What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night – Part I

Bedtime Battles with Baby

After you’ve read 1 or 8 books on baby sleep you may be rightfully confused about why your 8 month+ baby is still up all night. And while I’ll admit that there are a few reasons why this may be happening 99% of the time there is one single reason why older babies, toddlers, and even preschool kids are still waking up multiple times each night. If you’re ready to sleep through the night you need to understand why they’re waking up and what to do about it.

Teaching Baby to Fall Asleep

You’ve been teaching baby to fall asleep since the very beginning, usually through some combination of nursing and rocking. When they’re younger than 4-6 months nursing, rocking, bouncing to sleep is effective and totally reasonable. While some babies this young will figure out how to sleep through the night most will wake up 2-3 times a night (newborns may wake up 4-6 times but this usually settles down within a few weeks). You feel tired and develop a substantial coffee habit but this is what being the parent of a baby requires and so you do it.

But you are hoping for the night your baby delights and surprises you by sleeping all night long. I mean REALLY all night long (not the crazytown “4 hours in a row” that many sleep books talk about).

Your baby also hasn’t yet mastered how to fall asleep on their own. She still needs to be rocked, nursed, etc. and complains loudly when you deviate from this routine. Some babies are champion sleepers who figure out how to fall asleep on their own. How delightful it must be for these lucky parents of easy babies. These babies sleep often and easily, establish predictable nap schedules, rarely fuss, and poop unicorns.

Most babies are not so easy.

When to Put Baby Down Awake?

For the first 3 months you are welcome to nurse, rock, bounce, etc. your baby to sleep guilt-free. No you don’t want to let your baby become overtired and yes various soothing techniques/use of swings will HELP her fall asleep. But the truth is that you have enormous flexibility to help your baby sleep however and wherever it works best for everybody for the first few months.

The easiest (this, of course, is a relative term) time to work on teaching babies to fall asleep on their own is ~3-6 months of age. If you are the parent of a 3-6 month old you may be thinking, “Um…this isn’t easy at ALL!” For some babies it’s NEVER easy. So maybe you could consider that 3-6 months of age is a time when it will likely be less horrible to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own?

6-9 months is less ideal. Why? Because most babies are starting to get teeth and this brings it’s own night challenges into the equation. Because some babies start developing separation anxiety around this time (8-12 months tends to be the peak) and this can complicate your efforts to put her down and leave the room.

But most importantly, if you haven’t gotten your baby to fall asleep on her own by 6-9 months you are likely to find that your baby who was waking up 2-3 times a night while a newborn has turned into a 6 month old who now wakes up every 45 minutes all night long and if this continues you will willingly shove bamboo shoots up your own fingernails because this would be preferable to another long night of waking up every 45 minutes.

Why You Need to Put Baby Down Awake

Read this carefully. Don’t skim it, ACTUALLY read it. What I’m about to tell you is the single most important thing you need to know about why 99% of babies older than 6 months are crappy sleepers. What I’m about to tell you is the answer to every post on every desperate new-baby forum where desperately exhausted parents are asking questions like:

  • My baby used to sleep great and now is up all night. I think he’s teething – help!
  • My 8 month old is hungry all night long. I’m afraid my milk is drying up. What can I do to increase milk production?
  • 7 month old used to sleep great in the crib but now will only sleep while being held. My back is killing me. How do I get her back into her own bed?
  • 9 month old is having terrible separation anxiety and now demands that we come back into his room and rock him all night long. We’re soooo tired. Anybody know when things will get better?
  • How do I get my 14 month old baby to sleep through the night?

The answer to all of these questions/challenge is actually THE SAME. The following 2 pieces of information are the missing links that most parents don’t understand and that fundamentally hinder their ability to help their child sleep through the night.

#1 Object Permanence

Most babies develop a new skill around 6 months (give or take a month) called object permanence. Prior to this for babies, out of sight LITERALLY meant out of mind. Now they can remember things, people, etc. exist even when they can’t see them. This is closely linked with stranger/separation anxiety which occurs because now your child actually remembers that you exist when you aren’t physically present. For the first time they are capable of missing you. Which is really sweet but often hard to enjoy. It also means that they are now capable of remembering that you were THERE when they fell asleep but are MISSING when they wake up.

Many of you will know EXACTLY when your child mastered this skill. It was the day your once decently-sleeping baby became a short-napper who wakes up all night long.

#2 – Baby Sleep is Fundamentally Different from Yours

Most nights adult sleepers will wake up ever so slightly ~4 hours after they fell asleep. Usually you fluff your pillow, roll over, and aren’t even really aware that it happens. Unless you’re pregnant in which case this is probably when you make your nightly trip to the bathroom.

