The Ultimate Baby Swing Sleep Guide For Swing Hating Babies

The Ultimate Baby Swing Sleep Guide For Swing Hating Babies

Studies show babies sleep better in cute jammies.

Step 1: Buy baby swing.
Step 2: Assemble swing.
Step 3. Put baby in swing.
Step 4: Turn swing on.

What, it’s not working for you?

But My Baby Hates the Swing

I have never failed to get a baby to fall asleep. Contrary to what you may have heard, I do not do this by reading my blog posts to babies.

I use baby swings.

baby sleeping in papasan swingMost of you live too far away for me to show you in person how I get babies to fall asleep in baby swings so I’m going to do my best to describe my no-fail baby swing sleep technique here. If you have a newborn baby (0-6 months old) and are struggling with sleep, short naps, etc. I would give the swing a try.

Start with the basic baby swing steps:

  • Run it by your pediatrician. I’ve found they almost unilaterally will support your decision. But best to make sure first.
  • Put the swing where your baby currently sleeps (or sleeps most often). This is probably in your own room and it’s OK if it’s not currently THEIR room (we can easily move in that direction once we’ve mastered the swing). This is our new “sleep spot” and for the next few weeks, the baby should generally sleep in that location, in the swing, round the clock. (It’s OK if a few car/stroller naps sneak in there, it happens.)
  • Make your sleep spot a dark place. Room darkening blinds work great for this. However you can temporarily create a dark space by simply taping aluminum foil to the windows with masking tape. Sure it’s a little ghetto but it works great!
  • Put something in there that will create loud and continuous white noise. White noise will help your baby sleep and (assuming the sleep spot is YOUR room) will also help block the sound of the swing so YOU can sleep.
  • Set up your baby monitor.
  • Move whatever other sleep supplies (swaddling blankets, pacifiers, books, chair for nursing/feeding, etc.) you need so that it’s relatively close to your new baby sleep spot.
  • Put your swing into the sleep spot.
  • Use your swing on the highest speed setting available. For newborns, faster is better.

Put the baby in the swing, strap them in, turn it on, and voilà – baby sleep nirvana!

For some babies, it may be just this simple. If so, congratulations and I hope you are currently enjoying your victory nap. In fact everybody should try to put your baby awake into the swing, turn it on, and walk out of the room. Wait a few minutes (literally – use a timer and don’t go back for 3-5 minutes) and see what happens. Your baby may surprise you.

Or maybe not. In which case we move on to what I like to call the Varsity Sleep Swing technique. We’re going to slather your baby with so much soothing that they will literally be incapable of staying awake. It’s like when I have 2 glasses of wine and then try to watch Masterpiece Theater, only modified for the younger set.

Varsity Sleep Swing Technique

All of the above PLUS:

  • Swaddle your baby. Remember swaddling is all about the arms, having the legs wrapped up doesn’t add anything. So it’s totally fine to leave the legs loose so you can safely strap your baby into the swing with swaddled arms.
  • Put something that smells like Mom near baby’s face. Like that t-shirt you’ve been living in for the past month because you’re too tired to deal with laundry. Cut off a small piece (~6″X6″ nothing large enough to become an entrapment hazard) and put it in the back of the swing near the baby’s face. When not being used for naps/sleeping keep this little piece of t-shirt tucked into your bra during the day so it always smells like you/milk.
  • Use a pacifier. Some babies don’t take to pacifiers but if yours does then by all means use it.
  • Jiggle their head.* Put your swaddled pacifier sucking baby in the swing in the dark room with the white noise. Crouch down behind the swing so they can’t really see you. Push the swing with your arm (the motor is off for now). If your baby is not calming or falling asleep, jiggle the back of the swing left and right WHILE you are swinging it back and forth. The goal here is to have your baby’s cheeks wiggling like a bowl of jello. (Here is a good video example of baby jiggling). You can also shoosh loudly (I know you are rocking the white noise already but for some reason the added shooshing seems to help). Keep it up for 2-3 minutes or until your baby starts to look tired. A great visual cue to look for is the sleepy blink – your baby starts to blink more slowly as though their eyelids are getting heavier. When you start to see sleepy cues turn on the swing motor.
  • (Optional): Nurse baby to sleep while swaddled THEN put them in the swing. NOTE: This is fine to do for younger babies (<4 months) or if you’re struggling to get them to fall asleep any other way. My advice is to play around with other methods to help them fall asleep IN the swing but this is a valid fallback tactic to use in the short run.

*About head jiggling. This is what it sounds like – a jiggle. Shaken baby syndrome is an act of violence that requires forceful slamming motion. It is almost impossible to achieve this level of stress with a baby cradled in a swing but I want to be very clear that we are talking about jiggling vs. violent shaking.

Note: Your baby may be crying/complaining while you are swaddling her and strapping her into the swing. That’s OK. This probably means she’s a bit overtired – she may be short on sleep in general or maybe she was just kept awake a little longer than she could handle. Unless she is hungry this is a really good sign that she needs sleep so take a deep breath and continue to help her fall asleep in the swing.

Short-Term Sleep Swing Goals

I know some of you will feel like the swing is a detour because what you REALLY want is that peanut sleeping in his own crib. But the swing is going to solve two critical short-term issues:

1

Increase the Total Amount of Sleep

Babies sleep better and longer while moving. There is a reason most babies fall asleep seconds after you start the car. In general, babies will take slightly longer naps (+20-40 minutes) in a swing and newborns who are waking up a lot at night (4+ times) will often drop one of their night feedings after being put to bed in a swing.

2

Help Baby Learn to Fall Asleep.

Like potty training, getting the straw into the juicebox, and spitting, falling-asleep is a skill that you will need to help your child develop. Early on we help babies fall asleep primarily by rocking and nursing. However as your baby gets older these techniques will start to fail you (I’ll be writing a bunch about this later). If your goal is help your baby become a happy toddler who is capable of sleeping through the night then at some point you will have to help her learn to fall asleep. This can be a real challenge to do without any crying. Unless you use the swing in which case it’s really really easy.

