3-6 Month Sleep Guide


3-6 month baby sleep guide

By this time, you are probably starting to get pretty worn out if your baby is sleeping crummy. Holding you baby for naps all day, going through a 1 hour ritual just to get your baby to sleep for 15 minutes and waking up 10 million times at night to your baby's calls can get old, really old. 

It's not that you don't love your baby as much as ever, you simply want, no, need some sleep! Wanting your baby to sleep better so you can get a break and sleep yourself isn't a bad thing.  Sleep is a biological need for you and your baby, and getting a little break here and there is good for everyone

If you're baby isn't sleeping totally awesome at this point, you are not alone! Many babies are still trying to figure this sleep thing out. And as you probably noticed, good sleep often isn't as easy as it sounds! "Put your baby to sleep drowsy but still awake" HA!! There are also quite a few babies at this stage who were sleeping really well but have recently started having a hard time going to sleep or staying asleep. And you thought you had this sleep thing down!

I'm not sure how well you baby is sleeping at this point or what you've done so far to encourage good sleep, so I'll just go over all the steps and you can consider those things you are already doing as a nice reminder :)

As always, only do what you feel comfortable doing. Some of you are ready to make some big changes with sleep at this age, some of you want to take baby steps, and some of you need a little more time before you feel ready to make any drastic sleep changes. No worries! Don't forget, if you pass the 3-6 month window and sleep isn't going so great for you, there is still plenty of hope. It is never to late to get a full nights rest, for you or your child :)

Most of the info I'm going over has already been covered in various posts (like this one) but I know many of you would appreciate an age specific approach to these sleep training methods (see what I consider sleep training here). I can only go into so much detail here without making this post 20 pages long, but there are plenty of links throughout the post that'll give you more info on a subject if you need it. Be sure to check out the 3-6 Month Survival Guide too if you haven't already. Most babies this age are very content and lots of fun to be with. If you baby isn't, there's a good chance she is sleep deprived. Time to get on the sleep train! If you baby is under 3 months of age, check out the newborn sleep guide.

How do I encourage my 3-6 month-old to be a great sleeper?

A WORD ON HABITS
You've probably heard the phrase "you can't spoil a baby" about a million times by this point. I know I have. Just throw this phrase out the window. It isn't remotely helpful. I expect all of you to be holding and cuddling your baby plenty, but the idea that whatever you do right now doesn't matter isn't on par. You are creating habits all the time with your baby,  and those habits will make a difference in the future. That's why I'm working on helping you establish eating and sleeping habits that you can live with right now, and in the future.

AND A WORD ON CONSISTENCY (yours and baby's)
Children thrive on routine and consistency. They learn what to expect which helps them feel more secure in their environment. When you are inconsistent (this is especially important as your child gets out of the newborn stage) you get inconsistent results. So if you want sleep to go as smoothly as possible, be as consist as possible. Your child won't know how to react to a situation if you keep changing all the rules. There will be times when things will be off for various reasons (vacations etc), but try to make it more the rare occasion, rather than the norm.

Another reason it's so darn important to be consistent is that children are totally inconsistent. The only consistency with children is change! One day he goes to sleep easily, the next he doesn't. One week he sleeps through the night then suddenly he starts waking frequently. Inconsistent!  Keeping things consistent on your end, while changing with your child as needed (like increasing how long they are awake between naps as they get older), will help things go more smoothly for all of you.

BABY'S HEALTH, YOUR INTUITION AND TAKING THINGS TO THE EXTREME
Always monitor baby's health, follow your pediatrician's advice and have regular pediatric well visits. Baby should be growing well, eating well and having plenty of full diapers on whatever feeding and sleeping method you choose.

If at any time something doesn't seem right to you then stop doing it. Although I'm suggesting methods that have worked well for many families, I firmly believe there isn't a one-method-fits-all approach. Do what seems right to you and listen to your baby and your gut feeling at all times. 

Lastly, please, please try not to take things to the extreme (like only feeding if it's been at least 3 hours even if baby is hungry much sooner) and try not to get set on the averages and estimates I give below. Your baby is unique and will have her own averages and she'll also likely vary a bit from what I say below. She isn't a robot after all. Having some sort of guideline can be helpful, but it shouldn't run your life. Always try to follow your baby's lead too.

BABIES ARE UNIQUE
Some babies are born naturally good sleepers while other are not, regardless of what you do. I can't emphasize this enough! If your baby isn't sleeping as good as your best friend's baby (although, research shows that quite a few people lie about how well their child is sleeping!), don't get frustrated. Truly look at what is going on to see if you could be contributing to things (it happens quite often but can be hard to admit) and troubleshoot. After that, all you can do is try to be happy with the unique baby you have, even if all characteristics are not so easy to live with. All children have tough and easy characteristics to work with, your baby's tough area may just be sleep.


SLEEP GUIDE AT A GLANCE
Because this post is really long and because things are listed in steps (sort of), here's a quick list you can reference. Some of you will have to take things one step at a time. Some of you will be able to tackle most or all of it at once. Just move as quickly or slowly as you need to without overwhelming yourself.
  1. FULL FEEDS
  2. HOW OFTEN TO FEED
  3. A WORD ON DAY/NIGHT CONFUSION
  4. E/W/S CYCLE
  5. MORNING WAKE TIME
  6. BEDTIME
  7. HOW MUCH SLEEP TO EXPECT AT NIGHT
  8. NAPS AND THE E/W/S CYCLE
  9. WAKETIME
  10. OVERSTIMULATION
  11. UNDERSTIMULATION
  12. SLEEP LOCATION
  13. SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
  14. PRE-SLEEP ROUTINE
  15. SWADDLING
  16. TANKING UP
  17. PUTTING BABY TO SLEEP DROWSY, BUT AWAKE
  18. SLEEP PROPS
  19. DON'T RUSH IN
  20. YOU'VE PUT BABY DOWN AWAKE AND DROWSY, BUT SHE IS CRYING. WHAT NEXT?

FULL FEEDS
You're first goal, if it isn't happening already, will be to get full feeds in so baby will spread out her feeds both day and night and not snack constantly. This will give you a break during the day and help you both sleep longer at night. To do this, you'll need to keep baby awake during her feed so she'll have more than a snack and not wake up 20 minutes later starving and ready to eat again. This means you will avoid feeding baby to sleep, because a sleepy baby doesn't usually get a good feed in.  The eat/wake/sleep cycle (see below) makes giving full feeds much easier to do.

If you baby is already sleeping really well, full feeds aren't as important, but they are still really helpful in encouraging good sleep in many babies this age.

HOW OFTEN TO FEED
If you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, baby will probably be eating every 3-4 hours during the day (from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next feed). Remember to keep in mind that babies cry for many reasons other than hunger. If it hasn't been very long since her last feed, before offering a feed, first check to see that something else isn't bothering her.

As baby gets older, keeping feeds 3-4 hours apart during the day (what you'll likely be at during the 3-6 month period) isn't as important as it is in a newborn. Babies this age get much better at sleeping during a certain time at night, rather than for a certain period of time (like 3 hours). At least this is the case for babies that are capable of falling asleep and staying asleep on their own. Babies that are used to eating frequently during the day and night, especially when sleepy, will often continue to wake frequently at night until the sleep to eat habit is changed.

