Menu

What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night Part 3

January 18, 2012 |  by  |  1 YO, 2 YO, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months, featured, parenting
cute baby sleeping through the night

By 6-8 months your baby is fully ready and capable to be completely done with eating at night. Dr. Sears suggests that some parents really enjoy feeding their babies at night and will happily continue offering night feeding sessions until the child stops waking up on their own. If you are one of these mythical “I love waking up in the middle of the night” parents, best of luck to you. Personally I don’t know any people like this. And I think they’re really rare. Like unicorn rare.

But my point is that by this time your baby no longer needs to consume lots of food at night and is fully capable of getting all their calories in during daylight hours. And while a few babies will organically drop all their night feedings without any assistance from you, the vast majority of babies will continue to wake up routinely for a nursing session or bottle for years. So you can live with night feedings for the next 3 years, or you can take some simple and effective steps to gently wean your baby off their night feeding habit.

If you think you’re ready to stop night feedings you must have already read and done your homework from Sleeping Through the Night Part 1 and Sleeping Through the Night Part 2. Otherwise my no-fail night weaning strategy will fail miserably!

Start by choosing the feeding that is the least fun for you (typically this is the “dear God why are you awake it’s freeking 2:00 AM” feeding). Use the relevant process outlined below to completely wean off one feeding. Repeat.

Night Weaning for Breastfed Babies

  • Gradually reduce the amount of time baby gets on the breast by 1 minute every 1-2 days. For example if your baby nurses 10 minutes a side (for a total of 20 minutes), start popping him off at 9 minutes, 8 minutes, etc.
  • By the time your baby is only nursing for 2-3 minutes he may stop waking up all on his own. WHOOPIEE!
  • If your baby STILL wants to nurse then you have a few options on how to handle it:
  • A) Send daddy in for 1 minute of low-key soothing. Daddies are miraculously good at this. Also? They don’t smell like food. Babies are much more adaptive at getting the “no more food for you buddy” message from Dads.
  • B) Let him complain. This should NOT be a nightmare CIO scene. Most babies who have been gently decreasing their milk consumption are now USED to not eating at this time. Left to their own devices they typically complain for 5-10 minutes and then fall back to sleep.
  • When you are done feeding your baby at X time of night you are DONE. Don’t let teething/colds/travel get you back on the night feeding menu. If this happens you need to start over again. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

Night Weaning for Bottle-fed Babies

  • Offer 2 oz less of formula. So instead of an 8 oz bottle, offer a 6 oz bottle. Then a 4 oz bottle. Etc.
  • -OR- Dilute the formula by reducing the amount of formula in the bottle by 1 scoop but leave the amount of water the same. So instead of 8 oz of water with 4 scoops of formula you would offer 8 oz of water with 3 scoops of formula.
  • Continue decreasing the dilution of the formula until the bottle is 100% water. (Or continue offering less formula in the bottle – 6 oz, 4 oz, 2 oz). After 1-2 days of “only water” bottles, no more bottles.
  • At this point your baby will probably stop waking up for this feeding all on their own. If not read the tips above (for breastfed babies) on how to proceed.
  • When you are done with a given feeding you are DONE. No more bottles at that time of night. The kitchen is closed.

I’ve done this with many families over the years and it works shockingly well. Don’t believe me? Try it. Then come back next week and share your success story in the comment section!

There are a few small caveats to night weaning that I want to share….

The Dreaded Early Morning Feeding

It’s really common for babies to wake up to nurse in the early morning, say 5:00 AM, and then fall back to sleep for another 1-2 hours. When starting the night weaning process I suggest that this is the LAST feeding session you tackle.

Why?

Because babies often respond to giving up the 5:00 AM feeding by deciding instead to start the day. I think the problem is that a) it’s close enough to their normal wakeup time b) they’re used to waking up at that time already and c) they’ve gotten enough sleep that basic exhaustion won’t just whisk them back to dreamland.

I have no magic solution to this dilemma. Try weaning off the early morning feeding and see what happens. Your baby may continue to sleep happily until their normal wakeup time. Your baby may figure out how to fall back asleep at 5:00 am with a little gentle soothing encouragement from you or your partner. Or your baby may flatly refuse to go back to sleep without being fed.

If the latter then you can decide if you want to simply concede defeat and continue with the 5:00 AM feeding rather than wake up in the early dark of the morning. Personally I think an extra hour or two of sleep is worth dealing with the 5:00 AM feeding. If you’re nursing I would strongly encourage you to give your baby a bottle instead at this hour so you and your partner can take turns.

Baby is Too Young

You are welcome to try to gently night wean when your baby is younger than 6-8 months old. Sometimes it works. More often it doesn’t. But there is no harm in trying to drop a feeding or two in the 4-6 month time frame. If things go smoothly, great! If not your baby may simply be too young and may not be physically ready to go for longer stretches without eating. Wait a few weeks and then try again.

Using CIO to Stop Night Feedings

Cry it out is a lousy way to stop night feedings. For starters, a baby who is used to eating a lot at night will cry A LOT if asked to stop eating at night all at once. I guarantee you many of those CIO horror stories you can find on baby forums were caused by misguided parents who had a baby used to drinking 24 oz of formula at night and then was cut off cold turkey. I get cranky when I skip a meal. If I didn’t eat all day I’m almost ready to eat my own young. Don’t ask your babies to do this.

Cry it out is a useful technique and it has a very specific purpose. But it’s not useful for night weaning.

So if you’ve taught your baby how to fall asleep on their own, you are ready to get started on night weaning!

Share a comment below. What worked/didn’t work for you? Any advice for handling the dreaded 5:00 AM feeding/wakeup? If so drop me a line. We’ll write a bestselling baby sleep book and become billionaires!

{photo credit: DonkeyHotey and Stephen Heron}


924 Comments


  1. I’m curious, my LO is off bottles nearly completely (he was never interested in breast feeding); how do I eliminate the bottle he uses to pass out? He doesn’t have a bottle at all during day or night beyond the micro amount of fluid and he’s out. If I try to not give it to him, he freaks out and we have a multi-hour freak on our hands. Obviously he’s using it for a comfort tool, but what can I do?

    • I’m not a sleep expert, but seeing as there are no responses to you I thought I would give it a shot. I would think doing their method of gently reducing the contents of the bottle until he only has water, and then if he is still using the water to fall asleep maybe just slowly decreasing the amount in it. After that I would imagine it would be easier to cut it, similar to a pacifier.

    • Mickey- Did you solve this problem with your little one? I have the EXACT same issue and I’m curious on if you found a cure.

    • I too have this problem. Mine is slightly different. My son takes baba to go down for his naps and bedtime. He started sleeping through the night by 4 mths until he turned 8 mths old and is now waking several times a night and most of the time the only way to get him back to sleep is with the bottle. I read night weaning and will try but also speaks of them going to sleep exactly how they will wake in middle of night. This would mean no baba. How?

  2. Hello! I am having a terrible time with our baby and his sleeping at night as well as naptime. He is almost 8 months old. He slept through the night when he was 11 weeks old but then when he hit 4 months he started to wake up numerous times. We have since been struggling with his sleep. He has been sick and teething since November but I am at my wits end and cant do it anymore I am exhausted. He does use a Paci (we will try to break this habit) and he can put himself to sleep he just wakes up numerous times at night. Some nights he goes back to sleep after putting the paci back in but other nights he screams and it doesnt work. His naps are normally anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Do you think CIO is our best option? How long does it typically take for this to work? We tried CIO a few months ago and after two weeks it still wasnt working. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • I saw an improvement in my baby’s night sleep when we started doing CIO for naps. It only took one or two days of a crying 15-30 minutes until he caught on and would cry only 2-3. Eventually he was down to 1-2 minutes of whining.

      • My baby is very similar and I’m losing it. We’ve tried CIO for naps and it just does not work. DD cried for an hour on Saturday when we tried it last and never did nap at all. We just gave up. DD was also a great sleeper around 11 weeks, but now she’s horrible. Introducing solids now means she has gas (she’s 6 months, 3 weeks) at night. She was up every 45 minutes last night and was held by my husband or I for almost the entire night! I have no idea what to do! The crazy thing is that she is a pro wit bedtime. We lay her down awake every night and she falls asleep with zero issue at all. But, we cannot get her to nap to save our lives and the waking up all night is killing me.

