What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night Part 2

teaching baby to fall asleep

There are many big challenges with a newborn baby: figuring out the soothing thing, unbreakable swaddling, learning how to feed a baby, wrestling them to sleep, etc. Usually by the 3 month mark, those hurdles have all been conquered. You are now a confident parent rocking the baby play groups, champion of navigating the grocery store with a baby, and chilling with other parents at Starbucks.

Champion parents will also have already read What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night Part 1. It’s long and not particularly funny but it will explain the single most important thing you need to know to stay the course towards sleeping all night long. Go read it and then come back when you’re done (I’ll wait).

Now you know why it is so critical that you teach your baby to fall asleep without you (nursing, rocking, cuddling, etc.).

Note: A small percentage of babies will continue to sleep well even if they are being nursed, rocked, etc. until they are fully asleep. If you are the parent of an older baby who is sleeping like a champ (then you probably aren’t looking for answers for sleep problems on the internet but….) then you may have one of these rare babies who CAN be nursed, rocked, etc. until they are completely asleep without any problems. YAY!

For the other 98% of babies, failure to teach them to fall asleep on their own leads to many sleepless nights and days filled with short crappy naps.

Putting Your Baby Down Awake

By the time your baby is ~6 months old (give or take 2 months) you need to have figured out how to put your baby down awake and have them fall asleep without your assistance.

If you have already mastered the ability to put your baby down to sleep awake, good for you! Now stop gloating and please go away, the rest of us are still struggling with this.

Every parent has read that it is important to put your baby down to sleep awake. And every parent has tried this at various points in their newborn babyhood. Some babies are pretty cool about the whole thing and after a few minutes of futzing about, fall asleep. Most babies aren’t as keen on this plan and express their displeasure loudly and at length. So you fall back on whatever technique has been working successfully for you up to that point (rocking, nursing, etc.) and you continue about your business. Until this stops working. In a big way.

How to Put Baby Down Awake

There are three primary techniques to put your baby down awake and help them fall asleep on their own.

1. Use the Baby Swing

If your baby is under ~6 months of age the baby swing can be an excellent tool to help your baby fall asleep without your personal assistance. Further, if you are currently rocking, bouncing, or wearing your baby while walking around to help your baby fall asleep then your baby is telling you that they really need motion to fall asleep.

You can choose to ignore what they are telling you and try to force the crib. Or you can hear this message and embrace, temporarily, the baby swing.

Even if you are not rocking your baby to sleep, baby swings offer soothing motion that most babies respond to regardless of how you are currently helping your baby fall asleep. So this is also a great alternative if you are nursing your child to sleep or are currently co-sleeping and are ready to transition baby to their own bed.

If you’re going to try to use the swing to help your baby fall asleep on their own make a commitment to work with the swing for 4-7 days. Often parents will put baby in the swing for one nap, it won’t work well, and they’ll write the experiment off as a failure. You’ve spent months teaching your child to fall asleep in a specific way, and now you’re asking that child to adopt to a new method. It may take a little time for her to figure it out.

Once baby is happily sleeping in the swing, gradually decrease the speed of the swing (6-5-4….). If your baby continues to sleep peacefully great! If lowering the speed results in shorter naps or difficulty falling asleep, then your baby still needs the speed. No problem, you can try again in another week or so. At this age babies are developing so rapidly, what didn’t work this week can work like gangbusters next week.

Eventually you’ll find yourself with a baby who is sleeping in a non-moving swing. At this point the transition to the crib is relatively painless. Put the non-moving swing NEXT to their crib for at least a few days. Then, keeping everything else the same (sleep routine, white noise, etc.) just put them down to sleep in their crib. They may grumble for a few minutes but most babies accept this transition without much drama.

For younger babies, or babies who are motion junkies (love to be bounced, rocked, etc.) the swing is my favorite method for teaching them to fall asleep alone. Bar none.

2. Make it Gradual

This is one of the most challenging methods and the easiest to mess up so let me say this first: take a good look at you and your partner. How are you guys doing? If you are ground to a pulp (sleep deprived, just recovering from the flu, stressed out, have little/no support) then skip this method, it’s not for you. On the other hand if you’re feeling fairly chipper, read on.

Basically your job is to take whatever technique you are using to help your baby sleep and gradually make itty bitty modifications (typically over many weeks) to slowly wean baby off this technique. By the way, this is pretty much the entire message of The No-Cry Sleep Solution (minus the guilt-inducing part that makes you feel like a failure if you can’t pull it off). So there, I just saved you $10.

Take co-sleeping as an example. Your baby is now used to falling asleep in your bed, next to your body, and the routine probably involves nursing. To gradually wean off this you might put the crib in your room, put a futon mattress next to the crib, drop the side of the crib and replicate (making sure that the scenario is safe for baby) the co-sleeping environment only now the baby is sleeping in her bed instead of yours. Of course you are now sleeping on a futon next to the crib but hopefully this is temporary.

Over weeks you might work on nursing baby until she is drowsy but not asleep, gradually moving the futon away from the crib, putting the crib side back up, etc. Your goal is to do this so slowly that baby barely registers the change.

This can be difficult. Babies can be remarkably observant about your efforts to monkey with their system. Also illness, teething, etc. can all interfere with your progress. And if you are tired and frustrated it is FAR TOO easy to simply fall back to whatever works for you and let your baby nurse to sleep or pull her back into your bed, undoing all the progress you might have made.

Baby and Mommy Sleep in Chair While Nursing

For these reasons I suggest this method is really challenging. Thus my initial question – how beat up are you? If you and your partner are shuffling zombies your chance of success is low. You are welcome to try, and I encourage you to come up with a plan and give it a go. But don’t beat yourself up if, after a few weeks, you’re feeling frustrated by the lack of success.

Note: This method can be extraordinarily challenging if your baby uses a pacifier to fall asleep. Most pediatricians recommend loosing the pacifier by 6 months of age because this little tool which was so helpful for baby sleep when they’re little can become the bane of your existence when they’re older. I have never found a gradual way to remove the pacifier as they seem very binary – either you give them a paci or you don’t. If anybody has any “gradually loose the pacifier” methods, please share in the comment section!

3. Cry it Out

1. If your baby is older than 6-8 months old and…
2. she’s sleeping poorly (waking up frequently throughout the night, taking short naps, fighting naps, etc.) and…
3. you’ve tried the other two techniques, or for whatever reason, they didn’t suit, you’ve pretty much landed in cry it outsville.

Cry it Out is a big topic and you can lots of information about how, when, why, and why not in this sleep training resource page. But I want to briefly make a quick distinction here: cry it out is a technique that forces babies to learn to fall asleep on their own. And frankly, if done right, it’s a really effective technique. Cry it out is NOT the best way to get out of night feedings (another topic of an upcoming post). Parents often mistake these two issues.

If your baby has been consuming lots of milk/formula all night long and you decide to go cold-turkey and simply stop night feedings, both you and your baby are likely to have a pretty miserable time of it. Also there are more effective and gentler ways to night-wean. I would suggest you consider cry it out as a method to help your baby fall asleep solo at bedtime but that when they wake up at their regular night-feeding schedule, you go and feed them.

If you have stumbled upon some other way of helping babies learn to fall asleep on their own NOT covered here, please share in the comments! Otherwise it’s time for the final step on sleeping through the night, read up on how to gently finish night feeding your baby.

If you haven’t already done so you may also want to check out the other posts in this series:
What you need to know about sleeping through the night: Part 1 and Part 3.


1 2 3 8
  1. “If your baby has been consuming lots of milk/formula all night long and you decide to go cold-turkey and simply stop night feedings, both you and your baby are likely to have a pretty miserable time of it.”.

    That’s what I’m talkin about: RE,B. Rapid Elimination, Baby. Not for the weak-hearted. Or the weak… Or even for most babies. But 60% of the time it works every time!

    • Um…excuse me. I’ve trademarked the phrase REB and you are in violation of my trademark rights in your use. If you continue I will need to levy a substantial fine.


  2. Hi. So excited to find this site and know sleep in the swing is not awful. I have a 3 month old who likes the swing and it’s the only way to get good day naps from him. My husband and I transitioned him to the crib at night. He does okay for the first few hours but as night wears on gets harder to put down by 4am we typically just put him in the swing to sleep the last few hours. He is waking up frequently at times and I feel like he would probably sleep better in the swing all night but don’t know if we should backtrack at this point and just put him in the swing from the beginning of the night since our ultimate goal is the crib and we’ve got him there part of the night. Any thoughts or advice? Thanks.

  3. Someday he won’t need the additional soothing of the swing to sleep. Know any adults who sleep in a swing? Nope.

    So you can stick with the crib because that is where you would LIKE him to be (and probably you are sick of buying batteries). He’ll continue to wake up a lot. You’ll get really tired. And eventually (probably around 6 months) he’ll start sleeping better in his crib.

    Another option is to simply embrace the swing – for now. Put him to bed in it. Every once in a while start lowering the speed – if he continues to sleep great lower it some more. Eventually you’ll have a baby sleeping in a non-moving swing. This will be your clue that he is ready to sleep in his crib.

    I get the “want baby in crib” thing. My kids had terrible reflux and had to sleep upright for A YEAR. That’s right – they were in the swing for a whole YEAR. For 9 months of that year I really wished we could be done with this stupid swing business and use the crib. But I chose sleep over the crib and now everybody is sleeping happily in beds:)

    • Thank you for this whole site, my oldest had reflux and slept in her swing till she was 9 months then we rocked her to sleep from there on in and now she is 2 and we are still dealing with sleep issues . I know understand that she is not waking because she needs the motion but that she needs my prescience. I started to worry because although my 11 week old seems to settle herself much better , she is a swing and “gasp” co-sleeper too , my husband is worried that we will have tow bad sleepers but I have vowed not to have this baby dependent on me for sleep and am glad that the swing can be used as a tool, I have begun the turning it off put she pops up 10 minutes later now, and I’m not sure how to stop the co-sleeping. I am going to get her to go to sleep awake and will not lose this window again.

      • Thank you for this whole site, my oldest had reflux and slept in her swing till she was 9 months then we rocked her to sleep from there on in and now she is 2 and we are still dealing with sleep issues . I now understand that she is not waking because she needs the motion but that she needs my presence . I started to worry because although my 11 week old seems to settle herself much better , she is a swing and “gasp” co-sleeper too , my husband is worried that we will have tow bad sleepers but I have vowed not to have this baby dependent on me for sleep and am glad that the swing can be used as a tool, I have begun the turning it off put she pops up 10 minutes later now, and I’m not sure how to stop the co-sleeping. I am going to get her to go to sleep awake and will not lose this window again.

    • Solution to weaning pacifiers – I found giving my baby to suck on cold carrots and chewing on them while teething really helped.Carrots were not frozen but simply refrigerated.

    • Hi there-25 year old mom of 2 (2 year old daughter and soon to be 6 month old son)
      My son has me in tears- cat naps during the day (40 mins 2 times a day) and wakes every 3 hours to be soothed at night. He likes to be bounced/ butt patted. Thinking of trying the swing. Do you recommend us leaving the room while he’s in the swing to encourage sleeping without my presence? And when he falls asleep in the swing should I transfer him to the crib or let him sleep in it all night? I’m desperate to teach this boy how to fall asleep on his own! I was lucky enough to have a first baby that just learned to do that on her own.

      • I am literally in the same exact situation! Although I only have the 6 month old. Unfortunately I was not as lucky as you with your first ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have you found anything that has worked for you guys?

        • I have an 11 month old little girl that sleeps only for 4 hours then wakes up every 2 hours I’ve tried everything now we’re trying just to leave her in her crib and letting her cry but that just seems so hard to do any other suggestions

      • Katie/Lizzie,

        Truthfully most 6 month olds aren’t going to be that happy about the swing. You’re welcome to try if you have one handy but I wouldn’t invest in a NEW one at this point. If you can PATT your kiddo to sleep while they’re IN the crib, I would start there.

        Get him used to that at bedtime – patt in crib. Why? Because that’s an easy-ish thing to get out of. Once you have babies used to THAT you gradually move to not patting but gentle hand on belly. Then hand on hand (hold hands until they’re asleep). Then your hand near them in crib but not touching. Gradually fade your way out of there.

        Truthfully things won’t be AWESOME until you’ve faded yourself FULLY out of the process and they’re TRULY falling asleep independently. But this could happen in as short as a week if you’re committed and consistent. GOOD LUCK!

  4. That makes sense — thanks! I read in Weissbluth that he thinks motion sleep was lesser quality than non-motion and was concerned about it for a while, but it seems like he just “thinks” it is but didn’t say “research has indicated.”

    In any event, I am happy to embrace the swing, especially since it means more sleep for all of us.

    • I know the passage in Weissbluth you are talking about. He basically says that because HE can’t sleep on an airplane that motion sleep = bad. I bet he couldn’t sleep swaddled or with a pacifier either!

      • See now I could go the opposite route as that. I sleep way better when I’m moving. As a kid I always looked forward to road trips for all of the great car sleeping. Now I always have to be the driver and it bums me out when everyone else is asleep. But I guess I should go out and write a book about how every baby must move when they’re sleeping. Because, you know, every single human is exactly the same. That’s why it’s so easy to work in the medical field. If it works for one person it works for everyone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • If Masterpiece Theater helps me fall asleep then obviously I should be marketing Masterpiece Theater DVDs to parents as baby sleep aids.

          (Who am I kidding, I am a devout lover of Downton Abby AND Sherlock Holmes on Masterpiece Theater ;).

  5. Our son is 4 months old and since he was 2 weeks old we were using his swing to help him sleep. Well around Christmas time the darn thing blew out. I then started putting him in a bouncer and that worked for maybe 2 weeks. Now we have his crib in our room and he has been sleeping there for almost 2 weeks now. BUT I still rock him to sleep- he will wail nonstop if I leave him in there alone and awake. So I rock him until he is drowsy then put him in his crib. He will wake up several times at night to either be rocked back to sleep or to nurse. Any suggestions to get him to fall asleep on his own and to stay asleep. Unfortunately, we cant afford to buy another swing- those things are $$$$.

    • You’re right in that swings are $$$ and that a 4 month old is probably close to being done with it. Although personally I would probably keep an eye out for a decent used one (Fisher Price motors hold up better).

      I don’t have any magic answer for you. Most 4 month old babies are still waking up 2-3 times a night. Is he waking up MORE often than he was in the swing? It may be that without the soothing motion of the swing he needs to get his soothing from you. And without purchasing another swing, you’ll have to wait another 1-2 months for him to organically need less soothing.

      As for getting him to fall asleep on his own, all I have are the three methods I mentioned in the article. Instead of putting him down 100% asleep, work on 95% asleep, 90% asleep, etc. Note I didn’t say it was EASY, just that it can be done ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Hmm, this brings up a question for me. If the baby likes to sleep in the bouncer is it okay to put the bouncer in the crib? This seems like a pretty good way to transition and a nice solution for those babies that need to sleep sitting up, but it seems rife with possibilities for danger. Mostly I would worry that the baby, still strapped in to the bouncer, could flip the thing over (as some babies have been known to do) and then get caught in a bad position in the crib. Or an escape artist could try to use the bouncer to get out somehow and then end up flinging himself onto the floor. Maybe I just answered my own question there, but I’m hoping I’m over thinking it because this seems like a good idea and I know someone who did it with a car seat until the baby was almost 2.

        • Great question. Which I will answer just as soon as you send me photos of your friend’s 2 YO sleeping in a car seat in her crib. Seriously.

