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}

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  1. This is sooo interesting. I never thought of this before! Great observation: “For the first time they are capable of missing you.”

    • Seems like parenting is an arc. They’re born incapable of missing you, then for a lot of years they miss you all the time, then they get older and don’t miss you anymore 😛

  2. Is there a part 2? This is a great article, just wondering when and how to start…

    • I believe it was Walt Disney who said, “Always leave them wanting more.”;)

      I am working on albeit a little more slowly than I would like. Feel free to blame my husband who is off in France for a “work trip” (yeah sure).

      To start check out baby sleep – what is normal (below). Hopefully your little guy is getting enough sleep because everything is harder when they’re chronically over tired. Then the big project for YOU is to put them down awake. This can be a gradual process or all at once, depends on you and your babies temperament. Not saying that it’s easy though.

      Sorry for the delay, will try to get part 2 & 3 out ASAP?

  3. Seriously, where is part II?

  4. Very interesting perspective and makes a lot of sense. I have been fortunate however to not have this issue. Ever since my son turned 7 months he went from co-sleeping with me to sleeping in his crib without any issue. From day one, he slept in his crib about 11-12 hours straight. I still feed him a bottle before bedtime and he falls asleep in my arms then I put him in his crib. A little after 9 months he started to wake up once during the night (usually only a few hours after going to bed). I would go in, pick him up and rock him back to bed then lay his down then he was “out” for the rest of the night. Although this was not that bad, I still wondered why it changed. I noticed he would wake if there was a loud noise outside that startled him or the neighbors dog who barks pretty much right outside his window. I initially was using a Sleep Sheep but with this turning off after 45 minutes, he was then able to easily hear outside noise better. I went and bought a continuously play sound machine and from the first day of using it, he has again gotten back to sleeping straight through the night and even a little better than before. About 12-13 hours now. YAYYY!!!! When I started to notice his was having “separation anxiety” when I would leave the room, my doctor had me work on leaving the leave when he was awake and playing then re-enter the room shortly after. Also, he stated it was very important to give my son time to play alone in his own room. We have been doing this everyday since he was able to sit up on his own and I do feel this was very helpful with getting him adjusted to being comfortable in his room alone. I know every kid is different and that is way I feel your post was great and something I will surely share with friends who I know are dealing with this issue.

    • No you are totally right, not ALL kids will have this issue. But most will. And then people get all flummoxed because their once-good-sleeper is now up CONSTANTLY.

      But it’s really great that your little guy is such a champion sleeper! Woo hoo is right!

  5. I’m so happy I found this website!
    I’m struggling!!! My daughter is 10months old who wakes up 6,7,8,9 times at night. Sometimes she only cries, but sometimes she screams on the top of her lungs. So I am that zombi you are talking about.
    She has been very colicky from day 1, then she refused taking a bottle which leaved me to nursing, then she refused going to daycare as she didn’t take her naps and cried and never let anyone to sleep, then she was diagnosed with GERD and was put on medication, then teething. But now she seems healthy, it’s just that she is so used to be rocked to sleep and nursing all night long.
    How can I teach her to fall asleep without me holding her? She screams outloud and would NOT stop until I pick her up. I end up rocking her.
    I am not an advocate for Cry-it-out method. I don’t want to make her cry or be uncomfortable. Is there any way of teaching her to fall asleep on her own?

    • Wow. So really you’ve had a pretty traumatic time of things. You had an unhappy GERD baby (for people who don’t know GERD is a severe case of reflux – GERD = gastroesophageal reflux disease). Presumably your attempt at daycare was a huge blow to you as you had to chance and/or quit your job. And now you’re exhausted because nobody is sleeping. I’m guessing (and am probably right) that she also takes short crappy naps all day. So everybody in your family is probably feeling a bit shellshocked.

      Your options on getting out of this are outlined here:

      At 10 months the swing is probably not an option. Although if you want to try it (and frankly if you’re seriously not into CIO it might be worth a try) I would invest in a Graco swing. They have a 5-pt harness and go up to 30 lbs and so can handle larger more active babies.

      Read this article and let me know what you think. My sense is that the gradual approach – given your history – is going to be extremely challenging. Which is not to say you can’t try or make it successful. But there is a lot in your history that makes me worry that it could be a real challenge.

      I don’t generally advocate putting 10 month old babies in the swing and I can’t guarantee it will work for you. But if you can borrow a newer Graco from a friend it’s probably worth a try.

      Personally I would consider CIO. I know it’s yucky and you don’t want to. But if she’s sleeping as poorly as you suggest and if you can’t make a change in the next few weeks, it may be worth a consideration.

      Best of luck to you and your little refluxer there. Honestly.

      • Alexis, thank you for the fabulous info… I understand it all, this is my 3rd child & my worst sleeper yet… Classic signs of object permanence and no self soothing all the way through… 9 months old now… Everything I try seems to make things worse then we go back to old ways till I am practically in tears from the horror of the situation… I have read all the parts all the way through and I want to set my daughter down awake but she immediately screams, gets up to a standing position and screams some more, she gets flustered and hysterical and always hits her head on the crib rails and gets more worked up, it’s a hot mess… Not exactly sure where to go from there… And we share a room, crib is visible from my bed, making the CIO method even less enticing than standard… We also use a pacifier to sleep, would be lovely to wean, not sure I would survive, she has been hard every day since coming home from hospital so we have lots of bad habits I don’t really know where to start… She tries to nurse every 45min all nite despite different tactics and sleep is poor during day also… Like I said, we have it all… Where would you start???

  6. Hi There, wow what an amazing website. So glad i found it. Our son will be 3 weeks old on wednesday and i have tried putting him to bed without being completely asleep. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Is he to young to learn now? Am i expecting too much of him now? This is our first baby so we are really new to it all.

    • Honey – he’s JUST 3 weeks old! Don’t worry about “putting him down awake” until he is closer to 3 months, OK?

      This post is to let you know that you need to help your baby sleep without you (rocking, nursing, etc.) by about 6 months. SIX MONTHS (did you confuse months with weeks? don’t worry, you just gave birth, you’re allowed;)

      Relax. Let your body heal. Let your baby fall asleep and THEN put him down. Plenty of time to sweat this stuff later :)

  7. Very helpful article, but I’m not completely sure it applies to our situation. Our boy has sleep 12 hours through the night since 4 months old. For both naptime and bedtime we have always put him to bed awake, with a continuous sound machine on, and he has had no trouble getting to sleep. All of a sudden this week, at 9 months old, he is waking 2-3 times per night, loudly crying! We happened to have had 2 separate dr. appointments this week, so we know his health is not an issue. I have tried soothing him in his crib, rocking him, giving him Tylenol for possible teething, and the only thing that seems to get him through the rest of the night is a bottle (again, we still put him back to bed awake and he puts himself to sleep). He has become very active recently- LOTS of crawling and pulling up on everything- so I’m truly just wondering if we need to give him more food/formula before bedtime because he’s waking up hungry. Thoughts?

  8. great..

    actually my baby used to sleep 8 to 10 hours stretch at night since she was a month old. when she became 4 months old she started waking up more frequently.. I breast feed her, and she sleep
    I tried to use the bottle instead. I give her the bottle,, she drink it and fall sleep

    bur honestly, breastfeeding is much easier,, I continue bringing her to my bed and feed her .. she became a co-sleeper.

    when I started solid food, she became better sleeper, but she only have the stretch sleep when she is with us in the bed.

    • one more thing
      when she was one month old, she was crying before sleeping, she doesn’t want to breastfeed, but she wants my breast!! so I used the pacifier, which made life easier .. but I had to rock her to fall a sleep

      now, I don’t rock her, I let her cry for few minutes and give her the pacifier to sleep

      I know this is wrong,,that is why I am reading,, because I want to do it in a better way

    • Rocking and giving a pacifier to a newborn baby is TOTALLY OK you know. I’m a big fan of pacifiers, nursing, rocking, etc. for newborns. It’s only when they get older that those things start to fail.

      I’m assuming your baby is ~6 months old as she is eating solids? At this age giving her the pacifier to fall asleep might not work as well so if you can, you may want to consider weaning her off that at bedtime.

      None of this is easy so we all muddle along as best we can. I’m glad to hear that things are getting easier for you!

  9. Thank you Alexis,
    this explains a lot about my LO’s night behavior. He is not yet 3 months old, but i noticed that the first batch of sleep is the best one (when i am trying to have some time with my hubby).
    I actually have 2 questions:
    1. my baby’s sleep is becoming less and less reliable as the night progresses. He sleeps from 8/9pm to 1/2 am without a squeak, i even recently weaned him off swing and swaddle (still use both for day naps) and it worked. After the fist feeding at 1/2 am the only way to put him back to sleep is with a swaddle. The next feeding can occur at 4/5am, which like you mentioned in your other post is very dangerously close to his wake-up time (6am), and it’s very difficult to put him to sleep. The only thing i found that i worked is if i hold him in my hands until he goes into deep sleep, then put him in the crib, but then he wakes up in 20 mins anyway. Is it a natural way of things and i should learn to live with it (i.e. cut out the hubby time in the evening and go to bed at 8pm) or there is something that can be done about it? Also, is it not too late to get out of swaddle after 3 mo, as i read that later it can impair the motor function development.
    2) my baby started taking naps between 6 and 7pm. i don’t wake him up as he is a crappy sleeper in the afternoon, but then he does not really want to sleep at his usual time at 8pm rather at 9pm. I did not mind at first because i was hoping that his wake-up time will be later too. but NO, the wake-up time is the same 6am, and i just have less of relax time in the evening now. Is there any way to postpone the wake-up time in babies or should i better manage his afternoon naps instead?
    Sorry for this long post. I just also want to say that I know that I am blessed that my child can sleep at night like he does, and his naps are getting much better too, and all thanks to your advice, without which i would not be just tired, but would definitely end up in an asylum. But we always hope to make things even better!

    • Frutti,
      Hmmmm…here’s what I think:
      1) All babies have their longest stretch of sleep earlier in the evening. So if you want a long stretch of sleep too then yes – less daddy time and more going to bed when baby does. Sorry about that :(

      2) Swaddling is totally OK for a 3 month old. Also he is sleeping when he is swaddled so it’s not like he’s missing out on precious exercise time!

      3) The 4/5 am feeding is a toughie. What about swaddling him and putting him in the swing at that time? People find all sorts of ways to NOT get up at 4:00 AM. Extra soothing is usually the answer :)

      4) I would cut out the 6:00 pm nap to protect the earlier bedtime. Longer continuous sleep is better for him than a VERY late evening nap. As you’ve noticed, this nap just leads to him sleeping less overall at night.

      I know you want the relaxing time and someday soon you will! Hopefully his bedtime will move closer to 7:00 and as he gets older, will need less food at night. Then going to bed when he does will be less critical to you and you and Daddy can go back to chilling out at night :)

      • Thank you so much Alexis,

        Been following your advice with cutting out the early evening nap and providing extra soothing. The baby (almost 3mo) now goes to bed at 8pm and just started to sleep until 3am (dreamfeed), then continues to 6am (4am feeds eliminated!). He does occasionally wake up at 4am still, but we use soothing techniques (white noise works great) to put him back to sleep without nursing. Thank you so much for that! Just one question there. Would you recommend to wake him up for the night feed instead of dreamfeed, in order to eliminate the 4am waking up? Could it help?

        I also realised that the bottleneck to MY sleep is on my side, because the baby can go for a 7hr stretch without eating, but i can’t go that long without breastfeeding (waking up from painful engorgement/lying in a pool of milk). So I have to express (about 9.30pm and then after the night feed), with the result that the baby has 9-10 hours of sleep per night, and I only 5 or 6 at best :(

        I know I am doing my baby good by breastfeeding, but I am dying for an interrupted sleep of at least 6 hours and am very jealous of moms/dads feeding their babies formula… But i guess only time and gradual weaning from breast milk will solve that…

        But again, we are grateful for what we’ve got, and thank you once more for all your help!

        • Also a quick note on swaddle: i can testify that it develops motor skills. Today morning found my baby in bed completely out of his swaddle. We are using the Magic Blankets (with special long “sleeves” going around the baby arms and tucked in behind his back and a special pocket for the legs). I would not know myself how to get out of there. And he did! It does do a lot however to soothe him when falling asleep. So I can see myself that there’s no harm. If the baby wants to move, he will move no matter what :)

        • I’m not sure if I understand the question entirely – are you asking if waking him up FULLY at 3 AM would keep him from waking up at 4:00 AM? If so then my best guess is no – waking him up would not have any impact (good or bad) on his waking up at 4:00 AM. My guess is the 4:00 AM thing is just habit and should go away on it’s own with time.

          Sorry about waking up in a pool of milk. Although as somebody with low-supply who was constantly pumping to try to build UP supply I say – WAY TO GO! Hopefully you can wean off the pumping and be done with a sopping wet milk bed pretty quickly. Because yes – waking up to nurse kind of blows but waking up to PUMP is the WORST 😉

  10. Just a comment about night pumping. I have to do this when my girls starting sleeping longer stretches. You may already know this but…
    Pump a little less each night, like 1/2 ounce less each night until your supply adjusts. You will still have plenty of milk but your body will make less at night so you can sleep.
    So, if your pumping 6 ounces now then pump 5 1/2 ounces for a night or two then only pump 5 ounces and so on.
    If you ever feel pain or hard knots pump immediately. The trick with pumping at night is to only pump out as much as will keep you comfortable and no more.

    • Alexis, Julie, thanks for the advice and the support.

      Things are actually getting better. I still can’t take full advantage of my baby’s longest stretch of sleep (now constantly at 8 hours). What I do is I just stay up for 3 more hours after he falls asleep, pump and then sleep undisturbed until his night feeding (now down to one!). And it gives me an excuse to hang out with my husband in the evening without the baby around :)

      It does not prevent occasional plugged ducts (baby IS more efficient than any pumping machine), but it’s manageable.

      • If you feel you’re not making headway I would definitely talk to an IBCLC about it. AT very minimum you might want to temporarily rent a medical grade pump which is more efficient and may help with the clogs. I used to get them a TON and they’re AWFUL. For me hot showers and expressing was the key but obviously not getting them in the first place is preferable. Hopefully soon you’ll get to the point where you can just wear nursing pads and sleep through the dribble :(

  11. Hi Alexis

    Love the website! So much great advice. I am writing as i am not sure if I am setting up a problem for myself. I have a 5 month old daughter who is fairly good at sleeping – we have a bedtime routine and she is normally in bed for between 6 and 7, wakes for a feed between 10 and 12, and then another feed between 2 and 4. Although has occasionally lulled me into false sense of security by dropping one or both feeds :-)

    My question is around the bedtime routine – i cannot put her in her cot and leave her, she needs my help to get to sleep. I currently nurse her until she is drowsy (or falls asleep on me) I then burp her and put her in her cot. If she is awake at this point I have to hold her hands and say shhh, otherwise she starts batting herself in the head and fully wakes herself up and cry’s.

    If she falls asleep while nursing I do try to disturb her a bit as she is going into the cot, and again shhh her back to sleep so that she knows where she is when she wakes.

    Sometimes this routine takes half an hour – occasionally it can take me 2-3 hours if she doesn’t go down first time as then she is full and so I have to use other methods to make her drowsy (lots of shushing, rocking etc)

    During the night however, I go in and feed her, put her back in her cot fully awake and leave the room. She babbles for 5 mins and then falls asleep. I also hear her stirring during the night and going back to sleep on her own.

    So my question is, is it imperative that she falls asleep on her own at bedtime? Or am i ok that she knows how to fall asleep on her own at other times? I am aware that she is coming up to 6 months and want to avoid a situation where she will be waking up lots more!

    Sorry for the long post!


    • Nope – the key is AT bedtime. I don’t know why this is, it just IS. So having her fall asleep at bedtime is the clincher. She may fall asleep on her own at 2:00 AM but that doesn’t mean you won’t have issues later.

      Now there is a very small % of babies who manage to navigate object permanence without waking up constantly. But the vast majority WILL wake up. Also nursing to sleep will make it VERY difficult for you to gently night wean (as you are probably keen to do within the next month or so yes?).

      So if you can I would try to separate nursing from bedtime by ~30 minutes (boob – bath – book – bed). If the sushing and patting work perhaps you start from there and gradually wean off by shushing from increasingly distant locations (next to crib, a foot from crib, 2 feet from crib, etc.). I like this idea as it’s far easier to gradually wean off something like that than it is to wean off “nurse to sleep.” Also loud white noise might help you make the transition also.

      Again I don’t want to make you panic – she’s doing great for right now and perhaps will stay that way. But if she starts taking short naps and waking up frequently you’ll know what’s happening, right?

