How to Get Baby to Sleep Better- Part I

February 18, 2011 |  by  |  0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, featured, newborn
Baby Sleeping

If you are reading baby sleep books (everybody has one and if you’re searching for help online I’m guessing you probably have three) at some point I guarantee you will find this line:

Put your baby down while they are still awake.

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? I mean why are all these monkeys struggling with this whole baby sleep thing. Why would you rock, nurse, etc. your baby to sleep for months (years?) when there is a much simpler alternative to the whole baby sleep slave routine. Just put them down in their crib where they will smile and coo at you for a moment before they gratefully drift off to sleep comforted in the knowledge that their parents are wondrously talented and caring individuals.

But what happens if “put them down awake” isn’t working for you?

This is the start of a 3-part series focused on how to get your newborn baby to sleep. Although the techniques discussed here are targeted mainly to newborns (0-3 months) they can also be used for older babies up to 6 months.

Everybody Sleeps Great in the Womb

Babies sleep just fine in there. The problems start when they come out. So lets start looking at what is going on in your belly.


The womb is LOUD

Like Black Eyed Peas concert loud. Your bedroom, even with that stuffed sheep that makes whale noises at your baby, is library quiet compared to the rock concert they’ve been listening to for their whole lives.


They’re Squished

Think back to your third trimester (if you’re the Mom, otherwise just play along). You were so full you went to the bathroom 5X an hour. You got heartburn if you ate a raisin. They were stuffed in there tighter than a Thanksgiving turkey.


They’re on the Move

Did the baby kick around that much during the day when you were out and about? No. But as soon as you went to bed it was like your peanut was throwing a rush-week frat party in there.


They’re Upside-Down

Babies move around quite a bit in your stomach but towards check-out time they tend to be head down. Throughout the 9 months they can be spotted in any different position when you peek in at them during ultrasounds.

So our peanuts pop out after spending their whole lives smushed into a ball, hanging upside down, at a rock concert, being constantly swayed to sleep. Two days later we place them flat on their backs, in a giant crib (giant from their point of view anyway), in a deathly silent room, and hope for the best.

Invariably that doesn’t work well (for us, meaning people with troublesome tots, if your newborn slept just fine like that then go gloat elsewhere) and we start sliding down the slope of desperation.

the only way we got baby to sleep

It starts with the growing realization that our newborn baby isn’t sleeping enough and that getting them to fall asleep is not quite as easy as promised in the brochure. The nights are rough, naps are short, and everybody is starting to get scared that nobody will ever really sleep again. And then the real fun begins – we start to do whatever we possibly can to get baby to sleep. I’ve worked with wonderful smart talented families who have been reduced to:

  • Bouncing continuously on an exercise ball while holding the baby
  • Driving in the car for 3 hours a day while baby sleeps (only while the car is moving because of course being able to park and nap, read, talk on the phone means baby wakes up instantly)
  • Letting baby park on the breast the entire time she sleeps*
  • Wearing baby in sling, wrap, bjorn, etc. for hours at a time to encourage sleep*
  • Baby only sleeps ON you (what, you wanted to eat? shower?)
  • Wearing baby in sling while carrying a blow dryer and sticking fingers in baby’s mouth because said baby refuses a pacifier (yes this is me, no it was not a proud moment, but I wanted to make it clear that I’m not laughing AT you I’m laughing WITH you, well not laughing exactly but maybe shuddering a bit and reaching for a glass of whiskey while I try to block out the memory of this photo)

* Please no haters – I am neither anti-nursing nor anti-baby wearing. I am however anti-I’m-doing-this-cuz-nothing-else-works. If you want to take a nice spring day and wear your baby while you go for a hike and he gets a nap, great! However if this is the ONLY way to help your baby sleep and your (insert: back, nipples, etc.) is killing you and you would like an alternative to help baby sleep while you catch a break than read on.

Want your baby to sleep? Then you need to tactically recreate what we know already helps them to sleep because they used to sleep, just fine, without you.

How to Get Baby to Sleep


Don’t let them get over tired.

You may get a few days or even a few weeks of “babymoon” where your baby will literally fall asleep CONSTANTLY. You may even need to wake them up for scheduled feedings for a while (your pediatrician will let you know). You may wonder what all the fuss about “babies being so much work” comes from. But invariably the babymoon ends and suddenly sleep – theirs and yours – becomes a major issue. If your newborn baby is staying awake too long, its going to make it harder for everybody to get the sleep they need.


Swaddle Swaddle Swaddle

It helps A LOT. Especially for the first few months, swaddling your baby will vastly improve your efforts to help baby sleep and reduce crying. They were squished in the tummy. They’re used to it. They like it. Even if you think they don’t. Everything else works better when you start with a good tight swaddle.