        • I’m sorry you had such a rough night! Has it gotten any better? Is your baby on a bottle or nursing? Solids made our son gassy, and constipated (he’s almost 8 months now, we first tried solids around 7 mo. He’s breastfed and we’re barely doing tastes of solids), but he was also kinda gassy before. Have you tried gas drops? My wife doesn’t like them, but personally I think they work. Also try the bicycle motion with her legs, that can help get gas out. Always always burp after feeding. I don’t know what else to say. We’re in the same boat as everyone else commenting here!

          You can do this! Y’all are great parents to care for your daughter so much! You will make it!

          • Fennel tea helped my breastfed daughter (me drinking it-not her ;). If you look at several of the different gas drops fennel is in them and is one of the active ingredients. I began drinking one glass a day when she was 4 months old. Her gas issues resolved. I no longer have to drink it and she has no issues with gas with any foods. She eats many fruits, vegetables and oatmeal.
            Our pediatrician recommended a little water of she became constipated and I mix it in her oatmeal instead of milk and it worked. I would ask your doctor if that might work for your son. Good luck.

        • Try yogurt. It worked wonders for my daughter at first – she would poop almost right after having yogurt. Now she is not as sensitive but it never hurt to add yogurt to their diet. Plus it offers extra calciums too.

        • My son stopped being gassy when we moved to solids. You should look into food allergies. He does eat baby cereal twice daily, but he has no constipation. Also you need to make sure she still has enough liquid during the day. That will also help with the constipation.

    • I think that has to do with the 4 month sleep regression and re-learning how to sleep.

    • Hey my done who is 7 months old slept thru the night for a week in January but got sick and since January has woken up between 2-3 times a night. He has suffered eczema and silent reflux, both of which are being treated. He goes to bed at 7 and wakes every 3-4 hours for a feed. Sometimes he has all of his 5 oz btl and sometimes he ily has a little. He is weaning well but quite often wakes thru the night when he isn’t due a feed just got comfort. We have got into the awful habit of putting him down asleep only for him to wake up as soon as he touches his cot to cry hysterically. My husband and I are exhausted. I dnt no if he even needs all of the feeds through the night as he doesn’t finish them all so do I tackle the putting him to sleep/cio and night weaning all together or one at a time? Please help!!!

    • My little one is almost 9 months, and still waking up for feedings every 3 hours or so. She’s pretty tiny, in the 15th percentile, but healthy. I feel bad denying her any milk during the night because of how small she is, but I’m such a zombie during the day! Our pediatrician says she’ll just be a petite girl, but I feel so guilty weening her. I feel stuck, please help!

      • Hi Angie
        My boy is 9 month tomorrow and the paediatrician said I had to cut him off from every 3hr feeds plus snacking early hrs as he is a good weight and was weeing through his nappy between 4-6am but not waking. My LO is meant to be on 5hrly BFs with 3 solid meals a day. I get him from 7pm-12 and then he is up at 3am/5am/630 wanting boobs so I put him down now without and feed him at 10pm to take him through to 3amish. But if you don’t think she is getting enough milk during the day I’d only stretch her out a little at a time. I had to resort to use a dummy as he constantly wanted boobs every time he woke. It was tough the first week but got better so you will end up getting sleep until at least 12-1am. Just remember go to bed as early as you can otherwise you end up staying thinking they’ll wake soon when they actually don’t. Good luck

      • Angie – my little guy is just under the 1th percentile…he’s almost off the charts. My pediatrician has recommended night weaning (currently bf’s 2x a night) so that his caloric intake increases during the day. I am only on night 4 of weaning and am not sure how long it is going to take, but it has not been easy. During the day, I am adding organic half and half to his veggie mash and oatmeal in hopes to gain weight. Just know you are not alone…I also felt guilty about denying milk at night, but if it gets him to eat more during the day – I will try anything!

  3. I have a question. We have worked down to 6 minutes and my little one was doing great. She got her 6 month shots yesterday and slept through the whole night. I want to know if we can go ahead and just start trying the no feeding tonight or if we should keep feeding her down to the 4 or 5 minutes that was recommended. I really want to be done and don’t want to confuse her by feeding tonight and then quitting in a couple days.

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE!!!!! I enjoyed reading it. I am a second time mommy to another adorable little boy and though we try hard not to compare the two, at times it happens. Our little one is 8months old and prior to recent, he has been a “ok” sleeper, preferring more to sleep during the day however still giving his father and I at least, 4-5 hours at night before waking up. However of the last month, he has been waking up FAR more frequently, averaging about 3-4 times a night. Our oldest was a pretty lousy sleeper as well so we are fatigued and desperate.

    I again enjoyed reading your article and appreciate all the techniques of sleep “training”, your honesty and especially the advised of gradual consistency, which I realize, my husband and I have not been practicing.

    I have just subscribed to your blog and look forward to more information you have to share!

    Thank you

  5. Hi Alexis

    My daughter is almost 17 months. She has one nap at 9.30am and one at 1.30pm for about 1-1.5 hours each.

    Bedtime is around 7-8pm and wakes up in the morning at around 6-6-7am. She uses a dummy at nights and will sometimes breastfeed to sleep and other times she will just fall asleep on me. She will wake about 2-3 times on a good night. I usually pick her up and just hold her till she falls back to sleep or she will breast feed until asleep.

    So I am wondering should I drop one day nap? And when she wakes and cries I try to lye her down and pat her back etc but she just won’t have it. How do I do it? We are expecting another baby in November and I really want to get my daughter under control.

    P.S she is still in our room as we are fixing up the house. I will be laying awake waiting for your relpy x

    • Ros,

      It’s hard to break out what the root source of your problems are because there are two things going on:

      1) She’s likely ready to drop to 1 nap. Most 18 month old kiddos don’t take 2 naps. So that could definitely be leading to more night waking.
      2) She’s not falling asleep independently and is still using the pacifier. Both breastfeeding at bedtime, holding till asleep, AND using the paci could be leading to your persistent night waking.

      Chances are the issue is not that she’s taking 2 naps a day but HOW SHE FALLS ASLEEP. If your goal is better night sleep (and it is because that new baby is en route!) I would 100% start there. Good luck!

  6. Hi – my 8 month old baby recently started waking up between 3-4am fo a bottle again. He was sleeping through the night, so we know he can sleep through the night without food. He’s a big boy (24 lbs), but is taking 4 -8oz bottles during the day plus breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 fruit/veggie snacks. I don’t know if I should reintroduce a 5th bottle during the day or try to wean him off the night bottle again (he does genuinely seem hungry). Any thoughts or tips we can try!? THANK YOU!

    • Melissa, my son did exactly the same thing. At 7 months he was a big boy, was sleeping through but then decided he wanted a bottle at 4am. I tried to avoid the bottle which led to an early rising at 5:30. Then, because I was sure he was hungry I gave in and started giving him the bottle. He’d feed and go straight back to sleep until 6:30 at least. He had that one bottle at night until he was 14 months and finally gave it up. I am glad I answered to his needs. It was much better to give him that one bottle that only took me 15 minutes and have a well rested baby in the morning. Ever since he gave it up he is a champion sleeper!! You know your baby, if he is hungry feed him. He’ll have a much better sleep after that bottle and be a happy baby in the mornings!

  7. Hey there!

    Parts 1 and Parts 3 were life-changing and worked like a charm. Thanks to your advice on the swing and everything else I now have a 7 month old who can put herself to sleep, sans paci and sans boob, for bedtime and most naps.

    My question is (kind of) on night-weaning. My girl has been waking up at the usual times (1ish, 5ish) wanting to nurse, so I oblige because based on her weight curve I’m not ready to initiate weaning. Apparently, however, she is? She frantically looks for the boob and the second she’s on she’ll relax and nearly be asleep. No actual eating. Pop her off and BAM, she’s awake and crying. Put her back on and it’s suck suck SLEEP, no eating. And the cycle repeats.

    In this situation, where she’s clearly waking not to actually eat but moreso out of habit or comfort-seeking, what do I do? Even allowing her to stay on for the usual amount of time is resulting in the same frantic crying. Do I just CIO this business?

    • This is exactly where I am at with my seventh month old as well. He feeds at 10pm, then wakes up at 1:30 or 2:00, but doesn’t eat! He knows how to fall asleep on his own for naps and bedtime. All I can think to do is let him cry it out! What do you think?

      • Following! I have the same question.

        • I have the same question.