Long-Term Sleep Swing Strategy

  • As your baby gets closer to 6+ months of age you want to gradually wean off the swaddling, pacifier, and swinging. To wean off the swing, simply start turning the speed down. If naps & night sleep remains the same then continue. If she starts waking up more often, she’s not ready and the speed needs to stay up where it was. Wait a week or two, then try again. There is no rush.
  • When you’re ready, move the swing next to the crib so that baby gets used to sleeping in that location.
  • Eventually you’ll find yourself putting baby down for naps/bedtime in a non-moving swing. When you get to this point, the transition to the crib is relatively painless. The first time you put your baby in the crib there may be some “hey this is new?!?” complaining but it is generally mild and ends quickly.
  • If your baby was happily sleeping in a non-moving swing, they SHOULD sleep just as happily in the crib. If, however, after a few “getting used to the new digs” nights you find that the crib-sleep is markedly worse than when they were in the non-moving swing then you may want to investigate the possibility that your child may have reflux. Swing sleepers who have mild reflux may sleep just great while held upright in the swing but terribly when placed on their backs. If you have concerns, definitely talk to your pediatrician.

Anybody else have any ideas on how to get those swing-hating babies to sleep in the swing?

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{Photo credits: Bart Cicuto and Pat David}


469 Comments


  1. Hi,
    Great website!!!
    I was wondering if you could help me with my problem. My 7 wk old baby can sleep hours in my arms! Once she slept nearly 5 hours! But if she is put in her bassinet, she sleeps 30-40 mins, and hour tops!! So i am guessing she is having trouble putting herself back to sleep. Firstly, I find it strange, because she is so good at night. She sleeps at around 9 after a bath and nursing, then wakes up to eat around 4 and then 7/8 in the morning. I can often hear her at night wake up, she would speak wale to herself, shuffle around a lot, but go back to sleep..several times at night. So she can fall asleep on her own at night, but during the day for some reason she is wide awake after 30-40 mins. I even tried a fully dark room, with white noise, bassinet jiggling when she wakes up, but no luck!! Same goes for the swing… We have a mamaroo, she falls asleep pretty quickly, but sleeps an hour tops, mostly not even that. White noise/pacifier…nothing puts her back to sleep. And she usually cranky very quickly if she had a short nap, so 40-60 mins is obviously not long enough for her. Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • hey I have a 8 week old baby now. and she is almost the same. at night she only wakes up once. she has done 10 hours without waking (maybe she wakes a little but she is in her own room) twice, mostly 8h in a row. she is swaddeled, white noise, swing. But day time naps are 30min to 45min. sometimes during the active sleeps at nap time, she openes her eyes every few min. its not like the paci fell out. I have no idea why she does that. same with me rocking her. she will forcefully wants to wake up. my first child did not do that. It is super weird!. Maybe Alexis has some tips?. I havent made the room dark at day time yet, maybe that is where I am failing..

      Annika

  2. What I haven’t seen exactly here is what do you do when they pop awake too soon in the swing to get them back to sleep. Jiggle the swing? Take them out to settle them and put them back?

    • Sabrina,

      I tried putting her in a dark room, in mamaroo with white noise on, when she initially wakes up I would crawl up to her, so she would not see me and give her a picifier, she may be quiet for 5 mins with a paci, but then starts crying. Taking her out of the swing and putting her back to sleep does work sometimes, but if hold her in my arms, if i put her back in the swing she wakes up. I was thinking may be try a different swing? Can you recommend a very good swing? :)

      Thank you!!
      Kate

      • i could’ve written this post about my 5.5-month-old son. any advice?? he used to sleep well in the mamaroo but recently he’s been waking up soon after being put down (barely asleep) in it. all naps are 35 minutes or less, and he’s often overtired. he’s always been notoriously gassy, but i don’t think that’s what’s going on here…

  3. So, I bought the swing today for our 3.5 month old who has never been a good sleeper, but used to give us 3-4 hours at a stretch about a month ago, and the last four weeks have been a return to waking every 30 min to 1 hour hell… He won’t sleep anywhere but in my arms, against my chest. I put him down in the swing this eve for bedtime, drowsy, calm, not fussing, swaddled, with white noise, and left the room. He fussed for a couple minutes then progressed to full blown crying, so I rescued him after 5 or 6 min. Nursed him to sleep and then put him back in only to have him wake up and start crying 30 min later. Should I attempt a daytime nap instead when I’m in the room? Should I keep trying to get him fully conked out and try to strap him in again? He wakes so easily and it’s hard to get him clipped in without stirring him. Would love suggestions! Thank you!

    • Hey Kristin,
      Our 3.5 month old is currently in a similar place with sleep that your son was back when you wrote your comment back in October. Any suggestions for me about what worked eventually with your son (or didn’t work that I should stear clear of)?

      • Hi Amanda –

        Looking back, we must’ve been in the middle of the 4 month sleep regression, so a big part of it was just waiting it out. He spent 6 weeks where he only wanted to sleep on me. :( I think we introduced the swing too late – he never did take to it, so we finally sold it on craigslist. Our little guy had some reflux issues, so getting him on Zantac helped a lot, but he still refuses (at nearly 10 months) to be put down on his back. I don’t know if he still associates that with discomfort, or what, but right around 4 months, we realized he’d let us put him down on his side. It’s not as recommended as being on his back, but it’s better than his tummy. He’s still not a great sleeper (we’re just coming out of the 9 month regression, another doozy), but we’re getting better. He’ll usually do a 5 hour stretch at the beginning of the night, and we’re really trying hard to keep putting him back in his crib all night, but sometimes I’m just too tired! I honestly think so much of it has to do with their temperament, and much less to do with anything we try…so we’ll get there eventually. I’m just not comfortable with CIO… Best of luck to you!