          As always my default answer for stuff like this is, “If your pediatrician says it’s OK!” Every pediatrician I know has generally OKd baby swings and yes car seats (but 2? wow). I like baby swings because they’re comfy, offer lots of soothing, and generally have solid 3-5 pt harnesses.

          Technically the bouncer also has a 3-pt harness albeit a flimsy one. But as you said, the real issue is the tipover hazard. And they DO tip over. Quite frequently. Which is why you never ever put a bouncer anywhere but the floor. Seriously. No tables, cribs, etc.

          So you can ask your pediatrician about the bouncer/crib scenario but I would skip the whole thing – put the kid in a swing – and be done with it. Hope that helps!
          ps. I’ll be checking email for that photo….

        • My 3 1/2 old wont nap for more than 30 minutes and wakes up frequently that ought the night. We decided the pacifier may be the issue so we are trying every which way to get her soothed and sleeping without it. This means, rocking, jiggling and jumping through hoops to get her asleep for 30-40 min before we put her in the swing. She fusses if we just put her in the swing semi sleeping. I’m at a crossroads. I feel like I have to get her soothed because we have taken the pacifier away but she is still waking frequently in the swing. What do I do? Keep doing my baby dance for a week or so, so I know the pacifier habit is gone and Then try putting her in the swing semi awake or just do two changes at once. I just feel like once she’s crying hard its hard to calm her without the pacifier. I’m talking about an hour of crying. I’m so lost here. I just want to keep her asleep for naps and at night but it doesn’t seem to be happpening

  6. He is waking up more than when he slept in the swing. Although the number has been decreasing as the days go by. I will continue with my routine. Thanks for the reassurance. Sometimes it feels like Im doing everything wrong!

    • You’re not doing everything wrong! Babies are frustrating perplexing creatures who drive you into a puddle of exhaustion. But it DOES get better. Know how I’m right? People keep having more babies! Trust me, if it never got any better we would live in a world full of families with only one kid ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Hi there,
    this is a great site thanks for all the interesting reading! I have an 11 week old baby who is actually a great sleeper (you are probably wondering what the hell i am doing on here), he sleeps in his crib for almost all of his sleeps unless we are out and he is in the pram,however i do rock him to sleep in my arms… sometimes i can put him down semi awake and get away with it, sometimes i need to wait until he is fully asleep which is why i am on here, i dont have crib problems but i am pre empting a rocking problem – any ideas how to start getting him to fall asleep on his own…. he has a pacifier and a baby sense taglet i would rather use the taglet than the pacifier but for now the pacifier is working….

    looking forward to your responses

    Cherese (South Africa)

    • Welcome Cherese from South Africa!
      Just to be clear a “taglet” is a little baby blanket with little tags on it, yes?

      Congratulations on your great sleeper! I think it’s great that you are really aware/conscious of helping your great sleeper STAY a great sleeper.

      Sadly I don’t have any magic potion to help you to get him to fall asleep on his own. If I did I would be selling it in tiny bottles for $10,000 a bottle ๐Ÿ˜‰

      He’s pretty young so I wouldn’t get too stressed out about it right now – figure you’ve got ~2 months to gradually work on this. The fact that you can “sometimes” put him down semi-awake is awesome. Say you put him down semi-awake 5% of the time. GREAT! Next week your goal = 10%. It’s a very gradual process and you have a bit of runway to play with:)

      • Hello, just was on the computer trying to find out what my perfect little sleeper has become an absolute and utter nightmare all of the sudden. He’s 7 months old and I sleep trained him (put him down tired but awake and let him CIO – per my pedi- for 3 nights) at 2.5 months. He was a very big baby and so he was able to go the hours without food. It was a dream. Roughly 7-7 every night. Bravo, right? But about 6 weeks ago he started waking a lot and needing me to put the paci in his mouth, then he’d return promptly to sleep – but i was doing this several times each night. Then we started traveling to France (where his dad is working) from nyc and my perfect sleeper is slowly slipping. We just returned from our second trip there yesterday and he has been screaming his head off at every nap and going even more crazy at bedtime. The ONLY thing that gets him to sleep is an insane amount of really hard bouncing and his paci. The absolute second his little toe hits the crib mattress he starts screaming.

        Now, not only is he not sleeping thru the night (he’s getting up every hour), he also needs me to ROCK him to sleep AND play the pacifier game. I’m literally so mentally and physically tired I don’t know what to do. Dads in France. I’m alone. Can’t bear CIO now at this age- bc when he cries he seems to be terrified. Seperation? Teeth? I don’t know…..

        SOS. Thx.

        Joey, mom to Gio.

  8. Hi Alexis,

    Thanks so much for this site! Such helpful information. I had a question for you… my 14 week old (a little over 3 months) has been sleeping through the night since she was 12 weeks.. yay! She typically goes to sleep anywhere between 8 and 9:30pm and sleeps until 7 or 8am… she has every so often woken up once in the night, but usually can sleep 10-12 hours straight. She does sleep in her crib at night but during the daytime, she is a short catnapper (20 minute or 30 minute naps mostly and will not sleep in her crib. (One of us usually ends up holding her for her naps)

    My issue is that we have not taught her how to fall asleep on her own. I have tried placing her in her crib when she should be ready to sleep (admittedly I haven’t done this too too much because I am afraid to mess up her great night sleeping) but she will cry and fuss until I come and get her. Since 3 months is too young to CIO, I get her pretty much immediately. To fall asleep, I usually have her lying across my lap, her head on a pillow, and she drinks her bottle to fall asleep. After she falls asleep, I remove the bottle, wait until I am sure she’s in deep sleep and then transfer her to the crib.

    This has been working great thus far, but I read your article about object permanence and worry that it will stop working…

    At what point do I try to teach her to fall asleep on her own? I am so afraid of messing up a good thing, and I know she’s too young to CIO. Also, the naps are tricky because she doesn’t seem to easily get into a deep sleep to sleep longer (on occasion I can get a one hour or 1.5 hour nap, but those instances are rare) so I can’t transfer her to the crib easily during the daytime… it’s hard to get anything done!

    She always falls asleep when drinking her bottle (even if it’s just 1/2 an ounce).. the only other way she falls asleep is in the carseat or stroller. She used to fall asleep in the swing on occasion, but that stopped working for us in recent weeks.

    Sorry this is so long… any advice would be so appreciated!


    • The good news is that you have some time so we don’t need to panic yet. The bad news is that she clearly has a very strong association with bottle=sleep (and possibly your lap = sleep).

      So we’ve got some time to play with. Your goal is roughly 6 months which means you’ve got months left to work with. Now you just need a plan right?

      I would start introducing OTHER sleep associations. So keep the lap+bottle thing for now but introduce other clues that it’s time to sleep. Personally I would start with something like this:
      – turn on white noise
      – change diaper
      – read book/sing songs
      – use consistent words (it’s sleepy time little baby!)
      – lap+bottle

      Your goal is to give her LOTS of clues that it’s time to sleep. Then you start taking away the ones that cause problems – ie lap + sleep.

      Then I would try maybe giving her her bottle IN her crib (maybe if you drop the side so you can manage to do this without killing your back). Thus removing the “lap” part of her sleep routine.

      Then you gradually start separating the bottle from sleep. So if the bottle is the LAST thing in your routine, make it the second to last (bottle THEN book).

      Do the same time consistently, daytime and nightime. And then let us know how things work out!

      • Lynn – I would love to know how things are with you because I have the exact same problem, except instead of bottle I nurse. Most nights now I put my 3.5 month old down he is sleepy but awake, or, he wakes up from having dozed off at the breast. I then spend some time whispering patting him etc until he settles down. Night times and morning naps are ok but it’s like something clicks internally in him as soon as it gets past noon. As soon as I put him down he cries and after struggling a while I end up wearing him for afternoon naps.

        I also want to pre empt the object permanence issue and plus my back and shoulders are killing me.

        Alexis – any suggestions or modifications to your suggested plan mentioned above? I want to try your method #2 – the gradual route but I’m not sure how to go about it. Thanks!!


        • Second nap is often more challenging than the AM nap. But it’s not a good plan to pummel your body with unwelcome babywearing (plus your joints are all messed up from being pregnant so you’re prone to injury now – sad but true).

          I would probably do the suggestions above and work with a swing. Babies that love to be carried are motion junkies and generally take well to a swing. Recreate the “babywearing experience” with swaddling, loud white noise, and the swing. Temporarily it’s OK to nurse to sleep then transition into the swing (you can work on putting him there awake in a few weeks).

          Check the post below for more hints on making that work ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Hi Tina,

          Well, I have to admit that we have procrastinated.. mainly because our baby has continued to be a great sleeper at night (11-12 hours)… we did move the routine to her room so that after she fell asleep drinking the bottle on my lap, the transition to crib was a much shorter distance. During daytime naps, my mom (who watches her while I work) just lets her nap on her lap. Or she naps well in her stroller and carseat too…

          She is now about to turn 6 months and I am planning to try having her drink her bottle until she’s drowsy (i.e. 90% of the way asleep) and then placing her in the crib. I tried it tonight and she fussed/cried off and on for about 15 minutes, but then fell asleep. I think if I can gradually decrease the percentage (80%, 70%, etc.) and do intermittent checks if she cries, that might work.

          We’ll see if it works! I’ll try to check back in in another month or two. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hello Alexis,

    I have a 10 week old baby that will sleep in the crib at night just fine, but in the day will not nap unless I wear her in a sling/wrap. I do have a swing and would like to try this method out. However, I do have to admit my baby is a tummy sleeper. She has always slept well on her tummy. We tried swaddling her many times (following Dr. Karps 5 S’s), and it just didn’t work well for us. Despite being super paranoid about her sleeping on her tummy, she has learned to flip onto her back already! Anyway, I wanted to know if getting her to nap in the swing during the day will mess up her ability to sleep in the crib at night on her tummy. I do play white noise (using the radio) at night. I have tried taking her out of the wrap and laying her in the crib for naps and will also play the white noise, but she will wake up anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes later. Please help!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica,
      Just to be clear, I do not advocate tummy sleeping for newborns. If you and your pediatrician are OK with this then OK.

      But to answer your question – sleeping in the swing during the day will not mess up her ability to sleep in the crib at night. You are already having her nap in one place (sling) during the day and another at night without issue. The swing is no different. So I would work on the swing for naps to give you and your back a break from the constant need to sling her up.

      Good luck!

  10. My 4 month old has no trouble getting to sleep at night. For most of months 2 and 3 we put him down at 8 PM, then he woke up once around midnight, once around 5 AM, and slept again till 8 or 9 AM. Then he would take a 1.5-3 hour morning and afternoon nap. It was wonderful.

    For the past two weeks or so he’s been waking up a lot more frequently (like 4-5 times) to feed and won’t sleep much later than 6 AM. And his naps are much shorter too. Any suggestions?

    • Well I don’t have any easy fix for why your 4 month old is not sleeping as well as he was (sounds like he used to be a pretty fantastic sleeper!).

      There are three potential causes:
      1) Sleep Regression/Growth spurt. Possible however 2 weeks is REALLY long so I’m inclined to think this isn’t it.

      2) He’s developed object permanence early. If your putting him down fully asleep (are you?)it’s definitely a possibility. Sure it’s early which means you have a problem on your hands. The good news is that it means your baby is a fast learner – woo hoo! IF this is the case than THIS post (which presumably you just read) is the “answer” to your question.

      3) Another possibility is that he just needs a little extra soothing. In which case you would work with loud white noise and a swing (see below) to help him sleep for longer stretches.

      My best guess is that the problem is explained by answer #2. Which you would address with the techniques in this post. Or the swing a la #3.

      Hope that makes sense?

  11. Hi Alexis,

    Thanks for all of the info on this site.

    My daughter is 20 weeks old and was always nursed to sleep until about 3 weeks ago when I started to attempt the Pantley Pull Off and introduced a routine.

    She used to sleep a 4hr stretch then 3-4 2hr stretches, with bedtime around 9-10pm and up for the day around 8pm.

    The new routine is bath at 7pm then nurse then bed at 7.30 sometimes awake, sometimes drowsy and sometimes asleep (I struggle with the timing of the PPO).

    Anyway, things have gradually got much worse. Now she has a 2hr stretch (or 3hr if I am very lucky) then up every hour and up for the day at 6-7am, unless I have her in bed with me for an extra hour or two (which I am all too aware is making a rod for my own back but I am desparate sometimes!)

    I’m not sure if I am making things worse or if my efforts have just coincided with a sleep regression or the development of object permanence.

    I really don’t know what to do for the best at the moment as I am too tired to even function never mind forward-think!

    btw – she currently sleeps in a dropside crib next to my bed and the end game is in her cot in her room which I had previously thought would happen by the time she hit 6 months.

    Can you offer any advice or reassurance?

    • I forgot to mention, she seems to get her self to sleep for the first sleep of the evening but thereafter I can only get her back to sleep by nursing. As I say, I’m not great with the timing of the PPO so sometimes she’s asleep when I put her back down.

    • To be totally honest I had to get out my copy of No Cry Sleep Solution to figure out what the PPO was. Also to be totally honest I’ve never tried this or worked with anybody who has.

      I get what she is trying to do with the PPO. But it seems like a rough path – you’re trying to DISassociate sleep from the boob. By letting them have the boob continually and repetitively until they give up from sheer exhaustion.

      Which seems like giving them a lot of boob when you’re trying to break the boob to sleep habit.

      So my guess is that you simply have an object permanence problem. The pattern of (non)sleep you describe is a pretty classic object permanence pattern.

      If you can, I would probably skip the PPO (again am not a PPO expert) and work on separating nursing from bedtime by ~20 minutes. Because it’s her association with boob+sleep=up all night which you’re trying to break.

      Not sure if that is reassuring but you CAN do this and when you do, things will improve QUICKLY. Also? 6/7 AM wakeup is TOTALLY normal. It just feels unbearable now because you’re basically not sleeping all night long ๐Ÿ˜›

      Good luck!

      • Hi,

        Thanks for the response, that does make sense. I will work on separating nursing and bed.

        Fingers crossed!

        Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Hi Christa,

          I’m wondering how things ended up working out for you? My son ins 4.5 months and he is doing the exact same awful sleep pattern you described. I’m working on Alexis’ advice of trying to put him to bed awake and disassociate sleep from nursing, but it’s slow-going, trying to wean him off the swaddle first so he can hopefully self-soothe better with his hands.

          Anyways, would love to hear if things worked for you!

          • Hi Diana, to be honest, I didn’t have a great deal of success! I found it difficult to separate the feeding from the sleeping without lots of tears. I did start doing the Elizabeth Pantley pull off (google) but only half heartedly as she kept getting colds etc. she has just in the last few weeks began settling herself (only after a feed) but now her first tooth has come through and things have gone a bit downhill again!

            She generally wakes about every 2-2.5hrs these days.

            Sorry this is probably not what you want to hear, however, I do feel much better about things since I stopped looking at the clock every time I woke up!

            • Hi – I know this is years later, so we all have wonderful 3 years olds who sleep through the night now (right?), but I thought I’d chime in for anyone reading this who is currently dealing with this situation. All I wanted to say is that Alexis’s technique of separating the boob from bedtime by a good chunk of time (i.e. 20-30 minutes) is really what worked for me, and was the first step in getting my daughter sleeping through. I thought she WAS going to sleep by herself, because I’d feed her and put her in bed awake a few minutes later, then she’d go to sleep happily within 10 minutes or so. But no, still had the ‘needing boob to sleep’ issue (see the article ‘Why Sleep Training isn’t Working’ – has awesome graphs I seem to remember). So we swapped our routine to bath – boob – books – bed, and she didn’t fall asleep nearly as easily (there was some grizzling, but she wasn’t too distressed). And over the next couple of weeks her sleeping got a whole heap better. She finally slept through the night when she was about 8 months old when I night weaned her (our method: daddy went in instead when she woke for a feed).