Drowning in Silence

White noise is the #1 sleep tactic that parents aren’t using. Its also the best and easiest way to help babies fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Dr. Karp uses shushing as a way to get the white noise rolling, which is great. But you can also outsource the job to loud static played on a old radio (radios are electronic devices that people used to listen to music carried over the airwaves in the olden days). But here there are two keys to utilizing white noise – its got to be loud and continuous. We are aiming for 50 dB which is roughly the volume of somebody taking a shower. This is why I hate the baby white noise generators which barely hum louder than an old refrigerator. Also the sound shouldn’t stop so your timed baby sleep sheep or whale noise CD isn’t going to work (unless it’s on continuous replay). But seriously, don’t waste your money on fancy devices. Go get that old boom box you hid in the basement and plug it into the room where your newborn baby primarily sleeps. Set it to static and dial up the volume.

So we’ll start improving baby sleep by swaddling them whenever they sleep and using loud white noise. And we’ll keep an eye on the watch so that we don’t let too much time pass between naps. These steps alone should help substantially but we aren’t even close to being done.


  1. Happiest Baby on the Block is great! It really works. Every parent should have the DVD, since they will be too tired to read when they first bring their baby home.

    The other important thing to get a baby to sleep through the night very quickly is to make sure he has eaten a full meal. No little snacks. Full meals make allow them to go longer between feedings. If the baby falls asleep as soon as he starts eating, wake him up and give him more food. It might sound cruel, but it is important and it works, and you won’t have to do it for long.

    • Absolutely! In addition to being too exhausted to really read and comprehend, I love the DVD because it’s so much easier to SEE what he is talking about. At least around here most libraries have a copy of both so it’s super easy to get your hands on a copy.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. My baby is 14 weeks old and up until now I haven’t really been using white noise. He is used to sleeping with the fan on, which only makes a soft hum. Is it too late to start with some white noise now?

    • Absolutely not! White noise is strongly recommended for all babies up to 1 year whenever they sleep. (It’s totally OK to use after 1 year too if it works for you – or it’s easy to gently wean off it).

      White noise has so many benefits that it would be great to start using it now. There are tons of free apps or you can simply turn an old radio to static.

      Good luck!

      • My kids (4, 2 and 5mo) all sleep with loudest box fan I could find in their rooms. Apparently fan makers are trying to make fans quieter these days…I’m not sure why, but the good ole cheap ones from Walmart are perfect! Give me the loudest fan you’ve got! It’s sure to lure them to sleep and not even the 4th of July parade and fireworks on our street would wake them up over the sound of the loud hum 🙂 They also have sleep with sound machines set on “rain”. Cue a REAL rainy day outside? And like Pavlov’s dogs they all start yawning and are ready for some great rainy day naps. Glorious!

        Love love love this website! You are so full of wisdom.

  3. Hi there,
    We used to swaddle our little one (11 weeks) in the first few weeks but gave up around 8 weeks as he seemed to fight it a lot more. He usually naps in the sling day time ( anywhere between 30-90 min) but I can’t get him to nap in his cot or in the pram at all – is it worth trying to swaddle again ? Ill certainly try white noise as well.

    • If baby is < 4 months and not sleeping well then my default answer is ALWAYS to swaddle. Yes they fight it but it's your best bet to get extended sleep out of them!

    • Both of our kids loved their swaddles! For our little Houdini’s we moved them into woombies and love to dream swaddle ups (arms up) so wonderful! They could move and stretch, bonus, no wrapping just a easy peasy zip on both! I miss swaddle magic!

  4. I need to stop watching scary movies because I cannot even fathom putting on a radio to pure static :S I would be terrified lol what are some other options?

    • Stop watching The Ring and USE WHITE NOISE! Seriously, it is really powerful as a soothing tool, it reduces the incidence of SIDS, it’s a great sleep association. I promise!

  5. I live in New York and right next to the subway. My 2 month old sometimes get startled when the train goes pass but at times I notice he likes it. It’s not continuous. Should I still play white noise? Anything I can do regarding the traffic and train noise outside?

    Also my son doesn’t seem like he like to be swaddle as he keeps waking up when he can’t suck on his hand. Should I still swaddle til he get use to it?

    • The Halo swaddles allow you to swaddle without adding the arms. I haven’t tried it this way, but I would assume that it still gives that tight feel, but still lets your son have his thumb.

    • A 2 month old is far more likely to bat himself in the head with his little fist then navigate it successfully into his mouth. Also you the waving arms will wake him up 9 times out of 10. So yeah I would DEFINITELY swaddle.