Babies wake up all night long. Sometimes they may need your help or a quick meal to fall back asleep. But I promise you that between bedtime and morning your baby wakes up far more often than you know. Beyond the times when they wake YOU up they also cycle into light sleep far more often than adults do. This is roughly how your baby sleeps from 0-6 months of age:

Babies who have not yet developed object permanence can be happily rocked, bounced, or nursed to sleep without issue. They’ll wake up 2-4 times each night to be fed and/or rocked back to sleep. It’s not the most fun thing you’ve ever done but it’s to be expected of newborn babies. So you clutch your coffee with white-knuckled hands and dream of the day your baby sleeps through the night. But putting your baby down 100% asleep will seem like it’s a winning strategy. For now.

But once your baby develops object permanence putting baby down while asleep will almost always blow up on you. Now your baby remembers that when they fell asleep you were there. When they move into light sleep where they used to simply fall asleep on their own, they wake themselves up fully. Because you were there, and now you aren’t. Worse, they’re generally pretty upset. In their own baby world they’re yelling at you saying, “Hey! Where did you go! What happened?”

Let’s put this in perspective. Imagine going to bed in your bedroom. A few hours later you wake up on your front lawn. Would you simply roll over and go back to sleep in the grass? Or would you stand up and start screaming? Would you demand loudly to be let back into the house so that you could sleep in your bed? Do you think you would be freaked out by the mysterious force that somehow carried you out to the lawn?

Your baby is reacting to the surprise of finding out that the circumstances they observed when falling to sleep is no longer the circumstance they are finding when they wake up. There are lots of different surprises that can result in a baby who wakes up all night long.

  • Putting baby down 100% asleep
  • Pacifier use – fell asleep in mouth, wake up not in mouth
  • Mobiles or other timed devices – on when fell asleep, off when wake up
  • Music used at bedtime but not played all night long
  • Mommy/Daddy stay in room till baby falls asleep but then sneak out

Now you and your baby are up all night. Even worse, their longest window of uninterrupted sleep probably occurs before you even go to bed so now you are literally up all night.

Thus, in children, the first three or four hours of the night are spent mainly in very deep sleep from which the child is not easily aroused. Parents are often aware of this fact, because the period of lighter sleep that follows, with more frequent wakings, may begin at about the time they are going to sleep themselves.
-Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems Dr. Ferber

That Way Madness Lies

Most people don’t understand these two things. They don’t understand what a fundamental shift object permanence is in their baby’s perception of the world. And they don’t understand how different sleep for babies is from our own. So they continue to rock, nurse, etc. baby to sleep. Things are getting worse but they’re desperately clinging to the hope that it’s just a temporary sleep regression. Maybe it’s a tooth that has yet to erupt. Perhaps they just started daycare and are hoping that everybody will settle into the new routine and things will get easier.

They won’t.

If you continue to surprise your baby by changing the circumstances after they fall asleep, you’ll find yourself with a baby who starts to fight falling asleep. They become hyper-vigilant at bedtime because they know that you’re trying to sneak out. Some babies will fight sleep desperately trying to keep an eye on you so you can’t go anywhere. The baby who used to cuddle and laugh with you at bedtime is now agitated and anxious.

Imagine the scenario where you woke up on the front lawn. How many times would this have to happen before you started to struggle to fall asleep in your bed? Before worry about the mysterious alien force that was moving you in your sleep kept you from sleeping AT ALL?

This hypervigillance is completely understandable from their perspective, isn’t it?

So now you’ve added bedtime battles to list of fun things you’re dealing with at night. You’re probably dealing with it during the day too as the surprises that are waking your child up all night are making their naps short during the day. The 4 month old who used to take a 2.5 hour nap is now a 9 month old who never sleeps longer than 45 minutes. And she wakes up miserable and is generally inconsolable for half an hour every time she sleeps.

Of course now that her naps are significantly shorter and she’s getting poor quality sleep at night (because she’s constantly waking up) she’s a lot less fun to be around. As are you, because you are morphing into a bleary-eyed troll who can’t remember where she put the car keys and is so cranky the mailman is afraid to deliver packages to your house.

Ah….good times.

When Does it End?

This ends when you stop surprising your child when they sleep. When you stop rocking them to sleep. Stop nursing them to sleep. Stop cuddling them to sleep and then sneaking out the door. When you stop using any timed device (mobile, music, etc.). When you stop using pacifiers at bedtime.

Your child wakes up many more times a night than you do. The scene they find when they wake up needs to be IDENTICAL to the one they saw when they fell asleep.

No this is not the ONLY reason why older babies and toddlers wake up at night. But this is the MOST LIKELY reason.