  12. Hi! My son is 5 months old (well tomorrow he will be) and he is a HORRIBLE sleeper. After reading this article I am well aware of a few things I’m doing wrong but I’m still not sure how to tackle his sleep problems. Currently at bedtime we have a routine of bath, nurse, swaddle, rock to sleep with white noise in the back ground. I realize this is all kinds of wrong, according to your article I need to be putting him down awake and allowing him to fall asleep on his own. Honestly I don’t see how this is possible without CIO and as you’ve mentioned he’s too young for this right now. Do you have suggestions of how to get him to that ‘drowsy but awake’ period everyone keeps talking about? It seems to be one second he’s awake and the next he’s out, there’s not really much drowsiness going with him. Thanks in advance!

    • That doesn’t sound like “all kinds of wrong” to me. Swaddle and white noise is awesome. The rocking isn’t awesome if YOU’RE the one doing it, but maybe you use the swing as a temporary transition rocker to help him LEARN to fall asleep without you?

      I’m not saying you CAN’T do CIO earlier than 6 months, I’m just suggesting that you still have some runway to steer the ship in a different direction so it’s not something you want to rush into.

      The drowsy but awake means you rock him until you start to see the “sleepy blink” then you gently put him in his crib. Then you start putting him in his bed slightly before the sleepy blink. Then when he is just drowsy looking, etc. No it’s NOT easy.

      So if you’ve been struggling with it I’m thinking the swing (it’s temporary!) would be the way to help him learn to sleep without you.

      Check out the post below for more on how to do this!

  13. I have a 5mo old. We rock him to sleep with a pacifier in his mouth. He started teething at 4mo. In your article you say sleep training is harder after 6mo because they start teething. We were going to try to sleep train this week but now concerned it may not work. He is a great sleeper though. Goes down after his 8pm bottle and wakes up at 7:30am with only one 4am feeding. Last night he went from 9pm to 6:30am! But he is a cat napper. 4 naps of 40mins each. He’s not overtired (I don’t think) because we watch for his tired cues. He’s on a pretty consistent schedule. Please advise!

    • Well there are lots of reasons why things get tougher as babies get older. But I’m not sure what you’re hoping to accomplish by sleep training since it seems he is sleeping great! His bedtime might be a tad late (especially as he is a catnapper an early bedtime might be helpful). But what are you hoping to achieve here? Are you trying to break out of the paci? The rocking? Have you tried to gradually reduce the rocking? What happens if you rock w/ no paci for a while and THEN gradually reduce the rocking? Might that not be an option to help wean him off the paci/rocking?

      As for naps – how do you put him down for naps? At 5 months the short naps could be object permanence. Or it could just be where he is. So my fear is that you may be seeking a change that won’t come.

      IF there is no way to gently wean off the way you help him fall to sleep at naptimes THEN you can try sleep training (by which I assume you mean CIO) but be forewarned that for some babies this can be a rough path. It’s totally worth trying to see what happens. But if he cries for 40 minutes than the nap is over, you pick him up, and go about your day until the next time. Because babies are less tired at naps then they are at bedtime it’s entirely possible that they simply cry through the entire nap. So you might be facing a rough couple of days.

      My advice? If you’re going to do it – DO IT. No half-assing around. Or give a last try to gradually wean off however he falls asleep at naptime with the knowledge that CIO is an option you can fall back on if all else fails.

  14. Love love this website! I recommend it to all my friends.

    My son is currently 24 weeks, almost 6 months. Everything was going well with falling asleep on his own. Naps were somewhat short they were 45 minutes and he had about 4 of them. His bedtime was from 8-8. The only thing was that he was still waking up every three hours to nurse, but would go back to sleep. Figured that would be my next task to work on, the night feedings.

    AND then this week happened! He started not going down to sleep on his own, he wanted to nurse to be put down. Then he would wake up an hour later and cry. I would pick him up comfort put back down. He’d fall asleep then start again (long night). The following night went back to swaddling for naps and bedtime. It worked to get him to fall asleep on his own, fussed a little but went down. But he’s waking up about 2 hours crying and wanting to be held. I useto cosleep the first couple of months, but he was doing well in crib. I figured I’d give it a try. And surely behold its working. He sleeps so well and only wakes up twice to nurse. I start him off at crib, but once he’s crying and nothing seems to work I bring him with me. No paci, no patting he just knocks out like nothing…

    Have I started a bad habit? I want him to sleep in his own crib. but seeing him sleep so peacefully next to me makes it difficult. I’ve also tried to move him once he’s asleep to his crib. But wakes up crying….. Any help or advise is GREATLY appreciated.

    • Hmmm…it’s not 100% obvious to me but here’s what I think…

      He’s either a) nursing or cuddling until he is TOO asleep or b) it’s too CLOSE to when he sleeps. So even though he may be awake(ish) when you’re putting him down the association is still there and thus he requires you to recreate his association (nursing and/or cuddling) to fall back asleep during the night.

      Co-sleeping works great because then you ARE providing him with his sleep association (cuddling I assume) all night long so he’s not calling you from his crib to get it. Thus he can happily co-sleep with you except that it sounds like you aren’t so keen on it.

      This is also – BTW – why he wakes up crying when you try to sneak him back into his crib (object permanence, you WERE there and then you mysteriously disappear so his crying is his way of saying WTF?).

      If co-sleeping isn’t for you then you’re going to have to break the cuddle/nurse sleep association by putting a greater gap in the bedtime routine. Which isn’t always easy but that IS the key.

      People make 2 key mistakes here. They either put baby down MOSTLY asleep (they think baby is awake but really he’s checked out) and get bit by object permanence when they think they’ve achieved “put down awake.” OR they do whatever the sleep association thing is too CLOSE to bedtime so baby still requires it to fall back asleep throughout the night. A classic example of this is nursing JUST prior to bed even though baby is awake when put down.

      I hope that helps you figure out what is happening?

  15. Hi Alexis! Your site is awesome and have been following the advice cause sleep training terrifies me. You may remember me from your nap post . . . I’m the one with battery operated swing that had to be turned back on every hr.

    Anyways, my 2 1/2mo LO does currently sleep in a swing (after she started sleeping crappy in her pack & play), but I nurse her to sleep then put in the swing. Sometimes she wakes up, but I’m assuming this is not the “sleepy but awake” phase that I should be trying to achieve. Is she too young to be doing the “sleepy but awake” training? Or should I be starting to try this? The times she has woken up when I put her in her swing, it’s like she’s fully awake, smiles, talks, and then we have a hard time getting her back to sleep (after leaving her in the swing for 10-15min, we do lots of walking around, patting, sometimes more nursing). It’s these incidents that make me wonder if she’s not yet ready for that training?

    • 2.5 months is a GREAT time to start working on put down awake! You don’t have to be militant about it but it’s definitely your working homework these days. Try working on the first nap of the day as it’s often the easiest.

      What if you swaddle her, crank up the white noise, nurse her till she’s drowsy (but definitely awake), put her in the swing, turn it on, and walk out. What happens then? I would definitely experiment with that sort of thing and see what happens.

      • Hi Alexis! Did the “drowsy but awake” for her first nap the last three days, and it worked great. There was only one day where she mildly protested, but fell asleep within 7min. So what is the next step? Do I work on another her second nap “drowsy but awake” or her bedtime? Or should I have her a little more awake than drowsy for nap 1?

  16. Hi, I love reading your site and find it encouraging to think that this sleep thing has an end, and also encouraging to read that I’m not doing EVERYTHING wrong, though it feels like it when I don’t see any progress.
    At around 6 months we were on 2 feeds over night, 11pm and 3am,I weaned him off the 3am feed, by doing what you suggested in reducing the feed time and then I just stopped getting up, he cried for 10 min the first night, 5 the next and then he just moaned at that time for a few weeks till he stopped waking, (yay I thought!)
    I’m not sure if we’re in a sleep regression or teething or something else but he started waking at night every hour till well after midnight. He is 9 months old and he started to get the whole object permanence thing at about 6 months, I realised one day when I tried to leave him with someone and he just screamed and screamed!
    I’m reading through your posts and from what you’ve said he seems to have an object permanence problem, we put him to bed at around 7pm, he’s still swaddled(have tried to stop using it but has ended in tears and I’m scared to try again at the moment), and we put him down totally awake and he lies there chatting to himself for a few minutes and we have a camera so sometimes I watch him and he often takes about 15 min to fall asleep but he always does it on his own. For the last few weeks he’s been waking after one cycle and screaming till I go to him offer him the boob(sometimes he’s hungry sometimes not, I’ve tried not offering the boob but he just goes ape) then I put him back to bed once again awake and he goes to sleep..and an hour later he’s screaming again. He does this every hour till about 2am. I’m not sure if it takes him 15min to fall asleep every time or if he goes straight to sleep and then takes 15 min to try to resettle himself before crying out, either way it’s really consistently every hour. I don’t want him to keep feeding overnight, since I worked hard to cut it back to one feed, but it’s the only thing that settles him at the moment, even if it’s just a 30 second suck.
    Help! I feel like a zombie. Any suggestions?

    • You really really need to separate nursing from bedtime. I’m guessing that you guys have an awesome pre-bed nursing session right before you put him (awake) in his crib. So he doesn’t have an object permanence issue per se – you aren’t there when he goes to bed and “missing” when he wakes up. But you DO have a sleep association issue.

      PS. Am writing about this because it’s really common but post isn’t ready yet.

      Basically the nursing is happening so close to bed he ASSOCIATES it with falling asleep so he needs it to recreate his association every time he wakes up all night long.

      The answer? Put a 20-30 minute gap between your last nursing session and “butt in bed.” You may see more bedtime protesting with this but it’s the first and key step towards not popping him on the boob all night.

      Then when he wakes up, if it’s only been 1-2 hours since he went down, try to have your partner soothe him back to sleep in ways that don’t involve your boobs. Ideally he stays in the crib but get’s kind words, a little back rub/butt pat, etc.

      Because he’s been eating so much though you probably need to accept a few night nursing sessions for now (just no longer hourly) and will have to once again wean off them :(

  17. I have had the hardest time trying to find someone to talk to (that won’t charge me my life savings) about my childs sleep!

    My 5mo old was an awesome sleeper from birth until about 4mo. only woke once, maybe twice and would sleep until about 8am. I started out rocking her to sleep. we visited my parents for a month and when we returned home she no longer wanted to be rocked so I ended up just laying her in the crib and she actually took to that very well and started putting herself to sleep. We have a bedtime routine -bath, book, nurse in dark, bed-. She also uses a pacifier (which I think may be our culprit). around 4mo, she started waking 2-3 times a night. I thought it was a sleep regression. however, it has continued and it has gotten worse. she no longer naps well and she wakes up every 2-3 hours every night. I’ve changed nothing about our routine, she puts herself to sleep (has been since 3 months old). so, I’m at a loss of what could be wrong. as I said, I think the paci may be a problem but how do I wean her off without A huge battle? I need help!!

    • Well the 4 month sleep regression AKA growth spurt COULD be tripping you up if she’s legitimately hungry! Is she hungry when you go to her? Guzzling milk? Or are you just popping in the paci and walking back out of the room?

      If your popping the paci in the paci probably needs to go. But you want to give her lots of soothing so she can help resettle herself at night without you OR the paci. At 5 months you might consider a swaddle and DEFINITELY loud white noise, dark room. People are always very anti swaddle when really it’s such a powerful tool. At 5 months the odds of her getting her fingers reliably into her mouth are pretty low so she’s not missing out by having them contained.

      Sadly there is no “gentle wean” off the paci. I’ve known people who have tried the Pantley Put Down technique for the paci but it doesn’t seem to work so I can’t really recommend it. Basically you let her suck till she’s calm (but not asleep), take paci out. If she freaks you let her suck till she’s calm, take paci out. Repeat.

      It’s worth a try but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work (does it ever?!?!).

      • Thank you for your timely response (:

        A little update:

        In just 10 days time, she has started waking every hour at night. Naps are still the same, MAYBE two 40 min naps/day.

        I started using the Pantely put down method with the paci and got lazy (dad just got home from deployment) with it and of course, that did not help. I do not think she is hungry every time she wakes up. I think she would wake only once to EAT. I do believe now that the pacifier is our problem. She goes to sleep with it, wakes up because it’s gone, repeat the entire night. She has been a belly sleeper from day one. I did try to swaddle her one night because she kept rolling to her back but she hated it. I’m almost to the point of CIO but she just turned five months on the 24th. Our bedtime routine has slightly been tweaked – I feed, bath, massage with lotion, read book, put in crib. She goes in her crib, awake, but with pacifier and puts herself to sleep.

        It’s encouraging to have someone who understands! I’m an exhausted, frustrated, helpless feeling Mama. So, Thank you for your time!!

        • Candace…i dont know if u have a swing or what alexis thinks but i would HIGHLY recommend trying that out…my daughter started doing the same thing around 4 months and although i was hesitant bc i didnt want her to be reliant on the swing, i put her in…she slept 12 hours straight the first night…she was back in her crib by 5 months using alexis method and we never looked back…now we didnt have the paci issue (she never liked it and would gag on it) but i think it might be worth a try so u can get some sleep!

  18. Can you please help me out,

    For one, I love this website and am glad I found it. For second my 9 1/2 month old son REFUSES to sleep through the night. He doesn’t take a pacifier (I’m thankful he doesn’t , but at times like when he wakes, I wish he did) he is still breast feed, could that have something to do with it? I think he is going through the separation anxiety HORRIBLY BAD!!!! I could leave the room where he can see me, and he is screaming at the top of his lungs, that started about 6 1/2 months. I’m having a hard time getting him to take a bottle from me. He won’t even take formula out of a “big boy” cup. Any advise on how to get him to take formula? But back to his sleeping skills, sometimes I can barely get him in his crib at night, so half the time he is sleeping in mommy and daddies bed with us. But that seems to make him sleep longer and if he’s in his crib, he’s up 2 hrs after he goes to bed then every 45 – 2 hrs after that. So I don’t know if he just doesn’t like being alone or what but this mommy is getting exhausted and when he is in bed with us, i still dont get any sleep in fear of him rolling off the bed or anything like that. I have tried the “cry it out” stage, but that doesn’t work either. He will cry/scream for hours then sometimes get to the point where he makes himself sick. So please any advise would be so help full!!

    Thank you

    • Haley,

      Well you don’t give me much to go on. All I’m getting from your question is that you’re really stressed and exhausted. But there are LOTS of things that could be getting you in trouble here.
      – Intermittent reinforcement of crying
      – Nurse to sleep
      – Lack of consistency about where he sleeps
      – Using you as human pacifier (strong suck/sleep association)
      – Overtired

      For starters, I’m pretty confident you are nursing to sleep yes? Fundamentally that is the root problem. If you plunked him on your boob he would sleep like a champion all night long. You’ve also taught him to sleep with you so by putting him in his crib you’re trying to change two major sleep associations he has (your boobs, and sleeping WITH you). Now I’m not anti-cosleeping as long as it works for everybody.

      If you can’t sleep it’s not working for you. If he’s up every 45 minutes all night long it’s not working for him either.

      I also can’t speak to why your CIO scene was so horrible. Again there are lots of reasons why that can be. But based on how things are going right now I don’t see a ton of great alternatives for you. Maybe you can self-diagnose where CIO went wrong. If it helps everything I’ve written on the topic can be found here:

      I don’t mean to sound so fatalistic. But many of the things you’re working on (like getting him to take a bottle of formula) are much easier when they’re younger. If he was 3 months old I would have tons of tips for getting him to take a bottle. At 9.5 months you don’t have a lot of options left to you (other than wait till 1 and sell him on milk). Also at 9.5 months getting out of co-sleeping can be rough to do without crying. And if you’re super stressed and exhausted any of the “no cry” gradual techniques can be a frustrating and ineffective slog.

      Which brings me back to reading up everything on that CIO page and see if you can’t figure out how to approach things in a hopefully more successful way.

      This may help too:

      • Alexis,
        Thank you for the response. Let me try to rephrase what I’m trying to say. I’ve gone through both links you have giving me. I tried the “crying it out” both nap time/bed time. But how long is to long to let him CIO? Nap time is completely different than bed time, I understand that. And from one of you articles, my main focus is getting him to sleep through the night first before I move onto nap time.

        His bed time is 9-9:30 p.m., is that to late? He naps 2 times a day, past 2 days only napping 45 mins – 1 hr. before he was sleeping atleast 2 hours each time. So he’s just not a big sleeper?!?!

        I want to get him to sleep in his own crib, I LOVE the cuddle time with him every night but let’s be honest, I miss the cuddle time with my husband also. So the key word is putting him dwn awake, but I go back to, how long is to long to let him CIO?

