Bedtime What Time?

when to put baby to bed?

Before you had kids going to bed was a forgettable event. Now bedtime is a glorious nirvana that you fantasize about throughout the day. Bedtime is also really important to your baby or kid. Bedtime that is too late, unpredictable, or inconsistent can set you up for a long slog of a night. And figuring out when bedtime should be and what it should look like isn’t always easy. Lots of parents seem to be wondering, “What is a normal bedtime?”

Newborn Bedtime

Newborn babies generally have a very late bedtime frustratingly staying awake far past the time where you are actually enjoying their company. It’s not uncommon for newborn babies to have a long period where they are awake and fussy (by which I mean they are all but inconsolable but WILL NOT SLEEP). This is called the witching hour and generally falls anywhere between 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM. And while it can leave the whole household in tears, it’s normal and temporary. The witching hour is also, blessedly, followed by the largest chunk of uninterrupted sleep you are likely to see for the first few months. So if you aren’t going to bed immediately after your newborn baby, you’re missing out.

Other things you probably want to know about newborn babies and bedtime include:


Bedtime is late.

Probably later than you would like. Anywhere between 7:00 PM and 12:00 AM.


Don’t spend 3 hours trying to make bedtime happen.

Trying to get a non-sleeping baby to sleep will leave you both feeling exhausted and resentful. If you’ve been at it for ~30 minutes and it’s not happening then it’s time to graciously accept defeat. Move on to some other soothing activity (warm bath, stroller walk, bouncy seat time) and try again later.


Bedtime may bounce around.

Newborns may not fall asleep consistently at the same time each night. What was their “bedtime” last night may turn into a 20 minute nap tonight. This is frustrating but also inevitable.


Newborn bedtime routine?

Your newborn baby doesn’t require a consistent routine but it certainly won’t hurt.


What does a newborn bedtime routine look like?

Usually it’s pretty simple – a warm bath, infant massage, clean diaper, feed, then soothe to sleep.


Don’t sweat “putting them down awake.”

YES you need to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own and all the baby sleep books you’ve got stacked next to your bed stress the importance of this. However NOW is not the time to worry about this. VERY few newborn babies are able to fall asleep without substantial assistance. So while you are welcome to try putting your baby down awake don’t feel like a failure if it’s not working yet.

Newborn Baby’s Bedtime Ridiculously Late?

Sometimes your newborn baby will stay up college-student late. If your baby goes to bed at 11:00 PM you have a normal newborn baby. If your baby is still awake at 2:00 AM then you have a problem. The MOST COMMON causes of a baby who is awake when the bars close are:

Sleep is Shifted?

Sometimes newborn babies go to bed very late and then sleep very late. For example your baby might be up until 1:00 AM and then (not including night feedings) sleep until noon the next day. Thus you have a baby who is getting a healthy 11 hours of sleep at night but the timing of “night” isn’t lining up with the rest of civilization. How do you fix this? You gradually start waking your baby up earlier in the morning. Wake your baby up 15 minutes earlier every day or so until your baby is waking up closer to 6:00 AM – 7:00 AM. This will slowly shift everything else in his day so that naps and thus bedtime will start to shift earlier too. It will take weeks for everything to get sorted out but it’s definitely worth it.

Early Bedtime is Better

As your baby get’s older (3/4+ months) an early bedtime has multiple benefits.

  • Nobody wants to come over and help you with your fussy baby at 1:00 AM, where plenty of people would love to tickle his cranky toes at 9:00 AM.
  • It creates the opportunity for you to have a bit of free time yourself. In most homes, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM is known as “happy hour”. Not because everybody has a cocktail in hand (although it’s possible) but because this is the only time of the day that you aren’t running after a little person.
  • Most playgroups/playdates are scheduled on the assumption of baby’s naps occurring at 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM (ish) which will never happen when your baby is sleeping till noon.
  • Having a baby up in the dark and sleeping during the day disrupts some very important chemical processes that are triggered by light, which overtime, will work against you.
  • And as your baby gets older you’ll find he wakes up earlier regardless of when he goes to bed, so maintaining a late bedtime simply results in less sleep overall.

Bedtime for Baby

Once your baby is no longer a newborn (older than 3-4 months) bedtime should no longer be a stressful crapshoot. You may still have a witching hour but hopefully this has shifted earlier and is easier to manage. Other things that are pretty typical for a baby (3 months to 1 year) include:


Bedtime happens at the same time each night.

It might fluctuate by 30-45 minutes but unlike when your baby was a newborn, it should no longer be a complete and total mystery.


Bedtime is earlier.

If your baby is under 6 – 8 months it still might be later (say 9:00 PM) but when they drop the 3rd nap (usually by 9-12 months) bedtime should scoot up towards 7:00 PM and stay there.


You are “defending” bedtime against late naps.

If early evening naps are throwing off bedtime, it’s time to skip them. As your baby gets older a consistent bedtime is more important than napping at 5:00 PM. This may mean you can’t get into the car after 4:00 PM, take an evening walk in the stroller, etc.


You have a consistent routine.

It’s time to get serous about a routine. It should be something you love that you can do without fail every night for the next 3+ years. Boob, bath, books, bed is a classic.


Baby is sleeping in the same place each night.

It doesn’t have to be the same place where they nap but it should be consistent. However it’s OK to have them sleep in one place consistently and then move them into a new place where they’ll sleep consistently. So your 5 month old may still be in a co-sleeper attached to your bed but then move into a crib in their room at 9 months.


You are working towards “put down awake.”

Remember when I said you didn’t need to sweat putting your newborn baby down awake? Well your baby is no longer a newborn, so it’s time to start sweating.

Bedtime for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Your toddler, preschooler, and younger kid should be going to bed between 6:30 PM – 8:00PM, most commonly 7:30PM. Later than that is almost always too late.

Bedtime vs. Sleeptime

Your newborn baby will need to be soothed to sleep. Your older child should be going to sleep on their own. When kids older than 1 are waking up during the night it’s almost always because they aren’t falling to sleep on their own (generally because parents stay and cuddle until they fall asleep and then sneak out). This results in the same problem of night waking that babies have. As delightful as cuddling with your children is, you need to leave before they are totally asleep.

Additionally I want to be clear that we are talking about BEDTIME. This is the time you put your child to bed. The only rule is that they stay in bed. You can’t make an older child sleep (nor can you make them eat or poop FYI). This is why we don’t call it SLEEPTIME. As a parent your job is to give them an age-appropriate bedtime, a soothing consistent bedtime routine, establish the limits (primarily that they stay in bed), and then leave. What they do at that point is up to them.

Does that mean it’s OK for your 2 YO to sit in their bed awake and talking to themselves for 45 minutes? It sure does! If your kid is chronically up for 1+ hours it could mean that bedtime is too early. However I hesitate to suggest this because it is almost NEVER the case (most bedtimes are too late). You can test this theory by temporarily pushing bedtime back – does your child still spend an hour kicking around in there or do they fall asleep quickly? If the latter then perhaps bedtime was too late. Otherwise it may just be that your child needs extra quiet time to settle down at night.

Is this a form of torture? No it isn’t! Learning to entertain themselves, care for their bodies, or (*gasp*) spend a moment of the day without constant stimulation is actually really healthy! As adults, what do you do when you can’t fall asleep? You lie there and think quiet thoughts until you DO fall asleep. Your child is learning to do this too.

Bedtime Sucks?

Once your child is no longer a newborn baby bedtime should be your favorite time of day. LITERALLY. If you and/or your child hate/dread bedtime than something isn’t working and it’s time to fix it. Personally I LOVE bedtime. Kids in jammies are the cutest thing ever. Cuddling and reading books is the best thing in the world. And once they are asleep you get to watch (insert: Game of Thrones, Mad Men, New Girl). What’s not to love?

Anybody else have any bedtime thoughts to share?

Add subtitle text (1)

Please Subscribe to My Newsletter!

It's free, full of insider tips that don't make it to the blog, and each time you do it's like giving me a little hug. And I love hugs!

Awesome! Keep an eye out for a confirmation email in your inbox.


  1. My 4 month old luckily sleeps from 8:30 pm until 6:30am
    With 1-2 quick feedings during the night. Those 2.5 hrs that i get
    To myself at the end of the day while both kids are asleep is my saving grace!!!

  2. I agree I look forward to 7pm. I know that I can cook dinner, get a hot meal (Okay not always but still), and straighten up without holding a baby. I love my son but sometimes I can’t wait for bedtime.

    • Of course you love him! But loving somebody, even desperately consumingly loving them, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a few minutes without them in it πŸ˜‰

  3. Our 10 month old goes to bed at 7:30. And God Bless It! After that it’s our time. Usually, we do chores, and ready ourselves for the next day, but on Sunday night, it’s popcorn and Game of Thrones time. Just out of curiousity, am I the only one that thinks that show is only 10 minutes long?!

    • We JUST got HBO because I could not wait a WHOLE YEAR for the DVDs to come out. When the show cuts to the credit we’re both like, “WHAT?!?!?!” Every. Single. Time.

      I also can’t believe it’s almost over. WAAAAH!

      • Same here! We changed up our entire cable package so we could catch Game of Thrones and True Blood without having to wait a year (or fight the throngs of people ahead of us on the Netflix list). Our rationale for the potentially silly expense is this: cable is cheaper than a babysitter.

        Seriously, though. We love our adult time after the kiddo goes to sleep. And on those nights where she’s up with colds or teething, we really feel it. Bedtime is just as important for us as it is for them.

        • Yes and yes. HBO costs $10/month which we’re saving by not renting on-demand movies. Well that was my rationale anyway πŸ˜‰

          Adult time is key to your everloving sanity. I love my children desperately. I also love my personal time :)

          • We LOOOOOVE Game of Thrones and i’m totally depressed it has ended for the season :( Our evening DVR catch up is not the same without it! And the new True Blood just ain’t cuttin it! :(
            That evening time is not only necessary for ME, it’s necessary for OUR marriage. My husband (or kid #3 as i like to think) needs me too!

  4. 3 month old bedtime 7 pm!! Love my son but sitting down doing nothing for 2hrs is amazing!!! Then long awaited sleep till 5 am or 6 am if im lucky!!

  5. “Before you had kids going to bed was a forgettable event. Now bedtime is a glorious nirvana that you fantasize about throughout the day.”

    That’s the understatement of the year!

    We thankfully have an easy bedtime routine, and our 7.5 month old falls asleep on her own. I look forward to 7pm each day!

    • I know right? If I could go back in time and tell 25 year old me, “When you are older and have kids bedtime will be the highlight of your day.” I’m pretty sure 25 year old me would slap old me πŸ˜‰

  6. This week my 3 month old started sleeping through the night. Not sure how long this will last, but I love it! She goes to bed b/w 8-9pm and is asleep until 5-6am and then can manage to fall asleep for another 30 mins b/f it is time to get up for real. We initially used the swing and have now moved to the crib successfully. Again, I hope this is permanent and Laura, YES, My hubby and I are all about Game of Thrones!

  7. Alexis to the rescue for my sanity again! This could not have come at a better time. Our 12 week old has been going down super easy for naps lately (still only 30 min. naps, but oh well), but this past week or two, bedtime has been an all out BATTLE. We’re talking at least 1+ hours of her screaming and crying while we make every attempt to sooth her to sleep. And of course according to Dr. Weissbluth, bedtimes should be getting earlier and earlier now, and his answer to all problems seems to be “earlier bedtime”! So that’s what we kept trying, and baby kept getting angrier and angrier. Also, I felt enormous pressure to get her to sleep before the 2 hours of wakefulness was up. Today she woke up from her last nap at 5, ate, and then wasn’t showing any drowsy signs, so we waited a bit later to do her bedtime routine, and she went down after about 5 minutes of soothing. She still ended up being asleep by 7:30. Amazing. So thank you for making me feel like it’s ok for her to go to bed after 6pm, and that it’s normal for her bedtime to not be regulated yet.

    • Early bedtime IS generally better. But you can’t force these things. If everybody is miserable then bedtime is miserable which brings me back to sleep rule #57: Bedtime should be the highlight of your day.


    • Im at a loss for words I’ve tried everything with my 3 1/2 month old. He goes down between 7:30-8:30 he’s had the same routine since he was 4 weeks old and refuses to stay asleep. He will awake and cry at least 5 times a night on top of his 1-2 feedings. He hates being swaddled, I use various white noise machines, have tried all kinds of sound & light soothers, etc and nothing seems to help. He does this whether sleeping on crib or his rock n play however its worse in the crib. He doesn’t calm down until I go in there and rock him back to sleep. I want to try cry it out and gradually teach him how to self soothe (he had a rough first 6 weeks with bad reflux and milk protein allergy) but I’m worried because I never know if its a burp or reflux he’s crying about. I need help I can’t go on much longer like this!!

      • Hey Ashley,
        I wouldn’t use CIO at this point. He’s young and has tummy issues. So while it may work there is a good chance that it’ll be a rough go. Also I think you have options.

        Stick with white noise – LOUD. No other sound or light soothers. In fact I think light soothers are a mistake. Light is fun to look at, it is not something that helps anybody fall asleep. And while there are lots of baby music things out there all the research points to white noise as being most beneficial.

        Also? I think the answer is right there in your question. Take a look. Squint a little. Do you see it?

        Your baby wakes up and demands to be rocked back to sleep. So the answer is – give him the rocking? Tummy issues plus loves to be rocked = baby who should be in a swing.

        Honestly I think you’ll see a huge improvement. Personally I would strongly encourage you to stick with the swaddle (even if he hates it, it’ll help him stay asleep without your assistance). Pick up a swing. He likes the rocking. The angle will help with his tummy.

        Please. Try it. Not the rock in play, an actual swing with a motor.

  8. I had sensed in the last few weeks that my then 4 month old (now almost 5) was needing an earlier bedtime of 7-8pm, but due to our family life/circumstances at the time, we had had late evening routines/dinner, so he had to endure nightly fussy and overly tired periods so that his actual sleep time was 9/9:30pm, which, I realized (finally) must have been a major cause to his chronic sleep deprivation and night wakings. About a week ago we finally broke free of the awfully late routine, and I moved baby’s bed routine and time by an hour. Now 4 days later, he goes down at 7:30pm with less and less fussing. This whole transition coincided with him relearning to fall asleep alone as well. I couldn’t be happier with the combination of the self soothing skills and early bedtime. He now sleeps from 7:30pm through to anywhere between 5:30-7:00am. He will wake briefly for a feed and diaper change, then pass out 30-45 min later for another 2-3 hours. Now my challenge is slowly moving back his morning nap, so that his naps can be more evenly spread throughout the day (I don’t know how though), and so that, hopefully, he can grow out of the crappy short naps. On average he sleeps 13-14 hours already between his night sleep and morning nap, I figure that could be a reason for his short choppy afternoon naps??

    • I’m confused about why you need to move his morning nap back? Wouldn’t the morning nap move around based on when he wakes up (5:30 vs. 7:00?). Afternoon naps are always a bit harder than morning naps. If he’s sleeping 10-11 hours at night that means he’s getting 3-4 hours of nap-sleep during the day. Doesn’t sound that crappy to me – I know LOTS of people who would LOVE to have 3-4 hours of nap time and will gladly trade babies with you!

      • I am not sure either to be honest.

        First, all sample schedules out there talk about a morning wake time of 2 hours, down for a nap mid morning, wake time of another 2 hours until the afternoon nap between 12-2pm to be in tune our natural rhythms, etc. My baby CANNOT stay awake for 2 hours even after a 12 hour night sleep uninterrupted. The first wake time for him is always only 30-45 min (so the sleep following that often feels more like an extension of night sleep and nap lumped in one). Second, because he is done his morning “nap” by 9/10am, he still needs another 3 sometimes 4 short naps for the rest of the 9-ish hour stretch in the day, because he isn’t capable of staying awake for more than 60-90 min at a time for the rest of the day (I don’t know if he is rolling and doing tummy time (at his choice) too much or what).

        So, I feel like I “should” move his morning nap back so he has a longer first wake time… But maybe I just need to accept that is who he is?

        To be honest aside from trying to keep my inconsistent baby on a strict bedtime and a relatively predictable daytime routine/pattern, I have given up on scheduling and a strict eat-play-sleep routine. This is after 2 months of trying. Now I just feel grateful for his night time sleep (again – you are right, an earlier bed time is so key), and cross my fingers that his afternoon naps will work themselves out (although… I confess… He hasn’t learned to fall asleep alone in the afternoons and I hesitate to do CIO during the day. As for your swing suggestion… He is a pretty chunky baby and rather grown out of a swing already – exclusively breastfed too! Must be my diet…. :D)

        PS I’m trying to finish reading game of thrones before watching the series. The books are so addictive!!

        • Hey Tina,

          I don’t know what Alexis thinks but I just wanted to let you know that for my little boy (now 9 months) the time before his first nap has always been and still is his shortest awake time. He sleeps 11 hours a night so he is not compensating for nighttime sleep, it is just the way he is. Just thought you might like to know :) Also, I hesitate to offer my own advice but for my boy the afternoon nap was always hard to get going so I could often be seen jiggling him up and down in the baby carrier shushing in his ear and stomping my feet along the path near our house (ah fun times). I felt like a crazy person but it never made any difference to the rest of his nap/bedtimes and given that it was for one nap a day it was doable!!

          • What books are you reading? I suspect they are tossing you in the wrong direction. For example somebody asked me about a book called “The 90-Minute Sleep Solution.” Does it work? What do I think? Well I haven’t read it but I think it will work like a charm if YOUR baby can/should stay awake 90 minutes between naps. And it will be a total disaster for everybody else.

            All this talk about sleep schedules etc. is frustrating. A schedule based on the clock is too inflexible. What happens when baby takes a 2 hour nap? What happens when a car ride results in a 20 minute car nap? Do you keep him awake 4+ hours because that is what the “schedule” says? Or do you help him take an earlier nap because you don’t want him to become overtired.

            So your baby can stay awake 60-90 minutes. Great – that is AWESOME information! How good for you that you have figured that out! Don’t shoehorn him into some predictable schedule – work with that knowledge. He wakes up at X time, his next nap will be X+90 minutes. FANTASTIC! Who cares what the clock says, yes?

            Also your baby is a CHAMPION sleeper. CIO for the afternoon nap will likely be a rough situation so personally (see Janey’s comment) I would just do what you need to in the afternoon. Keep working on putting him down awake (which is happening at bedtime and his AM nap yes?) but there is still time to get the PM nap sorted out.

            Hope that helps?

      • Thanks, Janey! There’s so much information out there, and a wide range too, sometimes I just freak out about whether my child is “normal”, but I should just shut off my paranoid vibes.

      • Hi Alexis, I have a follow up question.

        We now have moved baby’s bedtime to 7pm and he’s happily slept *at least* 12 hours for 2 nights (hope it’s not a fluke). Sometimes he goes 13+ hours.

        Before, at a 7:30-8pm bedtime, he’d wake for a feed between 5-7am and then sleep til 8:30-9am~ish, so that the total hours in that entire stretch would be 13-14 hours. Now basically he’s doing the same thing, except he is skipping that feed.

        My question is how important is it to keep a consistent morning wake time to start the day, in order to maintain that 7pm bedtime? In other words, say I want him to start the day at 7:30am should I wake him up even though he’s still sleeping?

        I ask because his day naps more or less follow a certain “pattern”, but there is no schedule, and because his wake times vary between 45 min to 2 hours (and I haven’t discerned a tractable pattern for these wake times), sometimes it is hard to time the evening nap and bedtime properly.

        Sorry for all the questions, and thank you so much!


        • Generally I don’t like to wake sleeping babies because I assume that if they’re asleep it’s because they need to be. Although frankly that is a MONSTER night. I suspect this is temporary and will shorten all on it’s own within a few days (sometimes you get short windows where babies need extra sleep, maybe he’s having a growth spurt, who knows?). My experience has been that babies settle into fairly predictable patterns all on their own. If he’s 6 months old and still has a 2 hour variable wakeup time then maybe you might want to start waking him up. But I would be curious to see what develops organically if left to his own devices.

          I think you might be a little TOO worried about this fixed schedule. I also like to know when things are going to happen so I can plan my day, so I get where you are coming from. But at 4 months I would relax a little bit and see what develops in the next month or so. It sounds like he’s doing just great all on his own so instead of trying to coach him on the schedule, what happens if we leave well enough alone?

          • Thanks Alexis, this is all very reassuring. I can sense your frustration πŸ˜€

            I have always been an on-demand mom following baby’s cues. However, I started worrying about scheduling when fellow moms started asking questions like, is your baby on a 4-hour schedule yet, and I was thinking, heck no he still eats every 1.5-2 hours (during the day). Or, some outings have had to be skipped because I could never plan ahead with precision. Plus, I hear over and over again how many 5 month olds are already down to 2 naps only, awake 2-3 hours at a time. Then, there’s the Baby Whisperer and Gina Ford who say that a 5-mo-old should be awake 2-2.25 hours, yet mine is most often nowhere near that. Some people also insist that the way to help babies establish their internal rhythms is to have set schedules otherwise they won’t nap easily or well.

            So, although I keep reminding myself that comparing does no good, I couldn’t help but worry whether my guy’s choppy naps are due to a lack of scheduling. I worry especially because, even though he wakes up happy, he’d start fussing after only about an hour. Of course, the short wake times and naps also make it hard to get out. Like I said above, sometimes there is too much information/advice and I just need to relax.

            I definitely never like to wake my sleeping baby, nor do I even enjoy the idea of CIO for PM naps. So, I’ll be persistent with the drowsy but awake (he is recently starting to do it – albeit inconsistently!) and know that whatever pattern he develops it will be a reflection of who he is. Besides, I’ve learned over the last 5 months that with babies, it seems like everything is always “just a phase”.