              So hang in there, folks. You will sleep through the night again one day.

              P.S. Self-soothing with hands sounds like a good logical idea, but to be honest for both of my kids it has always been more of a stimulation/distraction than sleep aid!

              P.P.S. And just for the record, I decided to nurse my son (who is now 4.5 months old) to sleep, because I just think it is such a wonderful beautiful way for a baby to fall asleep. Even though I knew what would happen. Needless to say, he’s now waking up 3 or 4 times a night. Oh well. My attitude has changed, I guess, and I’m not so desperately trying to get my ‘life before kids’ sleep habits back ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hi there! Love your site. I have a 4.5 month old little girl whom I love to death, but is currently making me want to pull my hair out. We had a rough time with her learning to sleep in the beginning. She is EBF but we had a ton of problems in the beginning. She also developed severe acid reflux for which she takes meds. Since birth, she has been in the pack and play next to me at night. She sleeps swaddled. At about 3 months, she started sleeping very well. Down at 9pm until about 5am, then would eat and sleep until 8am. Her naps have always been 45mins and under. We wanted to start trying to move her into her own room. This last week, she decided sleep was for the birds. She began waking up literally every 45mins. My husband and I are going nuts. Weve tried everything, and have also moved her crib into our room to see if a different bed would help. She now is refusing to take naps. Shes always been rocked for a nap, nursed to sleep at night. Funny thing is she loves being rocked by me but hates her swing. But now as soon as I move her to the crib for her nap she wakes up screaming. We really want her to learn to fall asleep and stay asleep, but we are going crazy and about to just let her sleep in our bed for the remainder of her life (which is exactly what I DONT want, I want my room and husband back!!)

    • Oh- we also use a sleep machine/white noise. I know about the 4 month growth spurt and wonder if she’s right in the middle of it?

    • It COULD be the sleep regression. BUT….

      If she has reflux you always have to wonder if it’s her tummy.

      Facts I know to be true:
      1) Often reflux doesn’t show up till 3-4 months because it takes that long for the esophageal irritation to get severe enough.
      2) Reflux babies generally sleep like crap when flat on their backs.
      3) Reflux babies often wake up screaming because being on their back causes huge irritation to their esophagus.
      4) Growing newborns often outgrow their meds and need to up the dosage frequently.

      So given these facts and what you describe my gut says the problem is reflux. I would talk to your dr. about medication AND consider lifestyle management techniques such as these:

      The swing helps a ton because it holds babies up at an angle. I would REALLY try to make it work. Or if not then some other “strap baby to a wedge” reflux option (NOT a sleep positioner).

      Reflux is an ongoing thing – not something you diagnose, treat, and forget about. I wish it were *sigh* but it’s not. Good luck!

      • We do many things to help with the reflux as far as positioning etc. Knowing that babies grow out of their meds, I did call the Dr a few days ago, and she agreed to up her dose of .5ml. I know her symptoms she exhibits when it flares up, and everything is all too familiar. But so many people bring up the regression because of her age. The Dr reminded me that it can take 3 days to a week to see the difference from increased meds. I’m hoping this will help her! Thank you for your suggestions, we have now had 2 naps in the swing, although still only about 30 min naps. Thank you!

        • Meds are a toughie. My almost 3 YO is still on prevacid after ~5 attempts to wean him off. Just keep in mind that sleep regressions are brief (<7 days) when reflux just goes on and on and on and on ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. Where do you put the swing at the beginning of the process? We don’t have room in our bedroom for it. Living room? Baby’s room? I’m about ready to kill someone if I don’t get some sleep.

    • Depends on the age. Newborns generally sleep anywhere without issue. But the older they get the more distractions (you eating lunch nearby, TV, light) will cause problems. So generally the baby ends up in either YOUR or THEIR room with blockout blinds and loud white noise.

      Hope this helps you feel less stabby.

  14. Hi!

    I stumbled upon your site this morning while trying to get some advice about getting my little guy to nap properly during the day. Love it!!
    My little guy is almost 3 months old and has been sleeping well at night, we have a great routine that involves a bath, story and nurse at 7pm, then he is in his crib by 8pm.
    I am concerned that when I put him down he is drowsy and sometimes asleep and want to make sure that he is awake like you have stressed. What is the best way to do this and continue to nurse him before bed?
    We don’t use any music, white noise or a pacifier at all and he has been sleeping like this since about 5 weeks old!

    He usually only wakes once a night (around 3am) and sometimes not at all for a quick feed.
    He then sleeps well until about 6:30-7am.

    His daytime naps are erratic right now, so I think I will try the “swing” and see if it works.

    Thanks again!

    • Well it’s not time to panic about putting him to sleep awake but I’m glad that you’re working towards that goal. The best way to put him down drowsy but awake is to gradually remove nursing from sleep. So if your bedtime routine is bath, book, boob – try bath, boob, book. Then boob, bath, book.

      Again he’s only 3 months so you don’t need to do this tonight per se. But ideally as babies get older, separating boob from sleep will help overall. To be clear he gets the same AMOUNT of nursing, just shuffled to a different place in the routine ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks SO much Alexis! Great advice! Our bedtime routine is going well, he smiles at us when we kiss him goodnight then falls asleep on his own fairly quickly and has been sleeping through the night (sporadically)for the past few weeks! YAY!

        Daytime naps are still sometimes problematic….I have been using the swing on occasions where he won’t settle in the crib.. it works!
        Thanks for your great site, we all need a bit of help and reassurance from time to time and it is nice to know that we aren’t alone out there in the world of parenting…

        • Excellent news! And lots of babies nap in the swing and sleep in the crib at night. so no worries – if that’s what you need to do to get a good in nap in then you are in good company ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. My lo just turned 3 months and just learned how to fall asleep in his swing yesterday. He’s slept in there for 3 naps now. He has been needing me to hold him for all naps for the past month so this is a major breakthrough for us. He has been sleeping in his crib at night since birth without major issues. I say that because we have to put him down fully asleep. I’m just waiting for this to blow up in our face. Should I just keep practicing with the swing for naps until it is not moving and then the night will fall into place? His nap location is different from his nap location.

    Thanks so much, I am hopeful that this can work, even for our little cuddlier!

    • Personally I would take a week or two just to recuperate from the 3 months of nap holding. Celebrate this accomplishment! You know, read People magazine, drink some wine, and generally post FB updates about how you are the best Mom ever. Once you’ve fully rested yourself then you can start back with working on sleep ๐Ÿ˜‰

      It’s OK for now that he naps in 1 place and sleeps in another but it’s time to start moving him so that he’s sleeping in the same place round the clock. I mean this as a LOCATION – it’s fine for him to nap in the swing and sleep at night in his crib. I would just move the swing to the same room as his crib.

      Practicing with the swing for naps won’t magically solve the night problem. You’re right in that if you keep putting him down FULLY asleep, it will eventually blow up on you. (Again we’re not in the panic zone yet but it’s great that you’re aware!).

      If you want to keep him in the crib at night then over the next few months you will have to start putting him down a tiny bit more awake. Try drowsy but awake. Doesn’t work? OK wait a few days then try again. Rinse, repeat.

      If he’s 4.5-5 months and you’re not making headway then its time to start buckling down. Make sure you have a really soothing and consistent bedtime routine. Use loud white noise. Test him for a few minutes (he may fuss for 3-5 minutes, why not see what he can do if you leave him alone for a tiny bit?).

      Again no magic bullet. But you can totally do this! Just wait till the feeling comes back to your arms ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Hi alexis,
    Just when we thought we had cracked the bedtime routine our 7wk old has decided over the past week not to go to bed any earlier than 11pm. I’m exhausted because I’m breastfeeding him until he falls asleep which I now realise is a bad thing. Have you any advice on how we can bring his bedtime in a little earlier. We start settling him around 8.30-9pm and it is taking hours to get him asleep. When I leave him in his cot semi asleep he just fuses and won’t sleep. Any help Wld be appreciated as I’m doing this on my own because my husband works and can’t help out so late. Thank you in advance, kerryn

    • Well you could have just been struck by the 6 week sleep regression/growth spurt (usually this is a biggie):

      What you describe is pretty normal for a newborn – fussy in the evening, won’t fall asleep although clearly tired, bedtime too late. The article I link to below talks about the witching hour but it’s really common/normal.

      Also I would NOT worry about nursing to sleep at 7 weeks. It’s TOTALLY OK for newborns! Literally. It’s older babies (4-6 months) that you need to worry about. So for starters I would try nursing him until he is fully asleep. Perhaps that will help him fall asleep earlier.

      However if you’re working on it for hours and NOTHING is working then it could be that this is just where he is at for now. It’s REALLY frustrating to spend 3 hours trying to put a baby to sleep so I would stop. temporarily assume he WON’T sleep so start your bedtime routine at 10:00.

      Wait a week and then try pushing his bedtime gradually up. Try 10:30. 10:00. See what happens. If it’s a total disaster – give up. wait a week. Try again.

      This is a rough time especially if you are solo-parenting. But you might need to let time fix this problem. Best of luck with everything!

  17. I have a 6 month old who has always slept through the night and now wont. i thought it was her teeth but it isnt i dont think .. i really want her to go back to sleeping all night but have taken to letting her get in with me to fall back to sleep once she has woken up, sometimes i move her back into her bed and sometimes i fall asleep next to her in my bed and i wake up in the morning with a little hand in my eye…How do i get her back to sleep in HER bed in the night? I dont want her being in my bed every night for hte rest of her life because my personal life is becoming disrupted by a baby in the middle of the only time me and my other half get time together.

    • Well if you think your issue is object permanence (seems likely) then your only option really is to change how you help her fall asleep. Or embrace co-sleeping (which you don’t seem keen to do). You don’t say HOW she is falling asleep but that’s really the crux of the issue. You basically want to:

      a) provide as much soothing as you can as long as….
      b) that soothing isn’t something that you can’t maintain all night long.

      Thus white noise is awesome while “nursing to sleep” isn’t. It’s also about giving her other clues that it’s sleep time. For example if “nursing to sleep” was your entire bedtime routine and you take “nursing” away then she doesn’t really understand that it’s time to sleep anymore. So you want to make sure your routine enables her to understand what is going on – diaper change, nursing, books, song, bed is a nice bedtime lineup because there are LOTS of clues there.

      Hope that helps?

  18. Great blog!! Thank you so much for so many fantastic tips. May i confirm if you have any idea about the effect of letting babies sleep in a swing (not flat surface) -> am pretty concerned about the spine, will it have any side effects, since they are developing rapidly at this age? Also would appreciate any recommendation of what you think is the best swing? And maybe why you think so? Thank you so much in advance.

  19. ok so… my baby will be 4 months in a couple days… hes been sleeping through the night for 2 months and now all of a sudden he has started waking up at 230am and then 530 am hungry. nothing has changed, his routine has been the same since. hes not cold hes not hot, he still likes to be swaddled. everything is the same… now when i say through the night i mean… from 10-11pm til 9-930am. however, april 1st i started him on fruits for afternoon feeding… i did each fruit for 4 days for allergy reasons and everything has been fine. ive circled.. bananas, pears, and apples. he loves them all. i’m about to start a veg for evening. should i put rice cereal in his fruits and veg? and could he just need more solids and thats the cause of his waking up? what do you think cuz working in the morning is not fun and after this past week i literally was in tears from exhaustion. i’m very patient and ive found myself not to be now and i hate it. i hate that he has seen me cry for the first time and looked at me like what is that lol please help…

    • Kelly,
      This is not about food. It is almost NEVER about food. Sure some kids have food issues (dairy and soy are the biggies – how many kids do you know with a pear allergy? precious few). So you are welcome to make a food chart and circle bananas or what have you but honestly, it’s not about food.

      It IS about the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. Oh you aren’t the first (or the last) parent to be brought to tears by this doozie. But it’ll pass I promise!

      You can read up on it here:

      The good news is that it’s almost 10 days since you posted so with any luck you’re all done and back to sleeping through the night again. Proactive celebratory WOOT!

  20. Again, I absolutely love your site! So helpful and non-guilt inducing. We have a 2 month old, so we are not doing much to help her fall asleep on her own yet, but are starting to think about what we want to do when we get to the 3 month mark. We plan on trying the gradual approach first, but aren’t opposed to CIO if it gets to the point where it’s needed. We have started putting a consistent nap/bedtime routine in place so that she has some sleep cues in place that we don’t need to take away (bath and/or lotion, story, closing the blinds, white noise, etc.) I have two questions though.
    1. Am I correct that we should not use a mobile and/or soother (the light up thing on the side of the crib) to help her fall asleep because that will not be on if she wakes up in the middle of the night? A couple of times she has fallen asleep on her own on a fluke, but one of those has been on for her to stare at.
    2. When we start teaching her to fall asleep on her own, should we start with just nap, just bedtime, or tackle everything at once?

    • Kat,
      From your question you seem like a really organized person. Am I right? Could I safely lick the inside of your vegetable crisper? Are your taxes organized in labeled folders or stuffed into the box with “Taxes 1996” written in marker on the side? I ask that while looking at my box of old taxes ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Yes – long term the mobile/soother will mess things up. Generally I hate the Fisher Price aquarium (everybody I know has this) for this reason. So it’s totally OK now but not long term. Both of those things are great to use if you can hook them up at the diaper changing area however so they still might be useful, just elsewhere.

      As for “when” just start when you can – naps, bedtime, whenever. See what works. She might be more amenable to it at bedtime because generally babies are most tired then so their brain chemistry is primed to sleep (they don’t fight sleep as well then). But really it’s something that needs to happen during all those times so no reason not to give it a go if you’re having a good day, the stars are aligned, etc. If it’s not a good day – OK, try again tomorrow. You have plenty of time.

      From the way you are thinking about things I have no doubt that you are on a good path sleepwise. Good luck!

  21. Hi Alexis,
    Thank you so much for your blog. I love all the information but I particularly like your sense of humor. Your blog makes me laugh at all the craziness, tiredness and confusion that would ordinarily make me edgy and stressed.

    My baby girl, Lila, will be 12 weeks tomorrow and I’m working on Drowsy But Awake. I know I have some time so I am trying to start with her naps because I’m not AS tired during the day.

    Lila currently does all her sleeping tightly swaddled, white noise and in her swing (based on your blog about swings) but I am rocking/bouncing/nursing her to sleep and then placing her down. I have not had success yet with putting her down drowsy. She becomes more alert when I put her down and looks around the room. Then she makes noises and twists around like she’s aware of and trying to get out of her swaddle. I have waited for 10 minutes, even gone downstairs but she’s still wide awake.

    Also Lila’s drowsy signs/awake time is very hard to read. She usually yawns early – about 45 minutes to an hour after waking up. But if I try to rock her/nurse her right after the yawn she doesn’t seem very drowsy or fights it. So I continue to play with her until she becomes fussy/twitchy (around 1.5 hours). When she becomes fussy i know she’s tired so I force her to become drowsy with heavy soothing which entails: swaddling & another nursing session OR going into a pitch black bathroom with fan on and rocking her. Usually her eyes get heavy in the bathroom and she falls asleep quickly. She doesn’t have a huge window of drowsiness and it is usually brought on by my rocking/nursing. It also seems like she needs pitch black or else she is easily stimulated by looking around the room.

