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Why Sleep Training Didn’t Work

September 10, 2013 |  by  |  1 YO, 2 YO, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months, cry it out, featured
night waking and put baby down awake

After weeks, nay MONTHS of struggle, you have finally mastered the challenge of putting baby down awake. Victory is yours! The gates of Valhalla are now open to you as you join your fellow Sleep Warriors! You have successfully gotten your baby to fall asleep without you! The battle cry of the Valkyrie pours forth from your lips! You pour a drink and begin the dance of victory!

VICTORY!!!!

But what’s this? Your baby is still waking up a lot. Maybe not like she was before, but it’s certainly not the fantastic transformative sleep experience that the “Sleep Training” brochures promised you. Maybe you’ve gone from nursing baby every hour to only nursing 4 times a night. But at 10 months you were hoping for better. Because it’s been 10 months since you slept for more than 3 consecutive hours and you’re starting to hallucinate and your partner, who had a lush head of hair a year ago, is now entirely bald. Is this the success you worked so hard to achieve? You did what you were supposed to do, so why are you still struggling with sleep?

Sleep Training but No Sleep?

Things are better but not great. And like a Baskins-Robins from hell “not great” comes in many different flavors but typically it looks something like this:

  • Bedtime is a relatively smooth affair where baby is falling asleep on their own.
  • There is a longer stretch of sleep in the beginning of the night but things get progressively worse as the night goes on.
  • There may be brief periods (10-20 minutes) of crying here and there.
  • While you may try to coax baby back to sleep with various techniques, generally there is only one thing that will work reliably.
  • It takes increasingly more involved intervention to get baby to fall back to sleep until you simply can’t, which often results in a “awake too early” issue.

Here’s a chart that depicts a common night sleep pattern. And while I’ve used “feeding” as the root issue in the example here, it’s certainly not the only issue that can trip you up.

So what happened?

I have the answer. And I will tell you. For one MILLION dollars, MMWWWWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Or you could like my Facebook page. Although I would vastly prefer the million dollars.

Why Sleep Training Didn’t Work

In a nutshell, you managed to teach your baby to fall asleep but you still have a niggling sleep association that is tripping you up. There are a number of sleep associations that can result in this pattern but here are the most common ones:

  • You’re [insert: rocking, cuddling, nursing, feeding, etc.] baby until they’re MOSTLY asleep. People often ask me, “how awake is awake enough?” The answer is, if you’re still seeing the pattern in the chart above, it’s not awake enough.
  • You’re nursing/feeding AT bedtime. If the last step in your bedtime routine is a nice nursing session or a bottle you’re inadvertently reinforcing the eat=sleep association. Don’t feel bad, MANY smart & talented people get tripped up by this. Switch up your routine so that there is a ~20 minute gap between the last bottle/nursing session and bedtime.
  • You put baby down awake in their crib with a pacifier. I hate to be a buzzkill but if your baby is falling asleep with a pacifier they haven’t entirely learned how to fall asleep yet. Even if the pacifier falls out before they actually fall asleep it can result in the pattern of night waking outlined above.
  • You’re hanging around until baby falls alseep. Some folks have figured out that they can get their baby to fall asleep sans tears by standing quietly and putting a hand on baby’s belly, or singing softly from a nearby chair, or even hiding behind the chair so they can spy on baby while they fall asleep (I guess this is a nice alternative to $$$ night vision baby monitors?). Regardless your child has now developed a “you’re there”= sleep association and now is waking up throughout the night and is unable to fall back to sleep because you’re no longer there.
  • Sometimes a timed device (mobile, music, sleepy sheep, stars projected on the ceiling) that is on at bedtime and then auto-shuts off can cause problems. As a general rule, if it works on a timer you don’t want it. Unless it’s a coffee maker that automatically makes a fresh pot at 6:00 AM because those are awesome.

Hopefully the solution to this dilemma is pretty clear but as most of you are running on a scant 3 hours of sleep I’ll spell it out using small words and hand gestures.

Fix the Bedtime Routine

You need to change what is happening AT bedtime. Because the activities (nursing, feeding, lurking, pacifier, etc.) AT bedtime are what is creating the waking, crying, feeding, nursing, early morning wake up issues. You should totally be proud of all the work you’ve done to help teach your baby to fall asleep. Your victory dance was well deserved! And you’re REALLY close, but there’s one more small thing you need to change up. Don’t be scared to change up bedtime. You’ve done the hard part, this last step is almost always far smoother and drama-free than people imagine it will be. And the results are often pretty dramatic and instantaneous.

