how to sleep train

Infant Sleep Training: A New Mom’s Guide to Newborn Sleep!

I originally wrote this post several years ago after we got our first two babies sleeping through the night by 12 weeks. Since then, we’ve done the same thing with two more babies and thousands upon thousands of people have read and shared this post. I’ve also written a more detailed infant sleep guide that goes in depth on newborn sleeping & eating routines. Thousands of people have downloaded it and I get emails every week saying how helpful it is! You can check it out & read reviews here.

In the meantime, I left this post up in case it helps you get an overview of our method! 🙂


I’ve been wondering how I could contribute to starting the third world war. I decided that blogging about infant sleep training would be a good next step. I mean, if there is anything that can get some mommas’ panties in a bunch, it’s talking about sleep training or breastfeeding philosophies.

But seriously. Here’s my disclaimer.

These are the sleep principles that have “worked” for us with 4 children. “Worked” meaning all 4 babies (with their varying personalities and dispositions) slept long stretches (10-12 hours) at night early on (by 12-15 weeks old), and have basically remained good sleepers for infant and toddlerhood.

We recommend these strategies to all our real life friends and family who ask. If you don’t want to do these things, don’t.

This is a matter of infant sleep, not life and death. Not right and wrong. It’s just sleep. You are the parent of your kid(s), and I’m the parent of mine. To each her own! While to me, infant sleep feels like life and death (because I do not function well on long periods of sleep deprivation), it is in fact, just, sleep.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get practical.

The primary goal of this post is encouraging parents of babies in their efforts to get baby to sleep. Because sleep is awesome. A well rested baby is a happier baby, and a well rested mom is a happier mom. (And all the sleep-deprived-coffee-addict mommas said AMEN!)

This post is long. I erred on the side of tons of details, so that it would be as clear & helpful as possible. If you have input on things that worked for your family or questions about any of this, please feel free to chime in respectfully in the comments below.

In the Hospital

We’ve never had a babe in the NICU, so I can’t speak to that situation. My experience is only with babies born full-term, without complications. For the first few days after baby is born, before my milk comes in, I just let the baby nurse whenever she wants to stimulate the milk coming in. In the hospital, the nurses advise trying to nurse every 3 (ish) hours.

If baby is still sleeping at the 3 hour mark, they encourage you to try and wake baby to attempt nursing. If baby is too sleepy, no worries. Just try again later. 

If you need help nursing, get it!! Nursing can be hard & discouraging! I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it with my first if we hadn’t gone to a local lactation consultant for a few weeks. Our second nursed like a champ early on. Our 3rd was really hard for the first 2-3 days home, then he started to get the hang of it. Our 4th was easy peasy.

Get help if you need it and you want to nurse your baby.

If you want to formula feed, your baby will be fine! Formula is AMAZING now a days. Don’t let yourself feel mom guilt over “breast is best.” Says who!? If your baby is fed and loved, you’re doing great.

These are the things we do to get baby to be a great sleeper early on! This "method" of infant sleep training has worked with all 3 of our kiddos.

Full Feedings

Whether you’re nursing or bottle feeding, the main thing to think about the first few weeks is getting baby full each time he eats (once your milk comes in if you’re nursing).

This may not sound like it’s related to infant sleep, but it’s actually the most important thing at the very beginning!!

A hormone in the milk makes baby sleepy, but if he doesn’t get full, then he’ll want to eat all day & all night long. (Plus then he’s not getting the hind milk, which is more nutritious.)

If you have a newborn (or have ever had one), you know how ridiculously sleepy they are. Almost every baby’s natural inclination is to suck for a few minutes, then fall asleep. Then, 15 or 30 or 45 minutes later, they’ll get fussy and want to eat again. It can make you feel like you are literally feeding the baby all day.

If you can get baby to stay awake and eat as much as possible each time he eats, he’ll go longer in between feedings, and thus sleep longer in between feedings.

I do everything I can to keep baby awake each time he eats. It’s hard at first when they’re so so sleepy!!

Even though the baby may only actually nurse for 10-15 min on each side, the whole process usually takes me about 45 minutes each time depending on how focused I am at keeping him awake and how sleepy he is.

It’s time consuming, but I plan for feeding the baby full feedings to be my main priority for the first 4 weeks or so. The baby will start to be more awake and eat faster by about 4-6 weeks old. Around 6-8 weeks, the full-feeding thing will become worth it because they’ll start sleeping longer at night!

The main thing I do for the first few weeks is try to have baby get a full feeding each time he nurses instead of just snacking at the boob all day. This regulates his metabolism, which helps him establish sleep & wake cycles.

How do you know if baby is full?

I don’t have a great answer to this. It’s kind of trial and error. But, if baby wakes up screaming and hungry after 45 minutes, you know he didn’t get full. Newborns are able to go 2.5-3 hrs in from one feeding start to the next if they get a full tummy. That’s the schedule NICU and hospital nursery nurses use too, so I’m not just randomly making this up. And it brings me to my next point…

These are the things we do to get baby to be a great sleeper early on! This "method" of infant sleep training has worked with all 3 of our kiddos.

Wake The Sleeping Baby (during the day)

The other thing I do from day 1 is wake baby up to eat every 2.5 – 3 hours during the day

“Daytime” can be whatever 12 hours you decide. 6am – 6 pm | 7-7 | 7:30-7:30 | 8-8. Whatever works for you with your schedule & lifestyle.

Every 3 hours means 3 hours in between the start of one feeding and the start of the next.

So, if he starts eating at 7am, ideally you wake them to start the next one between 9:30 & 10 am.

If the baby wakes up earlier than the 3 hour mark, that’s fine- I feed him and reset my 3 hrs from the time he started that feeding.

It probably goes without saying, but I always feed a hungry baby. Always.

If baby doesn’t wake up by the 3 hour mark, wake him up and try to get him to eat. If he just won’t wake up, try again 30 minutes later. If you don’t wake baby during the day, he will wake up more at night.

Unless there’s a medical reason (like concern about baby’s weight gain), I do not wake the baby at night.

If you fed the baby every 3 hours, an example of the feedings for a day might be: 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm… Get at least 5 feedings in those 12 hours of day time. Remember, if your baby wakes up more often and is acting hungry, feed him more often. 

