3-6 Month Baby Sleep Survival Guide

Baby Boy Congratulations! You have officially passed the parenting Boot Camp that is life with a newborn. You are no longer that stunned slack-jawed new parent stumbling blindly through the produce isle at the grocery. Good for you!

If you haven’t already done so,  take a few minutes to check out the Newborn Baby Sleep Survival Guide. Everything there still applies to your no-longer-a-newborn baby.

While some babies are done with swaddling by the 3 month mark, others will be happily swaddled until they are 6-9 months old. You’ll want to continue to use loud white noise and work hard to make sure you aren’t keeping baby awake too long. While your baby may be taking fewer longer naps it’s also totally normal for babies to still be filling their days with frustratingly short catnaps (check out Baby Sleep What is Normal for more details on this).

Your Baby Sleep Homework

When your baby is a newborn you can guiltlessly let them sleep wherever (basinett, your lap, etc.) and put them to sleep however (nursing, swinging, butt patting, etc.). And while it’s not time to panic, you now have 2 big pieces of homework to work on over the next few months.

1

Work Towards the Crib

Unless you are into co-sleeping for the long haul, now is a great time to start working on having your baby sleep in the crib. I’m not suggesting that the second your baby turns 3 months they need to be in the crib, but I am suggesting that 3-6 months is typically the easiest time window to make this change.

2

Teach Baby to Sleep on Their Own

This is THE BIGGIE. You want to start gradually putting your baby down awake. Some babies will fight this with a fiery passion. So the process of gradually reducing the amount of nursing, rocking, and butt patting you do can be frustrating. But it’s REALLY important. Also? Failure to do so almost guarantees you will never ever sleep through the night. That’s how important it is.

Further Reading

How and Why to Use and Loose the Paci
Weaning Baby OFF the Swing
Bedtime What Time?
Why Your Baby Hates the Crib
What to Do About Short Naps
Are You Keeping Baby Awake Too Long?
Sleeping Through the Night Part 1
Sleeping Through the Night Part 2
What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night – Part 3
Is it time for Cry it Out?
What You Need to Know About Sleep Regressions
And of course the ever popular – Baby Sleep What is Normal?

{Photo credit: Lisa Stout}

 

167 Comments


  1. I have a couple of questions regarding our baby who is 3-1/2 months.

    1) Her naps are very inconsistent. One day we will get two 2-hour naps (one in the AM and one in the PM). The next day, using the same routine before naptime, she’ll only sleep 30 minutes at a time. Why does it vary each day and what can we do to get it consistent? I will say she either naps in the swing or on her tummy (I know..I know) but we are not consistent with which method we use. We use whatever position will keep her asleep once we lay her down.

    2) Nearly every night after we put her in her crib asleep, she wakes up 30-45 minutes later. I know this is the time she is transitioning in her sleep cycle, but what can we do to help her stay asleep? She is swaddled and we already have white noise. We do not use the swing (she hates it…even the varisty techniques). She sleeps in the nap nanny, which is in her crib. When she does wake up 30-45 minutes later, there is not one consistent thing we do to get her back asleep. Sometimes we feed her, sometimes it’s the passie, sometimes it’s rocking/ssshing. Any suggestions?

    3) As I mentioned above, she is sleeping in her nap nanny in the crib. Any suggestions on when/how to remove the nap nanny?

    • Trish – whatever you do, you MUST take the Nap Nanny out of the crib. They are not meant to be used in a crib and can have terrible and tragic results – in fact the Nap Nanny was recalled recently.

    • Hey Trish,

      Lots of babies sleep better on their tummies. So I totally get why you would be tempted to do that. But please don’t. It’s a major risk factor for SIDS which peaks at 4 months. So no tummy sleeping until she flips on her own. If you think having her sleep upright is helpful (is it?) then I would use a swing.

      Denise is right – the nap nanny in the crib is not OK. Despite the recalls I DO feel the nap nanny is a good product but I would definitely talk to your pediatrician about it. And if you ARE going to use it, maybe you only use it during the day while you are awake and can keep an eye on what’s doing in there, OK?

      Lots of newborns treat bedtime like a nap. They outgrow this – it’s frustrating but temporary.

      I think at 3 months I would start BEING more consistent. Have her nap in the same place with the same routine all the time. Don’t move her around to wherever works best at the moment. Somedays you WILL have short naps. This is life with babies. They always seem to take short naps when you’re really hoping for a LONG nap. If I could fix that I could sell the solution and be a BILLIONAIRE. As I am not a billionaire it should be obvious that there is no fix ;)

      • Added to the first question. So if they usually take a 2 hour nap, but one day they take a 30 minute nap, should I put him to a nap at the regular time or in 2hours after he woke up ?

  2. My daughter is just over 3 months old. I EBF, she takes naps in her swing, sleeps in her pack n play in our room at night, will sleep just fine in her crib for naps- although I rarely do it, and we do white noise, swaddle, paci for every sleep.
    My first concern is that she can only stay happy for 1 hour, and then we start our nap time routine. It then takes 20-30 minutes for her to fall asleep. She does just fine falling asleep on her own, I just have to tickle her face a little, give back paci, and sshh her a few times. But I feel like she should be able to stay awake longer at her age? The problem is that she only sleeps for 30 minutes! About once a day, if she naps in her swing, she will drift back to sleep, after being awake for 10-15 minutes. When she does this, she will then take a 2.5-3.5 hour nap! But it’s very unpredictable when she will do this. It’s never at the same time each day, and it’s only in the swing. How can I get her on a routine where she does this, but at the same time each day? And how can I increase the length of time of both her naps and her awake time?
    My other big issue, is that she HATES when we rock her to sleep (yet she loves her swing to rock her). This just started 3 weeks ago. She screams and flails and fights us for 15+ minutes, and then will calm down and go to sleep in our arms finally. I thought maybe she was done with swaddling, but no. Ok, so seems like an easy solution- just don’t rock her. But I need to live. Is that selfish? We can’t do anything but a quick trip to the store, because she is happily awake for such a short amount of time, sleeps for such a short amount of time, and will only sleep in her crib or swing. Getting out was so much easier when we could rock her to sleep when she was tired and we were out. Any suggestions as to how to get her to sleep in our arms or carseat?