Change what is happening at bedtime for 5 days. Then come back and tell me what happened. Unless it doesn’t work and you want to tell me I’m an idiot. Feel free to keep that to yourself.

Anybody else have any thoughts or experiences with sleep associations and putting baby down awake they care to share?


464 Comments


  1. I sleep trained my daughter at18 months and for a few weeks she sleep through beautifully. After her getting sick and letting her sleep in our bed,I have not gotten her to fall asleep in her own. I need to lay down on the floor next to her otherwise she goes hysterical. She now wakes up 5x a night and I do the same thing. Sonetimes she wants me to hold her for a little bit in a chair before putting her to sleep! Any advise is great!! I m 5 weeks pregnant and super sleep deprived

  2. We have been sleep training our baby boy (almost 7 months old) for the past 2 weeks. Initially, the changes were amazing. We went from 3-4 feeds a night to a single night feed between 12am and 2am, and no other wake-ups (mostly). The changes happened quickly – within 4 days.

    I don’t want to cut out that single night feed just yet because our baby is on the small side for his age. BUT I’m wondering whether the single night feed makes it a bit confusing. After all, how does he know what time it is? And doesn’t it make it a bit inconsistent?

    (Just a bit of background: We put him down awake and the bedtime routine goes “feed – bath – PJs”, rather than the other way around (which it used to be). He settles quickly for the first sleep (didn’t even cry at all tonight, which was amazing). He uses a comforter bunny, which admittedly does have a pacifier on it, but we don’t put it in his mouth – if he wants to find it, he can, but we don’t put it in. Mostly he just rubs his face on the bunny. Sometimes he finds the dummy in the morning – when I go in there in the morning sometimes he’s rolling around happily with the pacifier in his mouth.

    After some very successful nights, last night was not so good: a LOT of crying at 10pm, 11pm and 3am (over 40 mins 2 of those times), although I only fed him once – at almost midnight. Why is he going backwards with the wake-ups? Should I just completely night wean, so the message is clearer and more consistent?

    Incidentally, we are using the extinction method, as Ferber style timed visits only served to enrage him and prolong the crying. It’s tough to listen to. But it was getting better until last night… What can we do to keep the success rate going? Do we need to drop that final night feed? Any tips for night weaning?

    • Did you get an answer? This is us exactly but at 11 months. And she is bottle fed and I cant get her to stop night waking- would love your thoughts. If I drop the bottle at night fully- how to console her long wakings?

    • Bub needs to weigh a certain amount to cut night feeds his probably going through a growth spurt or just hungry!

    • yes, this is my exact question too and issue!! Did you get any closure on this?? Or find a solution?? Please help!! 🙂
      lindsey.

    • Hi, did you find the solution to this? I have the exact same problem. Im thinking his one night feed is confusing him so i should night wean him completely now and sleep train x

      • Heya… I think the only solution really was time. He’s now 14 months old.

        After the original sleep training attempt at 7 months old (referred to above), we vacillated… but in the end the bubba fell into a routine of feeding once a night, usually at around 4am. This became quite a settled pattern for a while. You see, if I didn’t give him this feed, he’d be wide awake for the morning at 5:45am. But if he got this feed he often slept to 6:45 or 7am, so this suited our family better. So I just kept doing it for a while.

        But at 13 months old it was getting to be too much, and it was clear it was just habit, he didn’t really need it. We were down to 2 feeds a day: 4am and 5pm.

        So I stopped going in at 4am when he called out. At 13 months old, he wasn’t so much crying, it was more like yelling out. 2 nights later, he was done. No more night feeds. No more calling out. He was cool with it So yeah, it took a while to get there!

        Now, at 14 months old, he finally sleeps through (almost all nights, unless disturbed by an unusual noise or a nightmare). We put him to bed at 7pm and we don’t hear from him until 6:30am(ish). But I honestly think time was a major factor here: he had to be ready.

        • Sounds like things went beautifully honestly. People often get stuck with a 4/5 AM snoozebutton feed and as you observed, the alternative is to start the day really early. So you stick with the snoozebutton for a while until they get a bit older and then you quit offering it. Usually there is a bit more than “a few yells” when ending the snoozebutton but as he’s now a toddler you’ll sometimes get that 🙂

          Well done!