Cluster Feeding

Generally, cluster feeding refers to a time period when the baby eats way more frequently than usual. 

Often, babies cluster feed in the evenings. Your baby might eat at 7:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm, and 7:30 pm. THAT’S OKAY!! After that final feeding, swaddle them up and lay them down. Cluster feeding in the evenings can lead to longer stretches at night. 

Try to let them snooze or take naps in between cluster feedings. You don’t want your newborn to get overtired by staying awake from 3:30-7:30 straight. (More on overtired babies in this post.) 

Babies do not cluster feed all day long, for the most part. If your baby wants to nurse all day, this might be because: 

  1. He is not getting full of hind milk at each feeding – reread the first few paragraphs about FULL FEEDINGS. 
  2. He has a super strong desire to suck – my first baby had this. God bless the friend who told me it was okay to nurse my baby and give her a pacifier. If your baby wants to suck non-stop, get him a pacifier. We like the nuk brand because it seems to stay in better than these other soothers. (Although lots of people love those second ones!)

Nurse when they WAKE UP (not to sleep)

After the first few weeks, your baby will likely start to become slightly more alert. Like I said in the previous section, I wake our babes to eat every 3 hours during the day, and I try to get them as full as possible each feeding.

Which means, the first thing they do when they wake up is eat a full feeding. This means that when they are tired, they do not need to be nursed to sleep because they already ate. 

Initially, the baby is so sleepy that he basically semi-wakes up to eat, and goes right back to sleep until the next time he wakes up to eat. But, as baby starts to become more alert and awake, he will be able to stay awake for a few minutes after eating. Then he will get tired for a “nap.” I put “nap” in quotes, because they still basically nap all the time the first month or so.

So, what a sample pattern of a day looks like for our 4-8 week old baby is:

  • wake up & nurse/bottle (takes 30-ish minutes to eat)
  • stay awake for 10-15 minutes more
  • go to sleep for a 2-ish hour nap
  • [repeat all day long]

I feed the baby when he wakes up rather than when he is going to sleep so that the baby is not dependent on me to get to sleep, and so that the baby is awake enough to get full during his feeding.

Related: More sample schedules from baby’s first year

Pediatrician Approved Fussing & Self Soothing

Once a baby outgrows his initial sleep-all-day-every-day-any-where-newborn-ness, he gets “put down” for a nap as much as possible. 

When Addie (our first) was 10 days old, we asked our pediatrician, “how do we get her to sleep without holding her?” It just seemed like she would only sleep if one of us was holding her, which made for some looonnnggg nights.

“Turn a heater on the bathroom, and make the bathtub water warm. Give her a warm bath in a warm bathroom. You should be sweating. That’s how warm it should be. Then, give her a fresh diaper and clean jammies. Feed her, burp her, swaddle her and put her down in bed. Leave the room. If she cries, let her cry. It’ll air out her lungs and she won’t last more than a minute or 2. She’ll be fine. This is her new bedtime routine.”

-Our pediatrician who was at least 65 and had raised 13 kids of his own 

So, we tried it. And the 45 seconds our precious-first-born-angel-baby cried were the longest 45 seconds of my life to that point. And then, she stopped. She cried so hard for 45 seconds and stopped so quickly that I went in to make sure she was still breathing.

Sure enough – sleeping like a baby.

Y’all. I cannot tell you how freeing that permission from our first pediatrician has been. I feel forever indebted to that man. We have subsequently let all our kids “fuss” themselves to sleep from the very beginning and it works probably 90% of the time. Sometimes, they don’t fuss or cry at all. Sometimes, they get held through naps or nap in the car or whatever. But, the goal is for baby to get himself to sleep sometimes, starting when they’re super duper tiny.

Here’s the thing, new babies grunt, squeak, cough, sneeze, and cry.

And while they sometimes cry to tell you “I’m hungry,” or “I’m poopy,” or, “I’m gassy,” they also cry to just cry and burn off some steam and go to sleep.

If your baby’s tummy is full (see previous section), she’s burped, she’s been awake for 15-45 minutes after the feeding (depending on the baby), and her diaper is dry … then fussy usually means tired.

3-5 minutes of fussing will most likely tire your newborn out and put her right to sleep. If it doesn’t, go pick her up, calm her down, rock and sway and sing a song or make a “shhh” sound until she gets very sleepy and calm again, and then put her down. If she starts crying again, just give her a minute. She might get herself to sleep.

If not, rock or soothe her until she’s asleep and then try the self-soothing again for the next nap.

Each of our kids has varied at how much they fuss to fall asleep. I can’t really remember how much our first cried. Our second was sooooo mellow. She barely cried at all. Ever. It was weird. Until our 4th… he barely cried either. So chill!

Our third cried the most. From weeks 4-7, he cried for 5-10 minutes before almost all of his naps. Then, all of the sudden, one day, he seemed to just “get it,” and he would get himself to sleep without crying for most naps, although not always.

Random tip: swaddling

We’ve swaddled all our kids for the first few months with these velcro swaddlers, and it seems to really help them not startle themselves awake too much.

It also seems like even though they fight it by wiggling a lot when swaddled, they actually sleep much more soundly.

These are the things we do to get baby to be a great sleeper early on! This "method" has worked with all 3 of our kiddos. (Pictured: swaddleme velcro swaddler which all of our kids have used 0-3 months.)

Pay Attention to Tired Cues

Overtired babies have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. It seems like the longer you keep your kids up, the harder they should sleep, but for some reason, it’s actually the opposite.

For Elliot, at 7 week old, he would start to make cute baby noises and have a couple big yawns. If I happened to be paying attention, noticed him yawning, and could get him swaddled and down for a nap within a couple minutes of his yawns, he would asleep without crying.

If I wait until he starts getting fussier, then he tends to cry himself to sleep. 

Update: Elliot is now 3, and still the most likely of all our children to have a total meltdown if he’s overtired. An example of using this method even with varying personalities.

I would suggest paying particular attention to your baby’s tired cues and “awake times” for a couple days.

If baby wakes at 7:00 am, eats for 30 minutes, and starts yawning around 7:45, put her down then and see what happens. If she falls asleep without crying, make a mental note that she was awake for about 45 minutes. Or, if she goes down at 8:00 am, and is screaming, make a mental note that being awake for 1 hour was maybe too long, and try to get her down after 50 minutes next time.