        • Thanks Kristin. That’s all really helpful. We’re in the midst of the 4-month sleep regression, I think, too. Trying hard to balance not creating ‘bad’ habits we’ll have to face once this has passed with keeping our sanity. He woke last night about 10 times. Tonight our coping strategy is to a) go to bed at 7:30pm ourselves and b) tell ourselves that once he’s gone back to sleep, we’ve got *hopefully* a solid 45 minutes to an hour to get some peaceful sleep. Then, cross our fingers he’ll get through this quickly. Again, thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it. And, congratulations on making it to 10 months. :)

  4. Only day 1 of trying the swing with my 4 month old 45 minute napper. He does fall asleep within 10 minutes in the swing after being put in there awake, and so far its after a bit of mild fussing. Was falling asleep within that same time frame for naps previously in the bassinet, but we’re struggling with bed time (can take up to 2 hours) so I was hoping to be able to use the swing technique for bedtime. Used to be easy to put him down until I really started to worry about putting him down awake. Dad was the one to put him down for bed and always rocked him to sleep first because it was easier for him, despite me begging him not to. I finally flipped out, showed him an article on this site, and he apologized that he was doing more harm than good :) Awww. Wish I’d enforced the awake-but-drowsy rule way back. Anyways!

    Today in the swing he’s only napping 30 minutes. So LESS time; not a full sleep cycle. Interesting…? Just a change of scenery for him that we need to ride out? The swing is beside his bassinet where he was napping before. Same old sleep tricks as before too.

    I waited until he’s asleep and then I turned the swing off because I don’t want him dependent on the motion whilst sleeping. From reading this article, I’m supposed to leave the swing on??? I also am trying to put him down for naps before he gets overtired, which I thought was the reason for his 45 min naps in the first place. Now he’s just sleeping less, which can be due to being undertired??! I can’t win! I’ll keep at it for a week. And then I’m going on vacation, which I know I’m going to pay “the iron price” for. Grandma is babysitting and she’ll indulge the crap out of him so I’m not looking forward to the sleep monster she’ll create when I get back.

    Anyone have any advice/stories for a 4 month old 45 minute napper? He is sleeping through the night. 10-11h straight with no feedings except a 11pm dream feed so I guess he’s getting most of the sleep he needs then. And he does wake occasionally, a couple times a week that I notice anyway, which require mother’s intervention — holding the pacifier in his mouth (he can’t keep one in his mouth himself, even for a few mins), shhh/pat, and usually he’s out in a few mins till morning. So maybe he doesn’t have the ability to self-soothe at all which could be the reason for his short naps, or it could be that he just doesn’t need to nap long because he’s sleeping through the night and eating frequently during the day. So confused. Should I even be concerned about his short naps? The reason I AM concerned is that he usually wakes cranky/crying from these shorter naps during the day which apparently isn’t normal for a well-rested baby. And I do try leaving him for several minutes upon waking but he goes from sleeping to freaking out pretty pronto after waking up so there’s zero chance of self-soothing. He’s eating every 2-2.5h hours in the day so that he has enough calories for the 24h period, which I believe helps him sleep through the night. So these short intervals between feedings don’t really allow for much nap time, but at least one hour naps would be my favorite ever. Then at least I could get a short nap in myself! If we’re on a walk in the stroller he’ll sleep more than 45 mins. He might wake, but he puts himself back to sleep easily. I, and his physiotherapist, are against letting him sleep in the car seat longer than a walk or car ride. He’s got mild torticullis.

    He naps 4 times a day usually so the waking up cranky and the wind-down from that is getting tiring for me, and it can’t be fun for him. (At least we can make it up with a full night’s sleep!) He ALWAYS wakes up extremely happy and playful in the morning at 8am so I crave that for the rest of the day. By the later afternoon he’s Mr. Crank Pants and I am counting down the minutes until Daddy gets home to give me a break.

    Today after the 30 min naps he was NOT waking up cranky, or crying. Just a bit of noise, and then hanging wide-eyed till I went to get him. This is new. So less sleep but more of a happy baby. I’m stumped.

    Love the site. The design is pretty pimp too.

    • Wow! Most of this is exactly what I’m going through too. My LO sleeps most of the night, eats every 2-2.5 hours, wakes up happy and each hour brings on more crankiness as the day progresses. We are just starting to experiment with the swing but we rock her to sleep for every nap and bedtime but only bedtime sticks. Naps start at 30 minutes and decrease as the day goes on decreasing her happiness.

      Please let me know if you find something that works…I think we are going to try the swing idea from this site I’m just nervous of changes the nighttime routine and not getting that sleep :)

    • the ‘iron price’ lmao, awesome.

  5. I wanted to ask the collective opinions of other moms about crying in the swing. My son just turned 4 months. We have rocking/bouncing him to sleep the whole time. We used to be able to put him down but now he wakes up immediately. Based off this post we have been trying the swing for 5 days but he cries (not full meltdown but definitely crying) and still does not sleep. I have been picking him up when he cries after attempting about 5 minutes of “shhhing” and then rocking him to sleep and holding him. I spend about 5+ hours a day rocking so he is not overtired.
    My question is ….
    Am I supposed to let him cry in the swing? How long? If 4 months is often thought to be too young to CIO how is crying in the swing different? With each passing day I become more willing to let him cry but don’t want to be inconsistent or not be age appropriate. Any advice would be much appreciated. I have now joined the fellow souls of the 3:00am pleas for help!

    • This is the exact question I would like answered…my son is 5 months old and cries like a maniac in the swing. I have just spent an hour crouched behind the swing where he is swaddled (which we had stopped doing when he started rolling over so it is new) has a pacifier (which he doesn’t normally take so he can’t keep it in his mouth) dark room with darkout curtains, white noise machine inches from his head, my shirt tucked above his head…and jiggling the swing and he is crying hysterically. How is this not crying it out????!?! I thought he was too young for this? And he doesn’t seem to get tired. On a car ride he once cried the entire time between feedings.