        My experience with CIO didn’t go well in past, he just doesn’t want to sleep if he’s not nursed. He will cry for hours!! And I am a first time mother, and to me, that is the WORST thing to hear your child cry like that.

        But with him 9 1/2 months old, I have to stick with getting him to sleep in his own crib and sleeping through the night. He needs to learn. And your blogs are giving me much helpful thoughts and hope!!

        • Haley,

          I hate to make broad pronouncements when I only have a few details to go on but based on what I know…

          – Yes his bedtime is too late. Most babies are taking 3 naps a day until 9-12 months and when they drop the late afternoon 3rd nap their bedtime shifts up so that they aren’t awake too long. If his 2nd/last nap is happening somewhere around 2:00 PM then he’s awake 7+ hours between nap and bedtime. At 9 months he should probably be awake no longer than 3 hours (maybe as long a 4 in the evening). So this is going to be one factor that is going to feed into your prolonged CIO struggles.

          Should you just plunk him into bed at 7:00 PM? Such an abrupt change will likely not go well but I would take “move bedtime substantially up” as your immediate homework. Try shifting things up 15 minutes a day or so. Don’t try any sleep training stuff until he is awake for a shorter amount of time in the evening.

          – Give him lots of soothing cues that don’t involve your boobs. Sadly at 9 months you’re a bit limited to loud white noise and a lovey. It might help if that lovey smells like you so you might want to wear it stuffed in your bra during the day.

          – You need to get him off the boob at bedtime. Ideally your long-term goal is to nurse him at least 20 minutes PRIOR to bedtime. Because putting him down awake is awesome but removing the suck=sleep association is even better.

          – You could TRY working on the gradual “off the boob” method a la Pantley. Basically you let him suck, pop him off, put him down awake. If he freaks you put him back on the boob, pop him off, put him down awake. Repeat until he sleeps.

          To be honest I have not had great luck with this method and find it tends to make babies really angry until they are just so exhausted they fall asleep. Also it does nothing to break the suck=sleep association so you still end up with a baby who wants to suck to sleep all night long.

          However I do know some people who have been successful with this method so I’m sharing in case you’re interested.

          – Otherwise once bedtime has been shifted up a few hours (this may take weeks BTW), your option would be CIO. Because you’ve dabbled with this in the past it may not go smoothly for you. Your best bet is to use all the tips in my post linked below. Personally I would advocate for full extinction (not check and console). I think he’s going to get really angry and the more you pop in the more angry he’s going to get.

          The first night may be rough. How long is too long? I can’t answer that question. But based on what you’ve suggested I wouldn’t be surprised if he cries for 2 hours.

          If you don’t feel comfortable with full extinction, give the “console” job to your husband. He doesn’t smell like food and will have a better time of it than you will. In fact for a while you may want to remove yourself from the bedtime routine entirely. Feed him at 6:30 then pass him off and let your husband do the bath, book, jammies, bed part.

          I don’t believe your baby doesn’t need as much sleep. I’m guessing that if I looked at his sleep chart I would see a kid that isn’t sleeping as much as he should. It’s probably not horrible (you can always tell when babies are sleeping horribly because their behavior is a mess, they cry a ton, as do their parents). But he’s probably a bit low on sleep.

          You all are. I can’t tell you if CIO is right for you. But I can tell you that it sounds like something needs to change. Its not good for you or him to be up hourly all night long. This is classic object permanence stuff biting you in the butt. And if you can’t get out of this any other way, then it may be time to buckle down and let him cry. And if you DO decide to do that, don’t cave. Yes it will suck. But caving will just make it suck that much more the next time. And yes Virginia – there will be a next time.

          Sorry – but there it is. Please let me know what you decide to do and how it goes, OK?

  19. Alexis,

    Help! My 3-month old son started sleeping 7-9 hours at 2 months until recently that he keeps waking up every 30 minutes in his crib, fusses and cries but goes back to sleep after I give him his pacifier. We used to put infant gas drops at every feedings until recently that we started weaning it off. His every-30 min-wake-up started just about the same time we started weaning off gas drops. Could that be the reason for this? He was a very gassy baby and would cry hysterically before discovering gas drops and then he was a happy baby.

    And another thing, he seems to sleep comfortably in my bed without his pacifier and doesn’t do his every 30-min wake ups. I usually only let him sleep in my bed in the morning when my husband leaves for work but recently he has been sleeping with me (my husband sleeps in the other room since he’s afraid sleeping next to our son) at night ever since his 30-min wake up started. I don’t want him to get used to sleeping in our bed.

    • Lauren,
      Wow – I’m so behind on comments your 3 month old is probably at prom now. But in case somebody is reading this….

      I think this is the problem:

      The gas drops have nothing to do with it. In fact numerous studies have shown that gas drops don’t do anything (they don’t hurt but they don’t help either). So I don’t think that weaning of the gas drops has anything to do with the crappy sleep.

      Sorry about the late response :(

  20. I love your blog! I have learned so much information and I am so happy I found it now, but HELP, I feel like I don’t know what to do next! It seems like our routine for my 4 month old is bath, PJs, nurse/rocking, swing. He is a motion junkie and even when he is awake is in constant motion. He stays in the swing from 7 till around 9, wakes up nurses- rocking , then I put him in his crib. He wakes at 12:00 nurse-rock-crib, 3:00 nurse-rock-crib, 5:00 nurse -rock-swing. He seems hungry every time he wakes and nurses for 10- 15 minutes before nodding off. The swing in the am is because he wakes up every 20 minutes from his last feeing till 8/9 am. He is awful at taking naps may 2-3 30 minute naps if we are lucky so i try to get in those last few hours for him.
    Where to we go from here?!! Should I let him CIO in the am? I want him to start learning to go to sleep on his own, should I use your gradual swing method? Thanks!!!

    • Steph,

      Again – sorry to be so far behind (the price of success?) but I FINALLY have written more about weaning off the swing. I’m assuming by now you’ve figured this out all on your own, but if not check the post below.

      If you learned anything in your own swing travails, feel free to comment over there as I’m always looking for more helpful tips!

  21. I have read this and it makes total sense! My daughter is nearly 3 months old and although I’m not stressing about it yet, I would like to start the process of getting her to fall asleep on her own. I’m keen on the swing idea, and will be investing in one. My question is, once they have fallen asleep in the swing, do you transfer them to their beds? My daughter will sleep alright during the night, wakes once for a feed and sometimes it’s really hard work to get her back to sleep. But day sleeps are horrid, they only last one cycle and then she is awake! Looking forward to your response. Thanks.

    • At 3 months it is probably OK to swap from swing to bed in the middle of the night. But it’s more typical to have babies sleep in their crib for most of the night (sometimes they transition into their swing if they wake up early and can’t fall back to sleep) and NAP in their swings.

      Hope that helps!

  22. Thank you so much for a witty, funny and realistic approach to the sleeping issue. I am currently having a joyous battle with my 6 month old and this site has given me some great tips and advice.
    Finally had the realisation that I am not alone and the other mothers that suggest that they LO were sleeping through the night whilst learning Japanese and perfecting they calligraphy skills might have been exaggerating!

    • You aren’t sending hand-caligraphy cards to your friends and family for the holidays accompanied by organic home-grown herb sachets?

      Because that’s what I do with all my free time. When my kids are sleeping.


  23. Hello Alexis,

    Thank you for sharing this, it all makes perfect sense!

    However I struggle to apply this in my life. I have to breastfeed my baby after bath right before bedtime. He won’t eat until he is already relaxed and it’s pitch dark. Otherwise he is too playful and trying to reach for things and is playing with my nipples rather than eating.

    Of course that leads to 2-3 feeding sessions each night plus 2-3 wakings, and though I go to bed just 1 hour after he does, I still feel like a wreck every morning…

    What would you recommend to moms of distractible babies?

    Thank you very much for your advice!

    • Want to update. Has been feeding him before bath, in a dark room the last three nights. He was nearly asleep when i was putting him in the bath tub, but recovered soon playing with the rubber duckie. Then a book, a song and crib. He would only complain for 10 mins and then fall asleep.
      But at night he keeps waking up 2 times for food and 2-3 times for no reason, but woukd not settle until held.
      He has recently been teething and had a cold, but now is in great shape. And he eats tons of various solids and milk during the day. I am completely lost…

      • How old is your baby?

        It sounds like he needs more soothing at night. However as he’s eating solids I assume he’s 6+ months. So you may only be left with loud white noise as “age appropriate soothing.”


        As for solids, they often work against you. Solids are very filling but also very low calorie.

        4 oz breastmilk = 80 calories
        4 oz gerber carrots = 15 calories

        So maybe you want to back off on solids and amp up on BM during the day.

        As for distracted nurser, you may need to feed him in a dark room with white noise. You may even need to drape a blanket over him while he feeds so there is literally NOTHING to look at.

        That will help with the 2X up for food.

        As for him falling asleep in the bathtub (cute image :) I’m wondering if his bedtime might need to be a little earlier?

        As for the other 2-3 times when he is waking up seeking soothing, I would try to break out of the “hold to sleep” pattern. Loud white noise might help. Perhaps you could try to gently jiggle the crib to soothe him back to sleep without picking him up. Or try patting his tummy/back like a tomtom. Basically to gently help him fall back to sleep while gradually reducing how involved your soothing is. Does that make sense?

        • Thank you for your fast reply Alexis

          My LO is 9 months old, sorry forgot to mention that.

          I think the problem of him falling asleep during the last nursing session in the dark room was the nurse=sleep association (his bedtime is at 7pm, so not super late). Now that i think we have broken this association, he is no longer falling asleep at that point, he just sits up ready for a bath :)

          I have been gradually reducing his time at breast at his first night feed, so I hope in one week we will lose one of the two feeds and will try not to hold him to sleep, will pat his butt instead :)

          We don’t have many soothing options, as white noise is irritating him. we tried ocean waves, rain, many different sounds, it worked when he was 3 mo. But now that he is more aware of his surroundings, he gets scared and starts crying even more :(

          Thank you again for your advice! I really feel hopeful that it will work!

  24. Hi Alexis,

    Discovering your website feels like someone just turned the light on after 12 weeks of groping around in the dark, what a revelation!

    I have a 12 week old daughter who has been a total angel until 6 nights ago when she started waking every 1-2hrs at night and would only sleep on my chest. She did this for one night around the 6-week growth spurt so I let her sleep on me this time too but it’s now the 6th night of her waking as soon as I put her in her cot, or within 30 mins, like she’s on high alert. Her previously clockwork-like naps are all up the spout too. It started around the same time that I had a clogged duct which is now cleared but milk is still low on that side. We also got back from holiday the following day.

    She’s not always hungry when she wakes up so it feels like she’s transitioned from a sleep disruption to object permanence in one week. But she’s too young for experiencing object permanence, right?

    Before all this happened she’d have a bath at 6pm followed by a feed (bf) during which shed fall asleep so I’d just put her down asleep after 7pm. I’d then wake her around midnight for a feed, then she’d wake between 4.30-5.30am for a feed and go back to sleep until 7ish.

    I’m beside myself with tiredness and not sure what to do next! How do I get her down to sleep in her cot again? I long for a 6 hour stretch, those were the days!!

    Huge thanks,

    • Sophie,

      This could be LOADS of things. So I’ll toss out the likely explanations and you can tell me which one seems most likely.

      – PTSD – post travel sleep disruption (you said you just got back from a trip, right?) Baby sleep gets tripped up when you travel and getting it back on track can be a real ordeal.

      – The dreaded 4 month sleep regression (can happen anytime really). This is my top guess:

      – Object permanence. I can’t say that she hasn’t sorted that out at 3 months but the regression is more likely.

      It’s the most common, predictable, and generally awful thing to hit babies at this age :(

  25. My wife and I have been having problems with our 8.5 month old with her day naps. She sleeps for about 12 hours during the night generally from 6pm to 5 or 6am. She wakes up here and there at night, whimpers, then falls back asleep on her own. Never cries and doesn’t wake up at night to eat. This is great, but she cat naps during the day and is exhausted by the evening. She sleeps 3 times during the day for no more than 45 minutes. She’s been doing the cat napping since she was about 4 months old (I can’t remember exactly). We are very consistent about her daily routine and don’t know what to do about her cat naps. She is tired and cranky during they day and it seemed to get much worse this past month. She is rocked to sleep with a pacifier, but she spits it out at night and is able to put it back in her mouth if she wants. We do the rocking for her naps during the day too, but like I said, they only last about 30 minutes. The thing is, she doesn’t wake up crying. She wakes and starts babbling and playing for a while. Then she gets fed up being in the crib and screams to get picked up. My wife tried training her to put herself to sleep by putting her in the crib while she was drowsy but not asleep, but it didn’t seem to work. I’m not sure how long she tried it though. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  26. Thank You so much for this wonderful advice! My question to you is my 4 month old takes naps on his own (goes down awake and naps for 2 hours) and in the am wakes up babbles and plays then goes back to sleep but for his bedtime no matter what we try to do he falls asleep at the boob (tried earlier feedings but he wakes up earlier at night too) before bed feeding and is too drowsy when placed in crib. He then sleeps 6.5 hours and awakes hungry. Since he is awake for nap times and in am do I need to worry about him at bedtime? Aren’t naps the hardest? Is their a difference?
    Thanks for your help!

  27. So I’ve been through all the above comments and posts and I think that maybe I’m dealing with a weird object permanence issue.
    LO is 7 months and started crawling a week ago. As a result he has a really hard time falling to sleep since he’s constantly moving (despite being in a sleep sack). He breaks out of the swaddle in seconds unless I wrap him in such a way that his arms are pinned to his sides. I don’t know if that is okay or not (don’t really like doing it since I can’t see it being very comfortable), but if I don’t he doesn’t stop moving long enough to fall asleep and ends up becoming overtired. I’ve tried letting him do his thing and hope that he’ll fall asleep at some point but once he’s become overtired he’ll cry/won’t sleep until I put him back where he usually sleeps in his crib. It’s like he has an object permanence issue with where he sleeps in his crib. Is this possible? How do other people deal with skill practicing babies? Our nap/bed routine consist of white noise, sleep sack, swaddle, tucked in with another blanket (it’s cold here in Canada :P) and a lovey, and then I sing a song. I don’t know what else to do. Do I put him down in other spots in his crib to help him to learn how to sleep elsewhere in his crib?

    • I have been doing more digging and found your swaddle post. Great info, especially about when to quit the swaddle.
      I tweaked the swaddle for my son by using more of a double swaddle since he was breaking out within seconds. This has helped tons. He can still flip over swaddled but only does so when i put him down too early or his arms have even a bit of wiggle room and he hasn’t done this for a couple of weeks now.
      He can still break out of the swaddle but usually this happens after he has woken up. He did this in the middle of the night a gew times so I decided to try to do without the swaddle. BIG mistake. He fell asleep no problem (well took him longer than usual but still fell asleep on hos own) but STAYING asleep was a whole other matter. His naps went from 1 1/2 hours to 30 mins and he would be on and off sleeping from 3am till wake up. Not cool. Thus he is swaddled again and is sleeping like a champ – 2 long naps and a cat nap and, for the last couple of night, sleeping through the night aside from a dream feed at 10pm.

  28. i love this website!!! im sorry if thisis long but im not sure what i am doing wrong. my daughter is 16 weeks. from birth till she was 6 weeks she slept in her swing due to startle reflux. she went to her bassinett just fine, put her in the crib, and she fell aseep a few times on her own and sleeping anywhere from 9-12 hrs at night!but most i had to do it while she was OUT! we thought we were out of the woods with sleeping!! she take naps in her swing since day one, will put her self to sleep without a problem. sometimes i can get her to sleep else where during the day but not all the time she fights it so bad! for about a month now i have to put her to sleep fully asleep before i transfer her in the crib.cradleing her with a paci and rocking. she is not fully dependnt on her paci but it helps to get her to sleep. when i put her down she spits it out during the night. but during the day she doesnt need it. she now wakes up about every 4-5 hrs. she will eat and go right to sleep. we thought it was a growth spurt, but it has lasted to long??? and teething but it seems not to bother her at all during the day. my question is how come all of a sudden she is waking up throughout the night? and all of a suddent she wont put her slef to sleep? it doesnt seem like she needs motion to fall asleep any more i have put her to sleep without moving.

    • also.. she doesnt sleep that well during the day i am working 4 days a week and i know that has a part in it always on the move.. i know she is up way too long during the day and she has to sleep so i let her sleep on me sometimes so i can sleep also.

