Inside: Ways to determine if you have a tired baby and how to help your baby sleep whether or not you’re really into sleep training and this goes well with newborn baby sleep needs.
There is a feeling associated with having a baby who doesn’t sleep.
It’s a deep, panicky, uncomfortable feeling.
It starts deep down in your gut when you fear baby is going to cry instead of sleep.
Then… it moves to your heart, which begins to race.
You feel jittery, panicky, and stressed with a baby who just won’t sleep well.
Tired babies are hard.
You feel so sorry for your sweet baby, and probably at a loss of what to do.
It’s not easy getting a tired baby to bed, and you can’t sit under a baby rocking them to sleep all day and night.
You may have tried the pacifier, the swing, new scenery, the car, the stroller, and anything else that seems to bring temporary relief. You’re not sure if this is witching hours or what.
But you end up jumping through hoops and baby still doesn’t sleep soundly.
You have an overtired baby.
Read: 8 Reasons You’ve Got A Whiny Baby (And How To Fix It!)
Signs of a Tired Baby
Here are some common symptoms and signs of having an overtired baby. Remember, babies who are overtired have trouble both going to sleep and staying that way.
Tired babies will sleep.
Overtired babies will struggle.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
Read: 7 Simple Reasons Why Your Baby Won’t Nap & What To Do
Wakes after 10 to 45 minutes
If your little one goes down hard and wakes up crying after a short period… this is a textbook sign of a tired baby.
Because when they begin the normal cycle from active to passive sleep or back again they wake back up, uncomfortable and needing you.
If your baby is extremely exhausted or unable to go to sleep on their own (because they have a sleep prop) they won’t be able to transition through the cycle well.
Restorative sleep occurs when baby is able to transition from active to passive sleep for naps that are typically one to two or three hours.
If your baby wakes up after short periods of time, disoriented and wanting you, this means that baby isn’t yet able to sleep on their own and need help to get there.
If you need to track baby’s habits well, use our daily logs.
Cries Often and Inconsolably
Babies will cry at times. This is unavoidable.
But… a tired baby will cry in a way that makes it hard to distinguish their needs.
However, this does not mean that we wait until babies try to figure out their needs. Imagine this scenario with me…
Read: Is Sleep Training a Baby Bad or Dangerous? Let’s Talk Facts!
5 week old Baby wakes at 5:00 a.m. for a feed. Baby cries, mom feeds, and starts the day. Between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. mom has rocked, swung, and carried baby around the house and thinks it’s maybe time for a nap.
Mom rocks baby in a rocking chair while nursing baby to sleep. Once baby is asleep she puts him in the crib only to have him wake immediately and cry. She thinks his crying means he’s more hungry so she feeds again, but Baby refuses the breast.
She keeps rocking and attempting to put baby to sleep then transfer him into the crib, but eventually just remains in the rocking chair with baby.
This is how most naps go after that. Mom nursing to sleep and rocking throughout the nap.
Read: Pacifier Weaning 101: Guide To Less Stress & Fewer Tears
There are a few things to note here.
- Baby should be put back down after the 5 a.m. feed. This encourages baby that the day begins later in the morning, not at 5.
- A 5 week old baby shouldn’t be awake longer than an hour and change at a time without a nap.
- Mom nurses to sleep which – though not a problem itself – creates a sleep prop. This means baby learns to depend on mom to sleep and cannot/will not go to sleep without mom. This is sweet with one baby, but is very difficult if you add additional children into the home or have to go to work.
- Mom mistakes the crying and fussiness of overtired-ness with the need to sleep with her. If you want to sleep with your baby, do so! #babiesdontkeep. But doing so repeatedly will mean your baby becomes unable to sleep on their own and you’ll find it hard to distinguish their cues, assuming all cries mean they need you.
Sometimes babies cry because they’re tired, not because they need you.
Read: How to Stop Contact Naps (Peacefully)- and What to Do Instead
Here are some checklists including 10 ways to soothe a crying baby.
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More
Wakes Frequently At Night But Doesn’t Take Full Feeds… A Tired Baby
If baby is waking up at night and taking full feeds, this means baby was hungry.
Alternatively, if baby is waking at night, nursing for a few minutes, dozing off, then repeating this all night… they are tired and unable to sleep on their own.
Don’t assume that babies are made to wake up all night long needing you and a bit of milk, they aren’t.
Read: The Top 10 Indicators It’s Time to Sleep Train
They’re made to be nurtured by you throughout the day, sleep, then drink milk when hungry.
We often get this all mixed up. If baby wakes at night and will take a full feed then you are filling their bellies and meeting their need: hunger.