      Also if I lived in NYC next to a subway I would totally use white noise ALL the time when my kids were sleeping! Because there is so much “startle” potential in trains, firetrucks, police, honking, etc. More than us country mice, you really need it 🙂

  6. Your site has some wonderful tips. I have a question about my almost 3 month old. He falls asleep at 10pm no matter what. We try to move it earlier but it doesn’t seem top work. Will try again tonight by 20 mins and see what happens. I don’t really mind though since he usually sleeps till 4 or 5 am then I nurse him and give him a bottle(bc I’m not producing enough) and he goes bak to sleep for a couple more hours. He hasn’t been a good napper though until today. He took two one hr naps and now has been sleeping for 3+ hours! My question is, is that too long? Should I wake him when he does this? Will it push back his bedtime?


    • Hey Seema,
      Check the post below (Bedtime what time?) for hints on adjusting the time. 10:00 PM isn’t outrageous for 3 months and it may sort itself out on it’s own. If it doesn’t use the ideas there to make some changes.

      Generally speaking longer naps are not a problem. Unless he’s napping late in the evening and this pushes bedtime WAAAY off schedule. Like if he’s taking a 3 hour nap at 8:00 PM and then wants to party all night. Otherwise I generally let sleeping babies lie.

      One small thought – if you are sure you have supply problems (get a good IBCLC to help out!) and he’s sleeping a ton ALL the time, it may be because he’s hungry. If a newborn sleeps a ton ALL the time it can be because supply is low (they’re conserving energy with sleep). However this is super duper rare and I HIGHLY DOUBT THIS IS THE CASE.

      Still a good IBCLC can help make sure everything is cool 🙂

  7. My daughter will be 5 months next week and for the life of me, we cannot get her to sleep in the crib. She sleeps in the swing or with us. We have a nighttime routine (tub, masssage, story, nurse, sleep) and though we always start with the crib (awake, drowsy, asleep – tried it all), it always ends with escalating tears (crying doesn’t seem to calm her down at all and I’m not comfortable with letting her cry until she pukes). Suggestions? Thanks!

    • Just wanted to chime in here and say we are in exactly the same boat….. Baby is 5 months old tomorrow and with her, fussing quickly escalates to hyperventilation, shaking and vomiting if we don’t intervene…. Am also not comfortable hearing her get into such a state, and know that if she does eventually shut down it will not be because she has conceded defeat but because she can NOT go on, physically or emotionally, and that breaks my heart…. Afraid that once we get to 6 months we are too late!! Running out of time :/ will be interested in any advice also…. 🙂

      • I am somewhat hesitant to chime in on this one in case I say something wrong, but I can tell that you are both feeling kind of desperate (a state I know well) so I decided to try.

        My take is that you both have babies who are very much still needing their sleep associations (motion, warm mommy heartbeat) and are not yet ready for the big empty crib. You could certainly force them to figure it out by doing CIO but neither of you sound at all ready for that, which I totally understand because I wasn’t ready either when my little guy was 5 months and doing exactly what you describe. At that point we just muddled along using the swing as much as possible for naps/beginning of the night, and some cosleeping later in the night.

        By 6.5-7 months it was a whole new world and we were ready for crib transfer. We ultimately did CIO at 7.5 months and it was a very good decision. I felt very conflicted about it, but I really felt that HE was, so I went for it. At 5 months it just didn’t feel right, and you have to go with your gut I think.

        • That should say, “I really felt that he was *ready*.

        • Thanks, Kate 🙂 I get confused between my gut feeling telling me she’s not ready, and my worry that she won’t change it unless I show her how…. I know she has a huge nurse-to-sleep habit, and I it’s difficult to know whether it’s better for her to keep it that way for a while longer, or whether letting it continue will effectively make it more difficult for her in the long run. She’s always been a hungry baby (up until 3 1/2 months she nursed every hour, and now she’s got michelin arms and legs!!!). I’m inclined to think she needs to kick the stuff now :p She used to demand to be nursed to sleep for naps too, until I realized she was too dependent on me and stopped- she put up a huge fight at first but now has absolutely no problem, so am hoping the same is true for night-time needs….. :s

  8. Fantastic and realistic advice, thank you! Regarding swaddling, my baby boy is 4 weeks old and I have been trying to swaddle since he was 2 weeks so he can sleep better/longer. His naps range from 30 mins to 1.5 and swaddling doesn’t help.

    He falls asleep, but 30 mins later, he wakes up screaming and wanting out of the swaddle. I tried tight swaddle, light swaddle, arms out, different blankets, types of swaddling, it doesn’t work. He will not stay asleep for longer than 40 mins at most.

    What can I do?