        • I know this is an old thread but if you happen to see this I’d love to know if you offered the bottle later, after the “snooze button” so he feeds once in the morning and once in the evening?

        • That’s fantastic that he now sleeps through. I am in exactly the same boat as you were initially with our 6 month old. Our situation is exactly the same. I’m just wondering what you did after he started waking more frequently? Did you stay consistent with only feeding once a night and put up with the crying sessions? Or did you just end up feeding him back to sleep again?

          • I’m also in this boat! Have been sleep training for almost a month, initially it seemed like it was working, longer chunks of sleep and only two night feeds at 12 and 4:30 (he’s 6 months old), but now he cries ALL NIGHT. I’m getting less sleep than before we sleep trained, and I really don’t know what to do.

  3. Hey there. love the article!!! I have a quick question. I have been able to put my 5 month old down awake for about 2 weeks now. our bedtime routine is bath nurse massage book. sometimes we skip either the bath or massage but I alway keep nursing at the front of the routine. the only reason I moved it to after bath was I found the bath time wakes him up and he us cranky afterwards so nursing makes the rest of the routine happier for everyone. So I don’t nurse him to sleep and after a book we dim h
    the lights say good night
    u gently sway him for no more than a minute and lay him in his crib wide awake with no toys or pacifier. just him. he us usually asleep within 10 min. Now it seems he used to do a 6 to I hour stretch but now will only do 4 if I’m lucky and wakes up screaming so u always nurse him because I don’t like him screaming that way. I did do the Ferber for a couple nights and managed but the type of crying on his first wake is worse than that. All the associations you mentioned in the article I don’t seem to do with my boy and am wondering if anyone has any other suggestions? I thought once he could soothe himself to sleep we would be OK but we seem to have gotten worse.

    • This is my life, my 5 month old falls asleep on own happily after well established bedtime routine. She does not feed in the night anymore but after a 5 – 6 hour stretch is up every 20 mins or 45 mins, I am beyond exhausted! If I try to feed her it does not change the wakings, I started giving soother once I noticed it was ramping up, to slow the crying and it works at the moment but the waking continues! so lost. I did CIO with my first child but this one does not really even cry at bedtime at all and she will not go back to sleep after waking that first time no matter what, she gets to talking and totally awake if I do not intervene. I have left her initially babbling and on and off crying for up to 30 mins in the middle of the night, so sign of dozing back to sleep. Did you get a response?

      • This is my 13 month old. If I don’t intervene she goes from crying to banking and wide awake for an hour or two! I have no idea what to do!!

  4. Hi Alexis!

    So I know this is early but hear me out. My daughter is almost 4 months and has been sleeping through the night – I’m talking 10-12 hours since 2 months. We learned our lesson with baby #1 and have been very conscious about putting her down awake since she was born. Even very early on she was giving me 6 hour stretches. (She’s on formula so I know she’s getting enough to eat during the day and she’s a giant baby, 95% so doctors are happy). For the last 3 weeks she has been going down at her normal 7/730 and waking somewhere between 2 and 4, progressively getting worse after that. If we give her the paci she goes back to sleep but from then on she will wake every hour for paci. Is it possible that even this young I need to lose the pacifier? This also started right when she started daycare and has had constant colds since. Help!

    Thanks!

    Jenn

  5. Hi alexis! Love your blog and your straightforward approach to baby sleep issues! I have an adorable 19 week old boy who I sleep trained at 14 weeks. He was giving us 5-9 hour stretches with one night feeding around 2/3am…. up until 18.5 weeks! Now he is waking every 2 hours! I assume its the 4 month sleep regression. Now when he has night wakings, he cries hysterically and I’ve been picking him up and soothing him back to sleep. I thought once he learned how to fall asleep independently at bedtime, he would also be able to fall BaCK asleep as well? What am I doing wrong? Help! Side note: he takes a paci to fall asleep and usually spits it out while sleeping… could that be contributing to the wake ups?