Or if baby is waking up frequently throughout the night and doesn’t want to nurse or nurses very little, yet cries and struggles to go back down, they have a need that isn’t being met: sleep.
Read: The Dreamfeed: The Why, The How, & When To Stop
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
How To Help A Tired Baby Sleep
While you cannot “make” a baby sleep, you can set the atmosphere and promote healthy sleep habits that allow a baby to learn the joy of being well-rested.
If you’re going to dive into your baby sleep issues, I recommend using your baby daily log to dig into what’s happening.
Swaddle Up To 5 Months Or So
Swaddling is a great way to provide comfort and a feeling of physical safety to your child while preventing their startle reflex from waking them.
What we don’t want is a comfortable content baby sleeping… only to be woken up by the startle reflex raising their arms up.
This is an important reason to swaddle.
Swaddling is also a good sleep association. When you’re doing your wind down routine, swaddle baby, sing, and then put to sleep. If you have a very young baby, it’s an important habit to start now.
Here are some general swaddling rules of thumb:
- During the day, feed baby un-swaddled.
- Swaddle when it’s time for nap as part of the wind down routine.
- At night, before you feed change diapers from bottom without un-swaddling, if possible, then feed.
- Feed swaddled at night.
Once a baby is well-rested it’s not too hard to keep them well-rested. Regular routine naps and bedtimes will do that.
However, it’s a different ball game getting a tired baby to be well rested.
It’s possible, however, and you’ll be very glad you did it.
So if you only take one thing away from this post… put baby to sleep earlier.
If baby hasn’t napped well throughout the day, move up bedtime.
If baby hasn’t napped well in the morning, move up the afternoon nap.
A rule of thumb…
Babies newborn to 2 months or so shouldn’t be up much longer than an hour and a bit before you put them down again for a nap.
Babies 6 months and under shouldn’t be up more than around 2 hours before going back down for a nap unless it’s the late evening and bedtime is coming soon.
Sounds crazy? It’s not. Check out my sample routines here.
- The Baby Sleep Myth That Backfires Every Time
- The Surprising Reason Your Baby Fights Sleep
- The Ultimate Newborn Schedule: Week By Week
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
Create Routines For A Tired Baby
Routines are universally agreed upon as helpful for families. A routine doesn’t have to be super strict or rigid controlled by the clock, but it does need to be regular.
If you don’t have a routine you keep, you probably need one.
So what makes up a good routine? Well, that’s all dependent upon your family, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to have a well rested and content baby.
- Set nap and bedtimes.
- Regular feeds at regular intervals. You’ll always want to feed baby if baby is truly hungry, but you can attempt to stay on a routine with ease if baby takes full feeds.
- Have mini routines within the routines. Have nap and bedtime routines, this will help baby get ready to sleep when it’s time and creates positive sleep associations.
Replace Sleep Props
A sleep prop is something a baby needs to help him get to sleep he simply cannot get on his own. If baby wakes during a sleep cycle looking for something to get him back to sleep, this is a sleep prop.
Sleep props can include the following:
- nursing to sleep,
- rocking to sleep,
- pacifiers if they can’t re-insert them (which is why I recommend these)
- car rides to settle, or
- swings or vibrating chairs (if they won’t sleep there every time).
A baby who can sleep on their own can be put down in their crib, drowsy but awake, then drift off into sleep on their own.
Then, when they transition from passive to active sleep cycles they simply go back to sleep instead of waking up for their “prop.”
So how to do it?
The way to get rid of sleep props is to replace them with sleep associations.
You want to gently teach your child to go to sleep on their own without needing you to get them back to sleep multiple times day and night.
Sleep associations can include the following:
- elements of nap or bedtime routine,
- white noise,
- pacifiers they can re-insert or that stay put,
- crib/bed, or
- lights out.
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
You don’t have to spend months or years coming up with inventive ways to get your baby to sleep. Babies are made to sleep and so are you.
Teach your baby to sleep peacefully and reap the benefits for years to come.
Hi! We have a 3 week old little guy and I know it’s still early but we want to get on the right foot (as opposed to waiting 6 months like we did with our other two boys). Putting him down to sleep without the typical props (rocking, nursing, etc) is tough without him fully crying. That would be so ideal to be able to nurse him, change him, have a little window of activity before we swaddle him up and dim the lights for nap but it just doesn’t happen without us bouncing and walking and nursing. And sometimes that doesn’t work. would you let him fuss? How long? I feel so bad letting him cry too long at such an early age.
Rachel Norman says
Crissy, I use the wubbanub paci. Without a doubt, the paci does this.