      • Booooo. :-( I feel your pain, both of you. We were in exactly this boat in the 4-5 month range. My son is 2 now so my memory is foggy but I can tell you it took a LOT of persistence to finally get my son falling asleep in the swing. Some thoughts based on what you’ve written:
        -There’s a balance here between sticking it out long enough to give it a chance and using your mama intuition to say, “this is just not going to happen, try again next time.” Stick with it longer than 5 minutes, but I think a lot less than an hour. If you are doing full on varsity swinging with the white noise and the jiggling in the dark and the whole shebang, and baby doesn’t fal asleep in say 10-15 minutes, I think you have a seriously overtired baby on your hands. Overtired babies sometimes simply cannot fall asleep. I’d suggest setting some sort of time limit–maybe 15-20 minutes of your very best varsity swing efforts, and if no luck, take him out and rock/nurse/whatever to sleep so you get that nap to happen.

        But MOST CRUCIALLY, you may need to start this swing process earlier than you are. I remember being amazed by how short the first wake time was in the morning. First nap came EARLY, and waiting too long was always a mistake. When we tried earlier, we had better luck.

        You will get through this! Hang in there, don’t give up on the swing until you’ve given it at least a week or even two of fully committed effort. And I promise that one day and one way or another, your little person will learn to fall asleep without your help and it will be magical. :-)

        • I am doing exactly that now. I will try as I just did. at 20 minutes I nursed him to sleep and put him in the swing he woke briefly so I ducked under the swing and he fell back asleep…a nap is a nap, for now. Nightime is a different ballgame but I am trying. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts, it makes a difference as I really was desperately trying to find out if/when/how long he should cry. My friends babies love the swing! Mine never has! He hates the car too, go figure- everyone suggests car ride the minute you say they can’t sleep.

          • HAHA I totally hear you. I remember people saying “oh, just take him out for a drive!” and I was like, “clearly you and my child have not met.” I actually took a picture the first time he fell asleep in the car and posted it on facebook with the caption “Simon does impression of regular baby.” I think he was 9 months old!

          • Hey Karen,
            Our 3.5 month old is currently in a similar place with sleep that your son was back when you wrote your comment back in December. Any suggestions for me about what worked eventually with your son (or didn’t work that I should stear clear of)?

            • Amanda,
              My son does not like motion…He is almost 10 months old and he has only slept in the car and the swing ONE time each, despite numerous tries when he was tired and exhausted. It will be different for you I am sure, but once my guy started rolling over..he ONLY slept on his belly. H still does and now we just put him down on his belly to save time. He didn’t like tummy time so I didn’t think he would be a belly sleeper. He is. Back is best..but back doesn’t work for all babies, I learned the hard way. I tried to force it. Also, I don’t think he liked being strapped into something…he moves around a bit. When he was smaller, I couldn’t recognize sleep cues, or he was just exhausted all the time I don’t know, but once he was 6-7 months old I started to pay CLOSE attention per a new pediatricians instruction and red eyes mean he is TIRED…no eye rubs, no yawns..my kid is tricky! Red eyes=right asleep following nap or bedtime routine (start one and stick to it- it gets easier and makes more sense later once they recognize it) The key was honestly for me to find the sweet spot of when he is the right amount of tired. too little and it is a fight so I go back downstairs wait 15-45 minutes and start routine again. Too tired and he is just a fussy mess.

          • Thanks for the feedback about what was helpful for you and your son. I’m trying to get as much from others right now as I can in hopes to find out what will end up working best for our little guy. Thanks for taking the time to give me an update!

  6. Hello,

    I wanted to thank you for this blog – its saved my sanity in one night! My 4.5 month old daughter has always been a challenging sleeper, but has loved since day one to be moving (motion junky) and will easily sleep in the swing, carseat, stroller, etc. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for weeks to transition her to her crib from cosleeping. She naps so well in her swing, but I was reluctant to let her sleep in it all night. A few weeks ago I moved her swing to her nursery so all naps would be in her room with the same white noise. This worked great. However trying to get her to sleep in the night in her crib was pure torture. Yesterday I found your blog, and reading it made me feel comfortable enough to let her sleep in her swing at night for the first time. Guess what – she went from 1hr wake ups from dusk til dawn, to get this – ONE wake up to eat in a 12 hour period. Yep, astounding! We already have been using the swing for naps on the lowest setting and ahe is always put down awake swaddled in the swing and we leave the room – she drifts off by her self 95% off the time. So I think with time it won’t be hard to move from the swing to her crib. Next step is weaning from the swaddle. Anyways – thank you! My family will surely be getting more rest now and I feel this gradual transition is much easier on my daughter and us sleep deprived parents then cold turkey to the crib.

  7. Hi Alexis!

    I love your site and have been trying to apply your swing technique. My problem is, I think I’ve created a jiggle-junkie. He won’t fall asleep in the swing unless I jiggle him first, even if I leave him in there for 20 minutes or more. I can tell he’s trying to sleep – making groaning sounds and rubbing his swaddle on his face (can’t keep him in that well) but he won’t sleep until I jiggle him a bit. The good news is I only have to jiggle him for one round of a lullaby and he’s out. I know the goal of the swing is to have him fall asleep on his own. Any advice?

    Thanks for any response!

    Michelle

  8. here’s our scenario… our little man is 3 months old. he sleeps fairly well during the night in his own room in his crib. We rock him to sleep and put him down asleep. he wakes 4 hourly for feeds. sometimes he will stretch up to 6 hours. so all we need to work on for the night is to get him to fall asleep on his own! Yes thats all!

    The day time naps are a complete disaster! He will never sleep more than 10 min if you put him down in his crib but if you hold him your arms he will sleep for hours.

    My thinking is to try the swing for his day time naps, but what would you suggest we do for the night time sleep? I dont really want to move a step backwards there and put him to sleep in the swing if he sleeps ok in his crib. The problem is we rock him to sleep.

    Your advice will really be appreciated!