    • Hi, I’m having exactly the same issue… did you get an aswer? What did you do? My sonis 4 months and really needs his pacifier… but wakes up every two hours for it…
      TIA, Susana

  6. Alexis,

    Your blog is giving me the PEP talk that I need to help my son! Before I start with the massive changes related to our son’s sleep patterns, one question – should I remove ALL sleep associations at once or would that be traumatising to my son? I realise now that he has a TON of sleep associations (bottle at bedtime, rocking, timed musical device, paci and ME!). Do I take all those away at once??? I am honestly shuddering at the thought as it seems so cruel. Waaaah. HELP. ME. PLEASE.

    • I want to know the same thing! But I don’t think she’s answering anymore questions as this post in over 3 years old already! :/

    • I believe that ALL negative sleep associations have to be removed in order for sleep training to be successful. Good luck! You can do it! Your baby can do it too!

  7. So my little one goes down awake. Routine is eat then 20 minutes later massage, pj’s, sound soother (that stays on all night). He never puts up a fuss with bedtime. However he usually only sleep 4 hours so I nurse him and then after that he’s up every 1.5 hours? I was nursing him at all those interval but the last week I just nurse after the first long stretch because he only eats max 4-5 ounces every 4 hours during day. We’ve tried to give him more but he just doesn’t want it. Help this mom of three get some slee please :). Oh and on the nights I work he does the same with my hubby so it’s just not a mommy thing:(

  8. Hello there. My daughter has been a great sleeper since she was 2 months old up to six months. I always put her to bed AWAKE and she is able to make herself fall asleep. No pacifier, no music, no nursing. But, now that she is almost 7 months old she wakes up 2_3 times and crying with no consolation, even when I just pick her up. My doctor told me to let her cry and just every 10 to 15 min let her know am there. I did this for more than 2 hours. She just kept crying. No sign that she was going to fall asleep on her own. Only when I breastfeed she goes back to sleep in two seconds without a fight. What should I do??? Thank you for your article and amazing tips.

  9. Please help!
    While my colicky first child sleep trained beautifully, my new baby (almost 6 months old), has not. We do everything you say to do except my one concern is the nursing–perhaps there’s an association. BUT if I were to feed her just when she wakes up, and not feed her before she goes down for nap, she would go too long without eating and not get all the feedings in I think she needs.
    She goes to bed between 7 and 7:30 after short routine that does include nursing right before sleep, sleeps through the night now, wakes around 6 or 7, down for nap by 8:45 or 9, while awake but calm, cries herself to sleep, sleeps 1/2 hour, and the day devolves from there. I let her cry one hour after the 1/2 hour sleep and she never goes back to sleep, or if she does it’s only for a few minutes. She almost never sleeps straight through past the 1/2 hour. Maybe 2 times out of 100. We’ve been doing this for one month. Thank you!
    bean

  10. Hi

    I’m on day 9 of sleep training and he’s still waking between 11-12pm! We have given milk first in the bedtime routine since day 1 sleepy training.

    This is really doing my head in!

    Please give advice if you can,

    Thanks

    Hannah

  11. 12 mo old daughter has never been a good sleeper, really. Just started letting her put herself to sleep. Bedtime is great. 5 min or less she’s asleep on her own. She does have a pacifier but 9 times out of 10, it’s across the crib when she falls asleep so I don’t really feel that’s an issue. Why is she waking up so frequently throughout the night now? It’s like “I’ll put myself to sleep but you will pay for it all night” lol. Wakes up whining that lasts half an hour or longer. She’ll fall back asleep for a few minutes then start again. This has gone on for almost 2 weeks. When we go in to pat her and walk out, it seems like it makes it worse. HELP!!!!

  12. Me too! My 11 month old boy has never been the best sleeper either – 30 min naps max and many, many night wake ups. I just started the put down awake thing and it has helped with naps drastically – I am amazed at how much better he sleeps for those. I have mixed “camp out” and “ferber” for those and we are down to about 5-10 mins of fussing and then he is out for at least an hour usually – the other day, 2 hours! I couldn’t believe it. Now, fast forward to bedtime. It has always been easy – he has never really put up a fuss to go to bed. I have been doing bath, pjs, nurse (but not to sleep) and then pacifier and then hug/kiss, bed. He has been going to bed fairly easily (and this is the child who HAD to be asleep when you put him down). The first night was like a gift – he slept well (only woke a few times, yes taht is well for us ha ha) and we managed to eliminate the middle of the night feeding. But the last 2 nights have been a-w-f-u-l. Waking every hour to hour and a half. I go in and lay him back down and give him pacifier. It feels like I am doing this 8 million times a night. I am guessing the pacifier? He tries to hold my hand, too, like he needs extra boost of comfort. Not sure what to do. Very frustrated – its been 11 months of terrible sleep for me (and him!). Help.