And when she won’t ake a paci? And patting her does nothing?
Rachel Norman says
Some babies fuss for a while to get to sleep. I had 2 that just went straight to sleep and 3 that fussed for a bit then fell immediately off into sleep. When they were irritable and fighting sleep I’d often (or my husband) hold them and just be there with them as they went to sleep. After a few times of this they simply stopped crying and just went to bed. Not sure if that helps or doesn’t!
Sarah Miller says
Thanks, Rachel, for this timely post! We have a 6 week old girl. We’ve been trying to be so vigilant about letting her go to sleep on her own, and then all of a sudden in the last week and a half or so, she is so fussy! Especially in the evening. My sleep deprived brain could not figure out what was going on until I read this post…duh!
I think I’ll shorten her typically awake time during the day, and we’ll watch carefully to not rock her to sleep. I think we try to make sure she’s drowsy, but just go too long sometimes.
Like Crissy above, we waited until 6 and 8 (!!) months with our older two, and I do not want to wait that long with this little.
Anyway, the timing of this post was perfect and a Godsend. Thanks!
Rachel Norman says
Sarah, thank you so much for the feedback and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE when a post that’s on my heart and mind is so divinely right :)
I’m glad I found this information! My 6 week old baby isn’t the best sleeper, it’s really hard to get her to sleep during the day and sometimes she stays awake for long time, fighting her sleep, I feel like she doesn’t take any naps (maybe short sleep time – 10min naps) and then she’s up. So at night time is the same thing. I feel like I have tried everything tho, and still no luck :(
This is me currently. Did you fund anything that ended up working? Day time sleeping is woeful but night time is good but only good cause I decided to co sleep so we could all get some sleep since day time that doesn’t happen!
Hi Rachel, I’m new here, I love your blog! I really love your techniques and reading about your own kids’ craziness. I’ve been hanging around the deep dark depths of your blog for abut six months now and I especially like those character profiles you did for your eldest kids. I can’t find the last 2 – are they there??
Rachel Norman says
Do you mean describing my kids personalities? I’m struggling to remember this. HA.
I have been reading your blog/website all morning (or when my newborn is napping!) I have a few questions for you. My baby is a little over 6 weeks old. He has pretty good night time sleep habits… but napping during the day is a struggle! So far we are using your newborn sample routine schedule. I laid him down to sleep at 1:40 and on the monitor I can see he is already awake and stirring (2:15pm). Once he starts to cry do you suggest leaving him in his room for 15 minutes and see how it goes or should I go into his room to comfort him immediately? I know he is tired, but he is fighting it! I want him to learn to fall back asleep on his own!
Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Rachel Norman says
Corinne, I usually let mine try and root around a bit. Sometimes they take time doing a little squirming and fussing to get to sleep. I think this is normal so if it were me I’d wait a bit. If you get them down to sleep in their good window and it takes 15 minutes to fall asleep then that still accounts for a good nap! Do you think he woke up or actualyl didn’t fall asleep yet?
He consistently wakes up after being asleep for 35 minutes. I think it’s when he is going from active to passive sleep like you mentioned above? I have been setting a 5 minutes timer when he starts to cry then. Most times he goes back to sleep in 2-3 minutes. If he doesn’t I will go in his room and put my hand on his chest so he knows I’m there and he will stop crying. Then I leave and he falls back asleep. What are your thoughts about this?
Rachel Norman says
Corinne, I thikn he’s just learning to transition from active to passive. If he goes back to sleep after a minutes then GOOD and eventually he’ll stop waking at all!
Hi! These articles are fantastic! I was wondering if you have one written about something as simple as how to get them to nap during the day. When I attempt to put my six week old boy down for a nap in an attempt to follow a routine, he stays awake for the majority if not the entire time. I put him down in the nursery with the curtains drawn and put on his mobile which eventually turns off. Any advice is appreciated!
Rachel Norman says
Hi Laura, go to my ‘sleep’ category and see if any of those will help. If not let me know!
Sorry for the ramble but I’m a little overtired myself!
I’m in the same boat as Chrissy; 3week little one. Everyone was telling me you can’t spoil him/do whatever works until 3 months so we have been spiralling from decent sleep into will not sleep unless fed to sleep (he is a slow eater; often an hour) or in a carrier and wont stay asleep unless held/on a chest even if I can get him down. He actually used to sleep 2.5 hrs regularly after getting to sleep on a chest/fed, but each dayit’s getting shorter and shorter and harder to get him down. I think the visitors and Helper’s I had (husband/relatives) to help me catch up on sleep over stimulated him and then held him to sleep and now he knows no other way. Now when I put him down when he seems kind of f drowsy he’ll open his eyes and be calm for a bit but soon start fussing and get overtired, sometimes nap for 10 min then wakes again or start crying hard. I try to help him sleep in his bassinet with minimal intervention (pats/rocking the bassinet or a finger to suck on. He won’t take a paci) but it doesn’t last more than a few minutes or he cries more and more. I keep doing this until he’s been up way too long and we’re getting close to a feed so I feel I just need him to get some sleep and try again. Is this okay or am I giving up too easily?
