5 Things I Learned from Doing Sleep Consults

February 18, 2013 |  by  |  parenting, Q&A, Sleep Consults
what I learned from sleep consults

A few weeks ago I decided to give away a few free personal sleep consults on Facebook. I fully expected to get a handful of comments and end up doing 1-2 free consults. I ended up with over 400 comments and 13 families to work with.

Thirteen. Not one or two. THIRTEEN.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

And while they’ve taken a ton of time it’s been incredibly refreshing. When you spend hours typing away on posts, comment replies, etc. you sometimes forget that there are actual people out there. Delightfully smart funny people with adorable squishy babies. With crazy baby hair. And monkey toes.

So I’ve been Skyping, emailing, and chatting with a range of tired families. And they taught me a lot.

What I Learned from Sleep Consults


People don’t really know what a “bad sleeper” is.

ALL of the parents I had the pleasure of chatting with started the conversation by telling me what a terrible sleeper their beloved peanut was. But truth be told, less than half actually HAD a bad sleeper on their hands. What I gathered from this is that ALL babies are HARD. Even the easiest baby is a lot of work. So no matter what is going on with your baby, from your perspective, it is a real challenge.


Put down awake isn’t enough.

Everybody in the baby sleep universe stresses the importance of putting down baby awake. So it’s almost impossible to find a new parent who hasn’t come across this concept and is either currently struggling with it or plans to as soon as they muster up the courage to do so.

But “put down awake” isn’t really the FULL solution. The SOLUTION is to put down WITHOUT SURPRISES. This includes putting them down awake so they aren’t surprised to find you missing later. But that is just one possible surprise. So if you are putting your baby down awake WITH A PACIFIER, you aren’t quite done. Unless your baby is one of those savant babies who can happily find and replace the paci during the night on their own, putting baby down awake with a pacifier in their mouth often leads to waking up all night because they’re a) surprised when they wake up with the paci (mysteriously) missing and b) are unable to fumble about to replace it.


There IS no quick fix.

Everybody is looking for the magic elixir that will fix things. And they want immediate evidence that whatever they are doing is working. Babies don’t work like this. You need to commit to a new plan for a few days or possibly a week. Not a day, or one nap. A week. Too often people try things once or twice and write it off as a failure. When the only failure was not sticking with it long enough to really know.


Desperate measures are for newborns.

Newborns are really really hard. Soothing newborns is tricky business. Getting them to fall and stay asleep can be arduous and relentless. So for a while, you do whatever you need to do. Baby only naps on your lap, baby only sleeps attached to your boob, baby only sleeps while being pushed in a stroller, etc. Sometimes you need to just make it through the day and nobody should look askance because you are doing what you need to.

But eventually you need to work on breaking out of desperate habits. Or instead of being “what we did you survive a particularly bad phase or sleep regression” it becomes “what we do every day.” And this will backfire on you on two fronts. For starters, desperate acts to get baby to sleep are generally not fun and often drain the ever-loving life out of you. It’s just not sustainable. And secondly as your baby gets older (definitely older than 2-3 months) many of these desperate acts lock you into the path to cryitoutsville. And I KNOW nobody wants to go there.

So at some point, ideally sooner than later, you need to develop some alternative methods to help your baby sleep. Which is hard because…


Everybody is absolutely TERRIFIED of change.

Change is scary. People are so exhausted that the thought of things getting worse, even temporarily, is absolutely horrifying. Even people who are so brutally sleep deprived that it would literally be impossible for things to get worse are afraid of doing things differently. This is how they get locked into non-functional sleep situations for months or years. Not because they haven’t read the right books. Not because they aren’t smart enough. Not because they don’t care.

Change is scary. But the key to solving any challenge with your child (and trust me when I tell you that sleep is only the first of a billion you will face) is to be willing to do something different. YOU need to do something different. You can’t wait it out or hope your child will change. It all starts with you. This is scary and uncomfortable. But there is no other way.

Put on your big girl/boy panties. Have faith in yourself. Know that if billions of other parents can figure this out, you can too. What you’re doing isn’t working. Try something new. It’s the only way things will get better. And it will get better. I promise.

Most of the 13 sleep consults are wrapped up and if I can pat myself on the back, successfully so. To those of you who were willing to share your families and challenges with me, thank you so much! As you can see I got a lot out of the experience. I hope you did too!

Has anybody else struggled with finding the courage to make a change? (Please note if you are struggling, there is no shame in it. Just about everybody else is too.) Or do you have some advice or experience that might help those that are struggling?


  1. Just wanted to say how well written, refreshing, non patronising, relevant and POSITIVE your writing is. You give eternal hope to the tired parents out there. Thank you xx

    • Well thank you!

      But honestly, I don’t think I’m that positive. Just looking at the statistical reality that billions of people DO have babies and figure things out. So odds are, you can too 😉

  2. We are finally, 8 months into kid #2, trying separation of nursing and bedtime (I nursed kid #1 to sleep until almost 2 years of age). I am sad that I can’t nurse him to sleep, and after 2 nights it’s hard to tell if he is sleeping better yet, but the change has been less difficult than I expected, less than 15 min of crying each night. It took me 2 months and then an extra three days of dithering before I was able to do this, the first night we did it I was in tears at bath time and almost beside myself as I put my older son to sleep while my husband put our baby to bed for the first time. I’m just saying, it’s hard. But not impossible. Now, night wakings, be gone!

    • “2 months and 3 days of dithering” – this made me laugh 🙂

      15 minutes is AWESOME. I know you felt terrible but honestly that IS awesome. And how great to now have the possibility of other people who can now help your baby go to sleep. Hello Grandma? I think we would like a date night!

      • 🙂 I am a champion ditherer. It was all I could do not to pull a #3 tonight after he fussed through dinner and I got that OMG something is WRONG fear but he was fine again, fussed about 15 minutes but sounded more like babbling most of the time.

        I just wanted to add my thanks for running this site. It is awesome, and I hope to recommend your book one day. Also, I think paid sleep consults are a great idea. A family that sleeps well is priceless! It’s certainly reasonable for you to be compensated for all the thousands of extra sleep hours you’re enabling. Maybe you could offer sliding scale fees if you feel you want to have a more equal opportunity structure — the doula who helped me with my son’s birth does this.

  3. Number 5 has certainly resonated with me. I have often felt like I have tried everything but when I really thought about it I realised that, no, I actually haven’t tried much at all because just the thought of doing something differently scared me so much. You are so tired that the idea of making it worse or simply paralyses you. I remember the night I decided to try and put baby down in the crib instead of our bed. I literally had to force myself and I thought my heart would jump out of my chest 🙂 And surprise surprise it went better than I thought. Now, if only the paci would magically disappear on its own 😉
    BTW, maybe the consults could be turned into a series of case studies (like you did with the AP mom). Maybe the families would be willing to write the posts themselves to save you the work. It helps so much to read about someone in a similar situation.
    And thank you again for doing this. Your karma must be so good you must be wearing a halo above your head by this time…

    • If my karma is so good why did I get the flu? 😉

      I would love to do more case studies. Some stories are better than others. To be honest a few families that I worked with already had things going 90% great and only needed a few small tweaks, so probably not all that interesting. But going forward I would LOVE to do more case studies cuz I’m with you – love to read about people in similar circumstances and see what they try and what happens!

  4. Number 5 is right on the money! My LO sleeps great (thanks to your advice) and I’m still TERRIFIED of change. Bedtime is like a sacred ritual for me; I’m convinced that if I don’t do everything exactly right, she’s going to pitch a fit and not sleep! And there’s always an excuse to not rock the boat: right now, she’s going through teething and starting solids as well as weaning of her reflux meds, so I’m too scared to wean her off the swaddle (which barely fits her anymore!). She’s almost 7 months old so I really need to work up he courage…lol.

    • I completely understand what you are saying. I am so afraid of rocking the boat that I still haven`t travelled to my hometown to visit my parents and my baby is 6 months old. They have always come to see me. But, we have had (and still have) sleep issues and I am afraid if I move him from his environment that it will get worse and I will get even less sleep.

      • Speaking from experience, sometimes travel can be wonderful for sleep-challenged babies. I just came back from a topsy-turvy trip involving two four-hour flights in three days, and a three-hour time zone difference. It was rough going at first, but baby started to get the hang of plane-napping eventually, he stood up to some challenging stretches admirably, and best of all, the jet-lag actually sorted out some of our 6 pm bedtime – 5 am wake-time problem. He’s been waking up at night less often, and I’m less paranoid because I’ve been through the worst-case scenario now.

    • Well both of you guys have pretty valid reasons to feel timid. Travel does often throw things off. Which is not to say that you can’t get things back in shape when you return. But it’s up to you – would the mental health of taking a trip be worth the potential temporary sleep upset? Often the answer is yes!

      And I wouldn’t rush the swaddle (there is ALWAYS a way to make a swaddle work) especially if you’re weaning off meds. Because you won’t know what is happening with the meds till 2-3 weeks AFTER she’s off. So my philosophy is to only change 1 thing at a time (if possible) so you can tell what the root issue is. If you ditch the swaddle and her sleep is upset, is that the medication or the swaddle that is causing the issue?

      No rush on the swaddle. Some babies are swaddled till 1. From that perspective she’s got TONS of time!

      • Thanks, guys!
        You both gave me inspiration to go away next weekend. We were invited to a friend’s big birthday bash at our alma matter which is a 7 hour drive. I have been thinking that I will tell my friend that I cannot make it as I was paranoid of ruining my little one’s schedule. But, I will go for it and see what happens. Ironically, I also saw this post on my facebook from ‘’: ‘stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start focusing on what could go right’. Haha. Will do!

      • Okay, wait – it’s okay to keep swaddling?! My little girlie is 6 months old and I keep hearing that I need to break her out of there. I was planning on doing it this weekend when my husband leaves for a training course. (That way I’m the only one that will lose sleep; my husband works with high-voltage electricity and I prefer he sleeps well at night.) But if I don’t have to, I’d far prefer not to, honestly! She’s a great little sleeper swaddled; goes 12 hours with one or 2 feeds and no other wakeups in the night and takes a solid 3 or so hours of naps a day.

        I guess my question is: how do you know when it’s time? If I don’t break her out now, will it happen organically at some point or will we have lots of tears somewhere down the road? If that’s the case, I’m going to bite the bullet this weekend. But if there’s any reason for chickening out, I’d be all for hearing it.

        • I had read that you should stop swaddling once baby learns to roll from back to tummy or if they are busting out of it, but like Alexis says, there are ways around that. I’ve been bracing myself for the last 2 months (my LO is almost 7 months), but she still isn’t rolling that way yet! I’m not sure if it’s BECAUSE she’s swaddled, but I’m fine with it (since she’s hit all her other milestones). As for when it’s time to stop, I think the slow wean is your best bet. My LO is actually only half swaddled (one arm out). I tried this about 2 months ago and she didn’t sleep well, so I knew it wasn’t time yet. Lately I’ve noticed that she was getting one arm free on her own, so now I leave that arm out. I’d go ahead and try it for a few days and see.

  5. Great post, Alexis. I am so glad the sleep consults worked out for everyone. I completely agree on point three that absolute consistency for a week is so much better for all involved. And about point number two in regards to sleep associations, such as pacifiers. They seem like solutions at the time, but they end up making being consistent harder.

    • They were REALLY refreshing. Like I actually got fresh energy from actually TALKING to people instead of just type type typing all the time 😉

      The consistency thing came up a lot. People would try one thing one time and then write it off. So we would continue Skyping and emailing mostly so I could remind them to stick with the plan for a few more days and then voila! New plan works 😉

  6. Thanks for sharing! Nice to know we’re not alone 🙂

    Our little guy is 2 months old today, so still a newborn but already has us cosleeping so that my hubby and I can remain happy and functional. I know this cant last for too long, so hopefully I can brave change in due time. What age is right? 4 months? Older?

    • I guess my answer is, “What change?”

      If you don’t want to co-sleep in the long haul it’s definitely easier to make that change in the next 2 months. But that doesn’t mean you HAVE to – just that it’s easier if you PLAN to. Getting a co-sleeping baby out of your bed at 9 months is a lot harder but CAN be done.

      At 2 months you still have lots of arrows in your quiver so this is a great age to start moving things in the direction you want to go. Good luck with everything!

      • Thanks! Not sure exactly what change myself outside of out of our bed. The goal is the rock n play or crib ultimately 🙂 Miss my hubby!

        I was told after 3 months he will learn to self soothe… Hoping that will make the transition easier on us?

        • He will learn to self soothe after 3 months? Hmmm….I’m trying to think if I agree with that statement or not. And frankly I’m not sure either way.

          As babies get older they don’t need quite the intense level of soothing that they do as newborns. But they still need soothing (I mean they’re babies even if they’re not NEWBORN babies).

          So right now you’re giving lots of soothing a la co-sleeping. You’re also teaching your baby that this is the set of circumstances under which we sleep. If you hope to change that to something else I would really recommend you start creating OTHER circumstances/associations that will be consistent from now to the crib. White noise and swaddling would be great. That way when you do WANT to move baby to a new place to stay there is some consistency that will help with the transition.

          But I wouldn’t wait till baby is 3 months old and figure “Yay! Now you can do things differently!” because that’s unlikely to happen unless you’ve laid the ground work. Does that make sense?

          • That does make sense! Thanks 🙂

            We are doing white noise, but I quit swaddling him once we moved to our bed bc I want him to have his arms as it seems safer. At least well have the white noise… Hope I’m not making this harder, but my goal is 3-4 months to transition and I will have to remember to be consistent! 🙂

            • I was ruminating on this in the shower (maybe I do my best thinking in there?) and I would strongly encourage you to swaddle. I think it’s going to make your transition MUCH easier. I’m afraid you’re going to go from super soothing scene (co-sleeping with Mom) to the crib (big and empty) and like many parents, find that it doesn’t go smoothly. There are so many benefits to swaddling (

              And I’m thinking that another one is that it gives your baby some soothing so that when you remove yourself from the equation, baby is still reasonably happy.

              Something to consider?

  7. #3 & #5 are spot on and dependent upon each other. I fall victim to that all the time. I’ll try something once, it doesn’t work and I go back to what wasn’t working. I am so afraid of things getting worse that I am unwilling to stick to change.

    I fell into the paci trap with my first son and spent many, many nights replacing it every 45-90 minutes until we took the trip to cryitoutsville. This time my son wouldn’t take one and I have become his paci, which in some ways is worse! I finally got him to take one today and honestly, I’m so thankful that I’m hoping he becomes the only 3 month in the world that can get the paci back in his mouth via levitation. You are right though the paci will always become a problem.

    • “he becomes the only 3 month in the world that can get the paci back in his mouth via levitation”

      Well I can tell you honestly that now I’m DESPERATELY HOPING FOR THIS TOO. And if he does master said levitation you absolutely MUST share video. That would be the coolest. thing. ever!

      #5 I think is pretty universal. I had 13 conversations that all ended in me browbeating them into promising to do what we had talked about. (Sorry about the browbeating, I clearly need to work on my “gentle coaxing” skills.)