A WORD ON DAY/NIGHT CONFUSION
Most babies do not have issues with day/night confusion at this age. If this is going on with you, I would consider it a sleep problem, not a biological issue. Fix the sleep problem, fix the wacky sleep hours :)

E/W/S CYCLE
I like to start off doing a eat/wake/sleep cycle approximately every 3-4 hours during the day (baby will just eat and sleep at night). This means you'll feed baby, have her awake for a bit, then she'll go down for a nap and repeat. In the evening, there may be a short nap, or no nap at all, before another feed and bed.  Working on full feeds at first usually leads to baby falling naturally into this spaced pattern of eating. If baby hasn't woken up after 3-4 hours from the beginning of her last feed (how often depends on your routine), you will wake baby up to offer her a feed and start the e/w/s cycle over again. Waking baby up ensures she has enough food and is awake enough during the day (see PDF feeds for more on this).  I like the eat/wake/sleep routine mainly because it gives some structure to your dayencourages full feeds, helps with longer night sleep and helps baby go to sleep without a sleep prop--you can find out all the nitty and gritty out it on the e/w/s/ post

If your baby has no sort of routine in place at all, you may want to first start off by working on moving the feeds farther apart, while watching when your baby normally gets tired. Then you can work on the pattern of eat, sleep, and play. 

Keep in mind that the e/w/s/ cycle is there to help you and your baby out. If you've given it a good try and it is simply making life a nightmare, then do something else. This doesn't mean I'm suggesting you give up after 3 days. The thing about babies is that a lot of the habits that people get themselves and their babies into at first are done because they make life easier-- but they very often make life harder in the long run. I'm trying to make things easier in the long run and that sometimes means more work upfront, but there is a limit to how much work up front everyone can handle. If you've reached your limit, don't worry. There are plenty of other things you can do to encourage your baby to sleep well. BUT, there is a limit to what habits you can keep while still getting good sleep results. The continuance of many sleep props (like rocking baby to sleep several times a night) will make other positive sleep changes ineffective.

With the e/w/s routine always remember that it is important to monitor when baby is hungry, not just how long it has been since the last feed. Babies go through growth spurts. The 3-4 hour suggestion is just an estimate. You do what your baby needs! Don't get overly strict with following a perfect schedule--it won't happen easily with most babies (remember how they're not robots?)

As baby gets closer to the 6 month range, following the E/W/S cycle isn't as important as it was earlier on for sleep. Sometimes it also isn't practical when working around baby's napping and eating rhythm. The key is to not feed to sleep and to continue to work on extending baby's night sleep.

MORNING WAKE TIME
Whether or not you are doing the e/w/s cycle, having a consistent morning wake time (baby gets up at around the same time each day, give or take 30 minutes) will help your day be more consistent and will help baby's sleep organize itself better. Also make sure to expose baby to light first thing in the morning and darkness at night to help set her body rhythms.

BEDTIME
I suggest trying to keep bedtime not much later than 7 pm. Your baby may go to sleep a bit later when it works better for your nap routine (although much later can backfire). Your baby may go to sleep earlier if she has recently dropped a nap or didn't nap well that day. If your baby is fussy in the evening, it is a good indication that an earlier bedtime may be needed. Some babies also get super hyper when they get tired. Read more about early bedtimes here.

If you baby is going to bed much later than 7 pm and you want to move bedtime early, try moving it earlier by 15 minutes every few days. When your child stops falling to sleep easily (within 15 minutes or so for most babies), then a few minutes added onto that time is probably a good bedtime hour.

Sometimes the problem is a too early of bedtime, rather than a later bedtime. Don't consider this the problem until you've considered the first possibility and baby is sleeping a decent amount at night. If baby goes to sleep well on her own initially and puts herself back to sleep well, but is now having problems falling asleep at night or is awake randomly for one stretch at night (lots of stretches at night is probably a problem with baby being able to put herself back to sleep on her own) then a later bedtime might be helpful.

HOW MUCH SLEEP TO EXPECT AT NIGHT
With a 3 month old, I'd expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night with 1-2 night feeds. By 6 months, I'd expect 11-12 hours of sleep at night with 0-1 feeds. These are averages for a baby with very good sleep habits, so please don't freak out if your little one isn't in the 'average' category. If you've got some significant sleep issues going on, you are very likely far from these averages.

NAPS AND THE E/W/S CYCLE
Ideally naps will happen after your baby has eaten and had some activity and last until the next routine eat time. This means that they'll last naps around 1.5-2.5 hours. It isn't uncommon to have baby take short naps, even after you attempt to extend them out.  If long naps are not happening, you can look at the short naps post for tips. If you still cannot get long naps going and you want to have feeds that aren't closer together than baby is requiring, then consider changing the cycle around to what fits your situation. People often end up with eat/wake/sleep/wake/sleep/eat/ or something along those lines. The point is to try to have something that is somewhat consistent and doesn't have baby feeding to sleep. And try not to stress yourself out! 

The last nap of the day is often a short one, if it happens at all. Baby's naps and the length of time they can stay awake between naps are always changing. It can be tricky to keep up with all the changes, especially as a first time parent. During the 3-6 month period, your baby may start off taking 4 (or even more!) naps and end up with just 2. Lots of changes! Find out more about dropping naps here and here.

WAKETIME
When you put your little one down to sleep, there are several things you can do to increase the chance that she'll go to sleep easily and stay asleep with no crying or further assistance from you. We'll start by going over one of the most important things, how long your child is awake between naps, also known as waketime.

A big thing to keep in mind is that babies have a much shorter wake time than most people are aware of. During the 3-6 month range, they can usually only stay up for 1-2.5 hours at a time. On the EWS cycle you can predict when they will get tired and start getting them ready for sleep before they start to show their tired signs, helping to prevent them from getting too overtired by the time they get to sleep. At this age, many babies have a very predictable nap cycle that you can predict by the clock. Keeping a baby awake longer in hopes to make them sleep longer rarely works, in fact, it usually results in overtiredness that makes falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult for them. You can find a chart with average times babies are awake here.

If you've been watching baby's sleepy cues closely as a newborn, you may be surprised to find out that they have disappeared, or completely changed now. That isn't the case with all babies, but it is the case with some so it is good to keep this in mind. If this happens, then you will want to follow the clock (how long it has been since your baby woke up or what time your baby normally goes down for naps) much more than sleep cues. You will also use how well baby sleeps to help you know if you may have put baby to sleep too early or too late (too early may mean baby plays before falling asleep, too late may mean baby cries before falling asleep or takes a short nap).

Don't underestimate the power of a mini-nap. If your child falls asleep in the car or while eating, even for just a few minutes, it can throw the next nap way off. 

OVERSTIMULATION
Most 3-6 month olds don't get overstimulated very easily. BUT, there are some babies, particularly those closer to the 3 month range, that are still very easily overstimulated. If you have one of those babies, try not to have too many activities or people around baby during the day or it may make it hard for your little one to settle to sleep. She will be able to handle a lot more before you know it.

UNDERSTIMULATION
As your baby starts to get older, getting exercise and lots of play and interacting with his environment gets more important. Babies this age can get fussy when they get bored (which can be confused with tiredness or hunger, among other things) and they may also not sleep well if they don't get enough exercise and stimulation.

SLEEP LOCATION
Most 3-6 month olds are very alert and have a hard time sleeping with commotion or light.

For naps, I recommend having baby sleep in his own private space away from the craziness of every day life. At night, you will probably get more sleep if baby has his own place to sleep. Many babies, especially breastfed ones, wake up more often to eat if they are sleeping near their parents. Parents may also jump to get their child too soon (rather than see if they'll fall back to sleep on their own) if they sleep right by them.

If you do decide to co-sleep or sleep in the same room as your child, there are still plenty of things you can do to encourage good sleep habits, they'll just be a bit more tricky to carry out. 

SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Make sure your baby's sleep environment is safe and that she is dressed safely. Before you had a child you may have thought, well of course I'll follow all those AAP guidelines and not have blankets in the crib and not have my baby sleep on his tummy etc, but once you're in the thick of it and horribly tired, you can feel tempted to try almost anything. There are some other alternative, like a swing, that can be useful when you feel tempted to try something unsafe. If tummy sleeping is still happening, I at least recommend getting some sort of movement monitor for sense of mind (my favorite is the snuza). There are also some more expensive monitors out there that monitor oxygen, like the owlet.