It’s not a science, but generally, you’ll see patterns that emerge for your infant.

Typically, a baby can be awake for the following times, including the amount of time they are eating:

  • newborn: just barely long enough to get full
  • 4 weeks: 45 minutes ish
  • 6 weeks: 45-60 minutes ish
  • 8 weeks: 60-75 minutes ish

My kids seems to have a 1 hour awake, 2 hours asleep routine from weeks 4-10 ish. They eventually fall into a cycle of 1.5 hours awake, 1.5 hours asleep, still waking up to eat every 3 hours during the day. My kids tend to follow that 1.5 hours awake, 1.5 hours asleep routine until around 5-6 months (ish).

Here are more sample baby schedules.

Start a Bedtime Routine Right Away

After 4-ish weeks, when the initial sleepiness has subsided, we do this routine (almost) every time we put baby down for a nap:

  • Check diaper, change if necessary
  • Swaddle with velcro swaddler
  • Hold upright on shoulder, rock, and sing a song
  • Lay baby down on back, swaddled and say, “goodnight, have a good nap.”

It takes less than 5 minutes, is very simple & can easily be replicated for years to come. It’s still basically the same for our 3.5 year old… with a couple stories added in. My theory is that baby picks up on this routine way sooner than we’d think and the habit serves as a cue. As if to say to the baby: “it’s time to nap now.”

Does a nap always happen like that? Nope. Sometimes baby naps in a carseat or in someone’s arms, or in the ergo carrier on the way to the park.

These are the things we do to get baby to be a great sleeper early on! This "method" of infant sleep training has worked with all 3 of our kiddos. (Pictured: swaddleme velcro swaddler which all of our kids have used 0-3 months.)

But, at least once a day, we do the put-baby-down-for-a-nap-in-a-crib routine so that by 3-6 months old, baby just goes down for naps with no fuss or hassle.

Lots of people wait to sleep train until 6 months. Again, that’s totally fine! Whatever floats your boat.

But we’ve found it so so so easy to sleep train with these strategies from the beginning, and have saved ourselves the long and painful process of cry-it-out or whatever people do at 6 months to more gradually sleep train an older infant.


Sources

I don’t want to go without mentioning my “sources.” We’ve compiled this method/ strategy of sorts from a combination of books and people and trial and error with our own kids. Besides consulting random internet articles for sleep tips and momma friends who have kids that are good sleepers, I also read The Happiest Baby on the Block, and BabyWise.

I read BabyWise before I realized it was controversial. And while a few of these tips (the full feedings and waking-baby-to-eat-thing) are from BabyWise, I’d rather just explain the things we do than recommend the book to new moms for a few reasons:

  1. When I read BabyWise with my first baby, I felt like it was giving me a scientific sleep method. This could have been my mis-perception, but when it didn’t “work” perfectly every single time, I felt very stressed out. By baby number 2, I was more relaxed about the principles in the BabyWise book, and found the book much more helpful when I re-read it with a perspective of, “these are guidelines to follow,” instead of, “these are rules for perfect infant sleep.” Because I think it has the potential to stress new moms out, I shy away from recommending it.
  2. Another reason I don’t recommend the book is that it’s not very well written. Even upon re-reading it, I found it confusing and all over the place. I tried to summarize the key principles we use from the book in this post, and hopefully they’re clear. If my post is confusing, then I guess that’s the pot calling the kettle black 😉
  3. I’ve heard these principles from lots of experienced parents, so I knew they were in the “common sense” category as opposed to the “licensed and patented original ideas” category.
  4. Thirdly, the book comes off as very superior-do-it-this-way-if-you-want-to-be-a-good-parent in the issue of sleep-training, which leads me to a final thought.

    Like I said at the beginning of this post, sleep training our kids early on was a big deal for us because I did not want to be waking through the night with our kids for a year, and we didn’t want them sleeping in our bed. But if you do infant sleep differently at your house, fine! If your child is loved and cared for, then you’re doing great. I think BabyWise tends to give off the impression that people who don’t use the method aren’t as good parents, which isn’t true.


Hopefully you can all have peacefully sleeping babies.

On that note, goodnight!

Ebook Update

Because of the number of emails and questions I received regarding this post, I wrote a more comprehensive ebook…. it has 10 principles of infant sleep plus loads more details, tips and sample schedules.

My ebook has everything you need to know about

  • helping baby sort out their days and nights
  • naptime troubleshooting
  • helping baby with the whole eat-wake-sleep thing
  • teaching self-soothing in a gentle way
  • dealing with developmental milestones like rolling, teething, etc.
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!
These are the things we do to get baby to be a great sleeper early on! This "method" of infant sleep training has worked with all 3 of our kiddos.

Pictured: while this process worked for us overall, sometimes you just gotta snuggle your baby to sleep and that’s okay!! No baby or mom or parenting method is perfect. Be sure to relax and soak up the snuggles while they’re tiny!

how to sleep train

69 thoughts on “Infant Sleep Training: A New Mom’s Guide to Newborn Sleep!”

  1. You’re so right!! Routines are huge 🙂 Even as kids get older. Of course they can flex from the routines, but the routines are always there to fall back on.

  2. Such a helpful read.
    I have found that making a routine and sticking to it each day has been a great factor in getting our kids to fall asleep without a fuss. We’re always alert after their dinner for their tiny yawns that signal that it’s time for bed.

  3. Unless your pediatrician has specifically told you that you need to wake her up at night, it’s okay to let her sleep and wake on her own. Good luck & congrats!

  4. I’m attempting this sleep training with my 2.5 week old. It is day 2, so its too early to tell. I did have a question regarding bedtime. So I am currently feeding baby every 3 hours, but does that mean I also have to wake baby at night or let her sleep until she wakes on her own, then feed? Thanks!