            Thanks for all the time and care you’ve taken to read my questions and answer them!


            • Hey Tina – I can totally relate. A friend of my husband’s ‘helpfully’ brought around the Gina Ford book when my little boy was 5 weeks old. I didn’t even know books like that existed!! We read bits of it and laughed at it as to how crazy it sounded and how given how unsettled our son was that it was so unrealistic. But it still got into my head and I went from thinking that we were kinda sorta going ok to feeling that I was somewhat crap as a mum as I didn’t know exactly what my little fella would be doing every second of the day. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I could relate to your post. Try and stay away from those books it sounds like you are a great mum – good luck with everything :)

            • Not frustrated with YOU, but yes a tad frustrated with the mixed messages that all these books send.

              Course I’m in a hard place to criticize – I give out advice about kids and sleep so I don’t generally like to poop on other people who are also giving out advice on kids and sleep πŸ˜›

              Schedules and consistency DO help. Sleep is a bio-chemical process and doing things on a schedule helps your body get it’s chemical processes sorted out (note: this is why adults generally eat at the same time each day). So really parenting is a balance of trying to figure out what is best for your child while also gently working towards more of scheduled existence. My issue with these books is that:
              a) They create an expectation that this will happen sooner than (in my experience) is realistic. Somewhere between birth and ~9 months your baby will be on a predictable schedule. Are you a failure if it hasn’t happened at 4 months? Nope. However if your 10 month old is still sleeping all over the map its time to make some changes.
              b) Books, well-meaning friends, etc. pile all this anxiety on other people when there is no cause of alarm.
              c) Nursing a ton during the day is the path to sleeping through the night. Sure it’s super inconvenient but would you rather have that kid attached to your boobs all day long OR all night long? (hint: the right answer is “day” πŸ˜‰

              I don’t actually have the Gina Ford book so maybe I should look into it. My personal “never read these” books are Babywise and What to Expect. Both are loathesome and anxiety inducing.

              Hope that helps to clarify my frustration :)

            • Alexis, do you remember the scene in 40 Year Old Virgin where Steve Carrell does speed dating and he meets a woman named Gina who pronounces her name JY-na (as in the last two syllables of the word vagina)? Well that’s how my wife and I refer to Gina Ford. I recommend waiting to read her book until you’re in a foul mood. There are probably some good tips but also a whole lot of anxiety-inducing nonsense.

            • Hey Matt,
              I have enough crappy baby sleep books on my shelf so I think I’ll pass on that one. Also? That’s a really good case for never ever naming your children something that rhymes with reproductive body parts. That’s what kept us from naming our son Mulva BTW.

          • Hi Alexis,

            I wanted to follow up and thank YOU. You may not remember but I was hung up with my then 5-mo old’s scheduling etc. Well, I took your advice, and stopped fretting. And, of course, followed baby’s lead. Now, at just over 6 months, he has developed his own pattern, with consistent bedtimes and wake times. He is still not on a 4-hr schedule, and feeds every 1.5-2 hours depending on how much energy he’s exerted during tummy times (and solids he’s eaten) – so what? He sleeps like a super champ at night and that’s all I care.

            I also sought your advice somewhere else about difficulty napping and 4-5 short naps that were driving me crazy. Here I just want to say, moms should really stop worrying. Naps are really a developmental thing. Now I totally get why too – babies can stay awake for only such a short time, of course they need multiple short catnaps to make it through the day! Once they start staying awake longer, of course the naps will drop and lengthen. Now my son’s organically dropped down to 3 naps, one of which is usually long. Still not 2 long naps, but oh well, big deal. I’m sure when he’s old enough to stay awake 3-4 hours at a time, he will. He’s also falling asleep on his own for naps 80% of the time, and if he fights the rest? I put him on the floor and let him think he’s playing, and soon enough he will pass out.

            A lot of books out there preach a “norm” that babies are supposed to follow. I don’t know if the motivation was commercial, but these books should be burned. My baby was DEFINITELY not a
            textbook baby, and I kept blaming myself for not having done things “properly” from the second he was born. After all, not all of the billion people out there fall in a set mold. I wish I was smart enough to have realized that a couple months back to save me all the worrying. I see that a lot of your blog followers keep asking the same questions over and over too, and wonder how many of them are worked up because some stupid book they read said that their 4-6 mo old should be napping twice a day, 1-2 hours at a time. Bullshit.

            Cannot thank you enough. Can’t wait for your next article!

            • Alexis, no idea if you’ll see this response to a months old post but….

              I’m not sure if I’m reading your sarcasm right. Above, when you say a gripe you have with such books is “Nursing a ton during the day is the path to sleeping through the night. Sure it’s super inconvenient but would you rather have that kid attached to your boobs all day long OR all night long? (hint: the right answer is β€œday””, it’s not clear to me if a ton of daytime feeding actually helps limit nighttime feedings.

              I can really see it either way (presuming I’m willing to take on the inconvenience of tons of daytime feeding):
              1) Frequent day feedings may acclimate my little guy and his tummy to eating less quantity more often, which could spill over into nighttime.
              2) Frequent day feedings may get enough calories into him (presuming feedings aren’t snack size), leaving nighttime feedings less necessary.

              P.S. My guy turned 3 months over the weekend and I’ve started trying to be more vigilant about good sleeping habits (i.e., not just pulling him into my bed when he fusses in his), so perhaps many more questions to come….

            • Tina – I just have to say thank you. My son turned 5 months today and we’ve had the exact same napping issues – 4/5 catnaps throughout the day with shorter wake times. I, too, read those damn books and talked to other moms and convinced myself he needed to be taking 2/3 long naps and that it was my fault he wasn’t. When I attempted to implement this, I got a tired, crabby baby. It was so reassuring reading your posts AND seeing your follow-up. Thanks so much for keeping us posted! Hope all is well with you and your LO.

            • Wow so glad I came across this. My 3 month old also has multiple short naps (45min) during the day and only stays awake between 1-2hrs. It’s been doing my head in thinking I’m doing something wrong. Glad to know I’m not the only one :-)

  9. Hi Alexis,
    Thank you so much for your website. I always look forward to your entertaining and true posts to keep me going! My 12 week-old still needs help going to sleep (rocking or bouncing). He’s never taken a pacifier (I keep shoving it in there but he just gags) and can’t quite suck on his fingers yet (though he spends most of his awake time trying!). We still swaddle him and we use white noise, too. How can I transition him to go to sleep on his own? Is he too young for CIO? He still sleeps in our room, and usually goes down b/w 7-8 pm, wakes to eat b/w 2-4 am and then sleeps until b/w 5-6 am. He’s not a good napper, sleeping only 30 minutes and sometimes even less. I am getting very tired of rocking/bouncing! Help!

    • Ha, this is my question too, but for my 11 week old. The 30 minute naps are sucking my will to live.

    • Is he too young for CIO? YES!

      Listen – newborns are a TON of work. This is why new moms all look like something the cat spit up. Everybody who is parenting a newborn is exhausted. They take itty bitty naps all day, they require a TON of soothing, etc. This is why I only have 2 kids – the newborn phase is a total grind (that and I’m a grumpy tired pregnant lady who never figured out how to pull off the pregnancy “glow”).

      Newborns need more soothing not less. You have a few months to help him learn to sleep on his own. If he loves being rocked I hope (you are yes?) you are working with the swing for naps because it’s a powerful tool to make naps longer AND help him learn to fall asleep on his own. It sounds like his nights are amazing (3 months and only 1 night feeding? AWESOME!).

      Anyhoo….that is what I would do.

      • Minor problem: my kid hates the swing. Hates. Like horror movie screaming hates. We tried your guide for like a month, no dice.

        • Well I don’t know what to tell you about that. Although I’ve literally managed to get every baby I have worked with (here in VT) happy in the swing. Why? Who knows! Personally I’m not a magic baby wisperer but I have got the swing technique down. But if it’s not working, well there you are.

          Hopefully you’re having some luck with other techniques (swaddling, white noise, pacifier, etc.)?

  10. Hi Alexis,
    I love this post but I also feel somewhat frustrated by it.
    How do you make bedtime “bedtime”? I mean, we have a consistent (for about 2 weeks now)bedtime routine and put the baby (almost 4 months) down at about 8pm, but then she wakes again about 30-40 minutes later wanting to feed again – just like after her nap times. It is often quite difficult to get her back down after this waking, but once she’s down then, she sleeps for 6-8 hours, then feeds, then about 3 hours more.

    Will she just eventually pick up that it is bedtime and not naptime? Is there something we should be doing differently?

    We’ve tried getting my husband to resettle her after that wakeup, hoping that if she doesn’t see me she won’t want milk. But it just drags out the whole process – she is actually hungry!

    • This is my question too — I’m thinking it may have something to do with what time we really wake with our little 3-month-old. He’ll wake up at 6:30 or 7, but then he’ll eat and go right back to sleep until 8:30 usually. I’m hoping that gradually moving up his wake time will help with some of our night time woes right now? Further thoughts, Alexis? We’ve tried putting him down earlier with a routine too, but so far he just wakes up 60min later, just like a nap. And then we can’t get him to bed, properly, until 9:30 or 10!

    • I’m sure Alexis would have an answer to help you ladies but I thought I’d share my experience. My son was exactly the same at that age (just 1 mo ago). Then suddenly that syndrome disappeared. It coincided with him re-learning to fall asleep on his own, sleeping through the night again, plus me moving up his bedtime from a loose 8:30-9:30pm timeframe to a strict 7:30 bedtime. In fact I may even slowly inching his bedtime to 7pm because he is usually struggling by 6:45. Now at 5 mo, he still stirs and makes a few noises around an hour into his night sleep to transition, but he no longer wakes. I am not sure which was the cause/solution: the solid self soothing skills, the improvement in his sleep deprives state, the much earlier bedtime, or…simply the passing of his sleep regression. Or maybe a combination of some or all of the above….

      • Yeah, we’re just starting on the road to self-soothing…. downloading white noise tracks tonight, to keep him happy all night long :) Right now, he struggles to get himself back to sleep, so I’m sure that’s not helping things. Though, I’ve managed two earlier bedtimes in a row — yesterday was tough, up every 30 min until the usual 10pm, but tonight we got 7:15-8:30, and back to sleep at about 8:50 after some rockin’ Daddy soothing :) I think it’s all just very new to him and we’re all learning…

      • I am curious how you all moved bedtime earlier? My LO is just 10 weeks so maybe it is too early. I have been keeping track of her sleep and she is never fully asleep for the night until 10:30 or 11PM. We tried to make her go to bed around 8 after she wakes from her last nap but then she always is up around 9. When I try to make her go to bed again at 9, she is up at 9:30 and so on until 10:30 or 11. So I resigned to not put her into “bed” until around 10 – 11. She usually wakes around 6 – 7 AM herself so I don’t think an earlier wake time will help.
        She does take two rather large nap times in the morning anywhere from 2 – 3.5 hours. I’m afraid to cut these short and mess anything up! Suggestions?

        • Hi Nalie,

          My son at 10 weeks was also “going to bed” very late like your’s. In fact, at that point I had no idea what people were talking about – bedtime, nap time… he slept whenever however and they all seemed the same to me. It wasn’t until closer to 3 months that he started showing a real sleep pattern, and even then his bed time was still closer to 10pm. From then on, he naturally started being sleepy earlier and earlier, and I just followed his lead. Nowadays he tells me he’s tired between 6-7pm.

          Nonetheless, each time I start the routine at an earlier time it takes him one or two days to really clue in. Once I did a whole hour and I learned that was a mistake πŸ˜›

        • Nalie – at 10 weeks I think her real bedtime is probably 10:30 (which is why I wrote this article – because newborns DO tend to stay up late!). Don’t cut the naps short. If anything you should be ECSTATIC that she is taking such huge naps at her age. If she’s still sleeping 6-7 hours as things get closer to 3 months then it may be time to shorten those naps to create a bigger sleep debt and coax an earlier bedtime. But earlier than 3 months I don’t like to meddle too much because their little bodies are still so all over the place when it comes to food and sleep.

      • Tina – thanks sooo much for sharing. There is nothing better than when other Moms share success stories :)

    • What you are talking about is “sleep consolidation” – the ability to sleep in long extended windows vs. shorter naps. Honestly? This is a developmental milestone. You coax it along with soothing and consistency but there is no magic trick to making it happen.

      You’re totally right – she’s taking a nap at 8:00 PM and then it’s hard to get her to fall back to sleep because she’s had enough sleep to take the edge off and now is ready to play. So from her perspective her bedtime is probably closer to 10:00 (which isn’t great for her or you).

      Part of it is time – although at 4 months I’m surprised that bedtime is still a struggle so hopefully things are on the cusp of getting better. Things you can also do to help improve things:
      1) Push bedtime up closer to 7:00. This may mean skipping a late afternoon nap so that she’s tired at 7:00. So if she wakes up from her last nap at about 3:00 pm then you might just keep her up till bedtime.

      2) Keep the sleep environment SUPER soothing – loud white noise, swaddling, etc.

      3) Try not going to her when she wakes. Let her fuss for longer than you think (maybe even 20 minutes) to see what happens. Part of this waking could be simply habit and she may need some coaxing to break the habit.

      4) If she’s actually hungry after her “bedtime nap” what is going on food-wise at bedtime? Is she not really nursing then but diddling on the boob? If so maybe you need to rearrange some of your afternoon/evening nursing sessions so that she’s hungry enough to REALLY eat at bedtime.

      The good news is that after her ACTUAL bedtime you have a baby who is sleeping 11 hours a night with only 1 feeding which is AWESOME (definitely could be done with night feedings by 6 months which is fantastic). So while I hear your frustration, I see more positive stuff going on here and am confident that bedtime will resolve itself soon. Like Tina shared below (thanks Tina!) some of these things sort themselves out with time and a bit of desperate prayer πŸ˜‰

      • Thanks Alexis for the insight. I am in the same boat as Jessica. My baby will be 4 months this week, yet waking up after sleeping from 7pm – 8pm and then eventually falling asleep at 10 or even 11pm. During the day, she needs to fall back to sleep within 2 hour of wakefulness – so if I drop her late afternoon nap around 3 or 4 pm – she is bound to get overtired by 7pm and still wake up after catching up on her sleep at her 7 pm bed time.
        Any suggestions to get past this? or is it just wait n watch for now? Also her late bedtime, is throwing off her morning wake up time each day and I can’t get her on routine (although regardless of a non standard routine, she still manages to sleep 4 to 5 hours during the day, with 3 or 4 naps). I am a full time working mom so its really hard to implement the day time routine (with my mom in law watching her). My baby is used to be rocked to sleep and I am gathering courage to go CIO on her for bedtime…Do I sound like a lost cause? I feel like a terrible mom…Please help!

  11. haha .. This is nice , and bed time actually fun time .. I used to sleep at 11pm but now at 12am cause of graduation exam is coming near …

  12. My brother has a bed time problem . he goes to bed at 10 pm but cannot sleep before 12am . he just role about and yon .

    • If it takes 2 hours to fall asleep he probably has a sleep disorder. Any possibility of talking to a sleep specialist? 2 hours rolling about and yon is a lot of rolling about πŸ˜›

  13. Our 15 month has never slept through the night *sigh*. She will easily go to bed on her own (still awake) at 7:30pm. She typically is up at 9:30 to nurse, then again at 2am for about 90 minutes. Two night wakings is an easy night. I thought that once she learned how to fall asleep on her own, the sleeping would be better. Nope. Perhaps because her crib is next to our bed? I don’t know. We. Are. Tired.

    • If she’s eating at those 2 feedings then I would check out this and try to gently wean off them:

      As for the 90 minutes that is BRUTAL. You guys must be exhausted. Who wants to play pass the baby at 3:00 AM? Do you guys draw straws? Or do you have regular 2:00 AM arguments about who needs sleep more?

      You can gently wean off the night feedings but I think it’s a good guess that the 90 minute business is just habit. Unless she’s chronically sleep deprived (does she nap well?) there’s no reason she should be awake that long at night.

      Having you in the room could make things worse in that it’s harder to ignore her. If you go the CIO route (which frankly I would strongly consider if it were me because I would be damn ready to not party with baby at 3:00 AM) it’s not easy when you’re in the same room. Because she can SEE you she’ll likely get ANGRY that you aren’t picking her up. So if you want to pursue this path you might want to move her to her own room first. Or if it’s not an option perhaps you guys can sleep in a different room for a few nights? Living room campout?

      I hope you consider that option. Not because I want to pressure you or anything. But because after 15 months it’s time for everybody to get some sleep. If nothing else you’ve definitely earned it!

  14. My 11 week old is doing fairly well at night, but naps are 30 minutes or less and he seems chronically overtired. We are trying to work towards earlier bedtime to help. How do you have a consistent bedtime when the night wakings/ times are not consistent, putting feelings at different times each day? Right now we’re doing 9 pm even if we have to feed a little earlier or later, but he’s usually sleeping in our arms prior to that. I think our witching hours are all day instead of evening. I’m also worried that he’s not sleeping long or at all after 5/6 am feeding but just laying in bed quietly. Would an earlier bedtime help? I have no idea what time he’s waking so it’s hard to watch awake time. Then our daily naps are short and involve crying or taking forever to get to sleep, and our days are train wrecks. We’re treating reflux but I’m worried it’s a terrible sleep issue and I’m at a loss as to how to fix it.

    • newborn+reflux=a special sort of hell

      Have you read these?

      I would definitely embrace the swing for naps and probably for nights too. Will likely help a ton.

      If he’s falling asleep in your arms prior to 9:00 then 9:00 is too late. He’s likely not really sleeping at 6:00 AM although if he’s happy in there, there’s no problem in letting everybody have a little mellow time. 5:00 – 6:00 AM is pretty normal wakeup time for babies/toddlers so I don’t see this as a problem per se.

      But I would advocate for an earlier bedtime because he’s falling asleep ANYWAY, so why not?

      Hopefully my sleep tips will help with the day sleep. Don’t give up on the swing, especially for refluxing kids the soothing motion + angle is REALLY helpful. Sadly I know of where I speak on that one. Good luck!

  15. Love you blog!
    our 3 month old sleeps all night long in her room. going to bed around 9pm and waking up around 7am. (we are so thankful!)
    She is now starting to stay awak for almost 2 hours then down for a nap, her naps are about an hour long.
    I’m wondering how you start to get them in a set nap time? or at what age? I have been putting her in her crib to nap once a day around 1, with her other naps in her swing.
    thanks for all the amamzing help you have done :)

    • That is all AMAZING – solid nights of sleep, awesome naps, etc.

      She DOES have a set nap time. It’s 2 hours after she wakes up. That’s the set time.

      So if she wakes up at 7:00 am then her set nap time would be 9:00 AM. And if she naps for 1 hour & wakes up at 10:00 AM the her set nap time would next be 12:00 AM.

      So I’m confused because from what you are telling me she HAS set nap times. I don’t like arbitrary schedules (which seem to be a common theme in comments lately) because they don’t take into account a) when baby wakes b) how long naps are or c) how long baby can stay awake. Going with how long she can stay awake gives you a much more fluid solution that keeps her from getting overtired.

      Also this will adjust as she gets older. 2 hours is pretty big window at 3 months so my guess is that she’ll stay there for a while. But by 9 months it’ll be more like 3 hours so then her naps will move around a bit then too. Does that make sense?

      Hope that helps!

      • Now that I hear it it all sounds right :) she is right on with her schedule.
        One more thing to ask… She moves so much in her sleep that she will turn around and be pressed up against the bars of her crib. I think that in the morning she would sleep longer if she wasn’t hitting her head or getting her hands and feet sticking out. Is there anything we can do? She is still being swaddled, so my thought is when we can’t anymore that might slow her down. Any thoughts? (we used to have bumpers on the crib but I took them off in fear that she might suffocate herself when she gets too close to them)

  16. Wilium Shatner

    Its the most magical time of human life .. Its like you can regret for any thing and everything but you will never regret for bed time .. when you sleep you sleep just cause you have a little bit of peace in your mind …

    • Yeah you never hear anybody wake up in the AM saying, “Man, I got too much sleep. I definitely should have stayed awake much later!”

      Unless something awesome happened just after they went to bed. Like that time I went to bed and then Bono from U2 stopped by my house because I missed it because I was asleep.

      ps. That never really happened πŸ˜‰

  17. Hi Alexis!

    I’m a first time mom to a 15 weeks old baby boy. Have been following your site since 3 weeks post partum :). Thanks for all the info and advices! The earlier days were horror stories, but now it’s becoming more and more suspense.

    First of all, my circumstances are :
    1) I live with my parents. Husband is living 600 km away due to studies. Only comes back once every 2 weeks or so. Sad. :( My horror stories were mostly watched alone.
    2) I have limited space for myself and baby, just a single room with a queen bed , a cupboard and a table. Barely any space left.
    3) I’m working as a medical practitioner which requires me to be on-call for 24 hours 6-9 times/month.
    4) My parents are not so keen to take care of my son full-time so I’m sending DS to nursery during day time and taken care by mom at night time when I’m on-call.
    5) My mother is not keen of any type of CIO and I am not keen to upset her since she is doing me a favour.

    Secondly, questions! Have tonnes of them (and I know you’re busy!) but I’ll just start slowly.

    1) Swing. I’ve bought a swing for DS when he was a month old , a portable Bright Starts as I barely have space for the full size. Been trying to get him to sleep in it for 2 months – 80% of the time it doesn’t work. Had him swaddled (sometimes not as it’s HOT here esp during the day)with loud white noise from my radio. My mother has been suggesting the hammock swing so as an act of desperation since I was going back to work I bought that type of swing instead (which took more space than the full size BS swing!). DS prefers it, 60% of the time he will sleep on his own in it. What do you think about hammock swing?