    Can you comment on the situation and let me know if this “forced drowsiness” is normal or if there is anything I could modify? Should I be trying harder to sooth at 45 minutes – 1 hour after nap or am I trying too soon? I will be patient and continue to work on it but if you have any suggestions that will help with the drowsy thing, that would be great.

    • One other quick note. Sometimes I can put Lila down VERY, very drowsy (almost asleep) is this the same thing? This technique seems to work better in the crib – less movement to lay her down than bending her into the swing. OK I’m done! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hmmm…

      Well I could cut yourself some slack as she is so itty bitty so all of this could simply be a matter of “she’s tiny, wait a week or two, try again.”
      But here goes…
      1) LOTS of babies need total darkness. If that is what she needs then I would definitely make where she makes SUPER dark. If you don’t have black out blinds you can tape aluminum foil to the windows (cheap and works GREAT).

      In fact based on what you are telling me I would do your wind-down in the dark too if you can.

      2) Lots of babies need lots of soothing to sleep at this age. So nothing you describe sounds concerning. When you call it “forced drowsiness” you make it sound like some sort of baby manipulation when it sounds like you’re just giving her the soothing + sensory deprivation she needs to settle. So how about we call it something less alarming, like “soothing her to sleep” ๐Ÿ˜‰

      3) I can’t intuit your baby’s window of wakefulness except to say that it sounds like it’s somewhere between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. Not helpful eh? If your gut says 1 hour is too soon, how about 1 hour 15 minutes? Sadly there is no science here, just trial and error.

      Good luck!

  22. Hello, are we talking about corrected age for prematurity? My twins are a bit short of 7 months legal age, and exactly 5 months corrected age. They moved to their crib 2.5 months ago. That is when I introduced a routine for meals and naps and bedtime. They are generally good nappers (3 naps a day or fussiness hits). At bedtime (7 pm), they have a bath and bottle routine (bottle usually comes before bath but not always, if they are not hungry). They are put awake in their crib. They are starting to fall asleep on their own ok with a few checks. Later in the evening I still dreamfeed them (sometimes they wake up for it) around 10pm, but no bottle until 7am or later. My son has been sleeping through the night for a month (he uses the paci to fall asleep but is not really dependent on it), sometimes mumbles a bit, falls asleep again.My daughter who initially could sleep for 6 hours straight at 4 months legal age, deteriorated at 5 months and now wakes up at 2am,and cannot fall asleep until 5am, bouncing in her bed and jumping all over the place. Before that it was her chatting at the same time. It is not sleep regression as this has now lasted for 3 weeks. If I leave her be, she ends up screaming and hysterical; plus she has always been hyper dependent on the paci. Previous attemps to remove the paci have resulted in hysterical fits lasting HOURS (litterally, my husband and I watch the clock). She is and has always been extremely nervous, scratching her face with her hands;she would always houdini the swaddle blanket even at 3 months…For the past 2 nights I had to resort to cosleeping in her room (after 7 months of no sleep, I m a zombie), and then she calms down quite easily. But I know its the wrong way to go.Especially if we count legal age of 7 months instead of corrected age of 5 months. I never know whether to look at developmental issues for legal or corrected age? what can I do about hyperactivity in the middle of the night? how about paci removal? we tried a lovey but she doesnt like it right now

    • Some pediatricians will do this for as long as 2-3 years so it’s hard to say when you don’t need to adjust the age anymore. But when in doubt, use the adjusted (younger) age. So I would consider your twins to be 5 months old.

      So why is she waking up and freaking out? And yes, that is my non-medical assessment. She is waking up and freaking out which is why she is then AWAKE. As you noted – if you bring her to your bed (effectively providing a ton of soothing) she settles just fine. So this is not a medical problem that is preventing her from sleeping – given the right environment she’ll happily go back to sleep, yes? But at 5 months the question is a) what is causing her to freak out and b) how can we avoid this so we can skip the 2:00 AM freak out which requires heavy soothing to fall back to sleep.

      The short answer is I don’t know. Does she have a paci at bedtime? The most LIKELY cause is she goes to bed with the paci and is tired enough to not realize it has fallen out until about 2:00 AM. When she wakes up enough to find it missing she is freaking out which leaves her SO awake that she can’t settle back to sleep for 3 hours.

      I would check with your pediatrician who would know more about your children but based on what you’ve told me, this is my best guess. If you aren’t ready to loose the paci (as it seems to be a horrible nightmare when you try) you could try to shorten the 3 hour window with further soothing. Maybe you put the paci back and place her in a swing at 2:00 AM with loud white noise – try to give her soothing that doesn’t require her to be your bed but also doesn’t leave her up for 3 hours every night.

      Or just accept that for the next month or so you’ll be co-sleeping from 2:00 AM – 6:00 AM. Presumably as she gets older her reliance on the paci will wane and you could do loose-paci-CIO with slightly less drama when she is a bit older.

      I wish I had some magic solution for you that would radically change this. If you do talk to your pediatrician I would love to hear what you learn from that. Best of luck!

  23. As I said above, one of the weird things is that both are good nappers, taking 2 naps of around 2 hours and the 3rd one of about 1 hour (or if the 2nd one is a bit crap, then the 3rd one usually makes up for it). At least I can rest during those so I cannot complain. I really don’t understand why the night is such a big issue for my daughter (aren’t naps much more difficult to get working for most babies?) – her biggest block of uninterrupted sleep is 4 hours (from dreamfeed to 2am). Or is it the dreamfeed interfering with her sleep?

    • I doubt the dreamfeed is the issue although it’s certainly worth playing around with. What happens if you skip it?

      Also your brain processes nap sleep differently from night sleep so if I’m right about the “where is my paci!” freakout then her brain may simply process the missing paci differently during naptime.

  24. Hi Alexis–
    Wow, I’m so glad I stumbled upon your site! Our little one is just over 3 months old and has been sleeping/napping exclusively in her swing for the past two months. We would turn off all motion after the first 2-3 hours and she’d go all night, putting in a good 10-12 hours total! We felt well-rested and lucky, knowing she’d eventually transition to her crib. Well, a week and a half ago, she started trying to turn to her side/tummy and it seemed like the swing wasn’t working; her face would get smooshed in the headrest and she was getting mad. We’d recently moved the swing to her room, next to crib, turned off motion after she fell asleep, but never quite got to putting her in there with no movement at all. Now I’m wondering if we maybe rushed this?? The first week in the crib went OK–she’d do a long stretch for the first 4-5 hours and then 1-3 wakes to feed after that. Not too bad. However, the past few nights have been TOUGH–she’s been up constantly, every hour or so, and we are exhausted! I can often only calm her by nursing but I hate to use that as a crutch when she’s probably not hungry every hour, right? So tonight,after she couldn’t settle in there at all for 3 hours, we decided to put her back in the swing, and will try getting her to sleep in swing with no motion before trying to get back into the crib. I’m bummed that we put in this time and now feel like we’re taking a big step back, but don’t know what else to do. I am also feeling VERY nervous about being successful in the crib on the next go round…any tips or advice would be HIGHLY appreciated!! Also, is it better to transition her for both naps and night-time sleep at the same time, or one before the other? Unfortunately, our older babe was a rock-star crib sleeper from early on so we are spoiled and inexperienced in this arena.
    Thanks much, One Tired Mama.

    • I know people feel that going back to the swing is “a big step back” but I prefer to think about it this way – you tried an experiment and learned that she’s not ready. That doesn’t mean that she will NEVER be ready, just that she’s not ready today.

      Babies are ongoing science experiments. What happens if I do X? What happens if I do Y? It’s not failure, just ongoing hypothesis testing.

      You’re right -she doesn’t need to eat every hour all night long. However this COULD have been an early sleep regression (4 months is typically a doozie).

      So just keep in mind that what you assume is due to the crib-transition may in fact have been totally unrelated. You could always test the theory by putting her back in the crib to see what happens. If she is once again up all night – OK – not a failure, she just still needs the swing.

      Generally babies are in the crib (happily) at night BEFORE naps. Often naps get shorter in the crib so people tend to stick with the swing longer.

      Hope that helps – good luck!

  25. Hi Lisa and Alexis! I’m actually in a similiar situation so I figured I’d comment as well! First of al thank you sooo much for having this site…not only has it calmed me down a bit but now I can prove to my husband that I’m not crazy when I tell him how important it is for my daughter Emma to learn to sleep on her own! Shell be 15 weeks tomorrow.

    Ok I’ll try to make my story brief…I kind of miffed things up in the beginning bc I was what my husband called the crib nazi lol. Emma was a loud sleeper so sleeping in our room wasn’t working out. At 1 Month she was sleeping in her crib on a wedge swaddle with loud white mouse thanks to dr Karp. She wouldn’t take a paci and I wasn’t too keen On it anyway. Life was great at some point around 2 months she started going to be at about 730 waking up at 2 and 5 ish to eat then in the swing at 530 and sleeping til 9-10. Naps were a disaster which I see now was bc I was forcing them in the crib so they only lasted 30in to an hour unless we were out and she was in the carseat then she could go 2-3 hours.

    Two weeks ago I bought one of those crib soothes with lights and music and started working on getting her to fall asleep on her own. It actually worked for a few nights and I was ecstatic. Then last Friday she started waking up every 40 min to hour even with the soother still on. I would keep trying to get her back in the crib but by 2 am I was so exhausted I would give up and put her in the swing where she’d sleep for 6-8 hours! I felt like a failure for having to use the swing since she’d been in the crib this whole time (I still kind of feel bad about it).

    So I have decided to embrace the swing at this point bc I’m going back to work next week and I can’t wake up every hour. I put it on the lowest speed and Sunday night she slept 12 hours straight!! Monday she did 10 hours and last night she did 12 but was up at 2 to eat. The swing is in her room but it’s swinging all night on low with a blanket hanging down to slow it more.

    So my questions are: 1) is it really bad that she’s been in the crib up til now and is now in the swing?
    2) should I be turning the swing off completely after she falls asleep? I thought the goal is to be able to have her fall asleep without it moving?
    3) I’m working on separating nursing from bed so I’ve changed the routine to boob bath book bed…if she won’t fall asleep is it bad to nurse her again?
    4) since I know she can go 12 hours without eating should I feed her when she wakes up in the night or try to get her back to sleep without nursing?
    5) swaddle-I have been putting her in the swing unswaddled when I transition to crib- swaddle or no swaddle?
    6) how long should I do this swing to crib transition for? Since she’s so young should I leave her in the swing for a month?
    7) like Lisa I’m really anxious about putting her in the crib. If it doesn’t work on the first try, wait a week and try again?

    Omg I’m sorry this is so long. I didn’t realize I had so much. Her naps have been good bc I let her sleep on her tummy on a banket on the floor. Ped says its ok as long as I watch her. Her longest nap is 2 hours from 9-11 then usually 40-50 min at 1 3 and 5. She’s starting daycare next week so I’m sure things are going to be royally messed up. They do have a swing so hopefully they can get her to nap bc putting her on her back in a crib is not gonna work. And she now fights a swaddle with a fiery passion.

    Anyway thanks again for this site. I look forward to hearing your thoughts! TIA

    • Ps I write this as I sit in the car waiting for her to finish her nap…it’s been an hour!

    • Sarah,
      See response above – not a failure at all! Simply you are acknowledging that for now she needs the angle/motion of the swing. And that is TOTALLY OK.

      The long term goal is to have a baby falling asleep in a non moving swing but for now let’s just get into a happy routine that does not involve you all being awake all night. This isn’t a race – you don’t get a prize for finishing first ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes when baby is sleeping happily in a non-moving swing you try the crib and see what happens. Your hypothesis is that she is ready. You test your hypothesis. If your hypothesis is wrong – FINE! – wait a week or two, try again. This is temporary!

      Should you feed her? I would – she is still young. Sure some days she can go 12 hours but 1 feeding a night is not unreasonable for a 4 month old baby. And hungry babies tend to cry a lot. If she’s still waking up 1x a night at 6-7 months you could start gradually weaning. But it’s a fair request at 4 months, no?

      Deep breaths, deep breaths. In with the good air, out with the bad. Seriously – this is all small stuff. Fundamentally you have a champion sleeper who has just told you that for now she needs the swing. Let’s celebrate the champion sleeper part OK – WOO HOO!

      As for daycare, make sure they understand that THEY are not allowed to put her on her stomach even if they’re watching. Seriously. They aren’t allowed to do that. Not ever. Trust me on this. Hopefully the swing will work for naps there. Make sure it’s not the ancient bucket-swing but a good recumbent swing. My guess is she’ll sleep just fine in a good swing at daycare.

      Also – know what? It’s all going to be OK. Daycare, getting out of the swing, all of it. I promise ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Hey Alexis!
        I just wanted to drop by and leave an update and also ask a few followup questions! Things have been going pretty well! Emma (19 weeks now) has been sleeping in the swing since this post and is now going down completely awake (we do boob-bath-book-bed) and falling asleep on her own at 7pm every night. Her naps have improved in the swing as well (goes in awake), the other day she did 3 hours! She is doing well at daycare sleeping in the pack n play and swing..i am very happy!
        Ok, so my questions are:

        1) when she sleeps in the swing, moving super slow with a blanket hanging off to slow it down she can sleep from 7pm to anywhere from 5-630am then go back down til about 8, however, now that she is in the non-moving swing she wakes up at 3am. I let her fuss and sometimes she’ll fall back to sleep only to wake up 20 min later…its killing me b/c i have to get up at 530 for work and by the time i fall back to sleep its time to get up! so…should i turn the swing back on again and wait a couple more weeks? i do end up feeding her at 3 b/c she is crying and she does act as if she is hungry but i’m not sure if that is the right thing since i know she can go longer…
        2) For naps, i have been leaving the swing on slow…when should i work on turning it off? i was thinking once i got her in the crib…i know she can nap without moving b/c she does the pack n play at daycare but the naps are def longer when she is in the moving swing
        3) As i said, I have been putting her down completely awake…some nights she just falls asleep quietly and other nights she cries (not screaming) for 10-15 minutes and some nights she does scream but thats not often and i usually pick her up for a few min and put her back and she’ll fuss a bit and fall asleep…is there any rhyme or reason to this? I can’t figure out what is different about the days that she falls asleep peacefully and the days she fusses. Will it always be this way or one day ill just be able to put her down and she’ll go to sleep without fussing? It makes me sad when she struggles to fall asleep…shes fussing/crying but her eyes are shut and shes rubbing her face so i know shes tired!

        Thank you again so much for your advice and this website..i really dont know where i’d be without it (probably waking up a lot more than once a night!!).

        • So almost 5 months old….hmmmm….

          Well I DO know this – putting a blanket (or anything really) on your swing is a good way to burn out the motor. So when your motor stops working you’ll get to see how she does in a non-moving swing ๐Ÿ™‚

          Generally at 5 months kids are OK without motion so I would test it even if the motor DOES crap out on you! Generally bedtime is a good place to start but I hear you about the 3 AM thing.

          It’s a tough call because 13 hours is a pretty monster night so it seems reasonable that she wants to eat one time in that stretch. At the same time I can understand why you want that feed to come at 5:00 AM not 3:00 AM. And you’re right – probably the swinging motion is making the difference between her ignoring her hunger pangs for the final 2 hours.