When you’re ready to stop shuffling around like a sleep-deprived zombie, you’re going to need to come up with a plan to teach your child to fall asleep in such a way that there will be no surprises throughout the night. You and your partner need to commit to that plan. And put it into action.

The series continues so keep reading!

What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through The Night – Part 2
What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through The Night – Part 3

Anybody have any experiences with this they would like to share? Lessons learned? Happy success stories?

{photo credit: Paul Sapiano}


  1. Your site was recommended to me by a friend. I just want to thank you for all of the fantastic information you have shared…and to all of those mothers who have left really great comments.
    My baby girl will be 11mo next week. Up until recently, I was extremely reluctant to try the cry it out method. However, it was impossible because she would begin crying even before I put her into the crib! The sleep battles were becoming increasingly worse and usually ended in her being so upset she was choking.
    But, reading all of your information helped me to understand WHY she was getting so much harder to send off to sleep, rather than easier.
    Last night was the end of the sleep battle..45min of aweful! I read your sites last night and today stated with her second nap (even though you mentioned to wait on the naps). Nursed, talked to her a bit then placed her in the crib and smiled at her as I left her room. She cried…but only for 2minutes…then slept 2hrs!!!!
    This evening…same thing but she was a little more tired therefore a little more reactive..but cried for 16min hen asleep. In all reality, this is he least she has cried when it comes to sleep in a while! So…thank you for providing the knowledge to enable to courage to use the CIO technique on my 10mo strong willed baby girl!!

  2. If you have been putting your 8.5 month baby to sleep with a pacifier since they were 2 months old, how do you suggest weaning them from the pacifier so that you can put them to sleep without it?

    Also, after a bath and during massage, is it ok to have soft music playing?

    Our bedtime routine is as follows:
    7 PM – bath
    7:15 PM – massage/story
    7:30-7:45 PM – Put baby in sleep sack, turn on white noise machine, place in crib AWAKE. Give baby pacifier.
    Pat her back and hold her hand as needed until she stops crying and sleeps.

    I assume from your blog post above that we should STOP the pacifier, STOP patting her back, and STOP holding her hand? If she cries should we come in and soothe her every 10-15 minutes? Or just let her CIO and never touch her?

    • Having the same issue. My sons falls asleep the same way and I need to remove his dummy! however, I have been doing the cry it out method for a while and although he falls asleep on his own he wakes for his dummy that then falls out! If you get an answer for how to remove dummy from a 10 month old please let me know x

      • Just stop giving him/her the dummy. Just like falling asleep on their own, they will grow accustomed to not relying on it. I substituted for a little blankie. Probably shouldn’t have anything but it’s in his cot all the time when he needs comfort.

  3. Some great information here and i loved learning about the sleep patterns and cycles. Sadly, all the sleep training i put to work with my baby has achieved a baby who can go to sleep herself- but she still wakes up many times a night. Shes just about 10 months. She doesnt need night feeds or whatever, i weaned her too from those. At this point it is probably seperation anxiety, can kinda tell… but the fact is that i did everything right and there was only one or two nights where she slept incredibly well. As far as i got was a baby who can go to sleep alone. I have tried various anti gas stuff, solids, pretty well everything ive tried. The only thing i hVent dons ia put baby in her own room and stick ear plugs in. As in cry it out when she wakes through the night. Plus, she has eczema. It could be a million reasons why she wakes up really. Probably not a habit as sometimes its 2 hours, 4 hours or 1 hour intervals. 7 bedtime, 9 or 10 wake up… then 12… im very tired

    • Ehhh…I tend to believe it’s not separation anxiety if she’s waking frequently and crying for a long period at each waking. If she’s crying for 5 minutes that’s likely nothing. Meaning she wakes into a light sleep cycle and can’t easily fall back to sleep so she complains a bit then continues sleeping. If instead however she wakes all night long and can’t easily fall back to sleep (it’s more than brief complaint) it’s typically something NOT separation anxiety. Possibilities include:

      – something is off at bedtime (lingering association)
      – bed TIME is the wrong time
      – there is some environmental factor (possibly the itchies)
      Hope that helps!

      • My 8 month old does the exact same thing. I put him to bed awake for bedtime and naps and he falls asleep on his own. Wakes up anywhere from 2-5 times a night sometimes every 2,3,4 even as little as every hour. I have to nurse him to get him to stop crying. I’ve let him cry for as long as 15 min and he showed no signs of letting up. He takes 3 short naps a day last one ending at 4 and bedtime is 2.5 to 3 hours after. What could be going on?