    2) Naps. DS has not established nap consolidation yet I think. Nap still varies in length, from short 10 mins to 1 1/2 hours (if im very lucky). Nap time is a bit more consistent with 1-2 times in the morning and 1 -2 times in the evening. Do you suppose leaving the room dark during naptime will disrupt the baby’s perception of day n night?

    3) Bedtime. I am trying to shift his bedtime earlier because he used to sleep at 12mn but now going earlier at about 10 pm. However when I put him down at 8 pm he’ll wake up at 1’oclock then at 4 and 6. While if I put him down at 10 pm or later he’ll only wake up at 4-ish or 5-ish then 6-ish or 7-ish which is more acceptable.Do you think I should keep on trying to shift his bedtime earlier or just accept his late bedtime for the time being?


    • Wow that is rough – no space, crazy work schedule, and your partner is largely MIA :(

      Well if my advice helps at all I’m happy to share so…
      1) Your baby is young for CIO and I’m not sure it would help so I’m going to vote with Grandma on this one.
      2) I’m not clear on what you mean by a hammock swing? Travel swings often don’t work well because they’re too small to get enough of a pendulum motion going. I hear you on the tiny room though.
      3) By 4 months I would say at 10 minute nap doesn’t even qualify. So hopefully those are rare? However it’s not unusual to have a 4 month old baby taking 3-4 naps a day so I’m not concerned by that at all. It’ll probably drop to 3 naps/day by 9 months and 2 naps/day by 12 months.
      4) Definitely you want the room dark for naptime. This does not mess up his perception of day/night. You DO want bright lights when it’s awake/playtime. But a dark room helps reduce stimulation which will help him understand that a) it’s time to sleep b) create no distraction and c) encourage his body to produce melatonin (sleep hormone). So yes on the dark room for sleep!
      5) Bedtime at 8:00 PM! For TONS of reasons. Namely that if his bedtime is too late he’s not getting sufficient sleep at night which is certainly not going to help you get longer naps during the day. You don’t want him “napping” at 7:00 PM (which I assume is happening to manage such a late bedtime) so I would cut back on late evening naps and focus on an earlier bedtime. At 4 months it’s entirely normal for him to sleep 10 hours at night with 2 feedings (which is what happens if he goes to bed at 8:00 PM right)? Then he starts the day at 6:00 AM which is totally normal for a baby. In fact most kids are waking up around 6:00 AM for years to come. Welcome to parenthood! πŸ˜‰

      So with the early bedtime:
      a) He’s getting MORE sleep overall at night
      b) His sleep is lined up more effectively with the light/dark cycle of the day which helps his body regulate sleep/wake hormones
      c) You actually get a few baby-free hours at night
      d) He feeds 2X a night (totally normal for 4 months).

      He may wake up 1 hour earlier in the AM but he’s still getting 1 hour MORE sleep then he does with the late bedtime. Which is all good things for you (sleep=better napping=happier baby=happier you).

      I hope that helps. Best of luck to you and your family!

      • Typing this wearily as I ended my 24 hour on-call and waiting for me at home is an attention seeking baby…

        He had a few naps today as I breastfeed him while lying down (too tired) and his last nap ended at 4.30 pm . After about 1 1/2 hour he started to show signs of sleepiness but since it’s already 6 pm I tried to delay his sleep by giving him a warm bath and playing with him a bit but by 7 he was really cranky so I put him down for bedtime. As for the moment I’m still trying to put him down drowsy but awake but often to no avail.

        My problem is (which I forgot to mention earlier) while he fell asleep quite easily at 7pm by nursing, he’ll wake up again at 7.30 pm , then went to sleep after I nurse him, woke up again 15 minutes later for a few times until 9pm when he’s really fussy while nursing and finally fell asleep for good. Since I was struggling to make him fall asleep for a good one hour, should I give up and play with him instead and accept 9pm as his bedtime at the moment? (he fusses unless I nurse or play with him).

        BTW, hammock swing is this

        Thanks for the luck, going to need it very much! (on-call again tomorrow..sigh)

        • Omelette,

          He sounds really overtired to me. And I’m so sorry you guys are having such a rough time of it. IT sounds like he’s really just cluster feeding from 7 pm – 9 pm (nursing with cat naps) and that his “real” bedtime isn’t till 9:00. In which case I would let him take a late nap at 6:00 since it’s actually 3 hours prior to his actual bedtime. Does that make sense?

          I’m not familiar with your hammock swing but I’m a tad concerned that it may not be safe? There used to be a product here in the US called the Amby Hammocks that went off the market for a while because of safety concerns/constant recalls that resulted in a few deaths. Well they’re back ON the market so presumably those issues have been resolved? Anyhoo having worked with a few of the Amby Hammock my opinion is not that they are bad “per se” but because they are a soft bottom movable sleep structure they are inherently a bit riskier than most hard-bottomed options (swings, bassinets, etc.). So you just want to be extra cautious yes?

          I hope I’m not freaking you out. I never want to throw anxiety at people especially as your plate is REALLY full already. Just want to share what I know, yes?

          • Hi Alexis!

            My DS is now almost 6 months (another 3 days to be exact) and oh no! He hasn’t mastered sleeping on his own yet! I’ve done everything I could, with the limitations of the above mentioned, such as putting him down awake, extra super soothing, consistent bedtime routine and time…he just won’t go down without nursing (tried feeding him before the bath book bed routine thing but he persisted) Sometimes he goes down with the hammock swing, but the swing is in my parent’s room so it’s rather inconvenient to use it for bedtime.

            And for the past one month he’s been waking up more than ever at night, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours once. He’s really fighting sleep too at bedtime. It seems like things are not getting better at all…tried weaning his night feedings to no avail (i tried cutting short his breastfeeding time at night but he’s really persistent on being stuck on my boob until asleep)…

            As I said before my mother is not into CIO but if this doesn’t get better I might have to do it before he’s older..

            Tired Mom

  18. We have finally made it to a consistent and blissful bedtime. My 4 month old is putting himself to sleep and I actually get some “do what I want” time before I’m ready to crash. 4 months ago, I thought we’d NEVER get here! Thank you Alexis for all the tips on getting baby to fall asleep on his own!

    • Newborns are a grind. Tiny delightful little creatures but also…a grind.

      Once bedtime moves up and is consistent it’s like your whole world opens up yes? It’s been 2.5 years since I was doing the late night baby bedtime shuffle and I still don’t miss it :)

  19. you know, i read books & articles like i got all the time in the world to do so, and i read all these comments about how people’s babies are sleeping by 7:30 pm. well, i put in a routine for 2 months and it hasn’t worked with my girl. she takes very short naps during the day (30-45 minutes at most) and goes to sleep between 10:30 pm-1:00 am. it’s different every night, but that’s the general time she sleeps. if she sleeps between 10:30-12 am, she will wake at 9-10 am, uninterrupted. any later and she’s not up until after 12. i have tried waking her earlier, changing her nap times…literally EVERYTHING, but she cries & screams and holds her breath until i put her back down to sleep.

    i have given up completely. i just thank god that i’m able to stay home & not work. i’d be a mess.

    • How old is she?

      1:00 AM is WAY late, even by newborn standards. The good news is that she is sleeping for a long time once she is asleep (could be worse, she could be starting her day at 6:00 AM regardless). But her night is shifted really late.

      I would consistently start waking her up earlier in the morning. Even 10:00 AM is too “late” for a baby. Work back towards 7:00 AM. This will shift naptimes too.

      Depending on her age she may need a TON of soothing. 30-45 minute naps are pretty standard for a newborn (is she a newborn?). I’m not sure what you mean when you say she holds her breath until you put her back down to sleep. That sounds like she needs MORE sleep yes? Like she is having a meltdown because she is so tired?

      I know you sound frustrated but please don’t give up completely. Things can and DO get better!

      • Attempted your advice & started to wake her up early, but it didn’t work. I also tried denying her afternoon nap, which resulted in a 3 hour scream session. My daughter just turned 5 months old. She had colic for 3 1/2 months, & her scream time was usually between 9 pm & 1 am. I have stuck to a routine religiously for the last month, & she is nowhere near accepting it. If I attempt to put her down for a nap she will scream & cry. This can last for hours as I have tried the CIO method. Colic gave her great training for screaming for hours.

        Every mother & even my pediatrician are convinced I’m doing something wrong. I’ve invited everyone to watch her for a week if they want, but I got no volunteers, just a lot of critics. I’ve accepted my baby does not want a routine, & I’m done trying. I cannot run off of 4 hours of sleep anymore.

        • Sorry, I meant to say if I try to put her to bed too early, she will scream & cry if she’s not ready to sleep.

          She is a thumb sucker & usually soothes herself to sleep during naps. But when it’s between 9 pm & 1 am, there is no amount of swaddling, cuddling, rocking, or even driving that I can do. She just does not want to sleep when I say so. I’ve owned dogs my whole life & I’ve had them on schedules SO easy. But this little one has proven my methods wrong.

  20. regular bedtime establishes a routine and makes it easier for your child to fall asleep. Once you become consistent with bedtime, you may find that other sleep problems decrease.

  21. Hi Alexis – My son was born January 27th and I’ve been coming to your site since he was about 3 weeks and old and your advice has seriously worked wonders! This post was especially happy for me, as I can now say that my husband and I have happy hour in the evening and we are successfully working on getting baby to sleep in his crib throughout the night – right now we are in the process of slowing down the swing. Everything is going well so far – so thank you!!!

    • Woot woot! Thank you so much for sharing your success! Mostly I get “baby and I are both going CRAZY” posts to happy news is a rare and welcome treat :)

  22. Hi alexis,
    I have been visiting your site for weeks now and have been very grateful for some advice you have given me previously. My current issue is that my gorgeous 15 week old little boy has begun a few things which are, to me, out of character:
    1) crying at bedtime. I know this sounds weird but he was never a cryer and we I try to put him down at 9-9.30 he will sleep for about 10 mins (though this generally happens with him falling asleep in my arms) then wake up, crying. So, by the time I have settled him a few times, he isn’t going down till around 10.30pm.
    2) he is then only sleeping 3 hrs then waking (usually with his hands wiggled free and in his mouth), feeding then going back down for around 4 hours.
    3) he then wakes around 7ish, feeds then goes back to bed til around 10-10.30am.
    4) he will generally have a good arvo nap for 2-2.5 hours from about 2pm.
    So…I guess my question is…is he having his arvo nap too late(his wakeful period is 2hours to the minute) and how can I get him to bed earlier. We start our bedtime routine at 7.30pm with a bath, then a bottle of expressed breastmilk, then on to me to top him up.
    I know he can sleep longer as about 3-4weeks ago he was sleeping for 7 hour blocks.
    Any help/advice would be appreciated coz the 1-2am wake ups are getting a little tiring as I thought we were past them.
    P.s when he wakes in the early morning, he goes at it like nothing else so I know he is hungry.
    Thanks again,

    • What does “arvo” mean?

      Well I don’t know exactly what is going on but here is what jumps out at me from what you shared here…

      His sleep is really shifted too much (as I mention above). 10:30 AM is too late of a wakeup at this age so it’s no surprise that you can’t put him down for bed at 7:30. You’ll need to start waking him up earlier to start shifting things back. This alone may solve some of your issues. You want to head for closer to a 6:30AM/7:00 AM morning wakeup.

      Seriously this is my #1 piece of advice for you. Because right now his night is 10:30 PM – 10:30 AM. Which is a solid length of time but not happening at the right time.

      I’m guessing that the crying at bedtime and the multiple wakeup behavior is really related to the fact that he’s not quite tired yet because his day has been too short.

      I would start there and see if getting things more inline with a 7:30 PM – 7:00 AM night doesn’t fix the other issues. Let me know what happens, OK?

      • Thanks alexis, I will start working on earlier starts to the day and let you know how I go. P.s arvo is an abbreviation of afternoon (I’m Australian) :).thanks again for your time and advice

  23. So glad I found your blog! my baby is 7 weeks and just started getting really fussy if she’s overtired. Parenthood is a minefield! Just when you think you’ve got it sussed the baby throws a curve ball!

    • “Parenthood is a minefield!”
      True dat.

      For what it’s worth, fussiness peaks and sleep bottoms out at 6 weeks so everything from here on out is (even if it’s very small increments) easier!

  24. Me again. After our fuss it out experiment didn’t work, we decided to at least try working towards putting her down even the slightest bit awake and at least get on that gradual path. However, we have hit a bump in the road the past few nights. This was happening a few weeks ago, and then we had a couple solid weeks of happy consistent bed times, and now this again. We watch for drowsy signs, and as soon as we notice yawning, etc. we start her bedtime routine which is lotion, pj’s, boob, book, rock to sleep. Well, the past few nights, we have done well up until the book part at which point she starts SCREAMING uncontrollably and we can’t settle her down and get her to sleep for a good half hour. (And then sometiems she will wake up after a half hour or so and take several times to get her back to sleep). When this happened a few weeks ago, we realized (we think) that we were jumping the gun and she wasn’t really tired yet so we started waiting until a little later (7/7:30) for bedtime. However, these past few nights, she has gotten fussy by like 6/6:30, so we’ve been starting bedtime earlier, even though her last catnap ends around 5. We have no idea what to do. She’s fussy if we start early, but she’s too fussy to keep her awake longer. Help?!?!

    • Oh, and since I’m sure you don’t have all of these comments memorized and I don’t expect you to look back through for my past comments, she is 15 weeks old. :)

    • So you’re snuggled in a comfy chair with a book and she just starts SCREAMING? That is a bit unusual. And you don’t think that there is a gas bubble or something causing problems? (Sometimes gas can be really painful so I’m not joking about that as a possible cause). Screaming while cuddling with Mom isn’t typical “I’m too tired” behavior. So I’m wondering if there is some hidden cause of discomfort that is messing up your snuggle time?

      As for timing, the yawning, etc. sign means THAT it’s bedtime. So if she’s yawning at X time then you want to start your routine at X-30 minutes so that you’re reading books at X time.

      At 15 weeks (thanks for the hint – I didn’t remember πŸ˜‰ You might not want her napping at 5:00 so you may want to avoid naps past say 4:00 to “defend” a bedtime that might be around 7:00. If 7:00 is approximately X time (above).

      Not sure if that is confusing but I hope that helps!

      • Everything you said makes perfect sense, however I’m still not sure how to approach this. We’re pretty sure it’s not gas, etc. We started using gas drops a couple of weeks ago just to be sure of this, and are still using them. While her crying is hard crying, it doesn’t seem like pain to me. The problem with starting routine at x-30 minutes is that x has been occurring at different times, so we never know. Sometimes it’s an hour after her last nap, sometimes it’s 2 hours after her last nap. And it’s never a consistent clock time. As far as the late napping, she’s still doing 4 catnaps per day, and her third one usually ends around 2:30ish. There’s no way she would make it from then until bedtime. So should I try to push her 4th nap to start earlier? Won’t that be too close to her 3rd nap? The other thought that crossed my mind was hunger. Our day usually goes 4th nap, eat, awake time, and then bedtime routine which has another feeding as part of it. I know supply tends to be low during late afternoon/evening, so I thought maybe she wasn’t getting enough at that feeding after her last nap, and we were misreading hunger fussiness as sleepy fussiness and starting bedtime too early. So tonight I fed her after her nap (she woke up at 5) and then again at about 6:15 when she got fussy. She ate, but then was acting sleepy too, so we did bedtime. Still with the crying. So I don’t know. I hope this all makes sense. There’s been a lot of “well, let’s try this” in the last few days, and nothing has seemed to work. My husband and I are both educated people, yet this we can’t seem to figure out…

        • To be honest I’m a bit mystified about the crying. This may or may not help:

          – Gas drops don’t work (numerous studies have shown this) so you can skip them. They don’t hurt they just don’t do anything either.
          – It could be she is hungry or frustrated by the hard work of getting your milk (unlike the morning where it literally pours from you). Have you tested this theory by offering her a post-nursing bottle? If she hungrily guzzles 6+ oz I think that would really tell you something.

          I know lactation people are really against offering a bottle ever but I had low milk supply and supplimentation was the key to our continued nursing. As she gets bigger it is possible that she is outgrowing your supply. You could either test this theory with the post-nursing bottle or meet with an IBCLC to talk about it (personally I would try the bottle thing as it would be a quick and easy trial).

          Also she’s really close to 4 months and the 4 month sleep regresson is also known as a growth spurt so she could literally be demanding more food from you and getting frustrated that it’s not there:

          You can’t really push naps around too much because then they’re not tired yet. But by 4 months I would keep an eye on trying to establish a somewhat reliable bedtime. Maybe the answer is to keep the 4th nap super short – like a 10 minute catnap so that she does develop a sufficient sleep debt that you can start to make X a consistent time(ish). Or at least keep that as a goal over the next few weeks.

          Curious to know how the bottle trial goes over if you try that?

          • Ok, we’ve solved the mystery of crying at bedtime, however we have no idea how to fix the cause… It’s not food, it’s not time, it’s not previous naps, it’s WHO. She is FREAKING out when my husband tries to soothe her to sleep, but goes to sleep just fine for me. We have no idea what is causing this. He’s put her to bed many, many, many times in the past with no problem, and she still lets him put her down for naps. At bedtime now though, she screams and cries if it’s not me. This is why she was screaming at story time. I would do lotion, jammies, and feed, then he would take over for story and soothing. We figure this started almost 2 weeks ago, but it was hard to figure out because there were a few nights that just because of our schedules, I was the one putting her to bed. Thoughts on what to do about this?? Any other time of day, she absolutely loves daddy. This is strictly a bedtime occurrence, but it’s still heartbreaking, not to mention putting a damper on our plan to gradually start working towards “drowsy but awake” when we put her down. :(

            • That is a challenge but I’m betting it’s a temporary blip. In the meantime my only advice (which will sound like a joke but isn’t really) is to have your husband wear a dirty t-shirt of yours – something you’ve been wearing without washing so it smells like you.

              Kids will go through phases where they prefer one parent over the other. 4 months is pretty young to have such a strong preference but it’s normal, will switch back and forth, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it. When your 3 YO refuses to let you cuddle so that Daddy can read books, it stings. Wait a month and then it will be Daddy who can’t read books.

              (Obviously when they’re older, however, it’s a lot easier to establish fair boundaries around this behavior).

            • Ha! We actually ended up trying that last week! We had tickets to a concert, so the grandparents were going to be staying with her and doing bedtime, so we were desperate to find a solution. It worked out pretty well, and the issue seems to be going away anyway. Also… since then we decided to test the waters again with her falling asleep on her own (our gradual approach was going nowhere), so we decided we would let her cry/fuss for 15-20 minutes and see what happened. 17 minutes later on the first night, we had a sleeping baby. We are currently down to 10 minutes of fussing. She wakes up her normal 2 times to eat, and if she wakes up any more than that, she puts herself back to sleep. We. Are. Ecstatic. AND, she has been having at least one nap per day that is over 90 minutes!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the time and work you put into this site, AND the time you take to respond to all comments. I cannot tell you how much this has saved my sanity over the past couple months.

  25. What happens when your baby is a catnapper, and wants to go to bed at 530 or 6 pm? Lately, my 15 week old, is just anti nap. By the end of the day she is cranky, rubbing eyes, fighting back the sleep almost to the point where she misses her last feed. Then when she gets overtired, gets in a hysterical FIT where she wont sleep in the swing or bouncy seat. I then had to force feed her 4 oz, and put her down in crib, and soothe like crazy. Now, she is almost asleep. Her hysteria escalates in like 2 minutes! Help!!??

    • So she goes to bed at 5:30. If she’s really that tired that she absolutely might need an early bedtime! Yes overtired babies are no fun at all so I would imagine she builds up this huge sleep debt during the day to the point where she is a bit of a mess. What if, for now, you just embrace the early bedtime? If you know she’s going to bed that early, can you squeeze in the last 4 oz feed before she’s going hysterical crying on you?

      I promise her bedtime will not always be so early but it definitely sounds like that is where she’s at for now, yes?

  26. I also have a 15 week-old who has gotten so hard to read. He, too, is a catnapper-sleeping for 30 minutes, 45 if we are lucky. His max awake time is about an hour (a little longer in the morning, a little less as the day goes on). This means he is usually asleep about an hour and 15 min. to an hour and a half since he last ate (I’m doing eat-awake-sleep). Add in a 30 minute nap and he’s up starting the cycle again 2 hours since he last ate. (I’m exclusively breast feeding). I don’t think he’s always hungry at this point, but I don’t want to feed him to sleep. This also means that we cycle through eat-awake-sleep 5 or 6 times a day, and he eats every 2 hours, which is exhausting.
    Loren, I have had my days this past week where he is anti nap and they all ended in a melt-down. I’m wondering if it is something with this age? On these days we had to bounce him to sleep (on an exercise ball). Usually more than once, as he would scream when we put him down. So goes our trying to put down “drowsy but awake.” I’m starting to hate that phrase!

    • I am right there with you! It’s got to be the age! Our babies and situations are very similar. I am not breastfeeding anymore, so she is formula fed. As far as my routine goes (or the routine I HAD), it ends up being every 2.5 to 3 hours I would feed. I would put her down around 7 pm (after bath, bottle and story time). Then I’d do a dreamfeed at 10 pm (and she would eat anywhere from 2 to 6 oz). Then she will usually wake up anywhere from 2 to 330 for another bottle, falls back to sleep and then wakes up anywhere from 5:30 am to 6:30 am, in which I take her out of the crib and put her in the swing (still swaddled), and start the process of feeding all over again (around 630 or 7 am).

      It USED to be so easy to put her down drowsy but awake, or just awake! She didnt really fuss, and wasn’t so into the pacifier. Now, she needs the pacifier and gets hysterical when I put her down drowsy but awake.