    • Ok, let me start by saying I am expecting my second baby and I would give my left arm to have this next one sleep as well as yours. Ok, maybe not the WHOLE arm, but definitely several fingers. :-)

      With that off my chest, I think the answer to your question is absolutely nap in the swing. I’m guessing it will work beautifully for you, and it shouldn’t mess up your lovely nights since day and night sleep are totally separate. IF he starts sleeping less well at night (fingers crossed for you that won’t happen) it is likely 4 month sleep regression coming and NOT anything you do or don’t do for naps. In that case you might try the swing at night for a while to get back on track. Good luck to you!

      • P.S. The swing is an excellent gentle transition out of “rock to sleep” so I wouldn’t consider it a step backwards if you start trying that at night. Rather, a step FORWARDS towards falling asleep on his own, which is the ultimate baby sleep holy grail.

        • Ditto. Although honestly at 3 months babies are fairly flexible (I know you don’t think so but honestly you can get away with WAAAAY more with a 3 month old then you can with a 9 month old who is savvy to your sneaky parenting ways). The swing would be great, but if you’re keen to keep him in his crib, what about putting him down drowsy but awake and then jiggling the crib to get him to fall the rest of the way asleep IN his crib. Either are great ideas to work with!
          Alexis recently posted..The Secret to Baby Sleeping 12 Hours at NightMy Profile

      • Thank you Kate for your advice! This little one is also my second child. The first one is 4 and sleeps from 8 – 8 12 hours non stop but it took us a year to get him to sleep through!!!

        Do you leave him to sleep in the swing chair the whole night?

        • My first is 2 now (and just very recently started sleeping 9 hours at night omg finally). But back in our swing sleeping days, he usually spent the first half of the night in the swing and the second half in bed with me. We worked and worked on reducing the motion to make a smooth crib transition but I think we were too late and we ended up with a sad CIO situation. :-(
          Since yours is already a happy crib sleeper, I think Alexis’s suggestion of working on falling asleep in the crib with some jiggling/patting whatever is a great one!

  9. How is an hour of crying in a swing for a 5 month old different than crying in a crib for crying it out??!?!? Please help me understand. My son cries and cries and I don’t know when to take him out of the swing. It is almost time to have another nap each time and he still hasn’t taken the first one.

    • It is different I think because you’re right there with him. But still, I agree with you that an hour of crying in the swing is way too much for him and you! As I wrote above, try (1) shorter wake time; (2) 10-20 minutes of really committed swing effort. If you hit his sleepy timing right, I predict it will start working for you. But if he’s too overtired, just call it and do what works for you and try again next time. Good luck!

      • I guess I can’t figure out his sleepy time. If I see an indication of tiredness (fussy, yawn are all I ever see no ear/hair tugging or eye rubbing) I am on it in two seconds, and mind you I am with him just about every second minus a couple bathroom trips a day.

        Today he woke at 7:07 and I saw no tiredness but at 8:45 I started the process…at 9:30 I nursed him and put him back in the swing, he finally screamed himself to sleep at 10:18 and woke at 10:53.

        I just started nap 2 at 12:30 he screamed 20 minutes, I nursed him to sleep and put him in the swing- he woke for a second and I ducked under it, and he went to sleep. I am trying!!

        • I do think you are on the right track! I consulted Alexis’s sleep chart on wake times and it says 2 hours for his age but I remember at the time my kid couldn’t do nearly that long, especially for the first wake time of the day and maybe not the second either. So if he’s being tricky and not showing you any sleepy signs, just start experimenting with the clock. Maybe tomorrow start your nap process closer to 8 if he wakes around 7, with the goal that he’s ASLEEP at 8:30 or 8:45. Wake times then get progressively longer through the day. If baby’s not helping you out, watch the clock instead and keep tinkering until you find the magic time when he’ll fall asleep easily, or at least easier!

      • Also- thank you very much LOL I should say that! I appreciate you taking the time!

        • You are very welcome. I remember what you are feeling so well! My second is due in May and I’m optimistic that maybe I know what I’m doing this time, but of course probably this kid will be totally different and I’ll have to start over.

  10. Hi, our LO is almost 6 months old and up until 14 weeks was a great sleeper (could daily go 6 hrs without waking, quick feed and off to bed before waking at about 7) and eater. After then, until today, he’s been waking every few hours during the night- we’ve comforted him, lulled him back to sleepy and put him down- at which point he’s woken up again.

    I’ve been attempting to use this method for a few days now. Nap times are great as it’s extended his sleep from about 30-45 mins to 90-120 mins…

    Bedtime is another story. We have a consistent routing which starts at the same time each day (8pm) and by 8.45, baby is out like a light in the swing. We think ‘woohoo, we’ve done it this time’ but victory is short lived as only 2 hours later , LO is crying for us. We go in, use calm words and pat him and if that doesn’t work, we take him out, calm him down and try again.

    I’d like to know what we’re doing wrong- he’s still waking up a number of times- regardless of whether he’s in the swing or his cot. I don’t want him to negatively associate the swing/cot with sleep. we only attend to his cries when we know that he is properly crying and not whinging, this giving him a chance to settle by himself…

    Help?!

    Thanks in advance!

    Raj

  11. Alexis, please help! Our 7 month old has been using your swing method very successfully for the past month. That is until we decided to go on vacation out of town over Christmas. At 3 months old he began sleeping 9 hours a night in his crib. Then, prior to starting the swing method, at about 4 1/2 months he quit napping more than 30 minutes to an hour during the day and had to be held the entire time. At night, I was nursing to sleep and then he would only sleep in the crib for anywhere from 5 to about 45 minutes. I would pick him up and he would fall imediately back to sleep. After 20 minutes I would put him back down in the crib and repeat.