    • Help! My son is 4.5 months old and used to sleep well at night, 6 hr stretch, up to nurse and back down for another 2-3 hrs. He’s never napped we’ll during the day, no matter what I try. For the last month he’s reverted to waking 4-5 times a night and must be nursed back to sleep, he won’t take a pacifier or finger. He’s still swaddled and sleeping in the Rock n Play in our room. We’ve tried the crib transition and it results in the same 2 hrs of sleep and then full on screaming until I go get him and nurse him back down. He will not go down drowsy no matter how much I try.

      We’ve done one arm swaddle so he can suck his thumb, no luck, he still startles, we’ve done white noise, we’ve tried to forgo the swaddle altogether, tried to rock to sleep instead of nurse, nothing seems to help. My MIL even tried the modified CIO with him, and it just resulted in him hyperventilating and shaking before she went in to get him after 30 mins. I can get him to go to sleep nursing, but the minute I put him down in the crib or RnP he wakes up and will not settle back down. We’re at our wits end and desperate! How do we get this kid to sleep?

  9. Great articles.After reading this I started using white noise and my baby slept 6hrs in a row for the first time (3 nights in a row), then the next 3 nights she was up every 2-4hrs again (growth spurt? we thought/hoped). on the 7th night she slept 8.5hrs! we were thunderstruck. then 6 hrs again most nights for over a week. THEN back to 2-4hrs for close to 2 weeks now 🙁
    Now that I know she’s capable of the longer stretches I’m really bothered by this! I only came here looking for advice about short naps too haha. She doesn’t wake for long though, just cries, I nurse her, and she goes right back to sleep, sometimes she only nurses for 5 or 10 minutes.
    She is 3 months old last week and still taking lots of short naps too. I just noticed that you posted ~2hrs as the awake time for a 3-6mo and she is usually fussy after 1.. usually starts yawning 30min into awake time and often we need to put a lot of effort into distractions after that (sometimes she won’t even let us set her down without fussing)
    Any advice????

  10. How do I know when to get my 2 month old up for the day? I’m on maternity leave, so it’s not like we have to get up and moving at any certain time.
    He usually sleeps for a 3-4 hour stretch, wakes for a quick feeding, and sleeps another 2 hours (sometimes longer). After that, he usually wakes every hour to eat. Am I forcing the later sleeps (that only last 45 minutes), possibly since I’m usually still tired?

  11. Help! My almost 4 mo old wont nap during he day he never seems tired! He’s up every 2 hrs to nurse! He was giving us a 6 hr stretch but reverted back to 2 hrs. He won’t take a paci and as soon as I put him down for a nap he wakes!!!

  12. We successfully transitioned our now 12 weeks old baby from our bed to crib approximately 2 weeks ago (yay!). However, about 1 week ago, she started to have 30-minute naps. She has been on a 3-hour sleep-eat-play cycle for the last month or so. Now when she wakes up and it’s not time for a feeding yet, I TRY to get her back to sleep or let her play if she’s happy and clearly wide awake. She is generally fussy at night, but the shorter naps make her fussier than normal. Once we get her to sleep, she can sleep for 5-6 hours (thank God) at night. I am really confused about why this sudden change to short naps. Help!

    • Hi Karen,

      I am by no means a pro but just to let you know that from my limited experience (I have a 7 month old) this is REALLY REALLY normal. Alexis has a post about it infact:

      My son pretty much never took at nap over 40 mins between about 3 months and 6 months, and lots of my new mum friends find the same thing. Now he is a bit older he is just about stretching them out sometimes, although obv in no consistent pattern so I never know what to expect (that’s the deal with babies though, whatever anyone else might try and tell you).

      The short naps meant he would have atleast 4, if not 5 a day. I personally always fed him at some point after he woke up before he went down again, but this is prob not necessary. Just found it was something for us to do together!!

      Hang in there. I am still hanging in there too 😉


      • Forgot to add, I always see if my son really wants to go back to sleep after a short nap and therefore does very easily, but in my experience I almost always just get him up, and then put him down again after his awake window has passed (its about 2 hours now, but would have been less at 12 weeks). Too much rocking an awake baby in a darkened room makes you feel like more of a crazy lady than you already do!! 🙂

  13. My 9 month old little girl will not fall asleep without an hour or so of rocking if she wakes up in her crib she screams until I rock her or feed her again. She is going through about three bottles a night and is up every two hours. Help!

  14. My son is 12 weeks old and for the last 3 weeks I have been working really hard to establish good sleep habits. He’s gone from not sleeping anywhere but my arms, to taking naps in his crib AND sleeping at night in his crib.