  5. I can confirm that Susan Urban’s guide HOW TO TEACH A BABY TO FALL ASLEEP ALONE is a great help. It just made us happier and well rested parents 🙂

  6. thanks for sharing that resource!! I’ve heard really good things about it – I need to read it so that I can personally recommend it 🙂

  7. I think that baby should be nurse to sleep for the first few months. Babies just need it. Then it’s time for sleep training and by sleep training I don’t mean sleep training that only teach your baby to fall asleep without rocking but training that teach your baby to fall asleep on their own and sleep properly all night.
    I totally agree with the author of “How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone” guide, Susan Urban ( http://www.parental-love.com ). She knows exactly what to do and WHEN! The two parts of the book are for parents with children aged from 0 to 3 months and from 3 months onwards. The author says exactly what to do with babies to make them sleep better since they were born.
    She describes what and how to use (like swaddling, rocking white noise etc) and when and how to stop using them.
    I tried it with both of my kids so I can really recommend it.

  8. Yeah, totally! I think at that age, it’s okay to pop them in the swing or something too. You can transition them out as they get older. My oldest slept in a swing often those first few months. Or on her tummy in the middle of the floor if I was nearby. Or on the newborn boppy. And yeah, totally okay to let them fuss a little!! Honestly, with my 3rd, there were times I couldn’t get to him if he woke up crying from a nap because I had 2 toddlers. So I’d try to get to him within 5 minutes or so but ya know, life. Then by the time I could go get him, he’d be back asleep. Haha!

  9. That’s very helpful. Thanks! We have a monitor on her to keep checking to make sure she’s ok. And I don’t want to formally do any sort of sleep training yet. But that part of your blog where you asked your pediatrician what to do bc your 10 day old would only sleep on one of you could have been a direct quote from me. I just needed to hear that it wasn’t necessarily just a paci that could soothe them and I wasn’t cruel for leaving her to fuss a few minutes. I’m hoping to get her in the right direction even if it gets me just a few sleeps at first where I can get the dishes done or something Thanks again!! Your post has been so helpful 🙂

  10. Hey Tina! Congrats on your new little one! My oldest took a paci until she found her thumb around 4 months. Agh! My middle didn’t take a paci at first but we kept trying and eventually she did. We dropped it cold turkey around 15 months with minimal drama. With both of them, we had to go through a CIO phase when they would pop the paci out of their mouths mid nap or middle of night… bc i didn’t want to keep going back in and putting it in. So, with our 3rd we didn’t really use it and he never seemed to need it. (Some kids for sure have a stronger urge to suck than others!) So I guess they self-soothed by fussing/ crying/ grunting/ trying to kinda move around and get comfortable. 4 weeks is little! So do what you’re comfortable with. If she’s still swaddled, you could set a timer and peek on her every 2 minutes just to see how she’s doing. At that age, she’s not gonna see you probably while you peek on her, so you can have peace of mind to make sure she’s okay while crying. But I wouldn’t let her cry more than 5 minutes or so. She might be able to cry herself to sleep in less than 5 if you’re comfortable with that… does that answer your question?

  11. Hi! I keep rereading this because with my first we sleep trained (Ferber) at about 3.5 months but I don’t think I can last that long this time. Your info is so helpful! My question is how do your kids self-soothe? Did they all take pacifiers? My youngest doesn’t really take to a pacifier but my older daughter self soothed bc by the time we sleep trained we had stopped swaddling. I’m worried that my youngest (currently 4 weeks old) won’t have any way to soothe herself and I’ll feel guilty about it. Thoughts? Thanks SO much!!

  12. Amanda, I’m so glad this was helpful!! Let me know if you have any more questions/ scenarios… feel free to email me. Type A Mommas unite! Lol

  13. Thank you for this post!! I read babywise too before realizing it was controversial as well. It also made me feel stressed when it didn’t work out on top of just learning how to be a mom in general! Babywise does not go through specific scenarios which I needed because I’m type A!

  14. Thank you so much for your help with my 6 week old, yesterday first day I tried letting him cry the day was successfull, today not so much, but I’m still trying is that to be expected? Every 5-10mij I go in and comfort him
    Then leave again is that okay too?

    Cheers!

  15. You could call your pediatrician if you feel nervous about it. But if you know he’s okay (not hungry, hurt, etc…) i personally think it’s okay. Especially if it’s on and off… it’s not like he’s screaming for 15 minutes straight. He’s likely just figuring out how to get himself to sleep. And I’m guessing (although of course there are no guarantees) over the next few days he’ll cry less and less. Hopefully! Did he wake after 20? What did you do for his other naps? I would give him 5-10 minutes every time he wakes up. And then if he is still crying and doesn’t look like he’s on the verge of sleeping, go in pick him up, check diaper, reswaddle, sing again and lay him back down. Let him cry to sleep. Again, another 5-10 minutes. He likely has to just figure out how to get himself to sleep..

  16. hanks for replying, it’s good hearing advice from someone, comforting 🙂

    I let him cry for his first nap (god it killed me) I let him cry for 15minutes only because it was 5minutes crying here and there. His 6 weeks is that too long? If he wakes up after 20min do I let him cry it out again? Or put him for his nap myself so he doesn’t cry and only let him cry it out after the 20 min wake up?

  17. p.s. give him a few days with trying these new ideas and see if he’ll adjust to the habits. he’s so young! hopefully he’ll adjust quickly. Have you read healthy sleep habits happy child?

  18. Hey! I’m so sorry you’re going through all this. I’m going to answer your questions slightly out of order…
    #2 – always feed a hungry baby. You can usually tell when they’re growing because they’ll legitimately scarf down a feeding instead of just nursing for 3 minutes and falling asleep at the breast. I always leaned towards offering nursing, and then seeing what baby did. If he woke screaming, and ate like a champ, then I would start “wake time” over and assume it’d be shorter because of the shorter previous nap. Then I would basically feed baby every hour or 2 for a couple days. All of the sudden, they’d kinda fall back into napping longer. If baby woke screaming and fell asleep after 2 minutes of nursing, I assumed he was still tired, burped, and put him back down swaddled.
    3. I agree. He’s likely not overly tired after 40 minutes of wake time.
    4. I would rock a little less time. He might be having trouble staying asleep when you put him down because it startles him awake and he hasn’t really learned to self-soothe if you’re rocking him till extremely drowsy. Perhaps try this for a couple days: hold him upright against your chest/ shoulder while swaddled and sing 1 or 2 songs while swaying/ standing. Then lay him down and walk away. I know it’s agonizing listening to crying. 5-10 minutes or whatever your comfort zone is. Remember, he’s okay even when he’s crying. You could peek on him after 3-5 minutes without letting him see you. Sometimes you can tell they’re getting sleepy and that’s reassuring and better to let him self-soothe/ cry than to reawaken him if he’s drowsy. I hope that answers question #1 too.
    5. nap time routine just a minute or two before waketime is over, depending on how long your routine is.

