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I have had four babies.

I have had babies who slept well, and babies who slept terribly.  I have been crazy sleep-deprived, and sleeping most nights.  And I have learned a lot about teaching babies to sleep.

The first thing you should know is that I generally subscribe to “Attachment Parenting.”  I don’t let my babies cry.  I co-sleep with them and enjoy every snuggly minute.  So, if you’re looking for someone to tell you how to get them to sleep in 3 – 4 hour stretches in their own rooms from day 1, or someone who advocates that “a little crying never hurt anyone,” you are not going to hear it from me.

If you are desperate for a decent night’s sleep but don’t believe in letting your baby cry, or don’t want to stop co-sleeping (or maybe want to start a slow and peaceful transition), I can help you.

What Does “Teaching a Baby to Sleep” Really Mean?

When most people hear that phrase, they think about cry-it-out (CIO).  That’s what “sleep training” is, right?

It doesn’t have to be.  When babies are born, the entire world is confusing to them.  They are not sure what is good and what is bad.  They are not sure what they need to get rid of bad feelings (like being hungry, wet, or tired).  They are not sure what is day or night, how to move from asleep to awake, or really how to make sense of anything around them.  These are unsettled newborns, and they need help learning about the world.  They need a loving parent to teach them what life is about and how to manage their most basic functions.

The more intense and loving work you do in teaching them to sleep in the early days and weeks, the more sleep you will both get later on.  This is entirely without crying, and actually involves quite a lot of sacrifice from you.

Your baby relies entirely on you to unlock the “secrets” of the world.  When my fourth was born, I could sense his confusion and his worry in the first couple of days.  He didn’t know what was going on or if the world was okay.  I held him almost constantly and nursed him every 10 – 15 minutes, whenever he wanted to.  By day 3 or so, he began to relax a bit more, nurse a bit less often, and seemed like he had decided the world was okay.  Still, his unsettled newborn behavior and fussiness continued until he was around a month old, at which point he relaxed a lot, started smiling, sleeping fairly well and consistently, and being a very “easy” baby.

Whereas with my other three, I breezed through the newborn period in a fog of uncertainty and sleep deprivation, this time I knew what I was doing — and it shows, in that I have my calmest baby yet.  Yes, that is partially just his personality, but this early “training” helps.

Goals of Training

Your goal is to first convince your baby that s/he can trust you completely to meet his/her needs.  Then, you need to convince your baby that the world is an overall good place.

Once you have done these things, you will teach the baby gently how to calm down and fall asleep in a variety of ways, and how to develop a general routine.  Babies thrive on routines.  I don’t believe in rigid schedules, and would never put a baby in bed because “the clock says so” even if baby doesn’t appear tired, or wake a baby for a feeding for the same reason.  We all ebb and flow and baby will be the same way.

The goal is not to make baby easier for you to deal with.  It’s not to teach baby to be independent.  It’s not to teach baby who’s boss.  It’s to gently, lovingly help your baby trust you and learn to manage himself, in time.  You manage him, carefully and joyfully, until he is ready to take over the job.

Baby Sleeping Phases

There are a few things you need to know, first, about how sleep happens.

Days 1 – 2: Baby sleeps almost all the time, unless he is eating.  It’s not uncommon for babies to be awake for 1 – 2 hours after birth, then sleep 12 straight hours.  Baby will not do this again for several weeks at least!

Day 3 – 1 month: Baby is very unsettled and may have trouble falling asleep, especially if he gets over tired.  Some days baby may sleep all day, some days baby may be rather wakeful.  Baby may be awake for stretches in the middle of the night and asleep all day.  There is very little pattern to baby’s sleep, and they usually wake and sleep randomly throughout the 24 hour period.

Months 1 – 4: Baby now has some sort of rough routine, and is much more settled and roughly predictable, but still needs help sleeping.  This is a crucial period for teaching baby to sleep in a more “traditional” sense (though still without crying).

