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. Wait, help! You don’t explain HOW to get baby to fall asleep when you put them down in the crib awake! Or in the swing?! You wrote once baby is asleep in the swing, but how did that happen?! And without a pacifier? My baby is 6.5 months old, wakes every 45 minutes, I’m dying. Only falls asleep with pacifier, singing and patting, if he’s lying down. Otherwise just cries or stares at me. HOW DO YOU GET BABY TO FALL ASLEEP WHEN YOU PUT THEM DOWN AWAKE?!

    • Katalena,

      You’re missing the big elephant in the room here – you need to stop getting baby to fall asleep. Currently YOU get baby to sleep with paci, singing, and patting. BABY needs to get baby to fall asleep. THAT is the essential component that breaks you out of the “wakes every 45 minutes” pattern.

      • But how? I don’t understand how baby puts baby to sleep. When I put him down awake, he stares at me or cries. HOW does baby fall asleep on their own? Because this option is NOT CIO, cry it out is option 3, and putting baby down awake is part of options 1 and 2 according to this article. We’re not doing cry it out (don’t think it would work with this baby anyway).

        • Well CIO is definitely on the table. Option 1 involves a swing – yours is too old. Option 2 is making gradual change. That would be the “no paci but patting till asleep” scenario. This doesn’t fix things overnight it just moves you one step closer to sleep.

          • Omigosh, thank you for your quick reply! We’re fine with a slow, gradual change, I’m not expecting a quick fix. So put baby down in his crib awake, and pat/sing to sleep? We had already started doing this instinctively, but we use a pacifier. He howls to be picked up without a pacifier. What do we do? CIO is not an option for us. We side-car co-sleep and were planning to VERY gradually move his crib away from our bed until he’s in his own room. Are we on the right track? He sleeps through the night while swaddled but just started rolling over, so goodbye swaddling (and apparently goodbye sleeping more than a half hour at a time).

            • Let him howl. Change is hard and you need to commit if you want to get anywhere. Also I wouldn’t take CIO off the table because you may find that the total duration of howling involved with your attempts to make changes gradually DWARFS what would ensue if you just went for it more directly. He can learn to sleep independently in a side-car scenario. But if you don’t like that plan fine – don’t do it. But I wouldn’t rule it out 100%. So yes no paci at bedtime, pat and sing till sleep happens even if it takes ages. Ideally you’ll see sleep happen more quickly over subsequent nights but the paci needs to be OFF the table otherwise you’ll stall out 😛 Good luck!

            • I just wanted to add that whenever change is involved, there will be SOME tears. There really is no true “no-cry” method. It’s very true what Alexis says, it’s very likely that our babies end up crying MORE (duration-wise) while we try to “help and be there for them” to go to sleep versus if we just did the bedtime routine and let them figure it out themselves. Good luck!

              Also, check out these posts from Alexis’s sleep training section- they are very helpful in clearing up the CIO confusion/dilemma and provide great encouragement and support:

              (I’m not trying to convince you to CIO but just to help you get a good understanding of it) GOOD LUCK!

  2. Gradual pacificier-three ideas. One, I have had better luck with doing nap time during the day without the pacifier first, then tacking bedtime. (Sometimes this was forced on me as a daycare provider when the pacifiers really were lost. I’d find out weeks later that they were still being used at home.)
    Another idea-my middle child had a Wubanub. It is basically a Beanie Baby attached to a pacifier. When we wanted him to be done with the pacifier, we cut the pacifier off and let him keep the toy.
    Finally, a small bottle (1 or 2 oz) with water. For a child that can hold the small bottle himself, this could replace a pacifier. This should only be done once the baby is eating some solids.

  3. If your 9 month old wakes up at night after 45 minutes, do you let them CIO? What do you recommend? If she’s left to cry, she really wakes herself up fully. If I go to her and soothe her, she often goes back to sleep but she’s dependent on being soothed to get from one sleep cycle to another. Would love advice!


    • The key is how does she fall asleep AT BEDTIME? If you (rock, cuddle, nurse, feed, etc.) AT bedtime she’s going to need your help when she wakes up in the middle of the night. The key to helping her NOT wake up in the middle of the night is to change what’s happening at bedtime.

  4. I am so happy I came across this! Feel like there is hope! I have read all of your steps! But I’m feeling confused at what to do. So my 9 month old ( barely) is an amazing napper I have never had to do anything but lay him in the crib awake with a passy and lovey and he is out! But at night he goes to bed the same way as nap And sleeps for 2 hours max and is up! Either wide awake for 3-4 hours or crying and freakin out! I have 2 other kids. My first And oldest slept okay! My middle awful seriously so awful still does. And my youngest is worse. I feel like I’m so tired now I can’t function. am I now at the cry or our stage? I feel like
    It’s so weird he goes down so amazing at nap
    Time every time and bedtime just after that it’s bad news!