  19. Hi,
    Glad I saw your post, but to be honest, It makes me nervous to let my 6 week old cry it out. But I’m at my wits end. Few questions hope you can answer
    1. Since he was 4 weeks he takes 20mimute naps. His 6 weeks now how long should he cry it out for?
    2.during growth spurts he wants to eat every 1.5 hours at night. Should I just feed on deman during those spurts.
    3. I thought him waking every 20min nap meant his overtired and put him late
    To sleep. But I don’t think so. When it’s 5miniyes before his 40 minutes of wake time I start his nap routine. Lights off, swaddle, white notice, rock in arms till really drowsy. It takes him 5-10minutes mostly 10minutes to get really drowsy in my arms. That makes me assume is not overtired. Is this incorrect
    4. My issue is once his really drowsy in my arms, I put him down. When I put him down he opens his eyes and it then takes forever to resettle him (rocking him in bassinet or BoUncer) and get to that drowsy stage again. Why is that? Should I put him down walk away and if he cries let him cry?

    Any suggestions would be great I’m pulling out my hair at this stage. 4-6weeks has not been fun age

  20. Oh, and yes! Definitely the veclro swaddlers… I give those to every new parent I know whether or not it’s on their registry! haha!

  21. I don’t know about nursing in the ergo… I never did! It holds the baby more upright against your chest (you need the “newborn insert” to go with it for the newborn), so I’m guessing not really. I always just sat down to nurse 🙂

  22. Thank you for this amazing post! I love the tips and suggestions. Our 3 week old loves his bedtime bath but always wiggles out of his swaddle lol. Gonna invest in the velcro swaddled for sure!
    Can you nurse in the ergo carrier?

  23. Great reading. I also strongly reccomend the book; healthy sleep, happy baby. It is huge, so read before baby comes.

  24. Thanks for commenting! I’m so glad this was encouraging to you. Good luck with your second 🙂

  25. Wow! This is perfect! Thanks for sharing!! I was looking for sleep routines for nursing babies to see what was the norm. I found this information extremely helpful and accurate from my experience. My first born was bottle fed and I had her on a bed routine and sleeping through the night in her own bed around 8-10weeks. It totally makes sense how their feedings can help establish their sleep routine. Since she was bottle feed it was easier, I knew when she finished the bottle she would be full (in most cases). I find it a little more challenging when your nursing (as I am with my second). This post was both informative and reassuring I’m on the right path. I’m a firm believer in routines for babies and children. From experience routines creates better behaved children. Now no child is perfect and they all have their moments but in my opinion having routines not only make parenting easier, it can help identify if there’s a problem too. Thanks again! 🙂

  26. Carol – thank you for reading and commenting!! It’s so great to have the reminder that these long nights with littles are truly fleeting. I hope this helps some new mommies in your life!

  27. I am the mother of six beautiful children. My “baby” is now eight years old so those newborn days are long behind me. But I just wanted to say that this is very solid advice and I will point new mommies to this post. Be blessed!

  28. At 7 weeks old, yes, I was doing a 10 pm/ 2 am/ 5 am feed. guessing he’ll drop one of those soon, especially if he’s eating enough during the day. I would HIGHLY recommend putting him down for his nap about 45 min- 1 hour after he wakes up. See if doing that consistently helps with him not getting overtired. Babies that young can’t stay awake for very long. Ideally he takes naps that are about 90 minutes long durign the day. So, awake for 45-60 minutes, asleep for 90-120 minutes. Eating every 2.5-3 hours. If you work on GETTING HIM FULL at each feeding throughout the day, he will hopefully start napping longer. Swaddled babies tend to wake themselves less frequently, although I know not everyone swaddles.

  29. When I notice he’s sleepy, I carry him and shussh him until he’s asleep and place him down on the bed alone with pillows surrounding him and recently began placing him in his crib and he stays asleep…most of the time..for at least 15 mins. I don’t know if it’s good but I’m trying to put him to sleep at 8 then I give him a “dream feed” at 10 and he’ll stay asleep till 2 then wake up at 5 and then 7:30 is out wake up time so I feed him at 8 and that’s when our day begins. From reading about other people’s experiences I feel that him waking up 3x during the night is pretty good, right? lol.
    I just know he gets over tired sometimes ie. Wakes up after his 2pm nap and won’t go to sleep for longer than 20 mins till he’s put down for bed time at 8! any advice on how to deal with an overtired baby?

  30. Ingrid – I’m so glad this was helpful to you! Exactly what you said is right! That’s what worked for us. I think at 7 weeks old, the transition shouldn’t affect her TOO much. If you have her in bed with you much longer, she’ll start to develop a STRONG OPINION to stay in bed with you and that is hard to break, from what I’ve seen. Does she mostly nap on her own now? If so, she should transition pretty easily. We swaddled our kids and put them in a bassinet at that age.
    Let me know if you have more questions!

  31. Hi Renee!

    Thank you for this amazing article! I’m a FTM and I have a 7 week old. I will def. start using your strategy today! Just to make sure I understood everything correctly, the main point is to feed baby every 3 hours and once you set them to sleep after their warm bath at let’s say 8pm you allow them to sleep until they wake up themselves asking to be feed, am I right? and in the morning feed them again if it’s at least 1.5 hours from their night feeding correct?
    Also the baby is currently sleeping with me in the bed, would it be okay if we put him in his crib now? What recommendation do you have for making that transition
    Thank you in advance for you help! ?

  32. Exactly exactly exactly my story RE Babywise and first and second baby etc!!!! Super glad I came acros this blog! So much more chilled now with second baby but needed to read this to remain goal oriented RE sleep training! Baby also 7 weeks now! Wow thanks!!!!!! Still doing 2 night feeds! Any help on how to stretch baby’s night hours now? Sometimes we get 5 hours… not every night though! Gonna try the warm bath thing! I also think i intervere too much! I hear baby wriggling at night and then see ‘oh its been 4-5 hours’ and then i pick her up and feed thus she hasnt cried yet or woken fully! Gonna move her to her own room so i only hear a full cry!