Month 4 – 12: Baby is now capable of “sleeping through the night,” which means a 5 – 6 hour stretch, not 12 hours!  Baby should also take 1 – 3 somewhat regular naps each day.  At some point in here, some babies may begin to sleep 10 – 12 hours a night; others won’t until age 2 or 3.

Ages 1 – 2: Toddlers go from still unpredictable and often having interrupted sleep from teething, colds, etc. to sleeping pretty consistently and often (but not always) 10 – 12 hours through the night, plus one 1 – 3 hour nap in the afternoon.

Knowing what to expect will help you know how to help — and also help you not to feel frustrated when your baby doesn’t sleep as you wish!

How to Teach Baby to Sleep

The nitty gritty!  How do you help your baby to learn to sleep?  Ideally you would be reading this before your baby arrives.  If not, see below….

The Early Days

Your only job is to hold your baby and respond to his/her every whim.  Baby is not capable of being spoiled or demanding anything that isn’t a need at this age.  Hold your baby constantly, and baby will root when he is hungry, squirm when he is wet, and fuss a bit, then sleep when he is tired.  Mostly, baby will sleep.  Your body will regulate his temperature, breathing, heart rate, and more.  Your baby’s nursing and also oxytocin released by snuggling skin-to-skin will contract your uterus, helping you heal faster.  Just.hold.the.baby.  You shouldn’t be up and about now anyway, let everyone else take care of food, dishes, etc. and let them wait on you hand and foot.

The First Month

Once those first few days are over, and things are starting to feel a little more normal, and you’re stronger, and baby is generally convinced the world is an okay place and you will meet his needs, do more of the same: hold him.  A lot.  But, start to vary the tactics that you use to help him fall asleep.  If he’s starting to show signs of tiredness (yawning, stretching, not making eye contact/glazed eyes, fussing), then quickly check or change his diaper, make sure his clothes are comfortable, and feed him if he needs it.  A comfortable baby sleeps far better than one who is not.

During the day, keep windows open or lights on, and at night, keep lights off.  The lights signal the baby’s natural rhythms and teach day vs. night.

Allow the baby to fall asleep in a number of different ways:

  • At your breast
  • In your arms, with a pacifier
  • In your arms, without a pacifier
  • In a swing or other “curled” place, with and without a pacifier
  • In someone else’s arms (Dad, Grandma, older siblings)
  • In a bed or “flat” place (can use a swaddle blanket if desired)

Figure out if your baby is a back or tummy sleeper.  I have had two of each.  Place the baby in the position in which he is most comfortable.  Be smart and don’t add a bunch of loose blankets or sheets if baby is on his tummy (or ever).

Sometimes, let the baby sleep on or with you.  Sometimes, put the baby down to sleep.  Sometimes, wear the baby in a carrier while sleeping.  The idea is to show the baby gently that there are lots of ways to fall asleep.

This lesson is a good one to try when the baby is just starting to feel tired.  But, sometimes you will miss the early cues.  Sometimes you will see them, but baby is uncomfortable for another reason and you will still miss that window.  Whatever the reason, baby becomes overtired and very unhappy, and cannot seem to calm down enough to fall asleep.  There are a few things you can do at this point.

First make sure you have checked all sources of discomfort:

  • Hungry (some babies will not sleep without that last 1/2 oz.)
  • Hot/cold (go for around 70 degrees)
  • Clothes scratchy or constricting
  • Tummy upset/gassy
  • Wet (babies pee a lot at this age, sometimes every 20 – 30 minutes, and some are very upset by feeling wet)
  • Pain (weird things can happen, like a loose thread getting wrapped around a toe or diaper being on too tight, so check)
Once you have determined that all of these issues are solved, try these.

Bounce and Pat

Hold the baby over your shoulder, curled against you.  Make sure baby is well-fed, changed, not in pain, etc.  Bounce the baby gently but quickly as you pat his back.  Some babies like to have a small blanket wrapped around them, especially if it’s cooler.  Babies don’t like to be too cool or too hot.  Keep it going constantly until baby relaxes, quiets, and begins to sleep.  Slow down once you are sure baby is asleep but keep patting.  Then stop patting.  Then just snuggle.  Do not move the baby until s/he is in a sound sleep, or you will have to start over.