    • Hi Jessica! That’s awesome that your baby did so great with the change in the nap routine! So you know he can do it at bedtime too- but the pacifier at bedtime has to go! You could do Ferber or extinction at bedtime- extinction probably being the quicker solution. Good luck!

  13. Good evening, I just came across your article in desperate need of getting some help for sleep training. After weeks & weeks of grueling sleep training and crying & sleepless nights we finally learned how to go to sleep on our own. At bedtime I usually spend 5-8 min singing a lullaby to our little one & cuddle him and then put him in his crib wide awake. I give him a kiss goodnight & that’s that. After a few minutes of rolling around he falls asleep on his own. However he keeps waking up around the same times 11pm, 1am, 3am & 5am. He is 6months now so I don’t think he is hungry that often. He does not take pacifier. I do not nurse him to sleep, he usually nurses 15-20min before bed. We have a small lamp that stays on as well as the music stays on all night. We have tried everything even cry it out but nothing seems to help. Please help us!

  14. In case anyone is still reading these…We don’t understand what our 6 mo old is doing post-training (training was we sat by cot as she cried until she calmed). She goes down for bedtime without a hitch: no paci, no picking up, no lurking, etc., and she barely complains as we say good night and walk out the door, but she will wake at e.g. 10 pm, 2am, etc. seriously crying. We wait 3-5 mins to go in and sit with her but not pick her up. Paci at those points allows her to calm down enough at which point she drops out. Otherwise she’s crying quite strongly for an hour or more. We’re allowing feedings at midnight and 4. We feed immediately at those times without letting her cry.

    Naps are mostly crap and she doesn’t go down on her own very well for them. So, it’s not bedtime that’s causing the problem because bedtime is perfect. What is it then? Do we try to improve going down awake for naps and nap schedule first, or is there something we can switch up at night? Or is it a matter of gritting our teeth through the long bouts of crying? But they can be really long and this has been going on a while.

    • It sounds like even though your LO isn’t using the paci to go down at bedtime, she might have still developed a sleep association because she gets it within a few hours of bedtime and then throughout the night. I’m not an expert, but from all my reading here I would maybe recommend ditching the paci overnight so that your LO wakes up each time exactly as she falls asleep.

        • BC, can I ask what happened and what worked to get your LO to stop night waking and crying? I’m in this exact boat right now, it gets worse every night. Would love to hear your story!

          • Hi Kate,

            Actually, what worked was hiring a professional! First step was to get her to nap at any cost during the day – to do all the things they say you shouldn’t, because she was super overtired. Then we worked on her going to sleep by herself at bedtime. Then finally we worked on her going to sleep by herself for naps, but it wasn’t working that great, so our professional suggested we drop to 1 nap even though she was a little young for it –and that finally worked.

            Good luck….

  15. Hello, how are you? I have an 18 month old daughter and she still wakes several times a night to drink a bottle and will then go right back to sleep. Which method would you say has better results, diluting the bottle with water each night OR decreasing amount of milk each night?
    Thanks for your time!!
    Thanks in advance!!

  16. Hello,

    We are on night 10 of sleep training my 7 month old daughter. She has finally learned to put herself to sleep, but she is still waking up around midnight and 4am crying. She usually cries for at least 40 minutes before going back to sleep around midnight, but sometimes doesn’t go back to sleep at the 4am waking. I am really at a loss of what to do. Our bedtime routine is feeding, sometimes bath or change diaper, baby massage, jammies, reading two or three books, sing a song or two, then put down awake. All advice and help would be much appreciated!!!

  17. Hello, I decided to re-post here in case someone has advice….I have a six month old that has been co-sleeping pretty much since day 1. We have a bassinet by the bed that he won’t go in without screaming/crying. He tries to pull himself out. He can see me and I even put my hand on him, but he still cries. We really want to transition him into his crib. We started the other day, where I stay next to the crib and try to soothe him while he cries (screams actually) however he starts to cough because he is crying so hard. I end up feeling back and caving in and bringing him back in bed with us. He sleeps so long in bed with us; which makes it even worse, like they say “if it’s not broke, why fix it” but we really need to get it sorted out before he starts crawling. We don’t know what to do. Do you suggest we try the Ferber method? What do you do if he doesn’t stop crying (i.e. pick him up and soothe then set back down)?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  18. Wow, this made a HUGE, immediate difference in my baby’s sleep. We stopped feeding him at least 20 minutes before bed, and went from hourly wakings from 3am onward to just two wake-ups per night. Thanks so much for the great advice!