  8. Thanks for being so great at what you do! I study your site like the bible whenever something is going wrong with babies sleep. I am in the midst of struggling with #2 and #5. Right now, 9 month old(10 months next week) put himself to sleep every night in his crib with his binkie, and he is magic, he finds the binkie all night long to put it back in his mouth. We sleep great. However, at naptime, he puts himself to sleep in his non-moving swing, swaddled, with the binkie. He sleeps great 2 ish hours 2x/day! I have tried the crib for naps and he only sleeps for 40 minutes, because if his binkie falls out he wakes up.(The binkie doesn’t fall out if the swing because he can’t move much). He will go back to sleep if I go put it back in, but aye, thats exhausting to watch the dang monitor like a hawk all day to make sure he gets a long nap. So of course, I want him to nap in his crib, unswaddled, no binkie. Don’t have the courage to rock the boat! How do I take the binkie away, just let him cry all night long when he can’t find it to re-insert and go to sleep? Do I offer him something else(blanket, stuffed animal instead)? How do I do it?

    • Wait – I think you’re also #1 – one of those people who has a champion sleeper but doesn’t THINK you have a champion sleeper:)

      If he’s sleeping like a champion at night with the binkie then where’s the problem? Seriously. Dr. Karp swears by this, “Just point out where the extra crib stash is at bedtime.” Some babies resolutely refuse to self-serve the binkie but if your guy is making it happen then GREAT!

      What about swaddled with binkie in the crib – would the swaddling help keep the binkie from popping out? Also what about doing the Karp “put a few in the corner and point them out” thing at naptime? I’m thinking that if you put up with potential short naps for 1 week (sans binkie) he might figure it out. He’s done it at night so we know he’s capable of rooting around and reinserting no?

      • Thanks for your input. I was really dreading taking the binkie away, because he uses it all night long, so I knew it would be rough. Thus far we have only tried swaddled with the binkie in the crib, it seems like he gets really worked up when he can’t get his arms out after his 45 minute sleep cycle. Maybe I should try no swaddle at naptime and see if he will just put his binkie back in?
        He has just this week started throwing his binkie out of the crib(I had been giving him just one that glows in the dark). I don’t think he throws it out until morning when he wants me to come get him. However, if it gets worse and he is throwing it out more I may have to take it away, right?
        Also, I am wondering if you have any suggestions. He was a wake up between 4-6am and nurse then go back to sleep for a bit, however it was getting to the point where he wouldn’t go back to sleep anymore after this feeding, he would just be up for the day, so I weaned him off of it. I dreamfed him a few nights in a row around 10:30pm, so I knew he wouldn’t be starving when he woke, then just let him cry. It took one night of 40 minutes(he only cried outright for about 10, fussed the rest) and he went back to sleep. So for awhile he slept 8pm-7am, woohoo! He was getting enough night sleep again(not waking for the day at 5am). However, over the last month he has been creeping his wake time up about 15 minutes at a time, til now he is waking at 6am(so night sleep from 8pm-6am, only 10 hours :(.) While I would love to sleep until 7 am, that is not my concern, it is that he is not getting enough night sleep. He is tired and a little fussy from wakeup til first nap(~3 hours later). So I know he needs more sleep. I tried putting him down earlier at night for about a week, but he slept 10 hours(so if I put him down at 7pm he slept til 5am) straight and then cried until I got him, at 6 am because that is my reasonable time for the day to begin. Any thoughts?

  9. Hi there,
    I am a HUGE fan of your site, which has helped me since my 6 month old was a newborn. Between you and Harvey Karp I felt like I had things down to a science and experienced awesome (relatively speaking) sleep until 4 months hit. Since then the night feedings have gotten longer and less regular. So we made a plan to put him to bed with separation between nursing and sleep-did it before bathtime instead of after. I was terrified and we sat anxiously by the night vision monitor waiting for him to cry it out…. And he never did. 2 nights in a row and he casually put himself to sleep with no problem!
    Which is awesome, BUT… The other part of our plan is to follow your night weaning instructions. I have been diligently noting down the times he wakes up and how long he nurses and it’s just so variable! In general he wakes up 3 times a night and nurses so feircely and for a long time (up to a half hour), and during the day he’s too distracted to nurse so well. I try to nurse all day and give him some solids twice a day but still feel like he takes in not of his nutrition at night. So I feel like shaving 1 minute off a 30 minute nursing session each night will take quite a while (30 days to be exact) for even one feed to be removed. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of change – and I’m patient enough to wait a week-but a whole month more of not sleeping sounds so crazy- making!
    So my plan feels wobbly, not necessarily due to a fear of change- but a fear that it will take too long to see results… I’m sure there’s something I am doing wrong?
    Thanks again for all the awesome work you do and for making me laugh when my sense of humor often seems like a distant memory!

    • Hey Molly

      Just a thought, have you tried removing some of the daytime distractions so he gets more calories in the day? Sit in a dim, quiet room, maybe cover him with a muslin while be feeds etc? Might mean he reduces his nighttime feeding so that the night weaning seems more doable? Good luck whatever happens!

    • Deborah is totally right – he’s too busy doing fun stuff to deal with food during the day which is why he’s eating Thanksgiving dinner 3X a night. Which works great for you but locks you into 1.5 hours of night nursing which is BRU. TAL. Definitely try to squeeze in more calories during the day and she’s right – force the issue by making the scene SOOOO boring that there is nothing else to do BUT eat.

      BTW – this is a REALLY common issue. One of the lovely Moms I chatted with has a 9 month old who takes a bottle so they KNOW he’s getting 50% of his food at nighttime. So it’s not just you.

      And if his feeding sessions are SO huge you might be able to work the system by moving 2-3 minutes a night for ~10 days or so. Because you’re right – a 90 day weaning plan feels like a long slow slog 😉

    • When I was worried about cutting down on nursing at night, I decided on two things: a dream-feed, and conceding to an early-morning feed. I pop in just before I go to bed, and offer to nurse. He’s asleep, so I’m not reinforcing random yells, and he really doesn’t mind snacking and going back to sleep. I’ve kept up the night-feed because I’m worried about my supply, and also to rule out hunger as a possible cause for complaint during the night.

      If he makes a ruckus before 5 am, I give him some time to work it out, and if he doesn’t settle within five minutes, I’ll offer him the pacifier. If he cries again, I’ll change his diaper. This isn’t usually necessary, because those wake-ups have gotten more infrequent. If he wakes up after 5 am, I’ll go ahead and feed, and then usually look forward to a couple more hours of peaceful sleep.

      I agree with others re: adding more calories during the day, but if you can sneak up on him and feed him, you won’t need to reward those wake-ups as often.

      • Hint: don’t change a diaper at night unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. Invest in overnights – worth every penny! Seriously diaper changes are a great way to wake up a baby. Avoid if you can 🙂

        • Alexis, I defer to your wisdom, of course. I cloth-diaper with an over-night liner, which contains most situation, but the diaper-change is mostly for my peace of mind if he continues low-grade complaining. If I’m quite sure he’s not overly hungry or messy, then I don’t feel quite as guilty about letting him fuss if he’s having a surly morning.

          • Hi there again!
            So, I followed your advice, and the night feedings have really been being cut down! THANK YOU!!!!! Things have been going great overall. A couple nights ago I was so pumped, I passed on all your sleep training info to another friend and am hoping it will help her too!
            Then… he started popping teeth like nobody’s business and I was surprised that he wasn’t waking too too much. But tonight he’s waking and screaming every half-hour! His two new teeth are already visible so I’m surprised that he would just start crying now. He also napped particularly horribly today so maybe he is overtired. I would think it’t the “extinction burst” I read about on your site but with the teething I feel so nervous about it. Also he went down awake with no problem as usual, but then proceeded to wake up a bunch on his own. Right now I’ve fed him, changed his diaper, given him Tylenol (which I rarely do) and consoled him, so I’m letting him cry some more… not sure if I’m doing the right thing! I seriously wish you were here to help me! So my follow up question is- I know teething (if that’s what this is) is not supposed to get me “back on the night menu” but is it okay to console when they are teething or how does that work? Also… I am VERY EAGERLY AWAITING your post on naps!!!!!!!!

            • Quick follow up- forgot to mention he is 6 months, will be 7 months in a week and a half. So he was SCREAMING like I have never ever heard him, but if I would go and just lay my hand on him he would stop. My husband is out of town and I was kind of freaking out since CIO went so smoothly for us and he is teething after all, his first 2 teeth at the same time. So I brought him into bed without nursing. My plan is to keep him. Lose tonight (cosleep) since it seems to easily soothe him, but not increase the overall number of minutes he nurses tonight. I really hope I’m not ruining our hard work somehow and that I’m making the right choice- I think I am…

            • Keep him close tonight, not “keep him. Lose tonight” dang autocorrect!

  10. yes, change is SO scary!! our happy story:
    after almost 3 years, we finally got our son off his pacifier at night. it took a couple of nights of dad going in to sleep with him when he woke up crying, but it’s been a week now and he’s totally FINE.
    but i’m STILL petrified of change:
    My 5-month-old gets super crappy naps at daycare so when I feed her in the evening she just passes out and i let her fall asleep at the breast. I know I need to set up a bedtime ritual that removes the breast and pacifier (which I learned from my toddler’s addiction!) but I don’t feel confident tackling that until I have a block of days to get her well rested. sigh.

    • Well I’m hopeful that maybe some improvement can be made at daycare. This is a REALLY common challenge – babies nap like crap at daycare and either take a mongo nap in the car home (which completely blows bedtime which is an issue because now they need to get up early to go to daycare = vicious cycle) or they’re SOOO ready to sleep that whatever you do at bedtime has them falling asleep on you.

      Or they sometimes refuse a bottle and then want to nurse for 1 hour when you get home which leads them to falling asleep then too.

      Any combination of these makes things extra tough. AT minimum you could keep your bedtime nursing session but see if you can’t wake her up from her nursing coma enough so that she is technically falling asleep solo. That would be a great compromise in my book!

      • Yes, I like that compromise, thank you! she’s also 1st percentile for weight so I’ve always thought — well, if she wakes up after I put her down, I will just offer her more milk because I will take any chance I can get to get more milk into her.

  11. Glad to hear the sleep consults have been a success! I guess this means I wasn’t one of the lucky winners?! 🙂

    and I want to second the suggestion of case studies. I’d love to see what you suggest for those 13 families. Any of them have a 9 month old who started adding a night waking to her routine after it was weaned three months ago? We’re not sure if she really needs to eat at 1am (growth spurt?) or if we need to let her CIO. And Lord knows making decisions at 1am is never a good idea.

    thanks for all that you do for us sleep deprived and desperate parents!

    • I think case studies are a great idea and I will DEFINITELY consider putting some together. Not all of these were super illuminating – some were just people who had pretty much done 90% of the work and just wanted a few tips for the final 10%.

      But yes – case studies are a go!

      Babies DO go through growth spurts. Although more common at 9 months is night waking a la separation anxiety. Lots of babies in the 8-10 month zone wake up at 2:00 AM and are simply UP for 2 hours. Why? They enjoy the pleasure of your company.

      Given that pattern I might lean towards rolling with the nursing. If you can get up for 10 minutes and everybody continues sleeping happily it may be a workable compromise for a few weeks. THEN you gently wean off the 1:00 AM.

      Of course I’m not the one schlepping in there at 1:00 AM so you’re welcome to disregard this message 😉

      • Thanks Alexis! I think I will try going in there and nursing and see how it goes for another couple of weeks.

        One quick question: I’ve been doing a dreamfeed around 10:30 or 11 pm. Recently it doesn’t seem like she is nursing very much during the DF. I know at some age, DFs become disruptive to sleep cycles. Do you think I should try to give up the DF now? Especially if I’ll be nursing her at 1 or 2 am, it seems like the 10:30 DF might not really help her much.

        • I think you’re right. Although if the dreamfeed has become a huge meal you may need to do so gradually? Experiment with it. I’m inclined to lean towards 1 feeding at 9 months if it “keeps the peace.” But it sounds like you’ve got two solid meals going on and that’s definitely not the direction you want to go!

  12. Sounds so familiar! In particular 2 and 5…
    2 – we’ve been putting our 6 month old down to sleep alone and awake for months and he always goes off to sleep himself, but he has always woken crying several times a night, starting from just a couple of hours after he goes down – we’re working hard to work out what his sleep associations could be that are causing this – the room is dark, we don’t use a dummy, feed is 20mins before bed, hmmm, let me know if you have any ideas! (when he does wake we only ever pat and shh for comfort, unless he’s having a feed)
    5 – we daren’t try to change anything! We get a good few hours sleep most nights which is so very much better than the half/hourly wake ups of a few months ago – evenings are when he’s most restless and we’re up then anyway, I feed when he wakes around 11 and 3 and we just shh and pat if he wakes up at other times, until around 6-7 when he decides it’s time to start the day!
    soo…we can cope with this which makes us TERRIFIED of doing anything to make things worse again. Add in a LOT of confusion and conflicting advice around about when to night wean / is he hungry or is it habit / do we continue waking for a ‘dream feed’ / what is the best way to help him settle (if any) when he wakes and we’re kind of stuck just waiting to see if anything changes on it’s own, or to get the energy and clarity to work out what to try next..

    Thank you for all your advice –
    I love your website, better than any of the many many books I’ve bought along the way!

    • Oops, I though I had to write your website in that field – I blame sleep deprivation and can confirm I am not trying to steal your blog! Sorry!

    • Lots of people get confused about what to put in the “website” field so don’t sweat it. Bloggers would know but most of my readers are too busy trying to sleep to worry about blogging yet 😉

      Well I hate to jump in on the “conflicting advice” bandwagon but here it is …

      I don’t have a huge issue with a 6 month old eating 2X a night. It’s not awesome but it’s not horrible. If you shifted the 11 pm feeding up so that it was closer to when YOU went to bed (a la dreamfeed) you could squint and pretend you’re only getting up 1X a night to feed.

      The real issue is all the OTHER wakings right? And here’s the deal – babies wake up every 45 minutes to 1.5 hours all night long. ALL babies. The only difference is that YOURS needs your help to navigate these “sleep arousals.” And that really is the fundamental problem you’re having.

      For starters I wonder what would happen if you didn’t run in to soothe. Would he just cry for 10-15 minutes in fall back asleep? I would definitely consider that a strong possibility.

      Also is he swaddled with white noise? Often babies need MORE soothing to navigate these arousals without parental support. It’s not all that unusual to have a 6 month old still need a swaddle so I would definitely consider that too. And clearly he loves white noise so if you aren’t, definitely throw that in there.

      Anyhoo as I said, hate to add to the noise of advice but there it is 🙂

      • Thank you Alexis! It felt ok to me to be feeding twice in night too 🙂 thanks for your advice, it’s always so down to earth and realistic – we’re pretty good on an evening at leaving him to resettle (which sometimes works and often doesn’t!) but tend to opt for an easy life on a night and go in fairly quickly – think it’s time to bite the bullet and take some action! Thing I find tricky is that we’re trying to do so many things… eek out feed times so it’s only twice a night, keep him asleep when he wakes super early in the morning and get him to settle during evening and night wakings – all seem to need a different amount of intervention and comfort, but we’ll get there and you’ve given me a boost of confidence so thank you x

      • But can a baby who is swaddled learn to soothe herself? My baby loves the swaddle. You seem to tell people to embrace the swaddle. But given that she can’t access her hands, can I expect her to learn to self soothe? Awesome post, BTW.
        Clearly it resonates with a lot of us!

        • Self soothing does NOT necessarily mean hands in mouth. So the short answer is yes.