Swaddle, Swing, Suck

I didn’t make this up, I got it from Dr. Harvey Karp’s “The Happiest Baby on the Block.”  You can read the book to find out his theories on colic, sleep, and so on.  To help an overtired baby fall asleep, wrap the baby tightly so he can’t flail arms or legs (this will probably make the baby really mad at first, fighting to get his arms loose and arching back — ignore this, it’s part of being overtired).  Offer a finger or pacifier to suck, if baby will take it.  Stand up and put baby on his side, curled against your body.  Lean over him and start saying “shhh” very loudly in his ear, continuously.  Then start to swing your body back and forth in small, rapid circles.  The baby should be tightly curled against you, so this will not hurt him.  At first the baby may fight, but will slowly quiet down and begin to relax.  Keep doing it until baby’s body has been relaxed for awhile.  Stop or slow one thing at a time, starting again if baby begins to wake.  This will probably take 5 – 10 minutes to work.

Basically, try different combinations of cuddling, rhythmic movement, sucking (fingers, breast, pacifier), swaddling, white noise, or positioning until baby calms down.  Sometimes reclining and setting the baby facing out on my lap worked.  Try different things until you find what your baby likes best.

If you can get through these few weeks and help the baby fall asleep, you will be well-set for the next phase.  Note that I said nothing about scheduling in this time frame.  Your only goals are to notice the baby’s tiredness signs and help him figure out how to get from awake to asleep in different ways.  That’s it.

Months 1 – 4

If you have done your job, your baby is more settled in the world, adjusted to life, and can fall asleep in a variety of ways.  This gives you a good framework for the next step.  If you have not done all the things I outlined above, it may be that your baby sleeps “fine” until towards the end of this period, at which time he begins to wake frequently and sleep much less.  This is what babies seem to do when they do not know how to fall asleep, yet they are older and aware of the world around them and are distracted by it. (My second baby did this!)

Starting a bedtime routine would be a good idea at this age, if you haven’t.  Keep it simple, they are still little!  Ours at this age basically consists of changing into PJs and nursing while rocking or lying down (which we don’t usually do at other times of day; I typically just sit on a couch).    Look for signs of tiredness and move towards a bit of a routine.  It is still very common for babies to nap sporadically, in 20 – 40 min. stretches throughout the day.  This will change usually by 6 months.

You can help encourage longer stretches by taking the baby up to “bed” when you see signs of tiredness, checking diaper and nursing before laying him/her down.  It is fine to nurse the baby all the way to sleep now if s/he prefers.  Babies will sleep better — longer and more soundly — if put to bed, instead of staying downstairs in the chaos of the home or in your arms.  You will start to see a pattern emerge, but it won’t be extremely steady yet.

At bedtime you will probably see a longer stretch emerging by the end of this time — baby may go to bed at 8 or 9 and sleep until 1 or 2 before needing a feeding.  Some will then sleep another long stretch, and some will need to be fed every two hours, and many will go between the two.  But, you should be getting some decent sleep.

Since we co-sleep, we usually choose to put the baby to bed in a bassinet next to our bed to start the night, and baby joins me when he wakes the first time.  Occasionally he goes back into his bassinet, if I need to get another child or use the bathroom or if he seems uncomfortable (but isn’t wet/hungry).

Baby may sleep in later than other kids, if you have older ones.  My older ones are usually up around 7, but the littlest one sleeps until 8 or 9.  I put him back in his bed when the other kids get up.

Months 4 – 12

By now you should have some semblance of a routine.  If not, go back and start with the newborn tips again.  Teach your baby that, first, he can trust you to meet his needs.  Help him learn a variety of ways to fall asleep on his own.  You may need to enlist Daddy’s help here.  We struggled with our second baby (when my first baby was born I didn’t have any friends locally yet, and she was easy, so all I did was stay at home and respond to her cues) because I took him on the go and never created any sort of routine or helped him learn to sleep at all.  That created a nightmare situation where he woke every 40 minutes, all night long, for almost a year, and never really took naps except in the swing or a carrier.  We still got him in his own room and sleeping fairly well by 18 months and great by age 2.