I’m not sure if it’s helpful to “reset” the cycle any way possible (holding/rocking/moving up a feed and trying again) once we hit a certain time frame of being awake or just push through… It seems like when I do the “wrong” thing he sleeps better so I’m confused where to draw the line between prioritising his sleep and teaching him how to sleep alone.
I’m in exactly the same boat. This started at 2.5 weeks and in week 5 it’s still going on. I don’t get more than 30 minutes of sleep unless someone else takes her. Any advice Rachel on how to get off this merry go round?
Thank you for this comment! Also in the same boat and you explained everything so well. Especially the question about how/if to “reset” the cycle.
I feel like my little one has gotten sooooo overtired over the last two days. Feels so far to get back to something balanced.
Same here. How do you get a 5-week old on a schedule when they don’t sleep? Wish I knew what to do!
Rachel Norman says
Well sometimes a schedule HELPS them sleep! That’s the rub, search 5 month old schedule on here and you’ll find a routine that may help them. Sometimes the overtiredness from lack of routine means they don’t sleep. It can be chicken and egg, for sure!
My 4.5 month old has been overtired for a few days. He fights sleep and still has the startle reflex. I use the Halo sleep sack swaddle with his arms out because I thought that at this age they need their hands free to self soothe which he does (loved to suck his thumb). He has not yet slept through the night. I have a set bedtime routine which consists of a bath, white noise, feed, rocking before putting him to sleep in his bassinet while he is drowsy. He does not like the crib yet which I have been stressing about. When I put him in there he does not sleep well. He wakes every 3 hours crying/fussing and I usually change him and feed him until he is almost asleep. I’m sure he is using me as a sleep prop. He can go much longer through the day without feeding (4-6 hours at times). I am extremely sleep deprived and need help getting him to nap better through the day and sleep through the night. Help please! I have tried many different things to try and make his sleep better.
Rachel Norman says
Take my free sleep series below for some ideas.
Rebecca Varga says
Hello, when my daughter was only 2months old, one Medical Doctor- infant specialist advised my husband and I, to buy a CD of babies lullaby, in which can be purchased from ABC Shop. and have used this music ever since and very helpful in getting the baby to sleep up to 10hrs in the evening and 8hrs during the day time. Also, my baby cot is next to my single bed, so, my daughter can hold my finger as she is about to go to sleep and making my baby sleep very soundly. Babies can feel if mother is nearby. My husband is sleeping next room. These are helping me in getting my baby go to sleep and I hope this will help you too. Lastly, pre-prepared bottle of milk in your bedroom refrigerator(in case the baby is bottle feed), in case, the baby needs comfort, as some babies are drink-dream babies, and remove the milk bottle, once asleep. The soft music can make the baby fall asleep and also the mother.
So you would say as an newborn to let them cry to sleep drowsy but awake? And that will help long term for them to learn to fall sleep on their own and to transition from one cyxle to another?
Rachel Norman says
If you want to let them cry to sleep you can or you can offer a pacifier.
I just found your website and I am loving it ! I have a three week old daughter ( Our first baby), and I am working on creating a schedule for her AND sleep training… My question is, when your baby wakes up before nap time should be over, what would you recommend I do? I don’t rush in to her, and I have been told to just let her cry for a few minutes before soothing her.
What are your thoughts? Thank you! :)
Rachel Norman says
I usually just hold baby and cuddle them and don’t feed unelss they’re crying or squirming for milk. So I try to wait until the right “time” unless baby is really fussy.