          If she was younger, or possibly as a temporary fix, you could use the motion. But a baby sleeping in a non moving swing is essentially ready for the crib. So another alternative would be to transition her to the crib and then work on gradually weaning her off her last night feed altogether (most babies are just fine fasting 12 hours at 6 months and she’s so close).

          OR some combination therein – swing for a few weeks then swing without motion then crib with an emphasis on the night weaning.

          I would have her solidly sleeping in a non moving swing at night first. Naps tend to get a little shorter when the swing stops so you can definitely do a trial run this weekend (in swing, swing not turned on) and see how things go. If naps devolve into a big mess then you can keep the day motion but still continue with the crib/weaning plan at night.

          I don’t know why she cries some nights but it sounds like you’re making great headway with “down awake” so as long as the screaming nights are decreasing in frequency I wouldn’t sweat it too much. She has a bubble? Is too tired? Not tired enough? Who knows?

          I do know that sometime between now and when she goes to college she won’t fuss at bedtime. Hopefully it’ll be sooner than later ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Thank you so much for your quick response alexis! And thank u again for this blog. You have definitely calmed my nerves. Will work with the swing for a couple of weeks and enjoy my sleep as i transition back into working. I will definitely keep you updated on how it goes!

  27. Hi Alexis!
    My baby is 15 weeks old. he’s a big boy…almost 16 lbs! Tall too… LOVE HIS CHUB! An Added note, he is breastfed. At 4 weeks he was sleeping 8 hrs in the swing before waking up to nurse. I was nervous about the swing sleep at first and made my husband sleep in the chair next to his swing (you might remember me!) When I decided I was comfortable with it, we moved his swing next to his crib, swaddled him up tight, and turned on the fan for white noise, and, I’m not kidding you, at about 9 weeks he started sleeping 12 hrs a night. No night feeds…every once in a while I hear him wake up and he puts himself back to sleep. Go Seb! I wake him up most mornings (for work) but on the weekends he’ll sleep until almost 8, going to bed around 7 or 7:30. He still seems to need an evening nap (4:45ish) and usually only sleeps 30 minutes for this nap.
    I can’t buckle him inโ€ฆthe straps just donโ€™t wrap around his little swaddled legs very well. I have one of those FP Snug a Bunny Papasan swings. I’m not too worried about him falling out, but he is getting even bigger and more mobile, so the time is drawing near to move him to the crib. Here is where I start to worry. Why?? Because I have absolutely wonderful SLEEPFUL nights and I’m terrified to upset the routine. LOL. I’m sure every mom out there getting up all night long wants to toss their cookies at me.
    I’ve been lowering the swing speed every week since he turned 3 month old. We put him down completely asleep. Obviously he is waking up sometimes at night and putting himself back to sleep, but so far putting him down (into the swing) even remotely awake has unsuccessful and resulted in crying until he was soothed and put down asleep.
    Also โ€“ he’s soon to be at an age where swaddling isn’t great b/c he might be rolling over. Plus, he loves to suck on his hand and I think that is a good soothing technique for him. Obviously he can’t do that when I lay him in his crib swaddled so how can he self soothe?
    I also recently went back to work. The babysitter has been putting him down on his back in a pack n play, completely unswaddled and obviously not in motion. He’s been napping for her MOSTLY 45 minutes to an hour nap at a time, but he also slept 3 ยฝ hours for her like that.
    I just can’t read him! I’m not sure if I should swaddle or not swaddle for the transition, and I’m afraid he will start waking up all night long. I’m afraid if he’s swaddled he won’t be able to self soothe. I’m afraid he’ll claw himself awake if he’s not swaddled. I certainly don’t want to get into the habit of nursing him back to sleep, because it seems obvious that he doesn’t need to eat in the middle of the night. I do nurse him to sleep frequently at night, but he can also be rocked to sleep with no problem by Mommy or Daddy.
    Thoughts? Ideas? Encouragement? Who knows. Maybe I just needed to get out my insecurities about not knowing what to do and just try something and know that if it doesn’t work, I can try later.
    (sorry – this is long, isn’t it?)

    • Well if his legs don’t fit in the straps (seriously? he IS a big fella!) then you have to work with the crib. Bummer because as you’re still putting him down fully asleep, it would have been great to use the swing to help him learn how to fall asleep (don’t worry though you still have some runway to get that sorted out!).

      I would probably stick with the swaddle. People are really keen to help their baby self-soothe with their hands but remember that:
      a) some babies NEVER really soothe with their hands
      b) flailing hands are generally more of a sleep deterrent
      c) at this age their aim is bad (so he might want to chew on his hands but end up sort of flapping himself in the face instead).

      So basically hands out may or may not help you but swaddling definitely will. Also if he’s been sleeping swaddled then swaddling is already probably a great sleep cue for him which will help him go BACK to sleep.

      So use loud white noise, swaddle, rock to sleep (again it’s time to start working on helping him fall asleep on his own), and put him in the crib. Hopefully he continues sleeping for 13 (Yeah!) hours a night. If he wakes up I would try to keep the soothing minimal and maybe let him cry a little (wait 10-15 minutes, see what he does). If you can at all avoid it, I wouldn’t nurse at night. Because you’re already done with that and going back to night nursing will quickly result in habitual night nursing.

      Unless you WANT to night nurse (some working moms like it because they feel they’re missing out during the day) which is entirely up to you. But if you aren’t keen to go back to night nursing then work with soothing words, some brief patting, or maybe in desperation, rocking.

      Let me know how things go. I’m guessing that your happy chubby sleeper will surprise you and transition just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks Alexis!
        I’m giggling a little as I read this…mostly because my little chubby guy DID surprise me! (btw – I don’t know why the straps wouldn’t pseudo fit around his legs….the straps were too short or something? weird!)
        Anyway, on Tuesday I got brave and put him down (completely asleep) in his crib and he slept all night. Same thing on Wednesday night. We aren’t going back!! I have a feeling that baby’s swinging days are over!
        So -I chose to do a swaddle, instead of making a cold turkey transition, and it was great. We are practicing naps (at the babysitters and on weekends) with no swaddle or only one arm in. That seems to be working well too..he’ll sleep 45 mins to 2 1/2 hrs that way.
        Now – obviously he is waking up at some point in the night (don’t all babies do this???) and not needing my assistance to fall asleep on his own. However, if I just put him in the crib semi asleep, he does NOT go to sleep on his own, and I kind of feel he’s too young to cry for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Additionally, if he wakes up about an hour after I put him down (which he typically does) he needs us to come in and pat him back to sleep..this only takes a couple of minutes, and we don’t normally have to even pick him up.
        I’d like to start working on helping him get to sleep on his own, but not sure when/how to start. What’s going on now is working, since he’s not waking/getting us up at night, but putting him down sound asleep. I just keep thinking he must have the skill if he does it during the night…Also, there are times when we DO hear him wake up and cry for a bit (just a few minutes) and then goes back to sleep on his own. Not sure if he is just crying out with gas pain in his sleep or if he’s truly awake.
        hmmm.. why is baby sleep so confusing!?!?!!!!!

        • He’s putting himself to sleep at night because he is too young for “put him down awake” to be an issue. Is this confusing? Sure is. But you can read a longer discussion of it here:

          Do a small % of babies sleep through the night EVEN though they are rocked/nursed/patted to sleep? Sure enough. I have no idea how small that number is but if I had to guess it’s less than 10%. Maybe 5%? So there is a 5% chance that when your baby is 6-7 months old he’ll continue happily sleeping through the night. If however, like most babies, he starts waking up hourly for you to come pat him back to sleep then you’ll know what the problem is yes?

          ps. ALL babies wake up and cry a little now and then. Who knows why? But if all they do is rumble around in there for a few minutes then he’s fine!

  28. Hi Alexis –

    Love your site! Found it last night when googling sleep regression in 4 month olds because I think that’s where we might be.

    My daughter was sleeping through the night earlier on in the bassinet. Since moving the the crib and weaning off of the swaddle she’s been up a few times because of all the freedom – she’s a mover! The day she mastered rolling back to belly (she already had been doing the other way) she totally became a crappy sleeper. Fighting all daytime naps. Waking regularly at night. Fighting being rocked, fighting being put down in her crib at all, fighting being carried/worn, etc. She’s overtired, we’re frustrated. She used to be able to go down drowsy and put herself asleep. The last hour she’s been up every 5-10 minutes. Pick her up, instantly asleep, put her down, asleep for 5-10 minutes, and repeat. Do you think this sounds like a sleep regression or something bigger? We’re on day 3. We used the Ferber method with my son around 5-6 months and it was a Godsend, so I’m not opposed to CIO, but she’s still so young. It seems to be getting worse, not better…help!

    • If it’s 3 days then it definitely sounds like a sleep regression. If it’s 3 weeks then it’s something bigger. Although the 4 month sleep regression is often the WORST so that’s probably the right answer.

      Also I’m surprised that she sleeps worse on her belly – most babies actually start sleeping better once they learn to flip over. I wouldn’t do Ferber because it doesn’t sound like “putting herself to sleep” is your current problem and that’s what we use Ferber for. Although you could definitely test a little by letting her stay by herself for 10-15 minutes to see what happens (she may just be in a zone where she needs to fuss to sleep a little).

      Anyway it’s been ~5 days since you wrote. If it’s a regression things should be looking up. So…how are things going?

      • Thanks so much for your reply! It’s getting a little bit better at night. When she lets herself sleep on her belly (which terrifies me) she’s usually fine. If she’s in a light sleep she sometimes still freaks out when she realizes she’s on her belly. It’s like she forgot how to roll off her belly when she learned to roll onto it! She’s able to fall asleep on her own at night, but still wakes. I’ll take it though because it’s better than last week!

        Naps are miserable. She won’t let me rock her, screams if I put her down. She won’t let me walk around with her. Even if we use white noise, she doesn’t allow herself to wind down. I’ve started a naptime routine earlier than normal thinking it’ll prevent her from getting overtired, but that hasn’t helped. I’ll try and help her calm down for as long as I can, but by that time it’s time to feed her again and she falls asleep nursing…something I was trying to avoid. She’ll sometimes fall asleep in the car, but not always. I don’t want that to become our only way to get her to nap either. I have a three year old and I feel like our lives have all gone on hold because of her sleeping issues. She won’t let my husband comfort her either, so it’s been a long week! I keep thinking if we can make it to 5-6 months we can let her cry it out a bit.

        • What about a temporary course of action where you nurse to sleep at naptime and put her down awake at night?

          I can tell you are super frustrated but I hate to start out thinking that you have no options other than CIO (it’s always there as a last resort but you’re really doing great and have plenty of time to get things sorted out).

          My sense is that she had a horrible regression (may still be in the tail of that) and is now overtired/sleep deprived. I would nurse to sleep for naps and aim for an earlier time than you would normally think. If nursing is the only thing that is working, for a week or two, it’s totally OK to help her sleep that way.

          Generally the answer is MORE soothing vs. less so you may need to go back to this:

          Nursing, swing, loud white noise, etc. Temporarily baby wearing may also be an option (personally I would go for a swing first but that’s just me).

          Once the regression is past and she’s no longer sleep deprived, you gradually wean off these things to effectively get back to where you were 2 weeks ago. It’s a frustrating process I know but nobody said babies were linear. They’re more of a 2 steps forward, 1 step back sort of creatures…

        • I just reread your reply. You don’t suggest Ferber now, which is good, but then I have to wonder why she’s waking up at night so often. She’s not looking to eat and falls asleep again as soon as I pick her up when she does wake up…yet she can put herself to sleep initially if she fusses for a few minutes. Part of me feels like if we can get the naps down, then maybe the rest will fall into place. I’m sorry if I’m rambling, I’m just at a loss. Maybe this is how sleep regression feels for parents? ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again for your help!

          • Wow, your fast! Thanks for your advice, we’ll try it!

            PS… My hubby also went to Carnegie Mellon, so he says happy to take advice from you!

          • She could be waking up because of:
            – over tired
            – teething
            – hungry
            – gas
            – mysterious baby syndrome
            – ???

            Seriously you can make yourself nuts trying to figure it out. What YOU need to figure it out is what your plan is to handle when she DOES wake up.

            And go CMU!

  29. My 8.5 month old is still not sleeping tonight. We just implemented the Weissbluth method about a month ago and he’s been putting himself to sleep on his own at nighttime with no problem (naps he cries sometimes) but he’s still waking 2-4 times a night to nurse! We’ve tried letting him cry for a bit to see if he’ll go back to sleep on his own. On the rare occassion that he does he’ll wake back up within an hour and start the process over again. However, if I nurse him and put him back in his crib he’ll fall back asleep easily on his own within a matter of minutes.

    I’m confused as to why he’s still waking so much at night if he’s able to put himself to sleep on his own. I think he’s old/healthy enough to be able to sleep through the night but I’m confused as to how to help him achieve this. Any advice would be appreciated!

    • He has a night feeding habit. If you’re USED to eating 3 blueberry muffins each night, you’ll be legitimately HUNGRY for 3 blueberry muffins all night long. So he’s learned to fall asleep but he’s hungry and thus waking up.

      If you can I would work on the night weaning techniques here:

      You can choose to go cold turkey but if he’s consuming 3-4 times a night then this option will lead to a lot of tears (hungry babies don’t fall asleep easily). He’s certainly capable of consuming all his calories during the day, he just needs to be gently coaxed into doing so. So hopefully you could drop all 4 night feedings within ~2-3 weeks and then you are DONE. Good luck!

  30. My 4th daughter is now 6 months old. I breastfed her for the first 4 1/2 months & switched her to formula. She still cannot sleep thru the night. We have a really good bedtime routine with her now & have no issues getting her down for the night. Our issue is her getting up several times during the night & waking everyone in the house, including her 4 year old sister who shares a room with her. She rarely ever naps long during the day. Usually 1 & 1/2 hours tops & it is usually 1/2 naps at a time with an occasional 1 hour nap. She baths at 7 pm followed by getting ready for bed & a 6 oz. bottle. She is still awake when we put her to bed in her crib at 8 pm and she puts herself to sleep. We dream feed her at 11 pm and I have no problems getting up at 5 am to feed her again. However, she gets up at least once, usually twice before her next feeding at 5 am. I refuse to feed her between 11 pm to 5 am as I know she doesn’t actually need to eat. She has slept thru this 6 hour time stretch a few times but always reverts back to her terrible waking habits. We run a fan in the bedroom to create white noice – doesn’t make a difference. I have raised 3 other children and I have never had this issue. They were all sound sleepers before 4 months of age. This last one is testing my limits and my limits have been met. You name it, we have tried it. Our last resort was letting her cry it out (we moved our 4 year old to the couch to sleep). She just screams for an hour or longer until her 5 am feeding. We started her on solids just before 5 months to see if it would help fill her up to sleep thru the night. She loves the food but it didn’t make one bit of a difference. We have tried rice cereal in the bottle for bed. Didn’t help either. I am at a loss. I know there is no magic solution, but any other suggestions are greatly welcomed.

    • Quick note on solids: Solids are filling but have almost NO calories. So when it comes to getting out of night-feeding, solids don’t help and generally hurt.

      My guess is that the dreamfeed is tripping you up. If she’s not really awake or hungry this may be a small snack for her. Thus while you feel you’ve just fed her, she hasn’t REALLY fed. Thus she’s waking up a few hours later actually hungry and then can’t fall back asleep (hungry babies don’t sleep well). Personally I would drop the 11 dream feed and wait to see when she wakes up on her own. Then I would go to her and feed her and see what happens. I’m guessing that she’ll wake up at ~1:00 AM and gobble hungrily and then possibly sleep till 5:00 AM (or even later).