    • The same thing is happening to my 6mo ☹️️ She no longer nurses during the night, and two weeks ago was sleeping fine during the night (maybe waking up once or twice for the pacifier) she falls asleep on her own unless she’s so tired after her night bottle, she falls asleep getting burped. For the last two weeks she has decided to wake up at around 3am and cry/play/scream for 1.5 to 2 hours. Last night she only went back to sleep after we went in and gave her her paci. She woke up again at 5:45 and refused to go back to sleep. I’m pretty strict with her wake up time, so we leave her in her crib until 7am. We, off course try to help her with the paci, etc. I feel like CIO will not work with her… she’s super stubborn -kinda like her mama I forgot to mention she had a cold last week and is almost clearing up -still stuffy and lingering cough. WE DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!! We are so tired ☹️️

  5. How long do you let them cry? Last night we let our almost 12mo old cry for a little over an hour (occasionally checking in to try and sooth) before we officially threw in the towel and I brought him into bed with me. Sleep has become such a battle over the last several weeks. He won’t fall asleep without boob, normally wakes up as soon as I try to lay him down in his crib, wakes up 3-6 times a night crying… If I try to lay him down awake he just stands up and starts screaming until he’s picked up and back on the boob. He naps okay during the day whether he’s at home or with the sitter, normally 1-2 hours twice a day. I’m so tired.

    • We’re starting to experience this with my 6 month old. Awake every 45 mins to an hour. We’ve been giving him the paci but know we need to teach him how to sleep on his own.

      I have the same question – how long do you let them CIO? We’ve left him in his crib a few times to see what’s happen and his cries turn into screams and seems to get more and more upset. Never seems to be headed in the direction of falling asleep but rather more awake. If I go in and grab him, he falls asleep within minutes of being on my shoulder.

  6. Well im questioning whether any methods actually work. Ive tried the whole bath bottle bed and that didnt work. Now i have just gone for the option of putting him down awake which actually does work however whens he wakes in the night he is unable to settle himself back to sleep again. Havent bothered with his dummy when he goes sleep for the first time and hes goes off within 30 minutes or so sometimes longer. But then will wake up lots during the night and cry out for me and doesnt want feeding he will happily close his eyes and go back to sleep with the dummy because no other method will settle him. He also doesnt sleep in the day naps are very stressful he will sleep for 30 minutes if im lucky and will get very mardy in the day?

  7. The same thing is happening to my 6mo ☹️️ She no longer nurses during the night, and two weeks ago was sleeping fine during the night (maybe waking up once or twice for the pacifier) she falls asleep on her own unless she’s so tired after her night bottle, she falls asleep getting burped. For the last two weeks she has decided to wake up at around 3am and cry/play/scream for 1.5 to 2 hours. Last night she only went back to sleep after we went in and gave her her paci. She woke up again at 5:45 and refused to go back to sleep. I’m pretty strict with her wake up time, so we leave her in her crib until 7am. We, off course try to help her with the paci, etc. I feel like CIO will not work with her… she’s super stubborn -kinda like her mama. I forgot to mention she had a cold last week and is almost clearing up -still stuffy and lingering cough. Is that what is going on?! WE DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!! We are so tired ☹️️ Please help us!!

  8. My 10 months baby was waking up every 2 hours, breastfeed to fall sleep at night and naps time. We are changing that. Now my husband takes care when he wakes up at night (now is waking up 2 times) he drinks like 6 oz formula (is he really hungry?) . Now in naptime I rock him but as soon I put him “almost awake” he cries and wakes up completely. Besides, could be possible that he just needs one nap, his first nap is at 11 am , I’ve tried to put early but it seems he is not sleepy till that. I’m almost desperate thanks!

  9. Hi,
    Would you recommend stopping the dummy or rocking in arms first? we are trying to gradually decrease the assistance we give our 15 week old baby to sleep.


  10. I don’t own a swing so can you explain why being 6 months old won’t work? Can’t I just strap her in? The other two options will most likely fail. We paci, and an hour of crying to potential puking will not do. I will fail I know it 100% and like you said it will just get harder each time I try after.

    My 6 month and 5 day old girl has slept ok in her crib with rocking nursing and paci and then moves to our bed around 4am or later depending. Until almost exactly 6 months, now will only sleep in my arms and cries mins after being laid down. She’s now co sleeping again since its the only way she will sleep. She can put herself to sleep in our bed easily if I’m laying next to her. I can completely ignore her and within 3 minutes with pacifier off to sleep but I have to be there and we don’t want to co sleep anymore! Can’t I get her an awesome deluxe sized swing? That method sounds so appealing!!!

    • If you HAVE a swing you’re welcome to try IF you can monitor the situation (either by remaining in the room or with a camera). Typically the swing is not that helpful for older babies but it MAY help. Also depending on the swing you may have issues with an older/mobile baby fighting hard to get OUT. Which is why I advocate for being able to monitor. IF you have a rock to sleep baby AND can keep an eye on things AND there is a swing handy there is definitely no harm in trying. It sounds like your daughter isn’t so much of a rocker but more of a cuddler, so as with everything, your mileage may vary.