  33. Anna, I agree, it is so hard!! Hang in there – 10 weeks is still super young. When you end up holding her after she burps, gasses, poops, does she fall asleep in your arms? When my 3rd seemed to wake from reflux, I’d go in, hold him upright, soothing and swaying for a few minutes until he burped/ spit up. Then I’d usually continue to sway/ rock standing and maybe sing a song or two, then lay him down again. Often he’d then cry himself to sleep. I think 10-15 minutes for a 10 week old is a good limit for crying. The important thing that young is getting them to sleep when they’re tired. So if she has trouble, put her swaddled in a swing, or wear her in a wrap… just however you can get her to sleep. The more overtired they get, the harder it is to get themselves to sleep and then crying it out might be pointless. No need to stress everyone. Then just try again next time. I would say too – make sure your little one isn’t too tired when you’re putting her down the first time. Try 5-10 minutes LESS awake time and see if that helps… let me know! Good luck!

  34. Lana, thanks for reading!! We tried each baby in the same room with us for one night. But I can’t sleep through ANY of their noises so we end up kicking them out. haha. We’ve always had pretty small houses, so their rooms were close by. With my 3rd, we didn’t have a bedroom for him, so he slept in a bassinet in the living room during the nights and we’d just move the bassinet to a bedroom during the day for naps. this is the one we have and LOVE! Super portable! He slept in it for the first 3 months. http://amzn.to/2j1y9NU

  35. Chelsea – you definitely have to stick to that 3 hour schedule!! Honestly, my babes have eaten every 3 hours for the first several weeks or couple months. Babies who aren’t in the nicu can stretch nights longer sooner but you totally have to do what’s healthy for your little one!! Praying she gets healthy and you’re able to get more sleep soon.

  36. Hiya 🙂 thanks for your reply. My little girl is almost 10 wks now.. still gassy as ever. When she wakes she almost never self settles, she gets more and more upset and when picked up almost always burps again, even if she burped a lot earlier. Or she pulls up her legs and struggles with farting/pooping. So you would just burp your boy and lie him right back down awake? Or hold him longer? If I put her back down with eyes open she just decides to cry again usually.. I guess that’s when I need to let her cry? I have never let her cry herself to sleep as she gets so wound up.. I have no idea how long it would take but when she has cried in the past she has gone at least 10 mins or more without calming down even a bit. Sigh, so hard to listen to them scream!! 🙂 thanks for your help 🙂

  37. Hi, I loved your blog. I was wondering did your babies sleep in the same room with you or did the baby sleep in it’s own room from the beginning

  38. I was really excited to read this and then immediately was irrelevant to me because I have a NICU baby. She’s a great blessing but being in the NICU she was on a strict every theee hour feeding schedule and still is at home. I wish I could break it and sleep longer!!

  39. Hello, very nice post !
    Also, something that helped me to limit the crying in bed was to put my daughter in her bed without looking her directly in her eyes, and making it quick ! I put her in the bed, cover her and quit the bedroom quickly. I think it allows her to better understand that it’s time to sleep by herself and that it’s not a big deal. It’s a bit like with dogs (sorry for the comparison !), when you leave your dog at home to go to work, you have to make it “normal”, by just leaving without the “oh my poor dog, I am coming back, I promise, I am sorry I have to leave, etc.” Animals and baby read emotions in their care-givers and adapt their own accordingly, so by making it normal, they can learn that it is not a big deal to be separated !
    PS: sorry if I made english mistakes, I am french 🙂

  40. Hey!! So, my 3rd turned out to be super gassy/ spituppy and had some serious reflux. It was especially helpful to feed him first thing after waking. Then I would keep him upright until he burped a lot. For a while I slept him on an incline in the swing or in a bassinet that was kinda propped up safely. If he cried out for more than a second, I’d go in, pick him up and burp him. Then if I put him back down he’d usually be back asleep within 3 minutes. He seemed to outgrow it by 4 months or so and even by 3 months, the stomach issues interrupting his sleep were few and far between. It seemed like burping mid nap but putting him back down (even though it made him crabby for a minute) really helped him learn to get through those sleep transitions, if it makes sense. How old is your little one now?

  41. Hiya, great article. But both my babies have been gassy and burpy and need to be fairly upright for a long time after feeding. If I put my daughter down to cry/self sooth, she will most likely need to burp or barf again, and be screaming in pain on and off for at about an hour. Seriously were none of your kids colicky? I’d love to do this but just can’t with mine. My oldest boy was 9mths before we sleep trained properly due to this and we were exhausted. I’d like to not deal with that this time but can’t see how it would work! Sigh…

  42. Alex, I’m so glad this was helpful to you. You totally can! It’s never too late 🙂 3 months is a great age to start because it’s not like you’re going on years of bad habits to create (which is kind of how babywise can make it feel). Let me know if you have any questions! Good luck!

  43. This blog post is so helpful to me! I have a two-year-old and a 3-month-old and out of desperation for sleep, I read Baby Wise. The entire time all I could think was “I’ve done everything wrong!” I was needing some “real life” experience when I stumbled on your blog and found exactly what I was looking for…

    Thanks for sharing your perspective! I’m hopeful that we can get our 3-month-old sleeping all night soon (as soon as I break the bad habits I created!).

  44. Thank you so much this is super helpful! And yes I am a first time mom, def. feeling that as I’m trying to figure this whole thing out!! I’m going to try the 45 min awake time today to see how it goes. Is it common for her to be awake 10-15 min (content and happy) before actually sleeping? I figured I was putting her to bed to early if she was awake a chunk of the time. But I take it that’s not the case? Does that awake time still count as her nap time or do I only count it from when she’s sleep? I also struggle to read feeding cues (early on were easy with smacking of the lips but now she just plays with them 😉 or if she’s still sleepy. Sometimes when I go to get her she’s super happy and doesn’t seem hungry, just alert and awake. Any tips on that? If I hold off the feeding then the awake time after her feeding should be shorter right?

  45. Emma, I am so glad you found this article all helpful!!! Is the 9 week old your first? From your comment, it sounds like it. 🙂 I remember thinking all those things with my first and my instincts about what’s best in each situation have become much more comfortable and confident with each babe. So rest assured – you won’t always be thinking about it this much forever!