      • My 11 month old has been like this since she was 6 months – goes to bed fine around 7 but wakes between 1 and 4 times each night. She has no sleep associations that I can think of (hasn’t fed to sleep since about 4 months and hasn’t had boob anywhere near bedtime for the past several weeks but that hasn’t made any difference). Each time she wakes we let her cry for a while (up to 10-15 mins) and she sometimes puts herself back to sleep, but often one of us goes in and cuddles her. Sometimes that calms her down but sometimes not. I feed her up to twice a night but sometimes even that doesn’t help and she just cries again a few minutes later. We sometimes have an hour or more of on-off crying in the middle of the night, up to a couple of times a night plus other wakings. It’s bizarre as it’s so unpredictable and varies quite a lot, and we’re pretty sure there’s nothing else that could be bothering her. We’ve just come to the conclusion that it’s separation anxiety when the cuddles calm her down and frustration at not getting back to sleep fast enough when they don’t. Any other insights would be massively appreciated!

    • Have your baby screened for obstructive apnea, in other words, enlarged tonsils and adenoids. This is an often overlooked reason for nighttime waking in a baby who otherwise goes to sleep fine on his/her own. I have found it is very much overlooked. You won’t necessarily hear the baby gasping as you would expect with apnea, but an ENT doctor can screen them for it, without you having to go to a Sleep Specialist.

      • Amy is right in that apena is often overlooked. It’s also relatively rare (<2% of children have it and it often doesn't manifest until the preschool age). If your child isn't snoring as a regular issue it's highly unlikely to be a root issues.

  4. HELP! Inititally I thought my 7 month old son’s sleep regression was due to teething but now after stumbling upon this amazing website I definitely think it is due to separation anxiety. I am concerned that I have dug myself into a hole because I have gone from feeding him once a night when he was 4 months old to now two or three times because it seemed that was the only thing that would help him fall back to sleep. I will try putting him to sleep awake tonight but if he still wakes up out of habit do I feed him each time, or feed him less, or let him cry it out? Literally desperate for answers and any feedback would be GREATLY appreciated!!

  5. Hey Alexis, your sleep ninja help required please! Our baby was always an awesome sleeper with the dummy. From 10 months we stopped using dummy and she didnt miss it at all (so far, so good). Just as we made this change she also got sick and with starting daycare one sickness followed another – she’s just now coming right after six weeks of colds and viruses.
    While she was sick she’d wake often overnight and need to be rocked to sleep (we never used to do this, just give dummy back and she’d settle).
    Now we have a one year old who takes an hour to fall asleep at night and wakes 3-4 times a night (usually standing up so needs to be laid down). She’s no longer happy to just be put down in the crib awake. Bedtime is 7-7.30pm with two good day naps. How do we reset night times?!!

  6. These sleeping patterns describe my 9 month old son to a T! However, we bed share. So it can’t be separation anxiety. Are there any theories as to why a bed sharing 9 month old wakes every 45 minutes needing to be held or nursed back to sleep? Often times he has a wakeful period anywhere from 30 mins-2 hours in the middle of the night. I glide him to sleep breastfeeding and transfer him to our bed. He sleeps well the first 3 hours and then I join him in bed. After that he wakes frequently to nurse or toss and turn.

    • When my 7 month old is up for 2 hours in the middle of the night, it’s because she slept too many hours during the night and day before. We aim for 13-13.5 hours in 24 hours.

    • I feel the same way! I bed share and my daughter is 13 months old! She still wakes up 5-6 times a night like she did at birth! She doesn’t sleep during the day so she hasn’t overslept and she doesn’t use a pacifier or a mobile.. Theres nothing different from when she goes to bed to when she wakes up..

  7. My baby falls asleep by himself in the beginning of the night but cries inconsolably when he wakes up inn middle of the night and I don’t feed him. I tried letting him cry and he cried for an hour and a half straight until I was ready to faint. Any suggestions????????????

  8. My 8 month old does go to sleep by herself without a pacifier, or being rocked, or anything. She is in her crib, by herself, for every nap and every bedtime, but she is STILL getting up 4-6 times a night! We have white noise, a blackout curtain, appropriate pajamas for every temperature, and yet she still gets up! If I don’t nurse her when she gets up she will cry for an hour, fall asleep, and wake up 30 minutes later and cry for another hour until I finally nurse her back to sleep! I don’t know how to break that nighttime nursing association! Give her formula? Have my husband stay up with her all night while she cries? I am so tired! I don’t know what to do!

    • I’m having this same issue! My 6 month old goes to sleep fairly well at bedtime – fully awake, no pacifier, etc…) but wakes 2-4 times at night and totally loses it (fid hours!) if not fed! What do I do???

      • Emily, my daughter is now 15 months and I still have to nurse her once or twice a night. I’m so sorry, I don’t have any solutions or answers. I hope you can find a solution that works for you, but we have not found one. On a positive note, it usually is only once a night, not twice, and she goes immediately back to sleep after nursing. I have adjusted well, and I feel less like a zombie now. I have read that it takes some babies a lot longer to sleep through the night. The consensus seems to be that by age two they all sleep through the night. I know that seems like such a long time. Best of luck to you, and I hope you can get some sleep!