So, there is hope.  If you say “We didn’t know and now my baby has terrible habits!” you can break them, gently and without crying.  We did a multi-step plan that involved having baby fall asleep on Daddy’s lap, then next to Daddy, then across the room from Daddy, then on his own, over several nights (weeks).  But it worked.  Daddy fell asleep some nights laying on the floor in front of the crib, but it worked.  What he needed was to know it was okay to fall asleep and someone was there.

If baby is on the younger side (much under 9/10 months), go back and spend a few days being extra responsive, noting early signs of tiredness (squirming, slight fussing, yawning, eye-rubbing) and taking baby to rock/nurse and then laying him down.  Try a swing, a pacifier, a swaddle, darkened room, whatever will work.  Re-teach baby that sleeping is good and sleeping alone sometimes is okay too.  Treat baby like a newborn again.

If baby is older, try the other method (multi-step mentioned above) and you may have to get a little “tough” if you are ready.  Our second son did cry a little bit, but never alone.  A parent was in the room, soothing him, but would not get him out of his bed.  It only took three nights of that.  It felt so mean and I hated every minute, but he was never alone.  Daddy would sit in a chair and talk quietly to him, pat his back, etc. but would not get him up.  (He was over a year when that happened.)  He was pretty stubborn though — our oldest son never cried as long as there was a parent in the room.  He would pop up briefly to check that someone was still there, and if so, would lay himself back down, satisfied.  Depending on the personality of the kid, they may or may not cry at this method.

It’s important to know that many babies have a “sleep regression” around 9 months.  They are going through a growth spurt, teething, making physical and mental developmental leaps, and more.  It’s a time to hold them close and help them through it — it’s hard on them.  If you are responsive, they will begin sleeping better again in a few weeks.

 

Years 1 – 2

Finally, some decent sleep!  Even if the toddler is not sleeping through the night, you will have something predictable.  Hopefully. :)  If not, see above and try the “older baby” trick.  We found it was best for us to transition from co-sleeping to separate rooms around the 1-year mark.  At that point, they were waking up more than they needed to just because we were all disturbing each other.  They did not “need” much at a year old, maybe 1 – 2 times per night if that.

Yes, they may still need to wake at night.  I continue to feed my babies on demand until about 18 months, both nursing and food.  We offered our boys plain yogurt as a bedtime snack many, many times between 12 and 18 months.  This is an age of massive physical and mental development!

We found it was very important to keep bedtime consistent in many ways during this period of time, in order to get the best sleep.  Here is what we typically did:

  • Yogurt for a snack — as much as baby wanted/would take
  • Soft PJs, not too warm (my kids like to sleep in sweat pants and t-shirts and refuse sleepers after a certain age)
  • Room at around 70 degrees (add fan in the summer and small heater in the winter if needed)
  • White noise (to drown out siblings)
  • Soft sheets (has to be jersey knit or flannel — once Jacob woke over and over and over until I changed the sheet)
  • Teething tea (catnip + clove — helps him relax and relieves teething pain)
  • Rocking/nursing/snuggling in the bedroom
  • Consistent routine (saying good night to each older sibling first, always around 8 PM)
  • A cup of water (mine wake up thirsty if we don’t leave one with them, so we always do)

These helped us to get decent sleep.  If any of these was slightly off — a little hungry, a little too warm or cold, etc. then he’d wake up frequently (every 40 – 60 minutes).  If he was sick he’d end up in bed with my husband while I slept on the couch, especially once I was fairly pregnant.

The teething tea was a great discovery for us.  It eliminated most of the waking.  The remaining waking has usually been for a new diaper.  My babies do not sleep with wet diapers, typically — if they can feel it *at all* they will wake and ask for a new one.  Jacob (almost 2) still wakes a few nights a week, once, calling “Da! Help!”