Hi, my 9 month old has become a nightmare at night, she will only fall asleep if she is cuddled but the minute you place her in her cot she will wake up and scream the place down and Work herself up until she is picked up again, this can continue till 1am! By this point she’s beyond exhausted and will eventually sleep for a good 7/8 hours with a possible feed in between. I’m going back to work in 8 days and will need to be up at 5am, Do you have any advice on how we can get her to sleep at a reasonable hour and to stay asleep without us needing to cuddle her for hours on end! Many Thanks :)
Almost 10mth prior to be unwell slept 6:30pm-5am (breastfeed andback to sleep until 6:30am). Naps were age appropriate (9am and 1:30pm usually slept 75-90mins each time), white noise, put to bed drowsy not asleep, has sleeping bag, dark room. Past month has been waking multiple times after going to bed and can be difficult to get down, then wakes at least once after after 9:30pm (when I want to go to bed) and then again at 5am. Used to feed him and he would come off push me away and go to bed by himself. Now he will cry and can be difficult to get him back to sleep after 5. If I do he then seems to skip his afternoon nap (so he can be up 8hrs!). He also refuses solids (will only feed himself finger foods which means he doesn’t get much and only breastfeed when tired. The association is tired to feed not feed to sleep. He will breast feed only 3X a day (because he will only eat when he’s tired). Help!
My baby is super over tired all the time. I’ve already tried all your suggestions and watch his cues closely and put him down right away before he gets too wound up. In the morning for naps this usually works without fuss and he falls asleep on his own. But then will make after only a short time. After a couple naps like this he’s super upset and evening naps and bedtime is a pain. We’ve even moved bedtime up to 5-6pm. One day he actually had a good 1.5 hour nap and an hour nap in the morning but then the evening was awful after taking him on one errand. He’ll then be so overtired and cry for hours. Should I never take him any where and keep him in a bubble? When he gets so wound up and won’t sleep for hours and is crying and screaming is it better to let him cry it out while I stay next to him. Is that better for him? When you say mom guilt does that include continually picking him up when he is hysterically and won’t sleep. What do I do?!? He’s such and awful sleeper and I’ll do whatever is right for him put my guilt aside if that means letting him cry but I don’t know if that’s the right answer.
Why won’t my 20 mo old sleep anymore? She has always needed to be strolled to sleep, however, this suddenly stopped and she started taking 2 hour naps like a breeze everyday and off to bed early enough to sleep well through the night (except for crying for 2-4 bottles a night still, we have her in occupational therapy for food/chew/swallow delay issues) she’s still on baby puréed and a few 3rd stage foods. Anyway- the flu had hit our home. When she got the flu- she would scream LOUD, high pitched screaming like she was in pain. And never broke out of this habit even as she got well 2 wks later. Ever since, we can’t get her to take naps or go to bed, without being strollered around. Her issue seems as if she’s over tired and can’t get comfortable. It’s awful watching your baby struggle to get to sleep. Once she’s asleep, she generally stays asleep, unless she wants a bottle. What are we missing or what else can we do? We live in apts & I’m fairly certain one of these days, someone’s going to complain about her ear shrieking screams while trying to go to sleep or while picketing sleep at all costs. Lol she also hates the dark. We put on sound machines, soft lullabies sometimes work- but she does not want to sleep! Funny thing is, I know my parents used to tell me that I never wanted to sleep as a child and they had the hardest time getting me to sleep. I know they went to doctors for advice and out of their minds. Maybe it’s just genetic? Any advice is greatly appreciated. We wonder why she’s reverting back to her old ways.
Rachel Norman says
Could it be teething? That always really messed mine up!
Yes! I’m realizing it has to be. Getting back molars in I’m thinking ;) wow. Red cheeks, flared diapie rash, flared eczema, biting everything and anything lol ? frequent night wakenings. Thank u for helping me figure it out!
Hi, my baby just turned 3mo. This is my 2nd baby but I feel so lost! He fights his sleep BAD!! He sleeps with me at night, his naps have started to become short. He barely goes to sleep if I bounce him, I tried making him go to sleep on his own add he cried for a solid hour. He was fed and changed so I know he was ok! I did not know what to do!
My baby is 5 weeks old and have completely came off of his nighttime routine. We would put him down between 7-7:30 and he would sleep for 3 hours. Then we did the dream feed and he slept for another 3 hours, we fed again and then another 3 hours. This happened for a week and I was so happy he had adjusted. However, last night we put him down for bed and he was up an hour later, then another hour. I dream fed at 11:30 and he was up an hour later. I don’t know what happened or changed but he cried more than sleep last night.
Also, daytime naps are a crying session every time. I have to rock and gradually stop and place him in his sleeping position before putting him in his crib.
Hi Rachel. I love your site. I have a 1 month old. I have followed your advise about day/night confusion, swaddling (w/ woombie) at night and not unswaddling for feedings, etc. We have made huge strides. I put my little one down around 9:30 and she is consistently sleeping until around 1:30 (which is amazing), but from 2am -6am, she wakes every 1-1 1/2 hours, eats a little and then goes back to sleep. I keep thinking that if I could get her to eat more, she would stay asleep longer. I was thinking of unswaddling her at the 1:30 feeding, but don’t want to mess up the night routine that I have. Even when she wakes up, she eats and then goes right back to sleep.
