get her napping in the crib. Unless you have hours to spend next to her in the big bed, it’s safest for her to sleep in the crib during naps.

      • Christina says:

        Thanks for the advice Heather!
        She has a little muslin blanket that we have been using for awhile now. She loves to rub it on her face (but often knocks out her soother :$). I stopped holding her for naps but lie beside her in bed. She has been really good at going to sleep on her own with no intervention from me (except me lying there with my eyes closed) so I don’t think we will have to raise her mattress. I have been putting her in the crib for 5-10 minutes before her naps each day and let her play while I putter around. She seems to have taken well to that too. We were just about to start the sleep shuffle when lo and behold she started cutting another tooth AND got a cold! So that is our next step. My husband has been switching off nights with me and we are actively night weaning her. So far so good! She made it 6:30-5am without a feed last night. So next up is the shuffle as soon as the tooth pops. Hopefully we can catch it quick and get it done before the next tooth starts to rear its ugly head!
        I have one follow up question: what time do you think I should be putting her down at night? She doesn’t have a third nap so is usually up at 2:15-2:45pm from the afternoon nap. I am thinking 5:30pm but would like to hear what you think.
        Thanks again!

        • Christina, sounds like you are both have the knack of this! I think you’re also being very smart about the tooth/cold. Comfort that little bundle through this, and then you can start working on everything else. :-) As for putting her down, I would try to see if she would take a very short 45 min nap around 5:00 (4:30 if she’s waking at 2:15). But don’t let her sleep later than an hour. Then try to put her down for the night at 7:30 or 8:00. My concern is if you try to put her down at 5:30 pm, she’s going to be up by 5:30am (if not sooner) ready to start the day. Give that a whirl for a few days and see if it helps/hinders. Then do any adjustments that you and your hubby think are best.

          • Thanks! That is actually what we have kinda been doing. Down around 5…and she only sleeps 45 minutes. Then up for nursing, solids, quiet playing then my husband puts her down for the night. Just wanted to make sure it sounded like we were doing things that would be productive :)
            Will let you know how the sleep shuffle goes!

  15. Hello my LO is 14 weeks old we also have a 2 year old, they will eventually share a room when our 14 week old sleeps through the night. Our LO has been sleeping in a pack n play in our room since birth. Lately the longest stretch she does is from 10pm to 3am then waking up every half hour to hour till morning. I want to try your method but wonder what to do about the sleeping arrangements ? Should I move her pack n play to the living room? And attempt the sleep teaming from there ? I’m at a loss we only have 2 bedrooms upstairs ours and their shared room. Help ! And soother or no soother ?

    • Sophie, if you’re up for a little experiment…what if you put her in the 2nd bedroom (or another room) to sleep near you, but not in the same room for a few days? I’m just wondering if your sleep cycles are feeding off each other. Babies go through a partial awakening part of the cycle, and it’s possible she’s stirring and moving around and you’re thinking she’s awake, when really she’s just transitioning. I’m curious if she would be able to get past the 3am feeding if you weren’t so cued into her presence. (Does that make sense?)

      Another thing you could try is to dreamfeed her. If you know she’s going to wake up at 3am, try to feed her at 2:45. Don’t change her diaper, don’t talk to her, don’t turn on lights, etc. so she dreams right through the feeding. Sometimes that can help them get past a waking habit. Of course, to do that you’ll need her in a separate room so your little alarm doesn’t wake her…

      And that’s a thumbs-up on the soother. Anyway she can soothe herself will be a good thing in helping her learn how to fall asleep on her own. Hope this can help!

  16. Hi Heather,
    I am having a hard time figuring out if my daughter’s mommy attachment and lack of sleep is due to her teeth. She is 6 months old and was sleeping great from 8 weeks-4 months. Then, the sleep regression hit and never ended until we did a little sleep training (based on your advice.) it only took about 1 night of her crying in the middle of the night and she put herself back to sleep. She was always very easy to put down at night time, it was more her night wakings.

    During the holidays, we were traveling and she was in our room and she also popped her two bottom teeth. Since then, she has still been waking up in the middle of the night screaming and now not going down as easy. She usually goes to sleep fine for me, but not for my husband. Also, during the day, she usually goes down for naps easily for me, but no one else. She has given me a hard time on a few occasions, but not normally.

    So, last week was pretty rough. Hard going down and hard time at night. She gets hysterical and can’t calm down. Sometimes she gets more upset when we are in the room, until we eventually pick her up. The other night, She didn’t fall asleep even after crying for an hour and a half for my husband, He tried going in every 10 minutes and when hysterical, every 5, but she continues to scream. I went in after an hour and a half and she calmed, then fell asleep. So, there are so many different things going on and I don’t know if it’s just that she only wants me to put her to sleep, if it’s her teeth (because she doesn’t always calm for me at night) or what it is. Some nights I’ve had to nurse her to soothe her because she can’t calm. She hasn’t been having night feedings since 8-9 weeks old.