            • I am NOT a sleep expert. But I think your babies are waking up seeking comfort. They know that if they scream, mommy will comfort them. Maybe try and get daddy to do the comforting in the middle of the night and see if this reduces wakings within a few nights? Or I would suggest CIO with interval check ins. Go in, give a quick kiss, say a cue phrase (i.e. its time for sleep now), lay him/her down, and walk out. Wait five minutes, go back in and do the same. Wait 10 min, go back in. Etc….

      • I also have this issue. I’ve tried to reduce how long my baby “eats” but if I cut her off too soon she’s frantically searching for the boob and awake and crying within 5 minutes, max. I have no idea why she’s waking so frequently still and/or what to do about it since she’s a pro with the bedtime routine (but refuses to nap, no matter how long we let her CIO).

        • My 9 month old wakes up every 2 hours looking for BF SOOTHING it is killing me! He wakes up so frantic that he is almost inconsolable. CIO is not an option as he just goes on and on and on! Help

          • I am in the same boat .. my daughter wakes every 2hours looking for her bottles to suck on and starts crying if she doesnt find it fast enough then if i refuse to give it she just gets louder and goes on and on… shes 9 months old and i am exhausted!

      • Have you tried using a pack instead? Sometimes my little girl will do this and when she is latched and then stops sucking I detach her and put slight pressure under her chin to stop the sucking motions work almost every time

    • Same question here!

      • Any solutions? Same question!

      • I had the same question a few weeks ago and we have since tried some things with my 10 month old. The gradual reduction in feeding didn’t seem to work for us as it caused other night wakings. Our girl already falls asleep independently but was eating 2-3 times at night.

        We decided to follow the Sleep Lady Shuffle, or camping out method. It did involve some tears especially on the first night. I did a dream feed at 10pm with the goal of not feeding until 6am. She did cry but every night has been better. She is happy when she wakes up the day (and not famished!) and nurses better during the day now. We are on night 4 and last night she slept from 7:00-6:30 with a dream feed at 10 and some light fussing at 4:45. Planning to drop the dream feed soon and hoping she will be sleeping through the night!

        • Would you mind me asking what the basic process is for Sleep Lady Shuffle?
          Your situation described in your first paragraph sounds incredibly similar to my own; only my daughter has just turned nine months.
          Any advice regarding that sleep training method would by hugely appreciated.
          Many thanks!

          • Absolutely — basically, you let baby put herself to sleep but you “camp out” in her room, starting right next to the crib. You can shush, pat, talk to calm baby but the idea is to have her fall asleep in her own (no rocking, nursing, pick up only if hysterical but ideally not at all). You can leave the room once she’s asleep and return to the chair position for all night wakings. Every 2-3 days, you move your chair closer to the door so eventually you are out of the room.

            I got the book from our library (it is called Good Night Sleep Tight). The method was a little easier on me compared to other methods, like extinction.

    • I’m a FTM to a 10.5 month old who has done what you’ve described about waking out of habit/comfort feeding. She is EB, and we began sleep coaching her when she was 7 months old so she knows how to fall asleep & back to sleep on her own…for the most part. I’m no expert, but here are a couple of things that worked for us:
      1) Send in the husband! (Or any other person besides yourself since YOU smell like food and will automatically initiate your baby’s nurse-for-comfort response.) If this isn’t an option, then…
      2) Use a cry-and-console method. It’s similar to CIO, except you start with smaller time intervals that increase each night. I’ll gladly share ours if you’d like.

      There is no middle ground for my baby girl – she’s either fully awake or virtually sound asleep, and this isn’t just when she’s nursing either. So the cry-and-console method worked/works great for us, and it typically takes her 20 minutes MAX to fall back asleep. She’s teething, so our night wakings vary from one night to the next still, but she usually only wakes once to nurse. And like your situation, my baby girl’s weight is on the lighter side, so I haven’t initiated full night weaning…yet. Hope this helps.

  8. I have a question on night weaning…I have a 7.5 month old who we tried CIO with and did wonderfully until he woke in characteristically screaming one night while traveling. It’s been all down hill from there with the eruption of two teeth and his first cold. We are now back to waking every hour and a half and refusing to go down. I need – don’t want to but NEED to night ween. Until he developed this cold he was only nursing once around 3 am. If we work on adjusting his bedtime routine to where I’m not nursing him immediately prior to bed do we cry it out every time he wakes until around the 3 am feed and wean at that time or do we work on the weaning before we try crying it out again? Also, do I start cry it out for nps at the same time? I’m so confused by what to do or not to do, nothing feels right and I’m losing precious moments with my little but I’m also dying from lack of sleep and ultimately know he needs better sleep as well.

    • I realize you posted this a couple months ago, but for anyone else just now reading this, here are some suggestions:
      1) Unless you’re a total champ, DO NOT try to work on naptime sleep at the same time as nighttime sleep. We tried it for a couple of weeks and found that it only made things worse. Conquer nighttime first, and then naptime as it’ll be harder due to it being daytime.
      2) Make sure he’s completely well again and that nothing else is going on (e.g. sleep regression; developmental leap) before trying anything different. While these things are only temporary, they can still be a bear to get through!
      3) Don’t try night weaning until he’s back on a better sleep schedule, especially if you’re going to adjust his bedtime routine to EXCLUDE nursing before bedtime as it may cause an earlier and/or more frequent night wakings, especially if he’s legitimately hungry.
      4) Try introducing more solid foods right before bed (maybe even adding rice cereal to it). This isn’t guaranteed to help him sleep through the night, especially since there are so many different reasons for night wakings, but if he’s only waking because he’s hungry, then it just might help.
      5) Since the CIO method worked for you, try it again. Traveling can disrupt a baby’s sleep routine just as much and as easily as getting a cold, IMO.
      6) Once nighttime sleep has improved or even just shows signs of improvement, then you can tackle night weening. You can also begin tackling naptime sleep, but know that any disturbances in nighttime sleep (e.g. night weening) can affect naptime and vice versa.

      I know firsthand about the sleep deprivation involved with this. It’s not fun, it’s not cool, and oft times it’s unrewarding, but hang in there! The reward comes when he’s sleeping through the night, and he will get there!

  9. My 9 month old hasn’t ate in the night for a couple of months but he wakes up several times. We are currently remodeling our house and have been since before our baby was born so me, my husband, our 6 year old and our baby all sleep in the same room. Our 9 month old still sleeps in his bassinet but can easily stand up in it and fall out so I can’t really do the cry it out method with him at this time. I know he’s attached and reading about how rocking them to sleep then laying them down is not the way to go I was wondering what else we could try? Also he’s been teething since he was three months and still has no teeth at all does that have anything at all to do with the no sleep at night and 20 min cat naps we go through?

  10. My 10 mo is just not catching on to night weaning. She falls asleep fine on her own at bedtime with no feeding. She inevitably wakes at 10:00 for a bottle. We have been steadily reducing it by an oz every night and so far she’s been fine going back to sleep. It’s the second waking at 1:00 or 2:00 that she is struggling with. She doesn’t crank up her crying to a CIO level, it’s more that she protests, for 2+ hours. I’m exhausted. My first wasn’t like this and night weaned like a champ. Thoughts?

    • Sounds like she’s not ready to be weaned at night yet. I still have to nurse my 10.5 month old before bed AND nurse once during the night, usually around the 5 am waking, because she won’t go back to sleep otherwise and will just try to be up for the day, which isn’t happening in our house! haha

      Just curious, but why did you decide to stop feeding her before bedtime? To me, it makes more sense to feed right before bed (that is to say, before beginning the bedtime routine). That way you could eliminate hunger or at least put it on the back burner of possible night waking reasons if/when she wakes earlier than expected.

  11. I wanted to add my success story here in case someone is searching at 3 am and trying to find a solution like I was. My son was a dream baby and had no issues and basically slept through the night at around 4 months so we were unprepared.

    My daughter had never sttn. It is a lot of my own doing as we traveled back to the U.S (er live in europe) to visit family so I was always worried about jetlag and just ended up feeding her because that was easiest. I know I created a huge suck equals sleep problem. Around 7 months I could no longer take waking up twice a night to feed her so I desperately starting googling stuff to find a solution and came around this site.
    (she was waking up between 12 and 1 and again between 4 and 6)
    Our first problem we tackled was getting rid of the pacifier at bed time. This took 3 days and was not too bad. We did it cold turkey. First night she cried off and on for 30 minutes and then fell asleep. We made sure to have a good bed time routine already in place so they only difference was no pacifier.