          This is something I need to write about but here is the short version.
          1) I love swaddling.
          2) Study after study backs up my love of swaddling.
          3) Not swaddling a baby doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be happily sucking on hands. More often it means that they’re batting themselves about the head (not a joke – that is honestly what happens).
          4) Self soothing doesn’t always mean sucking on hands/fingers. It’s really just a fancy way of saying, “They can manage without you.”

          Lots of babies can happily manage without you if you give them a little help a la swaddling and white noise.

    • Our 1.5 year old still wakes up crying several times a night. We don’t soothe him at all anymore, but he wakes up, cries for a couple of minutes, then goes back to sleep. There were several nights of crying for a couple of hours before going back to sleep, but we have finally made it past that. He ate twice a night until 7 or 8 months old and didn’t sleep through the night until about a year (that’s when we had the several hours of crying in the middle of the night…). Good luck!

      • That “wake up, cry 3-5 minutes, go back to sleep” thing is SUPER common. And it blows. Mostly because now the parents are WIDE awake ever few hours. But usually it’s temporary 😛

  13. Point #1 is so important, I think. It’s so hard to know what’s “good” or “bad” or “normal.” The hospital where I had my son has lactation consultants that you can call 24/7 to ask questions. . .I don’t know how many times I’ve wished they offered the same thing for sleep questions! Sometimes you just need to hear from someone else that you’re doing okay. 🙂

    • Oh you ALWAYS want somebody else to tell you you’re doing That isn’t about sleep that’s about being a parent. What other job would you ever have where you never get any feedback? This one. You basically muddle along, read books, and hope for the best. 30 years from now if your kid isn’t illiterate, homeless, or horrible you’ll know you did OK.

      Seriously, I think we’re all always trying to figure out what is good, bad, and normal. And for the most part it’s, at best, a guess.

  14. I wish I could say only a couple of these apply to me… But sadly I must admit I think I am #s 1 through 5! I always feel like my son is a horrible sleeper but I have heard of much worse. Babies are just hard work!

    Scared of change? Oh yes. My son is ready for his own room but I am TERRIFIED of the thought. I keep telling myself, “He won’t be able to sleep as well if I am not there.” But if I am being honest with myself it is me who won’t sleep as well, not him. I like being able to roll over and see that he is safe and sound. I think I need to buy a baby video monitor or he will be sleeping in the same room as me until he moves out! 🙁

    • Get a baby monitor and move him out. You’ll sleep better. I’m guessing you’re like I was – waking up at every snuffle, sigh, etc. It was bad when they were newborns but frankly didn’t get much better as they got older.

      When they’re in a safe sleep spot in their own room you start to relax and aren’t waking up every time they move in their sleep.

      Get a baby video monitor! They’re $$$ but worth it. If you have an iPhone you could even get a cheaper home security night camera and use that with the phone.

      You can do it!

  15. I agree with Jen, my dear husband has to remind me of number 1 pretty much every day. Before I had a baby the only other one I knew slept 12 hours from about 12 weeks, and my mum told me most babies do that! So that was my precedent. I know now, this is not the case…. Yet I can’t shake the nagging feeling that my baby “should” not wake up at all at night (he is 7 months), and I am doing something wrong. This website teaches me, time and time again, that he is just a normal baby. And normal babies are hard work.

    Another useful piece of advice a friend gave me in one of my stressing sessions about why I couldn’t get him to stay asleep in the evening:

    “It’s not all about you, Lisa”.

    No, it is not all about me. It is about me and my family getting to know one another and figuring out how to best take care of each other. And that is a journey, an honour, and often a bit of a burden too 🙂

  16. #5 reminds me of the saying: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”… something that my husband and I have reminded ourselves of frequently in trying to sort out baby #2’s sleeping! Thanks for the reminder that change can be a good thing, and thanks for another great post Alexis.

    • “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”

      Yes and yes. I couldn’t remember the quote because I was thinking of it when I wrote that!

  17. #3 is the bane of my existence right now. I posted a few days ago on the How to Cry it Out post about our 1 year old who, now on night #7 crying it out, stil has not layed down once and “sleeps” sitting up.

    We’ve been making her stay in the crib all night the past couple nights though I’ve let her nurse once since she wasn’t night weaned yet. Last night she woke and cried over 20 times for a 2-10 minutes a time before I got her up early at 6am after she’d been moaning/weeping for over a half hour. Then she crashed on me at 8am and slept four hours.

    How long do we keep on with this when things have only gotten worse than I ever imagined and we’re going on a week now? When and how do you amend a plan without making things even worse again? I’d love to hear if other parents have had experiences like this and how things went.

    Thanks and best sleep wishes to everyone!

    • Hey Gwen,

      That’s a complicated question and I don’t have a quick and easy answer for you. I would suggest that the 4 hour crash at 8 AM is probably not helping you. If she’s napping for 4-6 hours during the day that’s going to make it more likely that she can fight sleep and stay awake at night. So minimally you’ll want to manage her sleep so she doesn’t just move large chunks of sleep from night to day 🙁

      For what it’s worth, 2-10 minutes at a time makes me think you need to stick with it. Babies wake up a ton at night. Ideally they just fall back asleep. This is new to her so she’s letting off a little steam. But she IS managing to fall back asleep which is really positive. It could be far worse. She could wake up and stay awake. So even though things are really rough I from what you share I’m thinking that you stick with it and reconsider how much sleep she gets during the day.

      • Thanks! Just a note- the 4 hour daytime crash was an utter, once in her lifetime anomaly 🙂 Normally naps these days total about 2h for the day. So she must have shorted herself a bunch on overnight sleep.

        The little bouts of crying all night aren’t so bad, the worst is the sleeping sitting up. So sad to watch on the monitor. But I guess she’s just got to figure it out eventually.

        We decided to focus on the success that bedtime is back to her going in the crib, albeit crying hard, but only for a few minutes. That was our main objective anyway. Thinking about the #1 point you made in this post made me reframe my perspective on this situation and feel better about where we’ve gotten with her.

        So thanks again!

  18. Dear Alexis!
    I just wanted to thank you again for this website and all the help I got from you! My twins are one year old now, and I stopped using swaddles and white noise a long time ago, but they were my best helpers when girls were younger and had problems sleeping. I can’t thank you enough!
    Hopefully, from now on I will visit this website just to see how you’re doing and to feel nostalgic. 🙂

    • Hopefully you will come back and visit and share your hope and wisdom of those still in the trenches 😉

      • I guess, my situation was a bit different – girls were sleeping in their own beds from the beginning and we didn’t take them in our bed, just after their “big” day sleep to cuddle and play, so parents’ bed to them is not a place to sleep. We also from the beginning were putting them to bed awake. After we moved their beds from our bedroom to the nursery around Christmas, one of the girls started to sleep through the night right away, the other one took her time, driving me insane along the way. She still can wake up once or twice and cry, so I take her to the living room, we lie down on the couch and I rock her to sleep, but then put her back in her bed.

        But I guess with the twins you have to be more resiliant and work on your routines even harder. Or else they will drive you mad twice as fast – been there, done that. 😉 Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, my biggest helpers were swaddles and white noice. And you as the voice of reason and hope. And routine, strict daily routine.

        To all struggling mums there – it will pass! I know, it’s hard to believe at the moment, but it true. I’m a living proof. 🙂

  19. I’m stuck in #4 land.
    When DD was 13 weeks old, she started sleeping through the night on her own, from 7 to 10 hours. YAY! I nursed her to sleep (see where this is going?) and swaddled her, and she slept in a bassinet no problem. She napped on me, because they would last longer, otherwise she’d be in the swing and only do 30-45 min at time. Fast forward about 2 months…starting to roll, too big for bassinet. Moved her to pack and play, still swaddled, she rolls in her sleep. Bye-bye swaddle. She starts waking up at night, once, maybe twice. Around Christmas (6 months), she’s sitting up, and waking up at least twice a night, nursed back down, but every time I lay her down, she’s awake, crying within 10 min. Mama is tired trying to get her back to sleep 4 times in a row, so baby comes to bed.

    Now it’s mid-February, and she’s still in bed, and will only sleep ON me. She wakes crying as soon as I ease her off, next to me. She’s also rooting like crazy, every time I move a tiny bit, and if she doesn’t get the nipple, wakes up crying. She’s latched on all night long, and I can only get her to sleep by nursing. I don’t know where to start to try to fix this. Plus, add in teething (although the buggers still won’t pop up), separation anxiety, pulling up…sleep is disrupted. I’m tired.

    • Ooof. If I knew how I would form a support group for all the human pacifiers out there. Cuz it’s definitely not just YOU.

      I can imagine at each point you just worked to fix it, to help everybody get some sleep, to avoid crying. And the slippery slope led you from the glorious days of her first months to sleeping on your back with a baby latched on your boob all night long.

      Check this post about the “pull off” method (paci, boob, same difference). I would really work that angle and also see if you can create some physical space. Do you have a co-sleeper you can attach to the bed? That might be a good starter compromise. I can’t guarantee you this will work but I would suggest that now (6 months) is as good as time as any to try. Separation anxiety usually peaks at ~8 months so better now than then.

      Best of luck – honest:)

      • She’s 8 months now 🙁

        I’ve tried popping her off. Most of the time, she looks for it again right away. Sometimes she cries right away. Even her naps, now, she’s literally latched on for an hour. I’m sore. I just gotta keep on trying. She gets her little hands up and rubs her eyes if she pulls off and she’s not asleep, which wakes her up more. Stubborn girl.

        No cosleeper, unfortunately.

        Thanks for your advice.

        • Might she take a pacifier instead? You might still have the problem of getting rid of it, but at least you’d be a bit more comfortable.

          • I’ve tried. She thinks the paci is a toy, and plays with it, chews on it, looks at it…She SCREAMED when I tried to stick it in her mouth in the middle of the night when I’d just about had it with comfort nursing. Eh, she knows what she likes.

            • Not sure if this helps but to reframe the issue, it’s not what she likes. She’s learned that sleep=nursing. So from her perspective she’s got no other way TO sleep. Does that make sense?

              Am assuming you have a great pre-bed routine. What would happen – and I’m just brainstorming here – if you nursed her BEFORE the routine, handed her to your partner, and walked out of the house?

  20. Dear Alexis,
    I wrote in on your site a while back and we are still “working on sleep” in our house ☺ My eight month old son (who is a big boy – born 11 lbs 5 oz and now over 20 lbs) goes to sleep without much fussing. I took your advice and separated the nursing so now he nurses at 6:30 pm (not much) then has bath, books then bed. He habitually wakes around 10:30/11 pm and I nurse him, change him and put him back to bed. He was doing ok and going from then until close to 5 am but has been waking lately at 3 or 4 am. Last night he woke at 3 and I gave the binky and he fussed on and off until 4:30 at which point I fed him and put him back to sleep. (Not a good habit I want to start after having him CIO a couple of months ago to get rid of some of these night feedings).
    Prior to last night, he would fuss around 4 and sometimes go back to sleep and at 5 am I would try to nurse him and put him back down (again, I waiver between whether I should be getting up with him at 5 or putting him back to sleep?) I remember with my daughter getting up at that hour and she eventually evened out, but if he wakes at 3 and then I am up ‘til 5 and get up it’s a LONG day.

    My other questions have to do with his naps. He usually takes a nap around 8:30/9 for an hour or maybe a little more (depending on the night before). I need to take my daughter to school around 11:40 am and pick her up at 2:30 so I struggle with when his afternoon nap should be (not in car!) and trying to get it to stretch out (now usually only 40 minutes). So, if he goes down at 1 pm until 1:45 then he is awake until bedtime which is almost 7 pm. I usually nurse him at 5, feed solids close to 6, try one last nursing at 6:30 which is usually not much at all and then bath, book, bed (see above). What can I do to tweak some of this?

    Advice on naptimes given a typical 5 am wake up and my daughter’s school schedule would be appreciated.
    Also, what do you think about that 10:30 pm wake up? Should I let him CIO and stop that one or leave it? Unsure….
    If he wakes at 3 I let him CIO and usually he’ll go back a little bit (I haven’t been able to!) Should I get up at 5 to set a good waking pattern? Don’t want to “nurse back to sleep…”
    Also, as I said above…what do you think of his bedtime given his last nap ends around 1:45 pm?

    Thanks so much for all that you do. Last night was a rough night of sleep and it’s nice to have your site to read to gain ideas and hope for the next night.

    • Hey Erin,

      There is a lot of questions in there and I’m not sure if I can cover them all but here’s what jumps out at me – hopefully it’s helpful:

      – Sometime babies are up at 5:00 AM. If you can’t get him to go back to sleep it blows. It also is what it is. TRY to get him to go back down but don’t beat yourself up if it’s not happening.

      – I think that the solids at 6:00 are throwing you off. They’re low cal but filling (see post below). They also mean he isn’t interested in BM at 6:30 which is probably why he’s hungry at 10:30 (at that point he hasn’t really eaten since 6:00).

      – I think a 3rd catnap would help you. Most babies won’t take a huge nap at say 4:00 but if you put them in a sling or go for a car ride will konk for ~10-15 minutes. It might be worth playing around with that?

      – The 10:30 feed is the least of your concerns as you’re generally up then anyway? Or can you shuffle it so that it happens when YOU go to bed? I think a dreamfeed at YOUR bedtime and then work on getting a stretch that goes till morning would be awesome. Check the posts on weaning (the one below and sleeping through the night part 3) for more ideas on how to not get locked into the 3:00 AM feeding.

      Hope that helps – good luck!

      • Thanks for the tips, Alexis! I shifted the solids to 5 pm and have been nursing at 6:30 before bath, bed so we’ll see what happens there. Should I be pushing him to stay up even later than 7 pm if he can’t get that catnap in? His last nap usually ends at 2 pm.
        You are so great to help all of these TIRED mommies 🙂


  21. Hi! I love your site and have been reading everything that I can! I had a question if you manage to have the time to respond (I’m amazed at how much attention you can provide to comments, and totally understand if you can’t!)

    Our 3.5 month old son IS a champion sleeper, he sleeps between 5 and 8 hours in the first stretch of the night, average is 6-7 hours!!! (He is breast fed all day, formula before bed and during the night.) Lately though, his feeding that is somewhere between 2 am and 5 am is turning into a two hour awake session.

    We don’t really have him self-soothing to sleep yet, just starting trying to work on that (he does in swing for naps), but we usually get him to sleep by rocking him and a pacifier. He sleeps in a pack n play in our bedroom. When we are desperate in the early morning, I’ll side feed him in bed and let him cosleep until I either put him back in his bed or get up with him.

    We keep the room dim, but not dark (need enough light to change his diaper) and try to minimize the interactions with him.

    I know he can have a sleep regression around this time, and I know that yes, we are in fact really lucky, but these two hour sessions are getting pretty tough when we have to be up at 7 (and this will probably be earlier soon). I’m back at work, and my husband is just going back, so it’s important we are up early for the day. Any thoughts?? Thank you! 😀

    • I think it’s probably pretty sleep regressiony.

      If it were ME I would put him in the swing at 2:00 AM. Swaddle, swing, paci, white noise. And I would leave him alone even if he doesn’t fall asleep. Not to say I would let him SCREAM in there, but I would definitely slather with soothing and let him fuss a little and see what happens.