We also occasionally use magnesium lotion on them.  A few times, especially around growth spurts, if I had tried everything on the list above and Jacob was still waking frequently, I put magnesium lotion on him and he would sleep more soundly almost immediately.  It also helped my oldest son with growing pains, and me with minor insomnia.

I have to say that I believe that there is always a reason why babies cry, even if we don’t know what it is yet.  I tried CIO a couple of times with both my older two (they never did fall asleep and I eventually went in), but I always discovered there was something going on.  It was sometimes as simple as a wet diaper, and other times as complicated as undiscovered food allergies.  I always realized later there was a reason.

Babies from day 1 are communicating with you as eagerly as they can.  Even now, with Nathan just shy of 12 weeks, I know he is communicating.  When he is on my lap and squirming and frowning/smiling earnestly, he is trying to tell me he needs something without crying.  If I don’t “listen” then he will eventually cry.  It seems “sudden” but it’s not — he’s crying in frustration because his message wasn’t understood!  Babies are so smart and they will guide you to what they need if you listen, and you can show them it’s okay and that they can trust you.  When your bond is solid, everyone will sleep!

By the time our babies are 2, they wake a few nights a week, usually very early (by 11 or so) or very late (4 – 5 AM) for a diaper change, but otherwise sleep through.  When they are potty trained, they sleep through unless something’s wrong (if they’re sick or something).  They go to bed easily and peacefully for both nap and night with no fight from several months old, too.  It’s not perfect, but no one’s exhausted!

This is getting very long!  I can’t cover absolutely everything here.  Basically, stay responsive but stay consistent as well, keep them comfortable, and gently help them to manage themselves.

If you have specific questions I can try to answer in the comments. :)

How did you teach your baby to sleep?


This is the writings of:

Kate is wife to Ben and mommy to Bekah (6.5), Daniel (5), Jacob (3), and Nathan (1.5). She is passionate about God, health, and food. She has written 7 cookbooks and a popular book entitled A Practical Guide to Children's Health. She also recently released Healing With God's Earthly Gifts: Natural and Herbal Remedies, which teaches people to use natural remedies to keep their families healthy. When she's not blogging, she's in the kitchen, sewing, or homeschooling her children.

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33 Comments

  1. My 2 month old goes to sleep in all the ways you mentioned except the “flat” space. I’ve tried to be aware of his cues, be sure all his needs are met, & I still can’t get him to stay in his crib or co-sleeper & fall asleep. Because I have 3 other children, I’m guilty of just putting him in his swing when he wont fall asleep flat because he always falls asleep in there, even when overly tired (which is what happens when I’ve let him try to fall asleep flat. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • She might be a tummy sleeper or need a swaddle blanket to feel more comfortable on a flat surface. If neither of those work, wait a few weeks and try flat again. If she can fall asleep in many other positions, I wouldn’t worry too much.

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  2. This is great information! Our first baby is 6 weeks old, and so far is an amazing sleeper, thankfully. We’ve experienced great results from using these same methods. I can tell she becomes more content and secure by the day as we respond to her needs. It’s great to hear from an experienced mom that responding gently to a baby’s needs, holding them a lot, not letting them cry, etc will really pay off in the long run (and won’t spoil them!).

    I noticed you said two of your babies were tummy sleepers. I’m just curious what your thoughts are on tummy sleeping and SIDS? So far, I only let my baby sleep on her tummy if she’s sleeping on me, because I’ve been terrified by all this talk about tummy sleeping being linked to SIDS. I noticed, though, that she sleeps wonderfully that way….her best nap of the day is the one she takes with me.

    Reply

    • As long as they are on firm mattresses with no loose blankets, I don’t worry about tummy sleeping. I was scared, yes, when I realized I had my first tummy sleeper (my second baby). I checked on him a lot. But there are risks to back sleeping too — choking on spit up, for example (which actually happened to a friend’s baby recently; thankfully she happened to wake up and pick up the baby in time!). As long as you are smart about it, it really is not a problem. A bassinet designed for her, no bumpers, open sides, no loose sheets or blankets, firm mattress, and tummy sleeping should be just fine.