      Jennifer, are you still swaddling? Lately, my little one has been busting out of the miracle blanket, so I think my swaddling days are numbered. I am wondering how everything could have changed so fast! She went from being relatively “easy”, to a different, more difficult baby! I really just hope this is a phase and not a precursor for what’s to come!

      Bouncing on a ball? I feel for you! Fortunately, I havent gotten to that point. It’s nice to know that other people can relate!!

      • Loren, reading your post I do think we are in a similar situation. My LO USED to follow a night waking/eating schedule similar to yours. Key word being USED to. That is up until this past Monday night, when he decided he should wake up every 2-3 hours wanting to be held. This lasted a few nights and last night, just for kicks, we didn’t swaddle. He would scream when we tried to swaddle him and spend his time trying to break free instead of falling asleep. He was eventually breaking out of every swaddle we tried-the velcro kind and the miracle blanket. He did alright last night-waking up every 3-4 hours. I don’t think it was related to being unswaddled.
        Yes, the ball is ridiculous. The rocking chair stopped working and so did the swing so we needed something! Hubby is upstairs trying to get him to sleep. We’ve been trying for about 45 minutes. This never used to happen!

        • Maybe its a full moon or something because everyone I know who has babies is saying the same thing! Their babies are super fussy!!! Nice that my daughter will nap for literally 15 to 20 minutes and think she is done for the day! Arrggh. I am exhausted!

        • Even if it’s only for a month or two I would get a new swing. OR even better? Call and complain about the motor until they send you a replacement for free. If they don’t want to send you one start crying. Crying will get you almost anything from customer support.

          If it’s the same age you’re all wrestling with the 4 month sleep regression/growth spurt. Which is a mess under the best of circumstances but possibly slightly less of a mess with a good swing πŸ˜‰

    • Yes it IS exhausting! Listen, nursing is absolutely the best thing for you and your baby and I would love it if everybody in the world tried it, had great support, and was able to make it work out. And it’s EXHAUSTING!

      However at this age I would suggest you get yourself a much needed massage, followed by a relaxing mani pedi, or whatever else you need to charge your batteries. Because you’re also training him to consume most of his calories during the day (vs. at night) and THIS is a great step towards sleeping through the night. It’s also temporary as at about ~6 months you’ll start solids and soon thereafter comes finger foods. Once that kid is munching on cheerios your boobs will get a much needed break.

      Because fundamentally you would rather have him eating during the day than at night, yes?

      And yes it IS the age – welcome to the 4 month sleep regression:

      It’s a nightmare, but it’s temporary! Does that help you feel any better about it?

  27. I LOVE your blog. Wish I had found all this information with my first two, who were terrible sleepers! My third, just 11 weeks, is a pretty good sleeper. She has about an hour and a half of awake time in between naps, with naps being about an hour long. Our biggest problem is bedtime- it depends on her naps during the day, but between 5 and 7 she’s ready for another nap/bedtime. She goes down pretty easily, but then wakes shortly after, seemingly treating it as a nap instead of bedtime. So then I’ll go in and nurse her, and we’ll continue this dance for a few hours until she’s finally down for a good stretch. I know that you have written that an earlier bedtime is not practical for a newborn, and I am tempted to agree, but that Weissbluth says that an earlier bedtime develops between weeks 7-8. But is this what he means by earlier bedtime, where you have to continue going in and out until she’s finally asleep a few hours later? I also know that he says that putting them to bed earlier will help you to avoid the witching hour, but we are doing that and she’s not staying asleep! She is totally going to have a nursing to sleep association, but I’m not so concerned about that right now, I just want to make sure I’m not doing the wrong thing by going in and nursing (definitely non-nutritively) her back to sleep. I have left her to fuss a few times for a short amount of time, like less than 10 minutes, but especially at night, it doesn’t work. She will continue to get more and more hysterical, and then when I do go in, it takes longer to get her to sleep. Any ideas?

    • I love Weissbluth and generally agree with most of what he says. BUT….

      The newborn early bedtime thing is a toughie. Because here he is saying to put your baby down early. But LOTS of people find the same thing that YOU do – it becomes just a nap, baby wakes up 45 minutes later and then is UP for the next 2 hours.

      So here’s my theory on what happens next. Because mentally you felt you were putting baby to BED you are now stressed and frustrated (you were probably already imagining having a blissful 2 hours to yourself and now you have a fussy awake baby). So instead of accepting that it’s a nap you spend the next 2 hours trying to convince your baby to fall back asleep. Of course your baby is now wide awake and getting annoyed with you for trying to push bedtime. To everybody is stressed and frustrated with each other for 2 hours until finally, at 9:00 PM, your baby goes to bed and you get a free 30 minutes before you pass out yourself.

      So my theory is that if you temporarily accept that baby’s bedtime is later than you would like, you can recognize the nap for what it is, remove the frustrating and stressful 2 hour ordeal, and relax a bit about the whole thing.

      I can’t swear that this is the right answer but forcing an early bedtime rarely seems to work so I’m sticking with it πŸ˜›

  28. Hi Alexus,

    Our 22 week old just recently, I’d say within the past 2 weeks, started waking again for 1-2 night feedings. He was sleeping like a rock all through the night up until the past 2 weeks. He has outgrown his fisher price Rock n Play sleeper so he is sleeping in his crib. He is also eating solids and has always gotten 1 tbsp of rice in ALL his bottles per his Dr due to his AR. Could his recent night wakings be the dreaded 4 month sleep regression or the fact he is sleeping in his crib now and still isn’t quite used to it? Last night was a good night, he goes to be at 8/830pm pretty much every night after his bath and bottle. He only woke up at 1am to eat then again at 6am but I put him back to sleep until it was time to leave for work and Mimi’s at 7am. It just has me wondering why, when he was sleeping through the night, to waking againg for a bottle, which btw he is drinking the entire 4.5oz bottle during his night wakings so he has to be hungry….right?

    • sorry, meant Alexis, not Alexus:( my bad….

    • 4 month sleep regression? Isn’t he almost SIX months old? If so it could be the six month sleep regression.

      OR it could be solids. Or the crib. Or a combination of all three.

      Solids are really filling but have almost -0- calories. So people get tripped up by offering their baby a dinner of pear and rice which is very filling but hardly provides any nutrients. Possibly this could be leading you back to night feedings.

      Also the crib isn’t as soothing so that could also be why he is waking more.

      Or the sleep regression thing. Although 1 feeding doesn’t really sound like a major regression. Also a 4.5 oz bottle isn’t really that much (basically a snack yes?).

      Regardless I would work towards watering down that night feed to break the habit. Check this out:

      And you may need to rearrange the solids so that they don’t lead to a hungry night baby.

  29. HiAlexis!

    I’m so thankful for finding your site when our baby stopped sleeping like an angel and kept me awake till 1 AM. Since then I followed your advice (which worked great!) and am now slowly trying to put her down awake at nap time (succeeded at bedtime). A success story till now.

    Now a whole new problem arrived and is driving me crazy! Our 5 months (23 weeks) old baby stopped sleeping on her own at bedtime. We just spent 1 week at my parents and she quickly adapted (already next day every sleep was better), but we did put her down for bedtime later than at home (home: 7-8PM, parents: 8-9PM – she was kept awake too long and was sleep deprived because naps were short!). At the end of the week she fell asleep on her own for a nap time too (we were super excited).
    Now we came home and everything is wrong! She started crying (before she was always just a complainer, fussing and grunting) and would not let me put her on a playground (wants to be held all the time!).
    Before going to parents:
    For a nap time she was swaddled, nursed then rocked to sleep and I carried her to her crib, where she would sleep for at least an hour. At bedtime we did bath, boob, book being swaddled in her bed and left the room for her to fall asleep on her own (she would fuss but we listened on the advice on not going in for at least 20min and it worked).
    At parents house: lots of nursing! As the days went by it was easier for her to fall asleep, I was reducing nursing and did more rocking.
    After coming back home:
    Before she was swaddled but is so hot right now that she cryes and we stopped. When she is asleep at nap time I put her on our bed next to me because she wakes up if I carry her to her crib. And at bedtime similar drama: she cryes in her bed and I take her out and rock her to sleep but cannot carry her back to her crib so she ends up sleeping with us. Never thought that this will happen but I’m scared of our baby because I don’t know how to help her. :( Our bedtime lasts for 2 hours now because she wakes up everytime I try to put her in her crib or if I go out of the room to soon. Shushing doesn’t help anymore to calm her crying down but we still continue with loud white noise (we didn’t have it at our parents and she did fine).

    And for further happenings in our family: How can we help her sleep when we go to coast for holidays? We considered taking her crib with us. And right after that we’re going abroad for 4 months. When we’ll come back I’m going back to work – how can I help her transition to her grandma who will baby-sit her?

    And another question: for her age she should have 3 naps but if she sleeps only for 1 hour (which is most often), the last nap ends at 4 o’clock which means 3 hours of being awake when her awake span is 1,5 hour. Should she get 4th nap?
    Otherwise she gets up around 7, goes back down at 8ish, up at 10ish, down 12ish, up at 2ish and down at 4ish, bedtime at 7ish. (now +2 hours of soothing). She wakes up at night 2, 3 times (sometimes 4 times). Last two weeks she got up at 3 AM (or 4 AM) and was awake for 1,5 hour (I’ve left her to fall alseep on her own and wasn’t with her – should I be?)

    Please help, I’m exhausted and really need advice!! Thank you very very much!
    P.S.: I told about your site to all my friends with babies :) You’re super famous around here :)

    • Super famous? WOO HOO!

      Course that means I have to come up with a really really good answer to your big hairy problem. Oooof πŸ˜‰

      I’m not sure if I’m completely understanding the sequence of events but what I’m getting is this: things were AMAZING until you went on this trip where everything got thrown out of whack, she got overtired, and you went back to techniques like rocking and nursing to get her to sleep better while on your trip. Then you came home and you now have an overtired kid who sleeps crappy AND expects to be rocked, nursed, or co-sleep all the time.

      And to make things worse, you have a TON of transitions coming up (travel, going back to work, etc.) and you can’t even get things back on trap from your LAST big trip.

      Is that the picture?

      If so than this is a classic case PTSD – Post Travel Sleep Disorder

      And to compound the issue you’ve also got possibly the 6-month sleep regression to factor in there and the development of object permanence/separation anxiety (which means she’s less amenable to being left alone.

      And then you’re headed out for another trip soon(ish)? Yes?

      And right now you have a co-sleeping baby who wakes up all night long.

      Well I don’t have an easy fix for you because she’s now overtired and sleeping poorly. And sadly she’s a bit old for most of the standard newborn baby soothing stuff to work (as you mentioned the swaddle gets hot). When you say you’re getting scared because nothing works, I get the feeling that you’re pretty beat down about the whole affair. And possibly feeling anxious about all the transitions you have coming your way in the near future.

      Basically your options would be to:
      a) Try to gradually disentangle you from the co-sleeping, night nursing, and bedtime battles by making small incremental changes to slowly, slowly work from where you are to where you want to be. The ability to make this work really depends on how beat down YOU are and how overtired SHE is.

      b) Possibly consider CIO (at least for bedtime).

      I wish I had a better solution to offer you because I hate to squander my celebrity with poor answers. But sadly this is what I have :(

      Check the article below (are you ready?) and talk to your partner about it.

  30. Hey Alexis. I wrote to you about my 16 month olds crummy 30 minute naps and THANK YOU! She now sleeps 1 hour and 10 minutes at about 11am everyday. I envy those who get this peace twice a day but I won’t be greedy:)

    So now for my little one, or littler one. She is 3 1/2 months and although I try to have a consistent bedtime it’s really screwed up. It’s still a complete mystery that leaves me hungry ( no dinner) and frustrated beyond words. She gets fussy around 5pm or 6pm and it becomes an endless cycle of bouncing, feeding, walking until she surrenders. This is usually around 10pm or later. The only time she is really quiet during these five hours is when I’m nursing her. So I nurse her a lot to save my eardrums.
    She is swaddled with one arm out that she sucks on. We use lot white noise and she has been in her crib for a while now.
    This whole thing was “only” lasting two hours and in the past week or two it is now lasting 5 hours or more. Last night I gave up at midnight and just brought her to bed with me and shoved a boob in her mouth so I could sleep.

    What should I do?
    She wakes at 730am and I follow the two hour awake rule when we ate home. If we are on the move then she naps when she wants or can.

    • It’s hard to say. She could be teething. Take a look in her mouth – do you see red swollen lumps in her gums? When the teeth really start to come through you can TELL it hurts because it’ll LOOK like it hurts. If you can’t see anything that looks red and hurty then it’s probably NOT teething.

      There is also the possibility that she’s hit the 4 month sleep regression which is typically the WORST. That would explain her sleeping poorly and her 2 hour witching hour becoming a 5 hour ordeal.

      I will say 3.5 months is a bit old to have the witching hour be SO long and SO rough. I’m thinking that she probably IS going through a sleep regression and that prior to that she might have been a bit overtired which is why the witching hour was so rough and bedtime was sort of late.

  31. One other thought. She is drooling. Maybe she’s teething? Isn’t this a bit early at 3 1/2 months. How long would that affect sleep?

  32. My daughter will be six months in just a few days and I am having some trouble with deciding if she needs a late fourth nap or a super early bedtime. Her wake time between naps is fairly short for her age (90 minutes) and her nap lengths are fairly inconsistent. She has always been a 45 minute napper but is starting to throw in longer ones here and there, sometimes 1.5 or 2 hours. So from day to day, her bedtime falls somewhere between 6:30 and 7:15 depending on how she napped that day. But days like today are confusing. She woke from her third nap at 4:00 and, with a 1.5 hour wake time, was ready to go back down at 5:30. Is this a 4th nap? Is this bedtime? What about her short wake time? Is this just where she is or do I need to try to stretch her out a little? Where is her instruction manual??

    • Wait, yours didn’t come with an instruction manual? How are you to know when it’s time for her 10,000 mile service? I would take her back and request a new one. And don’t let them try to fob off one of those refurbished numbers on you either!

      At 6 months it’s a bit unusual for her to only be awake 1.5 hours (not that it’s anything to worry about!) and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the next few weeks she goes through the infamous 6-month growth spurt-sleep regression. And if I’m right, that growth spurt will be followed in a fairly abrupt change in how long she can be awake (it might pop up overnight to 2-2.5 hours). Just something to be on the lookout for?

      At 6 months I would want to be honing in on a consistent bedtime. The range of 6:30 – 7:15 counts as pretty consistent so I would make decisions that keep you in that range. If she woke up at 4:00 I might try pushing her to 6:30. However if she turns into a fussy mess on you then instead of putting her down for a full 45-minute nap at 5:30 (which would presumably blow bedtime) I might do some activity at 5:30 that would enable her to take a tiny catnap (short stroller ride or car trip to the store). My guess is that if she had a 10 minute nap at 5:30 that would help keep her from becoming an exhausted mess but still enable her to make her target bedtime.

      Does that make sense? Basically at 6 months it’s better to have a consistent bedtime so you may need to finagle a little bit here and there to make it happen :)

      • I keep threatening to trade her in but at six months, I’m pretty attached to this one now! : )

        Thanks for your advice. I think we are actually at the infamous six month growth spurt now. She wants to nurse NONSTOP and has been waking 3x at night for the last 2 nights. So this better be it!

  33. Hi Alexis,
    Sorry this is probably the wrong place for my question, but i could not figure out where to post it.
    I was wondering if you ever in your experience dealt with sleep problems of children who attend childcare, because it’s a completely different situation vs children who are always at home.
    I already wrote here about some of my challenges with my 5mo, but in summary:
    1. i have no control over day naps,
    2. baby is ALWAYS sick with something (over two months got ear infection, bronchitis, cold and conjunctivitis…) and as a result needs tons of soothing at night, as may wake up if his nose is stuffed or if his coughs are too violent,
    3. baby eats very little at daycare and wolves down on my breast all morning, evening and every 3 hours at night (i heard it’s called reverse cycling…) – he really eats at night, he is not waking up for soothing!
    I understand that the general rules still apply (teach the baby sleep on his/her own, provide adequate soothing, gentle night weaning, timely use of paracetamol at night when needed etc), and I believe we already improved our sleep thanks to your suggestion, but his interrupted night sleep is killing me, especially as i then have to go and perform at work… I was just wondering if you could share some further tips for such situations or if you could recommend a good source?
    Thank you so much again for all your help!

    • Daycare is really really hard. What you describe is totally the norm. And it blows. And there IS no easy answer.

      The sad truths about daycare are:
      1) These kids are constantly getting sick.
      2) They don’t want to eat from a bottle, they prefer to get it fresh from the source.
      3) So they’re up all night because they’re sick and hungry.

      Your daycare provider SHOULD be working with you on naps. I know finding great daycare is a challenge and you may not have a ton of options. But I would be very straight up with them, “This is a key priority for our family and we need to be on the same page about the importance of his napping here. What can we do together to improve his ability/consistency of napping?”

      As for the night eating (lactation types call this reverse cycling but technically that term was initially applied to newborns who slept all day and were up all night but I digress…) yes he would MUCH prefer to get his milk directly from you. The question about how to handle this really depends on how you feel about it. Some nursing working Moms feel guilty about not being around during the day and so continue to nurse all night long out of guilt. I’m not arguing with this decision but I’ll say that it’s a good way to get super run down and exhausted.

      If you’re ready to make a stand on the night guzzling you’ll have to cut back on how much he eats at night and if he’s really eating nothing during the day, that’ll be rough for a bit. Some options to consider:
      – Pop him off early so he isn’t starving but goes to daycare still hungry. Shorten each night feed by ~2 minutes.
      – Express milk at night and give him bottles then too so there is no advantage of night eating vs. day (I know, MORE pumping = sucky). This works best if Dad gives the bottle.

      Neither are super appealing, I know. But if you want to break free of constant night feeding you’ll sort of have to force the issue so that he’ll have to accept the less-desirable day bottles :(

      It IS hard I know! But it does get easier. As they get older their immune systems develop, they aren’t so sick all the time, and they WILL adjust to eating there. I’m sure you’re a zombie at work but I’m sure your co-workers will cut you a little slack while everybody adjusts. It’s not forever!

  34. Hi Alexis, this such a great website….thank you!!

    Question – my baby girl is just over 3 months and we are still struggling to find a bedtime. I find it is still all over the place. Sometimes 7, 8 or 9, it’s tough to have a routine. Should I be waking her up in the morning at the same time to try to set her clock? Or, do I start a bedtime routine at the time I think she should go to bed (even if she doesn’t go to sleep at that time on that particular night)?

    she usually has good naps, ranging from 45 mins – 2.5 hours, in the swing. And sleeps around 12 hours at night in her crib with 2 feeds at night.

    • I would start managing her late afternoon naps so that you can hone in on a more consistent bedtime. Maybe 8:00 is a good target as it’s in the middle?

      So basically I would start shortening or cutting out naps that happen late so that she’ll be ready for bed around 8:00. Essentially this means no more sleep at 6:00 pm (or at least you work towards that goal, it doesn’t have to happen overnight!). So if she’s sleeping at 6:05 PM I would wake her up. If she wakes up from a nap at 4:30 PM and would be needing another nap AT 6:00 PM you might have to finagle a little (possibly a short car ride catnap at 6:00 PM but nothing long enough to mess up bedtime?).

      You don’t need to be super militant about it at this age but I would start tweaking things to work towards a consistent bedtime. That will lead to a consistent wakeup which them helps everything settle into a bit more consistency all around.

      • Hi Alexis

        I wanted to send you an update…we have been doing the 8 pm bedtime routine for almost 2 weeks. She LOVES it, in fact we have been able to put her in her crib drowsy/awake and she goes to sleep. Amazing…thank you!

        Now, to work on getting rid of the pacifier.


  35. Oh, hey – I just put a comment on your most recent page (about CIO) and then I saw this page, where the comment was actually somewhat relevant. Sorry about that…

    Here’s a follow-up question — you mentioned that when a kid is sitting in his crib for a while before falling asleep (or, perhaps, in the a.m.) that, among other things, he’s learning to entertain himself. The thing is, we still have our son a pitch black room with a sound machine going, and I usually feel bad when I see him on the monitor sitting there feeling around for his lovey. I don’t know what he’s thinking about but I’m pretty sure it’s not overly entertaining. Do we need to think about getting a nightlite or cutting out the sound machine or leaving the door open or something?

    Thx, Matt

    • Sorry I never answered your question here (we were emailing elsewhere) but I am a fan of a small nightlight. But kids are amazingly good at entertaining themselves without toys, music, blinky lights, etc.

      The current issue of Time says that the average American child has 139 toys. I can’t figure out if we have more or less than that (does our enormous bin of legos count as one?). But it goes on to say that it is WAY more than kids in any other country. So I think we’re a bit toy-centric as a whole. Kids will figure out a way to entertain themselves with very little if need be. Some might argue that this is a good thing – it stimulates creativity, self-reliance, and self-soothing.

      My 3 YO is singing to himself in his largely-empty crib with only a small night light to see by. So somehow he’s managed.

      Hope that helps.

  36. Is there any fix for a really early bedtime? It’s weird. Our son just hit 3 months (though he was about 3 weeks premature, if that matters), and his bedtime is inconsistent at best. Sometimes he goes down for the night at 7. Sometimes 8:30. But sometimes, we think he’s going down for a nap at 4 or 5 and he’s out and virtually impossible to effectively wake. Until the wee hours, when he’s ready to start the day. I’ve been trying to put him on the beginnings of a bedtime routine, but it’s hard when he sometimes decides it’s bedtime several hours early.

    So what do we do? Try to get him to nap longer in the mornings? There’s not much rhyme or reason, because some mornings he naps fine and others he barely naps, and I can’t figure out a pattern when he does this. We’ve tried waking him once or twice toward early evening to try and protect his bedtime, but that just results in pitiful cries and him falling back asleep. Help!

