A Study in Sleep Training Part 2

A Study in Sleep Training Part 2

When we last left Penelope Pittstop she was tied to the train tracks while Snidely Whiplash was…wait, wrong damsel in distress.

We were talking about a smart, thoughtful, AP Mom who had reached the end of her tether and turned to sleep training to help get the whole family back on track. Only things went south, everybody cried for hours and felt generally terrible about it until finally at 11:30 PM she pulled baby back into her bed, nursed her to sleep, convinced that she was both a horrible person as well as one doomed to a lifetime of desperate sleep deprivation and misery.

Dudley Do-Right was unavailable for comment. But I was and this is what I had to say….

My Response to the Night Where Everybody Cried

Here’s what I think happened….

Her bedtime started moving back on you – from 9:00 PM till 11:00-12:00AM. Which you’ve already figured out was way too late leaving her way overtired. So you thoughtfully tried to fix it by shuffling it to a more age appropriate 7:30. Which seemed like a grand idea because all the books say she should be going to bed at 7:30.

But here’s the rub – the reason CIO at bedtime works is that there are a whole bunch of biological and chemical things going on in your baby at bedtime that make it almost impossible for them to stay awake. So while they can protest for a while, eventually (often under 1 hour, sometimes even less) they WILL fall asleep. It’s inevitable.

This however assumes that you have a consistent bedtime. You did(ish) only it was 11:30 PM at night. So what happened was she went down at 7:30 and effectively took a nap. Then she woke up and yelled at you for hours until her body-clock ACTUAL bedtime came up and those biological/chemical processes kicked in to make sleep happen. Of course you offered her the boob which also helped but by that time, the tides were with you so to speak.

So at this point you have two issues – the nurse=sleep habit AND the too late bedtime issue. Sadly you can only tackle one at a time. I would start with the nurse=sleep habit but focus on a bedtime of no earlier than maybe 10:30. So CIO at bedtime but bedtime is still late (for now).

Once she is falling asleep solo you gradually start shifting bedtime up. Maybe 15 minutes a day: 10:15, 10:00, 9:45, etc. until you get to that wonderful age appropriate goal of 7:30. Don’t forget loud white noise. Also since she’s a co-sleeper, maybe you stick a lovey in your bra all day and give it to her in her crib. It’ll smell like you. Might help, certainly won’t hurt!

What Happened That Night With the New Plan


Just a quick response (my husband just said leave that poor woman be!), just to say we put her down at 10.30 and its only been 12 minutes so far but its just been intermittent calling out so far. Not crying or screaming like last night, definitely sounds different. Sleepy and hopeful rather than livid! Anyway yes I will go because I need sleep myself but i will give you an update tomorrow. I am so grateful and in such a happier more hopeful position compared to this time last night!

And then…

I wish you could see the grin on my face. I am so happy!!

So last night we did the bedtime routine but in a better order, and in dimmer lighting (boob first, bath, jammies , book, bed)… she started fussing by the jammies stage and I was a bit worried but stayed calm and soothing and told myself that was because she was tired, not scared. I put her in bed at 10:30 PM. She cried off and on for several minutes on, then off, then on…but each time more faintly, and it never sounded like a real distress cry, more like tired and hoping that she could call me back.

She was asleep by 10:53!! No screaming and no guilt on my part.

And then she woke up at 2:20 AM. I felt so happy when she woke up, she had slept for 3 and a half hours! I could cope if she only woke up 3 or 4 times a night. I fed her and she fell asleep in my arms, I put her in the cot… she woke up, scrabbled about and cried out. Normally I would scoop her back up but I held firm to see what would happen and sure enough she settled herself back to sleep in less than ONE MINUTE!!

And then she slept for SEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT!!!!!!

So I may sound totally crazy, and maybe I am going a bit over the top because I am so tired… but I honestly feel like I have experienced a wonderful epiphany and that life for my family has just started to take a much more positive direction. And I thank you so much because it was you that pointed me in that direction. Ok, I did all the hard work – I knew I was on the wrong track and needed to take a different route but I was completely lost and bewildered (am I laboring this whole journey metaphor too much?! ha ha) – it was so intimidating and yet here we are!

What Can We Learn from This?

This was a long story but I hope you all got a lot out of it. I know I did. For example I learned that…

  • Small mistakes can cause big problems.
  • This is KEY so let me repeat it. Small mistakes can cause big problems.
  • Even really smart well-read people can make small mistakes.
  • Sleep deprivation makes it really hard for us to solve problems.
  • You can be an attachment parent and still sleep train your child. Attachment and sleep are not mutually exclusive goals.
  • If sleep training seems like it’s going terribly wrong, it probably is. Take a step back, look at the big picture (whole day, sleep routines, associations, eating habits, etc.). See if you can’t figure out what small tweak is making things blow up on you.
  • Read everything I’ve put together on sleep training.
  • Have faith in yourself. Billions of people have sorted out sleep stuff and so can you.

Is there anything you’re taking away from her story?


184 Comments


  1. PRAYING I get picked for the sleep consult on FB! You should offer personalized sleep consults as a for-fee service.

    • Aw you’re very nice. Well I hope you win too :) I think I am going to offer something like this. Am struggling with what to charge though. Don’t tell anybody I said this (I’ll deny everything!) but I think the babysleepsite charges way too much.

      But if I charge way less than they do I feel it’ll make me the bargain bin. I don’t want to be the Walmart to their Bloomingdales. And also can only do so many because people who need help need it ASAP. So anyhoo am noodling on this. All of which you probably don’t really care about so I’ll go back to my first thought…

      Hope you win :)
      Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

      • Yeah, I think many of these sites price gouge desperate sleep deprived parents. I would think, if you explained your reasoning behind the lower price (poor people need sleep too), people would appreciate your compassion instead of thinking that your services are less valuable.

        You want to price it so it is worth your while, but also so it isn’t cost-prohibitive to parents on a budget.

      • I personally stayed away from babysleepsite because of their packaging.. it felt like a business too me and business usually look to optimize their resources while making more $$$$… keep replying and posting such posts..it is really helpful. Tired parents can get direction from your site but have to do a little bit more ground work…

        • You know I hear where you’re coming from. On the other hand I look at babysleepsite and see somebody who has built a successful business and really I sort of admire her. Lots of bloggers (and I flirt with this issue myself) end up burning out because either nobody reads what you’re writing about (you quit because why bother) or people DO dig what you’re writing about and it becomes a huge ongoing project (you quit because you can’t invest so much time in something that doesn’t put dinner on the table).

          So the babysleepsite lady has very astutely come up with a model that some people find really valuable and makes enough money for her to feel that it’s worth keeping it going. So if anything I’m actually a little jealous ;)
          Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

      • First off, I adore your site and we’ve learned so much! We are also using a new white noise machine rather than the sleep sheep (hangs head in shame). I wanted to comment re: charging for sleep consults. I work as a behavior analyst and have tremendous guilt about charging what I think is a high price, though I am cheaper than most. What I have come to learn, however, is that people are FAR more likely to listen to and follow advice that they pay for. I’ve had more success getting parents to implement behavior plans each time I raise my rate. Have a sliding scale or maybe a Groupon. :)

        • (different) Carolyn

          I totally agree. Charge people! I would look up what the average behaviour consultant or occupational therapist or speech-language pathologist in your area makes, and charge that! You by far have the best sleep advice I have ever seen, and charging people will allow those that are actually serious about getting help and following through on it access to your wonderful skills. Now quit underestimating your value, and package all of these blog posts into a book! And charge for your consult!! :)

          • I for one Alexis am very grateful for your free site! We are a struggling family with my husband who is a disabled Verteran and we were just recently homeless for a year. We are finally getting our life (I hope!) back on track and your advice saved us from our struggles with co-sleeping due to no bedrooms. If I had extra $$ I would most certainly, gladly give it. Being able to look up such sound and stable advice that gets right to the root of baby sleep problems is not only refreshing but awe inspiring!! Some stuff I figured out and the other stuff you helped me see the light on. Mostly I had enough guilt already for not being able to provide a crib for my son but you made me feel like I could BE strong and do this anyway. And we did! Thank you! Bless you!

            • Hey Michelle,
              I’m sorry you’re having tough financial troubles :( But listen if you need a crib you should just ASK for one. Honest. There are tons of early outreach organizations that would happily donate one. I know asking for handouts probably doesn’t feel so awesome but they would be HAPPY to do it, ESPECIALLY for the family of a disabled vet. Each state has various programs full of kind people who just want to give everybody a good start with their babies. Reach out and see what they can do for you, OK?
              Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

        • You are totally right. I’ve even seen that effect in responding to emails for free. So you’re totally totally right on the money (pun intended).
          Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

          • Alexis, we do have a crib and he has his own room now :) that’s why we were able to start sleep training with your website and advice. It was a long year but hopefully that is all behind us now. Thank you for the concern and information! I will pass it on to anyone else I come across who is in need. :)

      • I just wanted to chime in and agree with everyone else, you are a kind, compassionate, ethical, funnnny, expert and if you choose to offer personalised consults you deserve every cent. There are way too many sites and books taking advantage of poor sleep deprived tired parents and you are a rare gem. I truly wish you the best in whatever direction your site takes.

      • Thanks for the great case study! I was checking back everyday to see if you’re written part two yet :-). I’ve been going back and reading all of your old posts while I waited. I wish that I’d known about your site when my firstborn was a baby–she was a baaad sleeper. My husband and I had to do CIO with her at 9 months, and while we feel that CIO is necessary for the whole family’s well-being as a last resort, we are really trying to avoid it this time around.

        My son turned 3 months old on the 23rd and I don’t know if we are ahead of the game with his sleep, or if we’re setting ourselves up for disaster. I just don’t know if the pacifier is going to do us in. I really need your expert opinion. Here is his schedule:

        9:30am wake, nurse, change, and play

        10:15am-12:15pm nap

        12:15pm wake, nurse, change, and play

        1:15pm-3:15pm nap

        3:15pm wake, nurse, change, and play

        4:15pm-6:15pm nap

        6:15pm wake, nurse, change, and play

        7:15pm-8:15pm nap

        8:15pm wake, nurse, play for 15 or 20min, bathtime

        9:30pm bedtime

        11:30pm nightwaking, nurses, back to bed OR cannot settle in crib and is awake for up to 2hrs

        2:30am nightwaking, nurses, back to bed

        5:45am nightwaking, nurses, back to bed. Sometimes after this there is an 8am feed

        9:30am wakes up for day. nurses and it all starts over

        Now, all of this is variable as he is just a little baby, but this is the general rhythm of our days. He doesn’t seem able to stay awake for more than an hour or so during the day, though a few times he has made it 1hr 15min or so. In the morning he sometimes can’t make it more than 30min. By 1hr 30min awake, during any part of the day, my normally tear-free and happy baby is generally a mess.

        Also, he puts himself to sleep for both naps and bedtime completely solo. No patting, rocking etc. He has white noise, a dark room, and he sleeps on his belly (I know you don’t advocate this, but we have cleared this with his pediatrician and we are all ok with it.) BUT he uses a pacifier. Whenever I put him to sleep I turn on the white noise machine, turn off the light, and lay him down with his pacifier in his mouth. We have a video monitor, so we can see that he immediately works on putting himself to sleep and is generally asleep within 5 minutes. We don’t let him fuss or cry. But he WANTS that pacifier, and definitely associates it with going to sleep.

        If I drop it and take longer than usual to give it to him after I’ve laid him in the crib, he’ll start to fuss and get anxious. There have been times when he has spit the pacifier out before falling asleep and he is still able to go to sleep, but more often he will let out little whining noises so we’ll go pop it back in. If we don’t give it back within a minute or two then he will escalate to a cry. He doesn’t usually need us to put the pacifier back in after he falls asleep except sometimes in the night (not for naps). He doesn’t usually need it while awake, though we wouldn’t keep it from him if he was having a rough day.

        So are we headed for disaster in a few months because of the pacifier?? Or are we ahead of the game because he can already put himself to sleep? Why does he sometimes wake for 2hrs in the night? He has never had that long stretch of sleep for his first sleep of the night that babies are supposed to have. How can we make that happen? How long should we be aiming to keep him up before he goes down for the night? He just can’t seem to stay awake without getting overtired. Thanks so much for your help, Alexis! You are an angel to help so many people like this!

      • Don’t think of it as Bloomingdale’s versus Wal-Mart. Think of it (hello, MBA school) as overhead versus JIT inventory management. Everyone knows that the JIT strategy is unbeatable and profitable in the long-run. That, or you’ll both have your niche, become exceedingly wealthy, and we’ll all be jealous!

  2. A happy ending, yay! So glad it went well for her :) And serves as inspiration too. We will have to deal with the pacifier sooner or later, I’m trying the Pantley’s gentle removal first, but I’m afraid some CIO might be necessary one day so success stories make me feel hopeful :)

    • The Pantley pull out can work but can SOMETIMES be frustrating – like after 2 hours you have a really tired baby who is super angry with you. That being said for lots of babies it works like GANGBUSTERS. Commit to 3 days and see how things go. Let us know – now everybody is probably really curious ;)
      Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

    • Meh, I thought the same thing about the pacifier, but here I am with a 9 month old who happily shoves it back in her mouth if she wakes in the night and needs it. Don’t stress too much, it might work out fine enough to keep it :)

      • Some kids are really quick to figure out how to self-serve the paci. Some kids can sleep in a paci ball pit and STILL not manage to get the paci back in on their own. It’s a tough call because when you’re struggling with the paci, there is no magic 8 ball that will tell you, “Just wait a week and they’ll be doing it without you!” or “Better ditch the paci because this is going to go on FOREVER.”
        Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

    • We have nowhere to rush because he is only 5 months. I don’t want to attempt CIO till he is 6 months old as you recommend Alexis so we have one month to try and try and try. And I know that one day he will learn to put it back himself but I don’t think I can do 4 more months :) Though he can already take it out with his thumb and index finger so that is fun :)

      • My baby will be 4 months next week and I thought the time for sleep training was between 4-6 months? I’m trying to get a head start, but still having a hard time with drowsy but awake, although we are using the swing, sometimes I still need to nurse or bounce. Maybe I’m missing the window where he is able to do it? It had happened a handful of times…

        • Well that depends on what you understand under the term sleep training. Between 4 and 6 months is the best time to teach baby to fall asleep on their own, to put baby down (drowsy but) awake because around 6 months they develop object permanence. So yes, the best age for sleep training is between 4-6 months unless by sleep training you mean CIO when it shouldn’t be done before 6 months.

          • So what exactly do you mean by ‘sleep training’ for a 4 month old? If I put him down drowsy, but awake, he won’t just magically fall asleep.

            • Sounds very familiar :) I used to be so frustrated by all the books I read which just said “put baby down awake” as if it were that simple. Mine was certainly having none of it.
              I think at 4 months all of this still applies:
              http://www.troublesometots.com/how-to-get-baby-to-sleep-better-part-1/
              and
              http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-2/

              You can swaddle as long as baby isn’t capable of rolling over in the swaddle. Dr. Karp recommends white noise till the age of one. Swings have a weight limit, that’s your only limit for using a swing.
              Personally, I tried the swing but there were periods when my baby just hated it and I couldn’t make it happen even with Alexis’ varsity method. So I mostly used the gradual approach. My baby needed to be nursed and rocked to sleep. First I transitioned him from breast do pacifier. Then instead of rocking I would lie down with him and stroke his forehead and shush him till he fell asleep and only then moved him to the crib. Then I did the same but till he was really drowsy and not fully asleep at which point I transfered him to the crib (the first time I did this I was sooo scared). Then I would put him in the crib and shush/stroke in the crib. We have a bedtime routine and that helps too. Now, to my utter amazement, we go through the routine (breast, bath, jammies, book, lights out) and at the end I can see that he wants to sleep (he starts turning his head from side to side) and looks at me like let me just be already so I just put him in the crib and leave. He will be 5 months tomorrow and I still cannot believe it.
              It looks so easy when I write it down like this but it was a long process (took us about 3 months) interrupted by colic several times (imagine the scene – I am shut inside a pitch dark bathroom, the hairdryer is on, baby is doubleswaddled and screaming like a banshee and I rock him for 30 minutes till he clams down and another 30 till he falls asleep).
              He also needed to be developmentally ready for some of these steps. I couldn’t rush him into falling asleep with just shushing, one day he was ready for it. So I am not sure how much of it is my doing and how much just him being ready.
              Sleep is still not perfect though. He goes down on his own but wakes up 45 minutes after bedtime for some reason and will not resettle without my help this time (so my wonderful bedtime falling asleep on his own doesn’t serve for much :)), nurses every three hours round the clock and wakes up between feeds as well (it’s the paci). So we still have some work to do.

            • Eventually he will. This is a great time because as babies get older lots of the soothing options you have when they’re a newborn (swaddle, swing, paci) stop working (or cause other issues). So basically baby awake + as much soothing as you can provide (swaddle, white noise) + baby hasn’t been awake too long = your homework.

              Nobody is saying this is easy. But I would suggest that it doesn’t get easIER as they get older so this is the project you get to play with for the next 4-6 weeks. Party on Garth.
              Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

            • My son is 12 weeks, so I am just trying to be prepared for the future…or would you start now???

              AND what do you mean by eventually? After some crying? Here is what I envision happening at nap time.

              Been awake ~1hour
              Change diaper
              Turn on white noise
              Rock a few minutes
              Swaddle
              Put in swing, awake
              Baby starts to cry, and cry, and cry…
              Mommy tries Varsity Techniques
              Baby continues to cry…

              AND currently I’m nursing him into a coma at night (anywhere between 8-10pm) and he sleeps in a non moving swing 5-7 hours, then nurses and sleeps again for 2-4.

              Would you change this also? Or just do naps? Or…

            • THANKS btw…for responding. I super uper duper shmooper appreciated you!

            • no not magically but if u catch them at the right time and then go back in every 5 mins or so they do eventually fall asleep!

        • I don’t know if 4-6 months is “the best” time but it’s definitely “time.” Meaning that this is the window to really master this before you run into the phase where it will start to blow up on you a la object permanence. So yes – getting a head start is a great thing to do now!

          If you’re using the swing, what happens if you put her in it fully awake? You do a nice soothing routine, maybe swaddle her, and then put her into the swing (awake) with white noise on, turn on the swing and leave the room. I would play around with that. If she fusses leave well enough alone for 10-15 minutes, see what happens.