      Another possible guess is that the dreamfeed is resulting in gas which then bothers her which is why she is crying so long and consistently. But I doubt it. I would skip the dreamfeed and see how that works out for you.

      ps. I get why you want to feed her at 11:00, and why you may not be keen to skip this. But try it for 3-4 days and let me know what happens, OK?

  31. Hi. I have a 7months (almost 8 months) baby girl. She slept through the night from when she was 6 weeks old till about 5 months old. I have reead “what you need to know about sleeping through the night” and I admit that part of the problem might be that we are still rocking her to sleep at night… BUT I would say the major problem is that she REFUSES to drink her bottle before bedtime. Here is more or less what she does:
    6:00 wakes up and drink 200ml formula
    8:00 breakfast (cereal)
    8:30 naps about 45min
    10:15 200ml formula
    12:30 lunch – fruit
    13:00 naps about 45min
    14:30 150ml formula
    15:00-16:00 maybe naps for 45 min
    16:30 dinner (age related purity with chicken or something similar)
    18:00 bath
    18:30 try to give her formula, which she refuses 4 out of 5 times
    2:00 Wakes up to drink if she hasn’t drunk her night time bottle
    So, if she drinks after bathtime, she sleeps through the night. Otherwise I am guaranteed that she will wake up for a bottle. Which I don’t mind, but what I DO mind is that she will simply not fall asleep again straight after she drunk. We are up with her at least for an hour before she falls asleep again.
    I will honestly try to get her to fall asleep on her own, as this will help with her falling asleep at 2:00 at night. But I need advise on her taking her bottle at bedtime, because then she sleeps through the night. I realise that they drink less bottles during the day the older they get – but which bottle should I then take away during the day (as she is currently dropping her bedtime bottle…).

    • Here’s my guess – “dinner” is messing you up.

      Most people don’t get this but it’s true – solids have tons of fiber and NO calories. So they make you FEEL full but aren’t really nourishing your body (at this age it’s more about practicing eating). Just went to a pediatric talk and came away with this statistic:
      4 oz formula = 80 calories
      4 oz gerber carrots = 15 calories

      You want her to take a full bottle at 6:30? Then you may need to rethink the filling but calorie light “dinner” at 4:30. Try pushing it earlier or making it smaller. But really I think that is the root cause of her not taking a night bottle…

      Let me know what happens, OK?

  32. Hi
    Do you have any suggestions for a 5 month old baby that sleeps great at night. Usually 7-5 then self soothes until 7am. The problem we have is nap time. He will not be put down for a nap awake or even asleep. He will only be hugged and will cry if put down. We have managed to get to a point where he doesn’t need to be rocked or patted to sleep just hugged. I have tried most sleep suggestions CIO, gradual retreat, pick up put down. All result in him being absolutely historical and vomiting. He never has more than 30mins naps twice a day. I can spend hours trying to get him to nap. He is extremely tired by the end of the day but can settle himself at night. I will be returning to work soon so he needs to nap without hugs. I’m at a loss what to do?


    He’s bottle fed and on solids three times a day

    • What about swaddling? It sounds like he really needs that feeling of containment. Sure he’s a bit old but it’s not ridiculous for some babies to be swaddled till 6-9 months. As he is a bigger kid you may need to double swaddle to keep him IN the swaddle. But if that is what he needs to nap, OK, that’s good information, yes? Loud white noise and a double swaddle.

  33. I have been putting my almost 6-month old down awake for naps and bedtime for the past 2 weeks (prior to this we put him down drowsy and patted his belly if he cried). It has definitely helped lengthen his naps and he is sleeping better at night. Regardless, he still cries for 5-10 minutes every time I put him down before he finally falls asleep. How long should this continue? Weeks? Months? I know that 5-10 minutes is not the end of the world, but when I think about 3 naps and 1 bedtime every day, that makes for 20-40 minutes a day of my baby crying by himself. That seems like a lot to me. Any end likely in sight?

    • Also, you always hear about Ferber taking 3-4 days, so I am concerned about my little guy. Is the 3-4 days to solve the night time wakings (which we seem to have pretty much done) or to stop all nap/night time crying, which we have clearly not done.

      • I have the same issue with my 4 1/2 month old…it seems to be gradually getting better but there are definitely some naps and some nights that she still cries for 10-15 minutes before passing out…i was also wondering about the whole Ferber thing…i thought after 3-4nights the crying was done and they would be all smiley at bedtime lol

        • Your kid may NEVER be smiley at bedtime. My 3 YO says to me at bedtime, “Why we have to sleep? I don’t WANT to sleep!”

          OF COURSE HE DOESN’T!!! Who wants to go sit in a dark room when it’s still light out (dammit summer!)? Who wants to sleep when Mommy and Daddy are clearly still up and about?

          It’s not until you’re an old putz like me that you actually start to look forward to bedtime. But for almost everybody under the age of 30 bedtime is not the highlight of your day. So I wouldn’t expect smiles anytime soon.

          10 minutes is not Ferberizing. This is complaining about missing out on the fun. So you ARE done with cry it out. Just done done with the complaining.

    • Want to know what I think? I think that is FANTASTIC! Seriously, when people talk about “Ferberizing” they’re talking about crying for up to an hour or more. 5 minutes is simply his way of saying, “I don’t think I like this, I would like to stay and party please!” Of course stay and partying is not an option.

      Listen some kids just need to grumble a bit or blow off some steam when they fall asleep. Probably this will decrease over time. But I would count 5-10 minutes as a total blessing and a WORTHY exchange for better quality sleep.

      I know you were looking for a fix to the problem but I would instead suggest that there really IS no problem.

  34. I have a few questions though. Sometimes it is hard to determine if he is ready to go down for naps. I think he is tired so I lay him down. Sometimes he falls right asleep but sometimes he will lay there for quite some time sucking his thumb and pretty content. I just worry that if I leave them there for too long before he falls asleep he might not be as excited to lie down. Now he is all smiles when he knows its sleep time. Is there a limit on how long they should lay there if they haven’t fallen asleep? We have no interest in CIO so I’m just talking about when he is laying there pretty content.

    The other problem we are having is getting him to go back to sleep after his early morning feeding. We do bed time between 6:30 and 7:00. He usually then wakes up at somewhere between 1:30 and 3:00 am (usually closer to 1:30) to eat he then goes right back down and has been waking up at between 5 and 5:30. I feed him but he then want to be up for the day. Any suggestions? I would like him to sleep until 6:30 or 7. I thought this might help us work toward 2 naps a day instead of 3 or 4. He takes good naps. Usually about 5 hours worth of naps a day with most of the time 2 being close to or more than 2 hours.


    • How old is your baby?

      Some babies are just early risers. You may find 5:30 AM to be uncivilized (and frankly I would agree with you) but this is not an outrageous time for a newborn to be up. Generally the advice is to push bedtime even earlier but 6:30 PM is pretty early. Still it might be worth an experiment – what happens if you put him down at 6:00 PM?

      When kids are older there are ways to push out the morning (like when they are 2) but with babies there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Depending on your baby’s age sometimes putting him in a swing after his night feed can provide enough soothing to prolong his night but it’s not a guarantee. And frankly he’s getting ~11 hours of sleep at night which is pretty awesome so from a sleep perspective, he’s doing great.

      Again I don’t know the age of your baby so I don’t know if 2 naps a day is even a reasonable goal. Is he over 1? If not then 3-4 may just be where he’s at right now. Frankly he is napping like a rockstar so while the early AM stuff is a bummer (I was so glad when my youngest was old enough to be gently coaxed into sleeping later) it may not be fixable at this point….

    • Sorry I forgot his age. His almost 5 months. Thanks!

      • Ah….then 2 naps is probably not going to happen. My guess is that he’s going to cruise at 3X a day (ish) and then will drop to 2 sometime between 9-12 months. If you want to try the earlier bedtime thing you may need to wake him up or even cut out the 4th nap in order for him to be tired enough to fall asleep as early at 6:00 PM. Again I don’t know that this will solve anything but it’s probably worth an experiment for a few days just to see. Babies are constantly surprising me so you never know what will happen!

        Glad to help!

  35. I painlessly (honestly) weaned my baby from the dummy in about a month and it was totally gone from any use by 6 months by:
    1- stopping it in the pram
    2- stopping in car
    3- while this was happening I had one dummy for use at night that I gradually put more and more pin pricks in (check it everyday for integrity).
    4- put baby down awake at night and watch for a minute (any dummy giving parent knows their babies want it as soon as they’re in bed)
    5 – the pin pricked dummy lead easily to no dummy at night.
    6- then move the pin prick dummy to day naps
    7- done
    Good luck!

    • The pin prick dummy is new to me. What does that mean? And why does the pin prick make a difference?

      Thanks so much for sharing your technique!

  36. Hi Alexis,
    My daughter is 3.5 months and has been sleeping in her own room for about a week (until then she slept in her crib next to our bed). Its been a rocky week but with some white noise, it seems to be getting better but she is waking up crying in the early hours, sometimes every 45mins even though she can’t be hungry (she has a feed about 1am-ish and 5am-ish). We have a great bedtime routine which she loves and she relaxes into everytime-bath, pyjamas, cuddles with daddy, a nice long feed (breastfeed), then into her cot but she always falls into such a deep sleep during her feed and i just can’t wake her up or keep her awake! I feel I really need to feed her as close to bedtime as possible so that she can last out, and i’ve tried to alter the routine and feed her straight after her bath and before putting her pyjamas on but ended up with a sound asleep naked baby! I also tried a earlier bedtimes but that didn’t make any difference. What should I do?

    • Freya,
      (Are you the goddess of love and beauty? And if so, can you tell me what to do with my mess of a hairstyle?)

      I totally understand your thinking – bump food close to sleep to fill her tank. But I’m going to tell you that this thinking is actually not helping and probably hurting you in the long-run. Although it’s not related to the early morning stuff going on.

      Basically you want to separate feeding from sleep and you’re doing the opposite – sticking them together. Also while your goal over the next 2 months or so is to have her fall asleep on her own, you’re nursing her to sleep (accidentally) by keeping nursing too close to bedtime.

      The answer is to switch up the routine so you nurse her and THEN start the bath/jammies/book part of the evening. This is how you will start on the path to putting her down awake, which is critical if you actually want her sleeping through the night. This is also how you separate nursing from sleep (also key if you want a baby who doesn’t expect to use you as a human pacifier).

      Trust me on this and work on switching things up. No more nursing right AT bedtime, OK?

      However she is not using you as a human pacifier – the early morning thing you’re talking about probably has more to do with the fact that she is still tired(ish) but not quite tired to fall back asleep. I’m assuming that every 45 minutes one of you rushes in to try to soothe her back to sleep? I’m also assuming this works but has the unenviable result of keeping you both up all night because every 45 minutes somebody is popping out of bed.

      The answer to THAT issue is more soothing. White noise, swaddle, lovey, possibly even the swing. Basically the crying says she is still tired but can’t quite soothe herself back to sleep. She IS able to do this earlier in the night because her body’s need for sleep outweighs the need for soothing. So I would work on giving her more soothing. You’ll know she’s getting enough if the crying stops or at least starts later in the morning.


      • Thank you Alexis! This is really helpful. To be honest, I’m a bit scared of monkeying about with her bedtime routine because I know there will be some pretty major objections from her, but i can absolutely see that I need to try!

  37. Jeeze I love this blog!

    Ok question- at what age should I take the dummy away and go cold turkey? Obviously it has to be before 6 months, but how much before? 3 months? Also, can i keep it as a day time thing to sooth her in situations when she is upset but not Going to sleep, Eg when im out and have a grumpy baby on my hands? Or do I need to get rid of it completely. I’m really starting to dread the day I have to get rid of it…

    Also, I should never wake my sleeping baby ever right? Sometimes her arfternoon nap can really drag on (right now she’s been asleep in the swing for 3 hours) and if I let her stay asleep then her bedtime will need to be pushed back for that night. So I should just let her sleep as long as she wants and roll with the varying bed times?

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey Liz,
      Glad you love it!

      For dummies you want to go cold turkey somewhere between 3-6 months. It’s hard to say exactly when as some babies do OK with it up till 7-8 months. But to be 100% safe, I would go with 4 months as a hard cutoff. FOR SLEEP.

      You can still use it during the day with grumpy baby when she’s not sleepy ๐Ÿ™‚

      Waking a sleeping baby is generally a no-no EXCEPT for when that sleep is cutting into bedtime. As your baby gets older (anywhere from 2-4 months ish) and develops a consistent bedtime, PROTECT BEDTIME. Thus it IS better to wake her up if you need to do so to in order to keep a consistent(ish) bedtime.

      Consistent bedtime is sort of an awesome for her AND you.

      • Excellent thanks so much for the reply. Very happy to hear I can keep the dummy for the emergency grumpy baby situation!

  38. I just wanted to post a success story thanks to all the information on your website!! And to maybe help some other mom’s out there…
    I posted above in this string about the sleep issues I was having with my 3 1/2 month old at the time…anyways, we ended up putting her in her swing for bedtime and naps which we had moved into her room…i changed her bedtime routine to boob, bath, book bed and put her in the swing awake at ~7pm. We started with the swing on the lowest speed, then gradually got to the point of falling asleep a non-moving swing (about 3 weeks later)..she would fuss some nights for 15-20 minutes other nights she’d go right to sleep..i feel like it REALLY helped with the 4 month sleep regression though (I barely noticed it, she got up at 3am for some night feeds for about a week and done)…last week i moved her swing DIRECTLY next to the crib for 2 nights and saturday night into the crib she went…the first two nights were a little rough..she would fall asleep fine but would wake up a few times throughout the night…we let her fuss it out (sometimes up to a half hour) but as of monday night she falls asleep with no fussing at ~7 and stays asleep until 5-530 then she nurses and goes back down until 730! I was so nervous about it and it was like nothing…so i HIGHLY recommend alexis’ swing technique above!!

    • P.S. she turned 5 months on monday

    • WOOT WOOT!
      What a nice testimonial:)
      – Weathered the sleep regression? check
      – Got baby in crib? check
      – Helped baby learn to fall asleep without CIO? check
      – Sleeping through the night at 5 months? check

      Excellent story – thanks for sharing! And congratulations on all your great work!

  39. Alexis-
    Thank you for your website…I am addicted to it!

    A couple questions for you. My son is 14 weeks, a great night sleeper but a crappy napper. He is swaddled, we use white noise, sometimes a paci (he doesn’t always want it), and I rock him to sleep and pat his butt AND shush next to his head. He goes down between 7-8, wakes up to eat between 1-2 and again between 4-6 and is usually awake for the day between 6:30 and 7:30. I would like to stop rocking him to sleep. My swing is downstairs and it is a giant Graco swing that I really don’t see moving upstairs and would take up most of his room (his crib is giant, too). I am not comfortable with him sleeping downstairs at night with us upstairs. Is the swing imperative…since he sleeps in the crib now will he be able to fall asleep on his own without moving?

    Second question is on naps….I am still holding him a lot for naps and would like to be able to put him down. He likes to be belly to belly, all scrunched up against me and rocked and so of course, when I put him down, he wakes up. Swaddling helps a little but I was trying to not swaddle him during the day as daycare only swaddles his legs. I want him to sleep so I end up just holding him…and am afraid I am building a bad habit. I try putting him in the swing but that is almost worse- when his arms go flying out they hit the swing which always wakes him up (the crib is so big he doesn’t hit anything). Do I just give up and swaddle him for naps?