Most 3-6 month olds are going to have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep if it is noisy or light. I always suggest having children sleep in a dark room--it simply results in better sleep at almost any age, especially mid nap and in the early morning hours. I also suggest the use of a white noise machine. It helps most babies sleep better by imitating their loud womb and by blocking out outside noise. My favorite one is the lectroFan, although this one is much cheaper and still works pretty well. 

PRE-SLEEP ROUTINE
Before baby goes down for naps and at night, it's a good idea to do something I call a pre-sleep routine. This consists of ritual of things you do every time (same order, same things) before baby goes to sleep. They can include singing a song, reading a book, saying some comforting words ("its time to sleep now"), etc. Usually the nap routine is a shorter version of the bedtime routine. It's a good idea to start this as soon as possible if you aren't doing it already. Babies start to fall into habits pretty quickly and a pre-sleep routine helps to signal to their body that it is time to relax and go to sleep. You can find more ideas of what to do on my pre-sleep routine post. The 4 S Routine is a common pre-sleep routine that people do.

SWADDLING
If your baby is still swaddled, it's a good idea to do this during the pre-sleep routine. Swaddling helps babies fall asleep better and sleep more soundly. It gives them a bit of the crammed, womb-like feeling and security they are used to. I prefer to use blankets made just for swaddling (like the miracle blanket) but you can also use any old blanket. Just make sure to give baby freedom of movement at the hips and keep the blanket out of baby's face. I also attempt to burp baby again after I swaddle--you can often get another burp out.

If you aren't swaddling baby and she is sleeping well, I wouldn't worry about doing it. If your baby is having a hard time sleeping, swaddling may be helpful for babies closer to the 3 month range. At the same time, the sudden change at this age may make things worse rather than better so if it doesn't help after a good try (a few days at least), then I wouldn't push it.

TANKING UP
Tanking up and cluster feeding aren't usually done very much at this age, although the dream feed is still common.

With a dreamfeed, you will feed baby a few hours after you put her to bed for the night, right before you go to bed.  So say she goes to bed at 7 pm, you'd get her up while she's pretty much still asleep and give her a feed (which is why it's called a dreamfeed, she's still kind of dreaming) so that you can get a longer stretch of sleep yourself and not go to sleep only to awaken to a hungry baby 30 minutes later. Learn more about what a dream feed is here. Find dreamfeeding troubleshooting tips here and tips on how to drop the dreamfeed here. At this age, adding the dream feed in suddenly often is very helpful, so while you may want to try it to see if it helps (it won't help much if baby is waking often from a sleep issue, rather than just hunger) don't be surprised if it isn't useful.

PUTTING BABY TO SLEEP DROWSY, BUT AWAKE
It's time to work on putting baby to sleep drowsy, but awake. You were probably all wondering when I was going to get to this part. You knew it was coming, didn't you?! It couldn't be just as easy as the stuff I mentioned above. 

Believe it or not, but doing what I suggested above will nicely extend night sleep out (so you all get a consolidated chunck of sleep!) for many babies without doing anything else. And some babies will even go to sleep at bedtime without much of an issue. But naps are a different story. There are the occasional babies that will go to sleep easily, but most will fight sleep and/or get upset when you try to put them down to sleep. I'm going to go over a couple things that will help you do this successfully and with as little drama as possible. But keep in mind that changes don't happen over night. This is a process that will take some practice and time, for everyone involved.

If your baby has some strong sleep props (see below) in place, then significant changes in sleep may not really happen until you get that addressed.

SLEEP PROPS
We can't really go on much further without talking about sleep props. Sleep props are the eventual cause of most sleep issues. A sleep prop is something your baby associates with falling asleep, like the bottle or breast or being rocked. These don't seem like such a big deal when you've got a brand new baby, but if she wakes up the second you ever put her down or the second you stop nursing, it can be pretty frustrating, especially if it's the middle of the night and you are utterly exhausted, or she's several months old and you are even more exhausted. Many people prefer to keep up sleep props for some time, like until they become an issue or until they feel they can't keep it up anymore, while some people try to prevent them from early on (to encourage better sleep habits). Whatever you do is fine, it will simply mean you may have more or less sleep habits to change right now or at a later date.

You've probably heard of someone who's held their baby to sleep or nursed their baby to sleep for months without any problem--no hourly night wakings at 9 months of age and no holding baby for his entire nap, every. single. time. The tricky thing is, you don't know what sleep prop will or will not cause an issue in the future. Most props will end up resulting in an issue, if not by 3/4 months, then almost always by 9 months. But there is always that baby out there who can have every sleep prop done in the world and they will still sleep like an angel. I wish I could tell you if that was your baby (and I wish I could give you or myself that baby!), but I can't. So if a sleep prop is causing issues right now and you are ready to change things, then let's get to it. If a sleep prop isn't causing issues right now, you can change things right now or wait it out and see if it'll result in problems in the future.

DON'T RUSH IN
When baby starts to make sounds or even cries, follow the old crossing the street saying: stop, look (if you have a video monitor), and listen. It'll take some time, but you'll get better at determining what your baby is "saying". Is he in pain? Is he just making a sound in the middle of his sleep? Is he settling himself to sleep? Even before you've figured out what baby is trying to tell you, it is almost always a good idea to wait a few moments before going in to baby. If he is hungry, it'll be much eaiser to feed him and get a full feedig if he's wide awake, and if doesn't need something, he may fall asleep if you give him a minute. Much of the time parents rush to the aid of their children they are just going through a sleep transition--but before you know it, it turns into a habitual waking reinforced by the parents.

YOU'VE PUT BABY DOWN AWAKE AND DROWSY, BUT SHE IS CRYING. WHAT NEXT?
Now comes the especially tricky part. Since there's no way I'll ever be able to work with each of you individually to see what would best for you, I'm going to give you some of my favorite options to choose from to see what works best for you--everyone has their own personal preferences and comfort levels. Some people feel comfortable starting these methods right now (and may have been using some for a while) and some people won't feel ready to try any of these methods for a while yet. 

Keep in mind that if your baby has some strong sleep props in place, you will probably get a good amount of resistance from baby when trying to change sleep habits. Unfortunately, there isn't really any sort of magic sleep fix. Most sleep training requires a lot of effort, time, and maybe some crying (in your presence or outside your presence).

I suggest some CIO methods below. Although there is a lot of opinion out there about whether or not to do these methods and when to start them, I find them to be useful at times, and I also find them to be effective during this 3-6 month time frame (more so closer to the 4 month range). I would not jump to them before trying anything else, and I would not do them unless you feel comfortable doing them and are willing to be totally consistent with them. You can read more about my thoughts on CIO here and here.

SLEEP TRAINING FOR NAPS
For naps, you will limit your time helping baby fall asleep. With very sensitive and younger babies, if baby is still awake after trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes, you will help her fall asleep so she doesn't get too overtired. If you and baby feel up to it (which will most likely be the case in this age range), you can attempt sleep training for up to an hour for a nap. If baby is asleep at the 1 hour mark, you will let her continue sleeping. The 1 hour limit is only if she is still awake.

Many of the methods used to help newborn babies sleep well for naps are less effective at this age. Baby gets more alert and sometimes even agitated when you try to help her sleep.  Baby also starts to turn some highly hands on sleep training methods into another sleep prop.