    • Well at 3 months you generally DO want to have a more consistent bedtime. But the fact that he was 3 weeks premature DOES matter so I would consider him a ~2 month old baby developmentally. So is it normal for a 2 month old to have a bedtime that pops around all over the place? Yes it is.

      So instead of trying to make it consistent I would go with the flow – try for bedtime about 1.5-2 hours after he awakes from his last nap. If you’re worried about him going to BED at 4:00 pm and then starting his day at 3:00 am (a reasonable concern) I would dial down the soothing for the late nap. So whatever he gets for soothing at that time (loud white noise, swaddle, swing, paci) – maybe you use only white noise.

      If THAT does work then I would wake him up just to avoid his starting the day at 3:00 am. I guess I would rather have a cranky hard to sleep baby at 7:00 PM then start my day at 3:00 am (I never ever want to start the day at 3:00 am and will take just about any alternative over that one).

      But otherwise I would give him another 4-6 weeks to sort out his bedtime. It’s OK if it’s inconsistent – he’s developmentally closer to a 2 month old. Be glad it’s EARLY, some 2 month olds are up till 11:00 pm and it’s EXHAUSTING. So use the clock – some days he might go down at 7:00, some days 8:30. OK that’s where he’s at for right now.

      Good luck!

  37. Also, thanks and love your site!

  38. Hi Alexis,

    This is not every night but occasionally my daughter, who is 14 weeks today, will take a nap in the late afternoon, like 4pm and then wake up an hour later but seem exhausted. I would get rid of the late nap but she seems tired and usually has been up for more than 2 hours. So tonight for example, she took a nap at 4pm, woke up 50 minutes later so I planned on keeping her awake and having her bedtime be 7pm, which also would have been when her next feeding would have been. She was super crabby, I guess having her witching hour, and seemed exhausted. So we did the bath-time and then we read her a book but she was crying, so I fed her an hour before she normally would have ate. Then she basically fell asleep on the boob. I tried to see if she would then wake up but it wasn’t happening. She almost never sleeps in her crib and I put her in their thinking she would wake up but she just passed out. So now she is asleep by 6pm. Is that just her bedtime?

    • This happens sometimes – babies are SUPER tired but when you try bedtime TOO early (or at least too early from where their bodies are ready for long consolidated sleep) it becomes a nap which them makes bedtime super late because now you have to wait 2 more hours.

      If her bedtime has been 7:00 pretty consistently I would probably write this off as “some days are like that “and continue to work towards a consistent(ish) bedtime of 7:00. If she’s exhausted for whatever reason (coming up on the 4 month sleep regression?) keeping her awake and screaming doesn’t help anything. But in general at her age you’ll want to start working towards consistency of bedtime and managing naps to “defend” that consistency.

      (When you can anyway πŸ˜‰

  39. Just to add to my last post…she then woke up an hour later to eat again and now, 2+ hours later won’t go back to sleep. Should we have kept her up earlier? Or given her a little catnap and made the bedtime routine later?

  40. Hello Alexis
    My question is about naps and bedtime… My LO wakes btwn 6-6:30 so is ready for 1st nap within 2 hours of waking.. she sleeps for 1.5 -2 hours and if she sleeps more I read i should wake her so she takes a good afternoon nap. Should I? Also she needs 3 naps but I dont know what nap to shorten.. If I put her down at 8:30 and she sleeps until 10:30 she will be ready for a nap around 12:30 say she sleeps 2 hours she is up at 2:30 she will be tired at 4:30 but if I nap her then do I need to limit the time because bedtime is 7:00 and often she wont be tired if she naps past 4:00-4:30 unless somewhere i have missed her tired signs and she has just become over tired. So do I wake from naps and limit nap times? baby sleeps from 7:00- 6:00 but sometimes wakes in beginning of night for 30-1hr.

    • Well I don’t know how old she is so I’m flying a bit blind here but …

      What happens if you don’t wake her up? I mean it would be unusual for her to take 3 2 hour naps (for a total of 6 nap hours a day) but what if she does? If she takes huge long naps but is sleeping great at night it could be that she is just on the high end of the sleep scale in which case YAHOO!

      If taking too long naps keeps her from eating enough during the day so that she is eating more at night or having a hard time sleeping, THEN I would look at shortening naps.

      Also yes, for older babies you DO want to defend a consistent bedtime so you’ll have to jiggle the 3rd nap to keep her on target. So if she goes down at 4:30 you would wake her up at 5:00 so that she could be awake ~2 hours and have a bedtime of 7:00.

      Personally I wouldn’t touch the morning nap (unless as I mentioned, the napping is causing problems at night) and I would probably leave the 2nd nap alone UNLESS it was running so long that she would be ready for her 3rd nap at some super late time that would totally blow bedtime. Does that make sense?

      Sounds like she’s doing AWESOME btw…

  41. We start our bedtime routine mostly around 7pm, give or take 30minutes, but generally my almost 4 month old daughter would be asleep by 8.30pm, now for the past two weeks or so, she tends to fall asleep during her feed and then once we put her down (giving it 10-15minutes after falling asleep before putting her in her crib) she will wake up 10minutes later and then screams for 2 hours until she finally passes out at about 9.30-10pm, any tips on what this sudden change could be? Or anything we could do/try?

  42. Hi Alexis,

    My little girl is 5 weeks old today and I am havin a horrific time sorting out her sleep pattern. She slept great around the clock until she hit 3 weeks and now she’s all over the place; even her fussy time is unpredictable. I’ve been trying to maintain a fairly regular wake up and bed time but she’s not been cooperative.

    My first question is, how do you signify what is the wake up time? I try to wake her up around 8-9am, open up the shades, change her to day time clothes, wash her face, etc. I have to give her reflux medicine that she hates on an empty stomach so she screams for 30 minutes until I can feed her.
    She will conk out after her feeding, she is so asleep I could put her down anywhere, not wrapped up or anything and she’d still sleep through it. And she’ll sleep for 2-3 hours. This makes me think that she doesn’t realize it’s “wake up time”.

    The next time she wakes up she’s starving and only wants to be fed. There is no quiet alert time; she’ll scream if I don’t feed her right away. Again, after I feed her she conks out into a deep sleep. I’ve tried waking her up a little earlier to try to have some interactive time but she won’t stay awake!

    As the day progresses she becomes more alert, naps don’t last as long (1-2 hrs) and she’s harder to get to sleep. I watch for cues that she’s tired and try to put her down but it becomes more and more difficult. Some evenings she is super fussy when she’s “supposed” to be; other times she’ll just be mildly fussy and I’ll think I got lucky. Unfortunately, sometimes she saves the fussiness until AFTER I’ve already done the bedtime routine! So after the nice warm bath and the massage and the cuddling and feeding, she falls asleep…and not even 10 minutes later, she’s screaming. It seems like a typical fussy time (inconsolable, sometimes falls asleep again but for less than 5 minutes at a time, and I haven’t even stopped what I was doing to get her to sleep!) but it will last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. Other times, she’s not really all that fussy, she’s just wide awake, and she’ll smile at me like she wants to be entertained. That was her last night; her bedtime routine started at 9pm and I was up until 4am trying to get her to sleep.

    The biggest problem is that it’s unpredictable! The mornings and afternoons are always the same, doesn’t matter if we are out and about or just staying home, I can count on her to be out like a light with feedings every 2-3 hrs. So what can I do to make the evenigs and nights more predictable???

    I think part of the problem is she has her days and nights mixed up. I’ve been trying to send clear signals about day and night (lots of light during the day, darkness at night) for the last week. I’m also confused how she got mixed up since she was fine for the first 3 weeks of her life (slept and fed every 2 hours during the day, 3-4 hours at night).

    Sorry for the loooong message! Please help!!!

    • Cathy,

      I’ve been meaning to do a post about this. Because you are not alone in your confusion. Many many new Moms out there are frantically worrying about this sort of newborn behavior. Sadly this is because nobody in their newborn baby prep course told them the truth which is that…


      This is what newborn babies do. You don’t “fix” this, you adapt. THEY outgrow it. So for starters I would take a deep breath and relax a little.

      Sure you got a good 3 weeks. Babies are often rocking sleepers for the first few weeks. They’re just as exhausted by the whole birth ordeal as you are.

      You said your medicating for reflux which is a little surprising. I say surprising because one of the hallmarks of a refluxing baby is that they sleep like CRAP. Total, unmitigated, crap. So the fact that yours is actually sleeping like a champ (she is, I know you don’t see things like that but honest, she is) makes me wonder a bit. But lets assume that she DOES have reflux.

      Welcome to the club! This means it’s going to take even longer for her to get certain things sorted out.

      Does she have her days and nights mixed up? OF COURSE SHE DOES! All newborns do. Will fiddling around with it make a difference?


      Time will. Sure exposing her to bright light during the day will help. And keeping the lights dim at night when she’s awake/fussy is also a good idea. But I don’t believe (and I’ve run this by a number of noted pediatricians) that all the shenanigans that various books propose to “fix” this make any difference at all.

      So you’re waking your baby up at 8:00 AM and then she is dead asleep for another 2-3 hours. So 11:00 AM is really her “wakeup” time. This is pretty standard too – newborns have a really late bedtime and thus a really late morning. But your waking her up at 8:00 AM isn’t really accomplishing anything. Personally I would leave well enough alone and start waking her up gradually a bit more early from her ACTUAL wakeup time which sounds to be somewhere closer to 10:00/11:00AM,

      Hopefully this will help shift her bedtime up and move her fussy witching hour period a bit earlier in the evening (it won’t go away but it’s more manageable when you’re less tired).

      Also – just a tip – your 5 week old probably needs to sleep before 2-3 hours has passed so she’s probably awake TOO long at that point. If I had to guess, 1.5 hours is more in line for where she should be. This might be contributing to the witching hour stuff? See link below for more on this….

      Anyhoo that is my advice. Not sure if that was what you were looking for but there it is :)

      Good luck – you’ll be fine – it’ll get better πŸ˜›

      • Thank you for your advise! I combed over your previous posts and found them extremely helpful. I bought a swing and I have to say, it is the best purchase I have EVER made!! I had my reservations at first and was determnined to only use it when I was at my wits end; at 3am one morning, a very frazzled and tired me put her in so I could use the bathroom, and she was fast asleep when I came back!

        And you were right about her just needing time. She hit her 6 week growth spurt (which was brutal!) and suddenly she decided that 10pm was her new bedtime! And she still sleeps until 9am so I get to have even more sleep! Now it’s only been a few days on this schedule, and it still feels like it’s too good to be true, but I’ll take what I can get!

  43. Hello Alexis,

    I have been putting my 7mo baby to bed consistently at 7pm most of the times, and he normally woke up for the day at 5.30-6am.

    Recently he just would not fall asleep anywhere close to 7pm, rather 8pm fussing in his bed for nearly an hour before drifting off, but also sleeping in later, waking up around 6.30am. He could sleep longer, but that’s the time when he normally poops, and he can’t sleep in a soiled diaper.

    I was just wondering if maybe it’s because the mornings are getting darker: where we live it’s pretty dark until 7am this time of year, so when he wakes up at 6, it’s not fun being awake, however he does get a kick from watching the sunrise every morning :)

    Is it normal? should i expect a further shift and how should i manage this? I would not want my baby go to bed too late…

    What do you think of these (what i assume are) seasonal shifts?

    • Well he’s loosing 1 hour of sleep in the evening and only picking up 30 minutes in the morning so whatever is causing this change, I’m not a huge fan πŸ˜›

      Hard to say. I live in VT where it gets dark stupid early and I haven’t observed this pattern in babies here so I’m inclined to believe this is not “a typical thing.”

      Light will definitely wake a baby up earlier (am big fan of DARK blockout blinds to help with this) so I’m wondering if he was being woken up by the light which is now no longer waking him up.

      That being said, an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the AM wouldn’t really explain why he is struggling at bedtime so my gut says maybe there is something else going on. Sadly I don’t know what that would be :(

  44. When I try to put my 15 week old down around 7, she will treat it as a nap and only sleep for about 40 minutes. Before this, she has a nap at around 4:30 or 5:00 which lasts for about 40 minutes. So after 1.5 hours she is ready to go back down for another nap. But I feel like it should be bedtime!

    When she wakes up after 40 minutes (after we try and put her to “bed) , she is ready to play and hang out for another 1.5 hours or so. We have been doing the bedtime routine (boob, bath, books, singing, soothing, bed) at the 7:00 ish time, but then she still only sleeps less than an hour. Then she will go back down again for the night around 9:00. She is sleeping until about 7:30-8:30 a.m., waking up for 2 feedings most nights (though she doesn’t always wake up at the same time for those feedings throughout the night.)
    So, should we do the routine before the 7:00 ish time even if she treats it as a nap? Or should we just go with what we know is the time she will go down for the night, and just know that nature will help move this time up earlier? I just want to make sure her associations are with bedtime.
    Thank you for your wisdom! Also, do you have a mailing address that I can send a good old fashioned thank you to? Seriously. You’ve been incredible.

    • We tried this tonight and this is what happened:
      In bed (swaddled, black out, crib) at 7:30
      Slept 50 minutes and then woke up
      Nursed for 15 minutes
      Slept and cried on and off every 10 minutes or so until she would have “normally” gone to bed. We went in and soothed her, since she is so young and not at the cry it out stage yet. But we tried keeping her in her dark room instead of playing with her when she treated it more as a nap. Are we on the right track?

      • Okay, I just scrolled through every post on this article and found a question super similar to mine from a while ago. You suggested not going into her for up to 20 minutes to see if she falls asleep.
        Like that poster, she usually eats ravenously after about 45 minutes to an hour after going down for bedtime. But she eats pretty solidly 1.5 hours earlier when we start the bedtime routine.
        We just stopped treating it as a nap a few nights ago, and so I will give it a bit more time to see if she adapts on her own. But if she continues to fuss, I’ll try letting her fuss for a while to see if she is really hungry. Maybe if she needs to, I can nurse on one side right after her last nap (she’s usually really ready to eat right after waking up) and then play a bit, then nurse on the other side, bath books and then bed.

        • We tried letting her cry for 20, and she got more and more agitated and was still ready to eat. Tonight, we fed her from a bottle (bm still) and fed from one breast, to ensure that she was tanked up, but she still woke up after 30 minutes.
          We are currently taking turns soothing her and she is calming down, but refusing to lie down. But at least we know she isn’t hungry.
          Not sure what to try next…just have a later bedtime (i.e. 10:00?) Any help from anyone would be appreciated…

    • This is a really common problem so if anything you are in good company. I think there are few small tweaks you might consider.

      If her ACTUAL bedtime is 9:00 PM and she sleeps till 8:30 AM she’s getting a solid 11.5 hour night in, it’s just happening a bit later than you would like. So step #1 might be to start waking her up a bit earlier in the AM which should help shift everything up a bit.

      This way instead of jumping to a 7:00 PM bedtime you would gradually get there by moving things a tad earlier – 8:45, 8:30, 8:15, etc. At the same time her 7:00 PM “nap” would shift earlier too (6:45, 6:30, etc.).

      Eventually you get to a point where her ACTUAL bedtime us 7:00 and that last nap is ~5:00 PM (at which point she’ll be close to dropping it).

      -OR- conversely you can continue with your current strategy of keeping things quiet, dark, and soothing between the 7:00 “nap” and 9:00 bedtime. If you feel that strategy is making headway then go with it. If, however, you feel that it’s a long 2 hour slog of entertaining a wide awake baby then I would go with the “shift the day gradually” strategy above.

      I don’t think this is about hunger/nursing (I could be wrong but…) my gut says her night is shifted a bit late and trying to make the 2 hour jump to an early bedtime is too abrupt but if you move everything by ~15 a day it would go more smoothly. And you still get your 7:00 PM bedtime, it just takes you 2 weeks to get there.

      Let me know what happens – ok?

      • We haven’t had to wake her up earlier – she started waking up earlier herself. However, she wakes at 4:30/5:30 for the day sometimes – and it’s totally unpredictable. She stays up for her 1.5 (is) and then takes a monster nap – so it makes me think she wasn’t ready to get up.

        Friday, she woke at 4:30 a.m. and bedtime was still at the same time. Saturday, 5:30 a.m. and bed time was the same. Yesterday, she woke at 7:45 and it was still the same. She is just really inconsistent in her wake up times, and so then nap times, so I don’t know how to help. Then her naps are varying lengths every day with little consistency. Sometimes she will have one two hour nap and 2-3 30-45 minute naps. Other days she will have 5 short naps. So that effects the bed time too.

        Her wake up times throughout the night vary, too. I feel like all the posts I read have their kids wake up at predictable times, but not so for my little one. Sometimes she wakes up 3 times a night, but not at the same time from one night to the next. Another night she might sleep 11 hours straight (okay, that’s only happened once, but I’ll remember it forever.) Other nights she only wakes up once, but at a different time each night. And all of this is with going to bed around the same time. I’m not sure what to make of it all.

        4:30 thing is killing me though because I leave for work at 6:30, get up at 5:00 for the day, so it’s stressful 1) losing out on that 1/2 of precious sleep 2) feeding her right before I’m supposed to pump (So then I have no milk to pump and it stresses me out more – which then results in less milk – more stress, vicious cycle.)

        Is there something I am doing that is keeping her from consistency?

  45. Have enjoyed reading thru your site for the last couple of days. Accidentally stumbled upon it when I was trying to find some reassurance that allowing my almost 6 mo baby to sleep in his swing 12-13 hours at night and for all naps was ok. We are able to put him to sleep for naps and at night while he is drowsy but awake, no paci, no swaddle, no white noise, I hear him wake throughout the night, stir (NEVER cry or fuss) and go back to sleep. This all sounds wonderful, right? Well, at some point I’m guessing he is going to need to start sleeping in his crib. So where do we start? He has never slept in there and when I do put him in there for a few minutes during the day while he is awake, he fusses as soon as the mobile stops playing. He will be 6 mo on the 26th and that was our goal for starting to try the crib…..however, the closer we get the more I feel like why fix it if it isn’t broke?? We are already on our 3rd swing (finally got one that plugs in)!! Thanks so much!

    • Have you read the post below? If not start there.

      You’re homework is as follows:
      – Give LOTS of soothing sleep cues (not just the swing). Dark room, loud white noise, possibly a swaddle, and swing. (Yes you want to introduce other sleep cues to make the transition go smoothly!)
      – Work on putting baby awake into a swing and letting the swing help him fall asleep.
      – Once he’s falling asleep without you but IN the moving swing, start dialing down the speed.
      – Eventually you will be putting an awake baby IN the swing and not turning it on so that baby is sleeping in a non-moving swing.
      – Move swing next to crib for a few days.
      – Put baby in crib.

      Skipping these steps can make for a rough transition. Also you may want to work on baby in crib at night first as that seems to be the easiest to do. Often swing napping babies become short nappers in the crib but will sleep like gangbusters in the crib at night.

  46. Hi there – great site. We’ve tried a few things on our own (based on previous posters) but still haven’t been able to figure out a hiccough at night. We have a 16 wo little one. We have pushed back her bedtime to between 7-8 (usually around 7:30).
    She sleeps for about 30 minutes and then wakes up. However, if we feed her, she goes right back down. We tried letting her cry for about 20 minutes, to see if she would figure it out, but she doesn’t.
    Should we just cave and feed her for now because she appears to be hungry? My wife bf, and so after her last nap, we play for a bit, then eat, take a bath, read some books and go down. So when she is waking up (after 1/2 hour), she has eaten no more than 2 hours earlier – which is about the same time between most daytime feedings. She is eating though, not messing around on the boob (as you asked a previous poster). She is gulping away.
    Is this something that will go away with time? I don’t know if we should 1) just feed her because the last four nights that we have let her cry for 20 minutes, she has been hungry when we finally go to her. But then that creates a habit, right? Or 2) just treat it as a nap and have bedtime much later (like around 10:00). That just seems really late for a 4 month old, according to other things you have written on your site.
    Any help from you or from any other families who have had this problem would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Mike,
      If you feed her after 30 minutes and she goes RIGHT BACK DOWN then I don’t think you have a bedtime problem per se. The classic “bedtime issue” is baby takes a nap at “bedtime” and then is up for 2 hours. Your baby is simply hungry 2 hours after her last meal, which as you mentioned, is just her normal daily routine.

      I’m assuming that after this post-bedtime feeding she sleeps for a larger chunk of time? If so then I would see it more of as a minor inconvenience than a sleep problem. If she eats 30 minutes after going to bed, falls right back to sleep, and then sleeps for 6 hours I would just roll with it.

      There are lots of reasons why she might be hungry then (milk supply drops in the evening, she’s too distracted to really tank up at bedtime, 4 month growth spurt, etc.) all of which I think will organically sort themselves out in the next few months.

      Plus you’re right – having her stay up till 10:00 is waay to late for you AND her.

      Sorry. I get that “I’m not sure this constitutes a problem” is the answer you were looking for! If anybody else has any experience with this, please chime in!

  47. Hi Alexis,

    I’m glad to find your site, very informative.
    I have a 5 week old boy and I am confused and frustrated about bedtime. My son sleeps most of the time, so I set the bedtime at around 7 pm. We will bath, feed,burp and hug and sleep. He woke up at 7 am, eats play a bit then at 8 he naps til 10. And I would wake him up every 3 hours to eat. (7am to 10, 10 to 1 etc) but when it almost to bedtime, I would wake him up 45 mins early, so we could play a bit before bath. However, he always cries so badly even when taking bath. I am not sure if I am doing the right thing or what? He will also wake up at night to feed, 4 hrs the longest. Say if he wakes up at 2am for feed after 10pm the last feeding. Then he wakes up again at around 5am but he only eats 2-3oz meanwhile he eats 3-4oz in the morning.
    If he naps late, should I still wake him up 10am sharp even though he nap at 8:45am? Please help. Thank you

    • Hey Carol,

      It’s really hard to say. Why? Because he’s a newborn! At 5 weeks, babies are all over the place. He could be crying because:

      a) You’re waking him up early and now he’s really tired.
      b) It’s his witching hour.
      c) He’s 5 weeks old and that is what 5 week old babies do.
      d) All of the above
      e) None of the above

      Also? It’s totally normal for a 5 week old baby to wake up every 4 hours! I know it’s exhausting. I KNOW! This is what newborns do. His baby is the size of a walnut and he’s growing at an amazing rate. So he needs to eat often.