      Anyhoo I think your path to not being up for 2 hours lies with more soothing. Which is also how you survive a sleep regression. So regardless of WHY that is happening, I would approach it the same way 🙂

  22. This is SO TRUE!! I was that scared-of-change parent about bedtime. We finally worked that out and now, at 9 months, I’m still trying to figure out naptime. I don’t know why I was afraid to do anything differently. To a logical person, ANYTHING would have been better than getting up 5-8 times a night. But we are not logical people; we are sleep-deprived caffeine junkies who are just trying to not drop our babies in the middle of the night. 🙂 Thank you for always validating our efforts!

    • Well at least you now know you aren’t the only one who was getting up 5-8X a night for fear of making things worse 😉

      The kicker (to me as somebody who is actually sleeping quite well thankyouverymuch) is that at a certain point there IS no worse. You’re LIVING worse. So the fear of making things worse is really irrational because you’ve already landed there.

      So glad that you worked out night time. It’s a lot easier to face naps when you aren’t a coffee swilling zombie. Good luck!

  23. Hi Alexis,

    I love you a little bit and enjoy all your blogs and think you are a super star but sometimes they make me feel sick. why? cos you are right and cos I am either wrong or because I am in a rut or because you have made me realise I have some work to do.

    We currently have a 16 week old who only 2 weeks ago was crying ALOT (at worst – 4 hours) because I was trying to put her down awake. It wasn’t working so we had a chronically overtired baby.

    Now, during the day, I put her down drowsy but awake all the time (yey)- I try to tell myself this is progress and I have a lot to be proud of but really I feel like we have so far to go. For her to sleep she needs the swaddle, white noise, a dummy, to be put in the swing and she needs to be cuddled to drowsyville. If she is just tired, the cuddle takes 2 minutes. If over tired, 45 minutes! ): Putting her in the swing tired made her cry and it took 20 minutes of ‘jiggling’ to get her to drowsy. My arms just couldn’t take it any more.

    I don’t really know where to go from here. I know I can leave the swaddle and white noise for a while yet. I think it would be easier to wean from swing, which we won’t be able to use forever but more beneficial to wean from putting down drowsy (which would be difficult, I don’t mind a bit of graft but I think I just don’t have the skill to do this gradually) or the dummy (I think it might be better to get rid of this last). Really i think the answer is – do what i want. I know my child best and as long as I stick to it, I will suceed. I already have achieved the putting down drowsy for example and recently stopped accidently mursing her to sleep at night, both of which I am very proud of (you might be able to tell I am trying very hard to have a PMA).

    If you do find the time and don’t mind disucssing the 13 cases, I’m sure I will be able to find some info in there that will help and also I might find a bit of motivation as at the moment I feel a bit confused, demoralised and worn out.

    Something else I am concerned about is the short awake time she has between naps. I assume that if she can sleep for longer, this awake time will extend. She currently has the recommended total time asleep each day so I assume she is not poorly (although she is suspected to have a genetic condition that affects feeding).

    Thanks for everything Alexis.


    • “I am trying very hard to have a PMA”

      Pancake Morning Atlanta?
      Premium Monkey Angels?
      Please More Applesauce?

      Not actually kidding as I don’t know what a PMA is but I hope you get one!

      Why are you feeling demoralized? It sounds like there is tons of good stuff going on here. You’re making great headway on put down awake – YAY! You’ve figured out how long she can be awake and what soothing she needs (now) to be happy – YAY!

      How much do you really expect at 4 months? Sounds like she’s been a bit tougher than most (4 hours of crying) but things are on the upswing no?

      Here’s my unsolicited advice for your action plan (in order):
      1) Put her awake in the swing. Try letting her fuss for 15-20 minutes in there. She’s not a newborn anymore. She may surprise you.
      2) Ditch the paci first. This is what you want to focus on – not the swing or swaddle, the paci.
      3) THEN move on to the swing.
      4) Swaddle
      5) Keep white noise for a full year. Then remove whenever it suits. Or not. Really either way is cool.

      • Ha ha! Positive mental attitude, something parents of babies that at one time needed their mum to walk up and down their hall 200 times while shushing and bum tapping need a lot of.

        I got a shock in last night’s 4am feed when I found your reply and couldn’t get back to sleep I was so excited!! Even though your advice was unsolicited, it is my no means not welcomed. I am very grateful that you took the time to reply and help with my plan. Except I wish you had placed the dummy/paci 1023rd after ‘birds and bees’ chat and help chose wedding dress.

        Thanks for the kick up the bum – stage 1 is in place and she fell asleep without jiggling after 28 minutes first nap yey!

        Now (well maybe in 7-10days) for stage 2 – the paci attack. I had a look at your article on pacis and I am a bit confused. You are less adamant that the paci must go in that one. Have you changed your mind since speaking to the families mentioned in this blog? I am a bit nervous actually cos you mentioned the link to SIDS and my little munchkin was very ill after birth, needing oxygen to get through the night. I’ll have a think.

        In the meantime, thanks again. I will let you know when I have a child who is putting herself to sleep with no drama (hopefully you will hear from me in the next 10 years).


  24. Hi Alexis,

    Just like everyone else, I love your site and your writing style.
    I am a #1…I am sure I have a champion sleeper – he is 6 weeks old, sleeps 15 hours a day and takes great naps. I can put him down awake and he falls to sleep easily, he sleeps 6 hours at a time at night. So now you wonder what the problem is! The problem is two fold. Number 1 is he is sleeping this way in his infant car seat. I need to transition him to the crib, but every time I put him down in the crib he wakes up after 15 minutes screaming. Guess what? I am afraid of change, but realize that I probably just need to bite the bullet and get it over with but I also wonder if I should mess with a champion sleeper. When you recommend putting babies in swings, are they as inclined as a car seat? Some people say that sleeping on an incline can reduce brain oxygen, although I think the incline is slight enough that his head doesn’t tip forward.
    Problem #2 is that he is such a good sleeper, I am terrified it will change tomorrow and I will never sleep again. I realize I am neurotic, but sometimes when things go so well people have to get worried about SOMETHING!

    • Hey Jen,

      Most 6 week old babies don’t sleep like champions in the crib so I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it. I do prefer other “non crib” locations to the car seat. Often babies do hunch over in the car seat and other things (swings or even the Fisher Price Rock n Play is popular) give you a recumbent angle and still have the “cuddle space” of the car seat. So you might want to invest (they’re actually pretty cheap) in a RocknPlay as an alternative?

      Things WILL get worse here and there. Wait till that 4 month sleep regression 😉 But here’s the secret.

      You will get through it. You will survive and you will come out the other side and you will find solutions. This baby won’t throw anything at you that you can’t handle.

      So cheers 🙂

  25. We are in the land of afraid to try anything in the fear of making what’s not so great, even worse. Our babe just turned 1 3 weeks ago and is a paci addict. He often sleeps through the night (though he’s up for the day at 5 or 5:30am…sigh…). But maybe 30% of the time he wakes up and screams at random times and we have help him find the paci, or if he gets really worked up we just feed him, give him the paci and he’ll go back to sleep. But we figure if we could get him off the paci that might not happen? But I’m scared of making it worse, even temporarily, b/c I’m just still so tired with the 30% of the time not sleeping through the night. Ahhh!! Should we just bite the bullet and take the paci away? I’m afraid it might not help and then we’d just have one less thing that actually helps him a lot of the time.

    • Have you tried taking Dr. Karps suggestion and putting 3-4 pacis in the corner and pointing them out at bedtime? He swears by this. I’m not convinced. Am hoping he can share more on this technique when we video chat in a few weeks.

      (Note: Am not poking fun at Dr. Karp, am secretly in love with him and am HUGE fan, but not convinced about the “point out the paci” technique).

      One reader said they put their baby to bed in a paci ball pit. Have you tried the paci ball bit?!?! 😉

      I’m not militantly anti-paci if you guys can work a compromise. But if things aren’t better even with the paci ball bit et al, it might be time to go 🙁

      • We haven’t tried the paci ball pit, though I love that image. New issue is that as much as he wants them, he will also just stand up and throw them out on the ground. Then scream for them. So he’s messing with us basically. I might try the ball pit and if that doesn’t work, we may just have to dive in and get rid of the packs, lord help us. Thanks Alexis.

  26. Oh, how I wish I had seen and entered to win! That said, #5 makes so much sense to me. I am terrified of having a worse night than we already do and the thought of taking away a paci makes me want to hide in the corner and cry myself. My DS is almost 10 months old and we are having a horrible time lately. We moved across the country when he was 7.5 months old and in 2 months time, he has cut 4 teeth all the way with 2 coming in right now. We have also been away from our new home 2-3 weekends a month, which I know doesn’t help but is the way it is right now. Before we moved, he was sleeping an 8 hour stretch, one feed, followed by a 4-5 hour stretch most nights. Because his weight has always hovered close to the 5th percentile, I hesitated to eliminate any feeds he might “need” and now due to the feeds, the move, and the teeth, we have created a monster. My first son was so easy at night…naps were a nightmare, but nights were easy. My almost 10 month old is the complete opposite. Naps like a dream, but nights are almost impossible. Now, he wakes up anywhere from 2 times a night to every 1-2 hours and I am so bleary eyed, I fear none of this even makes sense. Yesterday, I remembered reading on your blog a couple of months ago about slowly decreasing nursing time to wean off feeds at night. So, I decided I was determined to do it and that this was “the week”. So last night, in good spirits, I started the plan. We did our normal bedtime routine, I put him down awake and he fell asleep with a little “babbling” as usual around 8. My guess was that he was nursing about 10 minutes each time, so my goal was to try to drop to 8 min. First wake up, he woke at 1130 and after about 4 minutes was completely done nursing….put him back to bed, he looked at me, closed his eyes and went back to sleep. I thought…AWESOME! This is going to be okay…only he woke up at 1230, 0130, 0230, and 0330. At 1230, and 0130, I tried to settle him first before eating, but he just screamed and screamed until I let him nurse. He never nursed more than 5 minutes but if I cut him off, he got so riled up that he was screaming his head off and refusing to settle without the boob. I can’t just let him scream in his room as he and big brother (3) share a room so we were nursing in the living room. I’m struggling with whether this was just first night protest or whether he really needs those feeds because of his weight. I know he has been through a ton of changes lately, but enough is enough and mama needs sleep!

    • Hi there,

      I have the same issue as you! Only my son is 6.5 months old. His sleep suddenly unravelled over the past week and I was thinking over and over again what was tripping us up. The best I could think of was the following: I noticed that, at night, he was no longer nursing for food. He was nursing for comfort. He would latch and just lie there….after about 3 minutes or more, he would take a couple of sucks and that would be all. As much as I love, love, love holding my son I thought okay, this child is no longer hungry at night. He just wants to be with me. This has to stop. My son is in the 2nd percentile for weight so, like you, I was afraid to cut out the night feeds in case he needed the calories. But, his behaviour told me otherwise. So, last night we started cutting out night feeds cold turkey. Whenever he cried my husband would go in and try to settle him and offer him a bottle of pumped milk. He would offer it a few times and if he didn’t take it, would put him back in his crib. He went right back to sleep. This happened at 10 pm, 320 am and 440 am. He never drank a single sip from the bottle! We will continue with this protocol for the next week and see what happens.

      best of luck to you!

    • Hey Tiffany,

      Yeah I’m getting the suck=sleep vibe here. You don’t mention the pacifier use but the fact that the thought of it going away gives you the chills makes me think that the paci is also involved at night too yes?

      SO I don’t think this about food at all (like Alissa said too – great insight there!). I think its about a strong suck=sleep association. And generally what happens at BEDTIME sets you up for success/failure so I would really consider what is happening at bedtime. The post below might help too.

      And yesssss – send DAD in. Even if it doesn’t work well at least it’s not your problem [insert evil laugh]. No seriously I’m guessing it’s a matter of breaking the suck=sleep association.

      • Alexis,

        Thanks for your reply…to answer your question, yes we do use a paci at naps and night. So, over the last few days I have continued with “the plan”….last night he woke early at 1030 and cried for almost an hour (mind you, my husband and I were both taking turns soothing him…turned out he had bad gas which once I took over and realized, gave him Mylicon and settled within 5-10 minutes and put himself back to sleep then woke at 345 and nursed for 3 min (our current limit)….he protested a little when I pulled him off, but quickly settled and went back to sleep…with the paci. Dad will have to intervene this weekend when we stop completely (I won’t make him all night when he has to work – too tired at his job could be extremely dangerous).
        Since you think the paci could be part of it, any suggestions for taking it away at this age? My oldest was 18 months and very verbal when we got rid of it and he threw it away himself (and he slept through the night from about 4 months on), so this is uncharted territory with a 10 month old…

        Thanks again,

  27. I’ll put it out there if it will make some other moms feel better – we’re planning on attempt #3 at transitioning to the crib this weekend and I AM TERRIFIED. You are totally right…I don’t like change. She has been sleeping like an angel in her swing. We are all happy cheerful and well rested! But she can’t stay in the swing forever. She’s already trying to twist her torso and stretch, or lean forward and play with her feet when she wakes up. She is strapped in with the harness, but it still makes me nervous. I know it will be tough. I know there will be crying. SHE may even cry a little too. But we need to suck it up and JUST DO IT!

    • How exciting! I will be waiting with baited breath for the outcome.

      Is the swing no longer moving? Are you putting her in it awake?

      If so my baby magic eight ball says that she will surprise you. You will be crying in the bathroom when your partner comes to ask why you’re crying because baby is happily sleeping in the crib. So sayeth magic eight ball 😉

  28. It is really nice to know that ours isn’t the only baby on the block trying to actually kill us through sleep deprivation. So – thanks for being here to remind me of that. We’ve been working on putting our son down awake since he just up and decided he can no longer sleep without us coming to pick him up and bounce him or hold him every hour or two all night long. You guessed it, he’s just about 4 months old.

    Despite our best efforts, he is having none of it! Every time his butt hits the crib he starts crying. Except once or twice. Flukes! Seems like cry it out isn’t appropriate for another couple of months, but I just don’t know what else to do. I hate the idea of letting him cry, but it seems like he now has a bounce addiction – a crappy sleep association problem. Our pediatrician told us not to let him sleep in a swing at night, and besides that, it has warnings all over it about not leaving the kid unattended in it, or letting him sleep in it for extended periods of time, so we aren’t really comfortable with that option. Also, we have the Fischer Price swing and the motor seems weak and peters out after awhile, and we can’t afford a new one. It seems highly unlikely that one day he is just going to all the sudden let us put him down awake…should I be waiting for such a glorious moment?

    I think I might die from sleep deprivation before then! Unfortunately we have a lot of other stress in our house right now – my husband is having surgery tomorrow to correct severe GERD – so he’s had to sleep upright in a chair for many months now, so I feel like a single parent half the time anyway…he is also going through some unfortunate mental health issues that have been very hard on me. That wasn’t in the plan when we decided to get pregnant!

    We have a good, by the book, nap and bedtime routine. I do nurse last, because it relaxes him, but I don’t let him be asleep at the breast when I put him down. We use a swaddle – although he’s suddenly breaking out of it, so I’ve got a miracle blanket on the way in the mail as we speak….we use white noise all night long, no timers. We use a pacifier to help him stop crying but not to let him go to sleep in his mouth. I try so hard not to bounce or rock him asleep – but he will not let me put him down! Trying to go to sleep for me has become a torturous anxiety ridden death march where I can’t even sleep during the time I have because I’m too on edge waiting for his next cry. I only feed him twice in the night now…which is appropriate for his age and I don’t mind that one bit – it’s all the other wakes that kill me. We play in his crib in the daytime, he does not hate it there – I can set him down there and leave him to play and talk to himself for 10 – 20 minutes with some toys and his mobile, but if I try to leave him in there awake at sleeping time, it’s no dice. I feel like such a failure.I’m hoping that sharing my story will make someone else feel not alone.He has the same issues for most of his naps. He’ll wake about 40 minutes in and ‘request’ my help in going back to sleep. I’ve been observing him, and despit ehim not wanting to be swaddled and busting out of it he still needs it, because I see him startle himself awake.