    This week, she has been falling asleep during her last feeding and I’ve been putting her down sleepy, but awake and she has fallen right asleep. One night, she slept 9 hrs straight, woke up and fed then back to sleep for 3 hrs. But, the past 2 nights she has woken up after only 2 hrs of sleeping and has been screaming and taking 45-55 mins to go back to sleep. Then, sleep a few hours and wake back up. Also, my husband has put her down for a few naps and she hasn’t fought him.

    So, it seems that we have a few different problems going on here. I thought at first it was an attachment to me, but then after reading your teething page I don’t know if that is part of the issue as well. I don’t want to make her even more mad. Any advice is appreciated.

  17. HELP!!!!
    So last night we tried this method for the first time. My 6- month-old boy has been waking up screaming every two hours for the past month until I nurse him. Last night we gave this a go and terror ensued. Whenever my husband or I picked him up he would continue hysterical crying…for an HOUR. Nothing soothes him. He won’t take a pacifier. He just pushes me away and screams. After an hour he finally calmed down enough to be out in the crib but then it all started over again. When he finally slept, he slept for a whopping forty five minutes. We started over again. It took another hour to get him to sleep. Then he slept for an hour and we started over. The last two times he woke up I finally just nursed him because I couldn’t take it anymore. Is this normal?? I tried to feed him a ton before bed but clearly it did nothing. This all just felt like pure cry it out except we were holding him and suffering as well. When he nurses at night it is for about ten minutes. Please help!!!! My husband and I are literally starting to lose it!

    • Firstly, don’t feel guilty about ANYTHING. This process is going to take some time to work out. It’s very common for the first 3-4 days to be PURE HELL. That said, let me see what I can do to help you cut back on the hellishness a bit.

      A few questions…. 1.) Is he sleeping well during the day? and 2) when he wakes up at night, is he having a full feeding? or does it seem he just wants the comfort? 3) You mentioned the nursing for 10 minutes, is that the last feeding of the night? Or when he wakes up?

      Thanks Camee, answering those will help me get a better picture of what things we can try next. :)

      • 1. No, he is not sleeping well during the day. He has never been a good napper. Until a few days ago he would only ever nap in my arms or in the car. Starting a few days ago I nursed him to sleep and then put him in his crib and he stayed asleep for 2 hours, which was a miracle. But I REALLY don’t want to nurse him to sleep! Today he did not take a nap until 3pm. Again, I finally had to nurse him into it.
        2. When he wakes up at night it’s hard to tell if he is getting a full feeding. He is a pretty fast nurser during the day as well so I’m not sure. I do try to pull him off when I feel like he is just sucking and not eating.
        3. The nursing for ten minutes is just during the night. For his last feeding I crammed him with as much rice cereal and fruit purees as possible and then fed him a 5 oz. bottle of pumped milk because I am afraid I am not giving him enough which is why he is waking up hungry. Clearly, this did nothing.
        I am just so frustrated and scared that I have somehow produced the un-sootheable baby.

        • Camee, the good news is that he’s still very young. You haven’t produced an unsootheable baby, sounds like he’s a very smart baby who has some pretty ingrained sleeping crutches. These can be re-written and adjusted, so you’re certainly not doomed. :-) Firstly, I would move your nursing up a little bit in your bedtime routine. So let’s set aside the shuffle for a few days and work on soothing him and helping him get good and sleepy without the breast. So, if you start you’re bedtime at 7:30 (totally guessing), start feeding him at 7:00 instead, and then rocking him to get him drowsy and to soothe him. When he wakes up at night, go to him quickly and pick him up and soothe him (so he doesn’t go into hysterics) by rocking or bouncing him gently around the room, shushing in his ear, etc. to calm him without nursing. The difference here from the shuffle, is that you’re going to pick him up and soothe him, and do other things. After a few days, when you notice that he’s being soothed faster than he was before, and you’re not nursing him to sleep, THEN you can try the sleep shuffle. But first we should try to work on that sleep crutch he has – of needing a breast to go to sleep.

          Also, studies have shown that feeding your baby solids right before bed doesn’t help with the sleeping through the night. It’s the sleep crutch he’s struggling with, not necessarily hunger (which seem supported by the fact he’s not really nursing much when you put him on.) He’s going through his sleep cycle, and getting stuck at a partial awakening, which becomes a FULL awakening because he needs the breast to help him fall back asleep. I’m going to be talking about this more in-depth in the napping webinar coming up next week. We’ll talk about how to break that cycle, and a bunch of other strategies for babies who really struggle with sleep. It’s focused more on daytime sleep, but I will mention nighttime sleep because it’s all related. Here’s more information on the webinar. It’s the best thing for struggling parents, in that I have a whole hour to talk about things and give suggestions, and not just a blog post or a comment! :-)