          Keep an eye on the watch – sometimes very small changes in time (how long baby has been awake) will make it go more smoothly. Experiment a little and see if you notice anything.

          Good luck!
          Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

          • For those of us attempting the swing technique, does the swing need to be placed next to the crib from the get go? Our swing is in our dining room. I put my son awake in there with loud white noise. Should I be moving the swing to his bedroom and put him in the swing with the lights off? Currently he looks around until he falls asleep. I watch from the other room where he can’t see me. Sorry, if this is a dumb question!

  3. Good news. You rock, Alexis!

  4. Wondering how she got the baby to stop feeding to sleep…right now we give our baby a bottle to suck on in bed and lay with him until he sleeps…he will fall asleep eventually from this…but wakes every 1.5hrs to 2hrs..

    how do you get baby to fall asleep without anything??

    • Roxy, I know it sounds too simple, but you just feed them at the beginning of the bedtime routine, then put them down awake. The baby will fuss/cry until they just fall asleep all on their own.

      • After a few nights, they won’t cry any more, or only very little (some babies seem to just need to fuss to let off steam at the end of the baby) and will just go to sleep.

      • Yep that’s pretty much what happens.

        Although Roxy – you technically have 2 things going on:
        1) Bottle
        2) Cuddle to sleep

        So if you’re heading the CIO route I would go without either, otherwise you’re just postponing the inevitable :(

        Depending on the age you want to give baby as much soothing as possible. White noise, wonderful soothing routine, possibly a swaddle (even if you were done). Admittedly this is easier when they’re younger (say 3-4 months old). They’re more flexible and frankly you have more soothing options (swing, swaddle, et al). If your baby is older then you work with white noise, consistent soothing routine, and possibly some tears.

        But honestly this story is exactly as happened. She hunkered down expecting a HUGE MESS. And it wasn’t so bad at all (20+ minutes then done). So sometimes babies surprise you!

  5. I recognize my own joy after 3 nights of heart-wrenching sleep training led to DD’s first ever STTN. I also felt like the pain was worth it, not just for me but for her! Imagine depending on something you have zero control over to gt yourself to sleep!

    Now I’ve run into something I’m not sure where to find the answer to (despite having read all of your posts, Alexis): DD is almost 7 months old. She’s falling asleep on her own, no problem, and staying asleep for at least 3 hours, which is better than what was happening pre-CIO, but remember how the first stretch of sleep is usually the longest? Well, that’s it, after that she’s up at 3 hours, 2 hours, sometimes one hour or less (the closer to morning wake-up time, the shorter the intervals).
    She sleeps in a travel crib in our room. I’ve always waited a bit and listened to see if she was just crying in her sleep. We don’t hear that kind of fussing anymore. It’s louder and more persistent and won’t be ignored. She doesn’t seem hungry, but neither will she just put herself back to sleep at those times.
    What to do to cut back wakings? What could be going on? Do I just have misguided expectations of how many times a night she should be waking? Will she just grow out of it?
    Oh, I should point out that after that STTN, she was sick, and that’s when the 4+ wakings began. She’s not sick anymore, but the sick wakings schedule stuck!

    • What time is she going to bed?

    • So what happens when she wakes up? How do you get her to fall back to sleep? It sounds like she’s basically waking up all night yes? So she goes to bed at 7:00 then wakes up at 10, 12, 3, 4, 5 right?

      Am curious to know how you’re responding. More details please!

      • Thanks for responding, I feel almost feel relieved already!
        I usually wait a few minutes in my bed and listen. When I determine she’s not putting herself back to sleep and is awake, I get up, put her in bed with me and nurse her to sleep. It’s just the most efficient way to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night (fast and I can sleep through it). If I’m really beat, my DH will pick her up and hold her for a few minutes. She also falls asleep that way, but who wants to stand up and hold a baby 4+ times a night? I have tried patting her in the crib, but she won’t have it and I’m too tired at that time of night to stick to it. In one of your other CIO posts I’m pretty sure I read it was okay to do what I’m doing… riiight?

        The 4+ night goes something like this:
        7:00, 10:30, 1, 3:30, 5:30, 6:30

        • Oh, oops, forgot to say that I put her back in her crib after the night nursing, whether she’s still awake or not. She’ll go back to sleep fine then (if she’s not already asleep).

        • So you’re feeding her at all those times, she falls asleep while you’re cuddling and nursing with her, then when she’s totally sleeping you sneak her back into HER crib where she’ll sleep till the next wakeup.

          Am I understanding that correctly?

          And no – nobody wants to get up 4X a night to cuddle a baby. Tons of people are game for baby cuddling during the day but at 3:30 AM the baby cuddling is far less appealing ;)

          • There’s not so much sneaking. She often falls asleep, but not always. Either way, once she’s done, I’ll say “back to bed now” and pick her up and put her back. She’ll usually wake up on the way back to her bed. Sometimes barely, and sometimes she’s still completely awake but calm after nursing.
            And then she sleeps in her crib until next wake up, yes.
            (Tonight she’s waking up every 45 minutes and I haven’t nursed her back to sleep once because it’s still so early…, whole ‘nother story!)

            • If you don’t think she’s hungry I’ll trust your instinct and say, “She’s not starving.” Although check the link below and see if any of the food issues which can impact night feeding sound like they could be influencing your frequent night snacker.

              It sounds to me like this is more about soothing than need for food. That she’s looking for comfort nursing and cuddling to navigate sleep cycles. I wonder, how would you feel about not taking her to your bed to nurse at night? What if you stay in HER room (or is her crib in your room)? I would start with the 1 and 3:30 feedings and start reducing the amount of time she has on boob. So 10:30 and 5:30 are “real feeds” and the other 2 we’re going to wean off. I would also make sure she’s fully awake when you put her back down.

              Also make sure you’re separating nursing from bedtime by a good 20 minutes. Basically I think the root issue is that she (like most babies) is seeking that comfort sucking throughout the night. Separation at bedtime is a great first step. Use LOUD white noise and encourage the use of a lovey. Stick it in your bra so it smells like you. Sound like a plan?
              Alexis recently posted..Why Night Weaning Isn’t WorkingMy Profile

            • I couldn’t “reply” to your last comment, Alexis. I’m hoping you see this:

              Thank you, first of all, for taking the time to ask me more questions and try to help me figure this out. I really appreciate it.

              DD is definitely a boob fiend, so I agree with you that what she’s looking for is the cuddling aspect. Until now, the boob before bed did not end 20 minutes before lights out, so I guess that is where I have to start. I’ll put it before bath time instead of after. I guess I hadn’t done that before because I didn’t want to mess with the routine while we were solidifying the “falling asleep from awake” thing. I didn’t want to wonder “maybe it’s not working because we made that change”. But now that it is working, I can do that.

              I also wanted to say I managed to skip at least one night waking last night by just waiting her out longer than usual (10 min vs 5). It’s hard because there are no distractions for mommy & daddy at night (eg re-reading Troublesome Tots posts) that would make it easier to ignore the complaints, but I can see I need to make a bigger effort if I want this to work.

              Which leads me to the other thing you suggest, about cutting back the actual middle of the night cuddling. She *is* in our room, but I can think of some ways I could make it a little less than ideal, even if it means a rougher few nights for mommy while we’re working on it.

              Sleep issues are tough, and if there’s any area of parenting that makes me feel mommy-guilt, it’s this one. It’s good to have support, thanks again!

    • Isabel! My daughter is doing this EXACT SAME THING!! It is unreal how EXACTLY the same it is! She is 7 mo. one week. She was going down by herself at 8 sleep til 12 (if we were lucky) then up every hour or two (if lucky) til 8 am. She also sleeps in a pack and play in our room. (we only have one bedroom). I pulled her into bed to nurse. Same as your girl, sometimes she would be asleep but sometimes would fall asleep on her own maybe 50/50. She didn’t drink much. I think she likes that “full belly” feeling and the comfort of sucking. If you ignore the fussing it escalates…EVERY TIME.
      This is what we are doing.
      We decided to get a rocking chair into the room-it’s a tight fit and we have to climb over it but…what do you do? I only nurse in the rocking chair at night now. Then we implemented a dream feed at 11:30. This was to buy us some time. First night went like this:
      11:30 dreamfeed
      1:30 up dad rocks to drowsy, tries to transfer to bed fails rocks again, etc ad nauseum until
      3:30 Nurse and sleeps immediately
      5:30 up again nurse
      7:30 up for day

      Night 2
      11:30 dreamfeed
      2:30 up dad rocks til drowsy, transfers to bed shushes to sleep in bed
      3:30 up nurse to drowsy
      5:30 up nurse I pulled her into bed (oops)

      Night 3
      11:30 dreamfeed
      2:30 up dad shushes to sleep wihtout picking her up in less than 5 minutes!!!
      4:00 up Dad rocks til calm tries to transfer, fail but rocks again til I nurse at 4:30.

      Tonight is night 4…We’ll see. Hoping that we can stretch the not eating part til 5 tonight. The goal is something like

      Dreamfeed 11-11:30 then nurse 5-5:30 for 6 whole hours of sleep!!! Then phase two is to stretch that morning feed to 6/6:30 then gradually reduce the time of the dream feed. Don’t know yet. What did you do????? I really want to know!!!! Did it work??? Are our babies secret twins??

      • Haha, Roxanne, I know how you feel, running into a story about a baby who seems like your baby’s secret twin :)

        To answer your question, I did what Alexis suggested. And yes, it seems to have worked in reducing night wakings! In more detail:
        -I put a larger gap between the last nursing of the evening and bedtime. I put it before bath time instead of after. I have not done this consistently, though, because she nurses throughout her afternoon nap (we take it together in my bed)so she’s not often hungry before her bath. Regardless, I try to put a larger gap between nursing and lights-out.
        -I made night nursings less “ideal” or cozy for her (and me, unfortunately, but them’s the breaks): instead of side-lying in my bed, I sit up and hold her. This means neither of us is likely to fall asleep. I can see when she’s done sucking and I sit her back up (that’ll wake her up!), tell her I’m putting her back in her bed, and do that. She falls asleep no problem.

        That’s pretty much it. She still gets nursed in response to every waking because I’m lazy and impatient :)

        Her night wakings are down significantly (1-2/night). Sometimes things get a little crazy close to the morning, but by then I just bring her into my bed to extend sleep time. Who cares? I’m happier with her sleep overall, which I think is saying a lot for a 7 month old.

        Regarding Alexis’s other suggestions, we have long used loud white noise, which I find helps ME ignore DD’s little noises; she has a lovey that she doesn’t care much for, but sometimes uses to suck on, and a gloworm that she loves and that I do not turn on to avoid the timed music (big Alexis no-no, ha!).

  6. I have no clue how to get my 13 month old to sleep thru the night. He has only done so a handful of times. I am EXHAUSTED. We have the same routine at night, every night. Bath, lotion/massage, jammies, bottle-bed. I do rock him while he gets his nighttime bottle. At night is the only time he gets his paci or his bottle. Bedtime is 7:45-8:00pm every night. I try not to stray from that even on the weekends. Some nights he will sleep till 1am, some nights he is only asleep for an hour or two. Some nights he gets up only once, other nights it 3-4 times a night. The last few nights it has taken me an hour to get him back to sleep. I would rock him to the point where he is sleeping and as soon as I lay him down, BAM! He is wide awake and screaming. I have a humidifier going in his room at night and dark curtains too.

    I don’t know what to do. I am afraid to let him CIO. I did try one night and after 15 minutes my husband caved and went in there. I am so tired. This morning my little guy woke at 4am and I went in and the only way he would sleep was in the rocker with me. So now, I am exhausted and sore.

    When he does wake during the night, he gets a bottle and usually finishes the whole 8 ounces. Sometimes he does not though. He eats plenty during the day too.

    Please help!!

    • Have you read this?

      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-i/

      I’m guessing that the bottle+rocking at bedtime is setting you up for all the night issues. Read the whole thing – it’s long but really really key!

      • I did read it. There is a TON of great advice there. I guess I just need to get myself ready for him to sleep better too. I think a big reason why I rock him all the time is because he had a rough start in life. He suffered a stroke in utero so I tend to be a bit smothering :)

        • Ouch. That is a rough start.

          Well hopefully you don’t have to totally go the CIO route. Rocking is generally the EASIEST thing to gently wean off of (note: I did not say EASY). I think you’ll have the best luck by starting with ditching the bottle at bedtime but continuing to rock to sleep.

          Then gradually reduce the rocking.

          Admittedly this is rough stuff. And it might go better for somebody else. If you have family nearby who can help with the gentle weaning I would call in some big favors and get them to come over.

          And if, after all your best efforts, it’s not working, well you have a backup plan to work with. Good luck!

          • Thank you :) I appreciate it. He does love his mommy cuddles, so it will be both of us weaning down the rocking :)

          • Well we tried it last night and it was actually not bad. We did our usual bedtime routine but instead of giving him his bottle in his room while rocking him, he got his bottle in the living room while the lights were on about 20 minutes before bed. At 7:30pm I took him to his room, rocked him for just a couple minutes and told him goodnight, and that I loved him and that he was a big boy and going to go to bed by himself. I gave him kisses and put him in his crib and rubbed his back for just a minute and walked out of the room and shut his door. It was about 15 minutes of crying and he was out. He slept till 3:30am and then woke up babbling, so we did not go in. He cried loudly and very angrily for about 25minutes then fell back to sleep until 7:15am. So I would say it was a success. He didn’t even use his paci. I am thinking he threw it out of his crib when he was mad because it was on the floor of his room across from his crib.

            Hopefully tonight goes even better.

            • Not bad?

              NOT BAD?!?!?!

              Gretchen – fifteen minutes of crying at bedtime is basically AS GOOD AS YOU COULD HAVE POSSIBLY ASKED FOR!!! Seriously, that was FANTASTIC.

              Are you referring to the 25 minutes at 3:30? Again that is NOTHING.

              You guys made a huge positive change and his “complaint” about it was marginal to nil. I get that you dont’ see it that way but I swear, I SWEAR, that was fantastic.
              Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

            • We have made it the last 3 nights and each night has gotten better. Last night he got his bottle while we were in the living room ( like the last 2 nights) and then we sat and cuddle for a few minutes then I took him in his room and we rocked for a couple minutes and I kissed him and put him in his crib and he fussed for not even 2 minutes and he was quiet. He woke at 3:30am and was talking to himself for about 5 minutes and then fussed for a few seconds and was quiet.

              It’s so nice!! He even sleeps in a little longer now in the mornings too!!

              THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

            • The best part is, he gets one bottle now and that is at night. I am going to wait a week or so and see if can just use his sippy at night time too. He does still take his paci at bed and nap but those are the only times he gets it. Hopefully after the bottle, the paci is the next to go.

  7. You rock Alexis, another great post! Your blog saved my sanity, I read everything and got hubbie on board & after a some hard work my son is a fantastic sleeper now. I followed your night weaning advice through December too & weened him from his last remaining early morning feed without so much as a grumble, thank you! Charge what you’re worth, if you were cheeky enough to charge more we’d all pay it!

  8. What a great story! And thanks for this awesome site, it truly saved our sanity! After waking every 45 minutes at night for weeks (can you say “sleep cycle”?), we decided to try CIO at 6 months old. And by “we decided” I mean that my husband sent me to the guest bedroom with a Tylenol pm, ear plugs, and the threat that he would never help me with our daughter at night again, if I came out of the room even once before morning. I had told him all about what I had read on your site, but hadn’t completely rid myself of the stupid feelings of guilt about CIO.

    My husband said she cried several times that night for anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour. Ever since, she’s gone to bed at 9pm and woken up between 6 and 7am. EVERY NIGHT! She smiles when we put her in her crib, falls asleep on her own, and smiles when she wakes up. And it’s the same for naps! I barely know what to do with myself now that I don’t spend hours trying to get her to sleep. It took my body two weeks to realize that I didn’t have to wake up every hour anymore…

  9. Thanks for posting, I’ve been waiting to hear how it went! Maybe you were going to surprise us and go the AP route – “and then the child suffered emotional distress their whole life…” Just joking – it went as expected and so glad to hear Mom, Dad and babe are all sleeping good!

    I was reminded today how wonderful your service is after seeing an obnoxious anti-CIO post on FB and the resulting judgmental comments. Your pro CIO stance helps so many people by giving them specific tools before they get there and if they do have to CIO, helping them do so as easily as possible (with sustainable sleep habits, not just CIO as a solo strategy!).

    Anyways – I hope you’re able to find a middle ground with the payment stuff. I would vote for finding a way to keep your awesome free comments coming – maybe that’s some paying clients, maybe just a stronger push towards your donate page? I think this is such a cool resource (a mental health resource, really and truly) that I hope it’s able to stay as accessible as it is now. You clearly have your head on your shoulders about this though and I know you’ll find the best option for everyone!

    • Oh, yes..I definitely meant a for fee service in ADDITION to what she does now. Some people, like myself just need the extra hand holding.

    • I’m not going to charge people to share in comments!!!! No no no no. Never. And I’ll ALWAYS do my level best to answer questions in comments. Admittedly I’m waaay behind and as I get more comments I fall even FARTHER behind. But I’m always trying to keep up!

      (Ps. This is why I’m so grateful when other people chime in with helpful advice. Seriously when somebody else answers with a great response I want to mail them presents.)
      Alexis recently posted..Much to be Grateful ForMy Profile

      • No I’m being misunderstood. My thought is that you would keep up this awesome sight and people would still keep commenting, answering other peoples questions, as well as hearing from you…nothing would change about the site.

        I am just thinking that there might be several people out there willing to pay for a 1 on 1 consult that could provide a more personalized plan and some hand-holding. These consults may provide enough money to allow you to keep the blog going for free, plus a little extra for your trouble.

        You offer such a great service through this blog. You deserve remuneration and there are tired parents who would gladly pay for some personal attention.

  10. So my baby turns 3 months old next week and I read this…

    http://www.troublesometots.com/3-6-month-baby-sleep-survival-guide/

    But wondered if you could give more details. Given a newborn who has been going to sleep at various times, in various ways (rocking, nursing, swing…) and in various places, what would be the first order of business? How would you prioritize and what would it look like?

    So the post would be, “My baby turns 3 months next week, now what?”

    • That’s a great idea for a post and I’m totally stealing it ;)

      Your priority now is mastering “put down awake” Doesn’t have to happen tomorrow but this is literally your #1 priority. Your runway to master this skill is roughly 2 months long. But keep in mind that it’s quite likely that the 4 month sleep regression will interfere with your runway so budget time accordingly.