I have a 4.5 month baby boy, I am ebf him and since 3 months his nighttime sleep went from sometimes 7 hours in one stretch to waking every 1 or 2 hours. So much so I’ve ended up taking him from his crib that is attached to the side of our bed into bed with me as it’s been exhausting. He has always catnapped during the daytime and I struggle to get him to sleep for more than 45 mins at a time and usually it takes a lot of holding to settle him down.
I’ve been reading your blogs and quite a few things make sense to me I would be interested in finding out more about your sleep training ideas.
I’ve been working over the last 3 weeks with a bedtime routine and he has been going down really well. As he doesn’t sleep a lot in the day I put him down early for bedtime at 6pm. However it’s the frequency of the wake ups and that are the problem. Also the catnaps during the day mean I can’t do anything. I watch the clock and always try to put him down after a hour and half of awake time but it takes ages for him to fall asleep sometimes longer than he naps for!
Hi Rachel, My three week old has refused to sleep in his crib since the day we came home. If I put him in there he screams within 5 mins. I’ve tried letting him cry and normally he stops within 5-10 mins, but starts up again within 5 mins.
I’ve been sleeping on the couch every night and shuffling him between my arms, the bassinet, and the swing. I really want to get him sleeping in his crib, any suggestions?
Just found your site!
I’m wondering how to get my 1 year old to self sooth herself to sleep. First time mom and so I breastfed and later with bottle rocked her till she fell asleep. Grama babysits and did the same. She threw her pack for out months ago, does not suck her thumb, only wants bottle to sleep. I know, we have her spoiled and now we’re struggling. Help!
Lisa Rogers says
I am wondering something very similar. My 1 year old sleeps in the bed too. Help!
My 2.5 month old will fall asleep on his own for naps, as I lay him down in his sleep space drowsy but awake. But he wakes up at the 30 minute mark. (Every time). You said that they need help getting through that sleep cycle, but what do I do? (He sleeps in the same spot for up to 5 hours at night without issue, using the same swaddle and white noise set up as I use for naps)
My 2nd baby is 7 weeks old today and her napping has been almost non-existent. My first little girl (now 22 months) was the easiest sleeper in the world, I barely had to do a thing and she could sleep in almost any location no matter what the conditions. She had me so fooled! Once I finally get my littlest one to stay down at night, she can actually sleep quite well in her bassinet for 7-8 hrs before waking for a feed and then sleep again until 5-6 grunting like mad. From when she wakes up at this time our days are just hell. She WILL NOT nap in her bassinet for longer than 5 minutes. FIVE MINUTES. Right from the beginning I tried to get her to settle in her bassinet, but she won’t, she just goes from crying to screaming and then I have to hold her and rock her to sleep. I can put her down and even walk out and make a coffee with her sound asleep. But sure enough after 5 minutes she’s awake again and I have to pick her up again, otherwise she will escalate very quickly to crying and then screaming. Today has been a bit of a breaking point and I’ve just put her in the carrier on my chest to nap because she is just so clearly overtired. Every day I would assure myself I’d get her down for naps and not let her get overtired but every day it doesn’t happen, she seems to just wake up overtired (probably because the grunting wakes her earlier than she’s ready??). She’s now asleep in the carrier but even now I have to rock to keep her asleep. How on earth do I break this habit when she just won’t settle in the bassinet and always wakes up after 5 min when I do get her down? I don’t know how I can sit and try to settle her in her bassinet for hrs when I have a noisy toddler to look after as well. I’m at that overly frustrated stage now where I start getting frustrated quicker and easier every time I try to get her to sleep and have a mini meltdown several times a day now. How do I do it???
I am a new mum and find your website extremely helpful! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. I have 10 weeks old that only falls asleep with certain cues (rocking or breastfeeding) and I co-sleep with her as she refuses to sleep on her own. How do I turn things around so she falls asleep on her own in a crib? Is it too late introduce swaddling? Please offer some of your invaluable advice so she can have a better sleep and I can have my sanity and rest back. Thank you kindly.