    My questions is, am I establishing bad sleep habits? My current routine for both nap/bedtime is to change diaper, turn on white noise, swaddle, sing a few lullabies while rocking and then shhhing and rocking for a few minutes before putting him the crib. When I first started this routine, my son would go down without any fussing and I could put him in his crib drowsy and then pat his back in his crib and he’d close his eyes and fall asleep. For about 5 days now it’s become more of a struggle. He starts crying and getting really antsy when I start the routine and now I’ve resorted to rocking him much longer to settle him. When I do put him down in the crib, he now starts crying instead of lying down calmly. I’m also having to use his paci a lot more and pick him up out of the crib to soothe him again (I use this last bit as a last resort).

    Once down, he usually wakes in 15-20 min increments and I have to go in and pat his back and shhh him back to sleep in his crib. It’s rare for him to stay asleep long from the start of the nap, but he’ll usually stay down 1-1/2 hours. Lately, I’ve been going in like every 5 minutes (after he’s cried for exactly 1 min, I’ve read it’s not age appropriate for him to cry longer than that at 12 weeks) to soothe him by patting his back, offering paci…which sometimes doesn’t work, I feel I’m forced to pick him up more and more to soothe him and his naps are lasting like 45 mins max now.

    At night, I can’t complain too much. He goes to bed between 7:30-8 pm and then will wake 1-2 times during the night. We go through the same routine though when we put him down. We’re usually in and out of his nursery for up to an hour soothing him back to sleep. When he wakes during the night though, we change his diaper and I nurse him. He was going right back down with no complaints, but lately he’s been freaking out when put down. We were in and out of his nursery for almost 2 hours last night trying to get him back down (fun times at 3:30 in the morning).

    So…why is he suddenly freaking out when being put down? Is it bad that I’m patting his back/shhhing/offering him a paci when putting him in his crib and trying to soothe him back to sleep (if so, what should I be doing, he majorly freaks out if I just put him down and leave)? Is this normal sleeping behavior at this age (12 weeks)? Also…I have him in a HALO sleepsack swaddler…he hates having his arms swaddled and he eventually breaks out, but I do it anyway, otherwise he’s grabbing at his face and waking himself up. When does that phase go away? I’d like to eventually have his arms out of his sleepsack.

    I would really appreciate your advice. I really want to establish good sleeping habits for my little man! Thank you!

    • Hi there,

      I’m hoping there is an update to this question as it’s exactly my scenario right now. We’re 14 weeks tomorrow and the need to rock the ba club to sleep isn’t going away. I’m trying to put the. Any down while drowsy, but he just freaks out and I have to pick him back up to rock and soothe him before putting him back down. It’s sometimes taking 3 or more tries before he finally falls asleep. How do you ween a baby off of rocking to sleep, when they get upset when you try to put them down awake?

  15. Just found your blog, and can’t stop reading. Apart from the tonnes of useful information, you have such a refreshing sense of humor. I am laughing out loud. 🙂

  16. Any trips and tricks for Venturing out of the house? I have a 6 week old and we have been implimenting your suggestions over the last few days and things are working a treat…however it’s near impossible to get her to nap when we are out and about.

    Obviously it would be ideal to stay on home ground as often as possible however in order to save my sanity I do need to get out of the house from time to time!

    Even mandatory trips to the supermarket or doctors means keeping her awake longer than an hour meaning she becomes overtired and near impossible to get back to sleep.

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

  17. My baby is 4 wks old… Is it too late to start swaddling? Also, he loves to have his arms/hands up by his face… He has since he was in the womb. Will he tolerate the swaddle?

  18. My baby is 13 weeks old sleeps best in a swing. How can I wean her off of that or is it ok to rely on the swing for a little longer?

  19. What about a radio station set to classical? Is that consistent enough to use as white noise? How about other typical stations?

  20. My son is almost 7 months old and isn’t sleeping very well. He gets put down at 8 or 9 pm everynight. He rubs his eyes and is clearly tired. He never really naps more than 15mins-1.5 hours and 1.5 is VERY rare. He usually takes about 3 naps. He wakes up after 3 hours of being put down at night and thats after i have rocked him and swaddled him and hes woken up 20 times before that. He then is up every other hour or 2 hours. I haven’t had a decent amount of sleep in almost 7 months and I’m exhausted. I wont let him CIO he just screams like hes dying for way to long. I’ve tried giving him a bath, and solids before bed then a bottle. Any suggestions would be great!
    Thanks in advance.

    • Does he put himself to sleep at night? Does he use a soother? If the answer to the first is “No” or the answer to the second is “Yes”, there’s your problem. Tackle those first and the night wakings should get better.

      His naps actually sound fairly typical. I have 2 kids now and both have been catnappers. Countless moms I’ve talked to have had catnappers, while some have had very good nappers. I think it’s inborn. Some moms have had one (or more) of EACH, and have been clear that they have parented the same way each time (ie my best friend, who had a GREAT sleeper with her oldest and all kinds of sleep problems with her second).