      Hope that homework is clear enough :P
      Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

      • I understand the what, not the how.

        Put down AWAKE and let cry until he falls asleep…
        Put down awake but if he whimpers scoop him up and rock/nurse him…
        Put down barely coherent after a nursing frenzy, but his eyes are slightly ajar so it counts..
        Put down awake in his crib, in his swing (moving or still)…
        Put down awake at night, naps, both??

        Am I just putting him down awake and crossing my fingers it will work one day?

        I am not deliberately trying to be obtuse. I am just so tired.

        • I would vote for option #3 – put down barely coherent with the goal of working towards slightly more coherent over time. And yes night naps both – this is your project.

          Gradual changes work better than plopping him down awake and walking out. At this age I wouldn’t let him cry. But I WOULD test the waters here and there (put down awake, walk out, wait 5 minutes, see what happens).

          Big topic and I’ll write more posts about it soon but consider yourself a scientist who is doing little experiments – try this out. Didn’t work? Modify slightly. Try again tomorrow. Wait a week – try again.

          • I am in similar situation with my 12 week-old. Here’s a question: let’s say a 9 am attempt of put down awake works. She fusses 3 minutes and falls asleep. This is what happened yesterday. Here’s the thing: she did not stay asleep very long, maybe 30 minutes. Next try, same thing — not a very thorough nap. So, baby is getting increasingly sleep deprived and by third attempt crying for longer. My question: was my first attempt a successful attempt at “testing the waters”? At this stage, if more than five minutes of crying, do I run in ready to soothe? And any suggestions about prolonging her time asleep? She occasionally does long naps, just without consistency.

  11. Upon reading this story (and some of the replies), I am so extremely grateful that I found this site when my LO was just 6 weeks old! Your advice had her straightened out in just 2 weeks, and there’s only been a few mini blips. I can’t imagine having to sleep train her from scratch now that she’s 6 months old and very stubborn and set in her ways. This site should be mandatory for all the new moms out there!

    • Cathy, what did you find that was helpful? What changes did you make?

      • When my LO was 6 weeks old, she had her days and nights mixed up, wouldn’t let me put her down while she slept, and I had absolutely know idea how many hours she was supposed to be sleeping and the maximum times in between naps. First thing I did after finding this blog was go out and buy a swing! That solved the ‘not sleeping unless I held her’ issue. Alexis was also the only person that recommended leaving my LO in it all night, and that solved the ‘waking up every hour’ issue. Then she helped me figure out what my LO’s true bedtime was, which unfortunately at that time was 4am! Although theres’ no “cure” for day/night confusion other than time, it saved me a lot of frustration and tears because I stopped trying to force her to sleep before that.
        Thanks to her initial advice, I learned:
        -roll with the 4am bedtime until she figured it out on her own
        -she won’t sleep during fussy time/witching hour so not worth it to force her
        -at that age, she will nap every ~1.5 hrs, and to NOT let her get overtired or it’ll be so much harder to get her to sleep.
        -anything over 10 minutes is still considered a nap and she probably won’t go back to sleep for another ~1.5 hrs.
        -how to extend her naps to 1-2 hours
        -SWADDLE, WHITE NOISE, SWING!!! (She never needed a paci)
        -put her to sleep the same way and place every time
        -It’s ok to nurse/rock to sleep at that age
        -After she turned 3 months, to gradually try to stop nursing/rocking to sleep, and put her down awake.

        I’m sure there’s much more, but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head! I’m actually happy that my LO had so many sleep issues at the beginning so that I was able to find this blog sooner rather than later. Like I mentioned before, she’s had some minor blips (4 month sleep regression, Wonder Weeks, growth spurts) but they’ve been pretty managable with some tweaks to her routine.

        Right now, I’m using Alexis’ advice to wean her off some of her sleep associations (she’s done with the swing and halfway done with the swaddle).

        • I’m so glad you were able to do this. My problem has been trying to figure out how to implement her advice. That has always been my problem. I need more hands-on type instruction. With my 4 year old, I just suffered until he was 5.5 months old, then did CIO.

          So, I feel like I know how to do CIO, however I desperately want to avoid that this time. My LO is 3 months and he sleeps pretty good at night, only waking 1-2 times, but his bedtime is still extremely variable (anywhere from 8-10pm) and I have no routine in place b/c I wouldn’t know when to start it. Also he nurses to sleep at night. The day is a different story. His naps are VERY volatile. Sometimes the swing does the trick, sometimes I can rock him to sleep, sometimes I have to nurse and hold him for a nap. Sometimes, he won’t nap at all and there is no pattern for when he naps. I try to soothe him to sleep within the time limit, but it doesn’t always work. And even with all this, if he goes to sleep, he may only sleep 10minutes-1hour at the most.

          Now that he is coming out of the newborn period, I know things need to change. I’m just not sure what to do and how to do it. I’m hoping I will get picked for a free consult that she’s giving away on FB.

          • My LO was about the same at that age. She really didn’t fall into a predictable routine until she came out of the 4 month sleep regression. And her bedtime is STILL pretty late (9-10pm)but from what Alexis says, that’s normal. If he’s sleeping all night with only 1-2 wake ups, that’s pretty good! I think as long as your routine is consistent, it shouldn’t matter what time you start, since the timing will depend on when he wakes up from his last nap. So say he wakes up from last nap at 7pm, then you would want to start the routine at whatever time will get him to bed by 8:30-9pm-ish. The routine can be as simple or complex as you/baby need; whatever is easiest but relaxes him. I do: nurse, bath, lotion, nurse (other breast), lullaby, and swaddle. At 3 months, she still slept in a moving swing with white noise, and sometimes fell asleep while nursing. Oh well. For naps, I watched her like a hawk for any signs of sleepiness (take the time she woke up previously and start watching her about an hour later). We just do a lullaby and swaddle, then into a moving swing and white noise. The key is to be consistent with what you do, so he can learn that those particular actions mean sleep time. Sometimes I had to do Alexis’ varsity technigue even though I did everything right. Sometimes she woke up after only 10 minutes, so I’d have to squeeze in another nap which pushed back bedtime. Babies are fickle that way! I wasn’t terribly concerned with her naps, as long as she wasn’t going too long in between them; I think her record was six 10-30 minutes naps in one day (bleh!), but as long as she wasn’t overtired, she slept great at night. In terms of extending the naps, blackout blinds did the trick for my LO, as well as ignoring her for 5-10 mins if she woke up to see if she fell back asleep.

            (I hope I got that right, Alexis!)

          • Oh, and in terms of nursing him to sleep, once you get him dependent on the other sleep cues, you can wean him off the nursing. If he falls asleep while nursing, gently wake him before putting him down.

            • So, with the routine at night..would you still nurse to sleep until the routine is set? Right now, I am downstairs just nursing and nursing until he eventually falls asleep and I feel like I can put him down. I will go up to his room and swaddle him. He usually stirs a little and then I rock him a bit more, then put him in a non-moving swing. It is the kind that is just a frame and the car seat attaches to it. He sleeps there for 5-7 hours, wakes to nurse, and then sleeps another 2-4 hours.

              So I’m thinking I would go upstairs, change diaper/pjs, rock and sing lullaby, nurse, swaddle, rock more if swaddling wakes him up, then put him in the swing. Then eventually start nursing less and less and putting him down more and more awake. So eventually the routine would look more like diaper/pjs, rock and sing lullaby, swaddle, put down (with maybe nursing at the beginning of the routine?).

            • Kim,

              I found that for my LO, she still likes to nurse right before I put her down, but I think Alexis prefers the nursing to be at the beginning of the routine to help with that sleep association. I don’t think you need to nurse LESS, just don’t nurse with the aim of putting him to sleep anymore; try to aim for ‘really sleepy’, and if he falls asleep wake him gently while he’s still on the breast. I Also wouldn’t rock him back to sleep before putting him in the non-moving swing, because he is still going to associate YOU with sleep. Although it doesn’t seem to be a problem right now because he sleeps like a champ once he falls asleep, you might want to get rid of that before he hits his 4 month sleep regression/teething/separation anxiety and he starts waking up almost every hour wondering where you are! My LO did this, but the difference is she was usually able to get herself back to sleep. I think Alexis would recommend swaddling, then putting him into a moving swing, and leaving the room while he’s still awake. Let the swing do all the hard work so he becomes dependent on that instead of you, then you can slowly wean him off the swing later on.

            • So, I’ve tried putting him in the swing awake, just like you said and he just cries. I read about the varsity techniques and that didn’t help either. So my question is, what to do if the swing doesn’t put him to sleep.

          • I would swaddle THEN nurse. And I would swaddle him and nurse him in a DARK room with LOUD white noise. Do all this where he’ll be sleeping vs. in the living room or what have you. I like swings more than the car seat in frame (those are great to extend the occasional car nap but not as awesome for regular use).

            Also if you’re having sleep problems in general at this age I would focus on getting him TO sleep vs. putting him down awake. I mean both are key but it seems like the more imminent issue is getting him to sleep AT ALL right?

            Variable bedtime is OK-ish for now. But I would try to start honing in on a slightly more consistent time that doesn’t leave him awake for ages. So if he last napped at 4:00 PM and is awake at 10:00 PM he’s going to have a really hard time falling asleep. Start doing a looong consistent routine at say 8:00 ish – take your time, dim lights, long warm bath, infant massage, songs, books, etc. It might not work all the time at first but stick with it for 1 week and see if things don’t get more consistent at bedtime.

            • Alexis, thanks for taking the reins on this one; I was feeling like it was amateur hour for me! If you hadn’t responded I was going to write “wait for Alexis to come to the rescue”!

        • Cathy,
          This is soooo awesome I wish I could give you a big hug and kiss!

          My whole goal in starting this blog was so that maybe I could help somebody do THIS. EXACTLY THIS.

          You have just made my WHOLE day :)
          Alexis

  12. Glad for a happy ending!! Gives me hope ;). I am an AP mom myself and have always been against CIO, but we are now to a point that I really think that is the only option! My little one is almost 13 months and has always been rocked/nursed to sleep. We were able to put her in her crib after she was asleep and she only woke up a couple times. Within the last few weeks she has started getting upset and refusing to let us out her the crib. So we resorted to nursing her to sleep in our bed and sneaking out, which works a lot for me. But I work 3 nights a week, and when my husband try’s to put her to sleep, she cries and screams at him for about 2-3 hours and them sleeps restlessly until I get home from work. So by what you say, she has an object permanence problem and we have set up some very bad habits? I have tried to not nurse her to sleep and lay with her, but it seems worse! She fought that till 1am (bedtime is about 8pm). Is it too much to change the routine with nursing first before bath, Jammies, etc when we start CIO? I was afraid that was too many changes at once, but fighting it for so long is just going to make her more sleep deprived! Also, my husband was talking about starting while I am at work (I am the emotional jelly parent!), but I didn’t know if she should see us both before we put her to bed the first couple of nights so that she doesn’t think the routine will change when I am home. Sorry all lot o questions, just unsure really where to start and am still dealing with the dang mom guilt ;). Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!!
    Oh, also…why no soap for night time bath?

    • Also she is held for her naps…won’t sleep if we put her down then either :/. So we wait on that until night sleep is going well? Then start CIO for naps too, will that send mixed messages that we will hold you for a nap, but you have to sleep on your own at bedtime? Thanks :)

      • I’m interested in this too :)

      • I wouldn’t dare to give a complex answer on CIO, but I know that Alexis usually recommends doing CIO for bedtime first because babies biologically need to sleep at bedtime so that helps you. If you do CIO for naps they are not tired enough to sleep and you end up with overtired cranky baby and that is really bad for bedtime, so bedtime CIO first and once that works then naps.

    • Hey Rachael,

      At 13 months you can use some soap for baths. Or occasionally use soap. But the bottom line for that recommendation is that babies don’t produce oil and rarely need soap to get clean (maybe 2X a week is fine?). People are over-soaping their babies and you see a ton of eczema (especially in the winter) because their skin is so dry. Their skin is dry because they aren’t oily like we are which is why they don’t need much soap.

      Don’t worry about the mixed messages – this is not an issue. So for now I would do what you do for naps and lets get night sorted out. Because it sounds like bedtime has devolved into a big mess for everybody right?

      So what is your sleep goal. Do you WANT to co-sleep or are you just doing it out of desperation? It sounds like 3 weeks ago she was sleeping in her bed and now you are co-sleeping (but not keen to) and have gone back to nursing to sleep although you didn’t used to.

      All of this, BTW, is rooted in the hyper-vigilance I talk about. When you put babies to sleep and sneak out they eventually catch on and start fighting you AT bedtime because they don’t like the surprise of whatever change has occurred after you snuck out. Follow me there?

      So your response to the hyper-vigilance bedtime upset has been to “up the ante” so to speak. So now you’re co-sleeping and nursing to sleep. But this is also a dead end road because the nursing to sleep can quickly result in a baby who will want to nurse all night (hasn’t happened yet but is a very real possibility in the future) which is not where you want to go at 13 months.

      So I would take a step back and talk to your partner – WHERE do you want her sleeping? Let’s make a commitment to work where THAT is (either is fine). She HAS to go down awake because things can very quickly go off the rails. she’s already up till 1:00 AM so they’re starting to bounce off the rails a little bit already yes?

      I would STOP the nursing to sleep. Your husbands idea about working on this while you are at work is pretty awesome (YAY DAD!). I would work on putting her down awake. If CIO seems to harsh you could try the pick up-put down method.

      Caveat: Given that she’s already hyper-vigilant this is going to be a rough road. She’s basically already “on” to your sneaky ways and will fight you on this. So full extinction CIO might be a cleaner option. But I dont’ want to tell you NOT to try it if that feels more organic to your parenting choices.

      I wouldn’t muck with naps right now, keep your eye on what is happening at bedtime, OK?

      Oh – and GOOD LUCK!

      • Thank you for your reply! It is very much appreciated :)

        So yes, we have nursed to sleep and co-slept since she was born, partly bc it was easier with nursing and partly bc I love the cuddling (she used to start out the night in her crib though, would bring her in to co sleep when she woke up to nurse)! Also she does still wake up anywhere from 3-6 times a night to nurse, but I read where you said that needs to be tackled completely seperately. So we will work on that next! Right now the thought of just having some “me” time in the evening sounds lovely! And the hubby needs his time to study for school!

        Anyway, we have tried several other methods, including the pick up/put down and the new “happiest baby jiggle awake” method…they kindof worked at first, but it was like she caught on and just started fighting those methods harder. We have decided to do the full extinction CIO and I think we are gonna start this week and have her sleep in her crib as well. I am a little nervous and hoping it goes well! Thanks for the well wishes, advice, and support you offer!

  13. Ooh I just thought of my own question! Sorry, this must keep you very busy! So, I also have the late bedtime issue, its usually around 9ish depending on when she woke up from the last nap, which isn’t too bad but I’d like it to be around 7.30ish so I can have a few baby free hours before I go to bed. If she
    Wakes up from her last nap at, say, 4pm technically
    She should be tired again at 7 to go back to sleep. BUT if I put her to bed at 7 she treats it like a nap and will wake up at 8 unless I’m laying next to her to pat/feed her back to sleep, which means I have to spend my night from 7 laying in bed next to her… So instead of doing that I just let her get up and stay awake till I go to bed at 9 or 10. She wakes for the day around 8-9am which is nice, so should I start waking her up at 7 to get her bedtime earlier?? Is that how it works?

    Thanks :)

    • Hi Liz, hopefully Alexis will respond to you as well but wanted to weigh in. My daughter did exactly this and it was maddening! She grew out of it at around 3ish months? This is also when we started sleep training so I don’t know exactly what made it work. I believe there is a chart on this site that says the “normal” bedtime for babies by month. If your baby is older and should be in the pre 8-oclock hour, then I definitely think waking her up at 7 would work. I’ve also heard scooting bedtime up slowly works, 15 minutes at a time. Eventually you’d have to drop that 7pm nap to have say an 8:30 or so bedtime, but if you woke her up at 7am, the whole schedule might shift a little. I’d write out what you want to happen starting w 7am wake up and ending with 730pm bedtime and then work on moving towards that in intervals, every 2 days or so depending on how she does with it. Hope that helps!

      • Yes on the 15 minute plan. Moving bedtime by hours in one leap tends to go poorly – they tread it like a nap or just will. not. sleep. Gradually nudge things in the right direction, I think you’ll find it works better.

        And we ALL want that baby-free time at night. But if baby is young (say before 3 months) they’re bedtime may be late because that’s pretty normal for newborns. So under 3 months, you need to sort of roll with it (generally speaking) but try the nudging strategy and see how it goes.

        Also – cheers to Lauren for sharing such great advice :)

        • Thanks Lauren and Alexis for your replies :)
          My daughter is 9 months so this isn’t a newborn problem unfortunately… I have been waking up a little earlier and pushing bed time forward a little earlier too and for 3 nights in a row now I’ve had a couple of hours to myself at night! Hooray!

          Thanks again!

  14. I am loving all of the positive experience with sleep training.. Amen to ” You can still be an AP and sleep train”!!!!

  15. Hi Alexis! Help! We need a plan for tonight and I’m a little baffled as to how to move forward. Here’s the situation with my 6 month old guy.

    We sleep trained last week. He cried for an hour on Wednesday, plus two 15 minute chunks in the night when it hadn’t been three hours yet (our guideline for continuing night feeds). Thursday he cried for 25 minutes, with one 15 minute chunk in the night (again continued night feeds every 3-4 hours). Since then he’s gone down without a peep – bedtime routine, sang out song, gave a happy smile and off to dreamland! Lovely!

    However, he’s still had 1-2 night waking cry sessions (not sure of how long b/c I’ve drifting back to sleep, so they probably weren’t too long and drawn out).

    The problem started last night when he was MISERABLE. I’m pretty sure its due to teething – constant ear pulling (with no temp and doesn’t seem sick, just uncomfortable), the constant drooling (that’s happened forever though…), gnawing on his teething giraffe with a vengance, and growling with discomfort for hours. So we gave him some meds and he got comfortable enough to go down just fine. He had one 10 minute cry chunk around 9 (goes down at 7), but got through it. At 11, he cried again and I went ahead and fed him and gave him his next meds. Then – he was up every 1.5-2 hours the rest of the night. He would wake SCREAMING (worse than the previous nights) and stay that way. This is where it got tricky – we would let him cry, but then not knowing if it was tooth pain/discomfort, we went to him to soothe. I also nursed more often b/c he hadn’t been very hungry in the evening so I thought he might need to eat more in the night. Things just did not ever get better and eventually I brought him into bed with me (which I never do!) and he slept peaceful for the 1.5 hours until it was time to get up.