    Long story short, at 6 months we found your blog applied EVERY aspect of varisty swing technique and it worked. We started with nap time one day and it stuck. He now takes 2-3 2 hour naps during the day and sleeps from 8-8:30 pm until 6:15-7:15 pm. Or at least he did until last week. While we were away, our brother in law brought their swing from home, which is the same as ours, just for us to use. I brought all the same items he normally has to try to duplicate the experience he has at home as much as possible. The first night there were no issues, each night after became progressively more of a disaster. But he stuck to his nap schedule and California time. He seemed well rested and I put him down as soon as he showed signs of tiredness, but every night he would refuse the swing, arching his back and screaming like the world was ending.

    When we got home 3 nights ago I put him to bed in his swing with all the ecoutremants and he went to sleep with out issue. Naps were great, and so was the second night. But now he is fighting both naps and bed time. Is he simply too old for this method or are we missing something? I’m so lost right now, please help!

    • Christina, did you try weaning him from the swing yet? At this age they are developing so fast that he might be ready for less stimulation at bedtime.

  12. What do you do when your baby wakes up the moment the swing stops? My swing only runs for an hour. Help!

  13. If my almost 7mo sleeps only 40min each nap and is now very attached to nursing to sleep, night feedings and cosleeping – Should I try the swing or is he too old? I need help. I want to try gentle approaches but eventually get him to fall asleep on his own.
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  14. My 5months old just slept in the swing after a little complaining…20 minutes complaining, fell asleep then woke up and started crying…I’ve nursed, dressed, buckled her in, turn on the swing, turn on the bathroom fan, turned off the light stepped outside. She’s in our bedroom…where she normally sleeps….now she is making similar cries to what she did when we tried the crib…she was a perfect sleeper in a cradle next to me, put her down drowsy and shush her till she sleeps…suddenly hit a road block while traveling and had to do a lot of rocking and walking…came back and transitioned back to normal…then Christmas hit and we seem to hit a sleep regression…its been a month…I finally bought the swing today…tried the crib…she’s slept in it on her own without fuss a couple of times then she wouldn’t have it anymore…now she is hysterical… I’m not sure if I’m supposed to comfort her or hide?! (swaddling and pacifiers aren’t her thing…it worked briefly as a newborn…)

  15. HI Everyone,

    I wanted to say this website really helped me feel better about my almost 7 month old who sleeps in his swing for naps and at night. He had colic till 4 months and has reflux and allergy to milk. Sleeping was always a challenge, sometimes still can be, but much better with our swing. We have the fisher price Zen Swing and my son LIVES in it! He naps on weekends in it and sleeps all night in it. Laying him down is a nightmare with reflux, the swing is a lifesaver. I am trying not to stress about weaning him to crib, we tried a couple of times but I could here his reflux coming up, waking him and then the screaming began. He is on two medications and they wnat me to take him off at nine months, they think it will be gone by then. That is when I plan on weaning to the crib. I can put him in it awake but sleepy and he will go down without an issue at night. Naps take more effort but once he is down and I can get usually 2 hours. During the week while I am working he is at daycare and the sitter was at her wits end because he won’t nap for her. I suggested the swing in a room away from all the other kids playing and its getting better for her too.

    Wishing everyone good luck with the swing, it has saved my sanity!!!!

    • Hey there! Just curious if you’ve made the transition to crib yet? My lo is 5 months and has reflux as well and I’m dreading the transition. He sleeps so well in the swing. 12-13 hours with 1 feed at 6am. Naps are recent too. But I can’t see him doing that in a crib…

  16. Just wanted to give a little bit of feedback. Our first child was a terrible sleeper – we tried everything, including day stays and week-long stays at sleep training type facilities. Everything, that is, except a swing! Baby number two arrived in December and I was already anxious about whether we’d have another bad sleeper on our hands. Whilst she has been better than #1 she was still waking at night every 1.5-2.5hrs and only catnapping during the day- argh! Almost three weeks ago I stumbled across your site and, although previously resistive to the idea of a swing (because I thought baby would become “reliant” on it), after 48hrs of toying with the idea i sent hubby off to buy us one. You seemed so convinced it would work that you talked me into it! Initially I only used it for day naps, and bub did nap better, so i then trialled it at night. Hurrah! Suddenly I was getting a 4hr stretch out of her followed by three 2-2.5hr stretches :-). Unfortunately, with the improvement of her night sleep, her day naps have reverted to approx. 45min 1-2x daily (plus catnaps), regardless of what I try & do to resettle. So, a big thank you for talking me into the swing! Plus a question: I swaddle & use noise with the swing – should I be hoping/trying for longer stretches at night and during naps at this age? Or is she doing pretty well as is? I never rock/pat to sleep unless resettling, she always is put down slightly awake, evening bedtime is 7.30, and she is EBF. Thanks ever so much in advance. A huge swing convert!!!

    • Hey Swing Convert!

      2-3X feedings at night at ~3 months isn’t bad for an EBF baby. It could be better but you’re definitely in the “normal” range.

      1-2 short naps is not enough for a 3 month old. Meaning if she wakes at 6 AM, takes a tiny nap at 8 AM, then another tiny nap a 11 AM then….you’ve got a huge stretch of time there. So either your baby is awake too long between naps or she has a long stretch of awake time somewhere during the day. But regardless, if her naps are short-ish she should be taking more than 1-2 a day. So I’m wondering if you’ve got an “awake too long” issue on your hands?

      See post below – it might help.

      Good luck swing convert!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Baby Sleep: What is Normal?My Profile

      • Thanks for the prompt reply Alexis. I do put nun down for a nap every 90min or so, which fits with her sleep signs, and although I do occasionally get a 90-120min nap from her usually it’s two 45min naps interspersed with some 10-20min naps, regardless of my attempts to resettle. She generally is not grizzly or unsettled, and I will leave her at times to have a bit of a squawk & attempt to resettle herself, but I’m not sure what else (apart from the usual pat, shoosh, etc) to try. Should I try putting her down a but earlier at night & see if more night sleep eases things by day?