    • Hi Jen, I seemed to have this issue as well when my daughter hit 3 months..
      Its like one day she just decided to go from taking 2-3 hr naps, to taking short 30 minute naps.
      I tried many things..but basically tried to keep a consistant routine for naptimes (and bedtime) and made sure that the environment she was sleeping in encouraged sleep (dark room with blackout curtains, fan for noise) and when she started having issues napping in her swing, I immediately made the decision to switch her to her crib for naps, and also for bedtime (she was sleeping in her rock n play sleeper prior.) We were very lucky and the transition to her crib couldnt have gone smoother. I was told that the shorter naps are common because of the sleep cycle of a baby that age, and I was encouraged to go in and try and soothe her back to sleep to try and get her back to taking longer naps..I cant say that it really worked for us though.
      Naps continued to be kind of all over the place for a couple months…no matter what I tried.
      She just turned 5 months the other day, and I finally feel like naps are going a little smoother. I have learned that she does best when I soothe her by either BF or just holding her and letting her get sleepy, and then putting her down awake but drowsy. There are times she falls asleep in my arms and I put her down asleep, and some of the time she will wake because she is no longer in my arms, and sometimes I even have to go back in and try and soothe her again..
      The biggest thing I have learned is that every baby is different, and it may take some time, but you will eventually start to see a pattern of when she gets sleepy and may be ready to nap, and also start to find the best way to approach naptimes and such..
      More than likely things wont get easier overnight, but have faith! It seems that most sleeping issues start around the 3 month mark, and it seems like it is just because babies are really becomming more aware at that age, and it may take a little more to get them settled down and sleepy..and sometimes no matter what you do, things may be a little wacky for awhile. Just stay strong and keep telling yourself that things will eventually get better! :)

  3. Hi All and Alexis,

    I wondered whether anyone could give me a little explanation or tip on the following issue:
    I have a daughter who is 12 weeks and goes down to bed at 7pm on her own (with a little bit of help of a dummy) without much more than a stroke on her cheek into her moses basket where she sleep 12 hours with one or two night feeds. She does the same when she has her afternoon nap outside in the patio in her pram, no need for a moving pram. However, when she goes down for morning naps I need to rock her for about 15 minutes. Anyone had the same issue at all? She sleeps about 4-5 hours during the day in 3 or 4 naps.
    Thank you for your help

    • Wow! I say rock on. Sounds like a dream, all that day and night sleep is worth the 15 minutes of rocking. It could be that she’s not quite sleepy enough in the morning after all that night sleep and is resisting a bit. My 4 month old son can only sleep from nursing and and or a lot of rocking, sometimes takes an hour and he’s up about 10 times a night so I think you should count your blessings :)

  4. At 9 weeks, my now 13 week old began sleeping 5-7 hours in a stretch with only 1 middle of the night feedings. His naps during the day were much shorter (30-45 minutes) but it was a trade-off I was willing to accept to get that critical nightime sleep.

    Just a few days ago, he started waking up again every 1-2 hours, like a newborn. Is this sleep regression, in which case I should “do whatever I need to do to get through it.” Or is this the beginning of object permanence, in which case I need to start to teach baby to sleep on their own?

    Many thanks for any advice.

    • Courtney,

      I’m interested to hear if this sorted itself out for you as my now 13 week old has been going through the same thing for about a week. Use to sleep very well and at week 12, something changed and yea… waking ever couple hours…

      Also only naps for 30-45 minutes during the day.

      Look forward to your response! :)

      • Hi James

        You’ll be happy to know that it did work itself out and my now one year old sleeps through the night (7 p.m.-6 a.m.) However, that sleep regression (or whatever it’s called) at week 13 lasted about 4 weeks. My husband and I could NOT wait until baby was old enough to sleep train.

        When baby was 4 1/2 months, we took the sleep training class and by the 3rd night, he was going to bed awake and happy, putting himself to sleep without a bottle, and sleeping through the night with one “dream feed.”

        We learned that there are three things that usually disturb a baby’s sleep habits/pattern (1) teething/sickness; (2) major milestones (crawling, walking, talking) and (3) travel/unfamiliar sleep conditions. When these things happen, our baby still has trouble staying on his sleep schedule. But the good thing is, it only takes a couple nights to get him back on track. The first night is tough, and baby cries. But by the second night, he’s back to sleeping great.

        My advice: Do whatever you can to get yourself through this sleep regression and when baby is 4 months old (or 14 pounds, whichever is later), do the sleep training.

        Good luck! And let me know how things work out.

        • Thanks, Courtney.

          Very good to hear!

          Our guy’s all over the place.. we put him down at 8 last night and he slept for 45 minutes and woke up screaming for 20 minutes.. we fed him (he ate another 3 ounces!!) and shortly went to sleep afterwards for a 5.5 hour sleep, then woke to eat at 3:30, ate, then fell asleep on his own and then finally woke for the day just after 8:00am.

          What sleep training program did you use at 4 months? We’re convinced we’re going to do one, just not sure which is best for him at this point.