    So….I think we’re dealing with a combo extinction burst AND teething pain. I’m just not quite sure how to make a plan that addresses both of these consistently. If he is uncomfortable, I don’t want to leave him crying. But, we did give him meds and he didn’t seem uncomfortable when he was in bed with me, so….

    I think another factor was that he was uncomfortable all day and so naps suffered, then he was extra tired before bed, etc.

    Any thoughts and wisdom as we move forward? I know we just need to decide on a plan we’re comfortable and stick with it, but I’m not sure what it should be!

    As always, thank you thank you!!

    • Ok – I’ve been doing some reading on the extinction burst and think maybe thats just what’s going on here (plus maybe some bad CIO habits).

      I do think the teething thing is PARTLY there, but since he wasn’t uncomfortable in my bed, nor has been too bad today, that’s probably not the main thing.

      I know we might also be heading into the 6 month sleep regression as well? We’re really just at 5.5 months (I never know how to label the age – weeks/months, anyways!), so its around the corner, but I would think not here yet.

      So – here’s my question – I’m trying to navigate not night weaning, but still sleep training. Which means SOMETIMES he wakes up and its been “enough time” and so he gets fed, and SOMETIMES it hasn’t been “enough time” and so he gets to cry. Clearly confusing. BUT – I’m not sure how else to do it. Let him CIO, THEN go in and feed him after he’s back asleep?

      • Ok – I feel like I’m keeping a sleep journal here! Maybe it will be helpful for someone else as well.

        We had a better night last night – he was feeling much better and didn’t need meds. We decided to set an alarm for every 2h 45m to hopefully wake him up before he started crying. For the most part this worked. He did cry for 45 minutes from 4:15 – 5:00, at which point I just fed him since I know you’ve said CIO doesn’t work that late in the morning. Do you have any advice for navigating wake-ups like that? I know its worth it just to feed him to get that extra bit of sleep, but I’m a little worried that he’ll keep bumping that time earlier if I go in before 5. Which means that again we have a situation where he’s crying until its been “enough time” or in this case, is late enough, and then gets fed. Thoughts?

        • Hey Katie

          He’s still pretty young so I would lean towards being a bit generous with night feeds. Right now your REAL goal is helping him get used to going down without nursing to sleep. So there are really two different things – night weaning and falling asleep solo. Possibly there is some teething/extinction bursty stuff going on to muddy the waters too.

          At 5.5 months I’m less concerned with night weaning (I’m sure you don’t share my feelings on this ;) and MORE concerned with him learning to sleep on his own. Make sense?

          I think your plan to feed him before he wakes up is brilliant – stick with it. (Am working on post about this but it’s a GREAT thing to do).

          If he wakes up anytime after 4:00 AM I would wait ~15 minutes. If he doesn’t fall back to sleep I would feed him. If this starts inching up on you, you might have to modify. But the truth is NOT feeding him at 4:00 AM is unlikely to work out for you :(

          This is all pretty new stuff. Focus on “put down awake” for say 2 weeks and then get together with your partner and come up with a gentle weaning plan. Rule of thumb: tears after 4:00 AM = feed. Tears before 4:00 AM = ignore or send daddy in.

          Does that help?

          • Yep, that helps! I’m all good with continuing night feeds….just had to get rid of the 45 minute waking all throughout the night for the last six weeks (all that without nursing to sleep and with the ability to fuss to sleep for naps and initially going down – totally unable to self-soothe BACK to sleep at night). And we seem to be making progress. I’m hoping to just let things stabilize, then see where we’re at and how much he wants to eat at night (I’m feeding every 2H 45M right now, so I’m hoping its not MORE frequently than that, but somewhere around there is generally fine!).

  16. Up until two months ago, I was all about Dr. Sears and his advice about sleep. I sobbed when I read the poem in The No Cry Sleep Solution about what it’s like for the baby when he’s crying it out, and I vowed never, ever, ever to let my daughter go through that. Now she is 14 months old and is an awful sleeper (up an average of five times/night, naps only 30 minutes, takes over an hour to get to sleep at night, etc.). I actually feel sort of betrayed by the whole attachment parenting thing. Not only are we miserable…we’re also plagued by guilt. So I’m converting to sleep training. THANK YOU for your website. It is wonderful. I wish I would have come across it before my daughter was born. The only problem is…every time we let her cry it out, she poops. Every single time. And it’s not just a little poop. It’s a blow-out. She often throws up as well. So we feel like we’re stuck. I can’t let her sleep in that mess. Also, the only time we actually let her remain in her poopy diaper and continue to CIO, she fell asleep literally standing up with her head on the crib rail. Ugh. Not sure what to do.

    • That sounds awful… she is old enough to have lots of tricks to pull on you, huh? My first daughter used to throw up and I felt awful. You don’t want her to sleep in a messy diaper, but you have to get the crying under control first. Clean up the blow outs, then right back into the bed. Just load her up with diaper cream, then don’t change her until it’s a feed window. After that starts to be routine, stop changing at nighttime at all.

    • Nicole is totally right. Although if you have a night vision monitor and KNOW she pooped (some babies make good “poop face”, some don’t), I wouldn’t argue with going in for a quick diaper change. But loading up with diaper cream is also a great option. As adults we’re pretty horrified with the idea of sleeping in poop. But lots of babies sleep poop and happily sleep through till morning with the poop. My 3.5 YO does this on occasion ;)

      So poop sleep = horrifying to us, not as big a deal to them.

      I used to have a love/hate relationship with Dr. Sears which has increasingly slid into the “hate” zone. Same with Pantley. I mean fundamentally we’re ALL trying to make “no cry” happen. Nobody WANTS that to happen. So the idea of offering suggestions to gently wean off whatever without tears is FANTASTIC. I’m 100% behind no-cry alternatives.

      But the guilt in that book is OVERWHELMING. There’s this whole, “If you can’t make this work YOU AREN’T TRYING HARD ENOUGH” vibe that drives me nutz.

      OK enough soapbox for me ;)

      Good luck. I’m OK with a quick clean up if she’s a big mess. Use loud white noise. Send Dad in if you can (Dads are often calmer about this stuff and babies pick up on our stress). Plus then you don’t have to deal with the blowout ;)

      • Thanks so much for your reply, Alexis. Everything you said was so helpful. We actually took Harriet to a sleep specialist on Friday and the advice he gave us was right in line with what you say on your website. We let her cry it out the first night. She cried 12 minutes and then slept EIGHT!!! Second night, she cried 20 minutes and slept eight hours, 40 minutes. Now she cries for less than five minutes (some nights it’s only been about 30 seconds) and she has slept through the night every night since Friday. Everything in my life feels so much better. She’s still pooping at night and sometimes she wakes up around 3:30, so we change her and put her right back to bed. She cries briefly and goes back to sleep. I’m hoping that she’ll eventually realize that it’s no so bad to go to sleep on her own and she won’t have to poop anymore. Thanks again for this wonderful resource. I’m a better mom because of it.
        Em recently posted..let’s get it startedMy Profile

  17. Hi Alexis,

    I didn’t know where to post my question. I hope this is ok.

    Our Sleep Goals:
    - learn to fall asleep (in crib) w/o nursing, paci or co-sleep
    - besides night feedings until he is weaned, learn how to put himself back to sleep if he wakes between bedtime and morning. Also I understand that “morning” can be as early as 4am on.
    - illuminate paci if awakes before morning (similar to above)
    - all of the above applied to naps eventually.

    We live in a one bedroom (crib in the room) and have a 6m old baby boy named Jude who has been nursed to sleep since day one as well as co-sleeping and receiving paci when he wakes. No rocking & no picking up. This honeymoon stage as I call it was implemented because I didn’t have help when he was a NB and it allowed me to get some rest. I had every intention of having him sleep in his crib when he got older. But frankly, time just flew, I didn’t know when and how to make the transition and admittedly, i also love cuddling him in bed. I dug my own grave :/

    When he was 3 months he woke up every hour and this insanity lasted for about 6-7 weeks!!! At first i adjusted my diet because it seemed digestive. Then those clues disappeared and then it seemed like teething. We tried Ferb style around 4.5 months. It just pissed him off more. Though my husband says he saw improvements, I didn’t. Anyway, around 5 months we went on a 10 day trip and oddly enough, he slept through the night (minus feedings every 4hrs)! This baffled me because if anything his nap schedule & quality went down since we were out of our element. When we returned, the good sleeping lasted for another week. Then sometimes he’d wake only for feeding. But sometimes he’d wake too soon or too often. By 5.5 months I would nurse him every 4-5hrs when he woke, as directed by ped. If he woke before then, I or my husband would give paci.

    Last week he got sick and our ped. told me to keep him hydrated by feeding on demand. Where as he would always wake up crying about 45m after puting him to sleep and a few more times after that at the beginning of the night. Now, he wakes up after 30mins. Then every 5mins, 10mins, 40mins, 2mins after that – really, any combination of waking. Paci no longer works as he now expects the boob. There is an hour of night when he will stop waking up frequently. I’d say anywhere from 9:30-12. I can totally tell that the boob is used for soothing & that he’s not actually hungry.

    He is now 6 months and is mostly over his cold (no more runny nose, but u can still hear some congestion if he coughs, which is maybe 2/day). Things need to change and I’m ready to do full extinction. I recognize that as much as I’ll miss sleeping w/ him, he is not getting his rest and it’s not good for him. Or for me. Regarding his occasional cough, do you thing it’s okay to start now or better to wait until its gone completely? I feel like I can’t take another night.

    He naps 2-3 times a day ranging from 30m-2hrs. If I sleep with him, it’ll be closer to 1-2hrs. His awake window is 1hr 45m. Recently, I’ve noticed it’s grown to 2hrs. He doesn’t nap at specific times. I just make sure he naps after 1.75 hrs from when he wakes in the morning or from a nap. Bedtime use to be around 6:30-7:30. But really it fluctuates based on when he napped last and if we felt it was close to bed time hours. This week there were about 3 times where his 3rd nap has unexpectedly rolled into bedtime (w/ his usually awakings)! I didn’t like it because his morning would be anywhere between 4-6am! Ugh. I want my 8am baby back! Should this happen again, when he wakes to be soothed, shall I keep him awake so that after his awake widow he can go down for bedtime closer to 8:30-9pm?

    In preparation for CIO, I’ve been doing whatever it takes to make sure he’s well rested. That includes co-sleeping during naps. Shall I maintain this during CIO? Also, after being successful w/ CIO, can we occassionally co-sleep during naps or is that a no no?

    Also…

    Q: should I try the swing method first and postpone CIO? He just turning 6m
    Q: we plan to sleep in the livingroom during CIO. But is it possible to keep his crib in our room after successfully CIO?
    Q: can we start now while he’s mostly done w/ his cold?
    Q: during CIO, if he wakes in the night (besides appropriate times to eat) shall we let him CIO if it’s before 4am or shall my husband or I give paci? I remember reading that we should tackle one thing at a time.

    Ps
    Our bedtime routine is inconsistent because we never knew when to start the routine & he’d sometimes get really fussy and we could tell he needed to get to bed ASAP. Recently, we consider his final awake window and do it 20m before what I call his “expiration date”. Otherwise, it’s simple: low light, white noise on soft (we use radio static), pj’s, book, white noise louder, light softer, nurse, light off. After reading your material, I see that I should start w/ nursing.

    • Wow…OK that’s a lot to process but I think I got it. Yes start your bedtime routine with nursing. You might want to do a slightly longer routine (throw in a calm warm bath and maybe some infant massage) but the boob=sleep thing starts with not offering the boob just as he’s falling asleep ;)

      Q: Also, after being successful w/ CIO, can we occassionally co-sleep during naps or is that a no no?
      Can you NEVER co-sleep during naps? No of course you can have the occasional cuddle nap. But if he’s only taking long naps if you cuddle with him you might want to see if you can make some headway with no-cuddle naps for a while to “lock it in” so to speak, before introducing the occasional cuddle nap.

      Q: should I try the swing method first and postpone CIO? He just turning 6m
      I’m not going to too you NOT to try it IF you have a swing (or can borrow one). It won’t hurt to try but it probably won’t work that well. So I wouldn’t shell out $$$ only to find that he’s outgrown the benefit.

      Q: we plan to sleep in the livingroom during CIO. But is it possible to keep his crib in our room after successfully CIO?
      It might help to invest in a soji screen or something so that he can’t see you. Often babies who want to nurse constantly will get grumpy when they see you there. It’s like putting a cupcake on the plate in front of ME and then telling ME not to eat it. So a bit of a visual barrier will help.

      Q: can we start now while he’s mostly done w/ his cold?
      Sounds like it’s a good time – you’re there, what does your gut say?

      Q: during CIO, if he wakes in the night (besides appropriate times to eat) shall we let him CIO if it’s before 4am or shall my husband or I give paci? I remember reading that we should tackle one thing at a time.

      He’s used to eating CONSTANTLY right? So I would lean towards being generous when he wakes. He’ll definitely wake and cry pretty frequently. I’m working on a post on this muddled situation so for now I’ll say go with your gut. If he JUST ate I wouldn’t go into him. But if it’s been 2+ hours (he’s used to eating CONSTANTLY so it’s rough to gauge) and he’s crying for more than 10-15 minutes, I would lean towards going to him.

      Trust your gut, it’ll generally tell you the right thing to do ;)

      • Hi Alexis,

        Thank you for responding :) I know, sorry. After I sent it I looked at how long it was and felt embarrassed :?

        Since starting CIO we’re solid with our bedtime routine. I will add a bath as you suggest.

        Regarding nap time, I recall reading in one of your posts something along the lines of doing whatever it takes to make quality naps happen while CIO to eliminate an overtired baby from the equation. So I’ve been co-sleeping during the nap. I will cut that out as you suggest. But I do fear they won’t be very long…I know 1-2hrs is optimal, but if he ends up doing 25-45m is that ok for what we’re trying to do here?

        You’re right, during CIO, he wakes A LOT and it lasts for more than 15m at times. But I think it’s getting better. What do you think? My gut says don’t go in there. But if it continues like this night after night, how is it ok? If I have to start going to him, what do I do exactly? (I’m hoping he’s a quick learner)

        Day 1
        9:02, 36m crying after put down
        10:20, 9
        10:45, 10
        11:25, 30
        12:30, cry but time to nurse
        12:36, 38
        1:45, 3
        2:55, 5
        3:25, 5m
        3:45, 15
        4:00, got worried, soothed/co-sleep. He slept till 9

        *I read that it was ok to bring them to bed by morning (4am on) so that’s why I did that. Perhaps that was a bad move considering our issue…

        Day 2
        10:33, 54m crying after put down
        12:00, 4
        1:13, 17
        1:30, crying but time to nurse
        1:48, 7
        2:48, 1
        2:50, 50
        3:40, I fell asleep, but I don’t believe he cried anymore. He woke at 8:10

        Day 3 (tonight)
        8:21, 39m crying after put down and has been asleep for 3.5 hrs solid…

        As for night feeding, he’s not yet weaned. The longest he’s gone between meals is 4-5 hours during the day. If he sleeps longer than that, do I just let him sleep and nurse him when he wakes? Or implement a dream feed? I know the rule, Never Wake A Sleeping Baby :)

        Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

        PS
        I will do a Pay It Forward on pay day :)

        • whoops, I meant

          “But if it continues like this night after night, how LONG is it ok?”

          • OMG!!! I’m SO happy!!! Thank you Alexis!!!!!

            It’s 3:15am now and check this out!

            It’s Day 4:
            8:30 – bedtime routine
            9:00 – bedtime, ONLY 4m of cry/complaint, sleep
            2:45 – cry, but time to nurse. Change diaper first.
            3:00 – all done w/ above. Put down awake. 1 TINY
            squeak complaint, but quiet w/ no crying!!!!

            *my shortest post! Haha :)

  18. Great post! So glad to see that there is a happy ending out there. Brava to the AP mama!

    I have an 8.5 month old daughter and have been following this site and your advice since my daughter was 4 months and I was at my wit’s end with 4-5 wake ups a night. Things are a lot better now, mostly due to the night weaning advice you give. She falls asleep on her own in her crib around 7pm, gets a dreamfeed at 10:30 or 11. then she wakes up once on her own anytime between 2:30 and 5am. I wait 5-10 mins to see if she’ll go back to sleep, then nurse her. and then up for the day around 6:30 or 7. I would LOVE if she could drop the middle of the night feed and make it through until morning. Am I crazy for thinking this should be realistic at her age? When I tried to wean her from that feeding about a month ago, she just whimpered and cried softly for an hour or 90 mins in her crib, until I went in and nursed. My husband travels for work 3-4 nights a week, so I don’t have him as backup to send in when this happens.

    Would love any suggestions or success stories from others with similar situations!

    • Hi Emily! My daughter is just a bit older than yours (born 4/26) and she looooved the 5 am feeding. For a long time she would go back to sleep for a whole “cycle” after that (almost 3 hours usually) but then she started waking up at 7, and sometimes the feed wouldn’t start til 5:30. To me this communicated it wasn’t actual hunger, just pushing her over the edge to keep sleeping. My pediatrician at 6 months said its time to drop it, just let her cry. So, we did just that. For us, going in make it way worse so we did extinction CIO (frankly sort of easy because you can go back to sleep, esp if you have earplugs). It took her a week or so to stop waking up. Sometimes now she will wake up and make some noise, but goes back to sleep almost every time. I think for her its just a very light sleep time and there are starting to be noises outside, etc. I believe at this age its completely habit and not hunger, although I know people disagree with this. Especially if she’s taken to solids and is growing well, she can make it without that feeding. She will probably eat better in the morning as a result. My advice would be try again, maybe over a weekend so you can have some solidarity with your husband? Try to commit to 3 days to see if it gets better, I really think it will. It sounds mean, but she just has to realize until its morning, theres no point in crying because no one is coming (unless of course something is really wrong but you can tell when that is). Hope that helps!

      • Yeah at almost 9 months she can DEFINITELY go from 10:30 – 6:30 without a feed so I would try to gently reduce the time (I know you did this) and if you get to ~2 minutes per boob and she’s still waking up, you’re done. It IS habit.