    We then did night weaning using the guide from this site. I comb feed so it was not an issue to use the bottle. Over a week we slowly watered down the formula until she was getting only water. This also helped her eat more during the day which she wasn’t doing because she was taking over half her need at night.

    Night 1 of no fed: Woke around 12 cried/chatted off and on for an hour . She got stuck sideways in crib so husband went in to fix her. Fell asleep for 45 minutes cried/angry for 45 minutes and fell back asleep until 5:15 when I woke to feed her.

    Night 2 Woke up around 1 am (normal feeding time before) and chatted.cried for 20 minutes and fell asleep. Woke up around 4:45 and I went in and fed her at 5:15. Tried to put her back to bed but no go

    NIght 3: Slept until 5:15 and then I fed her and she fell back asleep until 6:20

    She now normally sleeps through the night until 4:45-5:30 when I try to go in and fed her. She sometimes falls back asleep and other days she is up for the day. I will take this as my son was a super early riser as well.

    She takes 2 and transitioning out of 3 (naps a day and goes to bed around 7.
    Morning nap is between 7:50-9 depending on when she woke up
    Afternoon nap is between 11:30-1:00
    And last cap nap only happens if she woke up before 2. (Sleeps between 4:15-5)
    She still using a pacifier for naps and we dont really have any issues.

    Overall I really wished I night weaned her soon so if you think your child has a suck sleep association try night weaning. I promise I thought it would be way worse and was very worried about my older child not sleeping through the night

  12. Thank you for this post!! My LO (now 10 months) is our second born and VERY different from the firstborn, who just stopped nursing at night gradually until 1 feeding was left where I offered water and then she stopped waking. #2 is very demanding and persistent to nurse to sleep and throughout the night. I tried the cold-turkey approach mostly because I was desperate to get out of the sleep deprivation haze, but it was painful for all of us. After that there have been a few successful nights where he slept 8+ hours but regularly he sleeps 4 hours and wakes right as I lay down for the night(this 4-hour stretch is a major improvement as before he was waking every 1-2 hours). I know he CAN put himself to sleep, as he will do it when the conditions are perfect: he is not overtired, sleepy but awake and I’ve done the routine (pray, sing, rock for 5min, kiss on the forehead). When there are any deviations from the perfect conditions, he cries until I return to nurse him. I feel like the best thing for him is if I put him on a strict schedule but this is not possible as my firstborn requires to be dropped off an picked up from preschool and must get outside every day. The days we stay at home, my LO is in heaven and usually sleeps 1.5+ hours for both naps and goes down at night with eyes open and sleepy.

  13. Hello I have a 23 month old and have been trying to wean him off his night feedings, but it seems like the more I lessen the amount in the bottles the more he wakes up just to get more? how should I handle this?

  14. Hi,
    My 14 month old is still Breastfeeding 2 times a day once before daycare once before bed. I am also breastfeeding her at night twice usually– when she wakes up. I am tired and really wanting to wean her or get her to sleep through those wakings or go back to sleep . She goes to bed great on her own and awake as well as for naps. I am wondering if I should follow the weaning instructions above or is that for younger babies? –her feedings are not always easy to time either as I think she falls asleep quickly.. Thank s

  15. I have a 9 month old who we have done very poorly with on being able to go to sleep on his own right now we rock him while giving a bottle and then when he’s done with the bottle he’s basically asleep and wants his paci. He has sttn since 6 weeks with maybe 1 waking to give him back his paci and he goes right back to sleep. He’s been sleeping in a pack n play in our room and we’ve recently tried to switch him to his crib. It is not going well. He’s been up at least 6-8 times a night. Firstly we plan to get rid of the paci cold turkey. After that, how do you suggest we get him to fall asleep on his own. He has had to have a bottle and be rocked to get to sleep for forever. This is for naps and bedtime. I’m not sure I can stomach CIO. Any more gentle ways of doing this?

    • I realize this was posted about a month ago, but if you’re still struggling, then you might consider a cry-and-console method. It’s very similar to CIO but uses shorter intervals, thus making it a little easier to handle the crying. Also, don’t be ashamed to cry right along with your LO in the other room. It can be rough for all parties involved, and that’s okay because you’ll make it through!

  16. Help! Our 8 month old son sleeps in his own room in a crib and goes down awake. This helped to go from waking every 2 hours to every 3 to 4. This means he’s still getting up about 3 times a night, though, with no end in sight. I breastfeed and have tried to cut down the sessions, but he gets cranky. Also, he’s widely inconsistent about when he wakes up. I don’t want to try cry it out what else can I do? Oh and he naps 2-3 times a day depending on how long his naps are, again very inconsistent, and puts himself to sleep for those as well. Bedtime is usually pretty painless.

  17. So if I am understanding you correctly, if my almost 7 month old is still night nursing and doesn’t yet fall asleep on his own, we need to tackle him falling asleep on his own BEFORE we tackle the night weaning?

    • That’s my understanding! I’m in the exact same boat!

      • Ayup. The food=sleep association is established via nursing to sleep AT bedtime. Trying to wean while this is firmly established is hugely challenging. If you try to pop him off before he’s fully asleep he’s going to get REALLY UPSET WITH YOU. Establishing independent sleep at bedtime often results in fewer requests to eat right out the gate. And once you’ve mastered independent sleep at bedtime you’ve created the ability to gradually and relatively easily night wean.

  18. me too. i have nursed my daughter at night thinking she was getting a full belly before bed and would sleep better. She started waking every 2 hours around 5 months. She is now 6 months. I dont let her fall asleep on her own but she does at day care so she can do it. I think I am going to start letting her fall asleep on her own at nap times when I have the strength to let her cry ,then work on it at bed time.

    • Just a word of caution if you’re going to try tackling naptime first. Naptime is generally harder to train a baby to go to sleep on her own because of sunlight and other daytime activities (e.g. cars driving by outside the baby’s window). Her daycare might have an ideal area in which she’s able to fall asleep on her own, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be able to at home. So if it’s not working at naptime, then I recommend switching to working on it at nighttime. Best of luck!

  19. Hi Alexis! Your website is really helpful. I have a question about night weaning and wake ups at night. My 6 month old is actually a pretty good sleeper (sorry to the other readers, although read ahead and you will see I have paid my sleep dues). He sucks his thumb and sometimes gets himself back to sleep quite easily. He can go to sleep on his own most of the time with just a tiny bit (1-2 minutes) of fussing when I leave the room. (I have been extremely consistent with him as we also have a toddler who is still sleeping – and WAKING – in our bed! LOL. And so I am of course terrified of his little brother becoming a bad sleeper.) Anyway, the baby sleeps in his own room but still nurses at night between 1-3 times (bedtime is at 7:30 and wake up at 5:30 or 6) but at this point there is very little consistency as to when he wants to do this! Every few nights he wakes up every hour for a couple hours in a row (usually, 9:30/10:30 or 12/1), but then the next night he will just wake up once (2). I don’t know whether to let him fuss or feed him at these times, or try to gently soothe him without nursing. For the record, he is quite the chubber, so calories are not an issue.
    Any thoughts on what to do? And sorry to be asking for advice on such a moderate concern, but I cannot keep waking up at night for another 2 years. Seriously, (and ironically), both my 6 month old and my toddler (27 months) both slept through the night for the first time within a few days of each other, and that was a couple of weeks ago!
    Thanks! Catherine

  20. I think your website is very helpful. I wish I knew about it when my daughter was born!

    I’m having issues with her sleeping through the night and I am trying to night wean her using your suggestions. She takes 2 chunky naps a day, I make sure to not feed her 20-30 minutes before bedtime and I have a consistent bedtime routine aiming for 7:30. Unfortunately, she is still waking up 3 or 4 times/night. We are down to 3 minutes for her 2 am “feeding”, but now she wakes up at 1 am and then again around 2 am seemingly to compensate for the shorter feeding (haha, she’s smart)!

    Now I’m getting confused about whether to make the 1 am feeding the “weaning” time or to do it for the 2 am feeding? Also, it seems that if I let her cry (dad is NOT the “heavy” and turns to mush when she cries) it just escalates. Is this an Extinction Burst? If I let her cry it will continue for over an hour, but if I pick her up and feed her, she will fall asleep again (which is preferable for me in the middle of the night: 3 minutes vs. an hour of crying, not a tough choice!!)

    I should probably add that we have a one bedroom apartment and her crib is in our bedroom. Perhaps THIS is the real issue! Although I’ve slept on the couch and it doesn’t seem to matter.