      If he puts himself to sleep without intervention for naps and bedtime, and doesn’t use a soother, he may have to get used to going back to sleep without intervention in the night. This will probably mean crying – aka CIO. Except that it’s not REALLY CIO… if you’ve tackled the first two problems. If you try to CIO the night wakings and you haven’t mastered the naps/bedtime, you will have a baby who cries for hours. If you have mastered the naps & bedtime, the night crying will probably be fairly minimal (ie, a few rough nights instead of many rough nights). However, in my experience, some amount of crying is almost inevitable – especially as they get older. They are protesting the fact that you aren’t doing what they want anymore.

      With my oldest son, we just picked one night waking at a time to tackle. Ie, if he woke before midnight, we’d go in and soothe, then CIO. After midnight all bets were off. Within a matter of days, he was sleeping past midnight but the rest of the night was still crap. So then we picked another time (ie, after the post-midnight feed he needed to go 2 hours). We kept going like this and the rest sorted out relatively quickly. It’s kind of gut-wrenching when you’re in the trenches, but it’s really, really worth it. Remember that an overtired baby does not learn well and has elevated stress hormone levels CHRONICALLY – a baby doing CIO may have temporarily elevated stress hormones levels but will then be well-rested and ready to learn, grow and play. My oldest son is now 2.5 years old and has been a good sleeper ever since.

      For what it’s worth, he was still a catnapper until 11-12 months old, when they naturally lengthened out. I tried all the various nap-extenders I could, nothing worked. It’s just the way he’s made. Now he still naps 1.5-2 hours at 2.5 years old. So there’s hope! Hang in there. 🙂 The first year is hella hard.

  21. On the issue of white noise I feel like everything I read is double sided. On the one hand nearly everything I read says it should be LOUD. On the other hand, the same article will go on to say keep it around 50dB. Um, 50 dB is not that loud. Contrary to this article the average humming refrigerator registers at about 50 dB, while a shower (the recommended level in this article) registers about 70 dB on average. Vaccum cleaners (another common suggested whitenoise producer) comes in at around 75. I know there have been studies that have shown possible damage when exposed to >50 dB over an extended period of time. So, which is it?? LOUD or >50 dB?? I know from experience that the white noise works. Like, instantly. I’m just concerned about these studies I’ve read and the fact that the articles (like this one) I read say to use loud white noise and then in the same breath say it shouldn’t be louder than about 50 dB (quieter than the average conversation). Anything under about 60-65 dB just doesn’t have any effect on my baby. So, which is it: loud or >50 dB? It can’t be both!!

  22. Hi Alexis,
    I have an 11 week old daughter. Last week I was able to swaddle her put her in a swing and leave her in a dim room with a white noise machine and she would fall asleep on her own with in 5 min. Not sure what happened, maybe I bragged too much about how well she’s sleeping in the swing, but starting yesterday she’s refusing to be swaddled and cries as soon as I put her in the swing. If I leave the room she cries the whole time. I either have to put her in the swing asleep or rock her to sleep in her bassinet. Also, her naps have been extremely short, 20 to 45 min long. I’m not sure what to do…

  23. I’m a little confused on the techniques for putting my baby down awake. He is 4 months old and I;ve been swaddling, doing white noise and swing for at least 6 weeks. here and there he’s fallen asleep awake in his swing. But usually he falls asleep nursing and then I transfer him to his swing where he takes great long naps.
    A few times earlier this week, I managed to put him down sleepy but awake with success. But now, he’s rebelling and crying his heart out the second I put him in his swing awake. I’ve gone through your blog many times and can’t seem to find more detail about how to put him down sleepy but awake other than the ideas about white noise, swaddling and swing. If I’m doing that and he cries when I put him down, how do I deal with that? At 4 months, it seems a little too early for CIO. But I need to start leaving him with a babysitter from time to time and need him to be able to fall asleep without the boob. He will also fall asleep within minutes of being put into any baby carrier.

  24. My son is 5 weeks old and he is sleepig from 8ish to 11ish, but the wants to stay up from 11 to 1 or 3. Is this normal should I be worried? Can I do anything about it?