        • Hi Liza, thanks for that reply! I felt like I was just randomly (desperately?? Haha) throwing a question out to the internet! Its good to know that you have adjusted to the night waking and that not every baby does what all the experts say “should” happen! I keep feeling like I’m doing something wrong, but maybe its just how it is. Hope you’re sleeping all the way through soon. All the best!

          • Hi ladies,

            I am in the same boat with my almost 7 month-old who is waking every 1-2 hours. Reading your comments made me feel less alone and desperate. Thank you. I hope sleep improves for you soon!

            • Hi Andi, Oh boy! I know that feeling! You’re not alone! My now 8 month old little one is sleeping much better now (only up once, sometimes twice at night). I just kept persevering with putting her down awake and having her put herself to sleep and having my husband go in for her first wake up and try to settle her without feeding her. After weeks and weeks (7?) it seemed like something clicked and she started sleeping much longer stretches. Hoping that you’re able to get some better sleep soon and hoping ours doesn’t fall apart! 🙂 You can do this, mama!

  9. My 8 month old will go to sleep pretty easily on her own but she wakes up 3-6 times a night. I’ve tried CIO but she will cry for 25 minutes and then throw up after, of course she has woken up her 2 year old sister. So now I let her cry for a few minutes and if she doesn’t go down on her own I go in. Since she has learned to go from laying down to sitting she will now sit straight up and I have to practically wrestle her to lay her back down. What should I do in that instance?

  10. My baby was born at 29 weeks. He is techincally 7 months old but his adjusted age is 4.5 months. My husband and I are exhausted and need help! Our son barely naps during the day. When he wakes up, I feed him, we play, and around 90 minutes from when he wakes up until I try to get him to nap, he starts showing cues like rubbing his eyes and gazing off. I know I don’t have much time to get him to sleep. He still likes to be swaddled and we (unfortunately) use a wubbanub. I rock him and butt pat until he is almost asleep then lay him down. BAM his eyes open right up and he starts crying. I’ve tried kissing him on the forehead and leaving but he will honestly cry for hours (I intermittently check in on him and it just makes things worse). PLEASE help.

    • The closest thing I’ve experienced to this was because I was not burping enough. What worked for us was 4 times each feeding.

  11. My son will be 6 months on the 12th and will not go to sleep without me holding him. He also has to have his arms swaddled or he keeps himself up. If you leave him cry, he doesn’t stop. He wakes up 4 or 5 times a night. Usually goes to bed between 8:15-9 pm. Wakes up at 10, 2, 5, 7, 9 (for example). I don’t nurse him until the 2 or 3 am wake up. I’m at my wits end. His naps are anywhere from 35 mins to 2 hours.

    My daughter was an easy baby, so this is all new to me. I just need some help and advice.

    • Hi Nicole

      Have you had any luck? I’m trying to sort out a routine and getting my 6 month old son to sleep on his own. I’ve also just moved him to his own room which I would understand is causing anxiety but it was fine the first couple of nights and now it’s as regular as your night. He goes to bed much earlier though at 6.30-7pm as we have to be up for work at 6.30am.
      Did you find anything that worked?

      • He JUST started going to sleep on his own mostly. I sit next to his crib and wait for him to fall asleep and comfort him if he gets fussy (I don’t let him cry, fussing is fine). When he cried I would pick him up and settle him and put him down again. He actually has to be on his belly or he won’t sleep (he rolls both ways like a pro).

        Hope your little one sleeps for you soon!

  12. Thank you so much for this website! I have a question about when to ditch the pacifier. My 3 month old falls asleep easily for naps with just a pacifier. I swaddle her, give her the pacifier and just lay her down awake. BUT, she only naps for 45 minutes. Always. I think the pacifier might be the problem, and from reading this post, I want to avoid it creating more problems down the road. If I lay her down without the pacifier, she fusses or cries and I think it is too early to do CIO (not sure I’ll be up for it anyway but it’s not off the table). Should I stop the pacifier now and just let her cry, or should I wait until the magic age of 4 months when apparently CIO is okay? Thanks!

    • I can’t guarantee your 2 month old would take longer naps WITHOUT the paci. Many 3 month olds are taking 45 minute naps because they are. I also have mixed feelings about the paci because it’s been linked with a substantially reduced incidence of SIDS so for younger babies, I would be more inclined to encourage you to USE it.