        If you feel that it’ll devolve into a crying mess another thing to try is to go in and feed her BEFORE she wakes up (say at 3:00 AM) – do a dream feed then then ignore her if she DOES wake up (hopefully she won’t but she might) in which case you can be SUPER sure it’s habit. Then you gradually wean off the dream feed (often this is easy because they’re semi coma state to begin with). Make sense?

  19. Hi Alexis,

    I need some help! My 11 month old daughter used to be a great sleeper. I started searching for and found this website about a month after she was born out of desperation because I did not know what was normal in a newborn. Thanks to Alexis, I figured it and by 2 months she was sleeping for 8 hours a night! We were well on our way to being good, happy sleepers. I went back to work when she was around 5 months but we all continued to do well. Enter my husband. Who, for no reason, at all decided that HE liked rocking her to sleep when she was about 8 months old. She didn’t need it, we were at the point of being able to lay her down wide awake after our bedtime routine and down she went! Not even any fussing. Well he continued rocking her every night, because he liked to. I kept telling him he was hurting, not helping but he insisted it was fine. Well, now at 11 months we’ve got a serious problem on our hands. I think the object permanence has set in and now he NEEDS to rock her. Not only that, the “rocking sessions” have gone from taking 5-10 mins to taking over 30 mins for her to fall asleep. And beginning this week she’s started waking up as soon as he puts her down in the crib and screams bloody murder until he gives up and starts rocking her again. (Read: He’s the jelly, not me.) Not only that, but she’s waking up 2-3 times at night again. She doesn’t wake up crying, she starts babbling and talking to herself but slowly gets angry that no one is coming in and then starts the loud crying until someone comes. She’ll take a bottle if offered but can also be rocked back to sleep. I can’t figure out if this is a sleep regression or if she’s really suddenly hungry 2x a night, where she used to sleep all night without a feeding. I got my husband to let her cry last night so she could fall asleep on her own and she only cried for about 20 mins and was out by 8:30 pm. But she woke up at 11:00. Husband gave her 4 oz and rocked her to sleep. She woke up after he put her down in crib but still fell asleep easily. She woke up again at 3:30 am, babbling, talking and slowly getting angrier. I went in to check her diaper. Changed her and put her right back down, no questions, no comments, no rocking from me. She started screaming the minute she hit the mattress and continued for the next 30 mins until… you guessed it, my husband went in, gave her another 4 oz and rocked her to sleep. I don’t even know how long that took. I went back to sleep. I don’t know how to fix this, Or her? Or him? Where do I start? I am sleep deprived because I cannot fall back asleep easily after being woken up and I’m 4 months pregnant so I’m pretty much always tired because I also work full time.

    FYI: she naps decently 2 x a day, about 1 hour to 2 each time. She goes to daycare and they don’t rock her there. And until recently, did not need me to rock her as she knows mommy doesn’t rock, mommy’s “all business” at bedtime. She was fine with that and still went down without too much of a fuss with me, as long as my husband isn’t home, then she cries until he goes in to soothe her.

    Should I be giving her a bottle everytime she wakes up? Is she hungry? Or should I just check her diaper and if clean, put her back down and let her cry?

    Please help!!

    • 4 months pregnant and parenting an 11 month old. Excuse me, just considering the reality of that makes me need to take a nap. Gaaaaahhhhh…

      The problem you have is that you and he aren’t on the same page about how to address the night waking. You’re right – he created this problem. Part of me wants to say, “He made this mess let him deal with it!” But that’s neither kind nor helpful ;)

      Look you KNOW what is going on – everything starts with no more bottles/rocking AT bedtime. Sounds like you had a great start there. Her crying lasted less time then the rocking does so YAY! Fantastic start. But then you fell back into old habits when she woke up. So which are you reinforcing – the bottle/rocking or “fall asleep solo” plan?

      If you’re really scared that she’s hungry then I would go to her with either a smaller 2 OZ bottle or a 4 OZ bottle of watered down formula (only 1 scoop). No rocking to sleep, bottle, then put down awake. Continue for 2-3 days then either no bottle or just water – put down awake. Then you’re done.

      Does that gradual option feel better? Are you able to get husband on the same page as you? Everything starts from there – if you guys are disagreeing at 2AM it’s going to fall apart. So get on the same page over dinner so you KNOW your plan cold when it’s the middle of the night. Let me know how it goes!

  20. So I have to say I pretty excited. I am hoping that I don’t jinx myself by even posting this but last night was AWESOME!!!! Did our bedtime routine and when I laid him in his bed, NO FUSSING and he slept all night long.

    So now the question is- How to get rid of the paci? He does use it when I lay him down for bed and nap. No other time.

    • Yay for last night and hopefully many nights to come!

      So if your baby is 6+ months and the paci isn’t causing problem then maybe it’s OK to keep using it? But more often then not it does blow up on you EVENTUALLY in which case you might want to gently wean off the paci at some point. Check the post below for more deets on how to do that.
      Alexis recently posted..How and Why to Use and Lose the PacifierMy Profile

  21. Hi Alexis,
    When I read this post (and Part 1), my jaw literally dropped because this is my story, almost exactly — the late bedtime, the co-sleeping that was working, until it wasn’t, and now, the constant waking all night long, to eat, or just comfort nibble for a few minutes. I came to the conclusion awhile back that things need to change, as I am becoming horribly chronically sleep deprived, and all that waking cannot be good for my daughter’s sleep either. My husband and I have tried to slowly move bedtime earlier, but we can’t get it too much earlier before we teach her to sleep solo, since one of us has to be able to sleep with her. So now I have been reading your blog, other websites, books — everything I can to try and formulate a plan for cry it out, but am petrified to move forward because I don’t know how to deal with all the wakings. I am too sleep deprived to do all the research and formulate a solid plan, and when my husband and I discuss it, we usually end up bickering because we can’t quite figure out how to go about it. I know cry it out is for the initial bedtime period, but my daughter consistently wakes 30-45 minutes after going down, and thereafter, about every hour or so. For the first hour or so, my husband sleeps with her while I shower and have a bit of time alone, and when she wakes, he soothes her by patting her or bouncing her back to sleep. Thereafter, I take over, sleeping with her the rest of the night (while he moves to the guest room), nursing her almost every time she wakes. Apart from the times when she is actually hungry (about every 3-4 hours), it is usually just for a couple of minutes, or only for a few seconds — just a comfort suck to get her back to sleep. This way, she rarely fully wakes or cries because we both get to her before this happens. But without these methods, she will wake up, and wail, so we are petrified to remove them, for fear we will get even less sleep than we do now. My question in going forward, is how do we deal with all the subsequent wakings after she initially falls asleep solo? Like the woman in your post, I too was at the end of my rope with naptime one day (she would require nursing or bouncing to sleep, and then continued nursing or bouncing thereafter, since she wakes after each sleep cycle during naps as well, about every 30 minutes) and decided to let her cry it out then — it seemed less scary than bedtime. After crying that day for about 30 minutes before finally napping, she subsequently has been going to nap when put down fairly quickly, with either no crying or just a few minutes. However, she still wakes up after about one sleep cycle of 30-40 minutes, wailing. I have waited to see if she would go back to sleep after a reasonable amount of time, but she cried over 30 minutes, and this did not seem a reasonable solution for a nap, so I stopped. So, I am scared to death that this too will be the scenario at night — that she will go to bed fairly reasonably on her own, but then wake after 30 minutes and then every hour, crying. She is not actually hungry for each of these wakings, so do I let her cry each and every time until she falls asleep again by herself in her crib (except nursing for those wakings when I know she is hungry), or do I just let her cry it out at the initial bedtime, and then bring her back into the bed for subsequent wakings so she isn’t crying all night long? I am desperate to start as soon as possible, yet frozen with the fear that we will do something wrong and end up just making things worse.

    • Leanna,

      Seriously – how much worse can things actually get? I don’t mean to be glib – seriously – this sounds pretty bad. Your husband is sleeping in the guest room and you’re functioning as a human pacifier. You shouldn’t be frozen with fear because you’re already living it.

      You’re TELLING me the answer BTW to your own question:
      “the times when she is actually hungry (about every 3-4 hours)”

      So you think she is genuinely hungry every 3-4 hours. OK so then you could feed her when she wakes every 3-4 hours. (BTW – you don’t say how old she is? Because this is a lot of “real” night feedings for an older baby but OK it’s a good starting point yes?).

      You do a lovely wind down routine at her typical bedtime. You don’t nurse AT or NEAR bedtime. You put her down and you walk out. You have faith that you can do this. That she can do this. That everybody needs this. Nap CIO is different than bedtime CIO. It may take more than 30 minutes. But she may surprise you.

      When she wakes up and it’s been less than 3 hours – you wait. If it’s been 3-4 hours you go nurse her.

      Do you WANT her in your bed? If so then that’s fine. But if your goal is her sleeping in HER bed than take “pull her into bed with you” off the table.

      Will it be rough for a few days? Possibly. But it’s rough EVERY night now. So from where I sit, things can only get better. Let me know what happens – OK?
      Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

      • Hi Alexis,
        Thanks so much for replying, it is really giving me a sense of hope and that I can do this. First off, let me apologize — looking back at my post, it’s long and rambling and leaves some things out — can I blame sleep deprivation? To clarify, my little one is 5 months old. This is one of the reasons I am hesitating on moving forward with the CIO, she’s a bit shy of the recommended 6 months. I’m not sure what my other alternatives are at this point though. All the newborn soothing techniques she’s either grown out of or now seem to be keeping her awake rather than the reverse. We gave up on swaddling early on (which maybe we shouldn’t have, but its too late now, as she’s rolling over all the time), and we have a swing that we’ve tried, but it has only ever worked for one sleep cycle, and then up and crying. At this point, since she’s older anyway, I think I’d prefer to go for the crib, and she has shown that she can sleep without motion at naptimes, albeit for short periods. So I guess my first question is, is she old enough for this now, or should I wait another month?

        And, you’re right, things can’t get too much worse. I think my fear is really that things are going to get worse for HER. She wakes so frequently some nights (with dad, 30 minutes after falling asleep, then after another 45, then maybe another hour, then with me for the rest of the night so many times I’ve lost count), that I am afraid that when left to cry for each of the times that is not for nursing, she will get NO sleep. The way we do it now, she barely ever wakes all the way up because upon first signs of waking, dad either bounces/walks her gently back to sleep, or I do the same with nursing. This has kept her sleep somewhat intact. When she does rarely “fully” wake, it can take an hour or longer to get her back to sleep! So I guess my other question is, after night one of CIO, if she spends so much time awake, won’t she be so overtired the second night, that things will actually get worse instead of better, and so on?

        To answer your question about eating frequency, I do think she is actually hungry every 3-4 hours, because she has always been a snacker. She just doesn’t like to eat that much at one time. Eventually I’d like to work on her consolidating her eating too, but for now, if we could get the wakings down to just the times for actual eating, I’d be jubilant. And one last “technical” question: when we do go to leave her in her crib at bedtime, I am not sure what to do about the fact that these days, every time she hits a flat surface, she rolls over, pops up on her arms, and thinks its playtime (and then eventually starts crying cause she’s not that good at rolling back over). For naps she is sleeping in a bassinet that is small enough she doesnt try to roll, but I don’t feel comfortable with leaving her in it for overnight, and she is really getting too big for it anyway. How to deal with this rolling issue at bedtime? I can’t picture her falling asleep herself from that position. Whew! Sorry again, that was long — can I again blame sleep deprivation? :)

        • Regarding the rolling, there are all kinds of sleep positioners you can buy and I understand that *some* of them (generally ones involving straps) are safety-approved regarding SIDS. Of course if you decided to try this you’d want to research the one you bought carefully and probably clear it with a paediatrician. And at some point she’ll learn to roll back over; maybe encouraging her to practise this at playtime might help? And plenty of cues to let her know it *isn’t* playtime when she gets on her tummy at night, like dark room, white noise…, if you aren’t doing all that already.
          CarrieVS recently posted..FingersMy Profile

  22. Hi Alexis
    My 2nd night with 9 month old and I posted twice already hoping for some help. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.

    7:30pm put down baby after a bedtime routine book, bottle, sing, burp

    11:30pm- I fed him a bottle, changed his diaper, but when I put him down he cried for over 1 hour longer then the previous night of 40 minutes.

    It got quiet for 5 minutes and now 12:59am and he’s up crying again. I feel like I should go it, but scared to death of going back words and saw that if I’m doing full extinction absolutely not to console him.

    Please any advice? no pace, no rocking I did everything the way I thought was correct. Not so sure.

    I was thinking the 2nd night was suppose to be better not worse:( at this feeding.

    • Veronica,
      So you are trying to wean off rocking to sleep?

      For starters – sometimes night 2 IS rougher. See the post below for more details. Also CIO generally is something that works best AT bedtime. But I understand that your situation is a bit unique because you (I assume) had a middle of the night rocking issue. You’re right not to go back to that. So my only advice is – wait and see what happens on nights 3 & 4.

      Also? I would cut out the diaper change if you can. Most babies can go all night without leaking (try an overnight diaper if you’re not already using one). Diaper changes have a habit of REALLY waking up baby so avoid if possible yes Use loud white noise Use your words. Stay consistent.

      He’s absolutely capable of sleeping without you walking/rocking him to sleep. Let us know how things turn out, OK?
      Alexis recently posted..Why CIO isn’t WorkingMy Profile

      • Hi Alexis,

        Thank you for all the advice, which I’m using. I’m on night 8 of CIO and he still wakes crying at different times 2x ( besides the feeding). Any idea when this will resolve itself? It’s only for a few minutes, but would obviously like my LO to rest without crying at all.

        I know naps are a different subject, but where can I read how to do this? He’s a poor napper 40 minutes. As soon as night is complete and under control. I’d like to move on to naps.

        Thanks!

  23. Hi guys! I am a bit confused with implementing “putting down awake”
    Currently we rock Her in our arms till she’s drowsy then put her down. Sometimes she cries and fusses when we put her down awake, what do we do then? Pick her up again n start the whole rocking her till drowsy then put her down awake? Or leave her in bassinet n just Pat n rock her till she quiets down ? How do we gradually stop the patting and rocking in our arms n bassinet?

    Thanks for any help you can provide
    REPLY

    • Rowie,

      That’s a pretty big question and the answer depends on many variables (a big one being – how old is the baby in question?).

      If your baby is younger (say sub 5 months) and you’re using LOTS of age-appropriate soothing (swaddle, white noise, etc.) then yes you try to put down drowsy but awake. Sometimes this will work – YAY! Sometimes, not so much. So yes you start over ideally with less and less intervention over time. If you can help baby fall asleep IN her bed with some gentle rocking that would be better than picking her up again. If you’re having a bad day and have to pick baby up again, then that’s what happened THAT day. Try again tomorrow.

      I would say that your goal is to be doing less of whatever it is each week. Rocking in the bassinet is better than rocking in your arms. Because gradually weaning off bassinet rocking is easier.
      Alexis recently posted..Weaning Baby Off the SwingMy Profile

      • Thanks for the reply! She is 2.5 months old.

        1) Sometimes she just cries when I put her down awake and try to rock her in her bassinet, im guessing I then pick her up n rock in my arms till drowsy?

        If I didn’t have the rocking bassinet availableand she cries when I put her down awake, do I just pick her up n rock
        Her?

        2) During the day all her naps can last 1- 3 hours but she wakes up in between once or twice needing assistance (rocking) to go back to sleep(and she does go back) How do I stop this?

        3) She has days where her all her day naps last only 20-30 min. I try to put her back to sleep and sometimes she does go back to sleep but she only last another 20 min and then won’t go back to sleep. Sometimes she wakes up after 30min and wont go back to sleep at all till her next feed. my question is why are there days where all her day naps last for 1-2 hours
        And days they only last 30min? I use white noise and I swaddle her.

        4) she can only last an hour on the dot ( when she starts showing sleepy signs) Do I try to work towards putting her down awake before that hour strikes?
        Because when I try to implement putting down awake the effort exceeds an hour by upto 30 min for example.

  24. I LOVE your site and advice. It makes me feel that Im not the only one! I keep on going from committing to sleep training to delaying it. I need your advice on how to proceed.

    My daughter is almost 5 months. From week 2, she has slept in her swing for naps and nighttime. During the first week, she was swaddled, did the 5 S’s and she wouldn’t sleep long in her crib, rarely more than 45 min. She would sleep for 30 min, then cry hysterically. It sounded like she was having trouble digesting her food. She wouldnt spit up but it always sounded like her belly was gurgling, burping and would always get the hiccups. She used the swaddle me’s and would always kick her legs, I think because her belly was uncomfortable. We borrowed a swing and it has been a blessing.

    She sleeps like a champ in it. Goes to bed around 7:30pm, wakes up at 2am or sometimes even sleeps until 5 when I have to get up for work. She has been taking one long 2.5 hour nap a day. She would maybe take a little catnap on me nursing around 9:30am. When she is at daycare, she takes 2 naps. Ive always thought the long one hr nap isnt normal but I havent gotten her to take more than one in quite some time. She doesnt seem overtired though. We go to bed early, so her bedtime is on the earlier side.

    The swing has allowed me to feel sane, be a rested mother and wife. Well, she is almost 5 months and I am clearly aware that at some point she needs to be in the crib. The problem is, I cant seem to commit to this because she sleeps so well now. Im aware of object permanence and how now might be a good time.

    This is what I have done so far to start working towards the crib. She isnt swaddled anymore. She can almost roll over, so I started with this and she is back into her sleep pattern when she was swaddled. I have always nursed last and put her in the swing drowsy but awake. I am now working towards feeding her earlier and having storytime after, that way she falls asleep on her own and has time to digest her food(still sounds gurgly if on her back). Most nights though she is tired but clearly awake. She rarely cries and falls asleep easily. She is on the slowest swing setting. I tried the non moving swing and it didnt work out well, although I will be honest I didnt fully commit. I prefer to just go cold turkey if possible. I have put her in her crib at bedtime a few times out of curiosity but did not let her CIO. Now I usually put her in her crib after she wakes up in the morning so she gets some time in there.

    She has loud white noise through an air purifier and has her swing music for 20 min. She doesnt take a pacifier and has a lovey.

    So this is my problem: I have had it relatively easy and am being selfish by prolonging the transition.

    Question 1: Should I transition now or is there no rush? If I need to transition now, please explain why as this is what I need to commit.

