If you’re ready to start sleep training your baby and want a no fuss approach to better nights, this will give it to you.
Apparently baby feeding habits are compared to fishes.
One of mine was what they called a “barracuda”… he’d circle around and around and finally latch on and feed. It took a bit of time.
Know how babies take a few months to learn to walk? From rocking, to commando crawling, to crawling, to pushing up, to scooting, to WALKING.
Life skills are not automatic.
Even things our body will naturally do take learning and practice. Babies must practice using a spoon or eating solids. They babble before they talk and don’t get me started about reading… that life skill takes a while too.
So what is my point?
My point is I’m sick to death of strung out mothers who are actually literally crazy from so many frequent night wakings being given a guilt trip for wanting to try sleep training.
One of my dearest friends was rocked to sleep until she was nine years old.
To this day, she suffers from sleep issues and at times insomnia.
Sleep – like food – is a need.
Something I hear often is that parents don’t want to sleep train because baby might cry and my response is usually: isn’t baby already crying and overtired and miserable?
If not… you wouldn’t be here!
But the good news is this: often baby will simply learn to sleep without fussing and crying.
And it doesn’t have to take months. Or even weeks. Often, it’s just days.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
The No-Fuss Guide To Sleep Training
Sleep training doesn’t have to be awful.
In fact, it’s one of those things that seems like a better and better and better idea the more you get into it. All of a sudden, baby is sleeping! Mama is sleeping! Baby wakes up happy! Mama wakes up happy!
I’m not making this stuff up.
So let’s get into it… the no-fuss guide to sleep training.
One of the biggest issues moms and babies are having with sleep is this: they think “getting baby tired” will help them sleep.
Wrong on all counts.
When a baby is tired – or overtired – they have trouble sleeping. Then, if they do conk out quickly, they’ll have trouble transitioning through sleep cycles and staying asleep.
Result: poor frantic sleep.
The best thing to do is put baby to bed before they’re overtired. Even if they have to lie in bed for a few minutes settling down staring off at the wall.
This is much better than trying to get a screaming exhausted baby to sleep. If your baby has witching hours, definitely pay attention to this.
Read: The Biggest Baby Sleep Myth That Backfires Every Time
Help prepare your kids for life, one skill at a time. Simple, easy skills every month!Learn More
Get A Routine, Stat!
The best way to have a happy baby who eats and rests well is to have a routine.
Good luck trying to find some type of research that backs up the idea that lack of routine is better. You don’t have to be ruled by a clock, but babies do need predictable rhythms that help them settle into a routine.
Here are some things that should be happening with regularly and predictability in your baby’s life.
You will be 100% in love with the benefits of routine, even if you are not naturally a routine oriented person.
It is simply night and day.
- Wake up time | Yes, you can basically set your baby’s wake up time because they will simply get used to it and wake up hungry at the time you normally feed them.
- Feeding times | Of course, you always feed a hungry baby. The key is to feed baby regularly so that baby will not have to cry to be fed. By feeding baby at routine times they will simply wake up and be ready to feed then. (It’s like when you used to get hungry at noon because that was when you had lunch break!)
- Nap times | Within reason, put your baby down for naps at regular times. They’ll get tired at these times and then sleep longer because of it.
- Bed time | Choose a bedtime that makes sense for your family and doesn’t leave baby overtired. Then keep it consistent.
Swaddle If You Can
If you are at the hospital right now with your newborn baby… Do Not Stop Swaddling.
Everyone else, if baby will be swaddled and not scream bloody murder about it: keep swaddling until baby can roll over.
Swaddling is a great sleep association and helps baby feel the snugness they were used to when inside the womb. Swaddling baby as part of a wind-down routine goes a long way towards helping baby settle into a nice nap or evening rest.
I personally like swaddles that open at the bottom so – at night – you can change baby’s diaper without fully opening the swaddle. That way you’re creating this association.
Zips from the bottom, stretchy yet snug, and has swaddle weaning arm holes built in.Learn More
Also, if your baby is under the 3 month mark swaddling will prevent the startle reflex from waking your baby right out of a deep sleep.
This is important if you’re trying to help baby sleep longer stretches or power through a sleep regression.