  25. I must say I see a lot of mom’s always talking about this sort of topic. I have two buys, one who’s 2years old a 8 month old. They both have been sleeping 12 hours ever since they were 4 month old. My best advice to mom’s out there is too teach your baby to sleep in a way which is confortable for him and you as well. It’s supposed to be a good time in the day, as a matter of fact, it was my favorite time of the day. I set in the the swing chair with some nice soft meditating kind of music and gave then their last bottle, and I did breastfeed both for 6 months each time. After I would talk to him, as if they were fully understanding every word I was saying and explain, that was his time to sleep, I love you and do a little prayer. Gently place then in their crib with their favorite safe blanket and peacefully leave the room. There was a few times they went to sleep and cried for a few minutes. But everything I could watch then through the camera. They would soon stop and just drift asleep. The only time we had rough nights was when they were sick. Try to to stress so much about this part of the day, for many mom’s who are working mom’s like myself, this is the happiest moment in a day. Hold your baby close, and sing and hold and kiss him. I hope this helps some mom’s out there. Best of luck

  26. My two months baby boy just goes to sleep when we hold and rock him as soon as I put him down he starts screaming even though he is sleepy!!
    Please give me some tips on how to put him to sleep without cuddling and walking him/


  27. I agree that your tips are helpful, but aren’t you plagiarizing a little from Harvey Karp’s book “Happiest baby on the block”? Maybe not word for word but you can’t deny you were inspired by his work.

    It would be nice for you to give credit where it is due. He is the one who came up with the 5s’s technique(i.e Swaddle, Side, Shush and Swing and Suck).

    • I guess you do mention his name in your blog but I feel that his work should be mentioned in big letters in the beginning of your blog, not at the very end where people don’t really notice.

    • Hmmm…well I hear your point. And I guess I DO feel I give Karp a ton of credit. His name is all over my site, I’ve interviewed him, promoted his book,and have been unambiguous in the fact that I’m a huge fan. Feels like sufficient to me.

      Does every baby sleep resource that extolls the benefits of swaddling and pacifiers owe credit to Karp? Nope. He and I are pretty unique in our love of swings.

      Lastly I cover MANY topics that don’t come from Karp. So I believe that elevates this site far beyond a simple Harvey Karp fan fiction site.

  28. While I LOVE your site and generally find your advice to be helpful, I think the point about swaddling should come with a caveat. Not all babies like to be swaddled! We swaddled our daughter faithfully for the first few weeks. While she would let us swaddle her before putting her down in her bassinet, she would fight the swaddle in her sleep, waking herself (and us!) up – and she would be really upset when she woke up. We tried different swaddle blankets, the velcro swaddles, etc – nothing worked. Finally we tried swaddling her arms out, and she immediately went from sleeping in 30-40 minute stretches at night to 2 hour stretches. Turns out she likes having her hands up by her head when she sleeps (in retrospect, I realized that in utero she always had her arms up by her head). I have since talked to a few other parents who had the same experience.

  29. So my 2 month old has been having trouble sleeping, this past week she been sleeping at 5 almost 6 in the morning, she barely takes naps during the day and when she does is for 20 min or so. My husband and I have the A.C mostly all day due to it’s summer so it gets pretty hot! What can I do to make her sleep earlier ?

  30. My 4 week old baby boy will not sleep for more than 45min-1.5hr (day and night!!!) when sleeping alone. He has to be held to get a good nap in. Once he has fallen asleep and we put him down, he wakes back up instantly. I feed him every 2-3 hrs 2-3oz so I know he is eating good although he is a refluxer. I RARELY have to wake him up to eat; I feed him on demand which is every 2-3hrs when he has a good nap. He loves to stay up at night. Last nigh I only got about 3hrs of sleep and as I am writing this he is falling asleep because I read your article and decided to swaddling (I stop after released from the hospital) and it almost worked instantly. I swaddled him tight but my little strong man loosened it up (as he did in the hospital). Though it is loosened and he got his hands somewhat free, he is still swaddled and is now asleep. How long will this last? Am I just lucky that this worked for the first time since being home? What other things can be done that help long term? Please help.!!

  31. My 11 week old has not made the transition to the crib very well from a rock n play where we would get 5 hour stretches. We been trying for a month and the longest stretch we can get is 3 hours! And that’s only one stretch then it’s like every hour to a hour and a half! He is swaddled, mattress is elevated, we have a sound machine on rain, I have only an amber light nightlight in his room, and we recently added a humidifier! I have to nurse him back to sleep and when that doesn’t work we give him a paci and hold him! Help! We need sleep! We are going crazy!

  32. Hello. I’ve recently found your site and think it’s wonderful. I am wondering if you have a sleep article on sleep training an 11 month old. I am guilty of rocking, co sleeping, and feeding to sleep. Now none of these are working. I want to move her into a crib without CIO. I’ve tried letting her fall asleep next to me with no intervention but it turns into relentless crying, playing, and even hitting me. Your articles seem to focus on younger babies and I am wondering where I can go for some input. Thanks!

  33. If you have an old smartphone, you can just download the White Noise app for free! I use the same phone as a baby monitor (free baby monitor app) and turn the threshold up above the white noise volume. Yes my baby sleeps with a smart phone (strange new world!).