    I’m working full time from home, and I’m pretty sure I’m never going to get anything done ever again. Maybe I’ll even lose my job! That would complete my run of cruddy luck. That’s probably the sleep deprivation talking, I hope, but things seem so bleak on this side of the covers!

    • That’s quite a stress pileup you’ve got going on there. If it makes you feel any better another reader commented about how severe sleep deprivation lead to heart problems for both parents so it literally could kill you in horrific circumstances. Does that cheer you up? Probably not so much so forget I said anything…

      How would your pediatrician feel about a Fisher Price RocknPlay?

      Because here’s what it boils down to. You’ve probably got the 4 month sleep regression blowing up things at a super inconvenient time:

      Your baby is a motion junkie. Your husband for various medical reasons is MIA. You are loosing your mind due to sleep deprivation. But you don’t feel comfortable using the swing.

      So basically your options are continue on the current path until madness ensues. Put that kid in a swing. Or possibly a rock n play. Or CIO.


      • Thanks so much for replying, you’re kind of my hero right now. Wanted to give you an update. Nightwaking escalated to about 20 times a night! Broke down, put him in the swing. Things improved drastically right away, no surprise. Swing is in his room next to his crib, since we had already made that move. It’s only been a week, so I’ve only come down one notch in speed, but so far so good. First night he woke 5 times, the second 3, and now we’re at an age appropriate 2. Although he typically partially wakes crying/fussing at least two more times, I’ve been giving him 3 minutes to work it out on is own – AND HE HAS! I hope this means he is slowly learning to put himself back to sleep. We’ll see what happens when it comes time to wean him off the swing. And additional words of wisdom on the front? How long should this transition back to the crib take, ya think?

        PS – he is still taking his naps in the crib, since those were mostly going well. Is that a mistake?

        Thank you for everything you do – and I really appreciate the Dr. Karp swing safety endorsement, it helps me rest easier.

    • I would just like to add that Fischer price will send you a new motor. I got a swing second hand with no warranty card and I just called and gave them the serial number and they mailed a new motor for free.

  29. I’m #2 and #5. My 7 month old son has made leaps and bounds lately with his sleep. Was waking up 3-4 times a night a month ago, now 0-1! Couldn’t put down awake a month ago now I can. Woo hoo! What’s the problem? Short naps and paci addiction (and I mean big time attachment to it!). I can’t decide if it’s worth it to wean from the paci now or wait a little longer. I know he will cry A LOT if I take the paci away. A LOT. I don’t think I could handle it. But I also know he needs more sleep in the day. Ugh.

    • I hear you and the paci can be a scary thing to consider getting rid of. But I can tell you honestly that OFTEN things go far better than you expected. You could try the pull off method (link below). I would start there. Do a NICE pre-nap wind-down. So he’s all happy and snuggled prior to the pull out. Dark room, white noise, use your words.

      You could try a basic check and console (give him 15+ minutes to see what happens first).

      Yes sometimes the paci is a bear. But lots of babies surprise me with how chill they are about the whole thing. So you never know!

  30. Hi Alexis!

    I’d love your thoughts if you get a minute! Our baby is now 7 months old and sleep is getting harder and harder. Something needs to change soon but I don’t know where to start! Here are the concerns:
    1) we can’t get her on a consistent schedule. She started night waking again for breast milk at 5 months after sleeping through the night from 2.5 months. Now, she’s up 1-3 times a night and wakes in the morning at different times (between 6 and 9) everyday depending on what time her last night waking is. Obviously that makes naps occur at a different times each day and then of course, bedtime is affected.
    2) we have a bedtime routine that we try to stick to (started at 2 months) but our daughter doesn’t seem to respond to it – massage/bath, nurse, book, lullaby, bed. Even though we aim to have her in bed by 8pm, most nights she’ll cry until later even though shes tired, or she’ll sleep at 8 but then wake to feed an hour later and then nurses to sleep. We’ve tried an earlier bedtime but find if she’s in bed before 8, her first sleep is more like a nap and then she’s up for a few more hours.
    3) lately, she’ll cry like crazy until she’s picked up and nursed back to sleep. I’ve been trying to put her down awake and it used to work for naps but now, it doesn’t work at all. At best, I can nurse a bit and then rock her to sleep but that’s rare, especially at night.
    4) rocking sessions are getting longer and longer and my arms are tired! Shooshing, patting and a paci to calm her have NO effect!
    5) we still swaddle her so I’m worried about sleep training as she won’t have her hands to self soothe. We also use white noise. She has never been able to sleep in a swing!

    Anyways, those are the issues we’re having and things are getting worse and worse! Night waking is becoming more frequent (only nursing calms her) and it’s getting so much harder to settle her without food during the day and at bedtime. She was doing so great and now we’re worse than when we started. Any advice?

    Thank you SO much 🙂

    • Hi there,
      I have a 7 month old as well, and although we are having our fair share of issues, I thought I would share some insights with you.
      It sounds like your baby is becoming dependent on nursing and/or rocking to get to sleep. Unfortunately that means you are going to have to teach her to fall asleep on her own (i.e. Cry it ou) – there are plenty of articles on this site to help you with that. Otherwise your arms are going to be very tired (trust me, we did the same exact thing with my older son, until we finally had had it at 8 months).
      I would focus on keeping a consistent routine from day to day. Ours goes down by 7:30pm and we do not let him sleep past 7:30 am, even if that means waking him up in the morning if he is still asleep. That way naps during the day stay consistent (usually at 9:30am and 1:30pm). I have heard and now believe, that once you get the nighttime sleep settled, the naps will take care of themselves.
      And finally, we swaddled my son until about 4-5 months, then started swaddling while leaving one of his arms out so he could soothe himself. It definitely helps and is important for them to be able to soothe themselves, especially if you choose to let them cry it out. Then eventually we left both arms out and now have completely done away with the swaddle.
      good luck!

    • I wouldn’t presume to know the answers to all of your questions, but I’m also the mom of a 7 month old and I agree with Christina that one easy thing you can do to get a more consistent schedule in place is to… yes, wake your baby up in the morning. Which I know goes against every instinct anyone has ever had, but some babies really need a consistent daily schedule imposed on them. We do not let our son sleep past 7:15 (or 7:30 if it’s a weekend and we’re feeling indulgent). He rarely would because his natural wake-up time is 6:30-7:00 but every now and then (like this morning) he is just randomly dead to the world past his usual wake-up time. But if I don’t wake him up, his napping schedule will get all wonky and his bedtime for that night will get pushed back into the Cranky Baby Zone and it’s just a world of pain. So: we wake the baby.

      Otherwise, my completely unsolicited I-Am-Not-Alexis opinion is that you are getting very close to the Cryitoutsville city limits.

      • Nothing makes my day more than kind people who share thoughtful advice. Especially when it is 100% correct!

        Nothing to ad – these ladies are entirely on the mark. To reiterate – at this age I would work on consistency of schedule by managing wakeup time too. Newborns can bounce around a lot and it’s not an issue. At 7 months while it’s lovely to sleep till 9 (oh how I would love to do that) it’s setting you up for inconsistency which is working against you.

  31. Dear club #5 members,

    First of all, THANK YOU Alexis for some previous advice that helped us survive through the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. We then ended up in cry-it-outsville eventually for bedtime, but that wasn’t as horrible as I had imagined and IT WORKED!

    And now, we have been working on eliminating night feedings for the past 3 months…My husband and I are EXHAUSTED. I’m so tired that I actually got shingles! (you’ve go to be freaking kidding me right? Like I need that…) We’d love some advice of where to go next. Or maybe just re-assuring.

    I’ve got an adorable, persistent little 9.5 month old bugger that just won’t drop those night feedings. I’m fairly positive it’s NOT an eat=sleep association. There’s always a good 30 minutes between nursing and bedtime and he goes down like a champ at bedtime (between 7:30-8pm) with routine of boob, bath, PJs, book, white noise and short snuggle with Daddy. Of course, tomorrow he will know I wrote that statement and protest loudly to remind us that he’s the one really in charge here.

    I thought it was a combo of distracted eater and possibly too much solid food. I nurse in the same place, lights off, blinds closed, quiet, etc – even with this if I get a 5 minute feed in, that’s a great feed. While at daycare he takes a 4 ounce bottle every 3 hours. He won’t take more than that in a bottle. He LOVES his solid foods.

    He was waking up at least three times a night to nurse. I KNOW he can’t really need that much milk at night, so we are trying to at least get rid of the middle feeding.

    So here’s the plan we tried:
    1. Move all BM feedings to 45 minutes BEFORE solids so he’s plenty hungry for milk first. Make sure to nurse/give bottle at least every three hours during the day. High calorie dinner (think avocado, chicken, etc)
    2. Dream feed at 10/10:30 since he was waking up between 10:30/11pm. I’ve been dream feeding so to try to break any possible nurse=sleep associations.
    3. Send Dad in with bottle at 1-2am feeding. Slowly dilute bottle down with water. (I had already tried reducing feedings by 1 minute each night, but given that we started with 6 minute feedings – it didn’t seem to be working)
    4. Continue to nurse during 4-5am feeding

    Here’s what happened:
    1. We diluted all the way down to water over the course of two weeks. But when it got to water only. He refused to drink it, cried, had a fit, wouldn’t go to sleep until he got some milk. He would take the bottle if it had at least 10 mL of milk.
    2. Kept giving the SUPER dilute bottles of milk. He eventually started skipping the 1/2am feeding. Whoopie!
    3. But then, over the next couple of days….the 4-5am feeding moved to a 3-4am feeding, and then a 2-3am feeding. And of course, then he started waking again at 5am.
    4. So, here we are again. 10ish dreamfeed. Nursing at 1 am and 4 am. And most recently he likes to wake up at 3am, just for a fun Daddy snuggle. So….

    Should we go back to original plan with the diluted bottle for the 1-2am feeding? If so, should we eventually let him CIO to drop that feeding? What do we do if he starts waking earlier than 4-5am – CIO, but he doesn’t have a clock and know it’s early…or am I making excuses to avoid CIO? Am I wrong, is it an eat=sleep association? AHH!

    Oh, and, his naps are pretty good when at home, but pretty much non-existent while at day care 4 days a week. Could that be the real issue?? If so, how do we get the kiddo to nap at day care when there are so many fun things to do instead of nap?

    Shingles and Sleepless

    • UPDATE! After reading a bunch of other posts, I decided to give change a try. I read on one that perhaps the dream feeds were beginning to negatively affect his sleep. So, I decided to stop the dream feed at 10/10:30 and see what happened.

      Night 1: slept until 12:30, nurse, slept until 7:30 am (HOLY GUACAMOLE!)

      Night 2: fussed at 10:30, went back to sleep. Woke up at 11:45 crying fiercely, nursed, slept until 7:45 am.

      Night 3: Slept until 3:30. Nursed. Slept until 7:30am.

      Either the dream feeds were messing with his sleep, OR he finally decided all that crawling was wearing him out. Doesn’t matter! Fingers crossed that things keep going this well!

      Thanks to Alexis and everyone who shared their story. Definitely has helped us many times and I expect to return again when the next sleep disaster strikes.

      – Better rested and Nearly Shingle-Free

      • Shingles! Not quite as bad as the lady who developed heart problems as the result of severe sleep deprivation but definitely have made the top 10 list.

        Well nothing warms my cockles like somebody figuring something out without me. So I won’t even bother mentioning that yes crap naps at daycare will set you up for poor night sleep. And 4 oz ever 3 hours at 9 months is a pretty small amount of BM. But REALLY common. Why take yucky bottles when the breasturant is open all night long?!?! Hopefully he’s digging the chicken and avocado (my kids are older and still refuse to eat these foods!).

        And congratulations on your amazing progress!

  32. Hello from Argentina!
    Thank you so much Alexis for this fantastic website! I have read several books on baby sleep and none of them contained such fantastic information so well put together, along with humor and wit. I’m a huge fan.
    #5 is absolutely oh so true! I have a 9 month old baby who used to sleep through the night and do 2 or 3 fantastic naps and suddenly at 7 months started cat napping during the day (not more than 40min.) and waking up 2 or 3 times each night. After reading your posts I’m convinced it must be object permanence, plus she was sick a couple of times at that moment, we also travelled for vacation, so it has been a combination of things I believe.
    Now we are at a pretty good place: she sleeps 2 decent 2 hour naps during the day, and wakes up at night only once, at around 3 am. I nurse her and she goes back to sleep. I’m trying to night wean her but taking a minute off each night hasn’t worked.
    In order for her to do decent naps, I rock her in her stroller (in her room, darkened, and recently with a fan for white noise), and after about 5 minutes of rocking she sleeps for 2 hours (always in the stroller, reclined all the way back). I know I have to stroller-wean her, that she should nap in her crib, but I’m terrified we’ll go back to crappy napping…
    During the night she does sleep in her crib. She’s in bed at around 8.30 pm (maybe too late?), sometimes nursed to sleep but not usually (although always with the paci). I’ve been working on a solid bedtime routine and I’m really trying to get her to sleep on her own (putting her down drowsy, but not completely asleep), but it doesn’t always work and there are nights when I have to rock her for over 20mins. And even those nights when she does fall to sleep on her own, she still wakes up at 3 am crying.
    I get a feeling that we’re heading toward cryitoutsville, and I’m terrified of that too! I don’t feel prepared for that yet…
    If you have any suggestions or thoughts I would really appreciate it!
    Thank you so much,

    • Hey Mercedes,
      I can’t promise you anything but here’s the deal – 95% of babies need to get rid of the pacifier or risk being up ALL NIGHT LONG. But here’s a dirty little secret – 5% seem to manage just fine. Either they don’t care that it falls out or they’re old enough to just pop it back in. Your baby seems to be one of the 5%. So maybe the paci isn’t a problem for you!

      I don’t think the 3AM wakeup is related to the paci. I think it’s your basic night weaning issue. If you had a paci issue baby would wake up hourly demanding your help in replacing the paci. So maybe cryitoutsville is not in your future!

      (And if it is, so be it. It’s not the end of the world ;).

      Bedtime is probably too late if she’s only taking 2 naps. If she’s awake from say 3:00 PM – 8:30 PM then you may want to gradually sneak bedtime up to closer to 7:30ish.

      As for the stroller naps yeah it’s probably time to gently wean off the stroller. What would happen if you rocked her in your arms and placed her drowsy in crib? My prediction is that it’s not as horrible as you are imagining. She’s well rested, getting great sleep, and seems pretty flexible about things so I say give it a go and let me know if I was right 😉

      • Alexis, thank you so much for taking the time to respond!
        I plan on starting to wean her from naps in the stroller this week, and have already started to gradually move her bedtime a little earlier. I will definitely let you know how things are doing in a few weeks.
        Thank you so much again for your insight and your generosity!