      Reply

    • Please look up http://www.mommypotamus.com report on SIDS and BabeSafe mattress covers. Both my boys have loved their tummies, and I know they’re safe because I have wrapped the mattress. I spoke to a New Zealander and she concurred with the company, the research, and the results!

      Reply

  3. I taught all my babies to sleep by 12 weeks old, and I’m NOT an AP parent, but I don’t believe in letting them cry it out, either. I have been pondering a blog post on exactly I how I did that for a while now. I think I’ll do it.

    Reply

  4. I have a 5 month old. She goes to bed at night just fine, but naps are aweful. If I take a nap with her its not so bad. If I respond to the first signs of tiredness or wait until she is over tired she seems to fight falling asleep (I make sure clothing is comfortable, new diaper, etc.). I normally let her sleep on me because as soon as I move her she is wide awake. If I happen to be able to get her to lay down she is awake in 10 minutes and the whole process starts over again and half the time she won’t fall asleep again. I don’t know how to help her want to nap.

    Reply

    • Would she prefer a different type of surface? A swing as opposed to a flat surface? Or nap better on her tummy than her back? Or in a swaddle? Any of these can help her stay asleep longer during the day. Room-darkening curtains and a mini-bedtime routine may help as well at nap time. With anything you try, give it a week or so so that she can adapt before deciding it doesn’t work.

      Reply

  5. Thank you for these tips! Mommypotamus has a couple good posts about SIDS and their relation to mattresses and vaccines. I have heard that the back to sleep campaign started when they required mattresses to be sprayed with toxic flame retardants. Sensitive babies on their tummies were/are at risk of their neurologic system being shut down by the toxins. I’m not worried about SIDS anymore, but we will get a mattress without flame retardants when we get a bed for our daughter.

    Reply

  6. My son just turned 6 months old and still wakes often during the night, especially towards morning. He usually wakes every hour starting at 4. He usually goes down fairly easily between 7-8 for bedtime but that is the only time it’s easy. Naps are awful. He wakes up after 40 minutes (sometimes only 20) and I can tell that he’s still tired but he has a lot of trouble staying asleep or going back to sleep. The other main issue is that we are still tied to the swaddle. He won’t sleep without one of the the swaddle devices but he also breaks out of them and wakes himself up. We tried weaning him by leaving one arm out but he just wakes himself with that arm. I’m eager to get him out of the swaddle because we live in Florida and he’s just so hot in there. Also, I’d like for him to be able to resettle himself when he’s uncomfortable (like turning over onto his stomach or sucking his thumb or grabbing the paci) which he can’t do when swaddled. Any tips?

    Reply

    • At 4am, after having gone to bed at 7-8pm, he may have had “enough sleep” by that point and is ready to wake for a while. 8-9 hours is a good block of sleep! Are you keeping the sleep environment as dark as possible and minimizing distractions? Do you have white noise in the room? 6 month olds are also quite nosy and are afraid they might “miss something” if they sleep :) And yes, by that age it is difficult to keep them in a swaddle due to size and strength. Does he cry or is he just restless? If just restless, make sure he can get to his pacifier and ride it out for a few minutes. Maybe try keeping him up a little later in the evening so he will sleep later than 4am? Thse are things that worked for us with my middle kiddo… he was a very restless sleeper until about 8-9 months and now at age 6 is the BEST sleeper in the house.

      Reply

    • Have you tried on of those swaddle zipper things? I think they are called sleeper sacks?

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  7. What an excellent article!! Thank you! I WISH I had read this before my oldest was born (I have 4 and one on the way)… this is what I have slowly learnt through finally listening to my instinct and what works and what doesn’t, but wow, so wonderfully summarised!

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  8. Thank you so much! I’m not a parent yet, but am definitely bookmarking this page for the future–what a load of wonderfully helpful information in one spot!