    • That’s a tough question because the answer could be a lot of things (although no, I don’t think it’s an extinction burst). Weaning is tricky. The most direct path (based on how old she is) is to just go cold turkey – no food. Done.

      This leads to a lot of tears for a few nights but tapers quickly. But it feels pretty harsh, most parents don’t like it and I don’t like to recommend it generally.

      However the other issue is even if you do everything perfectly, babies don’t know what time it is. So your “we feed at 2” plan gets thrown off because she wakes at 1 AM also. Also if you’re cutting down on food but she’s NOT eating more during the day you can get stuck with MORE requests to nurse at night. Sometimes it becomes a battle of wills – she’s too distracted to bother during the day and as long as night feeding is on the table, she’ll take it.

      Without getting into too much detail I’ll offer some options:
      – Start by removing yourself from the bedtime routine if possible.
      – You could consider a dreamfeed strategy – say go feed her at midnight then ignore the 1-2 AM requests.
      – If it’s an option, offer her bottles at night of decreasing volume (bottles often help because they’re less fun than nursing).
      – Decrease the amount of time she gets to nurse for all feedings simultaneously. So it doesn’t matter so much how many there are but they’re all going to be weaned off simultaneously.

      This last idea might be helpful because she’s BARELY nursing 3 minutes so it sounds more like a snack than REAL food. Then when you’re done you’re done. Dad is free to turn to mush if he wants to but the breasturant is closed at that point.

      • Hiya, sorry but how old was this baby? She sounds quite like my 9 month old who goes to sleep awake without paci/ feed etc like a dream but still wakes 2-4 times at night to feed, sometimes taking only 2 ounces, sometimes 5. I just wondered if I should water all the feeds at once, as she is so inconsistent as to what time she wakes? Or is this an older baby? I am not entirely comvinced she needs all the feeds, maybe only 1 feed really.

  21. Hi there, I am looking for some advice. My first child was a nightmare and woke all night long and was nearly three (a week before baby two was born) until she consistently sleep through, something I’m trying to desperately to avoid this time around. Baby two was a dream sleeper until around 5 months old (now 9months old)when she began to wake once in the night and now it’s turned into two – three times a night with a 330am start to the day. She goes down around 730pm and has a nap or two during the day usually for around 30mins each time sometimes longer it im lucky. She won’t drink her bottles during the day rather snacks 60mls every few hours however in the night she will easily down her full 180mls of milk each waking plus more some nights. I’m in two minds that she may get dehydrated if I stop giving it to her and she will not go back to sleep by offering less. She loves her food and has two solid feeds during the day I have tried to reduce this as well to see if she will drink more but no such luck. She successfully goes to sleep on her own awake but won’t stay there she doesn’t like to co sleep so once the bottle is finished she wants to be back in her cot where she will nod off. I wouldn’t mind getting up so much if the mornings didn’t start at 330am. I’m back to work soon and I don’t know how I will manage with no sleep and a three year old. Any advice would be most welcome! Cheers

  22. Hi Alexis, We’re trying to put our 10.5 month old son to sleep awake and are not having any luck. Most nights he will sleep through the night or wake up once. We put him to bed at around 7pm and he wakes up somewhere between 6-7am. The problem is that he has to be bottle fed and rocked (we have to pace back and forth carrying him for about 5-15 minutes) to sleep. We have tried everything to get him to go to the crib awake and fall asleep but are not having much luck. As soon as we put him down in the crib he starts screaming and stands up. There is literally zero down time between when we put him in his crib and when he starts screaming and standing. He won’t sit down in the crib. We tried waiting a few minutes for him to CIO and going back in but we can never get him to calm down.

    What do you do in a CIO situation if you want to go back in the room to reassure him if he is screaming and crying at the top of his lungs?

    Help!

    • Your little guy’s temperament sounds just like our little girl’s! There’s no in-between for her either: it’s either she’s drowsy enough to fall asleep on her own within minutes or she’s instantly standing up in her crib and screaming.

      You might try a cry-and-console method. It works well for us with our 10.5 month old! It’s similar to CIO but uses specific time intervals to help coach your baby in how to fall asleep & then back to sleep on his own. This enables you to console him when he’s screaming at the top of his lungs, but by increasing the intervals, you’re also teaching him that he can actually fall asleep without you. It’s tough, but it’s also a beautiful thing when you get to the end result!

  23. Hi

    My 6 month old son goes down at 18.30 and we are currently using the CIO method to get him to self sooth to sleep. He does a stretch until about 10.30 when he wakes and then he prob wakes every couple of hours/every hour through the night. I have been nursing him back to sleep but now need to break this association. How do I know when he needs a feed and when to just leave him to CIO? I notice you recommend not to use CIO to night wean but he surely can’t be hungry every hour. Should I still use the gentle night weaning you suggest for every wake or pick a couple of wakes to feed him and let him CIO on the other wakes. HELP!!!

    • Sounds like he’s sleeping like every other baby! 🙂

      After that initial 4-hour stretch, babies wake-up quite frequently, according to Part 1 (or 2?) of this series. So no, he’s probably not hungry as often as he’s waking, but chances are, if you offer to feed him, hell accept! I’d send in your husband or someone other than you (since you smell like food to your baby) to try to get your baby back to sleep without feeding him. At his age, he’ll probably still need to be fed during the night, just not every hour or two. I’m not sure of the recommended times, but you could probably Google and find recommendations if no one else suggests anything.

  24. My 9 month old son still nurses to sleep. We move him into his crib and he usually has anywhere from a 1-3 hour stretch in there before waking up and wanting to be in bed with us again/nurse again. I nurse him for a bit and he’s out again and if we all haven’t fallen asleep we move him again and the same thing keeps happening. I would love to have him get a good whole night sleep in the crib but after reading this I now understand that that probably won’t happen unless he eventually learns to fall asleep on his own in his crib with out nursing to sleep initially. I can not see CIO working for him at all because he can seriously cry for hours with out falling asleep for example in the car seat, he hates it and will cry for the whole drive exaughsting himself but never actually falling asleep. Also, he is sitting up and can stand in his crib in a second so as soon as he wakes up and we go in his room he’s up standing, so I don’t know how he would be able to sleep again on his own after all that stimulation. He’s never fallen asleep on his own before. starting to think we are hopeless and lost our chance by not sleep training earlier!! Any suggestions?

  25. Hi,
    I would like to start by saying I wish I had this knowledge a long time ago. I could have saved myself so much drama.
    I have a 2 year old who cannot fall asleep on her own, still has 2 bottles of formula at night, and regularly ends up in our bed.
    Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe me right now. We are trying for baby number 2 but at this stage I am freaking out about it. I cannot cope with one, how will I cope with two? (I will definately try and apply these sleeping tips)
    Is there any hope for me to get my little one comfortable enough to sleep on her own, without a bottle and in her own room?

    • I would break this into a 2 part process:
      1) Weaning bottles out of the bedtime routine and weaning OFF night bottles.
      2) Fostering independent sleep AT bedtime.

      I would start by making sure the bottles are fully removed from the bedtime process. No bottles at or near bedtime. Then aggressively wean off the night bottles. Decrease the volume by 1 oz a night ever night across BOTH bottles. Thus ideally within 1 week you’ve removed all food from night time. TALK to her about this. She’s 2! Tell her it’s not good for her teeth (it’s not) so you’re moving to water. If she wants to keep drinking at night she can have a sippy of water (which is fine as long as she’s in diapers).

      Then you have the issue of her falling asleep on her own. She’ll keep waking and expecting to come sleep in your bed until that happens. Once you’ve weaned off bottles and such you can foster independent sleep gradually or all at once. This might help: https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/when-your-kid-wont-stay-in-bed/

  26. My 6 MO is suddenly waking a lot at night and far more upset that she ever has been in the past. She’s also having a hard time with naps. Refuses to take one or they’re really short. We do have a bedtime routine that involves feeding (nursing or a bottle from Dad), but she is awake when we put her in the crib. We also do a version of co-sleeping. One side of her crib is off and is pushed to the side of our bed. So she’s in her own space, but I can still touch her. I’m not sure what the best method of action is for getting her to go back to sleep once she wakes up. And, would I use the same method to get he to nap?

    Thanks!

    • I should also say that we leave the room after we put her down for the night. But when she wakes up, I’m only a few inches from her.