  19. Alexis, thank you so much for this post! After months of failed sleep training and dangerous levels of sleep deprivation, my son basically just slept through the night! I say basically because I woke him up at 4:30 am when I went to check on him because I couldn’t believe how long he slept!
    It turns out that getting rid of his timed music fishbowl thing and ending the night with books instead of a bottle did the trick!
    I’m hoping for an equally successful night 2 (minus the waking the baby momfail).
    Thanks again!!!

  20. We used a SLIP from this blog to get our baby (then 10-months) falling asleep completely alone. Feeding occurs 20 minutes before bedtime. He was sleeping 7pm-5am most nights – yay! I’ll deal with the 5am snooze feed later.

    Now he’s 12 months and has started night waking again. 10pm, 1am, 3am…it’s totally unpredictable. Our doctor has ruled out medical causes. He will cry forever in the middle of the night – the longest we’ve let him go is 2 hours (I know). What gives? We sleep trained him?!!? Even when he wakes in the night he’s still going from 7pm-5am without feeding, so should we use extinction in this case?

    • Any news from the frontlines? My baby is doing this now… anything help/has it gotten better? My baby will cry for a LONG time as well. It’s hell. I think the longest I have gone is 1 hr 40 minutes and that’s because I was exhausted and fell asleep with ear plugs in and woke to him still crying. My husband confirmed he had been crying. Also, he sits up in his crib to fight sleep.

      • How old is your baby? Around 13 months, he just randomly started sleeping better. He was still waking early (4-5am) but no more waking up all night. I can’t say it was anything I did or didn’t do. I had started going in to rock him after 30-45 mins of crying, it just didn’t feel right to let him cry for much longer than that in the middle of the night. I was finally able to stop the early wakings by completely weaning him at 14 months (I assumed, correctly, that he was waking earlier and earlier for that one morning feeding). Sorry I don’t have better advice – my baby never followed a predictable pattern. I call him the ultimate sleep training resistor! Now he sleeps 7pm-6am most nights. I am a functioning human being again. Hang in there!

  21. Thank you so much for your blog. We are on Night 5 of sleep training, full extinction. I devoured all your cry-it-out posts, as well as Weissbluth’s book (one of many I checked out from the library), as my main resources.

    Little dude (6mo) cried 35 minutes on Night 1, then 10 minutes or less since then. He wakes once for a feeding and cries for 5-10 minutes when I put him back down. His longest sleep stretch so far was 9.5 hours!! Then a feeding and two hours more! I finally have my evenings and nights back after co-sleeping had turned into an all-night, multiple-nursing-session affair.

    I know there will be bumps in the road, but thank you so much for helping us have the confidence to go for it.

    I appreciated your advice to buy a video monitor — it really helped with the resolve to not go into that room, but still know baby was OK. I think one of the biggest takeaways from Weissbluth’s book was the importance of going into sleep training with baby well-rested. I spent the week leading up to Night 1 making sure baby had the best naps and sleeps he’d ever had, whatever it took. One of the biggest takeaways from your blog was the importance of separating nursing from bedtime, as one of our issues was nursing to sleep (it worked so well at the beginning…). Now, after nursing, it’s dad’s job to take the lead with bath-story-song-bed.

    Thank you again.

  22. Hello! thanks to this website i now just literally put my baby down in the crib and she falls asleep: no rocking, no paci, no holding, no standing there, no bottle or nursing. But I am still up all night, its a nightmare! She is COMPLETELY awake when i put her down. It takes her 5-10 min to fall asleep, and she usually sleeps till from 8pm to 1-3:30 am and then up every 40 min – 1 hour. She is now 6 months, i have started sleep training when she was 5 months. What do I do wrong? Naps are anywhere from 50 to 2.5 hours, in a swing. I have to fix the second part of night, don’t know how? please help!