          Jim

          • James

            I’ve been there! The ups and downs can get frustrating, but what gave me comfort was knowing that until he’s old enough to learn (around 4 months), and big/fat enough (around 14 lbs) to not have to eat throughout the night, you kinda have to let him dictate the schedule. It put less pressure on me and I had to just “go with the flow”

            We used the Sleep Easy Solution. It’s a middle of the road system that will inevitably lead to some crying by your baby. There are some parents that are against it for that reason but the instructors/authors Jen Waldburger and Jill Spivak are wonderful people, very well educated and they give you comfort that your baby is not being harmed by having to cry a little bit. In fact, they say that it is a parent’s job to teach their baby to sleep. There’s a book and DVD and they also do e-mail and telephone consultations. Because I live in LA, I was fortunate enough to go to their 4 hour seminar. I highly recommend the program. It’s good for your baby and it’s really good for you and your spouse. Nobody is happy if everyone is tired :-)

            Some things you can do now (while you’re waiting for 4 months/14 lbs) to help make the sleep training easier is to (1) start having a nighttime routine/schedule and (2) removing all the sleep crutches.

            Your schedule/routine should be something easy enough to do anywhere (at home, at your in-laws house, hotel, etc) and it shouldn’t last too long because it’s important to be consistent and do it every night. You can start that now and even if your baby only sleeps for a little while, he will start to get the hang of the fact that when the routine is completed and it’s time for bed.

            Also, at 4 months old, our baby used a bunch of crutches. He would suck on bottle to sleep or be rocked and be held until he fell asleep. He was swaddled to sleep or slept in carseat, swing or other contraption. If he was in the crib, he was propped up on a boppy-type pillow that cradled him.

            At this point, you can slowly start to wean your baby off these things and it will make the sleep training less dramatic for him when the time comes. Under the Sleep Easy Solution, you do not want to use any of these crutches.

            For more information, try the website. So much good information!

            http://www.sleepyplanet.com/

            Good luck!
            Courtney

  5. Our three month old son was a great sleeper at 4 weeks. He went down around 8, up around 1:30 and 5 for feedings. Since then it’s gotten worse where he wakes up before midnight then every hour from two on. We stared the “sleep sense” program last week, losing the pacifier which we thought was the problem but it hasn’t seemed to help. Day 1-5 on the sleep sense program he slept longer but since day 6 he is back to his old routine. What’s the reason and what’s the solution?!!!

  6. Hi! My baby turns 4 months next week and I’d like to transition her to her crib. We are still waking up every 2 hours to eat (at least that is why I am assuming she is waking up and I am exhausted to tears.

    We are on our third week of her going to day care and her refusing to take a bottle during the day. She waits till I get home to eat. As of right now, I am away from home for 12 hours out of the day.

    Our bed time routine is this- Bath, PJs, sound machine (rain sounds), and nurse to sleep. I cannot put her down on our bed nor the bassinet or her crib. As soon as I put her down, she is awake. There has only been a few times I’ve had sucess putting her down on our bed to sleep without her waking up. Normally, she sleeps on my chest while I sleep sitting up. Not fun anymore! I’m so tired and would love to sleep laying down for once.

    Last week, I tried to mimic the routine but instead of letting her fall asleep nursing—I put her in her crib while she was drowsy after nursing. It didn’t work but I was persistant about it. I tried the pick up and put down method where I picked her up when she cried and put her down back in the crib after I calmed her down. I waited a minute or two before I picked her up again. I’m afraid to say that she increasing became more and more difficult to calm. I mean she was crying so hard that her face became puffy and she had a hard time catching her breath. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do. She doesn’t care for the swing or bounce chair, so I don’t think I can use those to transition her to the crib.

    Any helpful tip or guidance would be soooo great.

    • Hi Rita

      I see that you posted this in March – I am in the same position with my son… He refuses to sleep anywhere but on my chest and will throw a tantrum when I try to put him down in the crib. He will be 4 months old next week now and I dont think I can take many more sleepless nights! Please tell me your LO grew out of it… Any tips?? Thanks 😊

      • Hi Louise Anne-

        Yes- She grew out of it however I feel like we let it go on for longer than I should. We got to a point where she would fall asleep in her car seat so we just started putting her in there. Once we was 9 months old, we hired a sleep consultant to help us gently trainer her to self soothe and sleep in her crib. Everything is much better than it was before. Hang in there!

        • Hello, wondered where you live and what sleep consultant did you use, my 6 month old has 30minute naps all day……frustrating!

          • I live in Maryland. Her name is Megan from Little Sleepy Head. She might be able to give you some suggestions if you don’t live in MD.

      • My tips would be to get a routine down for bed time. Bath, PJ, Book, Song, bed.

  7. Hi Alexis, I LOVE your site, and some days i just reread articles ive already read to help reinforce and relax me. But I do have an issue id like to ask. So my son is 4 1/2 mths old and sleeps in his crib now. After a sleeptime routine, He goes into his crib awake and i feed him a bottle as he lays there and pat him for a few minutes and he drifts off to sleep around 7:30. He sleeps for a blissful 4-5 hours!! Then around 11/12 he wakes up, and then continues waking up every 2 hrs or so. I BF him and put him back down, sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, and if awake, he can put himself back to sleep. Im not sure if he is hungry or he needs the boob to calm him, but he can put himself back to sleep after BFing for a bit. I do tihs from till about 5 when i am too tired and just give up and bring him into my bed for my own sanity. Every night! HELP!

    • Jackie, My son (4.5 months) does the exact same thing! A couple nights a week he will get up wanting to play from 4-6am. I notice you wrote this response back in March….what was your solution? Please tell me it gets better!