  17. Forgot to add that little miss is 11wks old! Thanks again :-)

  18. Alexis…not sure if Ull see this or not but wonder if you can reassure me. I’m on baby #2 and he has reflux. My dd did not and transitioned to the crib at 5 months. My ds is still in the swing at 5 months and I don’t feel he can transition yet. He’s on meds and it’s sort of controlled but I’m still afraid to lay him flat. How long we’re ur kids in the swing at night and naps? I’m getting pressured by my ped and family to transition to crib and I know u say 3-6 months is easiest time. I feel like there is the ticking time bomb hanging over my head…

  19. Holy cow this works!!

    Not that I don’t think you’re awesome Alexis, but tricks like these don’t usually work with my almost 5 month old… But exactly a week ago we tried your swing method and it worked! To prep, we put the swing next to the crib, tilted the baby monitor camera to make sure it’s zoomed on the swing & put Mom’s sweater in the swing. We now put our son in it after nursing (weening off this sleep association is next project) and strap him in. He fusses for a few min 2-5 min and we keep the swing on plus rock it a little extra for head jiggle. Then he just FALLS ASLEEP! He now sleeps longer and soothes himself to sleep. Only wakes 1-2 per night. It’s amazing and such a huge change.

    Thank you!!!

  20. Hey there,

    So I am just looking for a little clarification about using the swing to teach my little man (he will be 18 weeks in a couple days) to sleep on his own. He is a fantastic sleeper at night (generally 6 hours straight with no wake ups!) but napping during the day has always been an issue. He generally naps for 20 minutes – 45 minutes is a long nap for him, and it really happens only rarely, usually if he falls asleep in his car seat or sleeps with me. He also needs a LOT of motion to fall asleep – usually bouncing on a ball for a while, or in our arms. Lately he has been a lot harder to put down – he will often wake up the second we set him down, and need 2-3 bouncing sessions before he actually falls asleep. I am thinking that the short naps and increased difficulty going to sleep are telling me that I have a motion junkie who is in desperate need of learning to self soothe.
    So, my questions for clarification to make sure I am doing this right is this:
    I know you leave the swing on during naps and slowly decrease the speed as tolerated. Do I start the next nap at the newly tolerated speed then? So for example, I had him in the swing and he fell asleep with it at level 6 speed. I was then able to put it down to 5 and he stayed asleep. Do I start the next nap at 5 and keep working down from there so that he is eventually falling asleep in a non-moving swing?
    Also, what would you recommend at bedtime – right now he sleeps most of the night in his crib, is it better to move night sleeps to the swing, or to have him fall asleep in the swing and then move him to the crib once he is out?
    Sorry if these questions seem silly or obvious, and thanks in advance for the help. I am hoping that I might be able to avoid CIO or at the very least feel as though I have done everything I can first.

  21. Alexis,
    Can you tell us more about sleep safety in the swing? In Karp’s book he says the swing needs to be fully reclined and a 45 degree recline is not enough. you mention in a reply here that the swing is good for reflux because it is more upright than being sleeping in a crib. But how upright is safe?? My 7 week old naps like a champ in the swing and not well anywhere else so I want to keep using the swing but I’m worried about her head dropping forward and restricting her air passage. I have the Fisher Price snugabunny and have the seat on the more reclined setting but even that seems like it’s just over 45 degrees reclined. Are there swings that recline more than the snugabunny?? Is it safe to allow a baby to sleep in the snugabunny or any swing that does not recline flat? Thanks much from a worried first time mom!

  22. Hello – I’m new to this site. I don’t know where to post my question but maybe the swing will be our answer. I’ve been looking at a lot of guidance on sleep but so far this site has been most realistic.

    I have an 8 week old boy. I had EBF but now give mostly formula. While BFimg I got into holding my baby to sleep. He would fall asleep nursing but would wake up when I tried to put him in a bassinet in our room. The swaddle seemed to small for him then and he would get free or go per his face. Now he will not sleep unless he is held except in a car seat. I was sleeping holding him in a recliner until a few nights ago now he’ll sleep swaddled next to me in bed. I have a tall mesh cosleeper that I hope to get him into then transition to bassinet in our room them crib. He sleeps for pretty good at night-in chair with me rocking around 8 then to up to bed around 11 when he wakes and eats but then sleeps until 4 when he eats then sleeps again til about 7. During the day I’m tied to the chair holding him while he naps. We have to walk him sway him or rock him. If I put him in anything while asleep he wakes up instantly and cries. The snaps from the swing would wake him. I can’t get him comfortable in slings or carriers either.

    Napping in a swing during the day would be a great way. We returned two nice ones and now have a basic swing. He did sleep in it after being in car seat but woke up after 10 min. Any tips?

    My problem with some of these strategies is that our bedroom is upstairs and we are downstairs most of the time. I don’t feel comfortable leaving him up there by himself and he would really panic if I left him alone when he woke up. This issue affects bedtime routine naps etc.

    I’m very concerned because I start work on Monday and don’t know how we are going to get a routine going or anything done when I’m home.

    Thanks!

  23. I’m glad I found this because I was feeling like a bad mom for letting my 3-month-old nap in the swing. Turns out, I’m a good mom! Score! One question, though–what about when you don’t have access to the swing? I’m thinking about family parties and vacations. If I want my baby to be able to nap outside the house, do I just need to wean her from the swing now? Or do you think she’ll adapt and just nap wherever in those situations? I hate to take the swing away if it’s actually helping her learn to self-soothe, but I also don’t want to sabotage my chances of eventually leaving the house for more than 2 hours at a time.

    Also, I have her sleeping in the crib at night. Is it bad to do naps in the swing and sleep in the crib?

  24. When do I actually start using the swing? We’re going home tonight fr thw hospital and can’t wait to try out the swing!:)

  25. Please help! My 3 week old sleeps great from 9pm to 8am – gets a solid 8 hours between feedings and then DOES NOT NAP during the day. At all. We have a great swing. I change her, feed her, swaddle her, stick the pacifier in, turn on the white noise, and say shhhhhhh. After 8 min her eyelids get heavy and I get hopeful. A few minutes later her eyes are more wired than before I put her in and within 20 min she starts screaming. This is after her first daytime feed and she’s been awake 45 min so she isn’t overtired. Please help! She is so cranky by noon that she cries most of the day from 12pm until 9pm! I”m so desperate!

