Helping Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Are you exhausted because your baby wakes up at night?  Tune in to our podcast to find out how to teach your baby to sleep through the night.

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21 Comments

  • Reply Paul August 10, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Great tips! Helped my baby.

  • Reply Brianna August 28, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Thanks for the ideas. I will try the methods you suggest. I have a 9-month old who sleeps on a mattress on the floor(not a crib-per my pediatrician’s advice) half of the night and in our bed the rest of the night. I don’t mind co-sleeping, but I’d be happy to have a full night of sleep. I hope this will work for my son 🙂 He’s been pretty spoiled up until this point.

  • Reply shannon March 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I have been doing this for four nights now with only a slight improvement. He still spends hours a night crying in his crib. As I write this he has been screaming in his crib for two hours now trying to nap. He will only nap for 20-30 minutes and wake up. He is only sleeping 10 hours a day at the most. What do I do now…THIS ISNT WORKING!!!!!!

  • Reply Alexa March 20, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Your situation sounds a lot like mine with my daughter. She would go down for nap in her crib, but wake up 15-20 minutes later and just be done unless I took her into the car and drove her around for two hours. At night she would go down to sleep reasonably ok, if we stayed with her until she was 100% asleep, but she started waking sometime between 8:30 and 11pm and the only way she would go back to sleep was to come in our bed, and then nobody slept well. We finally decided to try a modified Ferber method. At night, we still stay with her until she first falls asleep. Then, if/when she wakes up, we wait 5 minutes, go in and soothe, then wait 10 minutes, go in and soothe, then wait 15 minutes, go in and soothe, then keep it at 15 minute intervals. First waking on the first night took 3 hours (8:30-11:30pm). But then when she woke again several times that night, it only took the 5 minute cry and the 10 minute cry, and then she fell back asleep during the 15 minute wait. Since then, we’ve kept with the same plan, and the middle-of-the-night wakenings have mostly been only 5 or 10 minutes. (Well…she now has a cold, so things are a bit of a mess again, but until then it was working fine).
    Naps are another story. We tried the same plan. Disaster. At her first waking (about 15 minutes after going down) she cried for 2 1/2 hours with the 5/10/15 minute approach. Now what? It’s almost 4pm and I was totally stuck. Baby had had no nap, and was frantic, and it was only 3 1/2 hours until night bed time. So I put her in the car and let her get at least a short nap.
    After that, I checked with her pediatrician and with some friends. The 100% concensus was to wait on any sleep training for naps until night time sleep training is completely working (nearly) perfectly. Fix the night stuff, then worry about naps. Even though that wasn’t the “fix it all now” plan I was looking for, I have to say it has given me a big sigh of relief and removed a lot of guilt. Now I try to put her down for nap. If she doesn’t go to sleep in 30 minutes (which she never has since I started), I take her into the car, and drive her around so she gets a nap. Yes, I lose my only “me” time (and I run a business from home), which makes me a bit crazy. But overall it is so much calmer than the stress the non-napping was causing.
    And, who knows, maybe one day soon she’ll actually put herself to sleep during those 30 minutes.
    Hope that helps!

  • Reply Megan March 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I have tried everything as well. My 15 month old STILL has never slept through the night, and cries in his crib non stop for hours until he is removed and brought in my room. I understand that I should keep letting him cry, but the issue is that I have two other small children that he wakes and that creates a whole different situation. I dont mind if he cries for a half hour, but screaming in the middle of the night for hours just creates a mess. Not sure what else to do and I haven’t slept in months!!!!

  • Reply shannon March 23, 2010 at 1:24 am

    SO I have been sticking with the CIO and it has been one week now. After that first napping disaster, I did decide to skip the nap training, and guess what…he is taking 2 hour naps alone! The nighttime training helped the daytime. It was a very difficult few days. Constantly waking up and reassuring him then leaving the room while he is still screaming. SOmetimes I was so tired I just let him cry for an hour w/o going in. BTW, he used to sleep in bed with me and nurse every hour! I will still nurse him if he wakes up crying and it has been atleast 4 hours since he has nursed, even though he gets 3 meals a day.He is sleeping 3-5 hour stretches now which is ok with me. In bed at 630, wakes around 11, wakes again maybe one or two more times after that, awake for the day at 6 or so. He was awake in his crib quietly for a couple hours this morning cause he has a little cold…but he was not crying. He goes down very easy now and if he wakes (nap or sleep) I watch him on the monitor sometimes and he puts himself back to sleep w/o crying. It was very hard but I guesss you can say successful. It has only been a week, but we will see how everything goes.