      I can’t promise you an hour of puking and crying BTW. Often it’s far easier than you think. If you are going to sleep train paci must go too 😛

      • My baby will be 6 months old next weeks and for the past 2 months sleep has been a huge challenge. She used to be a great napper and sleeper then out of nowhere went to waking up every 2 hours and now it’s every 30-45 minutes and only naps for 10-15 minutes twice a day. I do breastfeed her to sleep. We tried the CIO method but she cried and won’t stop and since we both work, we resorted to just breastfeeding her everytime she wakes up. I’m exhausted, please help. How can we train her to learn how to sleep on her own without me having to nurse her. Also I’m afraid if I refuse to nurse her and she might probably be hungry because she started not feeding well during the day. We’ll try anything that will work. Thanks for your help.

  11. hi, my 9 months old stil wakes up at night 3 to 4 times and wants us to hold her and walk with her to put her back to sleep, and at 3-3h30 she is fully awake and wants us to play with her and wants to crawl down,(she goes to bed at 9h30 and all my efforts putting her to bed earlier failed) we tried the cio but she was scereaming sooo hard for over 2 hours and we felt so guilty and worried that the neighbours will come complainig about the loud screams as we live in a flat.she still has no teeth yet so i dont know if it is teething but it is becoming sooo hard it is affecting our relationship me and my partner .please help

  12. My seven month old cries and cries and cries whenever she is put down for a sleep, day and night. I have tried everything, except a pacifier to get her to sleep without becoming distressed. Nothing works. She will go all day without sleeping and has now started crying through the night. She can go for hours without relenting. I just don’t know how to get her to sleep. She is my fourth child and all the others were, and are, pretty good sleepers. How long do you leave them to cry? She can go for so long it’s time for her next feed, so she ends up getting comfort from that which is the habit I’m trying to break. As I’ve said, I’ve tried all methods I’ve read about, none of them have any impact whatsoever.

    • Have you tried “the natural baby sleep solution” by Polly Moore? It worked with my 3month old.

      • Thank you, I’ve not heard of that one. I’ll have a look. I’ve been persevering with reducing the length of night feeds and not letting her fall asleep while feeding. Her dad has helped a bit this weekend too. She was falling asleep in a cuddle, but I thought at least it was a step forward. The last few days she’s had one long sleep (about two and a half hours) and one short one in the morning. She’s also (fingers crossed) only woken up once a night for the last three!!! I’m not going to get my hopes up that she’s going to keep it up, but it’s a massive improvement!! 🙂

  13. My almost 5 month old goes to bed with his binky and that’s it. I don’t rock, nurse, swing etc. He goes to bed awake. He wakes at midnight, between 2-3 and also between 4-5:30(usually eats around this time), he use to just wake at 5:30 to eat and then would go back to sleep. How do I get him to stop waking from midnight to 5:30? he uses his binky to sleep. Do I only give it at bedtime but not any of the times he wakes up in the night? I’m tired and need sleep so I can function at work. Please help

  14. Hello, pls help!
    Baby is 3 months old- routine cracked and he’s in bed for 7pm every night- put him down awake and baby self soothes happily. (Has a pacifier but is clinical with his use atm)
    Baby sleeps for 4 hours, he feeds from then on every 2-3 hours still but he’s really not settling back to sleep and is just howling at night. No tears, no crying- he’s just awake. After repeat feelings, cuddles and leaving him to howl ( can be 2 hours later!) the only thing that works is co sleeping which I really don’t want to do?
    Any tips? Is he just still too little?
    Thank you so much!

  15. My baby is 6 months old. He falls asleep fine. We have been giving him oatmeal and he finishes his bottle. He lays down awake falls asleep pretty quickly. After about 3 hours he wakes up fully awake and hyper. I’m not sure what to do anymore. Any suggestions?

  16. Ok, my baby is 8 months old and we’ve had an established bedtime routine for sometime. We’re doing crying it out at bedtime. We have not yet night weaned, so we’re giving him his 2 bottles through the night. What do we do when he wakes up outside of the times for his bottle?? I feel like since we started CIO he’s waking more frequently. Im so tired 🙁

  17. Is white noise still okay for 8 month old? When should you stop using continuous noise?

  18. Hi Alexis, wow, just stumbled upon this site, it’s amazing! Oh how I wish I’d read this with my first baby!! Thank god my second baby (who is currently 16 weeks old) is mellower and I believe will not be a nightmare to try this gentle sleep training technique of putting him down in his crib awake. My question is, what do I do if by the time he is finished nursing, he is totally asleep? As soon as he starts nursing for the night he closes his little eyes immediately and is a master at the baby art of sleep-eating. Do I wake him up? (which would probably require a diaper change or something drastic and would induce panicked/irate howling in my usually very agreeable baby). If I put him to bed before he is fully asleep, he won’t have had enough time to finish eating (which just seems like a bad idea!)