    • Forgot to say, that i don’t use monitors or any other devices, except for white noise machine, that stays on all night (Can’t sleep without it myself:)

      • Have you listened to podcast episode 16? In it, Alexis talks about this very thing – baby waking all night even though you’re doing everything right.

  23. We’ve been doing pick up put down with our 11 month old and it had been working well. Then I stopped breastfeeding (son refused to nurse and I went with it and he now has formula from a sippy cup). Since then bedtime has been much as before and naps are fine but he still wakes once (usually around 4am) and will not settle except sleeping on me. It can take up to 2hours and feels like a huge step back. He won’t settle at all for dad.

    Does anyone have any tips?

  24. We started sleep training about a month ago and clearly have a feed/sleep association issue becuase the chart above is our life, but only two feedings:). With that said, I also tried nap trianing and it has been a disastor. Did I mention I have twins?! I want to start fresh. Do I need to catch them up on sleep before starting again? They are exhausted from not sleeping duiring naps and also night time has been hell. Or, can I start immediatley and move the bottle up 20 mins?

  25. Please help! I’m exhausted. My son is 9 months old and we started sleep training a little over a month ago(because i was waking up with him 15-20 times per night) We started by doing the bed time routine and night weaning down to once a night(bottle not breast). It would be better(only 3 or 4 night wakings) for a few nights then it would get worse and worse as each night came. Then we took away the pacifier and it was 3 nights of him literally screaming(in the middle of the night) for 2 hours each night. So we gave the pacifier back just in the middle of the night (still going to bed and down for naps without the pacifier). Then after a few days it would slowly get worse and worse at night (10-15 wakings) then we night weaned completly. He is still waking up 3 to 4 times in a good night and 10 times on a bad night. I am so exhausted. Thoughts?

  26. Is it possible that some babies cannot be sleep trained? We tried for 2 weeks, and he was still crying for up to an hour when we put him down ‘drowsy but awake’. He’s 6 months old, and would sleep basically all night after giving in, after lots of crying. We took a 2 week break because we just couldn’t take the Crying anymore, and are now trying again. Tonight is night #3, and he takes 60-90 mins to cry himself to sleep at night. It’s awful. The first round we did check ins every 15 mins, so this round we’re doing no check ins. I don’t think it’s helped! His bed time is about 7:00-7:30, usually about 2 1/2 hours after last nap. HELP!! Do we give up?

  27. My baby’s night waking follows a different pattern. She goes to sleep awake and then wakes a half hour to an hour later and then maybe the next hour or two and after that sleeps well the rest of the night. We’ve just done CIO with the bedtime and it wasn’t that bad but I help her Witt night wakings because I know she’d cry a looong time as even helping her can take hours to get her back to sleep

  28. The reason none of these sleep training experts answer the “what if they are regressing”, “what if THEY JUST NEVER STOP CRYING FOR HOURS”, “I’ve tried ALL of the methods mentioned here and nothing works” questions : they don’t know. Baby sleep is a complete crap shoot and none of these opinions are based on real science.

    • Yes yes I’m totally full of it, have pulled ALL the advice on my website entirely out of my butt, and baby sleep is a complete and utter mystery.

      Listen I get that you’re tired and frustrated. But please don’t take it out on me OK? Despite what you may believe I am not the source of your frustration.

      Truthfully I know a lot. More than the average bear. And while not every piece of advice has a cochrane review study behind it, there is a substantial amount of “real” science behind my recommendations.

      You had a terrible experience and it didn’t fix things. Option a) there was some small, likely non-obvious issue that undermined your approach. Option b) I’m a fraud who knows nothing and babies are unknowable.

      One of these is true.