      • Julie, you will not like my answer, but i just sacraficed sleep and pushed thru it. If he needed me, i went to him, i fed him and put him back down, again and again and again. little by little he would drop one waking, then another. not at 11 months old, he sleeps thru the night the majority of the week, and every few days he may have a early morning waking (perhaps he didnt eat or nap well the day before) where i give him a bottle and he goes back to bed. it does get better, but unfortunately, it took time and sleeplessness. I am sure there are cry it out solutions that would work for you, we tried that once or twice, and my kid could scream for an hour straight with no end in sight. I do let him have time to try and put himself to sleep tho, not running at the first peep. I will sometimes wait 10 min to see. good luck

  8. Hi all – I love this site and have posted a few times. I have a quick one today — am struggling mightily with 17 week old who doesn’t like to sleep or nap well. I am at the end of my rope. I am wondering if there could be a correlation with the coffee that I drink in the morning? Anyone have any facts/thoughts/experience on caffeine and bf-ing babies and sleep? I am SO desperate for it that it literally is the only thing that is good and pure about my mornings…but if its keeping baby up I want to try to do something about it. I would really appreciate any info!! Thanks!

  9. Hi, Kim – thanks for this! I have given up caffeine out of desperation. We’ll see.. The night wakings have gotten so much worse. Every 40 minutes to an hour I am up with him for at least that long. He is teething, but still…this is killing me! And I’ve tried all the tricks (swaddling, white noise, swing) and nothing is working to help keep him asleep. I do not thin caffeine is the culprit, but don’t know what else to do. :-( Thanks though for the link!! Gwen

  10. My daughter is 10 weeks old. Yes, I know she is young. She is a good night sleeper but takes cat naps (30 minutes) about six times a day. I know she can’t get through that sleep cycle. I want to be able to put her down more awake but she just cries. Should I let her cry at all or go in immediately?

  11. Hi Alexis! I’ve been following your baby sleep guides like a bible since my son was born 4 months & 1 week ago. I don’t know how I stumbled onto you but thankfully I did!

    My delightful little munchkin has in the last two nights started waking about 10-15 times a night! Every 45 minutes or more – which is a bit of a shock after being down to two nightfeeds for the last 2 months. I’ve basically never rocked him to sleep. We used the cradle swing until he started self settling which I thought was going great until this week – I just popped him in the crib with a paci after his feed, bath & story and off to the land of zzz he went – I even make sure I’m out of the room before his eyes close!

    He’s still going to sleep this way, but when he wakes I’m generally just putting his paci back in (except for 2 & 5am where he feeds). Sometimes the paci works, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to stroke his head to get him to sleep. So now I’m stuck because I don’t know if I’m having a growth spurt or just “object permanence” kicking in & he’s actually waking for the paci now. His day sleep is similar, if he stirs from a nap & the paci goes back in he falls back asleep. I don’t seem to have any other symptoms of a growth spurt (he’s always eaten tons, and he doesn’t appear to be any crankier?).

    I’m trying to make the tough decision to ditch the paci or not. Appreciate your advice here!

  12. Hi Lisa – I’ve read them all.
    No sign of a growth spurt asides from the waking….

    He’s not fussy or hungrier or anything.

    • I have read them all too, sadly for me, always hoped I would have one of those babies who just slept ;) [don't think they exist actually].

      I am no expert by any means, but I don’t think sleep regressions are always to do with eating, they can be developmental. Well hidden internal baby stuff to keep you guessing! It does sound like crazy town sleep after your previous good pattern. Maybe worth riding out a few days before making any changes like ditch the paci…use swing again? (Alexis says extra soothing for sleep regressions, without mega bad habits which is tricky but sounds like you have soothing methods that are sustainable for you so good to re-embrace them?).

      I think AskMoxie has some good stuff on sleep regressions if you google it?

      Hope it gets better.

      Lisa

  13. Alexis,

    We have a daughter who turns 6 months old tomorrow. She has been enrolled at a Development Center (daycare) for about three months now. When she first started there, she would take a few naps throughout the day, anywhere between 30-60 minutes in length, occasionally longer. She has a white noise machine and a sleep sac that we had her teachers use to swaddle her arms. Over the past month though, she began to roll over so her teachers would no longer swaddle her arms. This has led to her naps being almost non-existent. Over the course of an 8 hour day at the center, she has had recent days with as little as 20 minutes sleep the whole day. When we pick her up, she immediately goes to sleep in the car and then sleeps for a good 3 hours when she gets home. Her teachers are working with us, but she just isn’t sleeping and we’re pretty sure it has to do with the swaddling. When we bring her home, we do swaddle her arms, but we have a video monitor that we have on to keep an eye on her. When swaddled, she naps great. She sleeps great through the night, without having her arms swaddled, which we think is due to her being tired and not having anything to look at because her room is dark. We’re somewhat concerned about her sleep at daycare because on the weekends, she takes about three naps per day (morning, afternoon, and early evening), but she just isn’t getting that sleep during the day on weekdays. Do you have any thoughts you can share with us?

    Jason

    • For swaddling in the swing or bouncer where you need to buckle them in:
      http://annaandeve.com/home
      We use this nightly with our son’s sleep sack. He is almost 4 months and we are going to try swaddle weaning soon and I think it will be easier with this than a traditional swaddle. He loves it and it’s super easy to use. Hope this helps.

  14. Hi! I saw Alexis suggest to another parent whose baby was turning in bed but still really needed the swaddle to try doing swaddle + strapped in swing (which doesn’t have to be moving). Does your daycare have a swing (or baby bouncer thing) they would be willing to strap your swaddled daughter into? (check out the Dr. Karp interview for how to swaddle in the swing – I’m guessing the same works for a bouncer) In those things there’s no risk of rolling over because she’s strapped down, so the center might be less worried about swaddling. Then you can test the waters on sleeping unswaddled (see Alexis’ post on swaddles; the section testing the waters). Hope this helps. Daycare was a real challenge for our daughter’s daytime sleep too. We ended up bringing our swing to her classroom!