    Quesetion 2: I dont think she has reflux but she doesnt prefer to be on her back. Ive tried a crib wedge and she just slips down or sideways. Any advice here? I give her gripe water which has helped a lot in the swing

    Question 3: When I put her in the crib, she goes from drowsy to wide awake. I turn in the crib mobile which keeps her entertained but then she cries about 20 min later. I have not tried CIO but I think I am ready…I think :) The biggest problem I am having is committing to doing it NOW.

    Question 4: We do not have a bumper but I feel that it might help the crib feel smaller. SIDS has me scared so I dont know if I should use one.

    Im just needing some guidance as to why now is the time(if it is). When I am up late at night I just need to believe in what I am doing!
    Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

    • I also wanted to add that she is either in her carseat at daycare or in her pack n play. She is doing better in the pack n play although she prefers the carseat. Being that she has proven for 3 months that she can sleep at daycare without motion, that is what is making me want to try cold turkey. However, your swing article was written obviously because it has proven that it works for many. If you think cold turkey is a BAD idea I will listen :) I prefer to dive right in though if you have known that to work.
      Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

    • Well, I’m not Alexis, but I think I’ve seen most of her answers to these questions elsewhere on the blog, so I’ll share what I remember and maybe she or someone else will correct me if I’m wrong!

      As far as timing/hours slept – you’re right 2.5 hours total daytime napping isn’t great – BUT your nighttime sleep looks pretty good for a 5 month old. You might keep trying for more daytime naps, but that doesn’t seem to be the area of biggest concern, since you’ve got such a nice night time deal! If things start to fall apart though, look to add some daytime sleep if possible since it will probably be helpful.

      Question 1: Alexis generally says there isn’t a rush to get out of the swing, unless you’re approaching the max weight (which at barely 5 months you’re probably not there yet). The other factors which you have to weigh and consider are: SIDS (risk is highest at 4/5 months and peds recommend having the babe in your room through 6 months; object permanence – kicking in around 6 months, so you want to make a change before then and CIO – Alexis recommends waiting until 6 months and using other soothing strategies. Since the swing is still working for you and there’s not huge rush to get her out of the swing, that would probably fall under soothing strategies to keep using.

      Question 2: Don’t use a wedge! They’re a SIDS risk. And gripe water has been freq. proven not to be helpful. So, since she’s napping on her back at daycare, you’ll probably just need to let her work this out and get used to it when you make the switch the crib.

      Question 3: Watch out for using the crib mobile! One keep to a successful bedtime routine is having everything the same as it will be when she wakes up in the night – so either a mobile that’s on all night or not at all (not at all probably being the best answer!). Again – this is part of the object permanence thing. And since its only keeping her quiet for 20 minutes, not helping her fall asleep independently, you are probably ok to stop using it.

      Question 4: Try getting a breathable bumper – they’re mesh so there’s no suffocation risk, but they provide the benefits of a bumper (and she’s probably going to be moving around quite a bit when you get her in the crib, so you’ll be glad to have them).

      I think you’re in a good place to try and let her Fuss It Out (FIO). That means 5-15 minutes of letting her fuss/cry/talk whatever when you put her down. You might be surprised and have her settle down on her own after a bit. I don’t know if Alexis would recommend doing that in her crib or the swing – it probably just depends on which one you decide you’re ready for at this time.

      Hope this helps!

      • Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to help me out! I have a couple more questions which I thought of after you responded. The only reason I feel in a rush is because she might start teething soon and I fear that ruining her transition. Thoughts??

        If after 15 min or so, she is wide awake, do I pick her up and start the whole process over again or let her cry but check in? I know there are different methods and everyone has their own opinion. I worry if I pick her up that she will condition me to do that everytime she cries.

        If I use the crib mobile in the middle of the night then it should be ok? I guess I really dont have to use it, but I feel weird just putting her in the crib and thats it. Right now I play music on her swing.

        Again, thanks so much :)
        Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

        • I wanted to chime in and say that Katie is awesome.

          Also that anything on a timer (mobile, swing music, etc.) is not working for you. So no mobile and no swing music. White noise ALL the time.

          Also it sounds like her tummy isn’t feeling great so she might need to sleep upright longer than average. I don’t feel like there is any huge push to do some huge CIO thing to get her in the crib. Personally I would work on gently getting her used to sleeping in a non-moving swing and make sure she’s going into it AWAKE (I think you’ve been doing this right?).

          I guess I see CIO as the last ditch effort when everything else has failed. But I’m not sure if that’s where you are. Maybe she’s just not ready yet. Maybe she’ll be ready NEXT month. I would keep chipping away at it, or maybe even table the crib thing for a little bit, and see what develops?
          Alexis recently posted..Weaning Baby Off the SwingMy Profile

          • Thank you soooo much for your reply! My main fear is that everyone says that it will be so difficult to transition after the 6 month mark due to object permenance and teething. Thats why I feel rushed and am having anxiety. No joke, this obsession makes my belly upset…daily. I even snapped at my husband last night! All because I’m feeling uneasy, even though she is sleeping very well in the swing. I am my worst enemy :) Am I hearing you correctly that by 6 months is best to transition by but go later than that if your baby has sensitive needs?
            Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

            • I guess I’m not so hung up on the 6 month thing. So my advice is to go with what your baby is telling YOU, which at this point seems to be that:
              - possibly her tummy is mildly bothersome and
              - the swing/upright is helpful

              Sure 6+ months is teething and object permanence. 4 months is a huge sleep regression. 8 months is separation anxiety. So I don’t know if there IS an ideal time.

              Thus rather than try to target some mythical “perfect window” maybe we need to be a little more Zen about it.

              Also if you’re getting to stressed out about something that your tummy is bothering you, it’s time to make a change. You can’t fix baby so what can you do to fix you? Yoga? Long walks outside? If baby is causing you anxiety (and let’s face it – they DO make us anxious) – maybe the answer isn’t to fix what is happening with the baby, but to look at how we manage the anxiety?

              Also I always say listen to your gut. But that won’t work if you’re gut is upset all the time ;)

              Seriously – I hope you take the anxiety stuff seriously. What do you think (other than her sleeping like a champ int he crib) would help? For me it’s always some combination of exercise+outside+kid-free time. What is the solution for you?

            • Hi Ann,

              I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. I have a 6 month old son who also has reflux and sleeps in his carseat which is placed inside his crib. I have tried on a few occasions to put him in the crib sans carseat and he would cry so I cavand go back to his room and put him into the carseat. We have worked so hard to get to where we are (3 naps per day, good night sleep (although still 2 feedings) and a solid bedtime routine) that I am so afraid to jepordize all our work. Plus, my son is ‘new’ to this routine as we only sorted out his sleep issues about 3 weeks ago. For me, I figure it is more important that he sleeps well, even if it is in his carseat, than to not sleep well in his crib. This has been a struggle for me to accept! I am a perfectionist by nature and now a first time mom…but my son is teaching me that there is no such thing as perfect and sometimes I have to accept ‘good enough’. Anyhow, I hope you find some peace within you :-)

  25. I have been a silent student of this blog for several months as a mother to a now 6.5 month old girl. I must chime in to offer my thanks to Alexis publicly and encouragement to the many tired moms out there.

    I, like many of you, was terrified of CIO and dreaded any sort of disruption to my already fragile routine. However, after enduring months of short naps, frequent night wakings, exclusive breastfeeding (w.no dairy and other dietary restrictions) I was exhausted and ground to a pulp. I had a baby that refused to sleep in the crib… with 4 naps a day plus night sleep, that is a lot of swing time! Plus she cried for us every.sleep.cycle – ugh.

    We survived the dreaded 4 month sleep regression (which was as bad as advertised) and vowed to sleep train in some manner. But before we could muster the courage/strength to implement any type of change, six month growth spurt/vaccinations/teething came along. So after a few more weeks of no sleep for mom, long drives in the car and plenty of canceled plans, I earned my own personal PhD in sleep training by reading everything out there on baby sleep – anecdotal, empirical, peer reviewed and everything in between.

    Nothing was as effective and/or persuasive as the advice offered by Alexis – we used varsity baby swing techniques, white noise, swaddles, and ghetto aluminum foil on the windows. All of these techniques worked great and built our confidence as parents to a new baby.

    I don’t know any other way to explain what has happened the past 2 weeks except for … miraculous. We just tried the crib one night with plenty of other sleep cues and we used our words (‘time for bed, we love you, good night’) and baby slept in the crib – we let her fuss it out for night wakings that were not hunger related (still “sussing” that out to borrow an Alexis phrase) and she is learning to sleep through! Still dealing with some night wakings and naps, but we are on our way WITHOUT CIO!!!

    All of this to say that if you really go back and read Alexis’ pages and pages of wise/patient counsel, you will see she says simple things like “wait a few weeks and try again” or “be consistent, be patient” or “CIO is a last resort, do not resign yourself to CIO without trying other methods.” It is easy to gloss over this type of advice because it sounds generic. Like many of you, I wanted SPECIFIC advice, give me something tangible to do(i.e. 14 butt pats dancing on one leg will do it). I know it feels like you have to “do something” or you will never reach your parenting goals. But please know that the babies do change seemingly overnight and as they get more mature they can handle change A LOT better.

    Alexis is always encouraging parents to use their intuition and to study their babies, reminding readers there is no one-size-fits-all approach. She also reminds parents that we need to pace ourselves, crying is not the end of the world – after all, what about those trips to the grocery with a greedy 5 year old!

    Having rounded the corner of crib sleep, I consider our journey thus far to be a Troublesome Tots success story – my story could be “her story” and I just wanted to offer some thanks and encouragement.

    BE PATIENT and carry on brave mothers!

    • Thanks for giving me hope!! What made you decide that it’s time to transition?? What did you do when she cried at night??

      • To answer your questions, I was going to use the swing as long as possible because I had so little sleep and was desperate for anything that would work. There always seemed to be an excuse to put off crib transition, but I knew deep down that at the six month mark I needed to be ready to at least try the crib b.c she was getting noticeably uncomfortable in the swing. So, after a good nap day, I was feeling curious and confident and tried the crib as I mentioned earlier. I am not going to lie – I tried the crib several times prior and could not sit through the crying (I wasn’t committed to a plan, simply experimenting). But baby was ready to stretch out, she was too cramped in the swing at 18 lbs. Looking back, she was ready before I was I think.

        With respect to night wakings, it is my opinion that despite all of the blogs and books and forums, no one can answer this question but baby’s parents. It depends on too many variables – hunger/feeding schedule, transitions, pain mgmt (teething, tummy aches), etc., plus parents’ level of tolerance and stress, etc. Having said that, I determined one night feeding half way through (12.30 or so) and other than that, I try to let her cry/fuss it out. However, I can go in and resettle her with a quick cuddle and it actually soothes her, whereas some babies just get more upset. Also, as Alexis often encourages, I use words now and it really helps.

        Also, watch your own energy – baby can feel your stress/anxiety, but she can also feel your confidence and reassurance. Trust yourself and be as confident and patient as you can and you will get there!

        • Thanks so much!! I keep on delaying too and it’s so frustrating. I am my worst enemy!! I kind of want to delay I the 6 month mark cause I know then that I can’t delay any longer but I am worried about her teething then and making things worse. Thxfor the advice!

    • Great points Rachel but I do want to say that CIO is not always a “last resort” but sometimes the best option for some babies. My daughter fights sleep no matter when or where. Her response to being tired is to cry. Always. So in that way, I had to let go of the guilt that I wasn’t doing everything else possible to help her when in all reality, CIO was something we had to do and had to face.
      (Just wanted to say that for any other mothers who may be guilt-ridden, like I always am.:)

      • Also, my daughter is 9 months old. I do not feel I could have done CIO when she was younger. (i.e. newborn to 6 months. The timing was right for both us!

    • Rachel

      This is gorgeous – ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. I don’t have words for how much this has made my day.

      And soooo insightful. I hadn’t ever considered it but you’re right, parents ARE looking for discrete advice a la “14 butt patts standing on one line” (brilliant) and nobody wants to hear – “wait 3 weeks, try again.”

      Maybe because we’re conditioned to “take action, expect results” and “sit around and wait for things to get better all by themselves” seems like a stupid plan?

      And this: “ghetto aluminum foil on the windows”

      There is nothing more fun to hear one-self quoted ;)

      Thanks so much.

    • Rachel,
      Thanks for the 14 butt pats dancing on one leg. Needed a laugh this morning. Great advice and reminders, and Congrats to your success!
      Jessica

  26. First, amen to all of those who say huge THANKS for this website, which I discovered in one of my many middle of the night google searches!

    And I’m also one of the moms with the confusion about what cries mean when. I have a 5.5 month old daughter who is adorable but has never been a great sleeper. Our 4 month regression coincided with me returning to work and her learning to roll over so there were lots of changes at once – and she was waking up nearly every hour and every time I would nurse her to sleep every time.
    But for the last few weeks, after lots of work but few tears, we pretty quickly got down to two night feedings – one at 3 a.m. and another around 5:30. It was quite predictable and I figured I’d give it a little time and then try to start weening off the 3 a.m. feed. Lately though, that 3 a.m. wakeup has inched earlier and earlier – last night it was about 1:30. My husband tried to sooth her but she ended up crying for close to an hour, at which point I just gave up and nursed her, figuring it was close to when she “should have” been hungry anyway. But I keep worrying that this is just going to set us back at square one.

    So I’m confused about what to do now – do I nurse her when she wakes up after midnight? There are times when she will settle herself back to sleep – I usually set the time for 10 minutes before even sending my hubby in. When she is incosalable at 1:30 do I nurse? Or is that an “inconsistent message” that I’ve read about? I have been reluctant to try a dream feed, in part because i go to sleep about 10 p.m. myself (wake up for the day at 5 a.m.) and so don’t think nursing then will carry her through until the early morning and could backfire.

    Anyone with any insight here please? Thanks so much and good luck to us all in our quest for sweet dreams!

    • Hey Jenny,

      This “feeding creep” is a common challenge – as is figuring out the best way to tackle it. Because there are a number of things that could be causing it – she could be hitting the 6 month growth spurt, this could be simply a habit, she could be responding to your husband’s new aftershave, etc. Who knows!

      But I DO think you need to mix things up a little. Here are a few options you could consider:
      1) Offer her a dream feed at your bedtime. She may not go from 10:00 – 5:30 but what if she makes it from 10:00 – 4:00 AM? Also this feed would hopefully disrupt the 1:00 AM waking/crying cycle.

      2) Try the same thing by setting your alarm to some time before she wakes up – say 1:00 AM. Same theory as the plan above, right?

      3) Feed her whenever she organically wakes up but try to wean OFF that feeding so that you remove the ambiguity of how to handle the feeding as there will be NO feeding till 5:00 AM

      For what it’s worth I totally dig your plan – set the timer for 10 minutes, send Daddy in first. But if she’s crying for 1 hour THEN you go in then yes, you’re sort of feeding the crying beast at that point. So if Daddy is making no headway after ~10 minutes then it’s go time.

      Does any of that makes sense?

      • Thank you so much for the reply! yes, makes lots of sense! I am learning, as I guess all new mothers do, that it does take patience and trial and error. The last couple of nights she has been going until 3:30 or so, and I’m trying to wean her off them. Today she went until 4:30, I nursed her and she woke again at 6. I could tell she didn’t want to be up yet, though sometimes she’s gotten up as early as 6:30, so I went in and nursed her. She woke again and I told my husband to give her a few minutes. Sure enough, she put herself back to sleep and went until 7:30. (She’s in the crib every night by 7 p.m.) Any rate, here’s hoping the weaning and sleeping will both continue! thank you again!

  27. So we are on Night 2 of CIO (desert the baby, style) and it’s going REALLY REALLY well. I was shocked how well it went. In fact, when I woke up this morning I was EXCITED to get to night again so we could do it again. (That’s just crazy) My daughter fought sleep for an hour and finally caved at 9:20. My husband went in once and patted her back and then we left her alone completely. She roused around 11 but put herself back to sleep after only a few minutes and I didn’t hear another peep until 4AM! I was ecstatic! And in shock. (And without a paci?! Yay!) I just brought her to bed with us and nursed her and she again fell back asleep! (With no crying and with no pacifier. YAY!) She is 9 months old and up until this point have been co-sleeping with us and living off my boob. No kidding. All night long. I had had enough.
    ANYWAY, I have always considered her a terrible napper/sleeper. She takes 20 to 30 minutes every 3 hours. She always seems exhausted. She never naps in her crib, but should we start now? Someone usually just holds her or wears her (ergo) while she sleeps. After nights are down, I just want her to nap during the day so she can be a happy, well-rested girl! Any suggestions? Do we CIO for naps too? (P.s. We have a humidifier we are using as white noise. I think it’s working well. And i’m about to invest in black out curtains)

    • Keri,

      I’m laughing and also mildly horrified by the “desert the baby style” – is that an official method? Maybe this will catch on and will become MY thing. People will be talking in new parent playgroups, “Yeah we tried Ferber but it got us nowhere so we resorted to Alexis’s desert the baby style.” AAAAAHHH NOOOOOO! ;)

      Nap CIO can sometimes be an amazing thing and sometimes not so much. I’ve been putting off writing about it for many reasons. One – I wanted to take a breather from all the crying baby talk. And two because it’s not always a slam dunk. But you’re like the billionth person whose asked so I guess I need to stop stalling.

      The short version is – you just do it. When the normal nap period (in your case 20 minutes) has passed, you go get her and keep her awake till the next scheduled window. Then you try again.

      I wouldn’t rush however – enjoy the gorgeous nights for a while. The much-improved night sleep will only HELP with napping so let her catch up a little, yes?

      Good luck!
      Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

      • Thanks for the reply Alexis!
        So with naps if they don’t fall asleep within a certain time frame you should just get them out? (I’m staring at the monitor seeing my beautiful baby girl just sitting in her crib, an hour later :/)
        Also, for me, CIO at night is so much easier than during the day! I feel like I could cave at any moment!
        I guess I will not “desert the baby” right now. ;)

        Thanks for all your insight on this blog. It gave me the courage to do it and it’s BEAUTIFUL to have adult time with my husband at night AND our bed back. :)

        • Yes – if the whole nap tie has passed you go get her EVEN if she didn’t fall asleep. Then you try your damndest not to let her fall asleep before the NEXT naptime (so no car rides pretty much ever).