    Anywho, when I’m in those awkward situations, I just try to sense what’s best for baby. In general, if baby wakes from a nap after 30-45 minutes, they are probably too tired. (Unless in a growth spurt, in which case baby will nurse furiously for a long time at every feeding. If you offer a feeding and they kinda suck a little and get sleepy, then they’re not hungry, just overtired.)

    If baby wakes up after 30-45 minutes, I usually let them cry it out (even if it takes 15-20 minutes) & make a mental note of their awake time prior to that (i.e baby was awake for 1 hour) and shorten it a little next time… say, 45 minutes. It sounds crazy, but my babies don’t seem THAT tired when I put them down for naps and they sleep longer. If I catch one yawn or eyerub, they go down. Being overtired makes it REALLY hard for a baby to go to sleep. My 4 month old’s ideal wake time is still an 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, although for a lot of babies they might be up to 90 minutes awake by 4 months old. I would try wake times of around 45-60 minutes and see what happens.

    Also, it’s counterintuitive, but the first wake time of the day tends to be the shortest.

    I wouldn’t worry about the car unless you’re in a situation where you live outside of town and spend a TON of your time in the car. By 6 or 7 months old, baby will have a long morning nap and a long afternoon nap and you’ll have a couple windows of time for errands and stuff. At least that’s what I’ve done.

    If you’re out during naptime and baby falls asleep, then you get home, I’d either just let baby nap in the carseat (inside) or transfer the sleeping baby to their nap spot at home. They’ll probably wake and cry themselves back to sleep, but that’s fine 🙂

    Summary: try 45 minute wake times and see if she’ll sleep for 2 hours. If she wakes after 30-45 minutes, let her cry herself back to sleep. (feel free to peek on her to reassure yourself she’s okay physically.) When my third baby was going through this CIO transition, to learn to self soothe back to sleep after 30 minutes, he would SCREAM like he was so mad and then stop suddenly and be back asleep. haha. if she’s still crying after 15-20 minutes, you can rock her back to sleep. (Again, we find using velcro swaddlers really helps with all this until the age they can roll over.) If she’s acting hungry while rocking, you can offer her a feeding. If she eats a full feeding, chalk it up to a growth spurt! If not, then you know she was just overtired and to shorten her next wake time 🙂 Let me know how it goes or if you have more questions!

  46. Hi there,
    My baby is 8.5 weeks and we have been doing this type of sleep training for 2.5 weeks. Overall it has been going so well, but there are a couple instances that leave me wondering what to do. She usually takes 1-2 naps a day that are 2 hours and I end up having to wake her (she ends up being rather sleepy) the other naps she cries more and I usually try to get her to at least the 2 hours in between feedings mark as I don’t think she can get a full feeding at less than two hours between feedings (for example if she goes down after an hour of wake time, cries 5 minutes at the beginning of the nap, sleeps 30-40 minutes and then wakes I let her cry between 5-15 minutes so she hits the 2-hour mark, or goes back to sleep which rarely happens). I’ve tried putting her down earlier thinking she might be too tired so say 45-50 min, depending on cues, but then we get really thrown off feeding wise because she’s used to eating when she wakes up and then its only been 1.5 hours since her last feeding. If she cries that long in the sleep cycle transition should I try something different? You mentioned getting them and rocking them or transitioning them, but does that build in them a pattern that they will get help transitioning everytime?

    Also, any tips for when they wake early from a nap in the car? If I know I’m going somewhere I’ll try to time the nap for the beginning of the carride, but then transferring her has proved difficult.
    Thank you for this amazing article! It was a huge blessing to me!

  47. I know the desperate-for-a-better routine feeling!! don’t be sorry 🙂 We have those 6:15 feedings too. I just flex the clock and adjust the 3 hour cycle to start at 6:15. So, breakfast at 6:15; nap 7:15-9:15 ish; wake to eat at 9:15. And yes, most babies have 30-45 minute sleep cycle and often wake and cry during that transition. I would peek on her to reassure yourself she’s okay but not let her see you. Then just let her cry it out to get herself back to sleep. She won’t cry during that sleep transition forever – eventually she’ll learn to self-soothe!

  48. Thank you. We have been loosely doing the eat, play sleep routine. My baby eats more often than yours and takes shorter naps. Her naps are usually 30 mins-1 hour, but she does take a long 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon (most of the time) so the schedule gets messed up.

    I would like to try to extend her naps. If she wakes up after 30 mins and I go in and she is clearly not rested, should I start the cry it out routine again to see if she’ll go back to sleep?

    This morning she woke up at 6:15 am demanding a feed then went back to sleep until 7 (her normal wake for the time day). So I haven’t fed her at 7 because that’s too early to eat so we’re already off schedule in terms of eat-play-sleep, but I hope to get back on track after the first nap.

    Sorry I’m desperate for a better routine. Thanks for your time.

  49. You’re welcome!! Let me know how it goes 🙂 But remember that it’ll probably take her a couple days to get used to the new routine. Wake up & Eat, then Play time, then sleep. Then repeat. haha. That cycle has worked wonders for our kids. Feel free to comment here again or use the comment form which will send me an email to my google inbox!

    As for bedtime, my 4 month old ends up having a catnap around dinner time… So, typically his schedule is:
    7 am – wake & eat
    8-8:15 ish – nap
    10:00 – wake & eat
    11:15- nap
    1:00 – wake & eat
    2:15 – nap
    4:00 – wake & eat
    5:30 (ish) – cat nap 45 minutes.
    6:15 – wake, play
    7:00-7:30 ish – eat and go to sleep

    What you’ll notice is that he is awake more total minutes from 4-7:30 pm than the rest of the day. For a while, he had a normal nap at this time and woke up around 7 pm to eat again and then would just go to sleep for the night around 8 or 9 pm. But as he’s shifted and grown a little, he is slowly dropping that evening catnap by first shortening it. Pretty soon, I’m guessing, he won’t need it at all. He’ll just eat at 4:00, stay awake, probably have some baby food at dinner time, eat again at 7 and go right to bed. There’s kind of a weird transition with every nap that gets dropped where you’re kinda keeping baby awake as long as they can handle it, so maybe bedtime is 6 or 6:30 for a while, if that makes sense…

    Anyway, for now, your 3.5 month old PROBABLY still needs at least a short nap in the early evening. 🙂 Then the last feeding of the day happens rihgt before night time sleep (unlike the other feedings that happen right when baby wakes up). Whew that was a lot… sorry!