Sleep Training Options for Naps:
  1. With a newborn, I suggested extended pu/pd. With an older baby, the extra holding that takes place while doing this method, compared to plain pu/pd, is usually harmful to good sleep habits. If you are doing extended pu/pd and it is working fine for you (baby is waking up infrequently at night and taking good naps), then you can keep doing what you are doing. If that isn't the case or you are trying sleep training for the first time, I suggest plain pu/pd. With pu/pd, you will give baby a few minutes to go back to sleep when he wakes up (don't rush in) and if he doesn't, you will pick him up and hold him until he calms down. Once he calms down, you will put him back down in his bed. You put him back in his bed before he gets sleepy or falls asleep. Read more about this method in the pu/pd post.
  2. When baby starts to cry (cry, not just fuss), leave her for 3-5 minute intervals, calming her each time you go in (calming, not putting her to sleep). Calm her in anyway that works, trying to keep her in her bed. Continue this method for up to an hour. Read more about this on my limited crying solution post.
  3. Do the chair method to help baby fall asleep for her nap. You will sit in a chair by her crib, moving it farther away every few days. See my chair method post for specifics on this.
  4. After putting baby down for her nap, you will do a form of CIO until the max time for her nap is over (1 hour).  CIO methods generally include those that have a progressive waiting period (such as the Ferber method), one with a consistent waiting period rather than one that changes (such as the Sleeping Through the Night method), or one with no checks at all (such as the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child method). When you check on baby, you can do as little as talk to her from the doorway of her room, or as much as soothe her with touch, patting and your voice. It is generally recommended that you do not pick up baby unless absolutely necessary and that you don't check on baby for more than 1-2 minutes. 
  5. For some no-cry methods, look at the sleep training index. I will try to get a more specific post up about these soon.
What if baby doesn't fall asleep 1 hour into a nap?
If this happens, you will get baby up for the nap and put her down when she seems tired again, which will likely be very soon. Try not to let her fall asleep in your arms though! Even if she is only up for 15 minutes that is fine.

SLEEP TRAINING AT NIGHT
You treat bedtime the same as you treat middle of the night feeds and early morning feeds. Unlike naps, there is no limit in how long you do sleep training at night. This can make for a long night, but it also results in quicker progress.  

If you are not ready to do sleep training all night, you can just start with bedtime, and when that is going well for a couple weeks, move to the rest of the night (sometimes the rest of the night will improve just by getting bedtime figured out). You can also set a limit on how long you do sleep training at each waking at night, but progress will be slower than if you set no limit for sleep training at night.

With babies closer to the 3 month range, it's a good idea to double check that baby isn't hungry (especially if she was sleepy during the bedtime feed) if she is taking a little while to fall asleep. As baby starts to get closer to 6 months, how much she eats right before bed makes less of an impact on her sleep. Baby starts to consistently sleep a certain length at night or during a certain period at night (like 7 pm-7am) and if she eats a bit less one day or at bedtime, it usually doesn't have much of an impact on night sleep.

Most of the time a diaper change won't be needed at this age, or at least only needed once. If a diaper change is needed, I try to change it at the beginning of the feed to make it easier for baby to fall asleep after the feed. I try to avoid changing diapers early in the morning (like at 5 am) since this can wake up baby so much that she has a hard time falling back asleep and is up and ready to go for the day. I also try to get most of the burping done before I finish up a feed so that baby can be nice and relaxed before being put back down to sleep.

Sleep Training Options for Bedtime/Night Wakings:
  1. Do the pu/pd method. With pu/pd, you will give baby a few minutes to go back to sleep when he wakes up (don't rush in) and if he doesn't, you will pick him up and hold him until he calms down. Once he calms down, you will put him back down in his bed. You put him back in his bed before he gets sleepy or falls asleep. Read more about this method in the pu/pd post.
  2. When baby starts to cry (cry, not just fuss), leave her for 3-5 minute intervals, calming her each time you go in (calming, not putting her to sleep). Calm her in anyway that works, trying to keep her in her bed. Read more about this on the limited crying solution post.
  3. Do the chair method to help baby fall asleep at bedtime and for night wakings. You will sit in a chair by her crib, moving it farther away every few days. See my chair method post for specifics on this.
  4. After putting baby down for her nap, you will do a form of CIO.  CIO methods generally include those that have a progressive waiting period (such as the Ferber method), one with a consistent waiting period rather than one that changes (such as the Sleeping Through the Night method), or one with no checks at all (such as the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child method). When you check on baby, you can do as little as talk to her from the doorway of her room, or as much as soothe her with touch, patting and your voice. It is generally recommended that you do not pick up baby unless absolutely necessary and that you don't check on baby for more than 1-2 minutes. 
  5. The Core Night Method can be used with any of the above methods to extend how long baby can sleep at night without a feed. Once baby has slept a certain amount of time for at least a few days, you will no longer feed him during that time span (for 3 hours, for 5 hours etc). What you do during that time depends on whatever sleep method you are doing above. Once baby is comfortable going a certain amount of time, you can slowly increase how long he goes (every few to several days) without a feed during one sleep period at night.
  6. There are more extensive methods to help eliminate night feeds, but those will be covered on another post :)
  7. For some no-cry methods, look at the sleep training index. I will try to get a more specific post up about these soon.
IF NONE OF THE ABOVE METHODS SEEM TO WORK, LOOK AT THE COMMON QUESTION SECTION BELOW.

Common 3-6 Month Issues
  • Won't sleep on the go anymore: At this age, your baby is likely excited about everything and everyone. If you've been able to tote him around town without any disruption in his sleep routine, this will probably change. But at the same time, he will be able to stay awake longer between naps which will make it easier to leave the house during awake times.
  • Painful reflux: If your baby appears to have reflux that is bothersome (some spitting up is common and normal due to a newborn's immature stomach sphincter) then let your pediatrician know. Some reflux medications can make a world of difference. Also, try to keep baby in an upright position for approximately 30 minutes after a feed. I haven't had good luck with using wedges to keep babies propped up while sleeping, although I have had good luck with the Rock 'n Play Sleeper .
  • Dirty diaper: Lots of parents connect wet diapers with night wakings, but most likely this is not what is causing the waking, now or in the future. If you are having issues with leaking diapers, check out this post for tips. Poopy diapers are much more likely to be disruptive. Usually a parent can start to get an idea of when a poopy diaper has occurred--baby plays half way through a nap or won't fall asleep etc. You can read about my poopy diaper issues during sleep here
  • Growth Spurts. Babies have loads of growth spurts, or times they will eat/grow more and possibly sleep more or be fussy.
  • Colic. It isn't uncommon to hear that a baby isn't sleeping well during this age range because of colic. This is likely not the case. Most of the time I have found the cause to be due to over tiredness. Parents are often amazed at what a little extra sleep can do to their baby's disposition!
  • Ear Infections. Ear infections and babies are not fun, but unfortunately they go together quite a lot with some babies. Breastfeeding, holding upright while bottle feeding and not smoking around your baby can reduce the risk of ear infections. If your baby has recently had a stuffy nose and suddenly gets a fever, is extra fussy or cries shortly after being layed flat, suspect an ear infection.
  • Gas. Gas usually isn't much of an issue at this age. There are the occasional babies where it is still a problem, though. Just make sure not to blame bad sleep on gas when it is actually due to something else (like a sleep prop). If baby wakes up suddenly with a high pitched scream, you might be dealing with gas. I always recommend probiotics to help with gas, especially for formula fed babies or babies starting solids. Refrigerated ones (I highly recommend this one for babies) are the best, but this one seems to still have decent results and is easy to find online and in stores.

Common Questions:
Do I really need to wake my baby up to eat during the day? 
If your baby is growing well and not going an abnormally long period between day time feeds, then no, of course you don't need to wake baby up. BUT, not waking baby up during the day for feeds may lead to not enough food/feeds during the day which means more feeds at night. The above doesn't always happen, but from my experience, it is more likely to happen. What you do is up to you. If it feels wrong to wake baby up during the day for a feed and she's growing well, then don't do it. Just realize that an extended night sleep may take a bit longer for your little one.

My baby fell asleep in my arms one day. Will this ruin all the work I've done with sleep training?
Most babies will continue to sleep fine if they are held to sleep, fed to sleep or fall asleep in a car seat very occasionally. Some babies are much more sensitive than others. If you baby has a big regression in sleep every time this happens, then you'll just have to try extra hard to not have it happen. Hopefully this won't be the case, though.