  15. Hey Alexis,
    Big fan of your website!
    I have a question regarding if I should wake my 5 1/2 month old up from her naps..
    A little background…she was a swaddled swing sleeper until 3months of age where she dropped the swing and just slept swaddled in her crib, then at 4 1/2 months she started to roll over and we had a few sleepless nights where we had to drop the swaddle and she was thrashing around, but then got used to it and now sleeps fine unswaddled and in her crib. She gets put down in her crib awake and we have no issues (thanks no doubt to being put awake in the swing in the first place and learning how to put herself to sleep)-thanks for that:)

    Since then she has been waking up once in the night to feed, like clockwork wakes up at 730am, down for a nap at 9am for 2 hours and then again at 1pm for 2 hours and then sometimes a power nap around 5 for 40 mins and then to bed anywhere between 630-8pm…now we recently went away (to a diff time zone) and have been back for 2 weeks now and I find I still have to wake her up in the morning, and after two hours of napping to stick the old schedule she was on! I decided to experiment today to see how long she would sleep…I still woke her up in the morning, but woke her up at 830am, she went down no prob for her nap again at 915, and then she slept until 115pm!!!…she went then for a second nap at 3pm and woke up at 5pm…now not sure what will happen tonight, but do you think I should just let her sleep for as long as she wants for her naps, or should I stick to my schedule? I know sleep begets sleep but is there such things as too much daytime sleep?
    Thanks so much for your input!
    -Maia

  16. I found a lot of the info on this website helpful in beginning to strategize how to help my 4month old baby girl to sleep better. I’m totally not into the CIO method and I don’t like the idea of “sleep training”, but I do want to help her develop good sleep habits that will make her a happier, well-rested person. Here’s the thing that’s got me stuck: there’s lots of talk about the importance of helping baby learn to fall asleep on her own and I agree. A month or two ago she was doing this easily for naps, with or without a pacifier. At night we’ve gotten into the routine of bath, nurse in bed, then move to bassinet. I can see that this is not going to lead to sleeping in the crib so I’m ready to try adjusting our routine to put her down awake…the problem is that it’s not that simple. The last 5 nights I’ve put her in her crib or bassinet after nursing, but while awake and she just becomes much more awake and ultimately requires 1-2 more nurses (basically just to suck since my breasts are empty) and the whole ordeal takes 1-2 stressful hours.

    How can I begin to build a routine that includes letting her put herself to sleep? It kind of seems like either you help your child (rocking, nursing, etc) or you don’t. I read the suggestion on using the swing but I don’t think this translates to getting her in her crib. Any concrete suggestions on making the transition?

    • I was wondering the outcome of your situation? I have a four month old who use to put himself to sleep at night with or without a pacifier in his own sleeper after I did a sleep routine of bath, massage, book, and nursing. The last week has been very difficult because he now wont put himself to sleep at all and when I lay him down asleep, he wakes up full blown crying. The only way to calm him down is by letting him sleep in my bed with waking up every hour or other hour. I would much appreciate any thoughts you have to share.

  17. Hi there,

    I’ve been doing CIO with my 5 month old son for two weeks now. I’ve been ensuring regular naps, putting him to bed at roughly 7.30 every night, using a lovey and consistent bedtime routine. It has worked in so far as he goes to sleep most nights with no crying (or very little) but he still wakes every night three or four times crying, sometimes for 30 mins. I give him a feed every night when he wakes between 1-2am but don’t want to be up feeding more regularly than this. The main reason I am not prepared to do long term regular night wakings is because I have another son, 18months older and I found that the night wakings were making me short tempered and a poor quality parent. I don’t know what to do now. How long should I expect these regular night wakings? What can I do to reduce them? Why would my son be waking up so regularly? I have been putting him to bed awake most nights (for a couple he has beaten me to it). I’m not sure what else will help!

    Sian x

  18. Not sure where to post this but my 14 week old sleeps fine at night once I get him to sleep. Will wake up sometimes once or twice before 8am but always goes back to sleep. I’m sure he’ll sleep through the night sooner or later.

    My problem right now is I can’t get him to take a good nap. If I get lucky he’ll fall asleep nursing. Sometimes I can swaddle him and transfer him to his bassinet. But sometimes I can’t even move because he’ll wake up then I have to start all over again or sometimes it just won’t happen. If I end up sleeping with him he takes 2-3 hour nap. So after struggling all day with his naps at night it has taken me up to 6 hours to get him to bed. 2x he has fallen asleep before 11pm but the rest of the nights its between 11pm-1am. He was fine before. I would nurse, he would falls asleep, burp him, swaddle, then sleep. All of a sudden nothing has worked until its past 11pm, he cries a little while rocking him then he’s out.

    So I think if I can get him to nap well during the day, bedtime will be just fine. How can I get him to sleep during the day?

  19. Hello Alexis, thank you for this website it has been a real life saver for me! but right now we are going through a rough time and I need help. My 5 month baby started waking up at 3, 4, 5 and then 6-7am, so we are both exhausted..

    I´ll describe our situation to see if you can help me understand where the issue lies. It all started given he didn´t know how to fall asleep, I followed all the soothing you advised since 2 months (bedtime routine, load white nose, swaddle, etc) and of course I had to rocked/nursed him to sleep but only woke up to eat (first every 3 hours, then he started sleeping 6 hours stretch and then 3-4hrs until 8am) so all was as relatively good. In the day he took 3 45mins-1hour naps and a catnap of 30mins before bedtime (always ensure he was not kept awake more than he could handle at his age and I made sure he woke up at least 1.5 hours before bedtime) and also had to rocked him to sleep. Ay 3-4 moths bedtime was 8tish so he was sleeping from 8pm to 8 am and as he was already in 3-6 month period I started to transition to put him down awake, each time less rocking (just to make him drowsy) and laid him on his crib awake (he has slept in his crib since he was born) while butt panting and shh until he got fell asleep. He was really improving and learning to fall asleep on his own at day and night (naps almost always 45mins-1hour). As he was waking to eat at 1am I tried a dreamfeeding at 11pm-12am (my husband gave it to him so I could sleep) so I could sleep a longer stretch and he slept till 3-4am (even some days until 5am) where I gave him 3oz and then woke up at 7:30am so again we were progressing.