  19. Thank you for so many amazing tips. I’m getting ready to start this process with my 9 month old (7 months adjusted-she was a preemie) and I had a question. Is there an amount of time that you allow them to CIO for where then you would go in the room? Or as long as it takes to fall asleep? I also wanted to know, my daughter slept through the night amazing for the first probably five months she completely slept thru the night and now with teething she wakes up a couple times is that something that I should let her cry it out as well because she didn’t have any night feedings for five months so it’s not that she’s hungry. But I can’t tell if it’s her teeth or what? thank you in advance for any advice you can give me

  20. How do you gradually shift from baby napping on me after nursing to napping in the bassinet? My almost-3-month old has been a champion sleeper at night – our sleep routine is basically change diaper, wash face, change into pj’s, nurse in a dark room, swaddle when she’s drowsy or asleep then nurse until she’s asleep, then put her to bed in her pack and play bassinet with white noise on. This is usually around 8:30. She often wakes 1-2 times and I pat her back and bounce a bit or nurse some more if she is really awake. After that she sleeps through the night with 1, sometimes 2 brief feedings. Ive been able to get her to nap with the same.methods a few times a week but mostly she naps the longest when laying on me after nursing and wakes up fully within 20 mins if I put her down in the bassinet.
    After reading this post I figure I’d better work on putting her to sleep while awake both for naps and at night. If nursing/body contact are a key cue right now how do I transition from this? Any suggestions?

  21. My little man is 7.5 months. Instead of a pacifier, his comfort thing has always been one of his fuzzy blankets. I know you’re not supposed let them sleep with blankets, and understand the reasons why, but he loves it and it always helped with comforting him, unlike a pacifier which I could never get him to take. Once he became more active and mobile, we had to take the blanket away because he kept playing and covering his face with it. This was when he stopped sleeping so well. So I started cuddling with him and his blanket at night to get him to fall asleep. However, recently, this has started becoming a problem and I don’t know what’s going on with him. I know he is definitely teething, but I don’t know if that’s causing the problem or if it is something else. I end up sitting in bed cuddling with him for 2-3 hours now, then when I try to put him down after he has fallen asleep, he immediately wakes up and cries. So I pick him up again and sit with him for another hour, and then that is when I finally get him to go down for the night. He will sleep through the night, but it is just getting him to go down that is the issue. I want to get him back to the routine of putting him down awake so he can fall asleep on his own, but if I take the blanket away, I don’t think this will work. He is still napping in his swing, and goes down in the swing fully awake. So I know he has the ability to fall asleep on his own. I’m exhausted and frustrated, and just keep blaming myself and that darn blanket. I don’t know what to do.

  22. I didn’t read through everything to see if anyone posted this already so sorry if it’s a duplicate! Just some thoughts about pacifier weaning… I started with not offering it during the day while awake and playing and only at naps or bedtime. Then I stopped offering it and just had it available in her hand or bed so if she wanted to grab it after I laid her down she could. It’s worked best to start the changes at naps and then work on bedtime. Hope that helps!

  23. I have seen this has been asked but couldn’t see a response.

    I am breastfeeding and my routine for my 7 month old is bath, story and feed then to bed. Quite often because he’s used to this he falls asleep while feeding. If I take him off he mouths the air and cries if he doesn’t get fed. If we put him down he gets onto his front and goes from 0 to 60 crying. He doesn’t have a mumbling groan.

    How do I put him down awake if he falls asleep or gets so irate that he starts panting?

    • My last baby was like this too – always fell asleep nursing. I ended up nursing him downstairs in the living room, with lights fully on. That helped him stay awake. Then we went upstairs and did bedtime routine. If your LO starts to fall asleep, try to keep him awake. If he still falls asleep, the bath and story should wake him up. Then when it’s time to go into the crib, you can say good night and leave. He’ll fall asleep. It’s hard to hear them cry, but it’s usually just a few nights, and then they’ve got it. Good luck.

  24. hi
    my 8 months year old is a copy sleeper n I nursed him to sleep. he wakes up every 45 minutes how do I get him to sleep in the crib. I tried putting him into the crib when hes asleep he wakes up right wen I put him in the crib. I honesty thought as he gets older he will start sleeping more thru night but it seems he’s waking up more times during night at least 6 timeso every night. how do I change this.

  25. I’ve heard of people who “gradually remove the pacifier” by cutting the nipple part off with scissors little by little. Not sure how well it would work for a really little baby.

  26. Can you please clarify on swing method? (I have a 15-week old that I want to teach to fall asleep in the crib, without CIO)
    After she falls asleep, do I leave her in the swing all night? (it auto-shuts off at 90 min) Or do I put her in the crib after she’s asleep in the swing?
    So the process goes like this ?:
    bedtime routine
    put baby in swing at high speed
    hope she falls asleep (stay in swing or move to crib?)
    reduce speed of swing gradually each night, until placing baby in unmoving swing, where she will hopefully fall asleep on her own?

    Thanks for the clarification!