So, I am wondering if a feed wake sleep schedule is hurting my baby’s sleep rather than helping? I have done FWS for several months, since basically 6 weeks old, and I have noticed that my baby takes short naps. She always has, and even at 6 months they were only an hour and rarely more. She would take 3 naps, and at 7-8 months when moved into a 2 nap schedule and when she still took shorter naps after a couple weeks I began to give her a bottle before her nap, rather than after. I would feed her her solids a little while after wake up, and her naps were closer to 1.5 to two hours. However, at night she wakes anywhere between 3-5 am now, and refuses to go back to sleep until she of fed (she does not finish her full bottle). I am wondering if because we don’t do feed wake sleep, that leaves a lot of space between her last two bottles of the day and she doesn’t eat enough during the day? Help me, I don’t know how to get my girl to not wake at 4 am. This has gone on for about a month, she is nearing 9 months old now. I am just at a loss and not sure what would be best
Rachel Norman says
Daria, try anything. If you find it isn’t helping then stop it and see if she settles into something she likes. Some babies are fast adapters and others slow adapters and there is no right or wrong. If baby isn’t perpetually exhausted then you’re doing fine!
I used to nurse for ages! Luckily my parter bought a great sleeping book right on time. It was a method called Hold With Love and I fell in love with just a name of it! We had to try. It seemed easy and… was exactly that. Just putting your baby drowsy but not asleep, and again and again… In just 4 nights – no more rocking for us!
Hello Rachel, so i need help my son is 6 months now and some days he will nap and some days he wont. I have to hold and rock him or nurse him to sleep which i knew might be giving him props but i need sleep. Im the one that cares for our son and he sleeps through the night if he is on me. But the crib he usually wakes up with in minutes to max 2 hours. I just want to be able to sleep without holding him all night. My back is getting so bad from bouncing this big boy( hes 22 pounds). My neck cant handle much more. He wont take a bottle or a paci. I love him dearly but cant keep sleeping like this its not really rest because im half asleep holding him. I dont know what to do for the nights and naps ive been using the swing because more than half the time it works if hes tired enough. But still a crutch plus he can say in it at night so not teaching him what he needs.
Hi Rachel, I’m writing from sunny Sri Lanka! My 5 week old was a superb sleeper from her go – 3hr naps all day long! However, over the last week, she has had trouble staying asleep. She is fine falling asleep on her own, but would awaken at the end of each cycle crying. Most of the time, she would settle over a few minutes. At times, I would just hold her for a min or so and place her back in the crib and she’d doze off again… only to awaken at the end of the cycle again! Could this be an issue with over tiredness?
My daughter is 2 months. I’ve had her on a set schedule for about a week and since I’ve started she is in the habit of being wide awake at 10-12:30. She takes consistent naps through out the day so I know she’s not over tired! I can’t figure out why it’s so hard for her to go to bed at night
Minerva Luna says
Hi Rachel I’m new here but I bought one of your books and got the rutines. It has been a lot of help but I would like you to give help me on an issue I’ve been having with my 5 month baby. I’m struggling with her day naps. She naps only for 20 to 30 min. Than she gets irritated very easily when she can’t sleep. I do rock her for like 30 minutes so she can sleep but it is very tyring doing that everytime. Where we live sometimes is kind of warm so I dont know if that contributes to her fussiness and irritation. I’m worried because she’s not sleeping enough, but i am struggling.with her on that matter. Can you please help me with this matter? Thank you I love your articles.
Hi i have a 6 week baby boy and last started last week he has been unable to take a nap. I’ll feed him the make sure he burps and rock him until he asleep but after 15 or 20 minutes later he will wake up crying. This will go on from 1pm until bed time. I have tried everything to make him take a nap and i have three weeks before he has to go to daycare I need some tips.
Hi Rachel! My daughter is six weeks old and for the last two weeks we have been trying diligently to create a routine and good sleep habits for her. She is a pretty good night sleeper but daytime naps are a struggle! I really want to have her on a schedule but it takes hours and multiple tries to get her to stay asleep. I follow the eat play sleep strategy and I always try to put her down as soon as I see signs of sleepiness, rock her a bit, and put her to bed. We keep her nursery dark, fan on for white noise, and are consistent about having her in her crib each time. The problem is that it takes so long for her to stay asleep that she becomes over tired. She wakes up very shortly after putting her down and we have to repeat this process over and over again and because it takes so long we can’t get her on a consistent schedule. Any advice for a first time mom?
Rachel Norman says
Heidi, is she having a good full feed? If not she won’t stay asleep well. Also, about how long is she up from when you START feeding? She might need longer before she goes down?
Elyse Maisonet says
This was us 18 months ago, so I hear where you are coming from!! During the day, our ‘nap’ routine basically became: soothe for 30+ minutes (swaddling, rocking, running the water, white noise, dark room, sling, walks, lullabies – you name it), he’d finally fall asleep, he’d sleep in my arms (he wouldn’t sleep in his bed at all) for 10-30 minutes, then he’d wake up screaming, and we’d go through it all again. I knew he was exhausted. No joy. After two months of things getting worse and worse (and Baby getting crabbier and crabbier), we all finally decided to give sleep training a try.