  33. I have to agree with a lot of the posters that #5: change is the most terrifying. We are getting close…oh so close…two steps forward and then one step back with sleep training. Then I looked at the calendar and realized Daylight Savings Time is coming up in March. Eeek! What to do? If it isn’t teething or growth spurts, its the darn government messing everything up! ;o)

  34. So, as my husband likes to tell me and as I probably know, I am finding myself smack in the midst of #1 I am sure. But as a first time mom, days wouldn’t be worth it if you weren’t worried sick about some thing right? I’ve spend the better part of the past two days furiously scouring the internet for some help for my son’s short naps. He will be 7 months next week. I am trying to decide if I am creating a problem out of nothing or if what he is doing is totally normal. And (please don’t shoot me) but he regularly sleeps from 7:15PM to 6:30-7:00AM, but I just can’t get regularity in his naps. Sometimes 30 mins, sometimes 1.5 hours. Usually somewhere in between. Sometimes he wakes rested, other times not as much. But he is generally a very happy baby. He goes to sleep on his own, no pacies, somewhat darkened room, in his crib, with white noise. He naps at 9:00am, no matter when he wakes up and then goes back down 2 hours to 2 hours 10 mins after he wakes from the last nap. If he wakes up at 6:30 vs 7:00, should I put him down for a nap earlier? Is he getting over time by that short window in the morning and throwing off his day? I can’t seem to find a pattern in it. At night, he is usually awake from 4:15-4:45ish until bedtime – in bed at 7:15 and falls asleep within minutes. Am I worrying about something that isn’t a problem? I just worry that he isn’t getting enough daytime sleep. Most days, its less than 3 hours cumulative. Is he waking hungry? He eats when he wakes up, has a small breakfast of food at 8:30. Nap at 9. Eats again everytime he wakes up but not right before a nap. If he was hungry though, why some days does he nap longer than others when the routine is the same? Much ado about nothing?! Just not ready to sleep longer yet? Much thanks for tips.

    • Can I just say how jealous I am of your nighttime sleep! ;o) Happy for you though…
      I have a 7 month old as well. And very similar, aside from the nighttime waking. One piece of advice I can give you is something that my pediatrician said: naps are a minimum of an hour. So if they do wake up after 30 minutes, as mine sometimes does, they still need to stay in their crib for the whole hour. Mine will often put himself back to sleep and sleep past the one hour mark. We have the same situation where he naps after being awake for 2 hours. This works out great if he wakes up at 7am or 7:30ish, but I wondered the same thing on the mornings when he wakes up at 6am. Unfortunately we have to take my older son to preschool at 9am, so I can’t put him down for a nap prior to that, so he is forced to stay awake for 3 hours until we get home around 9:10am, then he goes down for his nap. It works out ok, and keeps our nap schedule on track. I don’t know if any of this helps, but just wanted to share since I have the same age baby. Now is you could just send some of your good nighttime sleep karma my way. ;o)

      • Oh and I should add, that the one hour rule doesn’t apply to the 3rd nap of the day (if yours is still taking 3 naps). That 3rd nap is supposed to be short (~30 mins) just to make it through the rest of the evening until bedtime.

        • Thanks so much! That is good advice. What if the earlier naps have still be 40 mins. Like today, he is already up from his second nap since both were only 40 mins. So for the third, would you leave him an hour since he hasn’t even had two hours to sleep yet?

          • hmmm…I honestly don’t know what to do in that situation. Personally I would be hesitant to force a longer nap that late in the day because it might affect his nighttime sleep. If he does sleep longer than 30-40 minutes for the 3rd nap, then I would just let him. But obviously you know him better. Also, there is a sleep chart on this site somewhere that has the normal range of sleep for each age group. Your son may be well within the normal range of sleep even with the 40 minute naps + his 12 hours at night. Just something to consider… ;o)

          • I will let my LO sleep a little longer if the earlier naps are crappy. I just make sure to wake her at an appropriate time to preserve bedtime (for her it’s 2.5 hours before bedtime). The worst is when she wakes up too early and I know she’s going to have a meltdown before bedtime, so I have to either figure out a way to sneak in a catnap, or use the varsity method to get her to sleep a little longer!

    • I’m going to vote for – “you are worried about nothing.” Things sound great! I would stick with the consistent 9:00 AM nap as it sounds like it’s going great and at this age consistency is your friend. Definitely try mixing up the food (nursing closer to nap or whathaveyou) to rule out the possibility that he’s hungry. But I think he’s doing fantastically well.

      I think Christina’s thoughts are great too. Leave him in the crib after a short nap to see what happens! If he’s just screaming in there for 30 minutes then no, probably not a great plan. But sometimes babies will scream for 5-10 minutes and then sleep for another 30. So it’s something to experiment with now and then for sure!

  35. Hi Alexis,

    I read you mentioning white noise a lot can you clarify? .

    What/when and how you/Husband used it ?

    What did you use to provide white noise? Do you leave the white noise on all
    night? and until what age?

    Thank you in advance!

  36. Hi Alexis,

    Love your blog – I have spent many sleepless nights reading it in desperation, and it has provided me with some much-needed laughs! I have recently been struggling big-time with #5; I have a 5 1/2 month old who was doing okay sleep-wise until about a month ago (I was putting him down drowsy but awake, and if he fell asleep before I got him to the crib, I would do the ‘wake & sleep’ and he’d briefly open his eyes before drifting off). But recently, he will wake up fully as soon as I set him down (or after 10 minutes of being asleep). He is still swaddled, and we use white noise. And the dreaded pacifier.

    Last night, after him waking up every 30 minutes to 2 hours, I know something needs to change – but I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. He goes to bed between 6-7 pm (after bath, boob, book), and on a good night, wakes up twice to feed. One problem is that I don’t know when his real waking time is; he often wakes up babbling around 5am, but if I leave him for 10-15 minutes, then he starts crying hysterically and never goes back to sleep on his own. If I go to him, he’ll often go back to sleep, so his waking time seems to be anywhere between 5 am and 8 am. Naps are generally short (30-45 minutes), with one longer one (~ 1.5 hours) in late morning. One other problem is that he often wakes up from his last nap of the day at around 3pm, and if I try putting him down after that, he’ll struggle but eventually fall asleep for the night – clearly 4:30pm is too early!

    I know you don’t have time to do a sleep consultation for everyone that writes a comment on your website, but if anything leaped out at you as the first thing to do, I would love to hear it. e.g., should I lose the pacifier immediately? Or work on putting him down awake first? Try a dream feed? And if anyone else has had a similar situation, I am all ears.


    • Well I think a few things which might help:

      1) Wakes up all night long = pacifier problem. Sad but true. Check the post below for more deets.
      2) Lots of babies need a late nap but won’t take one. Answer? Go for a walk, drive, baby wearing, etc. Whatever you need to do to break up that looong stretch before bedtime. It doesn’t need to be a MAMMOTH nap, just enough to take the edge off.

      But yeah the night waking is, I believe, all about the paci and trying to night wean/dream feed/etc. isn’t going to solve anything really, as long as the paci is in the mix 🙁

  37. Hi Alexis,

    This is the first time I have ever wrote on a blog. I’m desperate and at my wits end! My daughter is 8 months old. I’m looking for advice on her night time sleeping and naps. We have a bedtime routine of a bottle around 6 or 6:30….sometimes she eats 6-7oz sometimes only a few ounces. Then it’s a bath and offer another bottle. She usually doses off while eating bottle but then wakes and we read a few books and turn off the light. I sing her a song and put her in crib awake. She fusses for a little while and then falls asleep. She wakes up at different times throughout the night. Sometimes it is 9pm or 10 or 12 or 1 or 2. She usually wakes up about twice in the night. We give her a bottle whenever she wakes and she goes back asleep. Then is awake anywhere between 4-5:15am. Should we be doing cry it out in the middle of the night? We have tried picking one night feeding and giving her less in the bottle. She takes about 2 naps a day that are currently only half hour or so. They seem to happen at different times. We keep thinking her sleep issue are due to teething or constipation but maybe that is just to make us feel better. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing with her. I feel like she should be on a better schedule. Any advice/help would be so GREATLY appreciated! Please help me!

    Thank you so much,

    • Hey Nicole,

      Babies are hard. It’s not just you 🙂

      But it’s not the teething or constipation. I mean those things will work against you but are not the root issue.

      I think your night waking is standard “night weaning” problems. Check the post below for ideas on how to work on this. I would also add the following:
      – When she wakes offer less food.
      – When she wakes try to gently soothe back to sleep without food
      – Make sure you are offering what soothing you can (white noise, a lovey, etc.)

      If she’s starting the day too early I would do whatever you can to get her to go BACK to sleep. Maybe even putting her in a swing 4:00 AM. Or possibly even reintroducing a swaddle. It’s going to be hard to get on a consistent schedule when her night is so short so think about what possible soothing would help stretch her night more consistently to 5:15 at minimum.

      Then yes at this age you want to work on naps happening at closer to the same time every day. So if she wakes up at 5:15 (fingers crossed) then she would be on target for 3 naps happening at ~8, ~12, and a short mini-nap at ~3. This would then have her back on track for a bedtime at around 7:00 PM.

      Do a nice consistent nap routine, dark room, loud white noise, and possibly a swaddle (yes I realize she’s 8 months but often this helps) at these times. When she wakes up leave her in there for 10-15 minutes – see what happens! If it doesn’t work, try again next week. But yes consistency of naps is going to help get things in a more positive direction.

      Good luck!

    • Thank you do much for reply to me Alexis !!! I will definetley try your advice!


  38. My little man has had acid reflux for quite a while now. And because of that issue, we had to move him from the bassinet into the swing so he would not have reflux all the time. He is much better now, and sleeps through the night in the swing (8 to 10 hours at a time). Now that he is 5 months old, we would like to transition him from the swing to the crib. But here is the kicker: he cannot sleep in there for more than 2 hours at a time now. While in the swing, he was not swaddled, but in the crib we thought he would be better swaddled since he could starddle himself during the night, waking himself up that way. He never liked to be swaddled so I feel we are going backwards now, having to swaddle when we did not really do it except in the bassinet during the first month and a half of his life. When he wakes up, he is awake for 2 hours at a time, and we tried to put him in a sleep sack, feed him, change his diaper, leave him in the room to calm himself down, hold him to try to make him fall asleep…If he ends up falling back to sleep, he wakes up again, and again, and this is an endless battle. We both work full time and we are really having a hard time trying different things night after night. We are having a hard time keep trying since we are so tired and need to sleep to be able to function during the day. Not sure if you could provide some insight but it would be fantastic.

    • I would leave him in the swing!! Sounds like he’s sleeping awesome in there but crappy elsewhere, so he’s probably not ready for the change. My LO has reflux as well, and the swing is much better for them than a crib. You can try to slowly wean him off the motion of a moving swing and if that works, then you know it’s more of a reflux issue than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with him staying in a swing until he outgrows the reflux, just make sure it’s a safe swing and he’s strapped in. Don’t let anyone pressure you or make you feel bad about it! I got so much criticism but I was probably the most well rested mom in my circle so I didn’t care. As for a swaddle, if he didn’t need one in the swing, he probably doesn’t need one in the crib either, and it doesn’t sound like it’s helping anyways.

  39. Just wondering what the thoughts are on artificially darkening the baby’s room for daytime sleep? We just have regular blinds in his room so it can be quite bright. I didn’t originally want him to have to nap in total darkness b/c it seemed like a sleep crutch to me but because of nap issues, I am considering this? He is a chronic 40 min napper and I am wondering if he is waking from his sleep cycle and because it is so light, he’s not easily able to fall back asleep?

    • I originally thought the same thing about darkening curtains, but they worked for my son. He was a terrible 30-40 minute napper until 7 1/2 months when I finally broke down and bought blackout curtains. It really helped sort all his sleep out. He was having to take 3-4 naps a day and now he takes 2 of 1-2 hours each. Day sleep helps night sleep and vice versa. So I think it’s worth a try. Good luck.

    • I was using it with my girls untill they were 11 months old. I had to do it – in our previous apartment sun was shining straight into the bedroom window most of the day and regular curtains weren’t enough. I didn’t pull it all the way down though, just enough to make the room darker. Girls were easily napping for 1,5-2,5 hrs.

    • Black out blinds saved my LO’s naps as well! She was also a 40 min napper after coming out of the “newborn” phase where she’d sleep anywhere, and now with the blinds, she sleeps over an hour (usually).

  40. I love this! All so true – I can imagine women all over the world nodding!

    I have definitely been guilty of #1! I am now starting to realise that things could be a whoooole lot worse. However I do have a couple of questions that I would so so appreciate some advice about if you, or anyone, has any thoughts:

    1) NAPS – our 13 week old baby boy isn’t the best napper, 30 mins on the dot every time. His window of wakefulness is about 90 mins and I’ve got a bit better at timing this right. I’ve also got a swing that was delivered today: he had 2 of his naps in there. However, it only extended the nap to 40-45 mins even with white noise, swaddling, paci… Does this sound right? Is that as much as I can hope for or will it take him a while to adjust to sleeping in the swing?

    2) BEDTIME and last nap – I really don’t know what time is bedtime and how long I should leave from last nap to bedtime. For the first maybe 10 weeks we were taking him up to bed with us at about 8:30-9pm. We’ve had a bedtime routine (bath, bottle, bed) from the start. He was having his last nap at 7pm for about 30 mins, so about 90 mins awake before bed.
    BUT I read on one of the comments here that the awake time at this time of day should be longer.
    So if he can’t keep his eyes open at 7pm, should that be his bedtime? Or should we make bedtime later so the time after the nap is longer? I had experimented with gradually bringing bedtime forward and we had it down to 8:15 going down awake, but this has got me all confused about when his last nap should be?

    I had planned to go up for bathtime at 8:00 tonight but at 7pm he crashed out on me so now I don’t know what I’m doing!!

    Thanks in advance for any words of advice anyone may have! :o)

    • Hey Tansy,

      Something else I’ve learned from sleep consults – tired parents are looking at the glass half full. I get it – you’re TIRED. But can I point something out?

      You just improved naps by 50%!!! That’s HUGE! Would it be cool if they went from 30 minutes to 2 hours? Sure it would. But lets pause a moment to bask in the glory of the huge improvement you just made!

      Should his bedtime be 7:00 PM? That’s a toughie. I would play around with it. If he treats it like a nap – OK that’s where you are right now. But if he konks out at 7:00 PM and STAYS asleep then great – there you go.

      Hope that helps!

      • Haha, oh you’re great! Sometimes we need someone to point out what we are doing well, no matter how small, as its SO easy to obsess about what isn’t working as well as we’d like! Thank you for that!

        Bedtime: well we tried doing bath/food/bed when I spotted his sleepy cues at the earlier time tonight (about 6:30) – we put him to bed and… He woke up after 45 mins! So I guess that’s still naptime for him! Hard to believe I had never plucked up the courage before to just try it! This is what is so great about the things you write – they inspire courage and confidence where sleep depravation has drained it from us!

        Thank you!

  41. Sounds like there are many of us with close in age babies having the same issues. It’s comforting somehow to know that I am not alone in my fear/ uncertainty/exhaustion. Thank you Alex for giving us a place that is so very helpful and encouraging.

    DS is almost 8 months. He was a nighttime Moses basket then crib sleeper until 4.5 months when the ugly regression hit. We co- slept to survive it until a month ago and now he is sleeping with 0-1 wake ups in his crib. Sounds great, right?