Read: 4 Tips For Swaddling Baby At Night
Don’t Wait For Cues, Lead The Way
I’ve had 5 babies and they rarely cried at all that first year.
This is not because I am a baby whisperer (or maybe I am) but because I met their needs in such a way they didn’t need to cry to get what they wanted.
I anticipated their needs before they were forced to cry out.
➡️ Many people say that routines and schedules and “sleep training” are bad for baby because you don’t go with baby’s flow… but to that I say… um no.
When you create a flow that meets all of babies needs in a timely and loving manner, you end up with a happy baby who basically never cries because… there’s simply no reason to.
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More
Rule Out The Outliers
If you’ve already got a baby who isn’t sleeping well, or you want to buckle down and do some serious sleep training, first you’ll want to make sure nothing else is going on to cause baby discomfort.
Here are some things that screw up baby’s sleep:
- Hunger | If milk supply is low or baby isn’t having enough solids (or is ready to have solids but isn’t having any) they simply won’t sleep well. The End.
- Teething | This causes pain for little ones and you can’t begin sleep training when they’re in pain. In fact, teething can even put a kink in babies who have previously been sleeping well.
- Ear aches or other illnesses | If baby is sick they won’t sleep well. If their throat hurts, they won’t sleep well. If their tummy hurts they won’t sleep well.
Before I’d even suggest beginning to sleep train I’d rule out the issues above so you can go forth confidently knowing that sleep training will be a gift for your child.
Read: Curious Behaviors That Come With Teething
Bedtime Routine: Focus On It!
Bedtime is a vulnerable time for baby.
That’s why it’s so important to create a baby bedtime routine that helps babies feel safe, loved, and physically ready for sleep.
You want to choose a time that allows you ample bonding and calm down time, but that isn’t so late baby gets overtired.
We already covered this, but it’s so important I want to say it again: bedtime does need to be so late baby is exhausted.
Here is a guide to optimal baby sleep times if you need it.
- Choose a few things to do with baby that help calm them down.
- Lights low, away from crazy hustle and bustle of family life
- Put in positive sleep associations, NOT sleep props (read more on that below)
Cluster If You Must
The best way to make sure baby sleeps longer stretches at night is to make sure they’ve had lots of milk (and/or solids) during the day.
If you’ve gotta cluster feed for the few hours before bedtime, go for it. Babies will keep waking up at night to feed if they don’t get enough milk during the day.
That’s just the way it is. If you find baby seems to wake up seriously hungry in the night, try adding in a few cluster feeds just before bed to help baby sleep a longer stretch.
The key to cluster feeding is to do it during the day, NOT at night!
If you’re feeding your baby every hour or two at night then you’re cluster feeding at night. Start doing it during the day and baby will sleep longer stretches.
Read: Cluster Feeding Newborns: Do’s, Don’ts & How To Not Do It All Night
Avoid Sleep Props
The crux of sleep training really is this: removing sleep props so baby can go to sleep (and stay asleep) on his or her own.
That’s really what it boils down to. Setting the scene so baby doesn’t need you to jump through hoops and sit them on top of the dryer so they can be tricked into sleeping then – only to find – in 45 minutes you’ve gotta do it again.
It’s easy enough to get into a situation like that, and it’ll require some work to get out of it.
Read: Common Habits That Help & Harm Baby Sleep
So if you’re a mama ready for sleep training…
I want to encourage you.
You may be a tired exhausted mama right now.
You may feel like there’s no way your baby is going to be able to take good naps, nevermind sleeping all night.
And I want to tell you that is just not true. Babies were made to sleep and – when you’ve helped teach them how – they will simply do it.
You don’t have to sit up all night in a chair with them.
And you don’t have to feed them every hour on the hour all night.
You simply have to set them up for success by helping them learn healthy sleep habits.