      I can’t really answer your last question because I don’t quite understand what is happening. Generally at ~6 weeks most babies are eating regularly, gaining well, making lots of wet diapers. If all of these things are true for you then you could try not waking him and see what happens. However your baby is also a bit unusual in that he seems to sleep a ton so you also want to make sure he’s getting plenty of food in during the day so that he can eventually sleep longer than 4 hour stretches at night.

      So you could try not waking him but try to make sure that letting him nap doesn’t cut down on the amount of food he’s able to get during the day.

      Everything will get easier by 3 months, I promise. For the next few weeks you just need to roll with it, be flexible, and follow his lead. Newborns are really hard and confusing. But the good news is that they grow into babies which are actually pretty awesome.

      • Thank you for your reply. He does sleep a lot. I wake him up every 3 hours between feeding to eat, but after eating he is “drunk”, change diaper, walk around the house and play, talk to him does not make him stay awake very long. He naps very good in the swing 2 hours straight, if I don’t wake him up, I think he will sleeps for 3 or 4 hours.
        I swaddle him both naps and sleep. However, at night he will wake himself up by trying to struggle out of it. And lately he wakes up 1.5-2 hours, sometimes he wants milk(he only eats 2 oz) sometimes he just want someone to hold him. How can I make him sleeps like the day time…he really naps very good…

  48. Love your site!!!!
    I have an 8 week old who doesn’t go down for the night until 1 or 2am. She will sleep for about 4-5 hours and wake for a feed and then go back down for 2 hours then feed and up again in 2 hours for another feed and then awake for the day around noon. She will nap around 2pm for an hour. Then nap again around 5pm for 3 hours. She naps again in the evenings but won’t stay down until 2am!!
    I swaddle her at night and use the swing if she won’t stay down. I use the swing for her naps as that is the only way she will nap.
    Any tips on getting her bedtime to be earlier? Do I need to shorten her 5pm nap time?

    • Nope – you need to start waking her up earlier. Her “night” is 1:00 AM till noon. So the good news is she IS sleeping for a solid ~11 hour night. It’s just happening WAY too late.

      You can try shortening the late nap a bit (a 3 hour nap at 5:00 PM is definitely not doing you any favors) but I think that waking her up earlier in the morning will start to shift everything up. Work on 15 minutes a day (11:45, 11:30, 11:15…..all the way to 6:30 AM). This should have the effect of shifting all the naps up also. So her 2:00 nap will move to 1:45, 1:30, 1:15….etc.

      Does that make sense?

      You must be exhausted. Parenting a newborn at 2:00 AM ranks right up there with cleaning up fresh cat vomit on the list of things I don’t want to be doing. Good luck getting things sorted out!

  49. HELP!

    Hang in with me, I am hoping this makes sense.

    I have an almost 7 month old. He has very few nights that he doesn’t have to cry himself to sleep. We have as much of a routine as we can (I work straight nights so evenings are kind of different at my house depending on whether I am home or not.) When I work, he probably has the best routine. He nurses at 5:30p and has solids. Then he takes a bath, gets ready for bed, and then heads to bed between 7 and 8. Daddy recites “Goodnight Moon” and lays him down. Then daddy wakes him up before he (daddy) goes to bed and gives him one more bottle.

    If I am home, he wakes up from his afternoon nap between 5 and 6 and then nurses and has solids. Then he plays and then heads to the bath. After the bath, he gets ready for bed and if there is time, he plays otherwise we read a story (sometimes, depending on the time) and then if it’s been long enough, I will nurse him again and then turn on his white noise and projector (in place of a mobile) and I recite “Goodnight Moon” to him and lay him down in his crib with his lovey. He will ALWAYS cry when I am home. We never have an easy bedtime. If I am not home, it seems like he has a better good to bad bedtime ratio.

    Sometimes if he is very upset and will not calm down, we may swaddle him at night but we are pretty stubborn about not doing it at night. I should also add he sleeps from around 7 or 8pm until about 3 or 4am and eats, and then sleeps until 7 to 8am. He rarely wakes up in the night cranky unless he is going to eat.

    At nap time, he almost always cries but if I catch him at just the right time, he will go to sleep, unswaddled, and not cry. Most of the time he cries and if it goes on too long I just give up and swaddle him. Then he will cry a little but go to sleep within 5 minutes easily. I only let him be awake for 2 hours at a time and so depending on when he gets up his nap times will fluctuate from day to day. Sometimes we can get great 1 1/2-2 hour naps (especially if swaddled) but most of the time they are probably between 45 minutes-1 hour. He naps 3 times per day.

    Really I have tried to have the best routine I can have but I also just make sure most of all I don’t keep him up longer than 2 hours at a time and let the rest go with the flow. I have a 3 year old also so he has to share attention and my time to get things done like dinner :)

    I HATE him crying so much at bedtime. I go in there periodically and pat him to let him know I am there but it usually just makes it worse and makes him cry more which makes me not want to go in. If he’s really upset, hubby will pick him up and rerecite “Goodnight Moon” and put him back down. Tonight he cried for probably 45 minutes. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I just want him to go to bed each night and not want to drink a bottle of wine afterward.

    Any suggestions!? You have helped me so much in the past! I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

    Hope this makes sense, thanks again.


    • Hey Crystal,

      I don’t quite get what is going on – is the bedtime routine the same if its you vs. your partner? Or is it different, in that you say you are also nursing and turning on a light/mobile. Is that DIFFERENT from what your husband does?

      Also is the mobile on a timer? If so – no more mobile! I don’t think that is the root issue but it’s definitely not helping out any.

      I’m guessing things go more poorly for YOU because your baby has a pronounced preference for YOU. This is really common BTW. Is your husband also home when you’re home? If so he should always do bedtime. Basically your baby REALLY wants to be with you and will complain more when YOU leave the room.

      Also? Don’t go back in. This is rewarding the crying and, as you’ve noted, making things worse. No more going back in. Done.

      Also? SWADDLE HIM! So what he’s almost 7 months old. It’s a huge source of comfort for him. Is he flipping over while swaddled? No? THEN SWADDLE HIM!

      He’s crying a ton now, yes? So even if you have to resort to some crying in the future to get out of the swaddle (I doubt this will happen but worst case scenario) if it helps you avoid 45+ minutes of crying EVERY DAY and gets you better naps then USE IT!!!!

      Seriously. The idea that babies need to be out of the swaddle at X age is so frustrating. Lots of babies need the swaddle far past the newborn phase. It’s just what they like. It helps them sleep. It reduces crying. There is absolutely no reason not to use this powerful tool. Unless they’re flipping over in which case it’s a safety hazard. But otherwise?

      Swaddle that baby.

  50. Our little one is now four months old, and while we are figuring out SOME things about bedtime, it is still an ongoing SCREAMING match (on her part, not ours) for like 30 minutes. Here is what we are doing.
    1. She wakes up from her last nap and eats right away.
    2. We play for a bit
    3. After about 1 hour, we head to the bath
    4. We sing, get into jammies
    5. We read books
    6. We turn on the white noise and turn off the lights – soothe a little
    7. We swaddle – this takes us to her being awake for about 1:30-1:45 (whatever she has been doing for the day – while also watching for cues that she is tiring earlier in which case we cut out a book or two, or sometimes all the books!)
    8. Begin screaming for 30+ minutes which always puts us WAY over the 2 hour awake mark and makes for a very tired baby and exhausted parents

    I am not sure what is going on. It’s very stressful and not a soothing way for her to go to sleep. Needless to say that we aren’t putting her down awake because she starts screaming again. This has been going on every night since we started actively doing a routine and putting her down. So, about 2 months. Yikes. What a mess. Not sure what to do or why this is happening.

    • And, also, how long do you let them cry if you are working on putting them down awake? She gets herself really worked up, so do I just pick her right up? Or just walk away and let her cry for 5 and see what happens?
      (she is still screaming – as she was when I wrote the about post 20 minutes ago). Like bloody-murder-drawing blood screaming.

  51. My question is how do you know the difference between a nap and bedtime? Our 3 week old sleeps for anywhere between an hour to three hours, regardless of day or night. Our ped says that our LO should be getting 4 hour stretches here in the next couple of weeks, and she’s done it twice at night, but there seems to be no difference between nap/bedtime. We are being good about keeping the room dark and quiet at night, and trying to be somewhat consistent in a routine. Is this just something we wait out? Does bedtime naturally evolve?

    • It will naturally evolve, your baby is still learning night from day, so literally there isn’t much difference between naps and bedtime. It is so exhausting during the first 6 weeks or so. My midwife said babies don’t produce their own melatonin until 6 weeks, but then things really start to get better. With both my kids I found that around the 2 month mark we were settling into a routine.

  52. Hello Alexis!

    This site has helped us immensely, and I am sorry that my first post comes from a place of such desperation. My DD is 3 months old today, and we love her more than anything in the world! The trouble is, I feel like we lead a double life. I am lucky enough to be home with her, and during the day she is an absolute angel. She wakes anywhere between 7 and 8:30am. She goes down for her first nap around an hour after that (shortest awake time of the day) and this first nap is about 3 hours. Her next two awake times average 1 hour 30 mins (from up to down) and those naps are around an hour each. Her “last” nap of the day in late afternoon/early evening is only about 30 mins. She has had this schedule during the day for about 3 weeks now, and it is awesome. She goes down fairly easily (needs more soothing as the day goes on), and I am putting her down awake but sleepy for nap #1 and she settles great.
    Now here is the other side of the coin: night time is an absolute nightmare for us. She used to have her ‘witching hour’s between 6pm and 11, where nothing could get her settled. She would, however, go down around 11 and sleep through until 7 or 8. We were still attempting a bedtime routine nearer the 8pm mark to no avail, so we started doing it later so she would learn the association. In the meantime, we put her in her swing and let her hang out. The trouble is, about three weeks ago even this sleep went out the window. She had a little cold, we think her growth spurt, and maybe a wonder week all around the same time. The aftermath of this is that she basically is impossible to settle at night at all and has been for three weeks – and I mean IMPOSSIBLE. We have had nearly two weeks where we’re lucky if she stays down from 3am-6:30am. Other nights she is just up every 20-30 minutes (if she will let us put her in the crib at all). Last night she was awake but happy from 8 until 1:30am, then hysterical from 1:30 until roughly 4am when she finally stayed asleep from sheer exhaustion. We all end up crying ourselves to sleep on nights like that – which are becoming the norm.

    She has been in her crib at night and naps since day 3, we use a fan for white noise, black her windows and help her to sleep with rocking/bouncing and a soother (which we remove before putting her down). She is such a wonderful, happy baby – except at night. Still wonderful; very unhappy. We are at our wits end. Any advice or explanations would be very greatly appreciated.

    Even if you can’t help, thank you for all of the wonderful things you do for other families. You have such a positive impact on people’s lives – thank you.

    • How did you get through those nights you described? I am going through the same thing at 3months.

      • I would also appreciate some experience with this strange “I simply hate the night time now” shift, my son is 3 months in a few days and his ability to stay asleep during the night is getting worse while his daytime naps seem pretty normal to me. Not to mention the brutal battle to make him fall asleep in the first place as his witching hour became particularly spicy last week. I fear with this dynamism he will soon orchestrate an explosion fueled by his rage (I love how little babies cannot say much but their swearing is perfectly articulate). Until now he would doze off quite late but then we were able to make up for it by getting up with party people at around 10 a.m. Can someone say it will pass soon? I mean sooner than he turns 15. Like tomorrow. I can even take a lie, lies are good. Thanks in advance and best from Prague!

        • Looking at the date these were posted I’m jealous you’re through it! My 2.5 month old is doing this exact same stuff. Did you do anything to help your little ones to sort it out or did they just grow out of it? We’re exhausted!!

  53. I should also mention she is EBF. These crazy nights I do try to nurse her, but she generally is not interested or is too hysterical to eat. It makes me feel terrible that I can’t even soothe her that way. She nurses 5 times a day (flexible 3 hour schedule) until the 7 ish cutoff, then I’ll nurse her one or two more times before 11 based on her cues. She used to go 11pm to morning without waking to eat and could settle herself.

  54. So sorry – one more thing (I’m so tired).. We know that she is desperately overtired. We have tried spending all night getting her down and tried letting her call the shots – and everything in between I think. She just fights and fights until all we can do is take turns trying to calm her

  55. …and we swaddle for naps and bed, which sometimes calms her and sometimes makes her even crazier. That’s it – I swear!

    • Hope you’ve gotten through this by now (it’s been a few months since you posted this) but for anyone reading it and having the same problem check the usual suspects:

      Lights out! Turning the lights off and distracting noises like TV or radio a little while BEFORE you want to go to bed can help baby settle down. Or vice versa, leave a radio on perhaps on a classics music station. Babies love Beethoven!

      Also, when you hold baby at night try to yawn, slow your breathing, and even fake your eyes closed a bit.

      Babies will instinctively mimic mom’s breathing while being held to mom’s chest and slowing YOUR breathing down will force baby to do so, and relax them.

      If they are screaming bloody murder at night you may have a physical problem. Gas tends to build up in the belly and some babies have a real problem being set down with a belly full of gas. Do night time excersizes to help them relieve it. Bycicle the legs, then knees to the chest a few times will probably push a bit of this out. When they feel better they will be less cranky on their backs.

      Something warm on their tummy can help loads too- a warm bottle, heated rice bag (not too hot!), or they sell potpurri bags with lavender and chammomile especially to soothe and relax a baby’s tummy for bedtime. Called Happy Tummi- we use this just to get our LO to relax for bed. It’s comfortable and the warm herb smells make him sleepy!

      Still no relief? It could be reflux. All babies have an open tummy and their last meal can splash up into their throat. If mommy has a spicy diet (spicy, sugary, sometimes even TOO natural) it can upset baby. Keep them upright in a carseat or swing and if that is the only thing that stops your baby from crying- you may want to speak with your doctor about reflux relief methods.

  56. Thanks so much for everything – all of your previous comments and PP are so informative.

    You mention (somewhere) that the period before bedtime, babies can be awake a bit longer than “normal.” How much longer?

    Also, baby will NOT be soothed by daddy. I don’t know what to do. It’s very frustrating (and sad) for both of us. For example, she wakes up about 45 minutes – 1 hour after going to bed. (that’s a whole other question I guess – should we put her in the swing to see if it helps get her through that first sleep cycle? She sleeps 3-4 hours after that first wake up. We nurse her, and then she goes right back down.) But anyway, if I am not home and my husband has to go in and give her the bottle, she cries. Last night, she cried with him soothing her for 2 hours. Is it a matter of consistency? He works all day, and so I am the one putting her down. Should I have him put her to sleep every night so that she is able to be soothed by him? Part of the issue is also, probably, that he is trying to give her a bottle and for her nighttime feedings she is used to getting the boob. Is that another learned thing? Should we just give her a bottle every night for that first feeding?

    Thank you!!

    • Hi,

      Im just wondering if you ever got a resolution to baby not settling with daddy? My ds is 14 weeks old and is ebf but we have been trying to introduce a bedtime bottle feed so that daddy can be a bit more involved and give me a break. However, put a bottle anywhere near him and angry baby takes over, and it’s all we can do just to settle him down. If i stay around i have to jump in and breastfeed, but if i am not there, he ends up just going to bed and no feed. After reading some of the info on here, i think i need to rejig the bedtime routine to feed, bath, books/nursery rhymes then settle (he is nowhere near self settling) and bed, but I’m not sure this will help with daddy being able to have cuddles..

      Thank you!!

      • I don’t think i explained very well above! We’re having daddy/baby issues separately from bedtime routine issues and we are finding that baby won’t let daddy (or anyone else really) hold him, but really screams and cries when my OH tries to settle/change/dress/cuddle him. It’s always worse at bedtime and as we have tried to introduce a bedtime bottle feed which my OH gives (or tries to) as his chance to bond a bit more, the whole situation is stressing us all out!
        Any thoughts or advice are very gratefully received :)

  57. My 4 month old goes to bed around 5:30, which everyone tells me is too early. She is rubbing her eyes and getting fussy by 5:00, so we start our routine and by the time I put her down, she generally fusses very little before she falls asleep. Then, I feed her around 9 before I go to bed. She wakes up around 12 and 4 to nurse. I am hoping for the day she drops one of those feedings, so I can get some much needed rest.

    Does anyone else have infants that go to bed super early on a consistent basis?

    • OMG! Finally I have found somebody with this schedule lol! Everybody says it’s too early too so I’ve been pushing his bed time back by forcing a nap around 4pm and then bed by 630/7. He’s 4.5 months now and pushing it off is working but evenings are rough cause he is up no more than 1 hour/ 1 hour 15 mins and then naps for an hour. So he’s up/down all day long but once 230/3 comes he’s up till bed and it’s a battle to get him to nap at 4ish so his bed time is later but last night I got him down at 445 for a nap and had to wake him up at 645 to start bed time routine. He’s great onces he down…wakes up twice during the night(5-6) hours and then up at 630/7am literally 12 hours exactly. I hope this all makes sense lol but idk if i’m doing this whole nap/bedtime thing right.
      Ps he’s been a tummy sleeper since 2.5 months…yeah yeah I know SIDS but he’s had amazing neck control since 2 months old and he sleeps amazing that way and only that way and nobody has exploded in my household yet lol. What can I say I’m an 80s baby πŸ˜‰

      • Rylie is now 8 months old, and she is still going to bed super early. Try as I might, I was never able to get her to stay up much past 6. So, we are going to try an early evening nap to see how that goes. I think some babies just want to go to bed early, no matter what you try. Good luck with your little one!

        • Caleb is 6 months old (today!) and since about 3.5 months old he has had a super early bedtime as well. We aim for 6pm, but often it as early as 5:30 or even 5:15. I have TRIED to force a late afternoon nap, but anything after about 3 pm is just lots of crying and never settles into sleep. (Also, Weisbluth recommends no naps after 3pm for babies this age–as best I can remember anyway, which makes me question myself anytime I try to force it.) I was delighted to find this website 2-3 months ago when we were entering the 4 month old nightmare, and was just back today to get myself caught up for the next few months.

          How early is your morning wake up? We usually hear from Caleb sometime around 5:30… he’ll eat and go back to sleep for another hour or so, but I’d really love to cut this (and any other nighttime feeding) out soon. [I think he’s starting to develop object permanence, and I don’t want nighttime waking to = mommy and boob for much longer.] I’m wondering if I try to slowly push bedtime to 6:30 or 7, will we still get 12ish hours?

          • Anna – Some nights Rylie gets a late afternoon nap, others she has no interest in napping. I read Dr. Weisbluth too, but Rylie is just a very sleepy baby. Some evenings she needs a nap. But, I don’t force the issue. If she hasn’t fallen asleep within about 15 minutes I stop trying. Those nights she does fall asleep, it’s usually a very short nap and it doesn’t push her bedtime back all that much. It just makes it easier to get through the bedtime routine :)

            These days, she is going to bed around 6:30. It happened gradually. I would try to keep her up a few minutes later each night, but I would never push. If it was obvious she was ready for bed, we would start our bedtime routine. No matter what time she goes to bed, she wakes up between 5:30 and 6:00. As much as I would like her to sleep in, I fear she is just an early riser. Of course, she is ready for a bed around 7:30-8:00, but by that time she is at the sitters.

            She is still waking up once or twice a night to nurse. She has slept for 6-8 hour stretches, but never on a consistent basis. Lately, she’s been waking up in the 11 and 3 range. I am going to talk to her pediatrician at her 9 month check up to see what she suggests. I have tried to wean her by cutting down the minutes she nurses on each side. The first side is no problem, but if I pop her off that second side and she isn’t ready, she just starts to cry. We did CIO to get her to fall asleep initially, but I don’t know if I’m ready to do CIO to cut out the nighttime feedings. I want my sleep, but I also know that she comes first. She has weaned herself off a bottle, so at this stage I can’t even give her a bottle with watered down formula :(

            My mom has told me Rylie reminds me of my younger brother – who didn’t sleep through the night until he was 4!! I really hope she gets the hang of things before then.

            • Wow!!! I was just freaking out because my son (4.5 months) goes to bed around 7. Tonight it was 6:30 because he was so fussy. I was worried it was too early. Glad there re other mamas and babies out there like us!

            • Rylie is 11 months now and still rarely makes it to 7. Tonight she was extra sleepy and was in bed before 6. I’ve just come to accept that she goes to bed early. Eventually she’ll stay up later and hubs and I will have to change our whole evening routine :)

    • Ours does same routine :)

    • Ugh! My 6 month old twins do the same thing. It’s maddening sometimes! They go to sleep between 6 and 6:30pm each night. Try as I might to keep them up longer… they just fuss and sob and are super upset until I put them to bed and then they fall asleep almost instantaneously. I wouldn’t care so much if they would sleep 12ish hours but they start their night early and then start their day around 4:30am. Even on the rare occasion when we have managed to keep them up until 7 or 8pm they still wake up prior to 5am. It’s so miserable :(

      • My one year old still can’t make it past 6.30 – bath time is 6 – which means we don’t really see her in the evenings πŸ˜” She wakes at 6 am. Hoping to use daylight saving (not for a few weeks here in the UK) to push her whole day a bit later. Trouble is she can’t nap past 3pm at daycare so I reckon we might have trouble pushing her bedtime to 7pm. Anyway, yep plenty of babies have early schedules! We absolutely can’t keep her up any later or she gets hysterical, so we just roll with it!