    Then the problem started, 10 days ago he had a night where he woke up every 2 hours crying every single time, it was hard to calmed him so I ended up rocking him so he could get back to sleep (he kind of had flu so I though it must have been that), since then all the progress disappear and he has been waking up at 11pm, 3am, 4, 5 and 6-7am, bedtime is not an issue because as you say there are lost of things going on so we follow his routine and put him in his crib awake but drowsy (with but panting and shh) and he falls asleep easily but then he wakes up. When he wakes up I do the following: If is is not a feeding time (other than 12am or 4-5am) I pick him up, calm him and then back to the crib awake but butt panting and shh, sometimes he stays easily and falls back asleep, other times I have to put him down and up again several times until he stays; if it is feeding time I feed him and then the same process until he falls asleep. Somedays go easy but others I spend 1hour puting him back to sleep, specially at 4-5am and on top of that he has been waking up earlier (6-7am) and his naps don´t last more than 30 mins.

    I think he has an object of permanence issue with me as I am there when he falls asleep (butt panting and shh) but he is not able to fall asleep if I do not do it as he will start moving and crying so I am not sure what to do. I tried the swing around 3 months but he did´t fell asleep after 1-2hours, we had to wean the swaddle as he started to roll over at 3 months as well. I started to wean him from the 4-5am feeding like 4 days ago by leaving water but reducing formula but is making no difference (currently I am giving him 3oz but only half the formula).

    Also I was nursing/feeding him with bottle and then giving him a bath as bedtime routine but 2 days ago I switched them to break feeding and sleeping association.

    What I am doing wrong? is it time for CIO even though he is not 6moths? pls HELP!!!

    • I could have written this post! Do you have any words of wisdom? My son was a great sleeper (6 hour stretches) until it all seemed to change overnight at 3.5 months. Then all of a sudden it took 2 hours to put him to bed and he was up every two to three hours. We had to resort to CIO with check and console at bedtime — we figured out our soothing methods were just causing more distress — and now he goes to into his crib awake and falls asleep with minimal fussing, but still wakes up every three hours wanting to eat. He is now 4.5 months and I’m absolutely sure he does not need to eat 3 to 4 times a night.

      I have tried to separate nursing/sleeping by 20 minutes, and I have loud white noise in his room, but unfortunately we can’t swaddle since he started flipping over in the swaddle. I have tons of milk so supply is not an issue, though I may have an oversupply problem as well as over active letdown. I’m not sure what to do at this point other than let him cry in the middle of the night (unappealing at this point, especially since I have a toddler in the room next door) or feed him every time, which is leading to a night waking/eating habit.

      Also wondering whether at 4.5 months babies are able to stay awake longer than two hours and should be on a 9/1/5:00 nap schedule, or whether we should be sticking to the two hour window… I’m so confused, and didn’t expect to feel this way with my second!

      This blog is amazing and I’ve learned so much but now I’m at a loss. Anyone out there have any advice for a desperate/sleep deprived mum?

  20. I have a 20 week old there are days that she’ll just wake up once, but more often its more than 3 2 of which is a feed the rest are just her kicking and pulling her legs up as soon as I pat her she goes bakc to sleep. but after an hour usually after the 3am feed she’ll wake up every hour until 6;00 am her waking time

  21. Hello Alexis,

    I have a 15 (almost 16) week old who has suddenly developed an issue with being laid down in his cradle to sleep. The cradle is in our room, as we plan to move him into the crib in his own room once he starts sleeping through the night more consistently. He has only slept through through the night twice, and that was 3 weeks ago.

    Sometimes burping him makes a difference and he’ll lay down without fuss and fall asleep (though he still tends to wake up two or three times a night). Other times, I’ll burp him and he’ll still scream when I try to lay him down in his cradle. Of course, if I lay down in my bed with him next to me, he’ll fall right to sleep. I have only used this as a last resort, since neither my husband nor I want to co-sleep. Since he lays down fine next to me, I tend to think gas isn’t the issue.

    He hasn’t been a baby to cry or fuss a lot up until now, but if I feed him in the middle of the night and try to put him in the cradle, he’ll start screaming. Last night I tried to start a stricter bedtime ritual starting at 8:30, instead of his usual 10, which I realized is WAY too late. He was completely relaxed, but still somewhat awake when I laid him down. He slept for about ten minutes before waking up and screaming. This repeated for about an hour before sleep finally took hold, and even then sleep lasted for only 2 hours before he awoke hungry again. But at 11:30, after he was fed, he went back into his cradle without a problem, and although he woke up 2 or 3 times during the night, he was able to self-sooth until needing to be fed again at 4:30.

    Suddenly, he wants nothing to do with his cradle, and I can’t figure it out. He is rolling over, so we are using a sleep sack/swaddler with his arms out, and since he likes to sleep with his arms over his head, I think he prefers this to being swaddled arms-in. Do you have any advice to get my DS to start liking his cradle again?

  22. Hi Alexis,

    I’m wondering what to do with my 5 month old baby’s sleep at night. Previously, at 2-3 months, she was a great newborn baby sleeper. Many times she would sleep 5-6 hours straight. But ever since she turned 4 months, her sleeping patterns changed for the worse. She now gets up 2-3 (sometimes 4) times a night!

    At bedtime, I lay her in her crib fully awake and she falls asleep on her own, sometimes with little or no crying at all. I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks now. But I don’t see any improvement in her night wakings. I know that she still wakes up to eat, which then I feed her. (She gets a total of about 10 hours per night) But when can I expect her to start sleeping through the night? All of the textbooks say that 5 month old babies should be sleeping right through. Is this realistic?