      Look I can’t sugar coat it – the paci eventually causes problems for almost everybody. But it’s not clear it’s causing problems NOW. IT and it may be offering some safety benefits. So I lean towards keeping it. If you HAVE one, maybe try swaddle, swing, AND paci to see if that helps with naps at all.

      • Thank you for the reply!!! I am actually relieved to hear you say that. The paci is working so well for us that I wasn’t looking forward to getting rid of it quite yet. I’m going to keep using it and be grateful that it works!

        For other mamas with similar nappers, I’ll share my experience from yesterday. When she woke up from her nap after 45 minutes yesterday, I would let her try to settle herself for a few minutes. If that clearly wasn’t working (it wasn’t), I would go in and put the paci back in her mouth. She fell back asleep for another 45 min for 2 out of 3 naps that I tried this on!

  13. Thank you for such an informative article. I must say the Paci worked for my twins. Being a first time mom the journey in the first few months was overwhelming. However, with time my babies developed dependency on the paci and I had to do something. They literally couldn’t sleep without and after a few crying nights eventually it happened at around nine months. Ever since getting them to sleep been far much easier.

  14. I have a question – We have a 7 month old who wakes up most every night and we are going to start Part III. My question is about the last bottle of the evening. Should we be giving a bottle as the last activity before putting him in bed or should it be prior to the last activity. i.e…. Bath->Books->Bottle->Bed or Bottle->Bath->Books->Bed. He is awake when we put him in his bed. Thanks

  15. Great post! Thank you so much
    I’m a dad and our 3 month old cries before naps and bedtime, we rock to sleep sing etc.., how do you start? You suggest not staying awake for too long but she doesn’t go to sleep on her own how do you teach her or signal her it’s time to sleep or nap?

  16. I have a 15 week old (3 months) and she has to sit up 20ish minutes after eating. What do you suggest doing in situations like this if baby falls asleep, etc.? Thank you!

  17. I am having this issue with my son who is 12 weeks. He needs to be rocked to sleep and then will have multiple wakings during his naps and at night (every 1-2 hours). Of course some of the night wakings are for feedings but for many of them the minute I go to him and pick him up he instantly falls asleep in my arms. A lot of nights either my husband or I just end up holding him as he will not sleep any other way (not even beside us in bed).

    I know I need to teach him how to fall asleep on his own and start putting him down sleepy but awake, but this is always met with crying and fussing. I feel like he’s too young for this. How do I approach this issue without letting him cry continuously? The most I can let him cry is a couple of minutes and then once I pick him up he falls asleep again….its a vicious cycle.

    • hi! Read part 2 of this series- Alexis explains how you can teach the baby to fall asleep on his own. In your case, since he’s used to being rocked, a swing would probably work well in teaching him. Good luck!

      • We were using the Rock N Play but he seems to have outgrown it. Even in that he could not fall asleep on his own.

  18. My baby is 8.5 months. At six months I stopped feeding her when she woke up at nights. She falls asleep on my bed about 8:00 every night. Before she falls asleep, I give her a bath, put on her lullabies, feed her a and burp her. She would play for about 10 mins before she falls asleep; however she must cuddle, play with my hands or touch me for her to falls asleep and falls asleep with the pacifier. When she is asleep, I put her in her crib which is next to my bed. She would first wake up about 11:00 pm and cries until I put her back on my bed and most times fall back asleep immediately. She would however wake up about 2:00 am and then about 4:00 am and the process repeats itself. Sometimes she wakes up and wants to play. Sometimes I leave her on my bed because I am so tired and we wake up the next morning. I don’t want to develop the bad habit of her sleeping in my bed. How do I get her out of it?

    Although she falls asleep on her own at nights during the day she wants to be rocked to fall asleep.


  19. My 10 month old used to sleep through the night but is now waking 3-4 times a night. He also doesn’t like to be put down in the crib. He cries the second he is in his crib.

    He used to sleep thought the night before but not anymore due to getting sick multiple times and teething. He is over that and now just wants to be held to be put to sleep. He does not feed at night anymore but just wants to be held to sleep. He takes two good naps in the day and put him to sleep around 7:30.

  20. Right ok ive read thigs like this time and time again but it really doesnt work. My 8 month old slept through the night from 10 weeks old however when he got to 5 months old all hell started. Baby has his last bottle then goes upstairs awake. I put him in his pyjamas and then kiss him goodnight put him in the cot and off i go. He nevers cries for me and within minutes shuffles around settling himself to sleep. My problem however is he will wake around midnight after going bed between 8-8.30 and from that point will continue to wake every hour crying and unable to settle back into a deep sleep. So i truly beleive that like me lot of other parebts reading you article are getting mislead thinking that all they have to do is get baby to settle on their own and then when they think they have achieved a good night sleep to come. Reality is islt doesnt actually work and like me evey night build my hooes up thinking yes he will sleep tonight all night. Oh no midnight comes and thats it hes up every hour rolling around the cot waking himself up soon as he does nod off. Then the crying and wailing starts and cannot calm himself down. Really dont no what im supposed to do now!?