        • Just keep everything the same and DST should work like gangbusters! She currently naps by the clock at 3:00 PM. After daylight savings time her nap should move to 4:00 PM clock time (still 3:00 PM body time) and her bedtime should move to 7:00 PM clock time. Good luck!

          • Ah no I mean the childminder wakes her at 3pm to pick up her other kids from school, and she’ll keep doing that. So she will get woken up at 2pm “body time” and I’m not sure she’ll make it to 6 pm body time from there – but we’ll see. Maybe in a few months! Thanks for a great site by the way.

  58. Hello! I love your website my college roommate and I (she has an 8 month old and I have a 23 1/2 month old and a 3 week old) have found your website SO helpful! I only wish I’d found it when my son was an infant! I was SO stressed – he was a “high needs” infant with reflux and dairy/soy intolerance and his “naps” were like 10 minutes at best – and that was being held or in a swing or anywhere… anyway, by about 7 months we hit a sleep rhythm, but I was so overwrought by then it was crazy! With baby girl (3 weeks) I am bedsharing for now and we are getting much more sleep – I am TRYING to be more laid back… but she hit this “witching hour” thing starting 2 nights ago where she is just unsettled and fussy – last night it was over 3 hours… before this she was a more “normal” newborn who would nurse, then fall asleep and sleep for anywhere 30 minutes to 2 hours during the day and about 1 to 2 hour increments at night. What advice do you have for sleep as far as “routine” for a 3 to 4 week old? My son was so not on regular newborn sleeping because of his health issues, so I don’t really know what I should be doing with this little one or expecting :-)


  59. Moms you guys have some great tips, but i need more help if possible lol, my son layton is now 5months old and until 2weeks ago had been goinng to bed at 8pm until 8am without waking he has been like this since 6weeks old. Layton got his first tooth over a week ago and now has two but he has got him self so out of pattern he wont go to sleep until 12am and is up by 4 or 5am, and thats us having to comfort him to sleep and now if he naps during the day im lucky if it lasts 20mins, please help :-(

  60. My son is 2 months old and he use to sleep through the night pretty well (sleeping from 9PM-6AM) with two or three short feedings. However, he recently has been sleeping anywhere between 5-7 hours from 9PM to anywhere between 1AM- 3AM and then he would wake up every hour after that until he wakes up for the morning around 6AM to 7AM. When he wakes he doesn’t always want food he just wants to be held. Is 8 weeks considered a growth spurt time? Is this normal for a newborn to wake up hourly? I’m worried he isn’t getting the continuous sleep he needs to grow.

  61. My 3 month old fights bedtime most nights despite a solid routine (although not at a consistent time due to older daughter’s schedule and his unpredictable naps) and then wakes 10-45 minutes later screaming and needs up to two hours of further walking, bouncing etc, to finally settle in for the night. It’s exhausting and brings me to tears. I DREAD bedtime. His naps are usually 45 minutes, a rare one goes longer. I think he is overtired but don’t know how to fix it. Please help!

    • I have no answers for you, just sympathy and hope that there’s some way of fixing this. We’re in the exact same boat at the moment. So much screaming, and so many tears.

    • You might try CIO. My daughter fought sleep and didn’t nap either. We did the routine of walking, swinging, car rides…anything to get her to go down. Finally, we broke down and let her cry it out. The first night was the worst – 2 hours of screaming at the top of her lungs. The next night was 1.5 hours, then 30 minutes. Now she falls right to sleep with little if any crying. It was hard, but worth it in the end.

      • Hi Heather,

        Not sure ifnyoubwill see this as your comment was a long time ago but at what age did you do CIO with your little one? And did you do it at bedtime first then naps?


        • We did cry it out a little before 6 months. It really was the key for our lo. The sitter did cio for naps too. It was a difficult few nights, but worth it in the end. She didn’t sleep through the night until 10 months when I stopped breast feeding. Finally at almost 3, she sleeps through the night and naps regularly. She’s hit a stage where I have to sit with her for a few minutes before bed, but I think that’s normal at this age. Good luck!

  62. Hi Alexis,
    I have a few questions for you. My daughter will be 8 weeks on Wed on though I know I can’t really get her on a predictable schedule I wanted your advice on what I should do. I go back to work in a month and will be having her in daycare. The daycare likes to follow your schedule for baby but I don’t have one, is my girl just too young for one, should day care just follow her lead like I’ve been doing? Also, I feel like sometimes at night, I’ll be up with her for at least an hour (I’m talking bedtime) even though she’s shown all the sleepy cues and then I have an overtired baby who just won’t sleep. Any suggestions? Thank you

  63. My little girl is just about 7 months and up until last week she was sleeping from 630PM- 7/8ish AM (all night through), needless to say it was amazing! Well last week she got sick with a cold and has started waking at 4AM for a feed… I could not let her cry it out because she was sick. but as she gets better I want to cut out the 4AM feed(I am also 17 weeks pregnant: )
    I was just wondering what to do to get her back on her “regular” bed time routine? In other words how do I phase out the 4AM wake up?
    Thanks so much!

  64. My 11 week old falls asleep around 10:30. We start her bath/massage/feed at 8:30 but she’s not ready to sleep then. She’ll have 2 evening cat naps but is also not ready to sleep. How do I find her earlier bedtime and when? She sleeps great through the night but I’m hoping she’s almost ready to start her night earlier!!

  65. My 7 month old sleeps at 10.00pm so i start her bedtime routine at 8.30ish, shes not a good sleeper at all and alwways gets up every 2-3 hours until 9.30 – 10ish in the morning…she has 2 naps a day one at 12.30pm for 1 and a half or 2 hours and the other at 5.30pm for about an hour…what is the best way of putting her to sleep earlier im thinkin around 7.30ish as she will be starting nursery in another 3 months?? thanks

  66. Hi Alexis,
    New to this website. Hope i will find some answers to my little one’s sleeping habit. :)

    My little girl is now 19 weeks. Since 3 months, she already started to develop a sort of sleep routine but just quite early. Her daily schedule is like this :

    8 ~9:00 AM – wake up for feed.
    9 ~ 10:00 AM – play for about 1 hour and then feed
    10 ~ 11:30 AM- morning nap ( Sometime, it can be 1.5 hours)
    11:30 ~ 4:00 pm – after the previous long morning nap, then my battle with her sleeps begin. She usually wants to play and has a short nap like 40 minutes once or twice during the whole time. So by 4:00 pm , she is pretty tired and ready for bed. Sometimes she might stay a bit longer till 5:00pm.
    4 ~ 5:00 pm – bath/pj time
    5 ~ 6:00 pm – final feed and settle time
    6 ~ 3:00 am – sleep
    3 ~ 4:00 am – wakes up and needs a feed , then she usually falls back to sleep after that
    4 ~ 7/8 am – sleep

    Is it normal ? can i call her sleep routine is actually sleep through the night ? I think she still needs a feed because she falls asleep so early. I try so many things to let her have more day time sleeps but i just cannot stretch her long sleep time till 7:00 pm like many books suggest.

    Any suggestion ?? Thank you :)

    • Hi Joanne,

      After reading this it sounds EXACTLY what I am going through with my 17 1/2 week old boy! (except he of course switched it up last night…) My little guy used to sleep from 630pm-630 or 7am and just recently started waking between 4-5am for a feeding. I’m wondering if it is a growth spurt?

      My pediatrician said that the sleep pattern would be considered sleep through the night because it is a 9-10 hour period. I would love to figure out how to move it later at night as well! It always backfires when I try.

      I’ve read and skimmed so many books and blogs etc. and have tried EVERYTHING to get my little guy to nap longer than 45 minutes: the shush/pat, PU/PD, CIO, hold his chest down during the sleep transition, keeping him up longer/less, wearing more/less to bed…. but he will only sleep 45 minutes (sometimes even 20 or 30 minutes for some naps).

      I have a consistent routine with him for every nap (get him into sleep sack, rock him and hum him a lullaby, close the blinds and give him a kiss) and we do the bath, massage, book (if he will let us read it to him) then try to feed him one more time (almost always refuses) then bed at night.

      Reading books like “Babywise” and “Healthy sleep habits, healthy child” only gave an A type personality like me even more anxiety because my baby wasn’t able to stay awake more than an hour at a time and he couldn’t wait 3 hours between feedings and I couldn’t put him down to sleep at the “optimal” times. I honestly have no idea how people can get their baby on a rigid schedule.

      I’m trying to just go with the flow these days and I’m not sure if you’ve read “The Wonder Weeks” but week 19 is a big one in terms of development and so maybe that’s the cause of your little girl’s behaviour. I also had read about “4 month sleep regression”- not sure if it exists but it does help explain why the patterns are changing.

      I noticed that you feed at wake up in the morning and then again before the first nap. How much do you give your little girl? My guy won’t eat more than 4oz at a time and sometimes I heat up an ounce more after I change his diaper and try again, but perhaps I should space it out a little longer.

      Are you feeding 5 times a day? How many ounces? I’m curious :)

      I am totally in the same boat with the afternoons all over the place. It has been that way with my guy for as long as I can remember.

      Hopefully we can get a magical answer as to how to push bedtime later and have that 10 hour chunk end at 6 or 7am! And how to combat the 45 minute intruder. Hate that thing!!!

      Take care :)

      • Hi Nicole,

        Thanks for your response. So relieved to know that i am not only on this sleeping battle with my little girl. :)

        She is 5.5 months this week and her routine changes slightly from the previous post. Believe or not , she has been teething since 22 weeks and yesterday I just found out she has her first tooth. And that explains why she has been up almost every 2 hours at night. (That’s right … no more sleep through the night routine :( ) Looking back , I should be happy with her old routine. I know it is hard to believe but if your bubba still has the same routine like you described , horay ~ ~ :)be relax I would say
        I started the solids when she was 4.5 months old and the first couple days, the mystery of solids long sleep did happen! But only last for few days ….
        And I stopped breastfeeding and just on formula since feeding her the solids. Like now my little girl has solids+150ml (5oz) formula x 3 meals during day time , and she still wakes up for midnight feed for about 150 ~ 180ml. Now she wakes up twice a nite (hopefully it is because of her teething), one is around 2~3am and the other one is around 5~6am. She usually finishes that 150~180ml for these two feeds. After that 5~6am feed, she is almost up for the day which means the beginning of my 40 ~ 45 minutes sleeping battle with her.  Sometimes I manage to get her sleep with me for about 1 ~ 1.5 hour ( I know it is not good but I am so tired …). When she wakes up then I prepare her breakfast (solids + 150ml milk).
        Till now, I still have trouble of stretching her day sleep longer than 40 ~ 50 minutes. And I heard from other mums from my mum&bub group, most of them have the same question. Well, I guess in a way I think I feel more relax about her sleeping habit now. And I notice that as soon as I spot her tired sign and put her in the cot, then she might sleep a little bit longer. Other than that, I just go with the flow. Just now I have another issue, how should I continue the sleep training with a teething baby?! OMG … it is really crazy!

        Like you ,I read those baby sleeping books and I feel so anxious and confused. At the end I decide to carry on the sleeping training but rather than leave her along to settle by herself I stay longer with her by her cot. It seems working. Hope the time will get shorter each day ..

        BTW,don’t mean to scare you about baby teething. I know some of my friends’ baby didn’t make any fuss during teething period. Sincerely hope yours will be the lucky one! πŸ˜‰


  67. Why I didn’t find your website till now!? You gave me so much more insights and ensurence! My LO is now 7.5 months. He goes to bed at 10pm. I know it’s really late but he still takes a bottle at 9:45pm. He sleeps till 6ish am for a bottle then back to sleep till around 9am ( used to be 10am but he changed on his own about three weeks ago). He goes down for a 30 mins nap at 11ish am. No matter what I tried he still doesn’t sleep longer than 30-40 mins max. Then he has another nap around 2ish for 3 hours most of the time and sometimes longer. His last nap is usually 7ish to 8ish for half an hour. I am hoping to move his bedtime much earlier but didnt know how! Until i read your acticles, so now i hope he will drop that last nap then he will be able to go to bed early and wakes up early. But I am afraid he will still wakes up after 8 hours for a bottle then I have to feed him at 3-4am. Is there a way to eliminate that?

    • Could you try a dream feed for that 9:45 feed? We started this at 2 months with my LO and it worked like a charm. We stopped at 5 months because she didn’t need it anymore, but maybe that could get you to an earlier bedtime?

  68. my lb is 5 months old now and sleep bang at 7pm every night BUT still feeds every 2 hours even at night. My health visitor says that he is a very active baby and therefore hungry and asked me to start weaning him which I have now. But he still wakes up every two hours for feed plus with his new-found skill for rolling he rolls on his front (unable to roll back) and cries. Through out this entire night’s episode (which is every night!) he does not wake up as such just cries with his eyes closed. And like magic goes back to bed once he has had the feed no fuss at all. He also wakes up about sevenish every morning with a burst of energy. He takes two one hour naps during the day, make be a catnap around 4-30ish at the max. I feel and look like a zombie with this constant waking up. Also I have tried so hard but failed to get him to self sooth to sleep. HELP PLEASE!!

  69. My baby boy is just over 4 months old now and was sleeping through the night from 630pm to anytime between 530am and 730am. Amazing I know!! For the past week he has been waking between 4-430am and one night I let him fuss and he went back to sleep until 7am but the other times I fed him (the crying was a bit too desperate). I would then let him sleep until when he naturally woke up and this would be anywhere from 7am to 830am.

    I have taken notes on his daily schedule and it is really different from day to day. Sometimes he can stay awake 75 minutes after waking and other times it is less than an hour (going by his cues). I find that after he wakes in the morning he needs to be put back in bed in less than an hour or he misses his “window”. But the other naps of the day are a total crap shoot and they are never at the same time because he wakes up at a different time each day. In general, he will take a longer morning nap of about 45-2 hours length and then 2 or 3 more naps that are 30min-45min long.

    I’ve read that 4 month old babies can space their feedings out to every 4 hours in the day but my guy refuses to eat more than 4oz a feeding so I have to feed him every 2.5 hours so he eats enough and he has recently become really fussy with the bottle and sometimes won’t even eat the 4oz (I mix breast milk with formula).

    When the early waking started happening we tried dream feeding but it didn’t stretch his wake time. I’m hoping this is just a growth spurt and will go back to his regular 12 hour stretches.

    I have tried moving his bedtime later but it backfires and I end up with a screaming baby.

    My questions are:

    1) I know my baby can go 12 hours without a feeding. Is it a mistake to be feeding him at 4am? Am I training him to wake up at this time consistently? Or is this a growth spurt?

    2) When we do the 4am feed should I wake him up at the same time each morning to be more consistent? (between 7 and 730am)

    3) Is there a way to move his bedtime later? 10 hours is a great chunk of sleep when it ends later than 4am :)

    Thank you so much!

  70. My daughter is 8 months and I 5 months ago I found your blog and have the best baby with the best sleep schedule I could umagine thanks to your suggestions, My son, however, is 27months old and did not benefit from such information starting at only a few months old. We had a terrible first 18 months with bedtime. He would cry and was frustrated every night when we put him to bed and then woke frequently through the night. Currently we have a wonderful bedtime routine of brushing teeth, putting away toys from the day, putting on pj’s, reading a book, and finally putting to bed with a cup of water (this used to be the beloved cup of milk which, I being a first time mom didn’t realize was the start of a long problem.) my question is, now that we are finally able to have a smooth bedtime, he frequently wakes around 11pm and 12 or 1am each night (some nights he only wakes 1 time other nights 2 times) and cries for mommy. If I do not go to him he cries to the point of gagging and sometimes vomiting. When I go in I simply say “time to go back to bed” lay him back down from a standing position in his crib, cover him, say good night and walk out. He then goes back to sleep. Is there any suggestions on how to help a 2 year old stop this behavior?
    Thank you for any suggestions,

  71. My 1 year old started hating her bed time routine. She really hates going to bed and she has always hated falling as sleep, but recently she just knows that bed time is coming because we follow our routine, we usually give her milk, read books, get undressed, bath, pjs and cuddle/lullaby then put in bed awake . The minute we approach her bedroom to get her undressed she starts throwing a tantrum and crying, kicking and screaming…she calms down once she gets in her bath because she gets to play, but the minute we shut off the water she knows her bath is over and she starts crying again non stop. Once we place her in crib, she cries at least another 15-20min till she falls asleep. Please any help or suggestions to make her bedtime more pleasant would be great.

  72. I can’t get 9 months old to sleep through the night!

    It’s so frustrating. He usually wakes up wanting to be rocked/held back to bed.. Sometimes for formula…

    He’s always been this way since birth… I was hoping it would get better but it hasn’t..

  73. Hi – All of these comments are so very helpful! I feel like we’re lost at sea with our almost 4 month old baby girl.

    Regarding bedtime for a 4 month old. We have put her to bed at 6:15 for the last two months. She gets a little catnap around 4:30 and then is ready for bed around 6:15. We swaddle her, put on the white noise and then leave her until 10:00pm when we usually wake her up for a dream feed. From 2-3 months, this worked well. We were starting to get some 6 and 7 hour stretches! However, for the last 3 weeks (since right around the 3 month mark), her sleep has gone totally wonky! At first, she was waking up a bunch between 6:30-10pm. Then, she started waking up every 2-3 hours at least twice per night. I would nurse her back to sleep. Now, three weeks later, we haven’t seen a stretch longer than 4hours and I have NO CLUE what to do to fix this.

    – Should we try to move her bedtime later, by giving her a nap around 6pm instead? If so, how does this work?
    – Should we still wake her at 10pm for another feed? We’ve tried dream feed vs waking up for a full feed. At this point it makes no difference. She still gets up about 2-3 hours later.

    We felt like things were starting to sort themselves out, and now I feel lost and helpless. We have so many sleep books and still feel so lost! To swaddle or not to swaddle, to dreamfeed or not to dreamfeed, to wake up at 7am or let sleep….help!

    Any insight on any of this would be so appreciated – we really feel like we’ve tried to mix it up and nothing works, we can’t seem to get back to the longer stretches!

    Thank you so much for your time.

    • Hi Caroline,

      I don’t have any answers for you – but wanted to let you know you’re not the only one in this situation.

      I’m typing this at 4:45am because our 4mo. LO wouldn’t go down quickly after his second feed of the night (Bed = 7:30, feed#1 = 12am, feed#2 = 3am, waking = 5am).

      We WERE on our path to longer sleeps, at one time having one or two 6 hour stretches… but that was it. I’m sure it will pass when he’s a teenager.

      • 4 months is TOUGH!

        I personally found that dreamfeeding did more harm than good. I’ve heard it said that after the first waking up during the night, the baby’s sleep is poorer quality and they are more likely to wake up. And even if they don’t wake up all the way to feed, it’s still a disruption in their sleep (besides now they are more likely to have a wet or dirty diaper that bothers them around 12-1 am).

        As a mom of a baby with an early bedtime (6 month old goes to bed ~6pm), I think your bedtime is fine… better than keeping the baby up TOO late, and I think a 6pm nap would just be confusing and make bedtime harder.

        Bottom line… hang in there! It does get better; just keep to the fundamentals– not letting the baby get overtired, and doing what you can to avoid a food=sleep association.

  74. Hello,

    We are having schedule issues with our 10 month old. He has been sleeping through the night since he was about 3 months old. He goes to sleep at around !0:30 or 11, and sleeps until about 10 AM. Like clockwork. The problem is that the clock does not work for me.

    I would love to be able to get him to sleep earlier. The problem is I cannot wake him up earlier because I am not home when he wakes up, my husband is. He works until pretty late at night and wakes up when the baby does at around 10.

    Any ideas?

  75. Can anyone help??? In the grand scheme of things, our 6 month old little girl sleeps very well. I’ve had a good routine in place from early on, she naps well and despite a 4 month sleep regression can sleep through the night. I try to limit daytime naps to 3.5 hrs (30mins-1hr am, 2hrs lunch and 30mins in eve waking no later than 5) and she goes down to sleep at 7. I can’t get her to sleep through till 7am (she wakes anytime from 5ish) and is then impossible to get back to sleep. I’m going back to work soon and am desperate to get as much sleep as poss! Should I let her CIO and see if she goes back to sleep? Should I move bedtime to a later time? Should I reduce daytime naps? Any assistance gratefully received.

    • how are things going? i’m going through the same thing with my 10 month old and can use some ideas!

      • Hi Janelle,

        We’re doing a lot better now thanks. I actually realised that she may have been having too much sleep so I limited her morning nap to 30 mins max and dropped her afternoon nap and put her to bed a little earlier to start with (depending on when she woke from her lunchtime nap – usually 2 hrs from 12.30-2.30, if she only has 1/1.5 or less, I may put her down for 30 mins around 4) I suspect at 10 months you could even consider dropping the morning one too-but don’t quote me on that!

        The other thing I’ve done is bought a gro anywhere blackout blind which has really helped since the morning’s are getting lighter. She is now sleeping from around 6.45-6.45/7 the main reason she is actually crying in the mornings now is because she throws her little rabbit comforter down to the end of the cot and can’t get it!

        Hope some of this helps!