  50. Thank you!!! I’m excited for tomorrow. I think sometimes we do keep her up too long. Do you recommend keeping a long awake time before bed, say 2-3 hours or no?

  51. I would say to let her start crying it out, if you’re up for it. She’s old enough (our pediatrician would agree, and you could certainly ask yours if you’re concerned). It might take longer (15-30 minutes maybe?) the first few naps/ nights. But I bet it’ll be less than 5-10 minutes of crying soon. One BIG thing with all my kids I’ve noticed (including my current 4 month old) is he cries more when he’s over tired. A normal “wake time” for a 3.5-4 month old would be 60-90 minutes. If she’s awake much longer than that, she’s probably quite tired. I would just pick your sleep routine and go for it and stick with it for a week and see what happens. Start new tomorrow morning. Keep her up for an hour or so when she first wakes up, then take her to her room, sing her a song or 2 and put her down, say “i love you, have a good nap,” gently and leave. if you get her down before she’s too tired, she’ll have a way easier time of falling asleep. As far as the paci goes, we’ve had kids go both ways. The first loved a paci but couldn’t keep it in. At four months, she found her thumb and never looked back. Agh. Our second LOVED a paci, also couldn’t keep it in around that age, but we got sick of the pop-the-paci-in game after one night. So once it was out, it was out and we let her cry it out to figure out how to self-soothe. Eventually, she didn’t cry over it and eventually she figured out how to grab it and put it in herself (around 7-9 months maybe). We dropped it cold turkey at 15 months old. Our 3rd hasn’t been very interested in a paci and we didn’t push it. He just kinda squirms and babbles himself to sleep haha. Does that help at all!?

  52. I’m responding after she’s down for the night, once she’s been asleep for about 45 mins to an hour we have to go in and put her paci in to stop her from crying, then she goes back to sleep. Should I be letting her cry longer so she’s not dependent on the paci? I also never let her cry at the beginning of a nap. I wait there with her and soothe her and give her the paci until she stops crying. If she won’t stop crying I’ll pick her up and try the nap again in 30 mins or whenever I think she’s ready.

  53. Thanks for commenting, Marianne! You give such good perspective and basically articulate exactly what I’ve been doing with my 3rd. I did feed every 2.5-3 hours on purpose, but it also seemed on demand, because it’s about what he needed 🙂 I agree about evening cluster feeds too – that helped my kiddos start stretching their nights. I am happy to feed baby every hour from 4-8 pm if he’ll sleep through the night! Haha! (Especially when there are meals in the freezer…) Also, I agree about how little a baby needs to be awake. It’s crazy to me even with our third! He’s 4 months now, and still often only awake for an hour or so, then naps for 2. But he is SO happy when awake and goes to sleep easily. Sleep does his body good, I guess! Thanks for sharing.

  54. Whew, that’s hard! What kind of out? Out at a friends house where he can be put down, or out on errands where he’s in and out of the car?

  55. Hey! It’s never too late! And the sooner you do it, the easier it will be. I always give them 10-15 minutes to fall asleep at least. It never takes mine more than that at such a young age. If they suddenly wake screaming, I usually give them a couple minutes to see if they can get themselves back to sleep, but often try to peek in and make sure they’re not injured or something. Also, use your mommy instinct. If you hear a weird cry, check on them! When you say you respond to her cries in about 2 minutes, when are you responding? At the end of a nap? Beginning of a nap? Middle of the night?

  56. Awesome thank you so much ! I ve read so much about how bad it is to leave baby cry about emotions but I mean if you say it s a 1 2 min fuss thing why not take the try.
    I m 5 months pregnant and read and read and read lol I really hope I ll manage to be a good mum. For me babys sleep is just the most important thing. The rest well you never know and it will come around. But sleep is just SOOOO i mportant.
    Thanx again !

  57. I read baby wise before my first as well and felt exactly the same way that you described. I wanted to burn that book… Later I read baby whisperer which is basically the exact same method written in a much more forgiving manner with a lot more give. I would recommend that book to everyone! When I had my second child I purposely tried to put all sleep training stuff out of my mind (and even the baby whisperer ‘easy’ stuff) and to a point I did. I fed on demand and held my baby as much as I could etc but without really meaning to I fell into a bit of an ‘easy’ routine and that has worked for me well. I think it’s very helpful for parents to know how little their baby probably should be awake. I know that was surprising to me as a new parent and even the second time around felt odd at the beginning. I use that information and then parent arouns my baby’s cues a bit and I’ve enjoyed it much more this time. One thing to note, if your baby wants to cluster feed in the evening, even if you are following ‘easy’ or baby wise, do it! Cluster feeding during the first couple hours of bedtime got me 8- 12 hour nights within the first month! I think I ended up doing that with my first son in the end but very begrudgingly because I was trying to stick to the three hour method. This time around I welcome it for the blessing it is. I’ve been well rested the whole time!

  58. Hi! I loved this article! My son was born early and spent a long while in the NICU. he’s been home now for over 2 months. I am struggling a little bit with how “old” he is. He is four months old from his actual birth date, but only 2 months old from his due date. With these two different “ages” I find it hard to know where he is at.
    I have found he likes to be awake for about 1 hour 45 minutes – 2 hours. Naps at home are getting much better, but how do you handle naps out? Whenever we are away from the house (unless in the car seat driving). He just will not sleep. No matter what I try, he ends up being up the whole time we are out (think 4-6 hours), then by the time we get home he is inconsolable.
    Do you have any tips for napping when you’re out? Thanks!

  59. My babe is 3.5 months and I have always responded to her cries when she in her crib within about 2 minutes. Is it too late to start letting her cry longer? I feel like if she cried longer it would just get worse, because this happened the one time I tried. She started freaking out. Thanks.

  60. Do you do the same naptime routine at night? Or is bedtime routine different? Thanks for sharing! We do/did most of this…except our daughter just turned 4 months and we are still rocking her to sleep….that’s soon to change.

  61. Wish I’d read your blog before having my first baby. Wait-you WERE my first baby!!

    Love,

    Mom

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