The pacifier that stays in baby’s mouth, is easy to find at night, and helps baby settle.Learn More
I was considering kind of Gentle CIO when I discovered there are no-CIO method that works perfectly too! I think it is much better to not use controlled crying at all if it is possible. I am very grateful I’ve found this Hold With Love method online – it is totally without CIO. I though it may take longer that way but it is not even the case – worked in 3 nights for us. I find it just perfect! Maybe you’d be interested too? That’s the book I’ve found: https://www.parental-love.com/shop/baby-sleep-training
You’re amazing and I love you! Is that weird to say to someone I don’t actually know? But it’s true! Your blog has changed my life, my husband’s life, and my 3 month old baby’s life as well. She was NOT a sleeper and the doctor said she had colic, but come to find out she was just an extremely overtired baby who would stay awake for 14 hours straight if I let her (not exaggerating there). Now she is on a wonderful routine that we applied using your sleep course, and I have done away with the nursing sleep prop that was so evident. She is napping now and I do not know what to do with myself because she is actually sleeping! Haha. We have a dream (if God is willing!) to have 4-5 kids close in age, so your blog brings me much hope that this can be done and done well. Lord bless you for bringing me such timely wisdom, Rachel! He is a good, good Father.
I am a first time mom to a beautiful 10 week old baby boy. Unfortunately he was in the NICU for a few weeks after birth though he was a full term baby. Looking back now I can see that when he finally came home from the hospital I didn’t know what I was doing when it came to baby sleep. He wouldn’t sleep when I would put him in his bed and then he would get overly tired and fussy especially in the evenings so I would bounce and rock and shush him for what felt like hours until he was finally asleep and then try to put him in his bed or the baby swing or just hold him while he slept. I did whatever I could do to just get him to sleep and stay asleep so I didn’t lose my sanity. Now I know that I have created sleep props.
My husband and I are working on teaching him to go to sleep by himself in his bed at night time and after he has that down I plan to tackle naps. I had tried a week or so ago to let him cry in his bed at nap time but he wouldn’t ever nap then and became a cranky mess by the end of the day. My question is if I let him cry it out at nap time do I do it for every nap even if he cries for the whole time he is supposed to be sleeping and then becomes overly tired? He is a fighter when it comes to sleep.
I have a 15 month old that still sleeps in bed with me. I just can’t get her to sleep in her crib for longer than a few hours. She wakes and will cry and scream until she’s brought back to bed with me. I’ve tried crying it out many times , over the past 8 months, for naps and bedtime, and even after an hour she will only have escalated in her screaming fit. I can’t even leave her with anyone for longer than 2-3 hours once evening time comes. She only wants me at bedtime. Do you have a sleep solution for a baby at this age and situation?
Rountine is sooo important! I didn’t want to believe that, cause I’ve never been on-schedule girl! That was a big change for me – having routine for the baby means the same for me. Luckily I understood that soon enough, thanks to Susan Urban’s sleep training guide how to teach a baby to fall asleep alone. She wrote about routine and swaddling and all in a step-by-step instruction. It helped me a lot, althoug I miss being a bit more spontanous!
I have the same impression! I used Susan’s book and totally loved it! We had no routine at all cause I was always a mess. That was not an easy change but know I think it was good for me too.
After two days of sleep training method from S. Urban’s ebook, my son became a sleep champion. Pretty fast, huh? I’m very pleased with the results. Thank you for sharing – changed my life as a mum
Rachel Norman says
So glad he’s sleeping well. I know y’all are all happy :)
Hi! Your stuff is amazing! I would love to print your free sleep printables, but I am not receiving the emails? Can you please send them my way?
Thank you so so much!
Rachel Norman says
Oh no! Do you have aol or yahoo, by chance? Sometimes the emails don’t go through fo rthose!
Hello I’ve signed up for all the emails and I haven’t received them. Can you please help me with that
Rachel Norman says
Angela, not in spam either?