    Any advice (from anyone) would be great!

  23. Quick Question!

    My son just turned three months and we have begun the magical swing sleep training technique. It’s absolutely wonderful to have a battle plan of sorts–this site has been an answer to prayer!

    My question is regarding naps vs. bedtime. My son has been doing well in the swing for naps–he is being put down awake, and is generally getting long naps. We have put him down in the swing for bedtime a few times as well, and he’s had long stretches of sleep… and I know if I wanted to force it we could make the swing work for bedtimes, too..there’s just one problem: My hubby and I miss him too much!

    I say it’s a problem because I KNOW we don’t want him in our bed forever. And I’m anxious that if we don’t all start to break the habit now, it will be much harder to get him sleeping in his swing/crib through the night later.

    So I guess my question is: If I’m training my baby successfully to put himself to sleep for naps, but not training so hard at night, will there be some transfer for him to STTN eventually when we are ready to have our bed back? Or will it be square one?

  24. Baby #3 is 4.5 months old. You’d think I’d have this figured out by the third, but no sir. She goes to sleep swaddled, on her back, and awake on her own every time she lays down (all naps during the day and the beginning of the night) and falls asleep with just a few minutes of fussing most of the time, so I’m fairly confident we don’t have bad sleep associations. However, she wakes up too soon from her early afternoon nap (obviously exhausted upon waking) and she wakes far too often at night (read: sometimes every 45 minutes… on good nights, every 1.5-2 hours). She insists upon nursing at those times in order to fall back asleep, but nurses poorly and is obviously *not* hungry.

    We’ve tried: warmer room, cooler room, more clothes, less clothes, unswaddling (for one miserable week), lots of baby wearing, putting her down for sleep at the first sleepy sign (usually between 45-75 min), stretching her wakeful times (~2 hours), feeding her more often during the day, loud white noise, sleeping in a swing/vibrator, reflux medicines (just in case she was having silent reflux issues), shh-ing / patting, PU/PD, and CIO. She gets hysterical and will just not go back to sleep without being nursed — even if it means she’s worked up for several hours at night — basically, until I cave, whether it’s nursing her right away or after an hour of fussing.

    I don’t know what else to try. I’m desperate to start sleeping more than an hour at a time again, even if only for a single 4- or 5-hour stretch at night! I have a 2yo and a 4yo who need their mama during the day too, and this has been going on for a month now. (Baby slept 8-9 hours straight when she was 3 months old and then just stopped.) I realize lots of things could be contributing (developmental, teeth, etc.), but I need help, please, and ones that don’t involve co-sleeping because I’m a super light sleeper and co-sleeping is even more miserable for me than being up every 75 minutes at night.

    She won’t take a paci (gags on it even when we just hold it in, and we’ve tried all sorts of varieties) and really does seem happiest when she’s napping after only an hour or so of being awake. It just doesn’t seem to translate into good sleep still.

    Any ideas? Thanks!

    • ETA: All of her daytime naps are usually ~45 minutes, regardless of how long she’s been awake. The exception is the early afternoon nap if I nurse her upon waking and then just let her fall asleep on me.

  25. 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!

  26. Hi,
    I’m a little confused by the “putting your baby to bed tired, but awake” thing. My son is 5 mo old and when we put him down drowsy he instantly starts crying. So in my mind if we just let him go we are in the beginning stages of CIO. I am anxiously awaiting the time that we can do that, but I still do not feel comfortable with letting him cry yet. He started rolling on his belly, so the swaddle is out. He has been having some difficulties getting used to sleeping in his crib un-swaddled. I’m hoping this is a phase but he is still waking up to 3 times a night. He has had some bad luck in terms of getting used to sleeping at night (reflux, colds, A TOOTH?!?!) I have a 2.5 yr old as well and I’m super tired…you can imagine. I do end up putting him the swing by early morning. He sleeps wonderful in the swing so I know it is a great back-up plan but I need some verification on helping him learn to fall asleep on his own. HELP!

  27. Great post!
    I’d loved it thanks!

  28. Any help would be MUCH appreciated!!
    My son will be 5 months old next week and since about 3 months old (when he entered the ‘wakeful’ period) has gotten into the bad habit of snacking and catnapping, as well as feeding to sleep.He’ll only eat a few ounces at a time, and then has to be fed in order to go to sleep (feeding seems to be the only way to even make him drowsy). He will typically only nap for 40-45 minutes and then can only stay awake for an hour and a half or so, which is very frustrating as his naps always seem to coincide with his feeding! Like I mentioned, he’s gotten into the habit of snacking – he eats a few ounces when first up and then has a few more before going down for a nap. I feel like I spend ALL day either feeding him or putting him down for a nap. Bedtime isn’t as bad – he usually goes to sleep between 6:30-7:30pm and has gotten better at going down ‘drowsy but awake’, although we’re still having several night wakings in which he is awake (we always check to make sure he’s not just fussing in his sleep) and requires a quick sip of a bottle to go back to sleep. I’d like to get him on some sort of routine/schedule, but I have no idea where to even begin. I’m about to just put him down wide awake and let him CIO, but I wondered if anyone had any advice to put an end to the snacking and the short naps. PLEASE HELP!

  29. This website has been SO helpful for us on so many issues and I’m hoping I can get some opinions/more personalized help. My little one will be 4 months next week and has been sleeping in his swing. Within the last two weeks, he’s started waking up between feedings and cant put himself back to sleep. I know the key os to put him down drowsy but awake but the problem is that he falls asleep while eating his bedtime bottle. How can I get him to go to sleep on his own if hes falling into deep sleep as he finishes eating? Should I give him a bottle and then try a bath to wake him up a bit or will that be worse? I went back to work a month ago and all of the nighttime waking is so exhausting.