      • im sorry i keep adding… the more i read all of your blogs and articals the more it gets me thinking haha we are also flying with her for christmas (a big fear of mine with her since she is so little) and staying with family. i feel that any progress i do make, it will all go out the window when we do come home and have to start all over again :(

  29. This is exactly what we’re struggling with! thanks for the awesome information. I was so relieved wherever i read that naps could be tackled separately from night sleep.

    We are doing (not “trying” y o da) cry it out tonight. baby has a STRONG association with nursing and sleep, we have tried to separate it from bedtime in nightly routine, but then it just basically turns into cry it out with one of us holding him, so I figure if we’re going to break the habit, better to do it all at once. Does anyone reading this think differently?

    baby is 5 months old and wakes constantly due to the sleep association. i created a boob monster because he didn’t latch on until 2 months old and I didn’t want him to stop, so I had him nursing A LOT, because I wanted him to get the hang of it, needless to say he did. I know 5 months may seem a tad young for cry it out, but like said all the routine in the world isn’t helping. also, he is napping every 2 hours so he may be overtired, but I doubt it. thanks for any feedback anyone may have

  30. Hi

    I need some desperate help with daytime naps, my 5.5mth will fall asleep from wide awake no problem at bedtime 6.30pm for the last 3mths and has started waking up once either 11.30, 12,2 or 3 for a bottle and generally sleeping till 6am. He used to wake up 2/3 times when teething and sleep till 7/8am but now the less he wakes up the earlier he gets up! This has coincided with me stopping Breastfeeding.

    My problem is he fights naps, I just don’t know how to get him to go to sleep, he tends to get tired 2hrs after he wakes up then I wash him, dress him and massage and put back to bed awake but he cries for 6/8mins then sleeps for one cycle. This happens for all naps. He may do 1.5hrs if I am in the pram or car but he used to do 2.5hrs in both and now doesn’t even stay asleep longer in the car and wakes up screaming on motorways! He is 9kgs so I can’t rock him to sleep. He is an active boy and into everything all the time but I just don’t know how to calm him down enough to sleep in the day. On the occasions where he has taken long naps at home he appeared much more drowsey and if he falls asleep with no tears he goes past a sleep cycle but if he cries to sleep he will not.

    Any advice on calming a heavy active baby to get him into a sleepy state much appreciated.


  31. Hi,

    Thank you for writing these wonderful posts and taking the time to reply to the questions.

    I’m a father of a 11+mth old baby boy. He nurses to sleep every night after he gets a bottle, then my wife puts him in his cot for the night, out cold. He then wakes for about 1-2 times a night to nurse.

    However, in the past week, we have night weaned them to some degree of success so we will go the whole nine yards to CIO.

    We did try to CIO him a couple of months ago. Needless to say, it was unsuccessful (see para 1). He would cry for about 10-15mins when he wakes up.. after which he would fall back asleep.

    After reading your posts, we are going to go cold turkey and pull the plug on bedtime nursing. I hope we will survive this… and we will report back to you in a week’s time.

    Some qns:
    1. CIO, if done the right way, should take about a week, yes?
    2. Do we also CIO him for naps?

    Thank you.

  32. First of all, I wanted to let you know, like many others, that I *love* your website. I must have read each of the sleep articles at least 5 times – so much more helpful than all of the fear-mongering books! (And a reminder to all the readers: don’t forget to click on the “pay it forward” link at the top of this website!)

    I have a 5.5-month old who has never slept through the night. For the most part, I could handle the wake-ups: one or two to briefly fuss and one to feed. Over the past month, we’ve had success at putting her down mostly awake, both for naps and for nightwakings. We mostly phased out the pacifier at night, although we still need it for naps.

    Over the past few weeks, however, she seems to be going through a horrible regression, waking up every hour or two, waving her arm(s) wildly in the air (we sometimes do a one-armed swaddle, but have been easing off since she rolls freely) and kicking her feet. It’s the same move she’s begun to make during the day when she wants to be held or interacted with (and she’s also begun to whine when that doesn’t happen immediately during the day).

    Whereas before, I was able to go over to her and lay an arm on her to calm her down, now when I do that she gets angry and arches her back: she wants to be held, dammit! Usually, as soon as I pick her up, she settles and nuzzles her chin into my neck; when I make a muscle move to put her down, however, she once again starts to whine. So I pick her up, etc etc. Although I’m trying to get her calm enough to fall asleep by herself, I feel like I’m creating a bad habit with her expectation that I’ll always come pick her up. But at the same time, I don’t want her to associate her crib with frustration! I’ve also reintroduced the pacifier since it helps calm her down a bit when she’s lying down.

    And of course, she sleeps great when I give up and bring her back into bed with me; this isn’t a pattern I want to reinforce, since I don’t sleep well while she’s next to me.

    For what it’s worth, the ped told me that she’s teething; that said, this has been going on for a few weeks, not the 2-3 days that an emerging tooth is supposed to affect.

    Help! Any thoughts before I give up and start on cry-it-out?

  33. My son is 13 months old he is used to of having pecifier and he woke up three to four times at night and can’t sleep unless having a pecifier what should I do

  34. Happy new year, may it bring blissful sleep to all! Thank you so much for this site, I read it every day, you are a saint! My daughter is 12 weeks old and I am sooooo struggling with drowsy but awake. She can put herself to sleep in the swing usually without problem but its not very comfortable for long stretches so she goes into her cot for some naps and at night. I try drowsy but awake but she either wakes completely and starts smiling at me (she seemed comatose on my shoulder when I was walking her), cries so much that she wakes herself right up ( usually I give her a few minutes, pick her up, repeat but before I know it we have missed the nap window completely) or she sleeps for 15 and wakes up. Any tips? Should i give up on putting her In the cot and try the swing method?

    • Wow, I remember when this was my only issue! Since posting this bub now:
      A) screams in the swing unless she goes in asleep
      B) only sleeps about 30-45 mins during the day
      C) takes about 30mins of settling for day naps ( after being awake for between 1-1.5hrs and with swaddle, white noise etc)
      D) wakes 2-3hrly for feeds, needs to be rocked back to sleep and is awake from 5-6am (4am on particularly bad days).
      What the hell happened!

  35. I found this site on Babycenter and I’m really hoping I haven’t missed the time frame to get this to work without too much pain. My son is 4 days short of 6 months. He was a terrific sleeper until 3 weeks ago. He had a couple of rough nights and it’s been varying degrees of rough ever since. We’d been putting him down asleep/mostly asleep and it still works…until midnight when he starts with the squirming/grumbling/crying thing. Last night I was in tears at 4am due to lack of sleep (and I have no backup as daddy works nights.) Have I missed the boat and am doomed to be sleepless for the foreseeable future?

  36. Hi There! I have been reading with both great interest and great reassurance your articles on Little Ones have difficulty sleeping through the night.

    My son will be turning 11 months next week and we are having lots of trouble having him sleep through the night. Like the books suggest, we have a routine that we stick to religiously every evening (feeding (he’s on solids/formula), a bath, read a book, sing a song then lights out) and the time doesn’t vary too much when this all takes place, he is usually in bed by 7:00pm, asleep by 7:30pm.

    It’s when 12:00 am arrives, all hell breaks loose. He wakes up crying and in most instances it’s because of a wet diaper. So, just as the books say, there is little communication and the room is still dark except for a night light when I proceed to quickly change the diaper and place him back in the crib. By this point, his return to the crib leads to an escalation of the cries and they become banshee-like screams that echo in an old condominium building (god only knows what the neighbours think although in my sleep-deprived state I don’t really care but I do feel badly). It takes between a 1/2 hr to 1 hr to finally get him calm and drowsy again but then he proceeds to wake every 2 hours from that point forward, finally getting up at 5am to start the day. I admit that I’ve used the “Ocean Wonders Musical Aquarium” or a pacifier to assist in the sleep process but after reading your articles it makes great sense that if we started off with such items at the beginning of sleep when he wakes up to one being turned off and the other lost in blankets, he no doubt is wondering what is going on. Couple that with the fact that I or my husband are nowhere to be found and he is in a terrible state. With the assortment of seasonal ailments (colds, flus, etc.), 7 teeth have come through pretty much all at once and he is poised to take his first steps unsupported any day now, we have held off trying out any sleep training methods as it would undoubtedly fail miserably. Now that healthy times reign in the household, my husband and I are ready to have him sleep through the night. He is in daycare and has been since the age of 9 months old, he gets 2 regular naps as confirmed by the daycare provider (one in the morning and one in the afternoon for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours) so we are truly at a loss and open to any ideas and suggestions at this point. So Little One gets between 8-10 hours which I know is not enough for a growing baby boy.

    I wanted to thank you for your website and for the tips and hints which my husband and I will try out and report back our progress (or our failing) :) If there is anything you can see as an observer from afar that maybe we are doing or not doing, any ideas or suggestions would be most appreciated! Take care and all the best for 2013!

    Kind regards,


  37. My daughter turned three months old today and I am terrified by this.

    Right now, she will fall asleep in my arms, in the dark, swaddled tightly. She will generally wake up once in an 7-9 hour period to eat, then quickly falls back to sleep on her own when I lay her down awake. She’s usually extremely drowsy at this point, having just woken up for food, and we seldom have a problem with her returning to sleep (I wish I could say the same for myself).

    She’ll put herself easily to sleep for naps in her swing. She naps about 3 times a day, 45 minutes to 2 hours.

    If I try to put her down for the first time at night without her being in an absolute coma, she roars. Sometimes she wakes up when I’m laying her down and then we have to start all over again, sitting in the dark, holding her tightly until she’s out. Lately she wakes up more often than not when I lay her down in her crib. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours just to get her to go to sleep that first time of the night. “Drowsy but awake” seems like it will never happen.

    Sometimes when she opens her eyes when I put her down in her crib in the dark, if I keep my hands on her body for a few minutes, she’ll drift off.

    I know she’s still young and may not be ready for this, but she just seems SO not ready that I can’t believe she’ll ever accept being placed in her crib while her eyes are open and put herself to sleep. Is there something I should be doing at this early age to avoid a crisis in the future? I’m so afraid to start a bad habit that will ruin our lives for years. I feel like a total disaster at sleep, and my obsessive research on the subject gives me the impression that every expert says “lay your baby down drowsy but awake” like it’s just that easy.

    Any advice would be so greatly appreciated. I don’t want to be afraid of my daughter at bedtime.

    • Ugh, so been there. Does she take a paci at all? That helped me get my daughter down awake, and then I took it away from her when she was older (although by 3 mo we were working on taking it away bc she would cry when it feel out). I don’t really have advice as my 6 mo is a bad sleeper, but I feel for you!

      • She does love her binky, but I try to never give her that when putting her to sleep, because it falls out in seconds. When she’s hanging around on my lap, she will use her hand to bat it back in or hold it in place, but swaddling makes it impossible for her to do that in her crib.

        She also breaks out of her swaddle sack pretty regularly, and wakes herself up because her hands are SO DELICIOUS.

        Tonight is her first night in her own room (husband is ill, so we thought it best to make the move to her big-girl crib now). I will be parked on the couch all night obsessively staring at the monitor and freaking out every time she moves. My maternity leave ends on Tuesday so I’ve been feeling the pressure to get her sleep on track, as much as possible for her age.

  38. I have twins and the only way they will go to sleep is with a bottle. They are 6 months old. Me and my husband wake up atleast 8 times a night to make a bottle or to put a bottle back in there mouth. They are only taking little cat naps during the day and one 2 hour nap around 3pm. I dont know what to do its driving me nuts. Any suggestions

  39. Hi, my son is just 9 months old. He was sleeping great through the night up until a month or so ago. I don’t nurse so he gets a bottle at night – typically about 30 min before bed. I swaddle him and put him to be awake with a pacifier and he falls asleep fine. He takes a nap late in the day around 5pm when he gets home from the sitter. He normally naps for 1-1.5 hrs. He then goes to bed around 9pm. However, he then wakes up at around 1030-11pm. I give him his pacifier and pat his butt for a couple of minutes and then he falls back asleep. He then wakes up every couple of hours and I do the same thing. Based on what I’ve read it sounds like my biggest problem is his pacifier. Do you have any other tips for me? Possibly that he goes to bed too late. Should I try to keep him up until 7pm without the nap and put him to bed at 7pm? I have done this before but then he wakes up really early. Thoughts?

  40. Hey Lauren…I don’t have twins but your story sounds similar to ours with our second child. Our little girl has been a terrible sleeper from day one. She has dealt with reflux and thus, a lot of bad habits were formed. Have you talked with their pediatrician about the frequent night wakings? For us, at 6 months we knew she had to get a strict schedule, so we started putting her down at the same time every morning and she stayed in her bed for at least an hour…whether she slept or not. It was HARD! I will not lie…I cried many tears of frustration and exhaustion, but, now that she is 9 months old and nap times are fairly successful, I am so glad we did the hard work for two weeks. Now, if she would stop waking up for two hours every night in need of her pacifier…that is our next job to tackle! Hang in there…

  41. I have a 4 month old who goes to bed peacefully. I have been vigilant about not using crutches to go to sleep. Nonetheless, he goes berserk at every periodic wake up! I know he doesn’t need to eat every 1.5 hours. I generally will feed him at the first wakeup (after he naturally goes his longer stretch of 4-5 hours) – but the wakeup at hour 1.5, is not necessary. I will try to hold him off but he seems restless for the remainder of the night, and those in between wakeups are puzzling me. Do I let him just cry it out at those in between times? Do I keep him calm and shush him back to sleep? How do I address middle of the night waking when I am already doing bedtime the “right” way?

  42. I have a 7 month old son who was napping and sleeping through the night great until about a month ago. We have got the night sleep under control again using CIO methods (11-12hrs) but cannot get him down for naps on his own. We have tried CIO for about 2 weeks now, and it seems that it takes almost 1-1.5 hrs before he will sleep for 30 mins. Any help you can give on the naps would be fabulous!

  43. I am really struggling with my 3 month old( she just turned 3 months old today). She basically will not sleep unless she is in bed with me. When she was a newborn she would sleep through the night in her rock and play sleeper, which is slanted. Around 2 months she stopped sleeping through the night and fought going in the sleeper as well. Now she basically will only sleep with me. I have tried and tried getting her in the crib. I try for naps and she will just wake up. Then I eventually just give in because I feel like she needs to sleep. She also seems to just get herself more worked up by crying so I don’t even think the crying it out method would work. Do you have any suggestions for what I can do to get her to sleep in her crib?

  44. Hi,
    I’m curious, if you had to cut out an early evening nap wouldn’t that make your baby overtired and cranky and hence not sleep well at night?

  45. Okay, our baby is just over 3 months old. We have been working on the daytime less than two hours between naps method. Duration of naps varies — sometimes a ringer or two (1+hours), sometimes not (27 minutes.) I am hoping this is where I can rely on the biological rhythms you talked about will eventually kick in and lengthen her naps, is that a correct assumption? Are we in good standing to try CIO as part of the night time routine? Well, we kind of did last night. Hope it wasnt a mistake. I may have been overly confident… It went like this: She went to sleep after 2 rounds of soothing to sleep (I am using the nursing technique — bad idea?) This was 9:30pm. She woke up to nurse at 1:10. I nursed her and then put her back in crib asleep. She woke up at 2:00am. This is when we tried CIO because I knew she was not hungry, had a recently changed diaper. After a stretch of intermittent cries (a few rounds of five minute fusses and cries), she fell asleep and did not wake until 6:40am. Do we repeat this tonight? Please attribute this to lack of sleep, but also, do I need to be making the changes so that I do not let her fall asleep at breast and then put her into crib asleep? What is the order of operation here?

  46. GREAT article! We worked on putting our now-8 month old to sleep awake around 3 and a half-4 months (which worked after a week or two) and then did CIO at 6 months since the night wakings had returned. It was the BEST THING for him and, other than the times when he is teething, he has slept great ever since.

  47. HELP please. Our 8 month old daughter always slept for 12-13 hours straight a night in her crib and about a month ago started waking every 3-4 hours. She had a cold and couldn’t sleep lying flat so we made the mistake, after the wedge under the mattress didn’t work, placing her in her swing to sleep. Boy did we make a mistake now we can’t get her to sleep in her bed and she is waking every 3-4 hours wanting to eat. She goes back to sleep but we want our good sleeper back who sleeps in her crib all night. She also just started crawling and pulling up so she will stand in her crib crying until we put her in the swing now. Any advice on how to get our routine back? Thank you.

  48. Is it possible that nursing to sleep is causing issues with sleep for an 11 week old, even though most of the time below 3 months it is ok? I don’t nurse to sleep during the day anymore and he puts himself to sleep usually within 5-10 minutes in the swing. At night, I have been nursing him to sleep and he was doing fine, waking 2-3 times. Lately, he’s been waking after every sleep cycle after his second feeding….could it be time to stop nursing to sleep? So for example, he will feed at 3 am and then be up at 4, 5, 6 am. He’s not hungry and just wants to comfort nurse….I’m sensing the answer is yes.