  29. Hi there, I’m really hoping you still reply to these!

    My little guy just hit 10 months and we recently weaned that 5/6am night feeding(I was being lazy because I’d get another 1.5-2 hours of sleep) But now he is still waking at night… to start he goes to bed At 7pm and will have a bottle half an hour before hand, He has ALWAYS put himself to sleep awake at naps and bedtime, No sleep props or anything. We just had night 6 of no bottles, he refused the water ones and was down to 1 oz so I know he’s not hungry. During the day he has about 21oz of formula and nutritional solids which he throughly enjoys. He has 2 naps lasting an hour and a half – two hours each.
    So here is our problem night 1 he woke up at 1am would lay there for 15-20 minutes quiet calm and I thought he was sleeping then all of a sudden he’s screaming this went on for over an hour of back and forth between laying calmly then melt down. Night 2 was the same thing but from 4am – 530am, night 3 he woke up at 5, did the same thing for about 45 minutes, night 4 we were at the hospital so he went to bed at 9 and woke at 7 so I just got him up for the day as normal, night 5 he slept ALL night – YAY But then last night again he was up at 3ish and screamed blood murder until just after 4, with 2 10/15 minute intervals of me thinking he was sleeping. When he wakes up I usually give him 15/20 minutes before heading in there, and when I do I’ll just lay him back down tuck him with a kiss and leave (same as bed time) his diaper is not overly wet and there’s nothing else I can think of that would keep him awake. He eventually falls back asleep until 7/730am but I’m wondering how I help get him over waking and screaming for an hour. I’m worried he isn’t getting the sleep he needs and this will become habit. It’s also disturbing to the rest of the house and sometimes I contemplate just feeding him again because I know if i do he’ll only be awake for 15 minutes for the feeding then he’ll go back to sleep.

    Sorry I am rambling but I tried to cover all basics you may ask, to get the best possible answer!

    Thank you!

  30. Dad here (and I’ve been reading the 400+ comments since about 4am). Trying to help mom get more sleep. While we evenly split covering the night shift, mama needs more sleep and we feel like we’ve come to another dead end. Baby boy is 12.5 months. He’s never slept through the night, but has gone 9 hours on a few special occasions (I know that can be considered sleeping through the night, but waking up between 4-5am for the day is no bueno). Going to bed around 7pm is relatively easy, and falling asleep alone hasn’t been too much of a challenge. It’s the waking between 12am-5am that is killing us. Every night he wakes at least once, and to be more precise, it’s probably 2-4am-ish. We’ve tried the whole cry it out, but the dude has stamina and is relentless. He sits up in his crib and whales. The easy and fast fix has always been a bottle. Right back to sleep after he crushes it. He’s a big kid; 95% percentile in all categories. Some people think he’s just hungry and it is what it is.

    He gets a lot of colds, so that disrupts his sleep, and he’s had fairly major constipation (which we’re working on with a GI doctor). Have consulted with a sleep nurse and she says nothing we can do until his GI issues are sorted and back to normal (adults don’t sleep well when constipated, am I right?). So lots of health related variables. Including a week of HFMD last week, which was awful (lots of sleepy cuddles that week).

    His room is comfy, safe, dark, and we use white noise. So no issues there.

    Between 6am-7pm he is an angle. Literally the easiest, happiest baby I know (no bias). 7pm-6am it’s like Satan enters his sleep soul. He naps during the day fairly well too. Some people have said there are just some babies that don’t need as much sleep as others. I suppose, and perhaps we should play the lottery because we got a real winner on our hands.

    Mama has struggled with the CIO method, so I’m not sure that’s an option.

    Does this pass? Is it just a matter of time? Most of our friends have these sleeping angle babies that are much younger and sleep 10-12 hours already (whatevs). Does he just have a big appetite?

    It’s now 7am and he’s asleep, but on my chest in his room so mama bear can sleep. He loves to cuddle.

    Please help. Any insight. I know we’re not the only ones, but we feel like we’re alone on a island of sleepless hell (and we want baby #2, but how do you get their if you’re too exhausted from #1 [he doesn’t even cosleep; exhaustion has been the best form of birth control]).

    I enjoyed your blog (and shared with my wife) and I’m curious to see if people are still commenting. Hoping one of you has our golden ticket. Thank you!

    • “Trying to help mom get more sleep.”

      Bravo Dad, Bravo.

      So no, he doesn’t need to eat (I’m sure he’s happy to though). The constipation could be an issue but I doubt it? If he ABSOLUTELY CANNOT sleep without a bottle at 2-4 am the likely culprits are:

      a) something related to the bedtime routine. Using a pacifier? Is the last bottle of the day just prior to him falling asleep? Likely there is a change needed here.

      b) not tired enough. Sometimes if kids are getting a touch more sleep than they need they can’t FALL or STAY asleep at night. It’s possible he needs to be awake longer before bedtime, drop to 1 nap, etc. to bolster his sleep drive.

      I wouldn’t go nutz carving out huge chunks of sleep right away but consider making some changes to the bedtime routine and possibly pushing bedtime later by ~30 minutes.

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