    Reply

  9. I co-sleep with my 4.5 month old and nurse lying down through the night. He’s started to “demand” i nurse him laying down during various times during the day (especially when he’s over tired/teething/overstimulated etc.) by arching back and screaming when I try to nurse him in the cradle hold. Am I causing a problem by doing what he wants? He won’t nap more than 30 min at a time during the day if I’m not holding him, laying with him or have him in the Moby…

    Reply

    • A lot of babies that age don’t nap long, whether worn/carried or not. By 6 months or so they usually start to learn to sleep on their own if you gently encourage it. Of course, since he will nap lying down for a short time, you can always keep setting him down for those 20 – 30 min. naps and then have him nap every couple of hours. Many of mine did this for months, finally settling into a more normal 2-hour nap pattern somewhere around 6 months. It’s not a big deal, even though it might be difficult for you to get anything done! And when overtired or upset it’s always good to snuggle. :)

      Reply

  10. My children (3 yo, 12 mos, and #3 due Oct 2013) are almost the same. We don’t co-sleep but for first 4-6 months they sleep in bassinet/rocknplay next to my bed. They wake, change & breastfeed 2-3 hours. We then put them in crib in their room and after a month they start to sleep 3-4 hours at time, barring teething. Our routine: (bath 2-3x/week, diaper change, jammies, bible story, prayer, saying nigh-night, and then fall asleep nursing.) We don’t exactly sleep through the night even at 12 months, but she sleeps most of the night. My kids are grazers when they nurse, so they usually are just are wet (cloth diapers) and want some milk- then within 10 minutes they are back asleep. At 12 mos, she only wakes once most nights. Works for us, no crying out. I think a few years with lack of sleep are worth the trade of the time spent with my babies. They grow up too fast! PS- Sleep sacks or swaddlers (like the miracle blanket) depending on age are great for those colder months.

    Reply

    • Heather – it’s comforting to read what you wrote because our routine and baby’s habits are EXACTLY like yours. My 6 month old wakes twice at night and only wants to be changed and nursed back to sleep. A lot of “sleep trainers” will say to not feed them to sleep, but it’s so natural for both of us and is the time when she gets her best feeds since she’s so distracted during the day. I usually fall asleep feeding her, then put her back in her crib when I wake up. Some nights are worse than others, but I would never be able to listen to my baby scream because she just wants comfort (or food) in the middle of the night. Pretty soon we’ll be dragging their tired teenager selves out of bed! By the way, we also LOVE the miracle blanket! A good transition sack after the swaddle or miracle blanket is called the Zipadee-Zip.

      Reply

  11. I am trying to night wean my 10 months old since what i see is that he will drink only 3 oz of breast mill in the midle of the night and then in the morning he will not have a bottle he may take 2 oz in the morning so I am assuming he is not really hungry at night… What is your opinion? But in the last two nights he would be awake for an hour or two. We alda started to letting him sleep on his own on the crib and i am not sure if this is the reason he is waking up and not wating to go back to sleep. I feel confuse now.

    Reply

  12. Is it safe to give the tea and magnesium lotion to a 13 month old? Thanks!

    Reply

  13. I need help! My 14mo DS has slept in our bed since birth but now we are trying to transition him to sleeping the night in his room. Here is our story: I just found out we are expecting #2 so with my growing belly and a growing toddler we are all not going to be comfortable for long. We want to get him in his room well before baby comes so he does not feel pushed out. I did Dr. Gordon’s night weaning method with him at 12 months so he does not nurse between 11pm & 6am. Right now we nurse down about 7:30 in a rocker in his room and once asleep I set him in his crib. (He also goes down in his crib for nap) When he wakes about 9:30 he gets nursed down again and back in the crib. He will wake again between 11pm/12am and at that point comes into bed with his dad & I and will go down with a paci. He usually wakes again about 3/4am and goes down with a paci. At 5:30/6am when he wakes we nurse and will nurse again on demand until we are up for the day. 3 nights ago when he woke at 1am I went into his room and rocked for 20 minutes waiting for him to go back down, he would not fall asleep. It was like he knew at that hour I should be bringing him into bed with us and he would not fall asleep until I brought him to bed. The next night I sent hubby in. He rocked baby about 45 minutes and he would not fall asleep for us. I finally went in, got DS and got in his crib with him and he went down with his paci with me next to him. Last night when he woke I tried to get in his bed with him again but he would not fall asleep in there. I got out to rock him and he would not fall asleep. I have not offered to nurse him back to sleep for fear he will resort back to nursing every 45 minutes all night long and me having to walk across the hall to accommodate him… Finally after 2 hours last night of him not sleeping with me in the crib and not letting me rock him to sleep (and lots of screaming and crying) I brought him into bed with his dad and I… I need to know how to get him to sleep in his bed! I think he can not fall asleep on his own since we have always rocked him down and he has always slept in bed with us… Is he not ready? Should I not force it? Please help!