  76. I have a 13 month old baby boy. He gets a nap once a day and then goes to sleep at 8pm and then wakes up at midnight. I just don’t know what to do. He was getting 3 naps a day but changed it to two naps a day. Now one nap a day. Help please don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

  77. My 4 1/2 month old only naps for 20-30min. She wakes around 7am and I put her down at 9am, sometimes 8:30 if she looks tired. She has a few minutes of soothing and then goes down with a pacifier. Her room is somewhat dark, blinds are drawn, white noise is on. No matter what I have tried she will not nap longer, which means she often takes 4 of these “catnaps” during the day. The last one ending around 4:30 and is ready for bed at 6pm! (I was putting her to bed at 7, but she was doing a lot of early evening wake-ups and I thought this was possibly due to being overtired and so pushed the bedtime forward.) Bedtime routine is bath and then boob. She sleeps for about 5-6 hours and has one feeding anywhere between 1-3am. Usually wakes between 5-6am and I bring her into my bed where she’ll go back to sleep until 7-7:30. Should I be concerned about her lack of nap time, even if she is generally happy? I feel like I have tried everything under the sun to get her to nap longer!

    • Hi! My LO has NEVER neen a napper from about 2 months old she spent very large chunks of the day awake! Ahes now 1 and only has 1 occasionally 2, 30-40 min naps s day! She is such a happy wee thing! She sleeps well at night now so i dont push the issue with her! Truth b told i think shes just scared to miss anything lol! But no i wouldn’t worry much at all :-) Sus x

  78. Hi everyone,

    First off just want to say i totally feel for the sleepless mummys out there! My little girl didnt sleep right until 91/2 months old.

    She was born with a congenital heartbsefect (fully repaired, thankfully) whicj meant she couldnt ever drink more than a few ounces of milk at a time (2 days after her corrective op she drank 6oz all at once and i cried lol at 6 1/2 months this was the first she had done it) but due to this she was up every few hours through the night. So not really much i could have done as dhr had to eat! Soon after her first post op check at which she was declared “a picture of health” i though right thats it!!! Ha i was completely against the CIO method so opted for the puck up put down method where you pick baby up when crying and put down when they relaxed! She caught on fast and started sleeing for 4-5 hour stretches! This was short lived as she also devided that she was happy with s 30 second cuddle! I was shattered by rhis point and was returning to work! Being up 3-4 tes a night and rising at 4:30 for a 12 hour shift took its toll and at 91/2 months i declared war! I qas ready for CIO! I had tried everything else and beyond! First night she cried for 63 whole minutes and woke 3 times through night for cuddle and feed! 2nd night she cried fof 5 minutes and woke once for a feed! 3rd night she cried 2 mins and woke but i lwft her for a few minutes and she went back to sleep on her own! GOODBYE NIGHT FEEDS!! in short CIO works but you have to be 100% ready for it orgerwise tour putting you and your baby through heartache for nothing! 4 months on and i havent looked back! Colds/teething etc can knock her off her stride but as soon as they pass back to basics! Totally worth a try but i exhausted all avenues and was 100% ready! So there is hope! Your little angels will sleep soon! I didnt blv when j got told this but its true lol good luck!!!

  79. you haven’t explained yet how to get the child to nap (unless I missed it–I am sleep-deprived!). Our sweet daughter slept wonderfully until she was 4.5 months old, and now she’s 6 months and still not back to “normal”. Anytime (day or night) you lie her down (awake or asleep) she screams, still needing to be held. We started co-sleeping just so she’d sleep, but it seems she wakes MORE OFTEN now (though from your sight I learned that was the normal amount of times,I am just aware of them now, being next to her).

    • Not an expert at all but you may have fallen into the trap of “accidental parenting” when she hit the sleep regression at 4.5 months. We did this, started comforting her and picking her up…then this sort of carried on and it’s hard for them to go back. You may need to mentally prepare yourself and try a bit of CIO – it is hard to do but read the stuff elsewhere of the site here and give it a go…She will be used to co-sleeping now, so it may be a bit tough. I have noticed that even 1 off night where we pick her up and comfort her can throw things out for a while…good luck

  80. Our 8 week old seems to prefer an early bedtime, especially the last 2 weeks since starting daycare. We are home between 5-530, he gets a bottle, a bath, some swaddling, white noise, and is usually ready for bed around 630/645. We usually semi- wake him around 830 for another bottle and a diaper change, and most of the time he is good until 2am, then 5am. Most people suggest trying to keep him up later in the evening, but when we have tried that it backfired, all he did was fuss and cry, and he was still up at 2am. We are hoping to sometime drop that 2am feed, but we didn’t find that putting him to bed any later helped. I think he just needs to decompress in the evening like we do! Anyone else dealt with this?

  81. hello,
    thank you for all your spot on advice! i’ve recently had this problem with my 8 month old daughter, who was fully sleep trained from about 3 months falling asleep by herself like a champ, then had a sleep regression about a month ago ( 4 nights ) and now still goes down for her naps really easily by herself but not at bedtime anymore like she used to…..what could be the problem? she will fall asleep easily if rocked and then we dont hear from her till 5.30 – 6.30 ish am when she feeds and sleeps ( off to sleep by herself after feed ) till 7.00-7.30ish. im not sure what we ve done wrong i dont think we have changed anything. her bedtime is 8pm. i was wondering if it might be to do with the fact that she seems to be in process of dropping her 3rd nap and wakes up from second nap around 4pm – would u say we re keeping her up too late? when put down for naps (at tired signs, usually 9am ish and 1-2pm ish, both 2 hrs ish) she takes a few minutes to go to sleep with minimal whinging, at bedtime however as soon as she is put down she SCREAMS and wont stop. could this be due to being overtired? she’s had the same bedtime routine pretty much from newborn – bath, boob, cuddles on the way to her bedroom, put down awake but visibly tired. any words of advice would be much appreciated! thank you

  82. Just when I thought my little girl was finally going to bed at a decent hour (12:30am versus 4am) a night like this happens. I couldn’t get her to sleep no matter what I did during her “witching hour”, and when she finally fell asleep she’s only been sleeping in 30-45 minute increments since. It’s now 3:40am and I’m exhausted, feeding her again, and at my wits end. She’s 14 weeks and I was hoping that by now things would be getting better. It only feels like its getting worse. She needs more soothing then ever and she’s only getting bigger by the day. And I never get any breaks because I’m breastfeeding and she refuses to take a bottle. Someone please tell me things will improve!!!

  83. Just wanted to comment on your repeated statement that you shouldn’t put a baby to bed later than 7:30. I just have not found this to be true at all. Our son is 10 months old and we put him to bed at 9:30 so that his dad has time to spend with him in the evening. Until recently our son has been sleeping for 11 to 12 hours straight at night, which means he generally wakes up at 9:00!! He goes down very easily for his bedtime sleep and he is a very happy baby in the day. The reason I went on your site is because he has been waking earlier for the past couple of weeks, but there is no way it can be down to the time he goes to bed when he has thrived on this routine for 10 months.

    • I agree with you 100%. My 10 1/2 mo DD bedtime is also 9:30. She sleeps through the night now and gets up at 6 to cuddle and nurse with mommy then we snooze till 9:30-10am. I love it because I’m more of a night owl myself and she has taken to the routine since she was born so she knows no different. So whats the big deal with a 7:30 bedtime if my household operates differently. When she is 4+ we will most likely change to a earlier routine to prepare for school times. I’m a SAHM and my husband is an overnight nurse.
      About your question Im not sure the only thing I have experienced the same is when their was a growth spurt or teething woke her up. Sleeping patterns seem to change frequently (if they wake at night, time they wake up) The one controllable is the time they go down so stick with it.

  84. Can you help me with my 10 1/2 mo old DD. I am confused about naptime. We have a baby-led schedule of going to bed late wake up late. I am a SAHM and a night owl so it works for me just fine. Once we get up 3 hours later or so its nap time for an hour to 1 1/2 hours. Or a cap nap.. which I hate. If shes going through a growth spurt its longer. The second nap is more unpredictable. Should it be spaced out a certain number of hours after the first. I don’t put down times because I have us on such a late schedule. So normally shed go down again 3 hours after the first nap. Then this would be the longer nap of 2-3 hrs. Here’s my question; If she cries for awhile like say 20 min and is up around her crib does that mean she’s not tired..even if she eventually falls asleep. Should I be taking her out of the crib? I feel bad if she’s not tired putting her down. I just get confused about the 2nd nap time.

  85. Looking for some help because at 5 months my son’s bedtime has become a mystery again! For months 3 and 4 he would always go down early from 6:30-7:30 so we thought early bedtime- this is great! Now over the past few weeks he has been waking up a few times a week about 2-3 hours after we put him down. He goes down awake, so no sleep associations problem. When I check on him, he’s not hungry or in distress. You can tell he is trying to sleep, but he can’t. He’ll cry for a few mins and then doze for another few and this can go on for 1-2 hours! Of course I have thought is he over or under tired? but he is getting naps in and going down at bedtime without a problem. Here’s a great example of what happened yesterday:
    Had two good 1.5 hour naps and the second one ended at 2:15. So we tried to get him to take that 30 min catnap at 4:30… wasn’t happening- he was wide awake and playing in the swing. Tried again at 5- same deal. He was zonked at 6, so we started bedtime routine and he was sleeping without much fuss by 6:45. 8:45 and he’s doing the on and off crying- can’t get back to sleep. I felt so bad for him and felt like it was my fault because here we go again- I’ve messed up his naps or bedtime somehow! So we take him out and sit in the dark for a while… redo bedtime routine at 10:00 and he sleeps from 10:30 til 6 without a peep.
    So all I hear is EARLY bedtime, bedtime over naps and I have no clue what is going on with my little guy. I know he could be going through some major cognitive development at this age, but should he be having this much trouble sleeping this often? Just doesn’t seem fair to leave him to fuss when he can’t sleep, but I also don’t want to get him up and create bad habits. I said to my husband maybe we should’ve done a nap at 6 last night and woke him at 6:30 and then done bedtime at 8:30. But seems so weird his bedtime would fluctuate by up to 2 hours night to night. Most nights 7:00 bedtime is ok, but I feel like I don’t want to risk it anymore because he’s waking for long periods so often!

  86. Sorry, but you’re using the wrong terminology. A baby is “newborn” until the age of 28 days.
    Afterwards, baby is considered as an “infant”.

    • I’m going with Dr. Karps “third trimester” vernacular which also lines up overwhelmingly with my experience that babies 0-3 months are effectively newborns and that this perspective frames how we care for them in terms of sleep, soothing, and feeding.

      You’re welcome to use whatever terminology you choose, but newborn/baby are the terms I use consistently on this site.

  87. Here’s our situation; I hope you can provide some advice.

    We’re in some ways the parents everyone hates. Our little guy, who is three months old now, has been sleeping through the night quite well. It isn’t perfect though. We now have him napping every two hours, but he still won’t nap on his own. He now generally co-sleeps next to my wife or I for his naps.

    That.s not the big issue. The big issue is that bedtime has steadily been creeping later. Typically he won’t go down for good until 1am. Last night we put him down for the first time at around 1230 and he didn’t stay down for the night till at least 2. He was then down till 930.

    His typical schedule looks like this:
    1am – 730: sleep
    730: eat
    9-12: nap
    12: eat
    2-4: nap
    4: eat
    6 to 7 or 730: nap
    730: eat
    9 or 930 to 10 or 10:30:nap
    1030: eat
    12: eat
    1am: sleep

    It used to be that he’d go down for the night closer to 12, but has been creeping later and later. Plus, it means I am up late getting him down and then still have to get up early for work– so he may not be getting up in the middle of the night, but I am still suffering from a lack of sleep. What can we do here? Thanks!

    • This is exactly what our 15 wk old is doing! We still haven’t figured out yet how to have an earlier bedtime. Did you figure out what worked? I’ve tried bedtime at 7, 9, and 11pm, and baby’s still sleeping for her long stretch around 1 or 2am.

      • We have managed to get his bedtime back to between 7 and 8. I wish I could tell you we discovered some secret but he actually took to it pretty easily. We just started all of his nighttime ritual stuff before what used to be his last nap. This includes cluster feeding–usually he nurses every three hours but we nurse him at around 5:30 and then again just before bedtime. After the 5:30 feeding, he hangs out upstairs in our bed with us cuddling and playing, then he gets stories about a half hour before bed time. He then nurses again, gets changed, gets a couple of songs, and then into his crib.

        We slowly moved his bedtime earlier until we got it where we wanted it. My wife gets him up and nurses him at around 12:30 and then he gets up on his own one more time during the night.

        I think he wanted it to be earlier himself and that helped. It felt like he was sort of out-growing it. This would have been around the four month mark. Now he’s six months and sleeps from 7:30ish to 7:30 ish with the two wake-ups. A couple of times he has skipped the second feeding but that’s very rare. Other nights he wakes up other times, and lately he’s not wanted to go back to sleep after the second feeding without help. It’s far from perfect but we’re doing okay.

        Our main struggle lately is his naps. He’s a little weirdo–he goes to sleep on his own at night but not during the day. He’ll sit and babble in his crib to his heart’s content but won’t go to sleep without being rocked, and then he wakes up at 40 minutes on the button 90% of his naps. Sigh. I think we’re going to have to try some kind of controlled crying.

        We did it for his bedtime and it worked well (not cry it out–we put him down and if he cries wait just 5 minutes, then go in and pick up and rock him and repeat a phrase over and over, then put him back down and leave. If he starts crying again, wait five and go back in but this time just stand next to the crib and repeat the phrase. Then five more minutes and then stand farther away. He never lasted longer than that.) Maybe we will try that for his naps and see where it gets us.

        Good luck with yours! You may find you have more success in a couple of weeks.

        • Thanks for the thorough reply! I’ve tried bedtime with her 3rd nap (doing the bedtime routine before), but I’ll try again. Maybe she wasn’t ready for it then. If that still doesn’t work, I’ll try to keep her from her 4th catnap; perhaps that’ll consolidate her sleep.

          Regarding falling asleep, we have your opposite problem. She goes down for her 1st/2nd naps pretty well. We just put her in the crib after we notice her yawning/rubbing her eyes and she falls asleep after 10 min of staring at her mobile. 3rd nap requires a bit more soothing though she almost passes out herself for her 4th catnap. Bedtime is a struggle – rocking/singing lullabies for 20min before we put her down sound asleep.

        • May,

          It’s awesome that Dave had such a great success with inching bedtime up but some babies need more of a push in which case you might need to start waking baby up earlier in the AM to shift the day up. Babies who go to sleep super late sleep super late so yours might not start the day until 8 AM or so. Start waking her up earlier 15 minutes a day – 7:45, 7:30, etc. Then everything else inches up too. It’ll take a while to get to a nice target bedtime of 7:30 but I promise it’ll work if you stick with it!

          Good luck – cheers!

  88. My 26-week old goes to bed at 6:30-7. He gets 4 naps per day, usually at least 2 are 60-90 minutes, and at least one is always 30 minutes. Lately he has been waking up 2+ times per night, typically the first is 1-2 am, then again at 4ish and then it’s VERY hard to get him back to sleep but we usually eke out another hour or so and he’s up by 6. I’m wondering if his bedtime is too early, and if so, what do I do? I don’t want to deny him his early evening nap, because if so we will be in violation of the 3rd sleep commandment which says never keep a baby his age up more than 2 hours… but I would love for him to sleep a bit later in the am and go back to 1 waking per night (we enjoyed a glorious couple of weeks with only 1 wake up at about 3 am…. sigh).

  89. My 11 month old son goes to bed 10-11pm, takes two shot naps during the day,he hyperactive and always restless,he sleeps all through the night and he doesn’t have a definite time he wakes can I help him sleep early?. He’s a very light sleeper

  90. Hi Alexis,

    We’ve been putting our 8 mo old to bed around 8pm. Is that too late for her? She just recently started sleeping thru the night (mainly thanks to your training suggestions!) And is waking around 6:20/6:30 am. I would love it if she’d sleep til 7:30am, or at least 7 when it starts to get light out. Would an earlier bedtime help this? I did notice last night she went to bed late at 9pm & woke even earlier, 6am. We had gone out to eat with some family that had just gotten into town and came home after 8. If we do move her bedtime, does this mean we can never eat out later in the evening if baby is with us? Is it OK to occasionally let her stay up late?

  91. How can I push BACK bedtime? I have an almost 9 month old that goes to bed at 6:30. Those few times shes gone down closer to 7-7:30ish, it seems like she sleeps better.

    • Well one option would have been to use daylight savings time to your advantage :)

      Try chipping away at it – move bedtime 15 minutes every 2 hours. See what happens if you do things gradually. Chances are she’s at the age where she still sort of needs the 3rd nap but won’t take one and thus the early bedtime suits. Generally I vote to go WITH the early bedtime but if you’re experience is that later is better move it back gradually. Once you’ve moved it to 7 ish stick there for 5-7 days and see what develops.

  92. Hello
    My daughter is almost 7 months old and I’m just wondering if what I’m doing is right for her? We start her bedtime routine between 7:30 and 7:45 and she is usually in bed no later than 8:30. She usually doesn’t wake up until 6-6:30 the next morning. She’ll go down for her first nap about 2 hours after she wakes up and the first nap is anywhere from 1.5-2 hours. She usually does fine with the first nap, putting herself to sleep with virtually no fussing. The second nap is a little harder, but she still will sleep about 1-1.5 hours. The third nap is virtually nonexistent. I know they start to drop naps as they get older, but I didn’t think it would be this early. Also, she isn’t very flexible about bedtime, so if we’re out at 7:30, she starts to get cranky and will fuss until we get her home and start her routine. Is this normal for babies this age? I’m not saying I want to have her out late evey night, but once in a while to visit with family or friends would be nice. Thanks for any help!

  93. Hi there!

    My almost 10 month old, who was sleep trained at 5 months seems to be off a normal schedule. Her day is usually:

    Wake: 5:15am (but we don’t go to her until 6)
    AM nap: 8:30-9:40
    PM nap: 12:40-1:40
    Bedtime: 5-5:30

    We are generally following the 3-3.5hr wake time, and lately her afternoon nap is been a big struggle. It takes her 15 min to fall asleep and then she only sleeps for 20 min! She is cranky for the rest of the day, and getting her to bedtime is exhausting. Also, the 5pm bedtime really sucks!

    Can you help!?

  94. Ok, so what if an almost 7 month old has two great naps during the day, and maybe an evening nap. Some days his evening nap may not happen until 6:30/7:00pm. Does that need to be his bedtime, or do we keep this evening nap and then get him to bed, say, at 9pm? We used to do a consistent 8pm-ish bedtime (if his evening nap was at 5:30/6) but that has been thrown off for whatever reason for the last several days. Thoughts?

  95. Hi Alexis,

    I was just hoping for a little insight, my son is 5 months and has always had this problem. I put him to bed between 7 and 7:30 and 4-5 nights a week he is up at the 45 min mark. Basically he often treats bedtime like a nap. It takes my hubby and I one to two hours to get him back to sleep (pretty miserable).
    Other insight: I like to keep him on a flexible schedule. He wakes between 7 and 8am with two hour wake time. He notoriously cat naps 45 min naps with the occasional longer nap so its hard to say what time of day he naps but wake time is almost always two hours. Usually he puts himself to sleep with some “ssshhh” patting, but occasionally he will fall asleep in my arms before we reach the bed after his routine…
    Any insight would be much appreciated…just very curious if there is something I can do to improve these shenanigans!

  96. My 3 mo sleeps about 10 hours a night. Currently he goes down around 1030-1100pm and sleeps until 8-830am. This is great for night time sleep, but in the last two weeks he had been very cranky during the day and averages about a 30 min nap ever three hours. I know the bed time is late, and we have been trying to push it back to 8pm to match up with our 16 mo. He sleeps from 8-8 and takes a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. I’m not sure if this is a stage of fussiness or if he is really overtired( probably the case). I would just leek some advice on how to proceed.

    Thanks so much!

  97. My little guy is 5months and fights the 3rd nap. Most of the time, I can’t even get him to take it. My question is, if the 2nd nap ends at 3pm, does that meanbbedtime is at 5-6pm? Or can his waketime before bed be longer?

  98. We hate bedtime at our house. While we try to keep it relaxing and consistent, it is anything but. My 5 month old has NO problem falling asleep for her 4 naps a day (she tends to be a cat napper), but for some reason, bedtime is like pulling teeth. After 30 minutes, I usually cave and end up picking her up and rocking her.

    And after all that, she’ll wake up 35-60 min later and need rocked / nursed back to sleep anyway (and this usually takes a bit). I have tried – dropping a nap, adding a nap, moving up bedtime, moving back bedtime, swaddling, white noise, pacifiers, etc. I never let her get overtired, so she’s usually only up 1-2 hours (Max). And because bedtime usually around 8:30-9:00, I’m usually up until 10:30-11:30 with her (and get no break).

    I’m thinking I’ve landed in Cry-It-Outsville, even though she’s only 5 months. I just don’t know what to do. It’s been like this for 2 months (and before that, she was colicky). I’m stressed out and exhausted. Any tips / thoughts??

    • I have the same problem. My daughter is 3 months and 3 weeks old and used to go to bed around 8:30pm and the wake up at 3am but now she wakes up after 30-40 mins after we put her down and I need to nurse her back to sleep and then she’ll wake up again at 1:30-2 and 5….

      I wish I knew why she is waking up all the sudden after 40 mins of her bedtime.

  99. Alexis… Help please! My 5 month old is still cosleeping (not by choice) and feeds 5x/night. I’m officially in permanent zombie mode. He’s always been a rough sleeper, but I thought he would grow out of it.

    Here’s the deal, he is gassy. He struggles to pass gas and when he wakes at night it seems to be because he’s uncomfortable and is trying to pass gas. The best way to help him do that is feed him, otherwise he fully wakes up and takes an hour to settle.

    I’ve tried giving daily probiotics, max dose of anti-gas medication, a bottle before bed instead of nursing, tried a serenity oil on his feet before bed (desperate?), eliminated dairy from my diet, even tried giving formula before bed instead of breastmilk as it sometimes fills them fuller. I’m out of ideas and I’m at the end of my rope! I have a toddler so I can’t just nap during the day.

    Any ideas?

Leave a Reply