  27. I’m a mom to 5 kiddos. Yes, 5. On purpose. With that being said, my youngest is 9 months old and is a horrific sleeper. I’m running on about 10 hours of sleep over the past 5 days. He still eats during the night, 1-2 times. I have cut the bottles down to 4 oz. My husband was laid off over the winter, and spoiled him rotten with sleeping…..holding while napping, not letting him ever cry when waking, etc.

    I’m ready to sleep-train, but he’s in our bedroom. (in his crib) Any tips, suggestions on how to handle this when he can stand up and see me laying 5 feet away?

    I appreciate the help!

  28. My 9 month old son has been teething since he was 3.5 mos. We cosleep. He’s breastfed. I was unable to put him in his crib at all until recently when I started to place him there after he fell asleep. I can not get him to fall asleep on his own in his crib no matter what I do. Nursing and rocking aren’t even working anymore. I let him CIO on saturday and he cried for 1.5 hours. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and went in to discover he had pooped so I changed him and held him for about a minute and he fell asleep. The Ferber method of checking in just seems to anger him. The sitting next to his crib doesn’t work. The minute he hits the crib he cries if he’s awake. My husband can’t handle the crying especially in the middle of the night. I am better at dealing with it but I feel bad. He no longer wants to nap even. He just wants to party al day long. If he’s teething should I continue trying to sleep train him? Also, my husband travels often and will be gone for 20 days starting friday. I thought this may be the perfect time to try. I’m starting to lose it.

  29. My 10 month 3 week old son has decided to fight sleep fiercely lately. He was decent at sleep for a while (waking 1-2 times a night) but since we have discovered he has allergies (6 weeks ago) he is also up more often in the night despite being given meds. Last night between 1030 and 5am he was up 7 times… by 5 I was in tears myself begging him to sleep. People say it’s sleep regression… maybe. I do know I haven’t taught him to fall asleep on his own yet (I know, I know… but I used to live rocking him all the time, now mama just needs some rest (I work 2 nights 5pm till 1pm and 2 days 10 am till 4pm and need my sanity)

    Any advice on teaching an almost 1 year old to fall asleep on his own? Tried cio once and it just got worse and worse and he didn’t nap… plus it was so difficult on me too I couldn’t take it longer than 30 min.

    Thanks for any advice, I hope I’ve not done any harm to him self soothing at night permanently 🙁

  30. Hello. My little daughter is 9mo. old and has become a terror at night. She naps perfectly during the day and goes to sleep wonderfully at night (7ish usually). We had to use CIO a few months back to get her to go to bed at 7 on her own. Worked like a charm by day 3. Typically she will wake up about 9:30 – 10:30 for a feeding. Usually she would go back to sleep pretty well and might wake one more time around 3. No bottle at 3, diaper change and back to bed. About 2 weeks ago she had a really bad night where no matter what we did, the minute we tried to lay her down she would scream her head off until we picked her back up and wouldn’t sleep unless she was being held. Co-sleeping didn’t even help reliably. This would continue until morning when she would finally be ok to sleep on her own again. It’s like her circadian rhythm is completely flipped or she’s afraid of the dark. What could be causing this? We’re reluctant to try CIO again in the middle of the night because her 2yr old brother’s room is very nearby.

    • It’s not a fear of the dark and it’s not like her circadian rhythm would flip unless there was something hugely bizarre going on (do you live in a light-deprivation chamber?!?).

      The clue is generally in what they need to go BACK to sleep. For her it’s being held. This typically links back to what’s happening at bedtime OR at the early feeding (early wakings can reset associations you worked hard to break free of at bedtime). For her it’s being held so I would consider:
      – Is she mostly asleep at bedtime? Drowsy or falling asleep in your arms?
      – Is she falling asleep while eating at 9:30 (remember this early feed could be causing problems)
      – Is she falling asleep 15 seconds after you put her down? If so she’s not all the way awake.

      Look back at what’s happening at bedtime or the early feed – THERE is where you’ll find the answer.

      • Thanks for the quick reply!. At 7 she has already been fed (usually around 5:30) and typically is just starting to get tired when we put her down. At 9:30 She wakes up on her own and we pretty quickly get her up, changed and fed. Many times she spits the bottle out before it is entirely done and cuddles back into me. We try to not let her fall back asleep entirely before we lay her back down so she still falls asleep on her own. I guess the only difference here between those 2 downs is the last one she is getting a bottle and then being put right back down. This never used to be an issue. Now she’s just screaming her head off as soon as we lay her down. Which is what she used to do a few months back at bed time and prompted the CIO method. Are you suggesting that CIO is what we need to do again for her? We’re ready to do it again if necessary. We’re both dying from lack of sleep.

  31. Great articles. I have an 11 month old who was still waking up every 1.5 to 2 hours at night. Not always to eat but sometimes. But the only way I could get him to go back to sleep was giving him a bottle even if he just drank two gulps. Anyway while reading your article I realized that I needed to take his paci away. He couldn’t even figure out how to put it in his mouth while he was awake let alone when it was dark in his room. I also stopped using the mobile and got a white noise app. And I let him cry it out instead of rocking him to sleep. All worked awesome for the first week. Now we are on week 2.5 and he is waking up at 2:00 every morning again and I give him water cause I already did the weining of the bottle (gradually cut down formula but left water) and then I put him back to bed but I let him cry it out because he fights me if I don’t now. So it’s quicker to let him do that. And then without fail his up again at 4:30 or 5:00 for a bottle which I give him and then back to sleep till 7:00. Any suggestions on the 2:00 am wake up l? He will be one year old on July 1. Thanks for your time.

  32. Two questions:

    To be clear, you suggest that parents wean their babies from falling asleep with aids before 6-8months, but that they continue to night feed until the baby can be weaned at 6-8 months ?

    What is a child’s sleep pattern from 10 months to 3 years?

  33. My 10 month old used to be a solid sleep through the night-er but as of late, the past few weeks he wakes up a few times a night and has to be nursed back to sleep and every time I go to put him back in his bed he wakes up. Also, the only way I can ever get him to sleep is to nurse him, its been this way since day 1. Has the time come to use the cry it out method? I have also noticed as of late that if a door or even the shower curtain closes between him and I he FREAKS out, could this be the separation anxiety you were talking about? What do I do, where do I start? Help!

  34. Alexis,

    After ready all three parts of your sleep guide we decided to night wean our 7 month old from the 4 am feeding, he had previously had 8 oz at bedtime and wake at 4 am for 4 oz and be ready for the day at 6 am. We decreased the oz from 4 to 2 oz for 3 days then to 1 oz. Unfortunately, this backfired and created a 11:00 pm feeding, a 2 am feeding and still the 4 am feeding with wake up at 5:30 am, we are at our wits end. Any suggestions? Help!

  35. So, I have a seven and a half month old. For months now, she has only woken once to eat between 3 and 4 am. And then back to sleep until 6 or 6:30.
    The last four days, she has been skipping that feeding and just waking at 5 or 5:30 for the day. I try to just nurse her and put her back, but it’s not happening. Is this likely to be our new normal?
    Current bedtime is 7pm… but last night she had a hard time falling asleep so didn’t actually get to sleep till 7:30 or so. Any tips on getting her to sleep a bit longer?