If I'm not very consistent with my sleep training method will my baby still learn to fall asleep?
Inconsistency at this age usually backfires quite a bit. Much more so than it did for your newborn.  For most babies it means a lot more confusion, possible crying, and a much longer time to sleep train. Do whatever you can to be consistent while sleep training and for a while after sleep training habits are getting solidified into strong habits.

Can I successfully breastfeed and have my baby sleep long periods at night?
Yes you can! Everyone is different when it comes to their breastfeeding supply. Most moms I talk to don't have a problem going 12 hours at night after the first 3-6 months of their baby's life. Some moms will pump before they go to bed for a couple months after baby starts sleeping 12 hours just to be sure their supply is ok. I have heard of the very occasional mom having problems with supply when she goes long without a night feed. This really isn't the norm, as much as some lactation specialist make it sound like it is. I have talked to a lot of people who have done routines and had their babies sleep long periods at night early on and it really is very uncommon. If this happens to you, of course consider feeding more often or pumping a couple times. You can find out more about breastfeeding and routines here.

Should I give my baby a Lovey?
lovey is a great thing to introduce around 4-6 months of age. It can be very helpful in comforting a child during sleep times. Make sure to give baby something that is small and breathable. I really like  muslin security blankets because of how breathable they are. Aden+anaislulujo and hudson baby are my favorite ones because they are very breathable and small. Swaddle designs has some adorable and small security blankets as well, but they are a bit thicker. I wash my muslin blankets in a lingerie bag and dry on low. And I never wash them with anything that has velcro on it.

Do I need to worry about limiting naps at this age?
Too much day sleep can rob night sleep. I know, most of you are thinking what, there's a baby out there that sleeps too much during the day! I can't get mine to sleep at all! Too much sleep in the day does happen sometimes though, and the result can be less sleep at night. Look at the sleep average post for an idea on how much sleep a baby needs for each age range. If baby is sleeping well at night, then I wouldn't worry about her sleeping too much for her naps right now.

When will my baby start to sleep through the night?
The all too common question! I've outlined when babies often start sleeping through the night on this post. After helping countless parents with sleep, I can tell you that following the suggestions above will help you get there sooner rather than later. Remember to keep in mind that every baby is different and sleeps through the night at a different age.

Every time I lay my baby to sleep she suddenly pops right awake again. What can I do?
This is pretty common. Your baby, while drifting off to sleep, notices something different (being put down) and wakes right up again. And sometimes, because she's somewhat startled awake or has just had some of her tiredness knocked off by sleeping a few minutes, she'll be wide awake and not seem the least bit tired at all. There are a couple ways to deal with this. One way is to make sure she's in a deep sleep before you put her down, that means you'll have to wait 5-20 minutes before setting her down. Check to see if her arm is limp before setting her down and set her down slowly, step by step, possibly staying cuddled up with her for a moment in her bed before taking all contact away. This works with many babies, but not all, and it becomes a bit less effective as they get older.  The other way is to put her to sleep before she gets so drowsy (or falls asleep) and work on having her fall asleep there alone, or with your help.

My baby wakes up 15 minutes after I put her to sleep (or some time around that). Help!
Make sure she wasn't overtired or overstimulated before going to sleep since this can lead to super short naps. She may have also been put to sleep too drowsy or asleep and is waking up wondering where you went. You may want to check out the short nap post.

Some babies will be quiet after you put them down and then start to cry several minutes later. If you look in a monitor, you may see that they either never fell asleep or that they started to fall asleep (or got into the early stages of sleep) for several minutes then popped wide awake crying.

My baby wakes up from a nap after being asleep for 45-60 minutes. How can I get her to sleep a bit longer?
Make sure to give her a few minutes to see if she'll go back to sleep on her own.  If she won't go back to sleep on her own, try helping her go back to sleep (avoid a feed if possible). Check out the short naps and extending naps posts.

My baby always fights sleep. She gets upset the second I start getting her ready for bed.
Some children are just like this. They don't like to shut out the world. Keeping things extra calm a short time before their nap can help. Making sure they don't get overtired can also be helpful.

What if it's time to feed her but she either hasn't fallen asleep yet or is about to go to sleep?
If it is almost time to feed her but she still hasn't fallen asleep for a nap, go ahead and get her up, feed her, doing your best to keep her awake. Then put her down again for a nap after the feed is through. If she falls asleep eating, it isn't the end of the world, just try to make it not happen very often.

If you're about to put her down for a nap but she needs to eat soon (maybe your e/w/s/ routine is a bit off because she's been struggling falling asleep for naps), go ahead and feed her right now, trying not to have her fall asleep while eating.

How should I handle early morning wakings?
An early morning waking can be super obnoxious and tiring! There are a couple things you can do for this. One is to leave baby alone to see if she'll go back to sleep on her own. If this doesn't work, you can consider leaving her for a little longer every few days or just help her fall back asleep, using whatever method works. It's best to not offer a feed during this time (if she doesn't need it), but if that's what it takes, that's ok. You want to try to get baby to sleep until morning or it messes up sleep a bit for the rest of the day. Most babies get over these early wake ups eventually, but it can take quite a while to pass through this phase. Just make sure you aren't entertaining baby and making the wake up worth while! Read more about early morning waking and troubleshooting here.



Let me know if I missed any questions you may have! 

40 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for this! It's so helpful! Your notification for this came just in time, as I have a 12 week old, and I've been freaking out about her schedule and naps and sleep in general :) One question I do have (and perhaps you can add it to the guide), but do you have any recommendations/advice for transitioning baby to the crib if he/she has been sleeping in a bassinet or other 'sleep prop' in your room! We currently have our daughter sleeping in a bouncy seat inside the pack-n-play, and I have no idea how to get her to sleep in her crib without a ton of issues! She's already a very fitful sleeper, and I feel like I replace her paci 10 times per night. None of us are getting sleep right now :( Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa,
      I would have baby play in the crib for a few/several minutes at a time getting used to it before making the switch. I'd first I'd move her to her new sleep location, but in what she has slept in before. Technically a bouncy seat in a crib is considered not very safe, so I would watch her while she is sleeping this way. After a few days of her getting used to the new location, I'd put her in the crib, continuing to swaddle if you do that, and also having her sleep short ways or closer to an edge so it doesn't seem so much bigger to her at first. The biggest transition you have is really going to be from sleeping at an angle in the bouncy chair to sleeping flat. Some babies make this transition very easily (and are actually happy about being able to move around more) and some have a harder time. It just takes some time to get used to new things for some babies before they are happy with it :)

      best,
      rachel

      Delete
  3. Hi Rachel
    I have tried to implement the E/W/S cycle at different stages with my son. He is now 4 months old. The problem I am having is that he has only ever napped for 30-40 mins. He is not upset after waking and tends to be a happy contented baby so I am not to worried about extending his naps. I just need a little advise with how to work on a 3-4 hour plan when mine would look more like E/W/S/W/S. The other problem I have is that the second sleep In the cycle has to be induced be me either by wearing him or going for a walk.
    At his age he can only be awake for an hour and a half before needing to go back to sleep, he used to be really good at putting himself to sleep in his cot but now requires a lot more help.
    I suppose what I'm really trying to get at is that with his sleep requirements and pattern I often find that during the day a feed ends up lining up with a nap time so a least once a day he is feeding very close to nap time or feeding to sleep. Do you have any advice, shall I feed him immediately after each nap which would mean he is not feeding every 3-4 hours but around every 2?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruth Miller,
      I would probably feed before a nap than move to every 2 hours. Just try to feed before he gets too tired to help him not feed to sleep. You can adjust the hours of feeding as needed (some 3, some 4 etc) to have it fit in your routine best. I just would personally try not to feed very close together frequently so it doesn't turn into a 24 hour habit :)

      Delete
  4. Thank you so much! We are giving it a go tonight. So nervous, but I have to stop procrastinating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa,
      Making sleep changes with baby can be really scary, which makes it super easy to procrastinate! Good luck the next several days of big change.