  49. We have been trying the swing sleep training for a couple of days. We put our 5-month old to bed awake and he has been falling asleep on his own. My problem is when he wakes up in the middle of the night, I can’t let him cry and fuss for a half hour till he falls asleep because he is in our room and my husband has to work in the morning. I have to put him down asleep. What should I do?

  50. “The scene they find when they wake up needs to be IDENTICAL to the one they saw when they fell asleep.” This is a really good point, so my question is then that we should not be using timed devices like lulabies or light shows that stop after 10 mins or if we do they should be on the whole time?

  51. Hello! I just posted about my daughter in the swing section of this site but I have a question about putting the baby down awake. She will be 3 months old in a week. At night she sleeps in her cosleeper and can usually go down awake with a few tries, although she needs to be shushed and rocked a little first in order to calm her and my husband also sometimes rocks the cosleeper back and forth for a few minutes while shushing her after she is in it. Does this count as putting the baby down awake? I know that ultimately we will want to wean her off shushing and rocking and jiggling the cosleeper, but I figure at least she knows that she is in her cosleeper when she falls asleep. She goes down around 9 pm wakes 2-3 times at night to nurse, and wakes up for the day anytime between 7:30 and 9:15ish.

  52. Hi Alexis,

    I have been dealing with sleep issues with my beautiful son since literally the day he turned 4 months old (he’s just about 9 months now). Until that point, he was sleeping 7 – 9 hours at night and I was convinced that I was the best mom ever (haha, I was sooooo wrong!) At 4 months it was like he flipped a switch and became a horrible sleeper. I read everything I could but somehow kept missing your site. Then 2 weeks ago, after lots of crying and praying, I found your site and read about object permanence. That night I tried putting him to sleep awake rather than nursing him to sleep and BOOM, slept through the night for the first time in ages! This worked for a week, one bad night, then worked for a week again. Now all of a sudden, his sleep is worse than ever….any thoughts?! Let me just say, I love your site and your blog…full of helpful information and comic relief! Thank you!! Honestly, the second I found your site, it was like my hope was restored that someday this gorgeous, happy all the time but when I want to sleep baby, will sleep again! :)

    • I’d go to for this one. Your child is likely too young for object permanence. At four months, your child all of a sudden notices the world, and is likely popping off the breast every time someone walks in the room or the tv gets turned on. This constant distraction is cutting into his nursing. He is trying to make up for that at night. The best thing you can do is make sure that his nursing sessions are sufficiently long and distraction free.

      • She said he’s 9 months… Not 4.

        • My bad, I should have said that at four months, object permanence *wouldn’t* have kicked in, it would have been something else, which may have or not still been the problem. At any rate, he was ten months when I wrote it, and he’s about 18 months old now, so it’s kind of a moot point.

  53. Chrissy McCarrin

    I am so thankful I found this website/article. My daughter is 7mo today. She has woken up many times a night since she was born and I am exhausted. She was able to be laid in her crib and go to sleep every nap and each night. I could not figure out why she would wake up during the night if I was doing it right. We started to feel more and more that we should wean her off of her pacifier. I figured that she woke up because she needed to eat, she wanted me or she wanted her pacifier. I had a hard time deciding to do this. I was even on the phone with the doctor just yesterday and he confirmed that she did not need to eat during the night at this age and that the sooner I get her to learn to sleep better, the better. So last night I had every intention to gradually wean her of her pacifier as this is the only thing she is needing throughout the night that she goes to bed with. My husband cut the tip off too much so we ended up basically getting rid of it cold turkey. The first night she cried for a half hour. Yes it was hard. Yes I hated it. She slept 11 hours straight; the first time ever. The second night (tonight), she went to sleep without so much as a peep. She didn’t use her pacifier all day today. I hope my success (even though short lived thus far) can give you hope. My biggest piece of advice is to lose anything that prevents your LO from putting him/herself back to sleep. Teach your child to fall asleep. Follow this article, it works!

  54. This has literally made my day. I’m sat here bleary eyed feeling resentful at my 7 month old son who is currently finding miserable mummy and lack of conversation very funny while smiling and cooing at me. I’m finding some hope at last that me and my husband can at some point (with a lot of work) finally get our nights back (and our strength) and share the joke with our little lad that finds everything so funny because at the moment he’s the only one laughing!

  55. This post saved my life! I used to rock my baby to sleep and hold him to sleep during the day. He hated his cot, I’ve been trying to make him nap there since he was 2 weeks old and just couldn’t do it. At night I would rock him and put him down asleep and it was fine. Tried the baby whisperer’s tips, CIO, but it was hard. He could cry for 2 hours non stop. I had a routine since he was 2 months old and when he was around 7 months he started waking up every hour at night. This lasted about 2 weeks and it was horrible for me and my husband. I read loads of books and ended up here. Everything made loads of sense and I decided to let him fall asleep in his bed. My strategy was to undo what I was doing slowly. First I rocked him to almost asleep and put him in bed. Then I just held him a bit then put in bed. After I just had to put him in bed. It wasn’t easy, but I was persistent and since he was 8 months old he sleeps 10-11 hours a night. That was when I cut feeding him at night too. Now he is one, has 2 naps a day and sleeps through the night.
    Thank you very much!!!

    • my son is 6 months and needs to be rocked to sleep.He also wakes up every 2 hours.I would like to try a similar strategy as yours.What would you do when he woke up? Im scared that not picking him up quickly enough and rocking him would mean that he is wide awake and would make me start the cycle from scratch.He has also been teething now and we have been letting him cosleep for the last 3 weeks.Im subconsciously comforting him all night as I don’t want him to wake up.Ive just made it worst for myself now he wont sleep in his cot.

      • Hi Neha! Is your son sleeping in your bed during nap time as well? If he is sleeping in his cot during the day, then there’s a proof he can do it. Even if not, you can change this and believe me, the sooner the better. I rocked my baby to sleep but whenever he woke up at night I used to feed him or give him his dummy. There’s a sleep regression around 7 months that is hard, maybe you are in this stage. My son is now 13 months old and hasn’t got any teeth so I can’t give you advice about teething, although some of my friends say it’s 2-3 nights of bad sleep and a grumpy baby during the day.
        I would stop cosleeping, after 3 weeks is well into his system. From experience I realised that a new routine takes 3 days to work, gradually getting better. The secret is to be consistent. I’m not going to lie, first time he woke up and I didn’t feed him he cried for 40 min but then the following day was only 20 min, and so on. Make him sleep in his cot during day time and night, rock him to almost asleep but put him down awake. He will cry but he will be tired. I used to leave the room and come back every 2 minutes to reassure him (no eye contact, dummy in his mouth and leave the room again). I thought it would never work, but after 30 min he fell asleep. I found that the easiest time to start was the first nap of the day. Keep doing the same thing, he will learn. After about a week I just put him in bed without rocking then left the room. That was the hardest, but eventually it worked.
        I was so tired that I thought the situation had to change. A couple of days or even weeks of exhaustion are worth the months to come of enough sleep.
        Hope I can help and keep me informed!

  56. Can you please explain something I’ve never understood about object permanence and sleep training?

    I’ve read frequently on message boards that sleep training is a bad idea prior to 6 months because babies who haven’t developed object permanence don’t understand that their parents will come back for them. I just read a letter in a peer-reviewed scientific journal that says the same thing (Price, Hiscock, & Gradisar, Early Hum Dev, 2013). Similarly, your explanation of the need for sleep training suggests that babies who have developed object permanence are the most vulnerable to sleep problems that can be fixed by sleep training, which implies that sleep training is good for babies at this stage.

    At the same time, I’ve also heard that 8-9 months is a bad time for sleep training because of separation anxiety, which as I understand it results from object permanence. Also, saying that prior to object permanence “they can’t understand that their parents will come back for them” has never made sense to me. In order to worry about whether their parents will come back, don’t they need to remember that their parents exist, which is precisely what happens when they acquire object permanence? It seems to me that, in fact, before object permanence, what they don’t understand is precisely the opposite — that their parents could leave them and not come back!

    Know what I mean? So what’s the deal? Can you clarify?

  57. I don’t usually comment on websites but I wanted to say thank you for the simple, easy-to-understand advice and the repetition to believe in this ‘put-baby-to-sleep-drowsy’ thing. Starting around 6 months, my daughter (who was previously a decent night sleeper at 3 months.. 1 night feed only) was starting to wake up 2-3 times a night. I was getting tired and even though I read all the books, and *knew* i was supposed to be putting her down drowsy, I started letting her fall asleep in my lap after nursing, because it was easy. To my surprise, last week, I laid her in the crib one night barely awake and she didnt protest! I jetted out of the room and she settled in after 20 minutes of squirming. The direct correlation was obvious: that night she slept from 730p-6a with NO interruptions. The next 3 nights have not been as smooth, she has cried loud for 20 min, 12 min, 10 min, but every time has put her self down eventually, and has slept at least 10 hours. I read this site at exactly the right time because it’s easy to blame it on teeth, hunger, etc. Thanks for the encouragement.

  58. I’m so glad I read this because I was at my wits end, I’m so sleep deprived and just figured it was his teething. This object permanence is exactly what he is going through. Thank you so much for this helpful and insightful article. I do need some advice on how to make my baby’s routine the same every night with out surprises, if I try to let him fall asleep by himself in his crib on his own do I just put him in and leave the room? If I keep going in to comfort him will that be a surprise to him, which will cause him to keep waking up? He has never went to sleep on his own, he will scream at the top of his lungs till he starts coughing and even gagging to throw up because he is so wound up, I need advice on how to start this process, I’m so exhausted and can’t keep going on like this.

    Thank you

  59. Our son is a micro preemie who will be a year the end of the month (9 months adjusted). He’s not always been the bet sleeper, mostly due to his not caring for the oxygen at night (who would) and then as luck would have it he started teething. Not just teething, but it’s pretty painful for him 24×7. He goes to bed at 7 and was going well (maybe one wake up), about a week and a half ago he stated waking up at 4 am bright eyes and ready to go. I’m not sure what to do to get him back to sleep. He doesn’t cry, he just lays there wide awake. So far the only thing that does work is a bottle, does that mean he’s not getting enough during the day?

  60. OMG! What is happening to my 8 month old! We did the CIO around 6 months and it has worked wonders! She was sleeping through the night from 7:15 – 6 or 7 am! She would occasionally wake up for a bottle and go right back to sleep. Even when she was teething, it wasn’t that bad. NOW…since exactly turning 8 months old, I feel like I have a newborn again! She goes down no later than 7:30 but lately has been waking up 2-3 times. For example she woke up at 3 last night, took a 7 oz bottle and then would not go back to sleep until 4:30! Then she was up at 6:15 and at 7 had another 6 oz! This has been happening for the past week! I am so tired and hoping this is a phase. I am a first time mom, so I am not sure if it’s a growth spurt or she also has started to crawl. Will that make her sleep schedule different? Any advice will help!!! Do I just go with the flow and let it ride or is there something I can do?

    • Same thing is happening with our 8 month old. He knows how to fall asleep on his own through CIO but last night he woke up an hour after bedtime screaming and then wouldn’t go back to sleep until 10pm. Then he woke up at 1, put himself back to sleep but woke up again at 2am screaming and we were so tired we brought him to bed with us but he was so restless. The night before last he slept 9 hours in a row without a peep and we didn’t do anything different. I don’t really have any advice and no one really has any advice for me since I don’t want to listen to hours of shrieking all night.

      • Lena, Well things actually got a lot better the past couple days. It was horrible thursday night and we were at our wits end and finally we ended up putting her in her room by herself. We would room share and I think she knew I was there and would soothe her and to be honest, since we put her in her own room, she is back to sleeping on her own all night!
        What we did was put a lovely and a glow in the dark paci in her crib and we would would just do our normal routine and lay her down and hopes that she would be comfortable with the lovely and paci. and it seems to have worked! I also slept with one of her crib sheets so my scent would be on it and put that in her crib. My ped did say that around this time, it’s normal to have separation anxiety as well as if they reach a milestone, they usually are sleepless. He said it would pass in a couple weeks and it did (well at least for now). Good Luck!

        • we are having the same issues with our 7 month old the last month. not sure if that could be separation anxiety that early?? she wakes between 4 or 5 am and just talks to herself for almost an hour every night! there usually is no crying so we don’t go to her because that seem to wake her up more. i thought about trying wake to sleep or giving her a dream feed but not sure if its a good idea. any thoughts?

  61. Hi,

    I actually sleep trained my boy when he was about 8 weeks old and things were going well until the 12week (3mths) growth spurt. Before the growth spurt, he will sleep at 6 plus in the evening, I’ll pick him up at 10-11 for a dreamfeed and he will wakeup at 4 for a feed and then 7am for his first feed of the day. After the growth spurt, he is back to waking up every 3-4hours.

    I put him to sleep on his tummy since he was 5 weeks (yes i do know the risk of SIDS by doing so) and now he only know how to sleep on his tummy. This posed as a problem in re training him to sleep through the night as he would flip from tummy to back, get startled and then awake. I have to tend to him cause when left on the back for too long, he will completely wake up.

    People have asked me to ride it out until he learns to flip from back to tummy. Is there a solution to this? I do want to retrain him as he is 4 months old now.

  62. Thank you. We’ve just started CIO – 2 nights in and I already want to invite you to our sons 1st birthday party. He was sleeping well on his own, then got an ear infection at 8.5 months. We rocked him to sleep for a week and then experienced everything you talk about here. We’re beginning to get back on track and I couldn’t be more thankful for your site. I never leave comments- but just wanted you to know how much I appreciated this info!

  63. My son goes to sleep in his own bed during the day and at bedtime but once he wakes during the night (usually around 10pm), nothing in the world will persuade him to go back to sleep in his own bed. So into my bed he comes and we have a night of waking for a quick feed every 2-3 hours.

    My question is, what do you do with night wakings? I think read somewhere on this site that CIO is not the answer (and I can’t use it anyway as my flatmate would strangle me). So what to do when he wakes at night?

  64. So I put a sound maker (the ipad with a sound maker app) on for my 5 month old daughter last night and miracle of all miracles, she slept ALL night! We still had some issues getting her into the crib at the start of the night but once she was down she stayed down! Tonight we will see if it was a fluke lol! Thank you for all of the help :)

  65. Advice please!!!
    Our almost 5 month old was sleeping well in his room in non moving swing. We moved him to crib for nighttime a few weeks ago and it went well for a few nights, but now he is struggling. He does seem to be teething which doesn’t help, but we think the pacifier was also causing problems… Last night I had to go in MANY times to give paci in order for him to fall back asleep (not sure he is always really awake). He has fallen asleep on his own for several months but tonight we decided not to leave the paci in when he was falling asleep.

    My question… He still naps in the swing, so is it ok to give him the paci at naps (he does pretty well most days with naps) or is that too confusing? We rarely use the paci during the day, other than at nap time or occasionally in car or to help if he is really upset. Thanks for any advice! We really want to get back to our one night feeding being the only wake up during the night!

    • I know you would prefer to hear from Alexis but as this is an old post it may not happen. But I know Alexis does say in one of her posts (I have read and re-read them all so can’t remember what one) that babies distinguish naps and night sleep differently so It is perfectly fine to remove the paci for night but keep for naps until ready.
      Having said that I had to get rid of the paci at 4 and 1/2 months as I was constantly replacing it through the night (on 2 nights 20 times in 1 hr!. I did naps and night all at once using the Ferber method. While there was one or two rough nights by day 5 all was good and I found that she seemed much happier through the day as well – maybe coincidence but I think learning to sooth her self without the paci maybe helped her self control?

  66. Hi, I have the same question as Sonal really.

    My little girl is 5 1/2 months and we self settled really early. The trouble is I lost my way around the 4 month mark!

    I’m trying to correct it but does it count if she is nearly completely asleep but aware she is being placed in her cot? She often will stir, open her eyes, look around and then drop right off again as she is put down.

    I have no real problem at the moment as she wakes once, which I am happy with (BF), but would like to avoid any later issues.

  67. I have a seven and a half month baby who self-settles herself when put to bed at night, but has started waking up crying during the night every couple of hours (she’s slept ten to eleven hours a night since she was three months old). I suspect it’s the onset of object permanence, but she’s been doing this for weeks now. Is this a situation when CIO is going to help? I’ve done CIO with her before in order to get her to self-settle, but she’s definitely regressed in the past couple of weeks and is refusing to settle herself during the night, and is particularly bad after 4/5am. Will this resolve on it’s own, or do I need to take CIO action?