  28. Alright Mamas, I need advice. Last night was an AWFUL night, putting it nicely.
    ^ And I just love that I just wrote all that great stuff about her sleeping so well a few days ago. :(
    So, let me back track. She is 9 1/2 months old and has been sleeping with us up until a week ago. She nursed every 3 hours at night, sometimes every 2, but it was mainly just to sooth herself. So, since no one was sleeping well (including her) I figured she might as well squirm and cry in her crib instead of in between us. The first few nights went okay. I kept thinking, “isn’t she supposed to fall asleep quicker and quicker?” Well, it’s been a week and every night she has been awake at least an hour. Granted, she no longer cries the whole hour, but she just stays awake rolling around for at least an hour.
    Well the last two nights her new thing is to SIT UP in her crib. Just sit there. Not cry, nothing.
    The first night (which was 2 nights ago) she lasted 3 HOURS before my husband went in and laid her down. She was too tired to sit back up and was out. She slept great after that too. Well last night, a different story, she sat up in bed from 1:30-6:30. :( Every time I would wake up and look at the monitor, she was just sitting there. Is it possible she is sleeping sitting up?? I feel like an awful mother because I know today she’s going to be so tired and grouchy. And do we need to be laying her back down? I don’t know. I really thought that after a week she’d be falling asleep better. :( Happy Monday to us. Boo!

    • I’m pretty confident she’s sleeping sitting up. Can you put her back down? Generally yes. But if she’s a smart lady and figures out that sitting up is a way to get you to come running that can backfire on you. So just be mindful about if your helpful “putting her back down” is productive or not?

  29. Alexis,

    I just want to add to the “should you get paid?” conversation. Yes, yes, yes. You do good work. Your columns and advice are more thoughtful, helpful, and intelligent than so much of what those other (paid) sleep experts provide.

    I, and I’m sure all of the other parents who write to you daily, seek your advice not because it’s free but because we trust you. As things stand, every time I have a question, I feel guilty and anxious for writing to you! Guilty because I know how many parents are hounding you and anxious because i am usually desperate for an answer. Selfishly, I want to pay you. I want to be able to pay for and then receive your services when I need them, and I think many feel the same.

    Do I have a question that is currently making me feel guilty and anxious right now? Yes, of course I do.

    Not sure if you’ll remember my situation, but here’s the background: Baby is 5.5 months, 24 weeks. We did CIO a few weeks ago. He’s dreamfeeding at 11 and 3. Week one was rough; week two we seemed to be on the right path, and week three baby got sick. The first sick night he slept in bed with us after he woke for his 3am feeding and wouldn’t go back to sleep in the crib. The rest of the week we gave him 5-15 minutes to fall asleep on his own at bedtime and night wakings (we planned to pick him up and soothe him if it took longer), and he did. Unfortunately, the night wakings became more frequent that week, and though he did go to sleep on his own, it was taking up to 10 minutes several times a night. I wasn’t sure if it was because we picked him up that first night or because he was sick. Like I said, we would have picked him up if he cried longer because he was not feeling well, but he did always put himself back to sleep. We wanted to give him the chance to do so because he sleeps so terribly in our bed, and he needed the sleep.

    This week he’s been feeling better, but night wakings are still happening. Not as frequently, but still happening. Almost as if he’s waking earlier and earlier for his dreamfeeds. So, let’s say one night 240, the next 230, etc. He is putting himself back to sleep after 5-10 minutes, but it seems like there’s still way too much crying. And I was planning on weaning him from the 300 feeding! Shouldn’t he be past this? In addition, his mornings are all over the place. Sometimes he wakes at 5:30 and puts himself back to sleep, sometimes he wakes at 5 and doesn’t. Sometimes he wakes up at 6:30! I know not to let him cry after 5, so I’ve been putting him in the bed with us and nursing him back to sleep at that point, which works maybe half the time and he’ll sleep until 6:30 or 7 or sometimes 8. This is mostly an issue because I want him to have some consistency. It’s affecting nap times; I’m not sure if it’s affecting bed times; I never know how much he’s eating in the morning—it’s a mess.

    And here’s where it gets messier—last night at bedtime he cried on and off for 20 minutes. I picked him up because it usually takes him about 5 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime. I nursed him, and he ate hungrily and went back to sleep. My theory is he’s gearing up for a growth spurt. He will be 25 weeks on Friday, and he was born a week late. He has hit every one, and they have been nasty affairs. Nursing all night, fussiness abounds, etc. The four-month one threw everything out of whack. We had to hold him or sleep next to him for him to sleep at all, and he was waking every hour screaming throughout the night.

    Tonight was the same but worse. So, am I right and this is a growth spurt? Or have we undone all of our good work and that’s why he cried again at bedtime (and again at 10)? Was he never really settled to begin with? If it is a growth spurt, how do we proceed? Ride it out and then CIO again? How do we get back on the right path? Are the mornings screwing him up? The nursing down for naps? Btw, when the nighttime is settled, I could use your help with naps, too! Nobody can put him down for a nap but me, and I have to go back to work next month.

    Ugh, this is a mess. You see? You see why we need to pay you?

    p.s. you charge what you want to charge. your quality work speaks for itself. i don’t trust the overpriced sleep experts because of the price. i feel like they’re just trying to take advantage of desperate parents.

    • i should add–when he wakes before it is time for his dreamfeed, i don’t pick him up and feed him. i let him fall back to sleep on his own. he usually does, but he usually continues to wake until it’s time for his feeding. i do, however, try and wait until he’s asleep to pick him up for the feeding so there isn’t the cry/feed association.

      • I realize how confusing this post is.

        sorry, i’m all over the place. let me clarify–i don’t mind the 2x per night because i also know it’s totally normal. he seemed to be ready to wean of the second feeding because he’s not hungry when he wakes in the morning. i was worried because he was waking up before the feeding and those wakings were getting earlier and earlier. and he would fall asleep and wake up until the 3am feeding, so it wasn’t just ten minutes, it was sometimes ten minutes x 3 over 45 minutes.

        so the 2x/night isn’t a growth spurt thing, i know, but are the wakings before feeding part of the growth spurt? and should i just feed him earlier? i’ve been trying to not feed him in response to crying, but instead to feed him when he’s asleep so as to avoid the cry/feed association.

        until three nights ago, that is.

        the cio comes in because over the past three nights he’s been crying for about twenty minutes at bedtime. Since we got past the early cio days, his pattern was it takes him about five minutes to go down, usually less. because i’m worried it’s a growth spurt and he needs more soothing, i’ve picked him up and nursed him to sleep. so i think i’ve messed up the training? i don’t know if i should continue to give him some extra soothing until the growth spurt has passed or he’s continuing to wake up because i’ve set a precedent. if it’s the former, i was thinking i’d have to cio when the spurt has passed because he’s gotten used to me picking him up and nursing him to sleep at bedtime.

        other factors i’m worried are contributing to this new problem: the nursing down for naps and early morning wakings when i bring him into bed. [sidenote: i'm over nursing him down for naps, but i'm afraid to let him cry for fear of making him overtired. nobody else but me is able to put him down. also, i don't mind a rough morning, i just want to make sure i'm not messing things up. if inconsistent wake times are normal, i'm cool to roll with it].

        i hope this message is a little clearer? i just feel like i’ve messed it all up by picking him up, but i’m terrified that i’ll leave him to cry when there’s actually something wrong.

        also, please charge whatever you need to charge! my point was only that, regardless of what you charge, your work will speak for itself. if it’s expensive, it’ll be worth it. if it’s not, your customers will feel like they’re getting a great deal!

      • Hey Yael,

        Well I’ll admit I’m a bit confused. Also we’ve been chatting over on FB right (or maybe I’m talking to two different Yael’s?).

        So are you fully back to nursing to sleep? I hope not because yeah that WOULD be a big step in the wrong direction. If so hopefully it’s only been a few nights and can be quickly rectified without a whole lot of drama :(

        I would think about trying to remove nursing from the time he falls to sleep AT bedtime. So not just “not nursing to sleep” but putting a goodly gap in there – maybe 20 minutes? Because I think he’s really seeking comfort nursing at night and the gap will help break this up a little.

        Also have you seen the article here on night weaning? At this age you see a lot of kids become distracted about eating during the day, sometimes solids are an issue, growth spurts, etc. ALL of which is working against your goal of NOT eating as much at night.

        So I would peruse the article and consider if one or more of those issues is tripping you up.

        I would see if you can’t get a slightly better handle on breaking the nurse=sleep thing AT bedtime and see if that helps you get back to the 2X a night feeding before tackling naps. Because I don’t think that what is happening at naptime is throwing you off at night.

        You DO need to wean off the nursing at naps eventually for a variety of reasons. But I think it can wait 1-2 weeks, yes?
        Alexis recently posted..Why Night Weaning Isn’t WorkingMy Profile

        • Hi Alexis,

          Thank you for your continued help. I can’t tell you enough how appreciative I am of the time and effort you put into helping me and everyone else with non-sleeping babies.

          Yeah, we’re back to nursing to sleep. Basically, we’re at the point where we either let him cry it out all over again or nurse him to sleep. I didn’t want to let him cry because it seems like he’s going through a growth spurt and needs the extra soothing. This all started because one might he just cried at bedtime for like 20 minutes out of nowhere. It seemed off so I nursed him to sleep and here we are. Is it okay to let him cry for long periods of time during a growth spurt?

  30. Alexis, your website saved our lives literally. We were at our breaking point so much that my husband ended up in the ER with heart palpitations and we both had to have ekg’s due to sleep deprivation I cannot thank you enough.

    So our first child we did the ferber method at 7 months, simple simple after 3 nights of minimal crying. Our second child started getting up every 45 minutes at 3.5 months. The pedi’s solution? CIO. We bombed bigtime and he cried all. night.long!!!! So I became a human pacifier which worked 1-2 weeks only and then we went the next 2.5 months as zombies up every 45 minutes, completely nonfunctional. We had enough. So at 6 months we put him back in the crib again (he had been in our room in a rock and play) took the swaddle off and let him go for it. Another BIG mistake. He cried 2 hours and we couldn’t take it anymore. We also made the mistake of going back in to comfort him, which got him really mad!

    The next day my husband found your blog and for that I would marry the guy 1000 more times, it was better than hitting the lotto. I read it like a mad woman at work all day long and got up the confidence to try again. But this time…no going back in to check no matter what!!

    This time we put him in the swaddle because we thought it was just too much at once with removing that and the crib,etc. So he went to bed at 7 and cried about 30 minutes and went to sleep. He still woke about every hour with minimal quiet fuss and then got up at 5am!! I had no clue what to do because I had no idea how much he was actually nursing but had a suspicion it wasn’t much, but he never woke enough so he went all night without nursing. He stopped fussing every hour after about a week.

    So it’s been 4 weeks and he did great for the first 3. Getting up at 3 or 4 to eat but often going back to sleep to 5-5:30. Totally happy baby. (He had been a miserable nightmare during the day before all this)

    Then he started teething about a week ago. He’s now 7 months old. It’s hard for me to determine if he’s really uncomfortable from the teeth or not (they are thru). The problem is he has been waking up crying ALOT more now (giving tylenol before bed didn’t change much). And we have been going to him almost every time because his cry is more angry and long (bad I know). I worry about a possible growth spurt too or is it just those extinction bursts? He’ll wake up at 9:30 which I generally ignore (but he cries at least 30 minutes) and then like 11, 12, and 2 or 3 and I’ve been feeding him at 11 or 12 which is an additional feeding than he had for the past 3 weeks. Way too often. I know we tend to rush in because 1) He keeps us up when crying, and 2) We don’t want him to wake his brother up.

    I know there are alot of issues above, but my main question is the swaddle. He seems to love it, but then he breaks out multiple times a night (and my husband is the master swaddled-the miracle blanket) and then he cries and gets mad and we often go wrap him back up. I’d love to get rid of it completely, but he has acted like a deer in the headlights and cried so much because he has no idea what to do with his hands and arms. I must note that he does great for naps but we keep him in his swaddle in the rock and play and also he goes to bed fairly well but both times with the paci (which I don’t worry much about because he’s not a huge fan of it).

    So I don’t know if we should repeat cry it out again and not go in until the 3-4 feeding like he did the first 3 weeks (which I’d like to get rid of), keep the swaddle, transition it to that other swaddle some people have mentioned, or just go cold turkey. He’s slowly reverting back to getting up every hour!!

    Any advice you give would be great! Until then, I am going to go furiously read more of your site!!!

    Stephanie
    PS We read all “those books” before we found your website…nothing helped us! Thank you thank you thank you.

    • “we both had to have ekg’s due to sleep deprivation”

      [jaw hits floor]

      Holy cow. That is frightening. And really just a very physical manifestation of how brutal it is on our bodies when the stress of chronic sleep deprivation goes on and on an on.

      I’m trying to listen to my gut and my gut isn’t telling me anything all that clear. I’m wondering if what happened wasn’t more of an extinction burst scene and now you’ve gradually backslid into a hard place. I’m thinking that it’s NOT teething because if it were, you should have seen an improvement with Tylenol (provided you had the dose right).

      Here’s what I would do:
      - STICK WITH THE SWADDLE
      Experiment with double swaddling (people SWEAR by this). Find a way to safely keep him swaddled because yes the popping out is going to lead to more night wakings. Get your swaddle ninja master husband on the case. No more popping out.

      Are you still putting him down awake AT bedtime? Are you separating nursing FROM bedtime by at least 20 minutes? These are two key steps. Also check the post below on night weaning for more thoughts on things that might be working against you.

      Also are you using a paci at bedtime? If so, stop. Basically you don’t want to reinforce any “suck or food = sleep” messages.

      Could it be a growth spurt? It could. How long does he cry when you DON’T feed him at night? Hungry babies cry a lot. Babies who have a suck=sleep thing going on will grumble for 10-20 minutes and go back to sleep.

      So glad that your husband is a champion parenting partner :) They are rare and worth every penny!
      Alexis recently posted..Why Night Weaning Isn’t WorkingMy Profile

  31. Alexis, I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you for your articles and insight! I read everyone’s comments and your advice and formulated a plan for my 5 month old. She has been in the swing since week 2 and I was a drama queen about transitioning her. What I quickly discovered was that I was making a bigger deal of it than it should be. I decided to just give it the ole college try. I slowed down the swing to the lowest level but I didnt stay committed to her going in a non moving swing. Next, I worked on disassociating bf with bed.

    Last night, I layed her on her back with loud white noise. She cried about 10 min in. I went in at 2, 5 and 10 min. After the 10 min mark she stopped crying and vwalla she soothed herself to sleep! She slept from 8-11:30 and 12-1:30. She went in the swing for the rest of the night. Tonight, she fell asleep within 3 minutes and no crying! We’ll see how long she sleeps but its a success regardless.

    Thank you for making me feel that I wasnt a crazy mom for having my LO in the swing for this long. I appreciate your insight and will continue to refer my friends to your site!
    Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

    • Congratulations on a happy transition! Making any sort of change is often really scary because nobody wants to do anything that could make things WORSE. I think it’s because the memory of the sleep deprivation of the first few months is so vivid everybody’s like, “Well no matter what I’m NOT GOING BACK TO THAT!!!”

      But often babies surprise us! They grumble a little and go to sleep. And you’re left thinking, “I can’t believe I was freaking out over that?”

      So cheers and great work :)
      Alexis recently posted..Much to be Grateful ForMy Profile

  32. Hi Alexis,

    Firstly please let me say this: I LOVE LOVE LOVE you. Secondly I LOVE LOVE LOVE you :) ok, that is probably enough spam. My baby is 9 weeks old and only sleeps while being held and I cop so much $**t from well meaning friends about sleep training her so naturally I feel so guilty about nursing/ holding her to sleep. I tried Baby whisperer method of shushing/ patting her but it didn’t work. Anyway, after lots of google soul searching :) I found you and fell in love. I’m very happy to report that we bought the swing 2 weeks ago and she goes down with minimal fuss most of the time AND stay asleep. I sometimes have to wake her up after 4-5 hour nap. I have to admit though that at night, we put her in the swing then transfer her to her cot. Works brilliantly. I’m a very happy momma now. There is still a minor issue of her waking up around 5-5:30 am to start the day but I’m so stoked with our current victory I’ll deal with it later :)

    Again, thank you so much for doing such a great job helping mothers like me. Buddha bless you :))

    • No no no – you can never “love spam” me too much ;)

      Why did you feel so guilty? Only you and, oh, about a billion other parents nurse and hold their newborn babies to sleep. Yes you need to find a plan to move past that. But EVERYBODY does that to start with!

      And how great for you that you’ve found a happy way to help baby sleep WITHOUT being held! Hopefully this is now your path to help her learn to fall asleep solo so that you’ll have a tear-free transition to having a happy, healthy crib sleeper in a few months.

      Thanks for sharing your happy news – cheers!
      Alexis recently posted..Weaning Baby Off the SwingMy Profile

  33. Hi Alexis,
    Just wanted to give a shout out and say how much I have appreciate this site! We are finally starting to establish a good routine with our 5.5 month old daughter but I have noticed a pattern with her that I am not sure if I should try to mend or just let it work itself out over time. We start our day anyway from 6am to 7am and then she takes a predictable 2-2.5 hr nap in the mornings after about 2 hrs. of wake time. This gets us to 10-11am. She is ready for another nap around 12-1pm, again after 2 hrs of awake time but sometimes that feels like a stretch bc she will start to get fussy after 1.5 hrs, I am trying to extend the day a little so I try to push her to 2 hrs. for this one. This nap is normally 45-50 min. That leaves us with a third nap at 3-3:30 and this one is normally 30-45 min. As much as I love that long morning nap we always seem to have a tired cranky baby on our hands by the evening and we sometimes struggle to keep her up until 6:30pm. We would much prefer a 7pm bedtime so we could spend a little more time with her after work etc. but anytime we try to extend past 6:45pm she wakes up the next mornign EARLY,5:30am and has no interest in going back to sleep. I also have no interest in keeping up a tired/cranky baby at night so we submit to a 6:30pm bedtime and she typically sleeps through the night with a dream feed around 10pm. So my question is what are your thoughts on waking babies from naps to adjust other naps? We have always followed the “don’t wake a sleeping baby” but I was thinking of waking her after 1.5-2hrs in the morning to get a longer afternoon nap and hopefully exstned the day a little more?

    I may totally be over thinking this but we would love if we could adjust her day a little so that we could see her smiling face more in the evening and less say around 6am :) I have read that the afternoon nap takes longer to establish but I am not sure if babies do that organically or need help?

    • Hey Abby,

      I hear that you would love her to be awake longer in the evening. But here are a few thoughts to consider:

      - She is a sleeping CHAMPION. Honestly, a gold medal winning champion. In the broader scheme of things you are an incredibly lucky mom with a sleep ninja baby. Yay!