  27. Hi! Im so glad to have finally come across a helpful page!
    I havent had time to read all of the commenters stories because, well… teething baby; but it seems i have the opposite problem to most people…
    My 8 month old sleeps through the night like a champ, no waking or anything! But getting him down for naps (he still wants 3) is a whole different thing. Ive nursed him to sleep since day 1… After one of his sleep regressions he started waking a little easier but usually putting a binky in his mouth quickly would knock him back out. It was a fine system until, of course, suddenly it stopped working around 7 months old. He refuses the binky outright. He refuses the crib outright. Even as soon as i start to move him after relaxing him with nursing, he wakes up panicked and then screams in the crib. Wide awake. Wont settle on his own… wont even lie down and try… i now recognize where the problem lies after reading your articles, but the damage is done, and im really at a loss for how to fix it without CIO… he will not sleep unless hes lying on me and/or latched… 🙁 i dont mind doing it the odd time (i need naps too), and i know hes going through a huge developmental leap, but a girls got things to do! Should i wait it out in case its a passing phase, or take action asap?
    People have suggested i try giving a bottle instead of breast, which i have yet to try. Any other suggestions or insights would be so much appreciated!

  28. Just need a little more info on the swing. Our baby is 4 months, and needs movement to fall asleep. We have ordered a swing and plan to gradually slow it down like your method says. I get that for naps, but do we do nighttime sleeps in the swing too? Or is she ok with a change of scenery when she wakes up until she is 6 months old and achieves object permanence? I know it sounds like I am answering my own question, but I could really do with a check on my understanding of the method. If we get this right first time, we can still get this ‘put her down awake’ thing cracked before she hits the object permanence stage.



    • Hi, Mark – I just wanted to say I have the exact same question. Swing for naps only or at bedtime too? My son is 4.5 mos. so time is of the essence in nailing this! Hopefully Alexis will chime in on this one. Cheers!

      • Good morning! You can use the swing for both naps and bedtime, and use Alexis’ method. The most important thing is that you are putting the baby into the swing fully awake and baby is falling asleep in the swing, not falling asleep in your arms and then being put into the swing. You don’t have to transfer the baby into the crib after he/she is asleep in the swing, you can leave them sleeping in the swing. Once baby has learned to fall asleep in a non-moving swing, then you can skip the swing completely and put the baby fully awake in the crib. They may fuss/cry for a little bit, but should be able to fall asleep in the crib at that point. Kkeep everything else the same (white noise, darkness, swaddle if you are using) just no swing. Good luck!

        • Thanks for spelling that out Sam. From what you’ve written, baby would be sleeping in the swing for possibly say 15hours a day? Is that safe?

          As an alternative, would it still work if baby has day naps in the swing and bedtime as per usual. Then when day naps don’t require swinging, apply it to day and night?

          I’m about to start this tomorrow… just wondering what you do if baby starts crying? How long do you leave baby in there to try to fall asleep? Do you just sit next to the swing so that you’re just changing the fact it’s the swing moving not you?

          Thanks in advance.

          • Hi! As far as I know, and from what Alexis writes, there isn’t a problem with a baby being in a swing for all their sleep (14-15 hours or so) versus any other flat surface. You can always run it by your pediatrician to double check.
            You can use the swing for naps only if you like. you are planning to use the swing to help baby learn to fall asleep independently right? So what is your plan for bedtime if you are trying to avoid the swing at bedtime?
            How old is your baby? If baby does start crying/fussing when you put them in the swing and turn it on and leave, can you try leaving baby for 10 minutes and see what happens?

            I used the swing for naps only to teach my baby. I believe the first few times I did stay there in the room until he fell asleep in it. Then I started to just put him in there after the nap routine and I would leave the room with him awake and swinging in the swing.
            for bedtime, I didn’t use the swing, only because it wasn’t in his room (he naps downstairs during the day while his bedroom/crib is upstairs). He was about 4ish months old and we used the gradual approach for bedtime. My hubby lessened the amount of rocking at bedtime and eventually the baby was falling asleep in my husbands arms but without movement. Once he was doing that, we started just putting him into the crib after the bedtime routine instead of falling asleep in our arms. he may have fussed for a few minutes, but he was used to no rocking/movement and was able to fall asleep on his own in the crib. It depends on the baby too, some babies need to cry/fuss a little bit before falling asleep to let off some steam (my baby does). So try to not to be discouraged if your baby does fuss/cry a little bit. Give the baby 10-15 minutes, 20 minutes and see what happens. Good luck!

  29. I need help from start to finish. Major help with getting my 6 month old (1 week until she’s 7 months old) to sleep.
    She loves her paci and she is bottle fed breast milk. We usually help her fall asleep, so I understand we need to stop that. Steps on what to do would be appreciated.
    She also wakes up soo much at night, we were lucky when she was little but we are no longer and she just doesn’t sleep so therefore we don’t either. I need a solution.

  30. Our daughter will be 3 months tomorrow…she has mostly slept in her swing up until now. But she won’t fall asleep on her own in it. We have to swaddle her, shush her, make the swing rock faster(manually). We’ve tried walking away and letting her fall asleep on her own but she lays there and coos (at best) or screams (at worst) until we come back. This is for both naptime and bedtime. Once she’s asleep at bedtime, she sleeps for 6-9 hours before waking so that’s not a problem; but her naps are rarely longer than 40 minutes. We end up spending anywhere from 30-60 minutes to try to get her to sleep. What is our option since the swing isn’t working to get her to fall asleep on her own? She’s not old enough for CIO.