  36. HELP ALEXIS! 4th baby but need some advice!!! So I’ll try and keep this short, cuz’ I really need advice, and I think I might lose you if I tell you my story. I wholeheartedly believe in CIO, and it worked effectively with my 3 kids that are now 7, 9, and 11. That being said, I have an almost 6 month old that is her Mama’s kryptonite in every way. We thought we were done years ago, so the fact that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to do all of this again has left me slightly less tough then I used to be. We’ve followed your advice very closely, and all of it has worked well for the most part. She now goes down awake. Her first nap she seldom makes it past the 45 min (one sleep cycle) mark, her second she typically makes it through 2…about an hour and a half nap…and the third is typically another 45 mins. Not great…but she’s a happy baby so it must just be all she needs. That being said…come bed time… and this is where I’m wincing, waiting for the harsh truth…I have been taking all of your advice and she is effectively putting herself to sleep…but in our bed. Her naps are in her crib, but I just haven’t had the heart to let go of her at night yet. We put her in our bed before we go down. We’re down to her fussing anywhere from 5 – 25 min…but she then puts herself to sleep. She almost ALWAYS wakes up within an hour, so were still awake downstairs watching tv. Often my husband will go soothe her back to sleep, which probably is totally canceling the fact that she already put herself down on her own, so do we leave her to figure it out when she wakes up at 8:30 or 9:00? Once we join he in bed she still wakes up anywhere from 3-4 times a night. When she does, I pull her over to my side. We feed on one side laying down, I grab her and we roll over and she feeds on the other. Whether or not she’s still awake…often she’s not because we’ve both nodded off during the second side, I push her back up to her spot at the center of the bed and she goes back to sleep. Our other 3 were all in their crib overnight at this point, but there has been a small part of me that has been hoping that minimizing night wakings could work effectively with her still in our bed. Not so sure though. I want to hold onto this stage a bit longer if you think it’s possible, but she’s gone from 1-2 wakings a night at 2-3 months old, to a crappy several a night.I know full well that it’s not hunger thats waking her. Its routine…habit. The only advice we have not yet taken is getting her to her crib overnight. Do you think it’s possible for this to work in our bed and extend this sweet season of sleeping with her a bit longer? Thanks Alexis for any time you can take to respond! Erin

    • If you want to co-sleep that’s cool but here’s the rub…

      You can’t leave a mobile baby alone in an adult bed 🙁 For starters, it’s not working. I mean she’s waking a ton and stuff. But also it’s a recipe for her to fall off and bump her head. So unless your bed is a thin mattress on the floor in a fully babyproofed room your options are:
      – she goes into the crib
      -OR-
      – one of you stays there from bedtime on

      I know – not great options. But something to consider as you’re making the decision about co-sleeping and figuring out how long to continue.

      And yes the husband soothing her back to sleep is cancelling out the fact that she is falling asleep solo. And I KNOW this is true because she’s waking up 3-4X a night (technically 5X if we consider the 8:30 one). So yeah, she’s totally not mastered independent sleep yet.

      Anything can work and it’s possible to minimize night wakings while she’s in your bed GIVEN the caveats that it’s probably not cool to leave her alone unless you go with the 100% BABY SAFE plan. Remove nursing from the bedtime routine (feels like nursing is mixed up in the sleep association). She falls asleep with an adult present in the bed but ideally not touching. See of those changes diminish the wakings.

  37. My 7 month old has been sleep trained since 5 months of age. He started out with just one feeding a night. I am exclusively breastfeeding. Some nights I have caved and fed him twice 🙁
    Recently he went 4 consecutive nights of one feeding at 330 am. I have been home visiting my parents for a week and in that time he has refused his 3rd nap for 5 consecutive days and is back to being fed every 2 hours.
    My question is, can I let him cio tomorrow night when we return home and go in for his one feeding after 12am as we had done previously? Tia

  38. Hi Alexis, very helpful website which I am sure helps a lot of momies like myself. We have a 15 week old who used to sleep very well with only 1-2 feedings at night around 2-3 and 4-5 which last only for about 10 mins sometimes less and then right back to sleep until 7:30 am. He goes to bed between 8-9. My husband and I rock him a little and he would go to sleep just fine. Until a week ago, now it takes us at least an hour to put him to sleep and not only that he wakes up for his first feeding at his usual time but after that he wakes every hour crying and looking for my breast. I gave it to him a few nights thinking that he was still hungry but as soon as he touches it he falls back asleep. If I don’t give it to him and just put him to sleep, he wakes up as soon as I lay him in his crib. Btw, he sleeps in his crib but in our bedroom for now. Please advice what should we do. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Hi! Sounds like the 4 month sleep regression. My baby went through the same exact thing as urs is doing now. It took a couple of weeks to pass but it was really hard during the thick of it. Is your baby still swaddled? one thing that helped us bc we had stopped swaddling him then by that age is the magic merlin sleepsuit…it allowed him to stay asleep when we put him down instead of waking up as soon as he hit the crib. Good luck and hang in there! It will pass! Also, alexis has a blog entry on sleep regressions so check it out!

  39. Hi! Sounds like the 4 month sleep regression. My baby went through the same exact thing as urs is doing now. It took a couple of weeks to pass but it was really hard during the thick of it. Is your baby still swaddled? one thing that helped us bc we had stopped swaddling him then by that age is the magic merlin sleepsuit…it allowed him to stay asleep when we put him down instead of waking up as soon as he hit the crib. Good luck and hang in there! It will pass! Also, alexis has a blog entry on sleep regressions so check it out!

  40. So my 8mo was on the track to sleeping all the way through the night (we were just down to the 5am feeding) when he learned how to crawl and quickly thereafter, to stand. Now when he wakes up at 12 I can’t get him quickly back to sleep cause he wakes himself up fully. Add to that his crib is a foot away from our bed (we live in a small 1br) so Daddy can’t really get him back to sleep cause he smells me and wants me. Sooo I took the easy way out and started bringing him into the bed cause it was the easiest. Is there any way to get him back into the crib or am I stuck co-sleeping for those last 6 hours forever? 🙁

  41. I have a 7 month old baby (turned 7 months old today) who has been a horrible sleeper from day one. One day in her 7 months, she slept 6 hours in a row….and never again. Typically at night it’s 4 hours max. Daytime she has maybe 2 naps a day, and hour each would be a good day.

    The real problems occur at night…of course. Each time she wakes up, she’s screaming bloody murder like she’s having a night terror. She’s not awake but asleep. I also have a 3.5 year old and I’ve witnessed him have a couple in more recent years. It seems so odd a baby this young would have them and has been having them since aprox 2 months old.

    She’s CRAZY when they happen at night. My husband can’t sooth her, a pacifier doesn’t work, it doesn’t help if I hold her BUT if she gets the boob, she finally calms down and literally passes out a couple of minutes later. Every time this happens I swear the neighbors probably think we’re harming her.

    She goes down around 8 each night in her crib then usually wakes up in a terror around 11:30. My ped said to try gently waking her before the witching hour, not fully waking her but lightly to help her body transition to the next sleep cycle. It has t really seemed to do anything. Around 1am, she ends up in our bed because I’m so exhausted and need my own sleep. I nurse her and she quickly passes out again. Then again…and again.

    I’ve just read your three sleeping through the night articles and will try these techniques. Do you think I should practice the CIO method during the day first at her nap time and keep the night feeding “routine” until she learns to put herself to sleep? (Right now it’s us rocking her, paci or bottle/boob).

    Our older child was SO much different and easier! We sleep trained him with the CIO method around 6/7 months with no problems. This little mama is a whole other ballpark and it’s making us CRAZY

  42. I have a 10 month (girl) so she’s use to sleeping with me. at night it’s hard I have to lay her next to me no only want a my boob in her mouth. she don’t like the crib for nothing. she sleep two time during the day buy I don’t have a routine I need help.ASAP I leave her cio but it breaks my heart n I carry her. please someone help me during the also she want my breast to go to sleep I don’t know what to do

  43. I have a 5 month old girl with severe reflux/GERD—we are talking calls to 911/ambulance trips to ER due to choking, gagging, etc… Dr’s say to hold her upright for 20 min’s after each feeding. Well, there in lies my dilema. she has reverted to 2x overnight feedings at 4 months old, which means falling asleep on my shoulder as I hold her up for the 20 min’s. If I lay her down before the 20 min’s, I risk the choking/gagging fits. They say the reflux/GERD will taper off after 8 months BUT I’m worried about the impact I’m having on her as she get’s used to being held-to-sleep for that 20 min’s before I put her down. Since she is less than 6 months and tiny (only 13 lbs–born art 5.8lbs preemie) I think she still needs the calories. no matter how hard I try, she can only stomach about 5 ounces per feed during the daylight hours b/c she’s tiny. Should I start on solids a month early to get the calories in and wean off the night feedings????????? HELP!!!!

    • hi! my now 10month old also had reflux issues and I had to hold him upright after night feeds. I don’t think it’s a problem if u have to do that with night feeds. the most important thing is how the baby falls asleep AT BEDTIME. is she falling asleep on your shoulder at bedtime? if so, then you may have a problems later on. but if she’s able to fall asleep independently at bedtime, the holding her to sleep during overnight feeds should be ok.