  68. Very Sleep Deprived Mum

    I found this quite interesting.. as I have 9month old twin boys & really looking for a solution to get them to sleep through.. but as the above reads ‘this behaviour will stop once you stop surprising your baby’ from the day my boys were born they were placed in their cots awake as I believe this is a good idea for them to establish sleep from play.. but it certainly didn’t make a difference in helping them sleep through..

    • I too have twins, 6 and a half months old, sleeping in cribs, and put down awake. They’re up each 3 or so times before midnight and can’t put themselves back to sleep. And then I’m up like every hour after that. I’m beyond tired and no suggestion works. We have white noise, bedtime routine, put down awake, etc, all suggestions used and nothing helps them stay asleep. We don’t go running in when they wake, we leave them to see if they can figure it out, but they just end up hyperventalating and I have to go in and nurse them back to sleep. CIO seems like the only option left, and I honesty think they would just cry all night long anyways, and keep the whole house up…I feel ya, and I thought by doing everything “right” that they would sleep better. Hey at this point if I was only up 4 times a night I’d be happy with that! Sad huh!?

  69. I’d like to hug you.

    I think I’ve told my husband, verbatim, everything I just read, during the past two weeks. SO satisfying to read this!

  70. I’m not seeing the results others are- I put my 6 mo down to sleep around 7:30 or 8 pm after a bath and a book (fully fed) and always AWAKE, he puts himself to sleep every night with no tears (he’s been doing this since he turned 4 months) but has recently started waking every 2 hours and every hour between 2 and 5 am. He hasn’t magically slept through the night once! He has 3 predictable naps during the day all at least 30 to 40 mins long. He’s never slept longer than 5-6 hours at a whack and that was months ago (when he was 3 months old). He sleeps in his crib next to my bed but usually by 2 am I am so exhausted I move him into my bed so I don’t have to keep getting up to soothe him. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? Mostly I’m writing this just to get it out and vent a little- but any suggestions would be welcomed!

  71. So my 7 week old basically behaves just like the post-6-month-old you describe above- every time she wakes a LITTLE, if the circumstances aren’t just the way she likes them (i know she can’t really *remember* at this point, but she knows what she likes) she comes all the way awake and will start to cry. We don’t let her get to the point of screaming, since she’s only 7 weeks, but if we didn’t respond within a few minutes she would!

    She is also hyper-vigilant when she gets tired and fights going to sleep like nobody’s business.

    At this point she CAN sleep a few hours in a row and will if we let her stay in the bed, but in the cosleeper she practically always wakes up within an hour, sometimes much less than an hour.

    Your advice above doesn’t seem to apply, since she’s so young. Is there something we can do to encourage sleeping in the cosleeper? I know that’s where the AAP wants her to sleep, and she’s going to get moved out of the bed eventually! Or at 7 weeks should we just not worry about it and let her in the bed sometimes?


  72. HELP! My son is nine months and he wakes up almost every hour. We cosleep and I nurse him to sleep and when he wakes. He has always been a horrible sleeper. My husband and I have been talking about getting a crib. How do I make the transition to cosleeping and nursing all night to having him sleep alone without nursing? I just tried to not nurse him when he woke up, he cried for almost 20 minutes even with me holding him, I gave in and nursed him and it took him 5 minutes to calm down. Then after he was aslseep I set him next to me and he woke up again 10 minutes later. I am so tired I can’t do it anymore we do this every night. Someone please help. Thank you!

  73. Our son is 14mth old and he has never been a great sleeper (unlike our 2.5yo). As a newborn he would not sleep if it was too quiet; so into the cot in the nursery to be around ‘noise’ of his older brother during the day. As he got older he would go down in the cot at night, but when we tried to move him to our room when we went to bed he would wake, so we ended up just moving him perm to the cot in the nursery. Around about 6mths he would go to sleep easily enough but wake at slight noise and his crying at night woke his brother, resulting in door shutting etc and rocking and holding etc at night to get him to go back to sleep. By about 7mths we moved houses and decided it was time to start CIO b/c it had worked for his brother. Our ‘friendly’ neighbors took issue to our ‘baby crying at all hours of the day and night’, confronting us at 2am and threatening to call Child Services. Needless to say that took several months just for me to get over; resulting in me running into him whenever he cried, rocking him to sleep and the usual other things one tries. Fast forward a few months and we had a 10mth old who couldn’t self settle, and waking several times through the night. Fast forward a few more months to now…

    So my husband deployed overseas with the military a month ago. Bub is now a 14mth old toddler. He fell asleep just as we were getting home from dropping Daddy at the airport, and I tried to get him inside asleep but without any luck. The next 2 weeks resulted in him refusing to sleep day or night, refusing to lay down in his cot despite trying CIO and him crying for 3hrs. It got so bad that some afternoons I did emerg drives so that he got a little sleep, as he would sleep in the car. I used CIO and the Sleep Shuffle from Kim West’s Goog Night, Sleep Tight book for our 1st son with great results, so I tried this on bub. CIO no luck. Sleep Shuffle a bit better, but I feel stuck at the doorway most of the time. And he still wakes approx. 3 times a night, mostly with me having to sit there until he’s asleep. Sometimes I am just too tired and let him CIO, but I’m worried about our neighbors at night. Some days he seems ready for his nap but just plays and cries if I leave, so I sit there for ages waiting for him to sleep.

    Being on my own (for the next 6mths) I am concerned about how I’m going to cope. Plus I’m so tired during the day that his elder brother is copping it.

    Is it separation anxiety due to Daddy leaving? Is it object permanence b/c I still use a dummy and sneak away once he’s asleep. Is it something else? Help!

  74. Just found your site after fighting to get my 6 month old to sleep during the day for the past few weeks!!! She was great at her day time naps (an hour on the morning and 2 in the afternoon) now I’m lucky if its half an hour each time…
    After reading this I’ve found we are guilty of everything :( the falling asleep feeding, the pacifier, the music…the lot!!!
    So I suppose my question is, do we stop it all at once?? Or do it one by one?? Any advise would be great tganks

  75. Amen!! A few months ago, I read the “put your baby down awake” method when my little girl was around 6 months old, and after a few nights of her crying her to sleep, she started going to bed with ease AND sleeping 10 hours a night. I 100% agree with everything you say and wildly enjoyed the way you said it. You are just as funny as you think you are :) Thank you!

  76. What about spinners? My nearly 6 month old does not yet roll over but he does spin/rotate in his crib. He wakes himself up when his little feet hit the crib rails in his now perpendicular position. This does seem to disorient him and the surprise means at least one extra late night, sleepy trip down the hall for me. Moving him back to his original position seems to wake and upset him further. Has anyone else had this issue? Is there a safe way to prevent this?

  77. Studies indicate that infants as young as 3.5 months demonstrate object permanence. How does this fit into your above discussion?

    • As with everything, there are different grades. Some babies will look for a hidden object at 3.5 months (although honestly it’s not common) but you don’t see it elevate to the level that it causes sleeping problems till they’re older.

  78. Something you said in this article:

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

    We ended up using your CIO method. It worked. Beautifully. Within 10, our 7 month old girl was going to bed, awake, with little to no fussing. But then she wakes up 3-4 hours later. And again every 2 hours after that. Most times she will not go back to sleep without a short feeding (2-4 minutes of nursing and she passes out, or 2oz of formula). Now that she has her bedtime routine down, should we be letting her CIO in the middle of the night? My husband and I are exhausted, and we just want everyone to get a good night’s sleep! Help!!!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Have you read this:

      I hope it helps. If not then click the yellow button the right and come and chat in the google community, some of the ladies there have had tough nuts to crack!


      • So I read the article, and it doesn’t look like we are falling into any of those traps. However, the chart describes my baby’s sleep/wake pattern to a tee! The last boob she gets is at least an hour before bed time (she gets a bottle if she needs to be topped off, but has at least 20 minutes between feed and bed) but she seems to need the boob to fall asleep when she wakes at night. I’ll try anything, so I guess the link you left for me is next!

  79. Alexis,

    Thank you so much for your help thus far! I have two quick questions. First off, I am now using the swing to help my 4 month old twins transition more easily to their cribs. As I do this should, I only use the swing when it is time for naps and bedtime, or is it ok to also use it for playtime. Secondly, I have them falling asleep on their own most of the time, but they are still waking up to eat in the night at least twice. When they wake up and eat, they normally fall asleep while breastfeeding…do I need to put them back down awake during the night at these times? Thank you again for your help!

    Megan Brown

  80. Dear Alexis,

    Firstly, thank you for an absolutely wonderful read and 3-part post which is by far the most informative I have come across whilst scouring the web for mummy tips and hints for those in week 25 of their precious bub’s life. I’ve ticked yes, yes and yes to fighting to nap, waking more often and being fully awake. The mystery is that Baby C has been sleeping on his own for some time now when put down awake in the crib or on our bed, so it appears to be the development of object permanence/separation anxiety which has shaken him to the core! What tips do you have for this newly developed protest crying – do we need to start from step one again? Due to de quervins, we’ve been co-sleeping the past couple of months, but Baby C would wake twice only for a feed at 10:30pm and 4:30am (I know, I’m not complaining here). Last night he was awake and miserable, and could not be rocked/nursed/or left alone. But was quite happy to be held upright and observe our zombie-like state! Is it perhaps time to move him back to his crib, or is it the dreaded wonder week 26?

  81. My baby is 4 months old next Tuesday. I think we already went through the sleep regression and now are getting better sleep but there are a few scattered nights were she wakes up every 2 hours. She has been put to sleep in her crib for about 3 weeks now and does well there. I put her to bed at 8 now (was 9 or 9:30 a few weeks ago) but I nurse or bounce her to sleep the first time I put her down. The usual habit is that she will wake up at about 1 am and 4 am to eat. I feed her, burp her, and put her down. Lately she had been mostly asleep after I feed her but she wakes up when I lay her in her crib. She has been pretty good about falling asleep on her own though.
    I have been terrible with naps, letting her fall asleep when and where she wants; until today. Today I have been using the swing method and starting a routine about 2 hours after she wakes up from her last sleep. She is swaddled and there is white noise playing. It has worked amazingly well. No pacifier and while she is pretty darned drowsy after I nurse her she is awake when I put her in the swing and falls asleep within a few minutes.
    My question is: should I use the swing at night now or keep up with the crib? I am reluctant abandon all the work I did to get her in the crib but I am not sure how awake she is when I put her in there and if I don’t nurse her right before putting her down she will cry and cry. Also, the swing doesn’t fit well in her nursery but we can make it work if it is only for a few weeks.
    While we consider ourselves very lucky so far I want to do the best to make sure she sleeps well in the future with as little disruption as possible.
    Thanks! Your blog has been so helpful!

  82. hi alexis

    thanx for z article.. its veryyyy useful i finally undetstiod whats happenening with my baby.
    but i really need ur assistance and advice.. my baby is 7 months and half i have been waking up for him every hour for z last 3 weeks, im very tired and cant bare it any more.. i know where is z problem by now as he cant put himself to sleep without my assisstance by nursing him. i have tried all z recommended solutions but all failed.. tried putting him drowsy also letft him to cry it out but all failed. also im not able to night wean him as everytime he wakes up he needs to be nursed to b able to sleep again and if i did nt he keeps crying lound and resists sleeping.

    apprciate ur support.

  83. My 8 month old is having trouble going to sleep on her own again and waking up crying at midnight and 3 am. something she wasn’t doing on her own. She is perfectly capable of falling asleep on her own , though not without fuss. She takes 2 1 hr naps during the day and is in her crib by 7:30 most nights.

    the thing is she is sleeping in our bedroom.I’m wondering if she cries when she awakes because , when she fell asleep she was on her own and now she senses us there and she knows if we are there , we will pick her up?

    I’m not sure what to do because this is the best sleeping arrangement we can do for now.

    will a room separator work so she doesn’t see us when she wakes up?

    ideas? advice?

    thank you!

  84. Hello, my 7 month old still only naps for 30 mins if don’t swaddle during the day, she sleeps without it at night, goes to sleep on her own in the dark with white noise for naps and night, sleeps well at night, wakes but goes back on own, has small DF at 10 which am starting to decrease, i cannot spot tired signs with her, has never gone sleepy, is a very alert and nosey little girl, and will keep going until has a massive meltdown, which i avoid by putting down for naps 2/3 times a day, what are average awake times for a 7 month old, have tried between 1hr 30 and 3hours in morn and same results, struggling to fit in feeds etc. Wakes from naps with a poo a lot thats why think we need more of a routine to stop this! Please help. Do i stop the swaddle and start again with the 30 min nap and hope she improves on her own?

  85. Hi Alexis
    My 9 month old has never been a good sleeper and i don’t know where to start with addressing things, each day we just muddle through resulting in a very cranky child. Shes so exhausted by 6-7pm that she puts herself to sleep but then wakes crying 3 hours after has 3-4 ounces to soothe and then wakes again 3-4 hours looking for soothing but doesnt eat much and needs rocking holding until completely asleep, she cries if put down. Will cry it out work if she initially puts herself to sleep at the beginning of the night? i think we have created a nightwaking habit where she fully wakes herself as her body is used to doing this. in the day i have struggled to get her into a routine, she has never been a big eater so feed times change a lot (weaning has only complicated things further). Reading the masses of information out there i am utterly confused. the problems we have are:
    – highly wired at bedtime
    – short naps (puts self to sleep, “soothing” rocking etc just makes her more angry
    – early waking
    Restless sleep – we never know whether to go in as it just makes things worse
    We don’t breastfeed and have never co-slept so i cant even help her to sleep this way. I dont think she is waking from hunger at night but as her intake varies everyday i can never be sure (she doesnt seem to like milk in the day only solids so we try and increase dairy in her solids).
    i dont know whether to try address night sleep first then day sleep – from what i have read they are related so i’m in a vicious circle and dont know where to start. is confusing as they say good naps equal good night sleep but then also say, don’t allow a long morning nap as this compensates for night sleep, don’t allow a late afternoon nap, put baby to bed early (but then i can’t fot in her feedings so she may well be hungry)
    Any advice ou have would really be appreciated. i have a feeling CIO may actually be the kindest way to address things as if it works hopefully things should improve quicker

  86. My 8 month old goes into his cot awake with no dummy, no music, half an hour after being fed and settles himself…sometimes straight away and sometimes after a few tears. He wakes up 3 times a night and won’t settle…

  87. Alexis,
    I. Need. Help.
    My son has just recently turned 5 months old on the 5th. We have been working on the “putting baby down awake” since he was 3 months and one day old. It went surprisingly well. Our swing has 5 speeds, we went down to 4, then to 3, still no problems. We got rid of the paci (he started sucking his thumb)and no issue. He had consistently been having a 30 minute morning nap, 2 hr late morning/early afternoon nap and then 2 30 minute naps. The last usually ending by 6 and he was down for bed at 8.
    However, the past 3-4 weeks, without any obvious cause that I can find, his afternoon nap has cut to 30 minutes. I’m putting him down awake, he falls asleep on his own, I make sure there is at least 20 minutes between nursing and going down for his nap, I have not turned the swing down anymore and he is half swaddled (has to have that left arm out to get to his thumb). We do kind of struggle on his sleeping cues. Sometimes he goes down at 1 1/2 hrs, other days it’s 2 hrs. I truly don’t understand the fluctuation in times. But I’m trying so hard to put him down when he is not over tired. Many days after this half hour nap, he is still obviously tired but just won’t go back down. I usually let him fuss for at least 5-10 minutes just to see if he’ll go back to sleep, but he rarely does. Now for the last week he seems like he is trying to drop his last nap and after he goes down for the night he has started to wake up after 2 hours and he is up and down all night long, like 6 times a night. Before this he was sleeping 4-6 hour stretches and then getting up one other time to nurse. How could he stop his 2 hr nap and drop his last nap all within 3 weeks? And also be having night problems? He is not teething, he does not have an ear infection, and in the last 3 weeks has not been in a wonder weeks phase. I have NO IDEA what I am doing. I have no idea what I am doing WRONG, more specifically.
    My husband occasionally has him during the day and tells me he’ll sometimes just put him down on the floor play mat and walk away to do something and when he comes back, the baby is asleep and sleeps for over an hour! This has never EVER happened for me. I get the baby that has a break down if I don’t have him napping quickly enough. I feel like I am failing as a mother. I feel like I am doing everything right and I still suck. I am terrified that I will not have him out of the swing by the time he turns 6 months old and I will never have a baby that sleeps through the night.
    Please tell me what I am doing wrong. I am all for criticism if it’ll get him to sleep again. I’m so exhausted. PLEASE. HELP!