    • If he’s falling asleep with his last bottle, I’d give him the bottle 15-20 minutes earlier, and then put him down when he is normally falling asleep. Then, you could try Alexis’s varsity swing technique, which is basically tight swaddle, white noise, dark room, swing on high, and maybe some manual jiggling of swing to get him to fall asleep IN the swing.

      If he falls asleep on the bottle and then you wake him up for a bath, he might treat that like a mini nap and be hard to get down for a while. So I’d try to do the bottle earlier so he doesn’t fall asleep and then tickle his feet a little while giving the bottle to prevent him from falling all the way asleep.

  30. Thank you for giving me SOME kind of hope that one day I will be able to form full sentences again. In the meantime, I am dealing with a very strange situation.

    My son is now 16 weeks old and wakes up 5-10 times a night by lifting and slamming his legs down on the mattress. I have tried swaddling, unswaddling, offering the pacifier and the only thing that works is when I pick him up and put him in bed with me (my last ditch effort). He was a baby that slept for 5-6 hours at a time and now only sleeps half an hour.

    HELP!

    • Forgot to mention- he falls asleep with the pacifier and never had an issue with it until recently. When it used to fall out, he never made a peep and would continue sleeping. Now, it falls out and there is a meltdown.

    • Hey Kim,

      Well I’ve got a few thoughts:
      1) This is peak time for the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. That could (and likely is) be a factor.

      2) He’s discovered he can make his bed a drum. This is fascinating! He’s learned a new skill because he’s a smart little fella! WOOT! Personally yes you can “soothe him to sleep” by pulling him into bed with you but if that’s not what you want to do for the long haul I would just let him kick the mattress. He’ll get bored eventually.

      You’re definitely creating sleep associations here so if you don’t want him in your bed, this isn’t a great time to have him sleep in there. Also with the paci – that’s another sleep association. So when he wakes up and it’s mysteriously missing he freaks out. Can you help him gently fall asleep without it AT bedtime?

      Again if he’s having a sleep regression (he probably is) you won’t have much luck making any of the changes I’m suggesting today but maybe you mark the calendar for 7-10 days from now and make that your :no paci, sleeps in own bed, deadline.

      Good luck!

  31. Hi Alexis,

    Hoping for some advice! For the past two weeks, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with getting my 4.5 month old to nap, in particular the first nap of the day. He is obviously tired, falls asleep while feeding but as soon as he gets in the crib is wide awake. Or, if he does fall asleep it’s for 5-10min max. He wakes at 7am, so I’ve tried putting him down when tired signs show (about two hours) and also later then that, and earlier but nothing seems to work. I try again at 11am and he usually passes out then for about 45mins, and then will have another 30-45 min nap around 230pm. He is a pretty happy guy all day despite such little sleep in the day.

    So I’m wondering…should I just keep persisting with this 9am nap to see if he will eventually do it? Since he sleeps well at night (630pm-7am with 1 wake up to feed) we are open to starting sleep training for naps, but I’m worried I’ll be making him cry for a nap he really doesn’t need since he isn’t napping consistently. He is still always falling asleep on the breast so I’d love to know if it makes sense to cut that during sleep training for naps AND bedtime, or to start with naps first.

    Thank you!
    Brooke

  32. I have a question for anyone who has been using the song for a while. Any trouble with flat head? This is my second day of intensive swing use and so far is a miracle for both naps and night sleep. So now I’ve shifted my mom worry from sleep quality to head shape. I would love to hear that lots of tots spend every sleep in the swing with no flat head. Thanks! So far I love this blog and the comments as well!

  33. Hi Alexis-
    My (nearly) 5 month old son is a cat napper. I feel like we’ve tried so many strategies, but to no avail (pitch black room, loud white noise, swaddle–now no swaddle, going to sleep on his own drowsy but awake, increasing wake times, decreasing wake times….). He is currently on a 4 catnap a day schedule, each one lasting between 35-45 minutes. I often try to extend his third nap of the day (which usually is from 1-1:45pm) by re-soothing him back to sleep. (as a side note, I am only able to try with this nap because this is when my toddler is napping, unlike with the other naps). If I am successful, this extended nap is anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours long. I am really desperate for him to start taking longer naps on his own, though. I am now starting to contemplate putting him on a schedule and setting his nap times in hopes that his body will adapt to this routine, and maybe his naps will lengthen because awake times will be longer (I realize there is a risk of OT though). Do you have any thoughts? I bounce back and forth between just going with the flow and trying to give him more direction. I would really appreciate your input!

  34. Soooooo- my son was doing really well until the 4 month mark. He would go to sleep at 7pm, wake at 3 to eat and then would be up at 6:30 for the day.

    Recently, he has been waking EVERY HOUR. He goes right back to sleep once we put the pacifier in. He rolls onto his side and falls right back asleep like nothing happened. Sometimes, he does this every half hour. We also had to stop swaddling him since he is determined to only sleep on his side now. I bought him a lovey, but he just laughs at it.

    We are trying to establish a nighttime routine, but i feel like his naps are just so all over the place. He will wake at 6:30, nap at 8:30 then 11:30 then 2:00 and then often at 4:30-5:00. Bedtime seems to always change and most nights he ends up falling asleep unexpectedly on the bottle (at different times.) Everything feels upside down and extremely disorganized. Plus i’m too tired to even see straight.

    The strange part is that during the day when we are out and about he often falls asleep without it (because mommy accidentally leaves it at home). At night though is a different story.

    He is now 4 and a half months and I don’t feel ready to let him CIO. Is there something, ANYTHING, I can do to get my happy sleeper back? I keep reading these horror stories about 4 year olds who still wake in the night and I panic.

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