Hello, love your blog! I’ve read a lot of your posts about newborn sleep and found it really informative. I’m a first time mom to a 16 day old baby and we have been implementing some of your principles from the beginning. He always gets a full feeding and we’ve tried to be on a schedule. Some times we are successful with laying him down drowsy and he goes right to sleep, but for about 3 naps a day he is completely wide awake. Doesn’t really matter what I try, he does not get drowsy! Even left too his own devices he’s perfectly content to just lay there and look around. He’s generally not fussy, or at least not for a long time. I just let him go one day and he stayed up for 5 hours! Rocking, singing, patting, white noise, lights down low… nothing makes him drowsy. I can’t use a pacifyer yet as we’ve had a lot of trouble with his latch as things are. The only sure fire way to put him to sleep are walking with him, either in the stroller or in a carrier. I’ve tried getting him drowsy using those methods and then putting him down but he wakes right up and gets fussy. I’m at my wits end! I know i’m creating sleep props, but at the same time the alternative is for him to be up for hours on end. I do take heart that some of his naps he successfully goes from drowsy to asleep in his crib. Any suggestions?!
Hey! I love your blog. And it has helped me with the last two babies – as we adjust to having more and more!
Im really struggling with nap time right now. I have 4 children – 6, 4, 1.5 and 4 months. The 1.5 year old we are trying to teach to stay in his new bed as he climbs out of a pack n play and crib now. He tends to fall asleep at 11:30 when I pick up our daughter from school in the carseat. It messes us up so bad. If he doesnt fall asleep, he stands at the door of his room and cries the entire time Im trying to nurse the newborn. I have your book on schedules – it helped for a while but right now everything just cant seem to sync! Even my older two have gone on strike for their “quiet times”
Hello Rachel, we love all your posts! But for some reason, i do not get any emails for the free printables on this post. I am using gmail
My daughter is almost 6 months, she does okay with naps, we have to let her cry for a few minutes and then offer the pacifier – she’ll then typically sleep for about an hour.
Night time is a battle, we’ll try to lay her down I’m her crib but she’s a fighter, she’ll cry and by cry I mean scream for an hour if we let her. I’m not sure to handle that, do I let her just cry? Also, she fights a swaddle but if we take her out of the swaddle she aggressively scratches her head and face do we swaddle her again and sometimes she’s fine with it, other Toni she has her arms out in minutes. I just don’t know what to do, lately she’ll only sleep through the night if she’s lying next to me in bed. Oh, also, I can be we get her to sleep before midnight ?
I really wish you would answer a question Maddy already posed.
When letting the baby cry it out, once he gets overtired from not sleeping, do you continue letting him cry it out?
My baby is almost five months old and sleeps well at night. I put him down for his morning nap, which is often long, and he cried and then only napped 45 minutes (this was not the first time, and other times he’s slept longer). Now I know he’s very tired, or “overtired,” so after the next feeding I put him down after rocking a bit and he’s been screaming his head off. I just don’t get it. We’re told to not let an overtired baby cry it out. But then we’re told that they get overtired very rapidly. So they can get overtired during just one session of crying it out!
Seriously. Please help us confused mothers.
Sorry, I meant Michelle.
Rachel Norman says
Hey Casey, I focus on all of this in my baby sleep course. But essentially if baby gets extremely overtired then you can do a few things. You can either commit to the crying it out and they will eventually go to sleep and probably never cry it out again. OR you can comfort and help them to get to sleep and try again. You can also put baby to bed earlier so they can learn to go to sleep on their own without them being overtired!
Our 13. Month old still wakes up every 3 hrs through the night and won’t sleep until he’s breastfed. He has two naps a day and sleeps for two-four hrs in total but I’ve started to wake him after an hr now to see if that helps it hasn’t so far. He shares a room with our great sleeper George who is three so I can’t let him cry or he will wake him.
I am at an all time low due to lack of sleep I have no energy to function in the day and find myself with little patience for my toddler and have been neglecting myself also not eating or feeling bothered to leave the house.
The AAP says not to swaddle after 8 weeks. I’ve tried to get my baby to nap but he wants to be swaddled. He no longer sleeps through the night either. Any tips??
Routines and wind down time are what I did when mine were little (now 21 &18) they each had one regression I guess, and the advice I read and that my doctor gave was to let them cry it out (there was no illness or teething, she confirmed). I did just that and within a few nights, we were back to sleeping through the night. Now I provide childcare ib my home and the stories hear from the tired parents make me sad. If they would just commit to the plan, they could all be getting more sleep! And they’d nap better for me :-)
Hello, can you please share the free printable? I couldn’t find it in the post.