  88. Hi Alexis – thanks so much for your site! It’s been a tremendous resource for this first time mom. Despite being a great sleeper for the first 8 or so months of his life, my son has been hot and cold with his sleep since then (I blame bad sleep habits while on vaction for the start of it…). As a now 16 month old, I would really like to see more consistency in his sleep (is that realistic?!?) or at least have a game plan for how to handle things.

    A few issues, that I would love your opinion on:
    1. Night Sleep: He has always fallen asleep on his own and over the last few months usually sleeps through the night. However, there are nights where he wakes up around 11:30 pm or 12:30 am and cries. We typically let him cry to see what will happen. Sometimes he goes back to sleep and sometimes he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, I (or my husband) will usually go in an pat his back until he calms down or I’ll pick him up and we fall asleep in his glider (I know this isn’t good, so we are really getting away from this – definite improvement since I stopped doing this regularily). Last night he cried for 2 hours and broke us. I finally went in and slept on the floor – I never touched him but my presense was enough to get him to sleep. Seperation anxitey?? Questions: he is very inconsistent with sleeping through the night – sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t. Maybe it’s teething, seperation anxiety, who knows? How do I know when to go in and when to let him cry. What if he’s sick? Does that change how I respond? What if he cries for hours on end? If we have visitors or are on vacation I hate to let him cry for fear of disturbing everyone!
    2. Vacation/Sleeping Away from home – has always been a problem. Won’t put himself to sleep without screaming doesn’t sleep through the night.
    3. Naps – sleeps noon – 2:30 pm at daycare without issue. At home, sleeps noon to 1 or 1:30 pm. Cries and will usually fall back asleep when we go in to get him. Do we just end the nap then or let him cry? I’d love to have him nap longer at home.

    Fhew, long comments, but would love any thoughts or advice you may have. Thank you!

  89. Ok we’re hitting the object permanence (Son is nearly 7 mo) thing now and I’m not sure what to do about. This week has been awful and every day/nap is different (maybe it’s just teething?). He went from going down asleep easily (we put him down awake and are looking to getting rid of the pacifier this week) to suddenly all hell breaking lose when we put him in his crib. The scream and I don’t mean crying or fussing, I mean screaming ‘someone is murdering me’ screaming until we give up. He gone to bed anywhere from 40-1.5 hour later then normal and naps haven’t been any better. I thought it was getting better, but not so sure. The first two naps of the day were fine – he went down awake in his crib with all the same stuff that had been there since he was 4 months old and he gave us a 1.45 min nap and an 1 hour. His third nap is now 1.5 hours overdue because anytime you get him near his crib he just starts screaming. He seems fine when he’s with us, I know he’s tired – he started rubbing his eyes so I did the nap routine for a second time and went to put him down and the screaming started again. He was fine for the first two naps of the morning and nothing changed! I don’t know what to do, why? Do you just let them cry it out when you think they are just missing you? The tears though I can’t stand the tears….

  90. I usually don’t leave comments, but I came across this website in desperate hopes of getting my son to sleep through the night. We started this sleep training a few weeks ago and it went well for a while. He will be 9 months old at the end of this month and is sleeping horribly! I was reading some of your posts about how separation anxiety is bad at this age and hopefully it passes soon. He will go to sleep in his crib on his own and then wake around 1:00 am. I will go in and soothe him and he will fall asleep until around 1:30 am and this continues for hours, finally I just give him a bottle. I hope it passes soon! Any suggestions??

  91. Ok, so why is it that at night 4 of putting my 9 month old down awake she is still waking up (was up today from midnight to 4am. not so fun), still fighting naps and having short crappy naps? Alexis? Someone? Anyone?

    • Have you seen the post I link to below? I suspect it answers your question. Both this one and the other one about the paci….Check it out and let me know what you think. Cheers :)

      • Yup! I’ve read it!

        Accoring to your checklist, the only one that applies is that she is put down with her paci. if she wakes looking for it, she’ll reinsert it on her own and keep sleeping, but some days she really struggles to get back to sleep, even with the paci and after I go in to console her. Her paci is used ONLY for sleep. she doesn’t use it at any other time, so its a pretty strong sleep aid for her besides her blanket and a fan humming in the background. Do I just have no other option? Lose the paci or keep losing sleep? :(

  92. Yes, I KNOW this is the right thing to do (put baby down awake). But HOW?!?

    Any time that we have put him down “drowsy but awake”, the following scenarios happen:

    1. His eyes pop right open! NO WAIT! I’M NOT SLEEPY, MOMMY!! He lays awake until he starts crying. (He’ll cry for a long time and not go to sleep)

    2. He cries immediately.

    So, now what?

    • I’d also like to add that he is a tummy sleeper, so that adds another element…we did one night of CIO and he finally fell asleep after an hour and ten minutes…on his back. And then woke up 10 minutes later :/

  93. Oh What? Oh what do I do with a 10 month old who will sit or stand for hours… I mean hours in his crib???

    Quick background on my son:
    -Diagnosed with severe reflux at 2 months (due to this he has always been a terrible sleeper. Legitimatly!). Got it fairly under control around 7 months.
    -Did what we needed to do to survive by rocking and nursing to sleep.
    -Sleep trained at 7 months. Worked great at bedtime. We have a solid bedtime routine which ends with a bottle and then put down drowsy. Almost asleep. He opens his eyes, looks around the crib to get his bearings rolls over then goes to sleep. Rarely he falls asleep during the feeding.
    -He has always been a VERY active and curious baby.

    So, we have always struggled with naps. He was the only 8 week old anyone had ever seen that would fight sleep. We’re talking eyes rolling in the head while he sat in the swing but kept them open so he could look around. Because of the reflux and activity level I ALWAYS nursed him to sleep for naps.

    So my son started standing at 8 months. He rarely falls asleep anymore whil feeding before nap put down. Now when I put him down for naps (routine: diaper, bottle, down) my son could stand in his crib for hours. Seriously. If I leave him in his crib he will stay awake even though his eyes are red rimmed and rolling around for HOURS. Last week I decided to go cold turkey and he was in there like that talking, standing, sitting, fussing, crying, just sitting quietly for 2 hours!

    This morning I even tried standing there and laying him down immediately if he sat up. This went on for 45 minutes until my back and neck couldn’t take it so I left him for quiet time! Then this afternoon I tried keeping my hand on his chest to prevent him from sitting up. This turned into nasty crying and after 20 minutes I gave up.

    Alexis? Anyone? HELP!!!!!!!

  94. Hi Ladies,
    I was hoping for some advice PLEASE..
    My son is 7 months old and is a dream baby… during the day 😉 He is so happy and contented. He naps twice a day and gets about 2.5-3 hrs sleep for his day naps. Night time bed is a different story though. He does down to sleep in his cot between 6.30-7pm with no problems. He is awake but sleepy. Within 2-3 hours of him going to sleep he will wake up crying (this usually happens at about 9.30-10.30 pm. Some times I can put his dummy/pacifier back in his mouth and he’ll drift back to sleep, other times that solution only lasts a few minutes before he is crying again. I try patting his tummy and turing him on his side, as that’s how he likes to sleep, but often it does nothing and he continues to cry. By this stage I try pick him up and putting him back to sleep. I will do this until he is sleepy then put him down in his bed to which he usally cries as soon as his head hits the mattress. At this stage I usually feed him to sleep (breast feed) and then he is usually out to it for only another 2 hours before waking again. This is when I usually give in and bring him into bed with me. I know it is bad!! He still makes noise from this time and when he wakes (usually 12.30-1am to 6.30-7am when we rise) but I find it easy to try put his dummy in and calm him when he’s laying beside me.
    Can I ask for your thoughts? Do you think the dummy and co sleeping are the issue?? He has just got two teeth through in the last fortnight so I really don’t know if that is the issue considering we’ve been having this issue since he was 4 months old.
    Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciate…. we all need some sleep!

    • Yes. I think the pacifier is an issue. And feeding to sleep. And possibly cosleeping. My advice? Read these articles thoroughly, she explains why the things you’re talking about can create issues. And if you’re willing, try sleep training. We sleep trained via the Ferber method at 4 months. We lost the paci and swaddling all at once. And you know what? She was fine. She slept longer and fell asleep on her own. Prior to that, I could’ve written your post. It’s a game changer.

  95. Hello, my baby girl is 9 months old and will only fall asleep nursing while laying down on my bed . If I try and get up once she is a sleep she will wake up. I have no clue where to start with trying to get her to sleep on her own:( Help! She has never once slept in her crib .

  96. Great article! My wife and I wish we would have found this earlier. Our son is just over 7 months old and this ALL sounds way too familiar. We’ve tried “crying it out” and after nearly 2 hours on multiple occasions, we gave in to the same old routine. I guess it’s time to try it yet again.

  97. I am having sleep issues with my 10 month old. We have been doing the Ferber method for almost a month and she goes down to sleep around 7pm relatively well (though its still all over the place–sometimes she falls asleep right away, other times she cries for 40 mins.). She sleeps through the night until sometime between 4 and 5:30. At this time we feed her and put her back down but she doesn’t always go back to sleep. If I let her fall asleep on me after the bottle rather than putting her down, I could be successful at getting her back to sleep. However, would that hurt the progress we’ve made getting her down at night?

    Also, we are having issues with naps. Ferber method is no longer working for naps. She just cries for the 45 mins until nap time is over (Ferber says to wait 30 mins and then end the nap time, but I wait 45 mins). I think she knows that I will take her out of the crib. Again, if I feed her a bottle and let her fall asleep in my arms, I could successfully get her to sleep alot of the time. But I am trying to be consistent about getting to fall asleep on her own for both naps and her big night sleep. Sometimes she only gets one nap per day. And often its a cat nap. I’ve tried moving nap times which doesn’t seem to help. I don’t know what to do. Please help!!!

  98. Thanks for this article; so well written and clear. My 7 months has been self settling for bed and naps for over a month and used to wake for just one feed during the night. Recently, she has started to wake 3 times a night for feeds – every 3 hours. It’s been warm, but I’m not convinced she needs it as her nappy leaked for the first time ever this morning at 5 it was so full! For some reason, she’s also started fighting her morning nap quite a bit of the time. She recently transitioned to 2 naps, but this was always the sure one! I’d be really grateful for some advice as we’ve been trying to get her down for 1.5hours now and the night waking is draining me. Thanks.

  99. Hi, I’ve been reading things from your website since my daughter was 3 months old. I used the swing and the white noise and it worked wonders. However my daughter is 8 months and I cannot get her to fall asleep on her own to save my life. I’ve tried baths, bottles, rocking her until she’s drowsy and dropping her off so she knows where she is and it doesn’t matter. As soon as she realizes I’m not holding her, she cries. Sometimes she’ll even cry while being held because I’m not rocking her. It’s a fight every single time it comes down to her going to sleep. What else can I do? I also do not slow her to stay awake too long. Idk. I’m out of ideas.

  100. Hi, I really like all your articles and tips. Here is the problem I am facing with my 9 month old who doesn’t want to sleep b/c she is too excited to play and sit up and pull herself. So when we leave her in her crib drowsy to fall asleep on her own, she doesn’t cry, she plays and talks to herself and tries to stand up and sometimes this goes on for 2 hours and at the end she ends up without a nap. So to actually make sure she is sleeping we rock her and she does great during the day – two naps for about 1-1.5 hours. However at night is a nightmare – she wakes up every hour. Again if I leave her she might cry for a few minutes and then starts to play so she would go in between playing and crying but I feel like she won’t ever fall asleep on her own. I really have no idea what to do with her anymore. And I need some sleep too…

  101. Hi Alexis! Love your site.

    Was hoping I could pick your (well-rested) brain. I have a different question about bedtime and separation anxiety.

    We did CIO at 16 weeks to break a very, very bad paci habit. Our daughter had started sleeping through the night on her own at 2 months, but at the 3 month mark, out of nowhere she seemed to have developed a sense of object permanence, and every time the paci fell out, we had to provide reinsertion services. It only took one day of CIO to break the habit, and for the next month, bedtime and naptime were actually something we looked forward to. I would feed her, change her, then read her a bedtime story. She’d yawn and pop her little left thumb in her mouth right around the time we said good night to the old lady eating her “mush,” and then I’d deposit her in her crib, close the door, pour myself a glass of wine, and enjoy the rest of the night. Naps were similarly peaceful.

    At about 20 weeks, seemingly again out of nowhere, she developed an intense sense of separation anxiety. When a new person enters the room, she looks back and forth between me and the new person with a look of intense fear on her face, searching for my approval. If I hand her off to the new person, half the time, all hell breaks loose. For the first few days, this didn’t appear to be affecting her sleeps. Then, again(!) out of nowhere, bedtime when awry. I’d put her down in the crib and everything would seem peaceful, but before I had made it halfway down the hallway, she’d be screaming. Oh, the screaming. Over an hour of screaming for the last 4 nights. She looks over her right shoulder towards the nursery door, screams for a few seconds like she is trying to summon me back into the room, turns toward her left thumb, sucks it, looks like she is about the fall asleep, then turns towards the right screaming again. Rinse and repeat. Until she finally falls asleep. Then, she stays asleep for 11-12 hours and wakes up with a smile on her face.

    For some reason this doesn’t appear to be affecting any of her naps except for the last nap of the day (which used to start around 3pm). That nap is now history after it appeared that she was just going to scream for an hour. So now, she wakes up between 6-7am, gets about 3-4 naps (usually short ones, 30-45 minutes, rarely longer), is awake for 1-2 hours between naps (except for the evening ever since the last nap disappeared), and bedtime is between 6-7pm (followed by the aforementioned hour + of screaming).

    Is CIO the best way to be dealing with this? Do you think this is all related to separation anxiety, or the loss of her last nap of the day, or perhaps she is transitioning to a new sleep/nap schedule? I decided to introduce a lovey this morning – I put it next to her right side for her first nap (which she fell asleep for with no protest). I’ve read Weissbluth but he doesn’t really have anything useful on how to deal with extinction bursts.

    Would appreciate any advice you might have!! Many thanks.

  102. Sleep training done-does CIO ever apply again?
    Your advice has been very valuable. My 6 month old can successfully put himself to sleep at bedtime and for naps typically in 5 minutes. Bedtime is 7 and he is up at 5:30/6.My question is what to do with wakings at 3 or 4 am. (I do a dream feed at 11am and do not usually feed again until he wakes at 5:30 or 6.) In your opinion, does CIO no longer apply once a baby has been sleep trained. How would you apply your philosophy to periods of growth spurts/teething/developmental milestones. Do the old standard tricks of nursing and rocking undo all the training?
    Thanks in advance!

  103. Using pacifiers or letting baby nurse at the breast while falling asleep has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.

    • I would amend slightly to say that using pacifiers while falling asleep and nursing in general has been associated with a lower incidence of SIDS.

      That being said the paci can and does cause substantial sleep problems especially for babies older than 6 months. So those parents might need to consider not using the pacifier for older babies.

  104. Ok so our 7.5 month old can put herself to sleep no problem at bedtime. A normal night for he uses to result in 2-3 wake-ups, which was great! But for the past couple weeks she has been up every two hours. I nurse and she goes back to sleep. Now, I know she can put herself to sleep but I also don’t think she needs to eat this frequently at night. She eats solids 2-3 times a day on top of breastfeeding. She has 6 teeth..we thought maybe teething but we haven’t seen anymore come in for the past month. But still lots of drool and always chewing things. It just doesn’t seem like it could be this bad for so long because of teething? Help!

  105. Hi.
    My 8 month old is has started refusing to lie down when I put her in bed. She immediately goes onto all 4s then to sitting, and stays sitting and crying until I go in to breastfeed her, and even then sometimes she does not fall asleep. Sometimes she drinks so much she vomits, but still doesn’t go to sleep. How to do I get her to sleep when she won’t even lie down (even thought she is absolutely exhasusted)?
    She usually used to fall asleep after 5-20 minutes of crying.

    • Hi Naomi-
      Our 9 month old is going through exactly what you describe here. Did you figure out what to do?


      • Hi Kara. It was a phase so we just let her cry after i fed her. Max 30 mins. She grew out of it.

        • Thanks! That’s good to know. It’s like he hates to be on his back. When we put him down, he just cries, and immediately gets on all 4s rocking forward and backward. We’ve never let him cry longer than like 10 min… So, yours would fall asleep within 30 min?

        • Usually. She also prefers her tummy. Your son might wanna sleep in his tummy.