  21. In a sleep deprived moment of desperation I found this article, and I will definitely be trying out all of the suggestions on my little guy. He is 7 months old and wakes up 4-5 times through the night, mostly because he’s lost his pacifier, which, after reading this, will no longer be used when he is sleeping. He has also become accustomed to falling asleep with myself or my partner rocking/comforting him in some way. I will certainly be putting him to sleep awake and keeping his surroundings consistent, but I have one question: we live in a 1 bedroom apartment and therefore share a room with baby. When he goes to sleep at 7, we are not in the room, so if he wakes up later in the night we will be there, will this cause problems?

  22. Thank you! Seriousou, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!! I was desperate when I found your site, and immediately when I started reading this article it made sooooooooo much sense!!! We started putting our 5 month old down in the ways you suggested and he literally changed into a sleeping champ that very day!!!! It was amazing!! He just needed us to put him down at his nap/bed time while he was still awake and see us leave!! I’m sure there will still be rough patches as we continue to help him learn to sleep, but this all made such perfect sense and we can really see an improvement for him!! He’s going to sleep quicker and staying asleep longer, and that makes me so happy because I know he needs it (and me too ha ha)!! Your insight has been such a blessing to our family!!!! Thank you so much!!!!!!!

  23. I sleep trained my son when he turned 5 months with the HWL method but he was a sleepyhead. Mostly we did it to eliminate night feedings and this method made it very easy for us. But I’ve heard that it even copes when a baby misses a nap, or has a bad night’s sleep.
    Good luck everyone!

  24. This article was very helpful! I have gotten naps down, no prob(most days). I had to resort to CIO but I check in on him in increments if he is really crying. At night, it’s a struggle for us. I bathe him every night & put him asleep awake. Him falling asleep isn’t the issue, most of the time. It’s him, staying asleep. He is golden for the first 3 hours or so & then wakes up almost every 2 hours on a bad night. On a good night he wakes up 3 times. I use white noise & a Paci. Most times he wakes up he is crying & has the Paci in his mouth! Lol, so I don’t think it’s an issue of not having it sometimes. I have tried to wean him of milk & have him down to 8 oz. I can’t get him to go back to sleep unless I give him milk it seems. He is 10 months but I feel like he is avoiding eating during the day to get milk at night. He all of a sudden hates his 3rd stage baby food. I have a hard time filling him up because he is distracted or protesting pureed things. Oye, any suggestions would be great. I am so so tired & dad works hard hours so most of the week it is just me trying to get him settled at night. Does getting rid of the Paci, mean day & night I am assuming? Am I putting him to sleep to early? It’s usually around 6 or 7pm he is exhausted.Help! Thanks!!!

  25. Hi, I have currently come to realise that my 5 month old son is a waking up constantly through the night because he has lost and wants back his dummy. For me this is now becoming a nightmare to have to be up every hour or so to put it back in his mouth SO I am going to go cold turkey and ditch the dummy!! My question is would I still be able to keep it for his day time naps as he settles himself either in his own cot or in a bean bag with just fine and sleeps for around 30-60 mins. Or will this cause confusion???

  26. Hi Alexis,
    I want to thank you for writing your 6-9 month baby sleep guide, and making it so readily available via the internet! My husband and I tried implementing your advice last week with our daughter who just turned 8 months old, and your advice absolutely worked! Specifically, your explanation of how you to teach your baby to fall asleep on her own, and your explanation of how to make her going-to-bed experience consistent with her middle-of-the-night-experience, really helped us. Little did we know we were inadvertantly sabotaging all of our sleep because we were rocking her to sleep and doing a cozy routine in her room before putting her down. Our daughter started sleeping 11-12 hours straight thru the night almost immediately from when we implemented your strategies. THANK YOU so much for bringing sleep and restfulness back into my family!

  27. Amanda Estella

    My son Scott Constantine was born March 16,2016, and he was a month early, as his due date was October 14, 2016, so far he’s had it pretty normal other than having acid reflux and gas as we expected this much due to both my fiancĂ© and I having been diagnosed with acid reflux as younger children. He slept in our bedroom since birth and his sleep routine has been pretty normal until around month 5 ( wake up every 4 hours from birth to 4.5 months) since month 5 he will sleep for 3 hours after being put to sleep after bedtime and after that first wake up it seems that he’s waking up every hour to hour and half… it’s rare that he wakes up only 3xs a night now…. he’s almost 9 months. Around 5 months was when he began teething and I’ve noticed he sleeps better when he’s had a better day with his gums but I can’t help but second guess myself on this… would teething really actually cause his sleep to be disruptive?! He’s never slept through the night without waking up except maybe once in a while when he was between 0-3 months. He still sleeps with my fiance or myself alone when my fiancĂ© is out of town working so he’s not in his own room yet…

    Is this an abnormal issue? Is there something wrong? Is there something we can do?