  34. Love your site! You are hilarious! Our baba is 12 weeks and we’ve used white noise from about six weeks. My question is, when should we start using it during the bedtime routine – after bath time, before the last feeding, after feeding, before putting him down, straight afterwards, etc?

    • Hi! Based on what I’ve learned, the timing of the white noise doesn’t matter. but to give you an idea, I turn the white noise on after we read/pray/ while putting down in crib. and make sure the white noise stays on the whole night and doesn’t turn off automatically at some point. You mentioned that your baby is 12 weeks now, it might be a good time to start separating feeding from falling asleep by at least 20 minutes. so maybe changing up your routine to feed, then bath, then books/whatever and putting down. Good luck!

  35. Hi! I know all the research and the things I shouldn’t do, but even as an educated woman, I have a hard time doing them. I was the same way with my now 6YO, who (fingers crossed) will finally be sleeping in her own bed soon. Things are a little different with my 6/almost 7 month old though. First of all, she spent almost a month in the NICU after birth with a congenital issue related to her breathing (this will explain later why I’m even less willing to do CIO with her). She also has pretty bad reflux, so we’ve been advised to keep her upright for half an hour after eating. She slept like a champ in her own crib after we brought her home – usually from 8:00-8:00. We were so proud and probably a big braggy. However, at about 6.25 months, her nighttime sleeping changed drastically – she now wakes every.single.hour of the night. We have to go in and hold her for 30-45 mins until we can put her back in crib, and then she’s up again – sometimes 5 minutes later but if we are lucky a full hour later. I don’t know what to do!!! I can’t teach her to fall asleep on her since I have to hold her for 30 minutes after eating. I can’t let her CIO because I’m a wuss and because I worry she will have a hard time breathing. So that is why my husband and I have been waking every.single.hour all night long for the past 3 weeks. There is no end in sight to this vicious cycle, and I need help!

  36. Hi Alex,

    I found your site through a friend and I feel that you might be able to give me some advise on baby sleep.
    I am a new mom to a 9 week old girl. She was in nicu for 3 weeks and we had been going to see doctor and do blood draw for 2 more weeks after she got home. At 6 weeks, she would not sleep during daytime, maybe a catnap here and there and we were holding her, swing her, rock her and as soon as we put her down she is awake. Still the same at 9 weeks now. The longest hour of nap is 2 hours for her on a good day and the longest hour of night sleep is 4 hour. Which I really have to agree with you, before this 4 hours she spent 3 hours screaming and crying her lungs out, nothing sooth her and she was so tired that she sleeps 4 hours after that. And that only happened once. I tried to have a routine with her, but it doesn’t stick due to her wake and sleep times are so inconsistent. I want to ask if her sleep is normal. I saw your chart, she is within the total sleep time for her age group sometimes and sometimes she is below the recommended total hours.
    Is there a way I can get her go sleep more or stay asleep when I put her down? I will spent 30 min or so soothing her to sleep and she will wake in 1 to 2 min once I put her down at times.
    I have her on swaddle at all times, pacing, she refused her paci and I breast feed her. I hadn’t even try to have her sleep in her crib yet, just maybe a nap her and there and she will scream once in her crib. She’s sleeping in fisher and price rock and sleep.
    Please give me some advise.

    Thank you

    • Hi! It sounds like your baby likes motion- being swung, being rocked, held. Can you buy or borrow a baby swing? That could be very helpful in soothing her to sleep and help her to sleep longer. Good luck!

  37. I have a 2 month old who we have been trying to get sleep consistently but feel we keep having to change his environment/outfits. We tried swaddles but he would try to break free until he woke himself up, we tried swaddle blanket, Velcro swaddles, hands up swaddles, and the baby Merlin magic suit. He hates all except the magic suit but still will not sleep longer than 10 minutes on his own. We have even tried the pack and play bassinet, his own sleeping mattress, DockATot, and co sleeping on our bed. Nothing has worked more than one or two times. He will only stay asleep on my husband or me or sometimes in his swing. We have also tried laying him on his tummy and watching him which he like for a few naps but now will wake himself up because he tries to sleep face down so when we turn his head he’ll fight us and wake up. My concern is that he is not getting sufficient rest and that sleeping is not predictable enough for him so he is not learning healthy sleep habits. I want him to know that he eats, plays, and the goes to sleep on _____. But because we have not been able to find a sleep environment that works for him I worry he will not have that consistency or predictability. Any advice would be great!!! Thanks!


  1. How To Get Baby to Sleep Better Part 2 | Troublesome Tots
  2. 5 Reasons Your Baby Hates the Crib | Troublesome Tots
  3. Are You Making These Newborn Sleep Mistakes? | Troublesome Tots
  4. What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night - Part 2 | Troublesome Tots
  5. Are You Keeping Your Baby Awake too Long?

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