    Thanks so much for your time!

    • When people tell me that they are rocking their baby to sleep and are TIRED of constantly rocking or holding their baby to sleep…..but they don’t want to put him in the swing,

      I frankly don’t know what to say!

      1) He likes motion.
      2) Having to constantly provide that motion manually is a drag.
      3) Use the swing ๐Ÿ™‚

      Could the swing temporarily fit in your room? Or is there another way to shuffle the furniture around to make it work (move his dresser into your room for the next 4-6 weeks?).

      However I don’t think it’s imperative that he sleeps in the crib at night as, he’s really sleeping great at night without it. You are providing a lot of soothing when he goes to sleep and you will need to gradually wean off some of that. The swing gives you a powerful tool. BUT at just 3.5 months you still have some time to work on gradually weaning off the soothing and putting him down increasingly awake. So you’re not really in the desperation zone yet – maybe you can make it happen by just making small changes over the coming weeks? Maybe the swing at night isn’t necessary at all?

      However for naps I would strongly recommend it. For starters, swaddling the legs doesn’t accomplish ANYTHING. I mean it doesn’t hurt but it literally accomplishes nothing so why bother? I would definitely swaddle his arms AND talk to the daycare providers about doing this too. The swing is WAY better than him sleeping on you because:
      a) You get a break.
      b) Breaking out of the “baby only sleeps on me for naps” can be a real challenge (one without an easy fix when he’s older).
      c) He likes motion.
      d) The swing may be the best way for a motion-junkie baby to learn how to sleep without you holding him.

      I’m not saying you HAVE to do this, but eventually him only sleeping on you will cause problems. And CIO for naps generally doesn’t work well (or as well) so if he’s still sleeping only on you at 9 months you won’t have a lot of effective or easy options to wiggle out of it.

      I would work with the swing techniques (link below) for naps and probably stick with the crib at night. Swaddle for naps, loud white noise, and block out blinds. It’s OK if the swing isn’t in his room but at almost 4 months it’s probably not going to work well to have him sleep in the living room. Is there another dark quiet room you can move the swing into?

      • Alexis-

        Thanks for your reply. I did start swaddling him in his swaddlewrap for naps and we did get 2 out of 4 naps off my lap- actually both in the crib. I could move the swing to the downstairs (we are in a townhouse and have a better on the bottom floor that is pretty dark and always quiet). His daycare provider has him sleeping in a crib, she does not rock him all the way to sleep- and he takes two great naps for her! (My mother thinks he has my number- but really, at 15 weeks?)

        We have started to put him down awake at nighttime- successful 4/6. The two unsuccessful nights my husband went up and rocked him the rest of the way. I feel like 15 weeks may be too young to just let him cry- but maybe we should be patting him and shushing him but not picking him up? (BTW, I tried that for a nap and he laughed at me when I patted his belly- guess he wasn’t tired!).

        Thanks again for your time. Website is really fabulous!!

  40. Hi Alexis!

    Your website is awesome! I have a few quick questions. My daughter is 10 weeks old, pretty early to worry about sleep issues but I want to get a jump on it and am working on getting her to fall asleep on her own. We moved her to her crib last week (from co-sleeper on our bed) and she’s done remarkably well. However, she still wakes up frequently and needs rocking/bouncing after her bedtime at 9:00pm until around midnight, and then she wakes for night feedings around 3am and 6am. I’d like to try letting her sleep all night in her swing to see if it helps, she is a “motion baby” for sure. Here are my questions- we swaddle her at night, and the swing has a five point seat buckle. How do I reconcile the two? Should the swing be in her bedroom? Is it safe to leave the swing turned on all night or should we turn it off after she goes to sleep?

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Amber,
      Check the post below for more swing tips. Here’s what I would do:
      – Swaddle with legs out (the legs don’t really matter for swaddling anyway, it’s all about the arms). So if you were using a SwaddleMe blanket you would velcro her arms but leave the “leg sack” portion just hanging out behind her. That way you can still use your Graco 5-pt straps. Because she is so young I would put the swing next to your bed. Also use loud white noise (the swing noise times out so an old radio will work better).

      If you’re rocking/bouncing her from 9:00 PM – midnight, I would try leaving the swing on to see if it improves her ability to stay asleep during that window. If you want to turn the swing off at midnight feel free – see what happens! You’re also welcome to turn it off at say, 10:00 PM, but if she’s waking back up again perhaps the solution is to leave it on.

      Lots of babies are definitely in swinging swings all night long. But if you’re concerned you can view it as a mini-science experiment. Turn it off – what happens? Leave it on – what happens? Maybe she only needs the motion to get through the 9-12 window and then will do just fine in a non-moving swing?

      Good luck!

      • Thank you thank you! This is week #2 of using the swing to help her go to sleep and stay that way, and we are moving her to the crib when we go to bed a few hours after she does. So far we are getting an initial 6 hour stretch, followed by a 4 hour stretch, followed by another 2 hour stretch. Awesome!!

        One follow up question. She is now 12 weeks old. I’ve been following her sleep cues for daytime naps up until this point, and she generally can only be awake for an hour before she needs a nap. Sometimes she takes a quick 20-30 minute nap, and sometimes she sleeps for 2-3 hours. It is never consistent. I don’t nurse her to sleep, and she goes down really easily for these naps, so I know she’s genuinely tired.

        That said, is there any point to trying to schedule her naps more consistently (i.e. aiming for 90 minutes up, 90 minutes down for a total of three longer naps per day) or should I just wait until she is older to see what her natural nap rhythm is? I want her to have predictability and consistency, but don’t want to drive her nuts trying to get her on a schedule. I am also going back to work soon and think a firmer schedule would be easier for a nanny to follow.

        Thanks again!!

        • Well predictability and consistency is great. But how do you make “90 minutes down” happen? You mention that she can stay awake 1 hour. So why would you artificially keep her awake 30 minutes longer than she wants to be to hit the 90 minute mark?

          (BTW – do you happen to have a copy of the 90 minute nap solution book on hand as I’m guessing that’s where all this 90 minute stuff is coming from ๐Ÿ˜‰

          What I don’t like about naps “by the clock” is that it doesn’t account for how long naps are. In my worldview if she sleeps for 2-3 hours – GREAT! In a “by the clock” worldview you would have woken her up long before that so that her long nap didn’t blow your next scheduled nap.

          Similarly if she took a 20 minute nap, is you were putting her down “by the clock” you would have to keep her up far too long to make the next scheduled nap happen on schedule vs. when she needs it.

          All of which is my way of saying I think it’s too inflexible. IF she can only be awake 1 hour that’s great information! When she wakes up from her nap, however long or short it is, then you know with good predictability, when she’ll be ready to sleep again. In 1 hour. Regardless of what time it is on the clock.

  41. Hi Alexis,

    I can’t even believe the timing of discovering your blog and more importantly your content… A million times thank you for your invaluable information and knowledge!

    My lil girl will be turning 4 mo next Monday and what a ride its been (first time mom). I was induced at 41 weeks. In hindsight there was no reason for it (no medical reason, that is) but I let myself get talked into it by my OBGYN (kinda bullied into it actually). It was a long labour, she really didn’t want to come out. They had to pull her out with that suction cup thingy (in French it’s called ‘des ventouses’, don’t know what it is in English. Too tired to google it, sorry). Anyway, she lost too much of her birth weight within 24hrs so they kept us 2 extra days. I had to supplement with formula. During her first month of life it was revealed that she had an “immature gut”: She was intolerant to milk protein, bovine bi-products, soy, wheat (gluten), eggs, nuts (makes for an interesting diet for me but whatever, I’d rather be the one who suffers than my daughter). We changed formulas 3 times. She was then diagnosed with reflux, which is treated with Zantac and by me not eating acidic foods pre-emptively.

    All these bobos have been a challenge when it came to her sleep. In the beginning (before diagnosis), we were living perpetually like does caught in headlights because she was always in so much pain and crying so much. We made a call one night that changed how we thought we would sleep train her: Out of desperation to get her to sleep (and me too), my bf suggested I go lie down with her in bed. Propped up by all the pillows in the house, she and I finally slept. She was swaddled in my arms.

    And so began our type of co-sleeping (you are right when you say many parents never planned to co-sleep). So for nights I’d go to bed with her and during the day she’d sleep on me (and my feeding pillow, AKA my donut). One day I read on Baby Centre that babies her age should go to bed earlier than when she was. Around 7. Egad! I couldn’t remember the last time I personally went to bed at 7. But since she couldn’t sleep alone in our bed (she would wake up within 5 minutes), I had to suck it up for her sake. This lasted a week before I accepted defeat. I felt like I failed my daughter and failed as a mother for having given her such bad sleeping habit and saw no end in sight. Research began…

    Then 2 weeks ago I found your blog. 2 weeks ago we were also packing up to move to our new house. Yeah, thatโ€™s a lot changes and probably not the best time to try tackling this sleep business but I still wanted to try and see if 1. She was still โ€˜swaddleableโ€™ and 2. If putting her in her MammaRoo (which until then had only been used for her the play in) would work for a nap. I never thought it would and like others have written in your comments, the Roo seemed like an awful waste of money. I told myself I’d try the thing for her naps, if it didn’t work, we’d buy a swing-swing and start seriously with your technique at the new house… Well it worked the very first time I put her down in it swaddled, with the vacuum on for white noise. She slept 90 minutes. ALONE… without me… I cried I was so appreciative of your… existence.

    It’s been so difficult navigating these waters and not knowing who to listen to and who to ignore (I ignore everything my sister in law dishes out. She has two tween boys. I love her but she’s too judgemental and I’m just over it). Everyone has had an opinion about how we put our daughter down but they didn’t live through the agony she endured that first month…

    So today, I still put her down in the Roo for all her naps and when I put her down to sleep at 7-7.30PM. She’ll sleep anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes in it. After she wakes from being put down at 7-7.30, she comes to bed with me for the rest of the night. Once things are back to normal in the house (still have boxes to unpack and rooms to finish painting) and weโ€™re able to clear ourselves for 7 full days for all her sleeps, Iโ€™d like to pursue with your technique for night sleeping too. Also, Iโ€™m pretty sure she started her 4 month growth spurt this week. Sheโ€™s so irritable, hungry all the time and has as you say, shitty 30 minute naps – by the tonโ€ฆ

    Do I keep status quo for now until this difficult phase of hers passes? When it passes, for her night sleeps, should I move the Roo to my bedside and continue to do her naps in her room? Also, the way Iโ€™ve been putting her down consists of swaddling her (which she kicks and screams through most of the time) and then rock her and shush her, while the Roo is already on, with the white noise โ€“ until her eyes get droopy. Then I sit on a foot stool in front of the Roo, put her in and then continue shushing while jiggling her a little. Again, I continue until her eyes get droopy. I then move behind the Roo and depending if sheโ€™s calm or still mildly agitated, Iโ€™ll continue these things a while until I see her eyes close when I sneak a peak. This process takes anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes but typically 5 (amazingly). She’s always awake when I put her in the Roo and still awake when I disappear from her sight. Is this ok for now?

    Thank you so much Alexis. Iโ€™m hugging you virtually. You have been a lifesave for meโ€ฆ

    • Melissa,
      Let me just make sure I have this picture correct in my head. So it starts with ….
      a) Traumatic birth experience (you aren’t alone in this but that doesn’t make it any less of a big deal!)
      b) Followed by a super unhappy baby which it turns out is all related to…
      c) Medical issues!!! Immature tummy, allergic to, apparently, everything but rice and pears (are you living on carrot sticks and water?). Plus of course…
      d) Reflux. Oh yeah….
      e) And you’re moving.

      THAT. IS. HUGE. I don’t get even a hint of self-pity in your comment which is amazing because if I were you I would be curled into the fetal position wolfing down a pint of ice cream feeling sorry for myself. Especially because the ice cream would be off limits because you’re forced to subsist on carrot sticks and rice. Wow. That is. A LOT.

      If I’ve been even to provide a tiny bit of help with all you’ve got piled up on your plate, then I’m very very glad ๐Ÿ™‚

      Well if she’s still got all these tummy issues going on I would definitely stick with the MommaRoo. Reflux babies almost ALWAYS sleep better upright and depending on the severity, may need to be kept upright for many months (mine were in non moving swings at their 1st birthdays).

      I would move the MommaRoo to your room and have her sleep there all night. It sounds like she’s she’s well on her way to falling asleep without you (YAY!). The only thing I would change is that I would sneak BEHIND the roo to shush and head jiggle so she can’t see you. But otherwise it sounds like you are on a good path and things are going great.

      If you don’t want her co-sleeping for the long haul this would be a great time to get her used to not sleeping in your bed. As I said, she may need to be propped up to sleep and it’s really hard to do it safely (US pediatricians basically poo pooh all baby sleep positioners that don’t have straps to ensure baby doesn’t become entrapped). So there aren’t a lot of good options to keeping an older baby upright for sleep. Personally I think the swing is one of the best, but feel free to talk to your pediatrician about it. If you’re in France I know swings and such aren’t nearly as commonly used there, so it’s probably worth a conversation just to check in. Most US pediatricians will give you a big OK to use swings ESPECIALLY for refluxing kids.

      Hopefully what will happen is that she’ll outgrow her tummy/reflux issues and won’t need to sleep upright anymore. But because you’ve already done all this great work in helping her learn to fall asleep on her own, the transition to the crib will be relatively painless and at that point you’ll all breathe a huge sigh of relief and have a celebratory cocktail.

      And when that happens – cheers from me!

      • I actually don’t have it as together as it seems. I’m having a *really* tough time putting her to sleep at night.

        So for naps, she sleeps in her Mamaroo, but I’m totally confused about what to do with bedtime. We generally put her down around 7:30, within her 2 hours, but she treats it like a nap. She’ll sleep anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes and wake up again.

        Leading up to her bedtime, we’ll do boob, bath (every 3 days or so), books/songs, then bed, but she doesn’t seem to ‘get’ that it’s meant to be ‘the end of the line’ so to speak.

        Can it be that we just confuse her? Like I wrote previously, all her naps are in the ‘Roo, in her room. After she wakes from this ‘nap’, it’s always around my bedtime anyway (8:30-9:PM) so we go to bed together and there she’ll sleep a few hours (I say ‘a few’ because our co-sleeping arrangement is such that I’m her human pacifier and so she stirs several times a night looking for my nipple, just to soothe and wakes another 2 or 3 times to feed).

        I wrote that my bf and I are waiting to have a 7-day stretch of home/normal time to really tackle her night sleeping (which is starting the weekend of the 28th).

        I intended to use the Roo and bring it into our room for her bedtime and put it back in her room for naps. If she sleeps comfortably in bed with us, which is a flat non-moving surface (her reflux never seemed to bother her about this, since she’s been on Zantac), should we forgo the Roo for bedtime and put her in her crib instead? Also, if we bring the Roo into our room for bedtime, should I at first go to bed with her, me in the bed, her in her Roo next to me?

        Lastly, I know you’re in VT, I’m across the border in QC. In this heat/humidity we’ve been having, any tips about swaddling a sweaty baby? We have AC but she still heats up real bad and I have a feeling it’s why she’s been having short shitty naps lately…


        • Hey Melissa,
          Well I missed your 7-day stretch so my thoughts are hopefully irrelevant as I have fingers crossed that you guys made tons of headway during your big week. But just in case here you go….