  106. I have a 3 1/2 month old who was sleeping 8 hrs in a row at night til a few weeks ago. Now she wakes up several times at night, and getting worse. Last night she woke up almost hourly. I have been rocking her til she’s drowsy, then putting her in the rock n play by my bed, where she’s always slept. Been trying to stop the pacifier use, so she went down fine without it. But without fail, every night she wakes up 45 mins to an hr later, crying. I have tried shushing and patting but it makes her mad. If I give her the pacifier she will go back to sleep. Usually. She also is a champion 30 minute napper. :-( I’ve been lucky a few times to get an hour. She always has her morning nap in her swing, and every nap after that in her crib. Is 3 and a half months old enough to be super attached to a pacifier?

  107. My almost 6 month old has been able to sleep for 4 hours during the night time and he would wake up to be fed and some nights, he would fall back asleep after I give him the bottle and he wakes up 1-2 hours again. Then I give him another bottle but this time, he doesn’t fall asleep after. I also swaddled him at night too and there would be times where he would roll over while being swaddled. I’m losing hope because I’m soo tired ! He also takes 2 naps: one around 2pm
    For about 45 min and the next is at 7-845pm (longest). Then we bathed him at 1030 and then give him
    A bottle and he would sleep for 4 hours . Then the night repeats . *sigh

    • Hi Monica!

      I also have a 6 month-old and we have been doing the CIO method this week. While reading through your post I noticed that you are putting your baby to bed a little late – 10:30pm. Is this his normal bedtime? Around what time does he wake up in the morning? I only ask because this might be the main issue you’re facing. Generally, for a baby waking at any “normal” wakeup time – around 6am – their bedtime should be around 6:30-7pm. For my daughter, she goes to bed at around 7pm, wakes at 5:30am at which time I offer her a bottle and put her in her swing for an early nap. She generally sleeps until 9am and then has another 2 naps at around 11am and then around 2:30pm. I’m absolutely not suggesting that my schedule is ideal but I would say that around this age babies do best to sleep every 2.5 hours and have an early bedtime. Thoughts? :)

      • Hey Amanda, apparently that was my little ones routine from 5months +. Suddenly now at 8months +, she has started fighting it waking up every 2hours or so. Your routine was exactly what we were used to until I really don’t know what happened. I loved the fact that I could predict her next move. Now my mum is around and I’ve been trying to put my baby back on track by letting her cry it out but my mum always refuses to let her and goes in to pick her up. It’s getting frustrating.

  108. 10 month old has been co sleeping with us for months, we have attempted to transition to crib with no luck! Over the course of last 6-8 weeks, LO has been waking up multiple times in night sometimes crying, sometimes playing and it takes feedings to get back to sleep for a short couple hours then we repeat! No one is sleeping well. Routine is the same nightly and goes down between 7-8 and wakes between 5-6 no matter how often up thru the night! LO needs to go to crib and we need some much needed rest! Help… I feel like a failure as a new mom!

  109. I have a 3.5 mo old and we are working towards the crib and away from a bouncy sleep chair. Its a challenge but going ok so far. I’m confused about your suggestion to use a swing. I’ve read so much about “negative sleep association” and we are trying not to rock or feed to sleep, how is the swing different? We want them to learn to fall asleep themselves right?

  110. We are getting our 10 month old to fall asleep at bedtime on his own. It has started going better an better.

    I know it is essential that he gets good naps during the day to help with bedtime. But when, and how, do I start letting him cio for naps?

  111. Alexis,
    Desperate! My 6 mo old hates the swing, won’t take a paci and has been exclusively breastfed so he won’t take a bottle. I think he’s most definitely come into object permanence. He’s waking every 45min to 2 hours. Never sleeping longer than 2-2 1/2 hours. He co sleeps with me bc he was being tested for VLCAD from the time he was 2 weeks until almost 5 mo. It’s a condition where he had to eat every 2 hours (gradually increasing time with age) to keep his blood sugar up so sleeping with me was the only way I stayed sane. So now I’m stuck feeding him all night long. His crib is also in our room bc we are in the middle of building a house and a nursery didn’t seem logical with a move around the corner. Do I crib train him or sleep train him first? How do I break him from nursing to sleep? I’ve recently attempted mild CIO, where I stay in the room. a few times I have let him cry several minutes then lay with him and he falls asleep. But he still wakes up all night long. I can’t tell the difference between when he’s waking to eat or just to comfort suck. I haven’t had more than 3hours (and a rare 4 hours) of sleep since he’s been born! Any advice would be so appreciated! Thanks!

  112. Uri, my little lovely bundle of a tyrant ruler who rules with a crying fist of fury. I can say quite literally the day he turned nine months old, is the day he threw all methods out the window. I’ve been reduced to a blubbering cry-it-out sleep training method where I peek in at him at intervals. I believe I went wrong at bringing him into the bed to co-sleep because I couldn’t handle another couple nights of mushing my face into the mesh of his crib in total exhaustion as I figure out some method of getting him to sleep. Naps and nighttime sleep seem like a long ago dream. Tonight we started the five minute interval cry then peek in. Tomorrow night is ten. Back to gradually rising the time limit over the course of the next few days. I’m at my limit of ideas, nothing works anymore save for co-sleeping (which has worked since he was a newborn) and I can’t keep co-sleeping with him because the once grand self-soother, refuses to acknowledge he can get himself to sleep, err, sorta. His routine is all over the place again, I feel like an absolute terrible mother, heck, I’m a stay-at-home now and my day is baby and house all day everyday and I can’t seem to do even that correct, it feels like. The five minute interval worked tonight. Tomorrow night’s bedtime is ten minutes. And also figuring out how to get his naps back on track, the duration of time between his naps, how many, how long they should be. And what is good for him. He used to nap three times a day for three hours total, after two hours to two and a half hours he’d go down for a nap, till three naps total then bedtime routine then hopefully asleep by the latest of anywhere between 7:20PM to 7:40PM. (He loves to sleep at weird numbers, it’s how he always has.) Now I try to keep him up for three hours between his first nap, three hours, second nap, then it gets tricky towards bedtime. Naptime and bedtime are now a war-zone, he fights me on them scream and nail, and tonight is the beginning of a hopeful self-soother in the making yet again after he was about two hours and forty minutes past his bedtime (Usually 7PM is where he use to be asleep in his bed.) The inspired individual who could write stories for hours, had the greatest imagination of all, now stares at her son through the mesh of his bed in a zombified stupor wondering if I’ll ever know the silence of blissful baby sleep.

  113. Hi Alexis,
    I am a father of 8 month old twins, a boy and a girl.Let me get straight to the point. Our daughter Mia has almost always been a good sleeper and in the last week or so has started sleeping almost all of the night from nearly 7-8pm till about 5-6pm. On some nights she has woken in the middle of the night but I have managed to put her back to sleep without mum needing to nurse her. They are both mostly breast fed, maximum 120ml of formula a day some days none.Our son Ian on the other hand was colicy while he was younger and used to cry in real agony between 7-9pm up until the age of 4-5 months. Then his sleep improved for the next few months untill a few weeks back. Now he never at goes to sleep on his own without being nursed and never sleeps for longer than an hour and if we are lucky 2! Nights have become very tough for both my wife and I. Its easy to put a lot of the suggestions of making the baby to go to sleep in their cot when there is one, but when there is the possibility of the crying baby waking the other baby up, we are left with little choice but to spoil the crying baby, ie Ian. We are almost debating sleeping in different rooms with one baby each to address Ian’s sleep regression. But we don’t know where to start with addressing it. Last night was particularly hard as I slept after reading your web pages, tried to apply what I read at 3:15am and all 4 of us were still awake at 5:30am including our daughter. I admit, it was the wrong time to try to apply what I read. Eventually my wife nursed Ian to sleep around 5:30 and thankfully Mia slept on her own. Any suggestions are welcome as we are desperate… thanks.

    • I forgot to add a couple of very key points. Till recently Ian used to suck his thumb and manage to self soothe, but recently he seems to have forgotten his thumb exists. We keep hoping and trying that he rediscovers it, but he doesn’t want to. My wife is dead against the use of pacifier, so never tried it. But effectively the boob is serving as the only pacifier in his case.

      • Sorry for coming in dribs and drabs. The twins never really slept enough in the day time though my wife has tried a lot. They would just have a couple of cat naps at most about 15 minutes each time. For the last week she has tried to make them nap at the same 2 times each day and after a lot of struggle they have slept about 45 minutes each time. We are followingOur evening routine is as following baby led weaning since they turned 6 months old and that’s ok given that they are also on breast milk as much as they were before. Solids are just play right now. In the evening, from 5:30, they are fed their solid dinner, by 6:30 we bathe them. By 7, we try putting them to bed. Books have been tried but that just makes them more alert and playful with the book so book has never been the norm. Its a bit vague from here. Some nursing, some bottle, but in combination, Mia usually sleeps but Ian could sleep by 8 and some days even 9, but never without nursing. He is up within an hour again and nursed back to sleep and this keeps going on most of the night. Sometimes if I am quick, I am able to tap him back to sleep. Hopefully, I have captured all there is to it. Thanks for your patience if you read so far.

        • Garry,

          So this?
          ” he never at goes to sleep on his own without being nursed and never sleeps for longer than an hour ”

          This is the object permanence/sleep association issue to a T. He falls asleep by being nursed (or with a bottle) then wakes nightly to fall BACK to sleep generally via nursing. The issue isn’t his thumb or lack of paci, it’s what’s happening at bedtime. The key to breaking out of this is not to convince him to take a paci (he’s 8 months so likely that ship has sailed) or rediscover his thumb, it’s to fully separate out nursing or bottles from bedtime by a solid 20 minutes.

          So shuffle up that last bottle/breast before jammies or books (doesn’t matter how you do this, just so that 20 minute gap is there) and have him fall asleep independently. YES THIS IS CHALLENGING! For sure. But that is where the “wakes every hour” stuff will end. Yes he will still expect to eat at some point – he won’t go from hourly nursing to nothing. But maybe you could get down to 2X a night which will feel like a huge improvement from where you are. Once you’re THERE you could gradually wean to 1 or none.

          As for the twin issue – yeah it’s probably not a bad idea to have them in separate rooms for a week or two.

          Good luck!

        • Hi Garry – I found some more great tips on this that complement Alexis’s on the Baby Whisperer website. Hope that helps!

      • Hi Garry – I found some more great tips on this that complement Alexis’s on the Baby Whisperer website. Hope that helps!

  114. Hi Alexis. I am a huge fan of your site. I do have a question. Can you help us figure out if CIO is for us? Our three-month-old sleeps fairly well at night (9-10 hours), but only if we nurse or walk/rock her to sleep. She is swaddled, goes in her rock ‘n’ play (because of reflux), and has a very dark room with a noise machine. Naps are crap naps (20-45 min), and we unswaddle her and put her in her crib, on her tummy (again because of reflux, but also because of her flat head), and the noise machine and a dark room. She is very hard to put down while awake, unless we give her a pacifier. Should we do CIO with her so that she is able to sleep (and nap longer) without us walking/nursing/pacifier, or is there something else we can try?

    • Eeeeh…I wouldn’t. At least not now. Here’s my 2 cents on things:

      1) Personally I wouldn’t put an infant face-down to sleep even if they had reflux (trust me, my 2 guys had BAD REFLUX so I totally get how desperate things can feel). If your pediatrician has OKed this plan I guess it’s OK? But somewhere I read a study that suggested that sleeping face down didn’t make an appreciable dent in reflux symptoms. However I can’t find it to back that up so take that as you will.
      2) Crap naps are pretty much the defining thing about reflux babies. Although many 3 month olds takes crap naps regardless so it’s hard to say if this is reflux or just age. But I don’t see that as a problem per se.
      3) Sleeping 9-10 hours is FANTASTIC for a reflux baby! 11 hours would be a touch better but at 3 months, 10 hours is solid. Well done baby!

      So – will you eventually need to have her fall asleep independently (meaning not rocked, held, or using a paci)? Yes. Does that have to happen today? No. Usually those things are a problem closer to 6 months. So today you can put her down however works.

      ALSO CIO tends to be a bit dodgy when you have reflux so ideally that’s a fallback plan but not one you START with. I would start by experimenting with putting her down awake with the paci and then hovering nearby, when she starts nodding off, take the paci out. She wakes up – put it back in. Repeat until she falls asleep without the paci. (swaddling and RnP is OK for now).

      If it fails miserably – OK try again in another day or two. The great thing about this age is that what doesn’t work today might next week.

      Hope that helps – good luck!

  115. Hi Alexis!
    I have been reading your site since my son was 2 mo old, and I have always tried to lay him down sleepy but awake. Recently he has learned to crawl and is waking up all throughout the night no matter how I lay him down. Am I supposed to lay him down with no soothing at all? I usually rock him until he is drowsy.

  116. Hi! I’m experiencing this, where my 6 month old sleeps for about 4-5 hours at the beginning of the night then wakes up every 1-2 hours until he wakes up for good. The only thing is that he sleeps with me in bed, so I don’t understand why he won’t go back to sleep when he wakes up, he cries until I nurse him back to sleep.any suggestions? Also during the day, I will put him down in his crib(side carred to our bed) and he falls asleep on his own but wool wake up 20 min later and won’t go back to sleep. So he is falling asleep the exact same way he is waking up but won’t sleep!

  117. I have a 6.5 month old that is going through this exactly. He was sleeping through the night by 3 months, but when the attachment phase started, all hell broke loose. Naps are terrible and nights even worse. Just recently he takes about 1-2 hours to fall asleep (I’ve tried everything!). Do you suggest tackling falling asleep for naps and bedtime separate or same time or focus on more than the other to start with? Thank you!

  118. Hi,
    Talk about lightbulb moment! I love your articles. I have a 8 month old who sleeps (or doesn’t!) terribly. I have rocked him since he was colicky and he sleeps with a pacifier. He has this past week been waking up more than usual and doesn’t settle, sleeping for maybe 30-45 min at a time so I’m tired! I decided to do the cio method starting tonight. Just a quick question. I want to have him in his own room. Do I do all of it at once? ( remove pacifier, own room, no rocking etc). Also I have to rock him to sleep for his 3 naps during the day. Do I stop that now as well or just start with getting him to sleep by himself at night? Sorry, first time mom!

  119. hi there,
    my 7.5 mo went through a few rough patches recently, a cold, stomach bug, and i think she is also teething (she doesn’t have any yet). She started to wake up at 5am (sometimes 445!!!) and has been getting up 2-3 times a night. sometimes, when she gets up, she doesn’t fall back asleep for over an hour, even though i fed her. she started to stand and is crawling and i figured she is going through a lot, both physically and mentally so her sleep is being disrupted, but i also feel like i have created a sleep association (with nursing) now. i sleep trained her a couple months ago, but it seems like all of that has gone down the toilet recently!!! i feel like there are a lot of variables…i started work, more solids, less breastmilk (my mom says that she doesn’t want to take the bottle as much while im at work), illness, teething, milestones, object permanence…ahhh!! at this point, im not even sure how to adjust my routines! help!!

    • It’s tough to tell but I might start here:

      – Is she eating within ~20 minutes of going to bed? Eating TOO close to bedtime can re-establish the food=sleep association that you used sleep training to get OUT of.
      – Make sure she’s falling asleep independently because if NOT, it’s going to make it all but impossible to not feed at night :(
      – Solids can muck things up. Try to make sure that solid food is not impinging on liquid consumption.
      – Sometimes babies have a preferred source (you’re way better than bottles) so you may need to put some lines in the sand like (no food before X hours at night) because if frequent eating is an option many babies will snack all day preferring to tank up at night.

      And also – good luck!

      • so would you recommend feed before bath? im afraid to do anything thats going to stimulate her before bed!

        • I hear you. But clearly nursing NEAR bedtime or not falling asleep 100% independently is locking you into a pretty miserable night. And breaking out of that pattern means changing what happens at bedtime 99% of the time. Is change scary? Yes. Is whatever will happen when you make that change worse than continuing on as is? You’re call.

  120. Dear Alexis,

    Found your blog not only helpful but entertaining as well :)

    My son is 7,5 month old. At 6 m we went trough sleep training CIO – now he falls asleep really great on his own. (I don’t breastfeed or bottle feed him during night anymore).
    He goes to sleep at 7:30 PM. Sleeps till 7AM. And I feed him for the first time at about 5AM.
    Till 5AM he wakes up 1 to 2 times. He screams, sometimes to cuddle him back is quite easy. But usually he screams for an hour or more.

    We can’t understand the reason. If he knows how to fall asleep in the evening why he doesn’t do it during the night? (He sleeps in his crib, in his room, falls asleep without screaming or our assistance).
    We give him pacifier in the evening, usually he spits it out before falling asleep, sometimes puts back himself.

    We can’t fall asleep after his screaming dramas and our sleep is ruined :(((

    With respect, Annija.


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