      • Hi Sam,

        Thanks for the reply. She naps like a champ during the day in her swing with white noise and a pacifier. At bed time, I lay her in her crib, zip her into her grobag, put white noise on and give her a pacifier. I lay down on the bed and keep an eye on her until she goes to sleep. I do this at the first sign of her being tired (yawning, rubbing eyes). When I lay her down in the crib, she is awake and it takes about 10-20 min’s of squirming around and rubbing her face/head and then she’s out. At the 4 month mark, she started waking 2x a night and I thought–is this hunger? So, I started to feed her in the night, which requires the 20 min hold upright deal for the reflux. When I lay her down after night feeds she is completely asleep after holding her upright for 20 minutes. But at the start of bedtime which is around 9pm, she goes into the crib awake and falls asleep on her own. I just hope I’m not misreading hunger cues….I assume it’s because of weight gain, she needs more calories but still only takes 5 ounces per bottle and needs the over night feeds now? I can’t tell the difference between hunger or she woke up and can’t figure out how to get back to sleep.

        Any thoughts?

        • I feel you! my baby is also tiny (10months, 17ish lbs, born 5lbs8oz) so I was also hesitant and worried about feeds/weight gain. I chose to err on the side of caution and just fed assuming it was hunger.
          You mentioned she started these overnight feeds around 4 months- which is also the time of the infamous 4 month sleep regression. That could be the reason she started waking up again? and you mentioned that she falls asleep with a pacifier. she may have a suck=sleep association. So far, its only 2x/night, but later on it may become more than that as she develops object permanence. this might be a good time to start teaching her to sleep without a pacifier. and then when she wakes at night again, if u want to assume it’s hunger, I think it would be safe to feed her.
          With the naps- have her fall asleep in swing without paci, then work on lowering swing speed so she falls asleep in a non-moving swing. then falling asleep in crib for naps.

          • Thanks! I’m glad to hear from another parent of a tiny baby! I will give your suggestions a try. I might need the pacifier for a bit longer–the DR tells me that pacifiers are needed for reflux babies—it stimulates saliva which coats the throat and protects from the burning of the stomach acid. Seriously, there should be a separate article for babies with reflux/gerd and how that impacts sleep!

  44. My son is 7 months old and after the last night of waking up every 2 hours I discovered your site. I’m thinking this is a game changer! We cosleep and a few weeks ago finally got his bedtime down from 11pm to 8pm. Unfortunately, he also nurses every 2 hours with some waking that aren’t really full feeds but just a comfort nursing session. I’m a bit confused on what I should be doing first. Would I teach him to fall asleep on his own with CIO then night wean or the opposite? My husband and I are burnt out at this point and anything to help all 3 of us sleep would be life changing. Thank you!

    • Hi! based on what this blog advises, the baby has to learn to fall asleep on his own FIRST before attempting to night wean. So either by gradual methods like changing up the bedtime routine so baby isn’t being nursed to sleep at bedtime or by CIO. Then once baby has learned to fall asleep independently at bedtime, you can start night weaning. Definitely read sleeping thru the night parts 1 & 2. Good luck!

  45. Hi, my son is 9 months old and nurses to sleep. He only gets up once a night to feed, which I recently got him off of — the eating part. He’s still waking up at the same night every night and I can rock him back to sleep and he’s fine without eating but I’m still getting up in the middle of the night!
    Problem #2 is if we get the timing of everything right, he nurses to sleep at 7:30 no problem, but if he gets too late of a nap (like being in the car after 4pm), then he refuses to go to bed until 9:30. There is no in between 7:30 and 9:30 – we’ve tried to let him cry for 10 min or so but I just can’t handle the tears and he cries so hard he coughs like he’s going to throw up. I’m thinking maybe he’s just not tired enough to sleep because of the late nap, but I don’t want him to be getting hyper-tired, which I think is the case.
    Any ideas? Thanks

  46. I’m very interested in trying out your methods on my 9month old son, but am confused by this last bit in the article:

    “So if you’ve taught your baby how to fall asleep on their own, you are ready to get started on night weaning!”

    I feel like it would be easier to cut back on the night nursing first (minute-by-minute) as you suggest, but will none of that progress matter if he can’t figure out how to go back to sleep on his own?

    Right now we lay with him in our bed until he’s asleep, transfer to the crib around 7, and then expect an 8-9 wake up, and 2-3 more wake ups after we come to bed. We’re in the same room, so he often ends up cosleeping with me and daddy after the night nursing begins.

    Any advice on what to tackle first – solo crib sleep or gradual night weening – would be greatly appreciated!! Also, will moving him into his own room with his crib make the process easier? Thank you!

  47. Hi there,
    I read yr sleep training parts and found the part about object permenance really useful. I did all the suggestions and it worked very quickly – i got rid of the paci at bedtime and stopped waiting for her to fall asleep with me in the room. She took a couple of days and then started sleeping from the dream feed right through to 5am and then back to sleep till 7.30 – heaven! But now shes reverted back despite nothing changing and is waking at 11,then 3/4 then 6. What to do? Im only feeding her at one of these times usually the 4am one. Why has it stopped working?

  48. Hi,
    My 6 month old has been waking every 1-2 hours for the last 2 months, most of the time it’s every 1 hour and I’m definitely struggling with lack of sleep now as I have also returned to work part time. I have tried settling back in the cot which sometimes works but then he will be awake again in 15 minutes. Other times he just arches his back and screams so I end up just feeding him back to sleep. I thought it was separation anxiety so we tried co-sleeping which didn’t make a difference, he still wakes 1-2 hours. Most nights we end up co-sleeping just so I don’t have to get out of bed so frequently and get a little more rest. Is there anything else I can try? I don’t want to use controlled crying or CIO as it just breaks my heart hearing him cry like that and he just gets worse and worse if I leave him for a little bit and so much harder to settle.

  49. I have a 7 month old that has been fighting going to sleep at night for the past 4 weeks. At first I could sing and rock her to sleep but for the past 2 weeks nothing and I mean nothing seems to soothe her to sleep. We can see she is exhausted and so are we! (she took herself off her pacifier herself, which used to be a life saver)
    She has no issue sleeping her crib, is too big for her infant swings, doesn’t wake up for feedings, and doesn’t cry when she wakes up in the morning. Putting her mobile on only makes her wake up and want to play. We have been consistant with her bed time at 9:00 and she has finally gotten some sort of nap schedule, napping 2-3 times a day from 30 min-2hrs at a time.
    After reading this site it seems the cry it out method may be our next and last choice, which I am dreading! Does anyone have any suggestions or is there something I am missing?

    • Hi, what’s her schedule like? We have followed recommended wake times between naps for our LO according to age. He’ll be 8 months old next week and is in the process of transitioning from 3 to 2 naps. He also used to suck his thumb but then stopped out of nowhere. It was around that time we decided to slowly introduce a transitional sleep object (lovey) and that helps. When he sees it in bed, it has become one of his sleep cues. Also, what is her bedtime routine like?

      Our son’s schedule is as follows (approx times):

      7:00 am wake
      7:15 am nurse (we started putting a buffer of time in so he didn’t just fall back to sleep nursing)
      8:00 am fruit/veggie
      8:30 am nap #1 60 mins
      9:30 am wake
      10:30 am nurse
      12:00 pm nap #2 120 mins
      2:00 pm wake
      2:15 pm nurse
      3:00 pm fruit/veggie (this is the latest we feed solids to give him time to get any gas out by being active. We found that solids too close to bedtime were terrible for him gas-wise)
      4:30 pm nap #3 30 mins (in the process of cutting out as his first nap is getting longer, adjusting his nap schedule to 2-3-4 .. look it up if you’ve never heard about it)
      5:00 pm wake
      Bedtime routine:
      6:00 pm dinner (he sits at the table calmly playing with or chewing a toy while listening to us talk to eachother at dinner)
      6:45 pm walk around the neighborhood after dinner
      7:00 pm nurse
      7:15 pm bath
      7:30 pm pajamas, book, bed
      (He usually is asleep by 7:45ish, and sleeps about 11 hours, then gets the rest of his 14 hours of sleep for the day through his naps)
      Wakes once around 2-3 am for a feed and sleeps til 7. Or will wake up at 1 am for a feed then again at 5 am then sleep til 7.

      I’m not a sleep expert, and you have to do what works best for your family schedule but I’ve read that baby circadium rhythms are different than ours and her bedtime might need to be earlier, adjusting her naps. Usually adjustments are done 15 mins at a time. Does she have any other sleep associations? (Rocking, singing, pacifier, etc) Do you belong to any support groups on social media (like Respectful Sleep Training/ Learning, etc). Hang in there mama! Make sure to do the research on CIO so you know which technique you are specifically trying to apply before starting, if that is the route you choose. No judgement, just support 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night - Part I

Leave a Reply