      Delete
  5. My little girl is 4 months (18 weeks) old. Her daily schedule follows the eat, play, sleep method and she wakes/eats at 5:30am (~6oz formula), 8:30am (~2oz breastmilk), 11:30am (~3oz breastmilk), 2:30pm (~4oz breastmilk), 5:30pm (~6-8oz formula) and down for bed around 6:30pm. (On weekends when she's home and not at daycare she gets formula for every feed) We considered her as 'sleeping through the night' since 3 months old, since she only wakes up 2-3 times, we give her back her pacifier, and she falls back to sleep immediately. The past two nights she's been waking at midnight, and then fussing every half hour to every hour until she wakes at 5:30am. Is this the 4 month sleep regression? Or do you think she needs to be fed again at midnight? We tried cutting her down from 5 feedings/4 naps to 4 feedings/3 naps, since she doesn't eat much during her 8:30 and 11:30 feeds, and it was a disaster! (FYI she was IUGR and only 4lb 9oz full term, so I know 2oz and 3oz aren't a lot per feeding, but on the other hand 6oz and 8oz are huge for her). Should we take away her pacifier and try to swap it with a lovey instead? Please help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather McManus,
      If she's already been waking up at night 2-3 times for the pacifier, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if she started to wake up even more often for it. This isn't very uncommon. That said, it has only been two nights so I would probably give it a few more days to see if it resolves on its own and is due to something completely else before changing anything. As for the amounts she eats, it is less than average. It's possible she needs more to eat. I am not experienced with IUGR enough to know how much it effects feeds and for how long (and if she has reflux to need smaller feeds etc). You might want to talk to your pediatrician about that one. You could always offer a night feed to see how much she takes. It isn't fun to jump backwards with feeds, but it's possible she needs it given her history and smaller daily feeds (if she's unable to take more during each of them).
      best,
      rachel

      Delete
  6. I am just starting to sleep train my 3 month old and she often wakes herself up by kicking her legs up in the air. Any suggestions to on how to stop this?

    Candice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candice,
      Once your daughter starts to sleep well on her own, this shouldn't be something that wakes her up anymore. She should be able to wake partly awake (like going through a sleep transition) and put herself back to sleep on her own. If she isn't swaddled, something like a sleep sack might help to reduce kicking.

      rachel

      Delete
  7. Hi Rachel, thank you so much for offering advice to moms in desperate need of help with sleep issues especially first time moms like me! I have read 3 books on Sleep training and it is very overwhelming they all seem to contradict each other :( do you think letting the baby cry works/is safe ? Also my baby falls asleep while nursing he won't take the bottle , how can I a start changing this pattern? Thanks! -Andrea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea Vega,
      Yes, sleep training certainly has a lot of contradictory advice. I have found that you have to kind of get a gist of all of it (trying not to fall for the scare tactics that some people do) and see what you feel most comfortable doing. I feel that cry it out is effective during this age range and is safe. Click on label at the bottom of the page that says cry it out and there are some posts about this. If baby is falling asleep while nursing, you can either nurse until just drowsy then put to sleep awake (which will take an adjustment but will result in big changes relatively quickly) or do something even slower like the suggestion suggested in the no-cry sleep training posts (see suggestion in the step training post above).

      best,
      rachel

      Delete
  8. Thanks so much for the post! I have a 4.5 month old, and successfully sleep trained him for night sleeping a couple of weeks ago. He now sleeps 7pm-7am, waking 2x a night to eat, and we seem to be successfully bringing it down to 1x.
    But nap training is not going well! We started 3 days ago, as nights seemed under control. It may be that I'm just having trouble reading his sleep cues, but he'll play/chat/try to roll his crib for well over 30mins before falling asleep, and then not sleep that long. I thought the playing was a sign of under-tiredness, but otherwise his awake windows are just too long (and the short naps seem to indicate otherwise). For his first nap, for example - yesterday I put him down at 8:35, and he played in his crib until 9:15 and napped for only 35mins. Today I put him down at 8:15, and he played for 45mins and then napped for 40mins. Since he was done with his nap by 9:40am, I put him down for his second nap at 11:05. He played in his crib again and only fell asleep at 11:40 - this time he napped for 1.5hrs. Is it really possible that his needed wake times are 2hrs at this point? That seems long, and the short naps (his third one was 35mins and he just never slept for a fourth one) seem to indicate otherwise. I'm just confused, and concerned that he only napped for a total of 2.5 hours today. Before I started training he'd sleep for about 4.5 hours, split among 3 naps, though admittedly he had to be held for the last one (and often woke up in the middle of the second but could be soothed back to sleep). Any advice on timing his naps now that using the sleep cue that worked for him before (zoning out) doesn't seem to work anymore would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emy,
      Yes, playing before sleep often means undertired, but that isn't the case for all babies. Waiting it out al little bit might fix the issues. When you changes things around it isn't unusual for stuff to be off for a bit, or naps short etc. Can you think of anything else that has changed since baby has started taking naps on his own. Is he sleeping in his own bed right now rather than i a carrier? Is the room dark etc. 2 hour is a bit long for a 4.5 month old, but I can't say for sure it isn't that long. I would try to have him sleep around the time that he used to sleep before the sleep training .He may be able to stay awake a touch longer during the day since he is sleeping so well at night now and may have been waking up frequently before then. Hopefully the naps and playing will go away soon, otherwise a little sleep log would be helpful. Sorry all over the place while replying to you.

      rachel

      Delete
    2. Hi Rachel- Thanks so much for replying the first time. I just wanted to leave an update - it took about a week, but he is now really great at going down for a nap on his own too! Your advice on putting him down to nap around the same time as he did before was really helpful; I decided to follow that rather than limiting his wake time, and that seemed to help as his body was used to sleeping during those windows (though it did lead to some longer than ideal wake times during training). I am guessing that the fact that he learned how to roll on day #2 of training made the adjustment longer than it would've otherwise, but after about a week or so, he got the hang of it and is now back to three solid naps a day. Thank you!

      Delete
  9. Thank you for this super helpful site! Baby sleep is such a complex thing! I had no idea what I was in for. I'm currently don't know where to start with my 3.5 month old. There are several issues to tackle. For one, he sleeps right next to me. It was perfect before, when he would cluster feed for a while then sleep for 4-6 hours straight, but for the last couple of weeks, He's wanted to nurse about every hour for the first three hours even after the nightly "cluster" I now realize is his sleep crutch. At about the same times each night he starts fussing, grunting, and squirming, like
    crazy and wakes himself up. (Maybe it's because he's still having a difficult time with sleep transitions; and I'm the putz that lets him use my breast to fall back asleep.) For another, his bedtime is really late. It started when he was about 1.5 months, I started noticing that he would fall asleep at midnight like clockwork. I kept trying to do our bedtime routine and nightly cluster feed earlier, but no matter when I started he would fall asleep at midnight. Recently, it moved to 11:30, and he wakes close to 11am. I really want to shift him to a 7-7 schedule. But right now, I don't know how to do that without also going to bed at 7.

    Just as a reference, he takes 3-4 naps (2-3 50 minute naps and 1about 1.5-2 hours long) around the same time each day. After some frustrating weeks of horrible naps I came across Precious Little Sleep's (swing sleep guide and his naps have greatly improved. He now falls asleep within 7-10 minutes. And while the situation is not ideal, it's good right now and have a plan for weaning him off of the swing later.

    How do I stop the nightly "cluster"? How do I get hi out of my bed? And how do I shift his schedule? Which do I start with?