Rachel Norman says
It is so hard when babies won’t sleep and moms are so exhausted! Glad you decided to give sleep training a try.
Hi Rachel! I stumbled across your blog with a google search. I’m sitting here in the rocking chair with my almost 6week old asleep on my chest. This is my second and I am desperately looking for answers because my newborn struggles to fall asleep. I spend HOURS feeding, rocking, bouncing, doing anything I possibly can to get her to sleep. She will fall asleep briefly only to pop back awake again a few minutes later. And when I do finally get her to actually fall asleep, if I put her down she’s awake again. And we start all over again. (Mainly during the day). But any time I try to just put her down drowsy she wakes right back up and will not fall asleep. Which usually results in her crying.. what do you do??? Do you leave baby to scream until they sleep? It seems like 5 weeks old is much to young for that. But also her crying makes my toddler upset and no one sleeps. I’ve always had to make sure she’s completely asleep before I can put her down without her waking, and that usually results in sitting with her for an hour before I can get her down. This all results in her being awake much longer than she should be and it’s taking it’s toll
I can’t keep up with it because I have an almost 2 year old to tend to as well. It’s so difficult to fix her meals, play with her, discipline, and what not when I have to be holding baby constantly. I absolutely love snuggling my baby and holding her (it goes so fast!) But I also am stuck all day, unable to do anything else. Not to mention I am completely exhausted…
Hi! I have a 10 week old who has historically slept amazingly. He was able to fall asleep on his own then, when he woke up during naps, able to fall back asleep within minutes. That’s all changed suddenly, however, as in the past few days he has started completely resisting sleep. It’s become a vicious cycle– he’ll completely refuse to sleep or be laid down and, even if we get him to sleep in our arms and lay him down, he’s screaming the moment he’s in the crib and calming once in our arms. This cycle goes for 6 or more hours before he finally sleep and it starts all over again. We’ve no idea what changed or caused this, but we are desperate to help him! :( I always watch for his signs that he’s sleepy, but he seems to always try to fight through them now. What do we do?
Rachel Norman says
I always stop when there’s a GREAT sleeper who suddenly stops sleeping well. I’d want to make sure ears are fine, milk supply is fine, etc. Sounds more like could be ear infection then sudden bad sleeping, ya know? That said, could be a growth spurt too!
I have a 3 month old who is a movement junkie and is fussy with every nap/bedtime even with following wake windows and sticking to wind down routines. He is an alert and happy baby otherwise. It sounds like I should work to be preemptive about putting him down for sleep, but how do I replace his sleep prop? My arms are sooo tired from bouncing and he fights it anyway, so it’s not enjoyable for either of us!!
Rachel Norman says
You’ll have to choose a settling technique and then keep consistent with that so he learns to get to sleep on hi9s own. The technique may be hands on or hands off, but it’ll help change the bedtime routine. This opt in (free) may help! https://amotherfarfromhome.com/amffh_optin/babies-need-r-e-s-t/
Hannah Gallegos says
Hi! I just found your articles and they are GREAT! This makes so much sense to me. We have a just now 2 month old that has been so fussy and not sleeping well lately. We were associating this with his reflux but he is for sure over tired. My big question is how do you suggest keeping baby up right after feedings without putting him to sleep? Most of the time I do feed in his rocker and stay there while keeping him upright. He will be asleep after feeds most of the time then wakes up after 15 minutes or so of laying him down.
Rachel Norman says
At night the body doesn’t seem to produce as may enzymes and so most reflux babies tend to sleep wel at night. I’d just put him back down and see how that goes if your doctor agrees.
Thank you for an incredible helpful blog! I realised we may have gone down the wrong rabbithole reading it :) l breastfeed every evening before sleep and our daughter falls asleep meanwhile. This was very conveniant in the beginning when she could fall asleep wherever and whenever, as long as l breastfed. She is now soon four months and wants to go to bed (rubbing her eyes) around 7pm every night. The problem is, she can’t sleep without me nursing her and once l leave her she wakes up instantly and most of the times start screaming directly. She got used to breastfeeding + being/sleeping close. I can’t go to bed at 7 every evening (& don’t want to), but l don’t want to keep her up with us and get an overtired hysterical screaming baby. I started to sleep train her and exchange sleep prop to sleep associations. But l am doubting if this is ever going to work. She is screaming more than ever and as soon as she looses any kind of body contact with me she kicks her legs, moves her arms quickly and eventually start screaming. What advice could you give me in this position? She doesn’t like pacifiers so this doesn’t really work. Thank you!