    Here’s the sticky wickets: He is up FOR THE DAY between 4-5am. Any attempts to get him to go back down are futile. Bedtime is 6-630pm. We tried moving that and it made no difference on wake up time. And the big ick is naps are CRAPOLA. Always have been. He will nap on the boob, in the car seat, stroller or Ergo but no where else and then it’s 27 minutes. If we are really lucky we get 50 minutes but that’s usually in the car.


    • 4 AM is uncivilized by any measure. I’m incapable of human speech prior to at least 6:30 AM. So I don’t envy you at all.

      The good news is that his night is a solid 10-11 hours so it’s a good length. The bad news is that it’s shifted so that you’re stuck getting up at odarkhundred. And this is compounded by super short naps.

      Here’s what I would do (and no you won’t like it but if you try for 1 week I promise you improvement). ONE WEEK. Commit (see post above – yes?)
      – I would do naps in swing with swaddle and white noise. He clearly likes motion. Work with it. Yes you thought you were done with all this but you aren’t. Embrace it.
      – Make naps happen at the SAME TIME EVERY DAY. If he wakes up at 5:00 AM the his naps would be at 8, 12, and 3. Do a big consistent wind down ~20 minutes prior to nap.
      – Make sure he’s not hungry (no E.A.S.Y. plan for you)
      – Do this for 1 week. Every day.

      If he wakes up at 4:00 AM I would try to get him back to sleep by co-sleeping or the swing. If it’s not happening OK so be it. Try for ~20 minutes then admit defeat.

      1 week. Let me know what happens (but not prior to 1 week) OK?

      • Thanks so much for your response. Our swing has been languishing in the basement because DS always hated it. We dropped the swaddle at 5 months and never looked back so this makes me super nervous to have to re-wean down the road. Is that even a word? We are going away for a week ( am terrified we will mess it all up with a travel crib but that’s another story) so I will give this the ole college try when we get back and report our results. You, my dear, are a saint.

  42. Totally hit home! We have an 8 month old, and could never muster the courage to commit to a sleep method that involves crying. Just figured we would endure and he would eventually learn to sleep through the night all on his own. But the tricks that used to work (nursing, rocking, bouncing) don’t seem to work as effectively anymore when he wakes up several times a night, sometimes wide awake and refusing to fall back asleep. I always worry that maybe he can’t sleep because he’s teething/too hot/too cold/too whatever. But I think we’re nearing the conclusion that he just needs to learn how to fall asleep on his own. Now we just need to make that leap….

    • Good news – you know why he’s up all night! He needs to fall asleep on his own. And while this may be scary for you look at the bright side. There are hundreds of thousands of people struggling out there (see the message boards on BabyCenter) who don’t even KNOW what the root issue is. Who DO think it’s too hot/too cold. And thus they’re working to fix things that aren’t going to make a difference.

      So you know the issue and that’s half the battle.

  43. Hi Alexis,
    I think #2 really made me get serious about ditching the pacifier, but after 2 days, I’m really doubting myself.

    I have a 4.5 mo old daughter who was nursed to sleep until about a month ago. I knew that that would eventually become a problem, so when I was unable to get her to sleep without nursing, I gave her a pacifier for sleep. I was able to put her down awake with it, and she would go to sleep on her own 9 times out of ten. I was so determined to stop the nursing to sleep, and figured that I would tackle the pacifier thing later. Well, its later and I feel so lost.

    Here is where I am at:
    She sleeps 7-7ish. We usually have to replug her at the 45 minute mark after bedtime. She has 3-4 naps during the day, always 45 minutes, sometimes in the crib and sometimes in the swing. I use white noise and she has a lovey and a blackout blind over her window.

    Here is what I did:
    2 nights ago, I did bedtime routine (bath, jammies, book, song, bed). I didn’t give her the paci but I stayed and did some shhing and patting and she eventually fell asleep after about 20 minutes. I had to go back in and shh/pat a couple of times in the first hour or so but then she slept all the way through. The next day, she went down for her first nap with no paci (just her lovey) and slept 45 minutes. I wasn’t able to get her to nap without the paci after that and I think she ended up overtired?? because I kept trying but eventually gave it to her for her naps for the rest of the day. Then last night at bedtime it took me 30 minutes of shh/pat to get her to go to sleep without it, but then she woke up again and I was really struggling and doubting my plan. My husband said I should either give her the paci or let her cry it out ( leaving her alone), so I gave her the paci and felt terrible because after all the crying I had accomplished nothing. She woke up another 3 times for it during the night. She does’t usually do this but I think the whole dramatic scene left her overtired.

    Here are my questions:
    1. Is it okay to give her the paci for naps and not for bedtime (so she gets rested enough to do the paci detox at bedtime)?.

    2. Is this the best time to do this? Should I wait and see if it starts to become a problem? Right now it really isn’t a problem – most nights she gets replugged once in the first hour and then sleeps right through. What do you think my odds are that we won’t end up doing the paci shuffle if we aren’t already?? (I think we have already been through the 4 mo. regression). When I am standing over my crying baby at bedtime, I really start to doubt that this is even necessary…. then I read your blog some more and decide it is…. rinse, repeat. Should I keep trying?????

    I have so appreciated your blog – it has been by far the best resource for me as a new mom. I had no idea what a worrisome and confusing place motherhood could be. Thank you for Troublesome Tots!!!

    • I would love to know the answer to question 2 so I am writing a comment to get notified when Alexis relies 🙂

    • 1. Yes. For now keep the paci for naps but work on paci-free bedtime.

      2. Now. I have no science to back me up but there is a % of babies who CAN go to sleep the paci and it never becomes a problem. But it’s a relatively small % of babies. I’m guessing ~5-15%. So if you keep the paci you’re effectively playing baby sleep roulette. If you win (5-15% of the time) you never have to deal with the paci – YAY! If you loose baby sleep roulette you end up with a sleep deprived baby and often end up in cryitoutsville.

      So personally my advice is to not play baby sleep roulette.

      • Hi Alexis, – I just wanted to give an update about the success I have had for anyone who is looking to get their baby off the pacifier at night. I have read literally every word on your website but I realized yesterday that I haven’t been taking all your advice. So yesterday when my daughter was totally fighting a nap, I dragged the swing to her room, swaddled her and stuck her in it with her pacifier. I don’t think she has been swaddled since she was a month old. Let me just say that 4 HOURS LATER, I went in and turned the swing off to encourage her to wake up. I then ran out and bought two velcro swaddle wraps which I used in the swing for all of her naps today. But the best news is that I put her to bed in her crib tonight in her swaddle with NO PACIFIER and she WENT TO SLEEP!!!!! I am beyond thrilled. It seemed that only one day ago I did not have a hope of getting this kid to sleep at night sans pacifier without a lot of tears and I was dreading what was to come. I don’t know why I always sort of ignored the swaddle advice. I think I was worried that she was too big and she would get out of it or hate it. You have written that with enough soothing, the loss of the pacifier may go unnoticed…. and I was like “yeah, right!”. Well, yeah, you are right.
        So…. seriously, people. SWADDLE THAT BABY!!!!
        Alexis, you are my hero.

  44. Hi Alexis!
    I need your help! My 15 week old baby boy is so inconsistent with his sleeping! I stay home with him and most days we don’t leave the house because I want him to get his naps. He’ll take a few 45min-1 hour ones and sometimes he’ll take a very long one – like really long, I usually wake him at the 3 hour mark. Unfortunately the long nap days coincide with crappy sleep nights. He goes to bed around 8 every night with the same routine – bath, lotion/pjs, nursing and then he’ll wake up at either 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 or 3:30. And then wake from there every 2-3 hours. So when he wakes up at 12:30 it makes me want to cry. The 3:30 nights are glorious but are few and far between. Is there any way I can get him to be more consistent? I feel like I’m planning my life around his sleeping only to get to real result. I feel like it all happens by chance. I try and put him down awake. He’s swaddled and sleeps in his swing with loud white noise.
    Should I not be waking him from his mega long naps? Please help!! I am desperate.

    • Hi Ivy,

      Congratulations on your baby boy.

      I don’t have much in the way of advice (it sounds like you are doing all the right things with consistent bed time routine and sleep cues) but I thought I would try and offer some encouragement from a little further down the tracks (7 months):

      Your baby sounds totally normal, and like you are doing a great job. They wake a ton at night. The fact he goes to sleep at 8pm at that age is AWESOME. The fact he ever takes a nap longer than 45 minutes at his age is AWESOME (my son still rarely sleeps longer than this). At nearly 4 months I think he is being pretty consistent – it is AWESOME to get that stretch the begining of the night, even 4.5 hours is amazing (I still rarely get that!!).

      I personally wouldnt wake him up from a nap unless you think it is going to interfere with bed time.

      Basically, I don’t mean to discourage you because I know it’s REALY REALLY hard (it is still really hard for me), and you are desperate for them to start sleeping 12 hours a night, but it sounds like you guys are doing really well and therefore you might find more peace (and sleep for yourself) to know that.

      With regards to tip toe-ing around baby’s day sleep too much – will he nap in his buggy? Or in the sling so you can get out? I really think being the parent of a 15 week baby is about doing things to keep YOU sane, so that you can look after him as best as you can. Therefore personally I had to find a way to make it work to get out and about and not worry too much if the naps were all 45 mins (45mins is GOOD!!).

      That is just my two penny worth anyway – everytime we get to the next “stage” I look back and wish I had worried less about the one before, and enjoyed more of the good things about it. But then I promptly start worrying about the next stage so I can’t take my own advice.

      Keep on working on “put down awake” – i honestly think that’s the most positive thing you can do to know you are working towards a future of sleep.

      • Lisa – can I just say how much I love you?!?!


        There is some plugin that will let people put gold stars on a comment (just like when you were in kindergarden). If I had it I would be plastering your comment with gold stars.

        Cheers 🙂

  45. Alexis, I love your blog. I’ve been reading and re-reading it over and over trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. My 5 1/2 month old baby boy has a major sleep/suck association. I’m at my wits end. We co-sleep and he wakes 4-5 times a night wanting to nurse back to sleep. This is just the start of my problem…ha! He has now decided not only does he want me to nurse him back to sleep, but I must also get up and walk and nurse him. He cries and cries until I do so. He is so demanding! I lose an hour or 2 every night doing this. I’ve tried the swing, I’ve tried putting him in it asleep, awake, swaddled… he hates it all. I’m at a total loss. Naps are not fun either, it’s a full on nursing session for only about 20 mins of sleep. I am at his beck and call.. and then some. Problem is, I have 3 other children to tend to as well, not to mention my disasterous house that needs cleaning. Any thoughts on where I should start? Thanks so much.

    • When my house is a disaster I start with the bathroom as that is always the grossest place.

      Oh wait – that isn’t what you meant when you asked where to start. OK.

      This is a tough age to make major change (in an ideal scenario you would be asking about your 3 month old). But OK here we go:

      He’s got to start napping. He’s sleep deprived and that makes EVERYTHING else harder. So how to do it? Let’s focus on this (otherwise I’ll be writing 1,000 pages). Here’s you’re 7 day “get things going on the nap front” plan.
      – It’s time to get consistent. Like super duper seriously consistent.
      – Naps need to happen at the same time throughout the day. I’m going to guess this is roughly ~2 hours after she last slept. So if she wakes up at 6:00 AM then it’s time to do naps at 8:00 AM.
      – You need to do a consistent wind-down routine that is really soothing and don’t skimp – at least 15 minutes. Turn on TV for older sibs if you have to.
      – She needs to sleep in the same place. DARK room, LOUD white noise. If it were me I would swaddle baby, THEN nurse to sleep, THEN sneak into swing. All of this should be happening in the dark room with the white noise blasting.

      I know you say he hates it but most often people try something a few times then give up. This is why I’m suggesting you commit to ONE WEEK of THE SAME THING. He’s a bit old for swaddle + swing but he clearly likes motion and lots of soothing.

      – I don’t care how long he sleeps. Even if it’s 10 minutes you go, “YAY! Naps have happened.” Reset the clock for 2 hours then do the whole thing again).

      – If he wakes up while transitioning him I would try the varsity stuff in the post below.

      I can imagine you arguing with my plan, “But he hates the swaddle! It’ll never work! I can’t spend that much time because my older kids will destroy the house while I’m fuddling about 6X a day!”

      It’s not easy, I get that. Use TV. Call in favors from a neighbor. Set up playdates. If you want to turn this ship around it’s time to commit to a plan and work the plan for 1 week.

      So anyhoo….that’s what I would do.

      • DO IT! I had this baby at 5 months old. I wish I had known better when he was 3 months but I didn’t. I was convinced he hated the swing but once we went “varsity” he FINALLY napped somewhere other than the baby carrier, while being bounced. This is absolutely your first step. Commit to it. You can do it at bedtime too. Good luck!

  46. I love this website and can really identify with this post, especially being afraid of change! My 14 week old baby is a pretty great sleeper now (thanks to Alexis’s AWESOME advice – she started out sleeping only 30-45 minutes at a time!!). With loud white noise, swaddle, and swing, she now sleeps from about 7 pm – 5 or 6 am, with typically just one wake up sometime between 12-2 am (usually only awake about 20-30 min to eat and then back to sleep). It is great!! She also goes into the swing awake for naps and will typically sleep about 45 minutes each time, which I am ok with at her age. All of this is great, and I am SO grateful for the wonderful advice here that got us to this point.

    My question is this – she goes to sleep in a non-moving swing at night now and sleeps the first stretch, but after waking up for a feeding about 1 am, the swing must be turned back on to get her to go back to sleep. The swing also has to be on for naps. I am considering a move to the crib for night sleep only at this point, but keep hesitating because she still needs the motion for at least part of the night. Do I need to wait until she can sleep all night in the non moving swing before moving to the crib, or can I let her sleep half the night in the crib and then move to the swing (swing is already beside the crib)? Will this be confusing and mess up her great sleeping habits that we have worked so hard to establish? I want to move her to the crib, but am terrified to mess up the good thing we have going!! Also, if I do move to the crib, is it okay to rock to sleep at the 1 am feeding and then put her back in the crib because that might also work (or maybe not…). Right now, she goes back into the swing awake and falls asleep in about 5 minutes on her own.

    Another question – she doesn’t take a paci at night (which I am really happy about), but seems to need it for naps and won’t fall asleep without it. Is this ok or should I work on getting rid of it at naptime too?

    Any advice, suggestions, pep talks, etc. would be much appreciated!

    • See post below for paci stuff.

      Hmm…I’m leaning towards consistency – having her stay in the same place all night. Move to the crib when she doesn’t need the swing on at 1:00 AM. I don’t think it’s a disaster to switch sleep spots mid-way but I’m thinking it’s slightly better to wait.

      I would wait a week. Also test the waters a little. What happens if you put her awake in a non-moving swing at night? What happens if you push the swing a little and then let it come to a rest? Think of this like an experiment. I would play around a little – see what happens. My guess is that you aren’t far off from her sleeping ALL night in a non-moving swing and then voila – you’re ready for cribdom!

      • Thanks for the quick response! I will start trying to put her back into a non moving swing when she wakes at night and see how it goes. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and she would not go to sleep unless the swing was on, but hopefully, things will change soon. Honestly, I am just so tired and lazy at 1-2 am that it’s hard to come up with the energy to try new things even though I know I need to (also very scared to change what I know works….) I know the swing works, so I just turn it on every night so I can go back to bed even when I know I should try to do something different. I really do think we are almost there, though, because several nights she has woken early (before midnight) and has gone back to sleep in the non-moving swing without me ever going in the room. I just heard her whining (not crying) for a few minutes over the monitor and then silence again! So, I hope that the crib will be in the near future for us (assuming we don’t get hit too hard by the 4 month sleep regression which is probably right around the corner….aaaahhh, it never ends!)