  31. Hi!
    My little one is almost 5 months old. We have mastered the putting down awake (we fed her and rock her until she is drowsy then lay her in the crib still slightly awake, she goes right to sleep) BUT as of a week now she has started waking up and we are having to do 6-8 paci runs during the night. It was once or twice. Starting around midnight-2am. She goes to bed at 7-7:30. What should I do to stop this? Let her go to bed with the paci and then cry it out when she wakes up? Take the paci away at bedtime all together and still use during the day? Take the paci away COMPLETELY, no more paci?


    • Hi Lucy,

      I’m not a sleep expert, but I know Alexis is super busy, so I thought I’d chime in. You need to lose the pacifier at bedtime. You can do what you want during the day (although if you want longer naps, you’ll probably want to get rid of it for naps too). If baby falls asleep without the paci at bedtime, she won’t be looking for it to help her get back to sleep in the night.Definitely DON’T just expect baby to CIO during the night if she falls asleep with the paci at bedtime. If it were me, I’d get rid of it at bedtime, and keep it for naps for a bit, until nights are better, and then lose it for naps.I hope that helps.

    • Hi Lucy,

      That sounds rough! You should def read the part 1 of this article- it explains what you need to do/know it depth about how to help your baby sleep through the night. In your case, the paci has to be taken away from
      Bedtime completely. And not given to her again during the night at all. But paci during the day for general soothing is fine. Good luck!

  32. My daughter is almost 9 months old and we have always rocked her to sleep. She does fine when we initially put her in her crib but inevitably wakes up a few hours later and refuses to stay asleep until she gets in bed with us. I know we have created this problem because we gave in and began co-sleeping but, I am an elementary school teacher and needed sleep desperately! Once in bed with us, she will sleep through the night. Now that I have thoroughly messed up her routine, how do I get her to sleep in her crib all night? Your posts are great but mostly refer to babies significantly younger than mine. What’s my next step? Thanks!

  33. So I’m still a little confused (I did not read all comments so my apologies if this was answered). My little girl is 3 months and yes are habits are nursing, walking, wearing her to sleep (all the way asleep) and then put her down. In the last week she has started to wake up within 10-15 mins of putting her down, etc. all the reasons why I’m reading all of this… so my question is. After getting her drowsy and/or lying her down awake what do I do when she starts crying? Stay with her and pat/sing to her until she sleeps (which to me seems like that is still not teaching her to fall asleep on her own) or walk away and let her scream? Do I pick her back up and get her drowns again? Please help.

  34. Our 11month old DS has always been a horrendous sleeper, whether breast feeding or bottle feeding, he has just never truly settled since being a tiny baby. Partly i believe due to him having 4 older and rather noisy siblings. He doesnt really nap in the day except 10 minute cat naps. Will it be wise to assume i should place him to sleep in his cot during the day out of earshot of the rest of his siblings using the CIO method to in short get him used to his cot and falling asleep on his own (currently the little angel has decided he wants to co-sleep with mummy and daddy) We werent going to go for the CIO method, but have now become desperate shuffling zombies, which is beginning to have an adverse affect on our parenting during the day. Although my struggle with CIO method at night times, we have a 4 year old (who is also a terrible sleeper) i am concerned this method may stop 4yo DS having the sleep he requires to be able to function correctly during school hours. Please help, Any suggestions welcome

  35. Hi…
    I have a question about putting down drowsy but awake. I have an 8 month old and we did have to cry it out but luckily we’ve been fairly successful… especially with drowsy but awake! She cries for 5 minutes usually and then has been sleeping great…max 25 minutes on a really bad nap day. BUT she comes down sick often and she has a slight cold right now. Is it ok to still let her go down drowsy but awake for sleep knowing that she will cry for a few minutes? What would be a proper minute cut off without being cruel? Or is it just cruel and I should nurse to sleep again while she’s sick? Thanks in advance!

  36. Hi! I need some help here…
    I have a 7 month old son who is breastsleeping with me…i nurse him to sleep and everytime he wakes up during the night to make him go back to sleep right away..and he wakes up every 1 n half 2 if im lucky!

  37. Hi! I need some help here…
    I have a 7 month old son who is breastsleeping with me…i nurse him to sleep and everytime he wakes up during the night to make him go back to sleep right away..and he wakes up every 1 n half 2 if im lucky! His crib is right next to the bed but i can barely move him in it because he wakes up at any lil noise…i would like to try a more gradual approach before considering the c.i.o ..any plans or advice i dont know how to start and i will go back to work in 4 months and i work nightshifts so this is really an emergency!!
    Thank you so much in advance… really hoping for a reply 🙁 thanks

    • If you want to try a gradual approach, try changing the bedtime routine. Instead of nursing to sleep, nurse first, then bath/pjs/diaper change, read a book or two, sing a lullaby. Since he is being used to nursing to sleep, and if you want to try a gradual approach, you may have to rock/pat to sleep and then gradually lessen the amount of rocking/patting you do each night till eventually he is being put into the crib AWAKE (most important) and falling asleep on his own without any patting/rocking. If you are trying to avoid crying, that will be very difficult to do, since the baby will most likely protest any changes from what they are used to. You may find that he will cry anyway and perhaps at that point, CIO can be your backup option (there could be less tears than you expect)! Good luck!