  28. Hi my five month old has been waking up to feed more and more frequently since he hit the 4 month sleep regression. He now wakes up almost every hour and a half to eat in the night and I’m really struggling! I have tried giving him a dummy but he is definitely hungry and it’s almost like he just needs continuous dream feeds (he feeds to sleep in the night). This is not how I initially put him to sleep at bedtime though. I usually put him down awake with a comforter to snuggle into and a dummy and i play music or white noise all night. I also sometimes pat him or rub his head and stay with him if he is struggling. I have also managed sometimes to do it without the pacifier or me staying in the room but not every night . Before he hit the sleep regression he was amazing, i just gave him his comforter and pacifier and walked out. 2 min later he was asleep, but since the regression it’s been so hard and it’s only now I’m finding bed times and naps less of a fight (though naps are still horrendous). As he goes down awake why is he waking up so often for food? Does he really still need to eat so often? What can I do differently? Thanks so much

  29. My almost 12 month old wakes 2 to 3 times a night. I have changed her bedtime routine so that I nurse first and read stories second. She always goes to bed fully awake so going to sleep is not the problem.
    We have tried CIO but that could go on all night. The moment I nurse her she is happy and when I put her back down, after 5 minutes of nursing and she stops herself, she is awake when I put her in the crib, rolls over and goes bts.
    I almost always try to wait 5 or 10 minutes to see if she resettles when she wakes up at 11 or 2 or 4. But she rarely does.
    She wears the Amber necklace and I give her camilia at night some nights because she is very sensitive to tooth pain. None of my other kids cared a lick about teething and all slept much better.
    She has a great routine and sleeps two 1.5 hour naps in the day with a 7 am wake up and 7 pm down to sleep.
    Please help with the night waking.
    I’m tired!!

  30. My 8 1/2 mos old falls asleep on his own, takes him about 15 mins of talking himself to sleep, but then he wakes up about 3-4 hrs later to eat, and then another 3 hrs later again to eat…. on occasion he will sleep for 6/7 hrs straight, but that’s rare.. I’m so ready to stop these night feedings! he’s formula fed.

    • Hi! what does your bedtime routine look like? Is nursing or bottle feeding the last step or close to last step? Ideally, it would look like nurse/bottle, bath/wipe, pjs, book/song/prayers and then into crib awake. Good luck!

      • it’s feeding, then about an hour later bath, and then a top-off right before bed. Last night I tried not to feed him in the middle of the night, and he whined a little for about 15 mins and went back to sleep. I think it may work, we just have to stick with it.

  31. My 3 1/2 yr old still would wake up and had nightmares and night terrors since she was a baby. Woke up multiple times every single night. Then we found she had a tongue tie. That was causing sleep apnea. Which causes nightmares. Had her tongue fixed and it stopped. Immediately. Turns out it’s pretty common. Something to consider.

  32. Im exhausted.
    My 7m old slept from 6wks to 6mo an never woke up. Usually sleeps from 930pm to 730am nightly. But since 6m growth spurt he hasnt.

    About 2x a night or more he wakes up screaming. Nothing helps but to feed him before bed and when he wakes up. He falls asleep with me in my bed when feeding at night. I move him to crib in our room an hes fine [until recently] all night.

    50/50 on binky at night.

    Naps are very short. Longest one is usually before bed… Trying to cut that one out.

    Help… Im going nuts.

  33. hi, I need some advice on my 3 month old baby.
    I’ve read this book twice over now and it’s fantastic. Since reading we have got our little boy into a bedtime routine at 7pm and wakes about 6am which is good as our house is awake from then for work etc. We used the first swap you stated as he has silent reflux, although at the minute I think we have it under control.
    He’s been sleeping through without a feed and sleeps generally good till around 2am. He then wakes, he doesn’t cry but is whining loudly, as soon as we put his dummy in he sleeps again for a few hours. I have been putting this is as soon as he starts whining, I don’t tend to leave him for a period of time. He then is awake from anything between 2-6 times from around half 2 till we get up. Seems to be worse around the 4am time. But again as soon as we give him his dummy he falls back off. Ive tried feeding him around 5am to see if this works but it’s the same, and he seems more unsettled. I was thinking about removing his dummy although I know it’s not recommended yet and my partner isn’t a fan as he’s still so little. Is there anything you guys could suggest that may help


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