          If you’re having a rough time getting baby to go down and stay down at bedtime AND you’re being used as a human pacifier then my general advice is to give MORE soothing to break out of both of these patterns. I’m not a huge fan of the human pacifier sleep method only in that it’s hard to get out of without tears. So a 4-5 month old who is constantly on you to sleep becomes an 11 month old who is constantly on you to sleep. Which is cool if you’re cool with it. But what if you’re not cool with it?

          Thus my inclination would be to embrace the Roo. Hopefully this is a way to give her soothing that doesn’t always have to involve your boobs.

          Overheating babies is a SIDS risk so if they’re sweaty then they’re TOO hot. You could swaddle her naked or put aluminum foil on the windows (looks like crap but is a great way to make the room dark and really blocks a lot of heat). Or as she’s getting older, perhaps she doesn’t need to be swaddled. But you’re right – if she’s all sweaty she’s TOO hot and for safety sake I would rather a unswaddled cool baby to an over heated hot one (even if she sleeps less well without it).

  42. Alexis, out of desperation I started putting DS (12 weeks old) back in swings for day naps after reading your blog as I need an easy way to get one of my twins asleep. The first day was great. He was in a dark room, swaddled, white noise. After a minute or two of holding him, I would put him down and he’d be out in the swing in a couple minutes. We got two very long naps out of him that day – over an hour each. That was almost a week ago. Now, he still goes down somewhat easy in the swing – sometimes fights it and needs extra soothing, but now all his naps are 30-40 minutes! It seems like the swing experiment has failed. The last two things I’m trying before giving up are putting the swing in the fullest recline – DS spits up a lot and has mild reflux. And turning off the swing 10 minutes after he is asleep. If these don’t work doesn’t it sound like the swing experiment wasn’t successful – if I’m only getting 30-40 min naps consistently?

    • Possibly yes, possibly no.

      The swing does three things for you:
      1) Being upright helps mitigate reflux so if he’s got a mild case, the more time he spends upright the better.
      2) It generally helps lengthen sleep.
      3) It’s a great tool to gradually help babies learn to fall asleep on their own (at 12 weeks, this is not a huge concern for you but at say 16 weeks, it will start to be).

      So even if the naps aren’t huge there are 2 other potential benefits to the swing. Which is not to say that he HAS to sleep in there. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that taking him out is the right way to go. It probably helps to have him in there. BUT if your gut says he should be in his crib then that’s fine too.

      Hope that clarifies a little?

  43. My baby is 4 months old and she needs to be nursed, rocked, bounced, etc to sleep. Once she is asleep I put her in her swing and let it rock for about 30 minutes to an hour then I turn it off. Most of the time she sleeps for a couple of hours once I turn it off. I wanted to know what do you mean by reduce the speed of the swing? Do you mean reduce the speed from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 in one night? Or do you mean each night reduce the speed down. Say one night it is at speed 5 and I reduce it to speed 4. then the next night it is at speed 4 and I reduce it to speed 3? I am not sure if what I am doing is working to help her learn motionless sleep. I don’t know if me waiting 30 minutes to an hour after setting her in her swing asleep to turn it off or do I need to put her in her swing awake and let it soothe her then what? If I just put her in her swing after she falls asleep and I dont make it rock she will wake up and I always have to wait 30 minutes to an hour to stop it to make sure she is in a deep sleep and wont notice. Usually if I put her in it awake she fights it and cries. I am just confused because she nursed to sleep and slept on top of me for 3 months and now I am wanting to sleep on my own and I know that eventually she will be too big for her sling or swing to be rocked to sleep and she will outgrow her swing. help! I have created a baby who needs my nipple and motion to fall asleep.

    • I’ll relate my experience since my son slept in the swing until he was 6 months old. If I recall correctly, when he was under 5 months, he would sleep with the swing on all night. We gradually reduced the speed each night, so for example the swing would on speed 4 for a few nights and then speed 3 for the next few nights. But I remember cranking it up to high on nights where he was really, really fussy. He was swaddled in the swing until about 5 months and really seemed to get a lot of comfort out of the swing, snuggling his head on the “rabbit ear” part of the swing (we have the fisher price papasan swing).

      As my son needed less soothing in order to fall asleep on his own, we were able to reduce the swing speed and finally not turn it on at all. Then after he turned 6 months I finally got him to sleep in his crib after I broke his nurse-to-sleep association. Before that I would rock/nurse him to sleep but starting around 5 months I started following Alexis’ advice on rearranging the bedtime routine to separate nursing from falling asleep.

      He just turned 8 months old and is FINALLY not crying after I put him down to bed. He just talks to himself for a few minutes. Between 6 and 8 months he’d usually cry around 10 – 15 minutes after I put him down. So be prepared for that! Good luck!

      • Laura- can i ask you…what did you/do you do for naps? Were they also in the swing? If not, how/when did you transition him to the crib? I’m trying to figure this out with my daughter…she just turned 6 months and i nap her in the swing at home and she naps in the pnp at daycare…this week her naps have gone down the tubes..not sure if its the 6 month regression or what…just curious what your experience once…i did the same thing as you with her to transition her to the crib at night with a lot of success..the last couple of weeks she has FINALLY stopped crying when i put her down…thank goodness!

        • On weekends my son would nap in the swing prior to 6 months IF he wasn’t being totally fussy. At daycare he always napped in the crib which amazed me since I could not get him to nap in the crib at home very well. So I worked on crib naps before 6 months to try to be consistent with daycare (crib at night started after 6 months). Once in a while he took a decently-long nap in the crib (over 1 hr) but mostly he would seem to wake up too soon, like about after 30-45 minutes. He has a dark room with loud white noise. Daycare also has a very dark nap room but no white noise, just a ceiling fan going. I don’t know how they do it, but he seems to nap better there than at home. I’d put him in the swing to nap if he seemed too worked up and needed the extra soothing the swing provided. It was sort of a “take two steps forward and one step back” process.

          It seems that as he is getting older he is calmer when he’s tired and will simply roll over and fall asleep more often instead of getting hysterical. However I admit to still nursing him to the point of being very drowsy before naps since he’s not as tired during the day! I don’t do this at night. My husband will just plop him in the crib when he gets fussy and my son usually falls asleep after fussing for a few minutes. He doesn’t have the crutch of the boob to fall back on!! ๐Ÿ˜€

          • Thanks so much for your quick reply! I tried the crib for a nap a couple of weeks ago and i got a 45 min one saturday and 50 min on sunday so back into the swing she went last weekend! LOL she does about 1.5 hrs there…I also have her in a dark room with loud white noise…i am amazed too at how daycare gets her to nap in the PNP..i actually bought them a sound machine to use b/c she sleeps so much better with it…but even this week daycare is having trouble getting her to nap **sigh** i thought it would get easier as she got older…i guess i just have to hold out and hope its a regression and when its over she will start napping better!
            So at 8 months he is doing 2 naps a day in the crib? and he just rolls over and goes to sleep? maybe there is hope for me! LOL I usually nurse her about a half hour before naps..she wont fall asleep on the boob anymore!

            • Yep, two naps a day. The morning one is longer – a couple hours or more, especially if he’s at daycare. The afternoon nap is about an hour long. I know, it’s a miracle, but he does sort of roll over and fall asleep after a few minutes of talking to himself. This just started happening in the last week or so, and the next sleep regression will probably screw it all up again!

    • Laura’s answer below is right on the money!

      The swing has 2 benefits:
      1) Provide soothing so that naps are generally longer
      2) Powerful tool to help her learn to fall asleep alone

      If you’re rocking, nursing, etc. to sleep and THEN putting her in the swing then you’re not really getting the advantage of #2. See the post below for some hints on how to get her to fall asleep IN the swing. I highly recommend you work on this because by nursing, rocking to sleep and then turning the swing off later, you’re really minimizing both potential benefits, yes?

      Again most of this is in the post below but your goal would be to have her fall asleep IN the swing and then leave the swing running. As she is a bit older she may not need that much motion anymore but whatever speed she needs is OK. You leave the swing on AT that speed. Then the next day you try lowering the speed by 1. What happens? Does she sleep great? Awesome! Next night, lower the speed by 1 again. Does she wake up a ton? Fine! Turn the speed back up.

      Don’t feel like a failure! LOTS of babies need boobs and motion to sleep. Maybe as a temporary transition she could use the swing + pacifier to help fall asleep? It’s OK to play around with these things. But definitely now is the time because very soon it will get harder (I know it’s HARD right now). Weaning sleep from nursing is a key thing to do within the next 1-2 months if you want to avoid the detour to cry-it-outsville.

      Yes she’s a bit old for the swing but not TOO old. Lots of babies are happily sleeping in there till 6 months or so, so plenty of time to leverage the fact that she loves motion to gently wean her off you!

  44. Hi Alexis! Thanks for your helpful email a few weeks ago. We are using the swing technique and I notice my little guy doesn’t move his head much in the swing. I am worried about him developing a flat head. Is this a silly concern? Thanks for everything!

    • hey lindsey, i just wanted to throw in my 2 cents..i was also really worried about flat head..i bought the boppy noggin head rest (it has a little hole in the middle and padding all around) and used it in the swing…she slept in there for a couple of months and didnt get a flat head! she still sleeps in there for naps but now that she is older i dont worry so much about it so i took it out..

    • Actually modern baby swings are more curved than the crib is so flat head is even less of a concern. Flat head comes from lying flat on their backs all the time. However flat on their back is the ONLY way to put a newborn in the crib. Luckily we don’t leave kids lying around all the time (this was a bigger concern in the 60’s when babies lived in playpens because moms had to keep the house clean, make martinis for their husbands, and fix their beehive harido). So for a variety of reasons I’m not concerned for your baby’s head – flat head is really rare today.

      If you’re concerned you can always talk to your pediatrician. Also they’ll be checking your baby’s head whenever you go in. But the modern baby swing has a nice curve to it so I wouldn’t loose sleep over it – baby will have a nice fat round head ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Hello again Alexis,
    Thanks to your advice, my little girl, who is now 5months old is amazingly sleeping through the night! Hooray! You are a hero in this house! She is doing really well, going to sleep at 7.30pm and sleeping through and has been for about a month. I put her down awake, she has her white noise, blackout blinds and a little music box that she likes playing as she falls asleep. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely thrilled and I feel bad for still having a problem when I should be out doing cartwheels, but she has started waking up and screaming at about 5.30 when her usual waking time is more like 7am. She’s obviously still tired and not ready to get up and she usually goes back to sleep eventually but she can’t settle herself (if I leave her, she just gets distressed and then really can’t sleep) so I go in and comfort her, although I don’t pick her up. I really don’t think that its hunger because she has done 7.30pm-7.30am stretches before, although a couple of my friends have suggested a dreamfeed but I’m wary of disturbing her if its not necessary. Is there anything I can do to stop her having these 5am wakings? Its killing me because, even though she goes back to sleep, I can’t…maybe I need sleep training! Thank you and sorry for whingeing about one night waking!

    • Well I don’t know why she is waking at 5:30 but I would go to her like you have been. For a few reasons…
      1) It’s entirely possible she IS hungry. Babies have growth spurts all the time where they eat more food. So the fact that she could sleep 12 hours last month doesn’t mean that she’s not legitimately hungry today.

      2) Letting babies cry in the AM almost never works. They’ve gotten enough sleep to not easily fall back to sleep so often they just cry.

      I would go in and give her as LITTLE soothing as possible but enough to work. I would also be careful not to let the time slip even earlier (if she starts waking up earlier and earlier then you might need to let her cry or at least test the waters). Hopefully this is just a minor blip-sleep regression.

      IF she’s legitimately hungry (what does your gut tell you?) a dream feed might help avoid YOU waking up at 5:30. It might be worth a try to see what happens. Ideally then over the next week or so you would shorten the dreamfeed and gently wean off it with the goal of getting back to your 12 hour night.

      PS. I would never judge you for not wanting to get up at 5:30 am ๐Ÿ˜‰

  46. I am trying to swing now with my 4 month old. He has always slept in his crib so that isn’t a problem but I really want him to start falling asleep on his own. I have two questions:

    1. If I am putting him to sleep in his swing do I leave him there all night or should I move him to his crib once he is asleep? Since he has always slept in his crib I know that he won’t have a problem in there but I don’t want to mess up his sleep cycles by moving him.

    2. Per your suggestions I have changed his nighttime routine to diaper/jammies, nurse, sleepsack, story, bed. I have tried to first put him in his crib to see if he falls asleep in there. When he starts to get fussy enough that I think he will totally wake himself up I get him and immediately put him in the swing where he does fall asleep without fussing. So, am I messing him up by trying the crib first every night? Should I just go right to the swing? He did fall asleep in the crib one night but the last two nights he hasn’t so we moved to the swing…I don’t want to create a habit where he thinks hanging out in the crib and fussing is part of the routine. What do you think?

    Thank you so much for all of your info! Since I have found your website I have been able to get my son to fall asleep on his own in the swing for naps and at bedtime which is great!!! Thanks again!!!

    • Ok I just read another reply and realized that maybe I need to move nursing up to BEFORE bath and jammies. I’ll start trying that too! Thanks!

  47. I’ve just been introduced to your site and love it! Thank you for taking the time to share all of this information!

    My son is doing a better and better job of sleeping through the night and we’ve had a great routine since he was about 2 weeks old. He is pushing 6 hour stretches followed by 3 at night. He falls asleep while nursing but am reasonably confident that we can start switching this routine soon.

    I am, however, having a hard time with nap time. He’s been cranky lately and after reading the three part posts, sounds like its because he should be getting hour and a half not forty minute naps. What I don’t understand is how to make him sleep longer? At night he sucks his fingers to go back to sleep but I agree with your posts, his day sleep seems to be a much different pattern than his night sleep.

    How do I shoot for the longer nap?

  48. I am so excited about the progress we’ve made this week that I have to say thanks Alexis!

    My little man just turned 3 months old on Monday, and was a terrible sleeper from day 1. If swaddled, he freak out on waking, but unswaddled he’d startle himself so much that he’d wake every hour or two. I stumbled on your site one sleepless night, went out and bought a good swing, and in the swing I could get one 4-6 hour stretch of sleep out of him each night. For his 3 month birthday he decided to drop his 2am feeding and sleep from 8pm to 6am! I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but he’s slept straight through until 5 or 6 am for four nights in a row! Words can not express how thrilled I am to get a decent nights sleep.

    Now for the kicker, I had been nursing and rocking him completely to sleep, but a few nights ago he was fussing so badly that nothing I tried was comforting him, so I just put him in the swing, and nudged it to start rocking (thinking he would start crying in seconds so why bother turning it on) and he was fast asleep within minutes! It was the push I needed to attempt putting him down drowsy but awake. So I’ve been doing that for the last few nights with success! Naps and the 5am feeding still require rocking/nursing but if eel like we are finally moving in the right direction.

    Next challenge…to get him napping in the swing instead of on me!

    • Congratulations on your successful attempt to climb Mt. Drowsy but Awake! And so amazing that your 3 month old is sleeping ALL night long! (Note: There will be sleep regressions and such that will have him wanting to eat again at night but the fact that things are going SO well at 3 months is an excellent sign:)

      Good luck with the “only nap on Mom” thing. It’s so freeing to have a few moments to yourself during the day, I promise you’ll be really glad you did!

1 2 3 8


  1. Your Nemesis, The Short Nap - Troublesome Tots
  2. What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night - Part I

Leave a Reply