  38. Hello,

    Thank you for this resource. My daughter is 19 weeks old. She is now waking up six, eight, sometimes as many at twelve times a night. I only feed her when she seems actually hungry. She is also a really short napper, just like you described but unfortunately getting in there early to prevent the wakeup doesn’t seem to work. She is generally able to go down in her crib very drowsy but still awake but backing it up to a little less drowsy hasn’t worked either. Two related questions: do you recommend the swing for naps and night time? Also I know we don’t want to retrain her to expect a lot of help, but I’m concerned that at this point she is so sleep deprived that maybe we just need the do whatever it takes to get her a couple of days of decent sleep so that she isn’t too exhausted, making the entire process that much harder. We are very careful to watch for signs that she is tired, but as this has gone on for weeks, she’s moved from being fine straight to fussing with little slowing down or other tired signs

  39. Hello. We began sleep training last night with our 8 MO girl and I think it went pretty good but I have some questions about how we did, what we should do differently and how to incorporate less night feedings.
    OK so I EBF, and she was co sleeping with us mainly (starting out in her crib with us nursing and rocking her to sleep first, then lying her down for naps and night time) and then when she woke she came to bed to nurse and “sleep.” This is NOT working since no one is sleeping well. She would wake about every hour and want to nurse. She also cannot stand my husband to do anything with her at night and screams her head off. She’s teething(therefore not nursing well throughout the day and night) and has separation anxiety which makes everything worse to know if I should stop night feedings or not and whether to do CIO if she’s in pain from her teeth.

    Last night we started by moving her crib from our room to her sisters(who is not sleeping in there until baby is trained). We fed her dinner, changed diper, got jammies on and she read books in her crib with her sister. 730pm Sister said goodnight, mom nursed her and used her words and left. Baby talked and then fused for 10 min. Dad went in, rocked and swayed until drowsy and put her in crib. Baby woke at 1020, dad swayed, tried twice to put her in crib and she woke screaming. Mom went in,nursed and she fell asleep in arms, put her in crib and she woke screaming and angry, used my words and left at 1050. She cried for 4 min and went to sleep on her own. Up at 115, nursed and fell asleep 5 min later. Put in crib woke screaming and cried 1 min! Woke at 530 for the day (which is way too early!)….

    so how’d we do? I’d like to cut out the first night feeding, but I’m not making much milk and when she nurses she’s not getting a lot and she will not take formula so I’m at a loss on if I should even cut out any feedings. I feel like she’s waking between 10 and 11 to nurse because she’s not getting enough at the bedtime session.

    • Good morning! I would suggest that you change up your bedtime routine first. Nursing should be moved up, it shouldn’t be the last step in your routine. So perhaps dinner/nurse, diaper change, jammies, books and into crib awake. You mentioned that she fussed for 10 minutes and then dad went in to rock/sway, but dad going into to rock will work against you. If you are doing CIO with checks, then only check in but no rocking baby to drowsy.
      Since she is used to nursing/feeding overnight, you will have to continue night feeds if you determine she is truly hungry at those times. Don’t work on night weaning until she has mastered falling asleep on her own at bedtime. Good luck!

  40. Hi Alex

    Thanks for all your kind info and replies for all sleepless parents. I’ m one of them. My boy is 4.5 months with bottle feeds and he was trained for self soothing “put down awake”. No longer night feed needed since 3 months. He got 1.5 hour 3 naps and around 850 ml drink per day. Just patted to make him sleep.Sleeping time at 7:15 pm. He got up once per night anytime between 12:30 am -4am. Once get up he is not able to get back to sleep for an hour. Nothing sooth him and keeping cry. About an hour cry he gets asleep till morning 6:30. Morning looks fresh and happy smile. Could you advise me how to overcome it. Is it split night? I do not see any about it in your blog.

  41. Hi Alexis ! I looove your blog. It makes what I thought made no sense make perfect sense. Your outlook on this makes me very positive about what I’m going through. My baby is now 11 1/2 months and I am trying to get him to sleep in his crib the full night. I have still been rocking him to sleep and put him in his crib he sleeps until about midnight then cries for me and I have been bringing him into my bed. I attempted the cio dr Ferber method this week first night was amazing only took about half an hour and he slept until 1:50 cried and I fed him he went back to sleep until 5:30 . I thought my problems were over but the next night I put him in the crib and he woke up at midnight – followed the same method but the crying it lasted an hour and a half and I gave in and brought him into bed. He was sleeping in the crib for 1 1/2 hours 2 naps a day and since I started cio he wakes up when I put him in the crib for naps or shortly after . I do rock him in his Room. I don’t know what to do anymore and I want to rip my hair out . Can you help me ? Thank you:)