      - TONS of babies can’t make it past 6:30. Kudos to you for recognizing that’s where she is and going with it. 6:30 isn’t really an unusually early bedtime, it’s quite common. As she gets older (say 9 months or so) she’ll organically be able to stay awake closer to 3 hours and this will naturally push her bedtime back.

      - Shortening her AM nap is no guarantee that she’ll sleep LONGER in the PM. In fact I think it’s probably more likely to shift everything up (her 2nd nap falls earlier, her 3rd nap falls earlier and now woops! Bedtime is 6:00 PM – not what you’re working for).

      This doesn’t mean you can’t experiment a little, but my gut says the answer is to wait till she’s older and things will sort themselves out all by themselves.

      Enjoy that ninja napping baby!
      Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

  34. Hi Alexis,

    First of all, I just want to say that your site is a practical and informative resource for first time mothers who learn the hard way that babies don’t sleep when they are tired! I stumbled on your site right when I was questioning my ability as a parent because my son wouldn’t fit neatly into those books where I simply had to “put baby down awake”.

    Since the day he was born, my son had to be held or he wouldn’t sleep. Anytime we tried to put him down (drowsy, wide awake, dead asleep – we tried it all), he would cry. I couldn’t even move him to lay down together. Or sit down after rocking him. So for the first 8 weeks or so, we slept in an armchair together after he fell asleep from nursing. We tried EVERY method to just be able to put him down, and nothing worked. I then read about nursing him while laying together… I tried this with him and it worked! I was able to sleep on a mattress for the first time in 2 months. However, I noticed he woke up looking for the boob frequently all night… While I was getting sleep, he clearly wasn’t.

    A few days ago, on his three month birthday, we tried CIO. Before you judge our decision, please know we tried everything possible, and I was worried he was not getting enough sleep. A few of our friends had success with the Ferber method at 3 months, and we thought we would give it a shot.

    I soaked up all of your articles and decided to give it a shot.

    Our routine is 30 minutes long and consists of boob, bath, massage, jammies

  35. Hi Alexis,

    First of all, I just want to say that your site is a practical and informative resource for first time mothers who learn the hard way that babies don’t sleep when they are tired! I stumbled on your site right when I was questioning my ability as a parent because my son wouldn’t fit neatly into those books where I simply had to “put baby down awake”.

    Since the day he was born, my son had to be held or he wouldn’t sleep. Anytime we tried to put him down (drowsy, wide awake, dead asleep – we tried it all), he would cry. I couldn’t even move him to lay down together. Or sit down after rocking him. So for the first 8 weeks or so, we slept in an armchair together after he fell asleep from nursing. We tried EVERY method to just be able to put him down, and nothing worked. I then read about nursing him while laying together… I tried this with him and it worked! I was able to sleep on a mattress for the first time in 2 months. However, I noticed he woke up looking for the boob frequently all night… While I was getting sleep, he clearly wasn’t. We dabbled with the Ferber method at around week 10… He got more upset every time we left and after 2.5 hours I broke down and nursed him to sleep.

    A few days ago, on his three month birthday, we tried CIO. Before you judge our decision, please know we tried everything possible (including varsity swing training with three brands of swings), and I was worried he was not getting enough sleep. A few of our friends had success with the Ferber method at 3 months, and so I soaked up all of your articles and decided to give it a shot.

    Our routine is 30 minutes long and consists of boob, bath, massage, jammies, kiss on the cheek. He needs a lot of soothing so we put him in his swing, swaddled with white noise (he refuses to take a pacifier).

    The first night, he fell asleep after 53 minutes of crying! He woke up every two hours all night and I nursed him, though I noticed he was still using me to soothe, as he did not eat much.

    The second night, he fell asleep after 40 minutes but then woke up 45 minutes later. He cried for 2 hours before finally falling asleep. He only woke twice for feelings, each time nursing fully.

    The third night, same thing as the night before. This time (after reading your article on Penelope), I went and got him after he woke from his “nap”, and I did our full eat, sleep, activity cycle with him and then the entire bedtime routine again. I put him down and he fell asleep after only 2 minutes of crying (I watched him in the monitor and he was awake for another 6 minutes or so before actually falling asleep)!

    The fourth night, I moved his bedtime an hour later and he fell asleep after 80 minutes of crying, and slept through to the morning with only one night feeding. The fifth night, he fell asleep after 40 minutes, and slept through with two night feedings. Tonight, he cried for about an hour and 45 minutes before finally falling asleep (I expect from exhaustion)!

    What is happening??? Why the up and down with the length of crying? I’m scared to continue and I’m scared to stop. I would also note that during the day, I carry him in his Moby wrap for all of his naps. I have become a sleep nazi… I guard his naptimes zealously… They usually only last 45 minutes or so but I can rock him back to sleep for another half hour or so. He takes about 4 to 5 naps a day. When he is not tired, he is the happiest, most independent baby… He can stay on his back while awake and is happy as can be until he gets tired… I am so worried he is not getting the proper amount of sleep and I don’t know how to help him!

    Sorry for the long post. Not expecting an answer, but would be so grateful if a suggestion or comment would help my son get the rest he so desperately needs.

    • Alexis,

      I just wanted to post an update to my long winded message above. After another night of crying for an hour, yesterday I checked the sleep log I had been keeping. I noticed that almost every day, he would fall asleep sometime between 10pm and 10:45pm. So tonight we put him down at 10:20pm. He cried for 4 minutes, whined for 3 minutes and fell asleep!!! I am beyond happy and relieved!! My fingers are crossed for future nights, but I feel like we may have cracked it… I will keep you posted (whether you want me to or not!). One question I have for you: how do I know when I should start moving his bedtime earlier? I know that at 3 months, a 10:30 bedtime is not unusual, but I don’t expect he will have that bedtime for months to come?

      I have been to hell and back that I don’t care if my little one doesn’t sleep through the night for months! The next thing we will tackle are naps (he has started taking 1.5 to 2 hour naps in the sling)… Not to schedule naps (as I think he is still too young), but to teach him how to self-soothe… Can you suggest a good resource? Or a good age to start?

      Thank you so, so, so, so much for such an informative, supportive and non-judgmental site. I don’t know how I would have navigated the last month without it. I have read Karp, Ferber, Weissbluth, Hogg, Sears and a slew of “other” books and I’m convinced that you should pen one… Your website has been my saving grace and if your book would include half the information you have on your site, many sleep deprived children and bewildered parents would benefit.

      I am about to go “pay it forward” but I wanted to let you know how much your site has saved my sanity.

      THANK YOU!

      • MJ,

        Ironically you’re journey (tons of crying, realization that it was a bedtime issue) is the same as this post! Bedtime can be tricky. All the books talk about having an early bedtime but working on it can be tricky and the wrong bedtime can lead to all sorts of problems. So congratulations for diagnosing the issue!

        As for pushing bedtime up, I would sort of lock in the night sleeping first. So maybe you just revel in your drama-free bedtime and let everybody catch up on some sleep for a week or so :)

        Then I would gradually start inching up when he wakes in the AM (I’m hoping that if he goes to bed at 10:30 he’s morning is quite late also, like 9:00 AM or so?). So you start waking him up ~15 minutes earlier. This shifts everything gradually – naps, etc. Every few days shift things by ~15 minutes. So this takes a while – bedtime will slowly creep from 10:30, 10:15, 10:00, 9:45….to eventually a more age appropriate zone of 7:30ish.

        As for self soothing for naps, sooner is better. Why? Because at 3 months you have LOTS of soothing options at your disposal. Babies who love to be carried often do well with swaddle, swing, and white noise for naps. And it’s TOTALLY OK for him to nap in the swing and sleep in his bed at night.

        I wouldn’t worry about a schedule but how long he can stay awake. At 3 months this is probably only 1-1.5 hours between naps right? IT’s also time to have a consistent soothing pre-nap routine. Maybe diaper change, books, songs, rocking in the chair he loves, massage, etc. Whatever you think will work as long as its dark, soothing, and helps give him multiple clues that it’s sleep time.

        Great work – I hope you are proud of yourself!
        Alexis recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

        • Alexis,

          Thanks so much for taking the time to respond! He normally wakes on his own between 8 and 830 in the morning but this morning I forced him awake at 9am, as I didn’t want his bedtime to shift any later! Hope this was the right thing to do…

          He woke up three times for feedings last night rather than his usual one time…. Could this have contributed to the later wake time?

          As an aside, does napping too much during the day (e.g., over 6 hours) contribute to additional night wakenings (I don’t think that happened here because he nursed fully each time he woke up)?

          And yes, he can only stay up 1.25 to 1.5 hours at a time… Once his nights are fully established, we will start helping him nap on his own! We sleep trained his nights in his swing (he is almost literally attached to me all day and we thought the night transition would be easier the more soothing he coud get) and will be using your swing weaning article to eventually get him in his crib… Baby steps, right?

          And it should be YOU who is proud of YOURself for our son’s sleep success story… Your website guided us through what seemed to be an impossible task!

  36. First let me thank you SO MUCH for such an insightful resource. I echo the sentiments of many when I say that I wish I had your site with my firstborn, my sweet SCREAMING daughter Joan that had be at her beckon call every night for two years. Never again…NEVER again!
    So now I have sweet 7 week old James. He is actually much easier and is a champion sleeper…during the DAY. I mean, 4 hour stretches easy if I didn’t wake him to nurse. I nurse him and he is up less than an hour…back out. He without fail sleeps from 9 or 10a until 2-4 PM like this.
    Problem: Up between 4-5 PM, and he is no longer easy to get down after 90 minutes..or anytime really. He quits napping, gets overtired and then goes back to sleep at 10 or 11 pm. Problem here too is that he sleeps only until 1-2a then it is fussing, nursing, fidgeting (in bed with me at this point) ..up/down/up/down- no crying mind you, he is not a crier…but not sleeping until 7-8am the back down between 9-10am.
    I am assuming his days and nights are still mixed up but what the…? Isn’t this supposed to resolve itself by now? If I try to keep him up during day, it doesn’t go over very well. He really wants to sleep then. He basically just cries a sad cry and squirms like crazy while I try to hold him and take care of my toddler.
    I have to go back to work in 2 weeks and the fatigue is getting to me! With a 2 year old and some work to do, there is no time or place for day napping while he naps!
    Please help..and thank you so much for your fantastic blog!

    • Ah the joys of the 7 week old. OK not really – most 7 week olds aren’t quite yet so joyous :P

      1) This is the witching hour. Babies won’t sleep but are exhausted and fussy. It’s not a party but it will get better.

      2) It sounds like he needs more soothing at night. Most babies do! Check out the baby sleep guide for newborns (main menu) and do ALL of it.

      3) Yes his day night thing is messed up. No you can’t fix it but you don’t want him necessarily taking 4-5 hour naps during the day. I’m not a big fan of the “wake baby up” plan and many pediatricians I have asked say (and I agree) that if you leave well enough alone they’ll sort it out on their own.

      That being said I would maybe limit naps to ~3 hours during the day. Try it for 1 week. See if that (along with MORE soothing) doesn’t help your night situation.

      Good luck!
      Alexis recently posted..Eat Play Sleep FailMy Profile

  37. So…it’s me again :) My 5 month old has been in her crib now for 4 nights-was previously in swing. She goes to bed very easily once she is fed. However, she wakes up every 1.5-3 hours and doesnt go back to bed unless I feed her. I tried FIO and when that doesnt work, I give in and feed her. 2 hours later, same thing. I understand that previously she had the swing to soothe her, whereas now she is in a new environment. She wont take a pacifier. I have loud white noise through an air purifier, but have also started to experiment with heartbeats, etc, to see if that helps. . I guess I have two questions.

    1. Is time all she really needs to get used to a different environment?

    2. If I try FIO and that doesnt work, is it ok to breastfeed her or is that creating a bad habit?

    I
    Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

    • Hey Ann,

      I had a similar situation and can share what Alexis told me and how it’s been going for us. Generally – the rule of thumb (for Alexis at least, not most pediatricians) is not to start cutting out feeds before 6 months. If it happens naturally – great! But if the babe is hungry, go ahead and feed. The trick thing about this, and why it can feel SO HARD, is that its not a linear thing. Little ones can go through a spurt of not eating much during the night and then start it back up again. Growth spurt, new environment, misses Mom, starting to get sick, distracted eater during the day – there’s no one reason :)

      So, what I’ve been doing is generally feeding on demand at night again. I was REALLY hoping that this would decrease after we did CIO and it did IMPROVE. We lost the every 45 minute wake-ups. As well, in the past, feedings would start migrating together – 2 hours, 1 h 45m, 1.5 hours, you get the picture. Also – I just saw that it sounds like you’re still nursing to sleep. So – here’s what I would do.

      1. Work on removing nursing from bedtime. Alexis says to do so by at least 20 minutes, we eventually moved it back so its totally separate, not even part of bedtime routine at all. Just try to move it one step back from bedtime every few days, hopefully to a point where you have multiple steps after it (i.e. nurse, read a book, do lotion, get in pjs, sing a song together, in bed).
      2. Keep nursing at night but try to pay attention to which feeds are actually due to hunger and which ones are just nursing to soothe. Once you’ve got the no nurse to sleep thing down, use Alexis’s weaning guide (or just FIO) with one of the soothing to sleep feeds first and don’t worry about the hunger feeds yet – the hunger is probably legit! You can also use the weaning strategies for those feeds once you’ve got the soothing ones handled.
      3. To your question about creating a bad habit – here’s what you need to remember – there’s no cut and dry line between “good habits” and “bad habits” when they’re this little. So you need to just keep working for the best balance you can find – nursing in the night is STILL appropriate for a 5 month old, but you want to do other things (move nursing away from bedtime, keep track of which feeds are actually for hunger, provide other soothing in the environment), so that nursing at night isn’t your ONLY option and that you’re moving forward (maybe at a snail’s pace, but still!).

      Hopefully this helps! You’re probably heading into a little bit of ups and downs with the 23-26 week Wonder Weeks (see the Ask Moxie sleep regression post, Alexis links to it) and that can muddy things up again – but you just keep moving forward with that balance of appropriate soothing while building in more independence, etc.

      Hopefully this helps, good luck!!

      • Thank you so much for your advice! Unfortunately the nights are getting worse. She still goes down in her crib after being fed, but will wake up an hour later crying and has a hard time falling asleep unless she is fed. Sometimes even being fed doesnt work. Am sure its the new environment but its making for super long and frustrating nights! Not sure there is much else I can do though except keep on trying.
        Ann recently posted..Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part IMy Profile

        • Was she sleeping in a non-moving swing before moving to the crib, or still being swung?
          If the latter, it might help to go back to the swing for a bit and gradually lower the speed to wean off the motion. Then the transition from motionless swing to crib will be less of a huge change.
          CarrieVS recently posted..FingersMy Profile

  38. Maybe someone can help me here. My 7 month old is crawling and just learned to pull herself up. So now she does that after I put her down (awake). We generally do check and console and it works pretty well for us. So, how often do I go in to lay her back down. She’ll cry for a few minutes and then stop for a few minutes so according to Ferber I’m supposed to reset the clock everytime she pauses….but she can do this for over an hour. Any suggestions?

  39. I really need some help.

    We’ve been doing CIO with my son since he was 5.5 months old, so we’re 2 months into this process.

    We’ve established a bedtime routine, separated nursing from butt-in-bed time by at least 20 minutes, lost the paci, and have been letting him cry-it-out until he falls asleep. At night, he still wakes 4-5 times to nurse. We’re in the process of night weaning, and we’re down to 3 minutes on the first two nursing sessions (he brought the second nursing time down himself).

    Naps are consistently there, but the times are variable (he’s teething). His bedtime is around 8-8:30pm depending on other factors (i.e. he had a random long nap in the afternoon and is especially awake at 8pm).

    Our problem is that, on the average night, the longest stretch he sleeps is about 3-4 hours at first, then wakes every 2 hours after that. Dosing him up with baby Motrin doesn’t change it at all. We tried letting him cry through one wakeup fairly early in the night, but he started SCREAMING and SCREAMING and kept amping up until at the end of about 40 minutes, he was entirely awake. At 3am.

    Last night he slept for 3 hours initially, then 3 hours again. After that point, he woke up every hour and a half until we stuck him in bed with us for the last hour or so.

    I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Few quick things jump out at me here:

      1) Get locked in on bedtime. REALLY locked in. Manage his naps so you can be consistent about it.

      2) More soothing. Maybe he still needs to be swaddled? Yes he’s 7 months but don’t rule it out. Swaddle and white noise.

      3) Get rid of one feeding FULLY before moving on to the next. Also make sure he’s getting enough food in during the day. Have you read this? (see below)

      4) Is he awake after the night feeding or nursing to sleep? Usually nursing to sleep at night isn’t a problem but I’m wondering if for your baby it is. That might be a switch worth working on.

      Good luck – sorry it’s been a bit of a slog :P
      Alexis recently posted..Why Night Weaning Isn’t WorkingMy Profile

  40. Thank you so much for you site! I found it a few months ago when my daughter (now 7 months) started rolling over and we had sleep troubles when we had to stop swaddling. I followed your advice and she was sleeping like a champ in no time….until about two or three weeks ago. Since then, we’ll get one night of great sleeping followed by many days of horrible sleeping. Now we usually get to bed easily, following all of the steps – good bedtime routine and falling asleep on her own but about 30-90 minutes later she wakes up and just can’t get back to sleep without coming downstairs to hang out with mom and dad for a while and doing it all again around 10.

    Reading this post, I have had an epiphany. We had been in a pretty consistent daycare routine and she was getting a regular late afternoon nap when we first stumbled into sleep training and were doing great. We had a major daycare change and I’m realizing that she’s not getting that great long afternoon nap every day because we’re picking her up at 3:30 (previously a time when she’d be napping). When we get home we’ve been playing and feeding her and she’d just end up staying awake until bedtime. Now, when she’s going to sleep at 630 or 7 (yes, 630 is early, but if the kid can’t keep her eyes open, I’m not keeping her up) she is just napping, waking up an hour later or so and crying her little eyes out and we have a miserable time getting her to go back to sleep until around 10pm.

    its now our mission to ensure that she’s back on a schedule of regular afternoon naps, even if it means that nap happens a little later and her bedtime moves back a bit.

    Thank you again! I have a renewed sense of confidence that we will be able to get things back under control and we can all start sleeping again!

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