  18. Hi Heather!
    Thanks for the advice. I’ve been pretty adamant against sleep training until recently. I do not agree with CIO and thought that was my only option. This seems reasonable. I love the idea of having your presence there for LO.
    Here’s one question. My son is 7.5 months old. He has always been rocked to sleep. I have tried putting him down half asleep but he notices and gets up onto his hands and knees and reaches for me. I have tried patting him, holding his soother in his mouth for him, shushing him. If he knows I’m there he will cry and reach for me. If he knows I’ve left he will cry. I will not make him cry like that so I’m at a loss. I want him to be okay with me sitting beside him until he falls asleep, because it seems like such a good solution. But I’m not so sure he’s up for that.
    My second question is for night wakings. He is also a frequent night waker. He wakes up once very 2-3 hours to nurse. I know he doesn’t ‘need’ it. He mostly just wants the cuddle. What would you do during the night when he wakes? I’m certain that even if I am able to get him to fall asleep on his own at bed time, that will not keep him from his night feedings.
    Thanks for your help :)

    • Lacy, I’m totally with you on the CIO – that’s one thing that drew me to Kim West in the first place. It seems like a happy medium. Regarding the rocking, I would start trying to wean away the rocking by sitting with him in the chair and rocking slowly until he’s sleepy, and then stopping and sitting there without rocking while he falls to sleep. Then after a few days, just sit in the chair and don’t rock at all. Then after that work on getting him drowsy, then putting him down and placing your face close to him, and your hand close to him until he falls asleep. The goal in all this is try to figure out little steps you can take to slowly wean him off the rocking and moving towards independence.

      At some point, he’s going to cry, because you are not doing something he wants you to do. That’s okay, because he’s not hurt, he’s not feeling unloved or rejected. He just doesn’t like what you’re doing. I used to think of it this way: My girls may ask for candy right before bed, or right before dinner. And I’ll say no, and (when they were toddlers) they would cry and fuss. They were reacting to my decision, but that’s cool with me because I know something they don’t know (candy before bed is bad for teeth, and bad for healthy suppers!), and so I will allow them to be upset, knowing that I am really, as their parent, protecting them from something that would be WORSE for them later on.

      That doesn’t mean we have to put our children in rooms and refuse to comfort them for hours, it just means that we accept that there will be some protest crying, but that doesn’t mean we’re bad parents or they are unloved children. It means they don’t agree with us, and we know what’s best. :-)

      If it’s clear to you that he’s not hungry when he wakes every 2-3 hours, but is just wanting to cuddle. I would firstly concentrate on giving him that cuddle, but without the nursing. Once it seems you’ve broken that sleeping crutch (“I wake every 2-3 hours so mom can nurse me back to sleep because I cannot figure out how to fall asleep without nursing”), then you can work on not picking him up to cuddle, but standing in the shuffle position. (Does that make sense?)

      My recommendation is to work on the rocking and the middle-of-the-night cuddling (instead of nursing) first. Once you see progress with those things, you can start moving towards the first night of the shuffle.

  19. Hi Heather
    My situation is very similar to Noa’s, I have a baby with an iron will and strong lungs. She goes Str Into hysterical cries and didn’t let up for 2 hours tho I was next to the crib, stroking her etc. she just screamed without paying any attention to my presence. leaving the room also triggered her crying. I picked her up after 2 hours and calmed her down, put her back down and she would b happy for a while, then the screaming started again. This is a night waking– she has been fed but wakes up minutes after I put her down post dream feed. One night we went over thus cycle for 4 hours…. How often should i pick her up if she is hysterical all the time? She doesn’t do whimpers– does it mean that I PUPD?

    Another question: should I fix the night waking before the naps ? Or must i be consistent straightway? She needs to be carried and wakes when put down. Same hysterics– I’m worried about her getting neither night or day sleep.

    Thank you in advance, would really appreciate your advice!

    • The first thing I would suggest just checking in with the doctor and making sure there’s nothing else going on, like reflux or something that could be contributing to her crying. Always better to start there, then you know what you’re working with. Yes, I do recommend working on the nighttime waking before the naps. Many parents do them at the same time, but if she’s crying that hard it may be best to split them up and do nighttime first, and then a few weeks later once the nighttime is better look towards working on the naps. Ask your doctor for signs of silent reflux, and see if you can rule out any physical pain or something first. Hang in there!

  20. I’ve just recently found your blog looking for sleep training help and I love it. But please please help me. I’m on week 3 of sleep training and faithfully followed all of Kim West’s steps to the letter, it worked beautifully. But now that I’m in the hall outside of my (8 month old) baby’s room he will. not. sleep. It happened like a switch as soon as I transitioned outside. I’m actually posting this from outside his room with verbal reassurance, but I’ve been at it for over 2 hours now and if I get him up, he’s too exhausted to function and just refuses to sleep when I try again. He hasn’t napped for more than 15 minutes for the past three days. I’ve done basically all of your 62 sleep tips. Please help! What do I do?!

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