  42. Sorry also thought I should mention when I do bring him into bed he sleeps through the night minus one small feeding around 130 am . He can self soothe himself just want him to self soothe in his own bed without me is the challenge lol thanks in advance hun:)

  43. Needing some help with my little girl who is just a few days over 6 months. Thought we were doing great as up until a few weeks ago, I would feed her and put her down in her cot drowsy, and she would put herself to sleep. However she now wont go down unless I feed her and rock her completely asleep, then wait at least 15 mins. If I try and put her down before this she will scream at me, sometimes I can out her in her cot and sing to her to get her back to sleep, other times nothing over than picking her up again works. As soon as I pick her up she falls straight back to sleep but I cant put her down again for at least another 15 mins. She also wakes more frequently, before she was waking 1-2 times a night, had a little feed and would go straight back down again, now she wakes every 40-50 mins and its getting exhausting. Any advice on this please, dont know where to start in doing it gradually, or whether to let her CIO???

  44. Hello! My daughter is 3 months old and has fallen into the habit of eat,sleep,play instead of eat, pleat, sleep. It was great in the beginning when she was taking 2hr. long naps and sleeping well at night, but now she will not fall asleep without being in her bassinet and a bottle in her mouth. She typically won’t finish the whole thing before she falls asleep resulting in her constantly waking up wanting us to put it back in her mouth. I’m concerned that this is going to build bad habits and I am wondering how I would slowly get her away from doing this and falling asleep on her own. She won’t self soothe (She HATES the pacifier) and won’t fall asleep anywhere unless the bottle Is in her mouth.

    Thank you!

  45. My 6 month old has been sleeping through the night since around 11 weeks old. However has started waking in the middle of the night around 2 maybe 3 times sometimes. Doesnt want feeding just wants to reassuring back to sleep. At bedtime baby goes to sleep on his own no patting paci or anything. What do i do now?

    • When you don’t know why your child is waking up go back to bedtime – it’s almost ALWAYS something related to bedtime. Either he’s not fully awake or you’re doing too much “soothe to almost sleep” just prior to bedtime. Back out of what is happening at bedtime and see what happens in terms of night waking.

  46. Hi there. I just discovered your site and have spent the last three hours reading. I’m not trying to formulate a plan and came back to these three articles. But in this one, when talking about the swing method, it seems like you skipped a lot. You said work with the swing for 4 to 7 days. Then straight to, once the baby is sleeping happily in the swing. Ha! Do you mean do CIO in the swing? Or how do I get to the happily falling asleep in the swing part? My baby is 5 months old. I’m sure I’m not the first with this question, so please feel free to refer me to somewhere else you have answered it. Thanks!

  47. We’ve mastered the swing (yay!) for the most part. My almost 5 month old, morning/afternoon naps she has no issues putting herself to sleep (except today but I put her down before she was actually tired – oops!). She does take a lot of naps in the car and/or in the carrier when I walk our dogs (poor thing can’t stay awake in that thing if her life depended on it). Our issue is now putting herself down at night. She will ALWAYS fall asleep nursing in the evenings and even sometimes during the day. At night after jammies and a book she is WIDE awake until she starts getting pissed and wanting to eat. I don’t believe she’s actually hungry, she just wants to nurse to sleep because that’s what she’s used to. Is my only option to put her in her swing and SLIP when I think she may be tired? Also, she goes to bed pretty late. That’s our other issue. Thanks!!

  48. We recently trained my 7.5 month old to fall asleep by himself in his bed. He falls asleep independently without crying. He still wakes multiple times in the night, but he cries a little then usually goes back to sleep on his own. HOWEVER, the problem is that in the middle of the night he has been WIDE AWAKE! Sometimes he is awake for an hour – he’ll play, make noises, roll around in his crib for a while, then start whining and fussing for someone to get him. We’ve let him fuss/cry for 30+ minutes but I’ve started eventually nursing him back to sleep. (He doesn’t really need to nurse at this time I don’t think, as he’s already nursed a couple of hours prior). Being wide awake in the middle of the night was an issue before sleep training as well. I wonder if he is napping too much, but without 3 naps a day he is incredibly grumpy and gets so tired all he can do is cry until he takes a nap. Any tips? Is this likely a bedtime problem?

    • He usually takes 2 1-hour naps and 1 30-minute nap. He goes to bed around 7:30, and wakes up anywhere between 3-4:30 wide awake! He can be up for an hour, then eventually goes to sleep and wakes up anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30.

  49. Thank you for the great article! My baby is 4 months. I want to start training him to fall asleep on his own. Currently he falls asleep in my arms very easily right after breastfeeding. he doesn’t take pacifiers. My problem is that he has reflux. So if I put him in his bed on his back without burping when still partially awake he throws up (elevating his head doesn’t work I tried). And almost all the time he is too sleepy to burp after bedtime feeding and he just falls asleep instead and I have to wait till he is deep sleeping to put him in his bed otherwise he still throws up. It has been getting much better with the reflux as he grows older. Should I just wait to get him to sleep on his own till he grows out of the reflex issue?

  50. Wait, so we can use the swing at night as well to sleep train? Sorry if dumb question, FTM and I’m


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