        • Quick update – last night, baby woke at 1:30 am and after feeding, I put her back in the non-moving swing for the first time after a night waking and….she fell asleep immediately with no pacifier or anything!! Yay! I was terrified to change ANYTHING, but things actually went pretty well.

          It wasn’t perfect because she woke again about 3:30 am, but I quickly ran in her room and turned the swing on and got her to go back to sleep until about 5:30 am. So, we haven’t made it all night without the swing moving, but are making real progress toward that goal! Thank you so much! I plan to keep doing this until she can sleep until at least 5 am (my minimum wake up time for a civilized person) in a non-moving swing and then try for the crib.

  47. Hi Alexis,

    After many challenges, some sleep training and night weaning, my almost 7 month old son sleeps from about 7-730 pm to 5-530 am. I give him a quick feeding and then he goes back down until about 7-730 am. My question is: Dr. W recommends that you wake your baby up no later than 7 am. I give my son until 715-730 but, if he is still sleeping, I do wake him up in order to protect our ‘schedule’. It seems to work for him but I am just wondering…do I need to wake him up? Also, sometimes, he will sleep for 3 hours in the afternoon and I will wake him up at the 3 hour mark. Do I ever need to wake a sleeping baby as per Dr. W?

    I know it sounds as though my baby sleeps like a dream…but I just want to let you know that it took us a while to get here and required alot of diligence, rigidity, and learning from our mistakes. Your blog helped me ALOT. So, thank you 🙂

    • Until she dropped the second nap we totally woke baby (now almost 1 yr old) up in the morning and from naps to protect the schedule. We did: wake at 7 am, down for nap at 10, wake at 11:30, down for nap at 2:30, wake at 4, bed at 7. Now that she’ taking only one nap we can let her sleep until she’s done without affecting bedtime. Early bedtime is very important in our house for parental sanity 🙂
      Congrats on your rockstar sleeper!

    • Personally I wouldn’t wake him up. I don’t like to wake up babies unless:
      – It’s messing with their night sleep (this is RARE)
      – You’re protecting a consistent bedtime.

      So an extra 30 minutes in the morning is just fine – he’s a 12.5 hour night sleeper – FANTASTIC!

      I would wake him up in the afternoon if a mongo nap means he won’t be ready for bed at whatever your consistent bedtime is. So if he’s still snoozing much past 4:00 and that’s going to throw off your 7:00 PM bedtime I would definitely wake him up.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thanks!
        Yes, this helps.
        Today he slept 3 hours in the afternoon (12:30-3:30). I just let him sleep until he woke up, ditched the late afternoon catnap, and had him in bed at 6:30 pm as he was starting to get tired at 6 pm (usually bedtime is between 6:30 and 7:15ish).

        Cheers 🙂

  48. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information on this site. My little girl is 5 months old (in two days) and has never been a great sleeper, but the past 4 nights have been terrible. She always wakes up ~30 minutes after you put her down, no matter what. Occasionally she will put herself back to sleep, but more often than not, I will have to rock her back to sleep. However, the past four nights, she is barely able to sleep more than 1 hour at a time. Unfortunately, I am the only one who is allowed to comfort her these past few nights as well, as she screams at my husband when he tries to comfort her, and that results in her being awake for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night. Could this be teething? She acts absolutely fine (and happy, smiles, etc.) during the day. I’m exhausted, and I know that ‘this too shall pass’, but I am looking for any advice you may have on this. She is not acting sick at all during the day. Also any guidance on how to reduce her waking up 30 minutes after being put down would be great, as well. We currently rock her to sleep for naps and when we put her down at night, and I only nurse her to sleep in the middle of the night. Thank you!

  49. Wow! This sleep blog has made such a difference for us. I’m so excited about the progress we’ve made in the last couple of weeks. However, we’ve still got a ways to go.

    I’m all about consistency as a behavior specialist. I can make a 5 year-old with Bipolar disorder do what I tell her (I’ve had hours-long battles over eating a piece of fruit where I stay consistent and gentle), but I’m struggling with it with my little guy. I think in the last few days I’ve discovered that it’s really because I don’t know if what I’m doing is right or helpful, so when it’s not working, I cave.

    My little guy turns 3 months old today, and has been sleeping relatively well at night (except today, poor guy is sick). He goes down (with me…) at about 9, and sleeps until about 7:30. He wakes up 2-3 times a night to eat, but falls back asleep easily and on his own (other than that he’s in my bed). He does a short wake time, and then naps. We nap 4-6 times a day, but they’re mostly short ‘crappy’ naps, usually 30 minutes. I nap him in the swing. We do a book and a few minutes of rocking, then into the swing. I have to stay in the room with him, and he’ll drift off. If I leave, even if his eyes are almost shut, he starts screaming. Which, of course, is why, when he wakes up after his first sleep cycle and doesn’t see me, he gets mad. In a desperate attempt to lengthen naps, I’ve started going in right before I think he’ll wake up and sitting in that same spot. It works about 1/2 the time. Any other suggestions to help lengthen naps? I know you say not to worry too much before 6 months, but I’d still like to try any suggestions.

    As for night sleep, I have two issues. I don’t want to complain too much, because he is doing so much better than he was, but I’d like to fix two things.

    1. By 6 months or so, I’d like him out of my bed. I know it’s harder the longer I wait, so I want to start working on it now. He doesn’t sleep swaddled (I think I read to never swaddle a co-sleeper for safety), but we do use white noise, and I never let him nurse to sleep. He rarely uses a pacifier. The first time he goes down, it takes awhile and some fussing to fall asleep, the other times (I have to change diapers twice a night–he’s a champion popper), he falls asleep very easily.

    2. I’ve tried to move bedtime earlier, to about 7:30 or 8, but when he goes down around then (even after our bedtime routine–bath, breast, book, rock, bed), he only sleeps 45 minutes, wakes up, and takes at least an hour to fall asleep, so essentially asleep by 9. Should I give in and just have bedtime be 9, or is there some way to move it earlier without essentially getting a last nap in? What is appropriate at 3 months?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these questions. I am so grateful for your (realistic) advice!

    • Hi there! Just to share my 2 cents: it really sounds like you are doing GREAT on every front to me. Well on your way to great things in a few months. My advice is that you have a kid whose bedtime is 9 pm with a nap at 7:30, and just go with that for now. It will shift but probably not for a few more months, like 6 months old. I think my son’s real bedtime was in the 9 pm range all the way through 4-5 months ish.

      You are doing AWESOME on fall-asleep-alone. As for transferring out of co-sleeping, the swing is your friend. I suggest putting him in the swing at bedtime just as you do at naps, and leaving him there until he wakes up the first time, then take him to sleep with you if that’s what you want. Over time you can work towards falling asleep in a slower and slower moving swing, then a nonmoving swing, then a crib where hopefully he will stay for a good long time or even all night.

      Finally, the short naps. My only advice is maybe swaddle in the swing if you’re not already, plus tincture of time and prayers to the gods of your choice. 🙂 This is developmental and it will improve.

      (PS everything I know I learned from this website and from having a totally normal but extremely bad sleeping child, now age 16 months and sleeping fine, which is miraculous.)


  50. Hi Alexis,
    Really love you website. Thank you very much for what you are doing here. I wish I new about your contest on Facebook. This will be a somewhat negative post, not to discourage other parents, but with the hope that you will tell me that things are not that bad, and perhaps give me some suggestions to improve our situation.

    Well, I thought our sleeping issues couldn’t go worse and decided to do CIO a month and a half ago. My son was 7 months 1 week then. Now, at almost 9 months, if things are not worse, they are not much better either. I’m so tired and exhausted that I feel like I cannot think well, cannot come up with a good plan.

    Before CIO he slept till 5.30, sometimes 6am, took two 1.5-hour naps and 1 shorter nap in the evening. Putting him to sleep was a pleasant experience – he fell asleep at my breast (I knew it wouldn’t last forever). Why did I do CIO? He used to wake up every hour at night which I couldn’t stand any longer.

    After we’ve been doing CIO for a month and a half, he wakes up 3-4 times a night to eat which is great. BUT he is still not falling asleep on his own at night. He does at some nights though. Every night I’m scared when the time to put him to sleep is approaching because I do not know how long he will cry and I’m so tired of hearing him cry. He wakes up at 3.30-4am every morning (starting the morning of the 3rd day of CIO). 2 weeks ago he started crying for an hour or an hour and half after one middle of the night waking most of the nights (but not all). I breastfeed, leave him and he cries for that long, and it does not get better. Three days ago I started CIO in the morning till 6am. So, now in addition to everything he is very fussy in the morning and does not want me leave him or the room he is in. I’m not sleeping more than I used to..which is 5-6 hours of interrupted sleep a night. For some people (like my mom, for example), it is ok. I need at least 8 hours of sleep to be able to function during the day and enjoy my baby, too. Also, after we started CIO my son has been taking catnaps and only glued to my boob. When can I start nap training? Everywhere I read they say to control nights first. Also, I’m not sure I can handle more crying from my little guy.

    Now, tonight I am going to start cutting out night feedings the way you suggest. I have bought a clock that projects time on the wall/ceiling and I will feed him 1 min less each time. I have questions on the method for you. Can I work on all night feeding sessions at the same time, or should I do one at a time? He wakes up at random times, except the last one, the one at 3.30-4am after which he cannot fall asleep. I’m not sure what to do with this waking. I have also noticed that he wakes up more if I give more solids (which I never give much). So, now I’m afraid to give him solids and he is 9 months old!

    Alexis, do you have any suggestions for us?
    Thank you!

    • I want to specify about the 3.30-4am waking. I believe, he wakes up to eat and then cannot fall asleep. I’m trying to put him to sleep nursing and it works once in a blue moon. Should I cut out this feeding as well? If I do CIO at this waking, should I nurse and leave him, or not go into his room at all?

    • So, I have decided to cut out his night feedings. Well, tonight he woke up only once(!) at 11pm. Then I dreamfed him at 3am hoping it will prevent him from waking up at 4, but it did not. So, how do I cut out his night feedings if he is so random?

      I have reread my post, and noticed I have forgotten some information.
      1. My son is a high-need baby. I always suspected that he had reflux although he has never been officially diagnosed.
      2. He is a snacker due to vomiting very often till 6 months old. He still does but not as often.
      3. He slept in the moving swing nights and naps till 7 months old.
      4. He sleeps about 12 hours a day now but he is fussy and sensitive and wants me with him most of the day, especially in the second half of the day.

      Can’t wait for your opinion, Alexis. Thank you.

      • Hi Olya! Three things from a mama who has TOTALLY BEEN THERE.

        1. I can’t tell from your description but I have a suspicion that although you’ve been doing CIO, your son still has a very strong suck-to-sleep association and I suspect it’s because you don’t have enough time between nursing and going into the bed. This is the HARDEST part but it’s critical. You need to wait 20 minutes from the end of nursing before he goes into his bed. That time should be spent singing songs, stories, whatever. If you are nursing him and then going straight into the crib, fixing that will be HUGE progress. I predict it will result in less “random times” waking and a more predictable 2 or 3 wakings per night. Fingers crossed, but this is the first step.

        2. Once you have more predictable amount of wakings, only work on ONE night feeding at a time, one minute per night. I did the middle one (2 am ish) first but that’s totally up to you. We got stuck for a week or 2 at 6 minutes but eventually made it down to 2-3 minutes, then stopped entirely. FOr a WHOLE MONTH after that, my son would wake up like clockwork at 2 am, cry for 5 minutes, and go back to sleep. He wasn’t hungry and that eventually stopped.

        I have actually continued night feedings at 10:30 and 5 am ever since then because I like it and he likes it and we all sleep fine. My little guy is 16 months and we’re now nearly done with the 10:30 one. This is a way more “gentle” approach that works for me, but you can keep going through the feedings as Alexis recommends also if you want a full 12 hours for your kiddo.

        3. IT WILL GET BETTER! Hang in there. I felt like it would never improve in the 7-9 months range but all is well for us now. One step at a time. Oh and P.S. once nursing was separated from bedtime, naps got easier too. We never did “nap training” per se, but after we KNEW he could go to sleep without nursing we would test the waters for 5-10 minutes and he never cried more than that. If he does, it means something is wrong that needs fixing and then he’ll sleep.

        Good luck to you. 🙂

      • One more thing: CIO is for BEDTIME. This is when his extreme tiredness works in your favor so that he won’t need to cry very long before falling asleep. I do not recommend leaving him to cry for long periods at night wakings. His problem is that he doesn’t know how to fall asleep on his own–once he learns this skill (at bedtime) middle of the night crying will decrease dramatically. He will eat, feel better, and then fall back asleep. In the meantime, before he learns the fall-asleep skill, it sounds like you’re having a very rough time in the middle of the night. Go ahead and do what you need to do to get him back to sleep at those times. After 2-3 days of separating nursing from bedtime, things will almost certainly get better.

        Make sense? I hope so. My heart really goes out to you–I know how hard it is!

        • Alexis, I’m sorry, I think I posted this as a separate post as well, by accident.

          Thank you, Kate, for your response. I normally feed my son about 10 min before bedtime for a few week. I did try feeding him 30 min before bedtime for a couple of weeks. Both ways, we had some good nights (when he went down with no peep) and bad nights (with a lot of crying). I did not notice much difference, honestly. Also, when I was feeding 30 min before bed, night wakings were random as well. Last night and tonight I started feeding him 20 min before bed, following your suggestion. We’ll see.

          In the middle of the night, he normally eats and goes back to sleep. He eats with his eyes open and when I put him down he is awake. He sometimes plays with my hair while I’m carrying him back to his crib, and then he falls asleep with no peep. Therefore, it seems to me that he has learned how to fall asleep on his own. I have also calculated – out of 7 weeks of doing CIO (approx. 50 days), 22 nights he fell asleep on his own with no peep. The question is then – why does some nights (including the last two weeks) he is either hysterical or cries a lot before falling asleep? Is it possible that I’m putting him to bed when he is not ready yet? I usually put him down 3-3.5 hours after his last nap and he looks tired. For a week or so I tried to make a 10-15 min break and repeat our bedtime routine if he starts crying as soon as we approach the crib (thinking that he may not be ready yet). Usually after the second routine he went down without a peep. It is all a puzzle to me. I wonder how other parents figure out their babies. But I’m trying.

          Also, we do not have a schedule during the day (like nap at 9am, bedtime at 6pm, etc.). He wakes up anywhere between 3.30 and 5.30 am and his naps can be anywhere from 15 min to an hour (rarely more than an hour). I’m trying to put him to bed from 5 to 6pm but it is hard to maintain a somewhat regular bedtime I’m wondering if having no strict schedule affects his crying at night. Do I need to establish one? and if so, how do I do it with random wake-up times and naps?

          I have one more question/concern. My son started crying as soon as we enter his bedroom in the evening and he realizes it is time to go to bed, then fusses on and off during the routine, especially at the end. Is it because he knows he will be left alone? Is there some other reason?

          Sorry for such a long comment.

      • I forgot to mention that my little guy has been teething. One of the top front teeth came through a couple of days ago, and past night the other top front tooth and the one next to it came through as well. I’m trying to give Tylenol religiously.

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