    Thanks again for all of the useful info! Any additional insights will be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Everything was perfect as far as sleep goes with my newborn (3 naps that were 2 hours long and 6 hours uninterrupted at night followed by another 4 after a feed) Then we started dealing with reflux and severe gas and she's had diarrhea for 2.5 months now. Her ped and specialists suspect allergies but it's all just guess work so she just feels like crap a lot of the time. But I know it's 10x worse when she's overtired. It used to be that she would wake up almost every 45 minutes squirming and crying. If she was in her crib, she'd fully wake up and scream. But if she was with me she'd soothe back to sleep really quick. So I started co sleeping so we could get at least a little sleep and we just haven't stopped. She wakes up 2-3 a night and i feed her. She takes 2 perfect naps a day (12-2, 4-5:30) and then goes to bed at 7:7:30 perfectly. We do our sleep routine and she goes to sleep on her own. (All in her crib) But every night she wakes up around 8:30 and won't go back to sleep no matter what I try until I bring her to bed with me at 10 or 11. I'm at a loss of what to do. Really tired first time mom here. I've tried leaving her in her crib, soothing her, and leaving. But she wake up like 10 minutes after she falls asleep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After the night she wakes up at 10:00 happy. Sometimes she'll even sleep 10-10 without waking to eat (with me). I have loved co sleeping but am ready to be done. And I want to get on the best schedule possible despite her issues. The 12 hrs at night are great but I wish it was closer to 7-7 than 10-10

      Delete
  11. Hi rachel!
    Thank you for this wonderful website and all the pain you have taken to help mothers like us who are clueless or in doubts about so many things. My baby iaan was a perfect baby since he was born, slept well, fed well and i was so proud of myself until he reached his 4 months milestone. I did everythign according to dr. Karp book..used white noise at all times of naps and sleeps, woke him up tiny bit before out him to sleep on his cot. I tanked him during day time and also dreamfed. he used to sleep very easily till 4 months of age, and was a very happy child. As soon he used to even start crying i used to sooth him(may be thats where problem started,i never taught him self soothing). He used to take 4 naps and each one for 1.5 to 2 hours until one day his nap beacame less than hour and started to wake up every 1 or 2 hours in night. In the middle of the night which i tried feed him to sleep he used to wake up and wanted to play. i thought may be he is in growth spurt so i kept feeding him during night wakings. Then i thought may be he is in some kind of pain because every evening he was very very fussy and also spit a lot. then I thought it was reflux but dr. said he is all normal and its normal for the baby to be like this at this age. So i continued to do what i was breastfeed him to sleep but his sleeping time moved to 8 frlom 8:30 and now trying to make it to 7:30 and gradually will take it to 7. This has helped taking his bedtime earlier Also i have a set up routine for his bedtime like massage, bath and white noise. Then i feed him and wake him up a bit on his bed and he goes to sleep. Since last two days I do not breastfeed him after the routine..i do it before the bedtime routine starts and Use sitting and CIO method until he sleeps in my arms and then i put him to bed. He sleeps quite well but he wakes up at around 2 to 2:30 and cries till i feed so i do that thn again he goes to sleep and then he is bright awake by 5:30. The things i am worried abotu right now his nap time where he gets uo after 30 mins and i fidn it hard to do the sitting CIO method. What should i do about that? Also how I am suppose to stop his 2:30am feed gradually because soemtime he takes more in 5 mins and soemtimes less. He sobs a lot during the sitting stage ...and can this be the reason of this wake up? Am i doing the right thing? i want to be ready for sleep training before he turns 5 and 1/2. Please help me out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it ok for the baby to keep crying and i hold him tight? he cries so hard that i feel his body is shaking

      Delete
  12. My almost 5 month old is sleep trained, and generally does quite well for both bedtime & naps. She sleeps from about 8 pm-7am, with 0-1 night feeds. And naps well during the day, usually taking three 1.5 hrs naps. I have white noise going in her room. But she is a VERY light sleeper. If we step on the creaky floorboard in the hallway outside her room, she wakes, if the doorbell rings, she wakes, if my toddler is loud or there's a loud talker in the house, she wakes. It's very frustrating. I've received tones of advice saying to 'carry on with your day & she will learn to sleep through it". but this advice has not proven to be successful. Any tips on how to help your baby be less sensitive to noise?

    ReplyDelete
  13. What methods are best for getting baby from arms to bed without waking? I feel like I have tried everything! He always wakes up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. estein,
      you can try setting baby down gently and leaving pressure from your arms around him for a few minutes to help with the transition. warming the spot where baby will be lying prior can help. holding baby for 20 minutes after he has fallen asleep before laying him down can help. in the end, really the only good long term solution is baby learning to go to sleep on his own from the awake or drowsy state.

      good luck
      rachel

      Delete
  14. Thanks so much for this great site, it's a lifesaver!! I have an 11 week old and really struggle with naps. She has been fed to sleep but I can't now put her down in the day without her waking up and wanting a feed. I've been trying the shush pat method but she really resists it and get hysterical. It's worked on occasion but other times I've had to give in. She doesn't take a dummy but does suck on hands, sometimes this seems to get her more worked up when upset as she tries to put her whole fist in her mouth! I'm just not sure how to start and what pricess to go through if he gets inconsolable as I'm not too comfortable leaving her to CIO in that state. Any advice would be appreciated!!! Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  15. First off, thank you for the awesome site with all this useful information! Secondly, I have a reflux baby that sleeps through the night at 11 weeks, however; she has to be held upright for 30 minutes after her feedings and she usually falls asleep on me. We put her to bed with bottle and upright time as she falls asleep and she sleeps through the night, but during the day she won't nap anywhere except on me due to this. I have tried putting her down and swaddling for naps and creating the same nighttime sleep environment for her naps, but they are always shorter than when she sleeps on me and she usually is super cranky with those shorter naps. Any recommendations for nap time?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear Rachel,
    First of all, congratulations for a very helpful blog, already learnt many tips just by browsing it! :)
    Would you have any schedule samples for babies between 3-6 months. I could only find the ones you posted for new borns and up to 3 months. My LO is 4,5 months now and I'm trying to set up a routine that works for him, still struggling to understand how long his awake time should be..he usually sleeps a total of 3-4 hours during the day but doesn't seem so playful between naps, often yawning shortly after he woke up from his naps. Any suggestion would be great. Thanks again for your huge help to all mummies!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, Rachel!

    New reader here. Thanks for all the posts! My little girl is 4 months old & was a wonderful sleeper since birth, taking 1-2 hour naps every 1.5-2 hours and sleeping for 6-8 hours straight at night before waking up for a feed. Within the last few weeks, though, things have changed drastically. She's teething and started rolling back to tummy (though she can't roll from tummy to back, yet). She has been swaddled since birth, but cannot be swaddled now because she rolls when swaddled. We use a Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle & for five days now I've been trying to adjust her to not being swaddled (one arm out, then two arms) and I still have the wings wrapped around from armpits down. For the first few nights, she was still in her bassinet (which she is almost grown out of) but when she startled, her hands would hit the side of the bassinet & this would wake her up (I think the feeling of the bassinet against her hands) and she couldn't get back to bed. So we moved the crib (which she naps in during the day) up into our room where the bassinet used to be, thinking she wanted more room to explore her new skill of rolling. Now she won't nap at all in her crib, or for 30 minutes max after crying for 15-20 minutes. The first time she startles, she wakes up and usually rolls onto her tummy and then cries and can't get back to sleep. She won't sleep in the crib at night. We've made the room very dark, have white noise, etc. - I'm at a loss of what to do to help her sleep, her startle reflex is still so strong but she can't be swaddled. We have a Zipadee-Zip coming today that we're going to try. Any tips for our situation?