  26. Elise-(me too!) 8 hours at 3 weeks is amazing! My little guy still wakes up 1 time MOTN sometimes and he is 8 months! Congrats on a great sleeper :) I’m sure naps are driving you crazy though. Have you tried Alexis’ Varsity Method? It really worked for my swing hater. Is your crib in a dark room removed from distractions? I originally had ours in our family room where I could keep an eye on him (FTM clearly) we also saw an improvement once I moved it to my son’s nursery. If I were you I would focus on that first nap of the day, I know you said you put your daughter down at 45 minutes but if 20 minutes later she begins crying you now have a baby that has been up for over an hour and could possibly be overtired and throw off your whole day. Do whatever you need to do to get her to sleep at this point: rock, wear, go for a walk etc. 3 weeks old is much to young to worry about bad habits.
    Try putting her in the swing and using the jiggling technique in the article, if the swing alone isn’t doing the job then you may have to step in for a while. We only had to stick with the Varsity method for a week (maybe 2) before we could put him in it and walk away.

  27. Our gorgeous, much-beloved and generally very happy five-month-old still wakes up every 45 minutes unless she is being held (and even then, at times). She’s done this since she was about 2 weeks old. I’ve learned all about sleep associations and the need to teach her to fall asleep on her own, which she doesn’t do yet (I now spend most of my waking hours reading about sleep, ironically…), but it seems like most babies can go at least a couple of hours before they need to be resettled. (I read these comments from parents that go “Help, my baby is waking every two hours!” and think “If only…”.)

    I can cope with the short naps, and the co-sleeping; it’s the evenings that are killing me. She goes to bed around 7, and from then on until we give in and go to bed ourselves, we’re up and down the stairs all evening, soothing her back to sleep. I do try to leave her a few minutes when she wakes to see if she’ll put herself back to sleep, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Is the ‘waking after every sleep cycle’ thing something she’s likely to grow out of, or is sleep training the only solution? She seems very young to be considering CIO, and though we bought a swing last week (I know, I know we should have got it sooner!) I haven’t managed to get her to fall asleep in it, despite swaddling and white noise, which we’ve been doing since she was born.

    Any advice?!
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  28. Hi, would you recommend swinging the baby from side to side or back to front?

  29. My 2 month old has slept in a crib since birth. He falls asleep after some rocking and shushing (sometimes a LOT of it) but when I put him down in the crib he wakes up, flails his legs and arms (even in the swaddle). I have to literally pin down his legs and sometimes jiggle him when hes lying down to get him to sleep. Then he wakes himself up again 5-10 minutes later and keeps that up a few times. During the day is the hardest.

    Today, I put him in the swing for naps. He cried when I put him in but hummed to him and he fell asleep. He definitely sleeps much better in the swing and is not flailing like crazy after 10 minutes. Do you think he has reflux or is just very soothed by the moving motion? Thanks.

  30. I’m writing to say thank you. For the past 2 weeks, my 3 month old has refused to nap anywhere but on me. His nighttime sleep is pretty good, but naps had turned into a nightmare. I was holding him 5 hours a day just so he could get some sleep, which is very stressful on a mom who wants to pee, eat, or see sunshine. I bought the Fisher Price swing you recommended out of desperation, and using all the varsity swing tips (except the jiggling–haven’t needed it), my boy is now napping well in the swing. It took a couple days, but now I can actually “sleep when the baby sleeps” and do things like unload the dishwasher or check my email again. This new freedom has truly changed my life!

    So far, he still falls asleep in my arms and then I can transfer him in the swing. I’ve tried letting him fall asleep in the swing on his own with no luck, watching for sleepy signs and all that. It feels critical to help him learn to fall asleep more independently at this age. Any tips?

  31. Hi,

    We have 12-week old baby. The swing worked great yesterday, but today…not so much. I put her in, arms swaddled, white noise going, 1h15 mins after she woke up from last nap. She was yawning so I figured I was good to go.

    She was content for 3 (glorious!) minutes, after which she started crying. I popped her paci in, hoping for the best. More crying. Tried the varsity technique…paci popped out, baby now screaming bloody murder. I’m looking at the clock, realizing she’s getting overtired and crankier by the minute. Ask my hubby to check if I’m doing it right, he says yes. Baby’s still screaming. I take her out for a “reset” (and check for a burp) and try again. Nope, screaming. I take her out, throw her over my shoulder and pat her back till she’s asleep. which she is now! :)

    Questions: What to do if baby’s overtired? Still try the swing, or comfort her however and try the swing next time ’round?

    Also, she sleeps well in her crib at night (usually!). After nursing, she falls asleep and I put her in her crib and she’s good. The initial “put her to sleep” part is sometimes a challenge though… Anyway, do you suggest the swing overnight too?

    I EBF and I feel as though right after she feeds, she’s awake for 30 seconds and then it’s time for a nap…no time for “play/ tummy time” or anything else. Am I missing something?

    Thanks for the help!

    Thanks!
    Ivana recently posted..7 Sleep Lessons from a Stanford Pediatric Sleep SpecialistMy Profile

    • At that age, in addition to all the soothing you are giving, I rocked my baby till he was allllmost asleep and then put him in the swing for the varsity technique. I was not able to just swaddle and put him in. I think they need a wind down routine, and we are now at the point where I just rock and sing a few minutes before putting him down in the crib, so there’s a lot of hope there!

      Also I would not worry much about play time at this age, plenty of years for that coming. At that age my son pretty much ate, got carried around while I did chores one handed/visited with people/took care of stuff, ate, and slept, repeat, all day. I enjoyed the sweet simple days, each stage has it’s own joys.

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