    Reply

  14. Thank you so much for putting this out there. I am so glad that there is someone out there who has a similar point of view as my husband and I, both of our families are not supportive of many of our parenting decisions. Our son is ten months old and he co-sleeps with us at night. He has a hard time going to sleep any other way except when I am feeding him our when we are in the car. Occasionally he will fall asleep in my or (or even less often) my husbands arms. We have never been able to put him down and just have him fall asleep. I have noticed that he as well as us are starting to get woken up in the middle of the night for no reason. What should we do now? Lol. Thank you so much again for having this information it there.

    Reply

    • Hi Lynzi,

      10 months is a rough age. They are starting to become mobile and learn so many new skills, plus teething too. It’s not uncommon to see some sleep regression now. Feed him lots before bed (lots of nursing, or offer foods like plain yogurt if he has had them already). Offer something to help teething. Catnip tea is a great remedy to help relax him and may help teething. Mostly, lots of patience and in a few months things will be different!

      Reply

  15. My 18 month old is still sleeping in our bed and I would really like to start transitioning her to her own bed. We tried in the past but she despises the crib. I took off one side to make it a toddler bed and sometimes she will play in there with her dolls but that is about it. Can you recommend any gentle ways to get her used to the idea of sleeping in her bed? She still nurses during the night but I think its only for comfort and only because she can smell me or she rolls on me and half wakes. She’s a mostly decent sleeper but we wake each other a lot when we both move around. Her crib is still in our room because I thought that might make the transition easier but now I’m not so sure.

    Reply

    • Hi Elise,

      Can your husband get involved? We always have Daddy do bed time as they get older. It also helps my babies, at that age, to sleep better if they are fed a lot before bed. We usually offer yogurt or something like that, as much as they want. We also have a crib or pack-n-play right next to the bed so they have their own space but are near us, and they go back and forth between that and our bed for awhile, before we transition to their own room. I hope that helps!

      Reply

  16. Hi! I’m so glad that you touched on this topic! My 10 month old sleep in a crib in our room and is still EBF (he’s not ready for solids). During the night, he still wakes up 3 times and I nurse him. He’s a great little mapper and goes to sleep well on his own. I’m going back to work soon and I worry about getting up so often to nurse. Do you think it would be best to continue nursing on demand? Or could I try and cut 1 or 2 out? Will he understand if I nurse him at 11pm and 4pm, but cut out the 2pm feed?

    Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Hi Hannelle,

      At that age, I would probably try to feed him extra in the evenings before bed (solids and/or nursing) so that he doesn’t “need” the middle of the night feed — he may even drop it on his own! My 14 month old will sleep a 4 – 5 hour stretch if I give him enough for dinner.

      Reply

  17. Hi, thanks for this great article, t’s the reassuring read that I needed. My 14m.o sleeps great for the first 4 hours or so (while I’m still up catching up on housework!) and then wakes every hour or two while in bed with me to breast feed back to sleep. Sometimes she can be wide awake for 1-3 hours during this time! I’m exhausted, but feel that there is something unsettling her during this last part of the night. I’d really like to try your teething tea and the magnisim lotion but I can’t find them via the links (too old?). Also I’m in New Zealand … Thanks so much

    Reply

  18. On number 5 (he is almost 5 mths) and this is so spot on!!! :)

    Reply

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