    Thank you so much,
    Emily

    ReplyDelete
  18. Please help!!!! My little one is almost 4 months old. She has been sleeping through the night since about 5 weeks. Within the past month she's been waking super early but I think I know what to do to help this! My main concern is that she will not nap during the day unless I'm holding her. I've tried swaddling her and putting her in her crib just like at night, laying her in a rocker, pitting her in a swing, etc. Nothing works! Sometimes she'll "nap" for 20-45 minutes and other times her eyes pop open as soon as I lay her down! I don't think she is overtired since she only stays awake for an hour to 1.5 hours tops! How can I get her to take good naps on her own? She'll be starting daycare in about 4 weeks and I'm concerned we will have major problems because they won't be able to hold her!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi,

    I love your website and I'm hoping you have some advice for me. My little boy is 4.5 months old and has three fairly decent naps during the day. Usually a 1.5-2 hour morning nap, a 1-1.5 hour lunch nap and a 45 min - 1 hour afternoon nap. We out him down between 6.30 & 7pm and he is generally happy. From 6 weeks we gave him a dream feed between 10 and 10.30 (would sometimes move earlier as he wakes up for it now). He still wakes once in the night for a feed after the dream feed. Is this normal? We've tried experimenting with the amount of the dream feed but we've never had him sleep through from the dream feed to the morning. Should we be increasing the dream feed or decreasing it to try and get more calories into him during the day? He always gets out down awake and he's a reasonably good feeder. We have also recently started him on solids.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi. My 15 week old little girl is exclusively breast fed and goes to sleep from around 10 pm-5:30/6 am . She feeds and then sleeps until 9:30/10 am. I'd like her to go to bed earlier in the evenings. Should I wake her earlier in the mornings to achieve this? Also, she tends to need to be nursed to sleep and will only go down for naps if I nurse her. Any advice would be most appreciated. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Rachel - Super useful resource here whilst trying to train 12 week old!
    I've got a couple of issues I am struggling with and wondered if you had any thoughts.

    1) He used to only wake 1 or 2 times in the night, but is now up and feeding for 10+ minutes every 60-120 minutes. Am putting this down to a growth spurt?!

    2) He wakes after 30-45 minutes on daytime naps, presumably because he can't soothe himself back to sleep. Is the fact that he falls asleep with a dummy in the issue here? Because he can't nod off without? Should the whole pu/pd method be without a dummy? He just screams blue murder otherwise!

    Thank you so much

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Rachel, I currently have an almost 4 month old baby. And he has definitely become dependant on props to get to sleep. Aka me and the swing. Im just beginning sleep training and doing the PU/PD method, but today all I got were two cat naps for the first two naps, even while trying to prepare to get him through the first sleep transition. Should I continue to try PU/PD if the first nap or two is unsuccessful, or should I get him to nap anyway I can and try again the next day?
    Thank you so much! And I live your website, its given me so much information!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Rachel,

    I have a 3 month old who has always been a very hungry baby from day 1. I'm not sure he has ever lasted over an hour between feeds in the day time, and so I feed him on demand. He sleeps very well at night, perhaps waking once or twice but my problem is the daytimes. I can't seem to get him into any sort of a a routine due to the constant feeding. The only thing I know for sure is that he wakes at 8am and will need a nap at 9am for An hour... the rest of the day I feel like anything can happen. He will also sleep well if out and about in the sling, but not well at all in the day in the crib. Any advice much appreciated x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mamma, if he will sleep well out and about in the sling but is hungry every hour at home that generally tells me that the frequent eating at home is a sleep and/or comfort issue, by a food issue (which i kind of would have guessed regardless). Soooo, once he can be comforted in other ways and learn to sleep on his own, things will be looking a lot different.

      Best,
      Rachel

      Delete
    2. By a food issue=not a food issue

      Delete
  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Rachel,

    I've tried really hard since my baby was born to develop good sleep habits as I'm someone that needs lots of sleep to function well. I've done the EAS cycle which for the most part has worked well (aside from growth spurts or when I needed to figure out how to increase awake time or how to extend naps). She goes to sleep well for naps, without crying, more often than not. I repeat "night-night" as we walk to the nursery, turning on the bathroom fan as we go, turning on her fan once in her room, then putting her in her swaddle me blanket, putting in a soother, holding her upright for a minute or so until I feel her relax, and putting her down in her crib. She goes to sleep rather quickly (and spits out her soother once she's asleep- when she was first born I always took out her soother before she fell asleep which is maybe why she spits it out to fall asleep now?). My trouble is getting her to sleep well during the night. She had her days and nights totally backwards when she was first born (her night was 6am to 6pm and then she wanted to feed from 6pm to 6am). I've slowly been able to move her night earlier, but she's 4 months now and I can't get her to consistently go to bed earlier than 11, sometimes it's even later. She typically eats every 2 hours starting after 5 pm until bedtime. For night I do the same routine as nap time, but also do a feed in there as well (I exclusively breastfeed). Her feed is the last thing before I put her down in her crib. I've tried to put her down earlier, but it just ends in her crying until 11 or midnight. Since her last growth spurt she's also wanted to wake up every 2 hours during the night (she was doing 7 hours followed by 3-5 hours earlier). I've stopped feeding her at each waking (I wait until I know she's totally awake, not just fussing), and sometimes just put her soother in, rock her a bit, and put her back down. Our night is typically anywhere from 10:30-midnight till 9:00-10:30am. How can I get her to go to bed earlier? I tried moving it up by 15 minutes each week but that's backfired once I got to 9pm (and now it's gone the other direction). She usually cries a lot to go to bed. Should I not feed her right before putting her to bed (she does usually fall asleep during the feed- it's still a full feed, or is sleeping when I burp her)? If I've gotten her to go to bed at 8:30-9, then she'll wake up at 10 or 10:30 and be fully awake wanting an awake time. She usually has a 2 hour nap 1.25-1.5 hours after she wakes in the morning, a second 1.5-2 hour nap 1.5-2 hours after her first nap, and then another 1ish nap around 5-7pm (somewhere in there). Any help would be greatly appreciated! I need my nights back! She's 4 months old now so I know I shouldn't have to be getting up so frequently and she shouldn't be staying up so late in the evenings (she's usually fussing from after supper until she finally goes down for night). Also, when I put her down for night (or nap), I don't pick her back up unless she's been crying for a very long time. I go back in intervals, shushing her, stroking her, putting in her soother or whatever else I can do to soothe her, and then walk away once she's calmed down.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Rachel, i would love your advice. My little guy is almost 15 weeks and is almost 17 pounds- so no worries on how he's growing. He goes to bed easily at 7pm. In general he has no problems going to sleep. I put him down when he shows me he's tired and don't really hear a peep. So that's great. Anyway he goes to sleep at 7pm and he started that himself. Then at 10 pm I dream feed him and he usually manages one breast and then I can't get him to eat any more. Well, ONE time he has slept till 4pm but generally wakes back up at 2 which gives me about 3.5 hours sleep. Lately he's even been waking up at 12:45 or just after 1am. The weird thing is that he doesn't cry right away. He lays there and kicks his legs and wriggles a round in his swaddle for a good 20 mins even before he finally starts to complain. At which point I feed him and he falls right back asleep. Sometimes he can sleep all the way till 5am from this point. I feed him and he goes back to sleep and then 7:30am is our wake up time. My frustration is the front part of the night. Waking up after just 2 or 3 hours sleep is rough and I would love for him to be able to sleep just till even 3 am and then back up at 7:30pm. Is this is a matter of waking him up fully at the dream feed and keeping him up for a bit like some suggest? Pushing his bed time later seems difficult because he's usually really tired by 7 and just falls asleep right away. Is there a situation where I wake him up at like 9? And keep him up and feed him? Or do I just grin and bear it? One time he actually slept from dream feed till 4am and I thought I was in Heaven. One. Time. Any suggestions would be so welcome. Oh, during the day he naps for about 2 hours, is awake for about 1.15 hrs and then naps again for two hours...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please ignore the pm mistakes. Everything is am! 😕 Also sorry I repeated the part about him sleeping til 4am. Obviously I loved it and obviously I have mushy brain

      Delete