  • Reply shannon March 23, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Try a sound machine in your other childrens’ rooms. It did the CIO with a 9 year old in the house. She sleeps through it with a sound machine. Try being consistent and go in to check and reassure frequently. Can your husband do some checking and patting/rubbing belly or back?

  • Reply Clare March 26, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Wow – it’s so incredibly sad to read about all these babies being left to CIO. Do you actually think it’s OK to let a child…YOUR child….scream his head off (possibly throwing up at times) until you ‘break’ him and he has realized no one is coming to him so he’s got no other option than to give up and sleep – dejected and alone and hurt that his mother has left him alone.

    This is not teaching your child to sleep – this is breaking your child like an animal and while you may get a few hours of extra sleep now, and think your child has “learned” how to sleep it will affect things down the line. Some great web sites to check out for opinions would be:
    naturalchild.org
    attachmentparenting.org

    Please don’t do this to your babies! Follow what’s in your heart – does it really, REALLY feel RIGHT to let your BABY scream themselves to sleep!?! You’re a mother, not an animal trainer.

    Best of luck to everyone – please remember, they’re only this age once, and this too shall pass and you will have your nights back all too soon – and then you will miss your sweet young little baby.

  • Reply shannon March 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    First of all, you may not judge people this way. There are better ways of getting your point across w/o being rude. You cannot tell someone how to handle their situation until you are in it!!! I tried everything with my son. How, exactly to you expect a mother and a baby to function when they both wake every hour and never clock good deep sleep?! I will check on my son and reassure him when he cries and I still nurse him twice a night. He sleeps with me from 330 on w/o waking. He is still the same baby but now MUCH HAPPIER all the time because he can sleep!He is not locked in a room left to scream until he throws up all night. I have visited the websites you posted and took in what they had to say. So please, this website is to help mothers, not bash them. I thank Dr. Lai for all her time and advice she gives me. By the way, we are not animals..I agree. Animals do not have the ability to learn like we do. They are stuck to their mothers until instinct kicks in and it is left to chance and nature how well they survive.

  • Reply Lisa May 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I have 3 children and just had our last one. After lessons learned from the first two, please understand that routine is everything to a baby. If you bring the baby in your room, you will teach the baby that that is the routine. If you continue to go into his room, settle him down with a pat on the back continously so he undersatnds you are not picking him up but it is time to sleep you should be ok. This is, of course, that you are sure that he is not hungry. This routine should start around 4-6 months. If he is crying really hard, there is something else wrong that you should not ignore. Sometimes even with the best routine, babies are just snackers and you may need to get up just once to feed and put back down. If that is the case, keep the lights low, your engagement minimal so he falls asleep. I hope this helps…

  • Reply Mandi May 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    My 15.5 month old is going through major separation anxiety with me (mom) and I can’t put her down for naps or nighttime. She will cry and cry and cry to no avail if I leave the room. No matter how many times I go in to reassure her she’s in a safe, cozy place, I’m always there, etc., as soon as I lave she screams and cries. She stands up before I even walk away from crib. I tried lying down on the floor in her room the other night for one hour, pretending I was asleep the whole time, and she just talked, sang, and asked me to take her out of her crib the entire hour. My husband finally came in, and as I walked out of the room she screamed, but he eventually got her to calm down and within five minutes he had her down in the crib. She fell asleep about a half hour later, but at least she was OK by herself. So, bottom line is, she will hang out in her crib peacefully until she falls alseep (whether it takes 20 mins or an hour) if my husband or childcare provider puts her down, but won’t go to sleep if I put her down. The problem is, my husband travels so there are going to soon be nights when I will be the only one here to put her down. What can I do to get her to sleep when I put here down? How can I get her to be OK with Mommy leaving her room?

  • Reply Kim November 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I beg to differ! We ARE animals and we should let our instincts tell us what is right! I cannot think of one mammal that makes it’s babies sleep in another room away from their parents. Any parent who is considering CIO should check out the affects of cortisol beforehand. No wonder we have a dysfunctional, neurotic society.

    I am now unliking this blog on fb. I can’t listen to any ped who’d recommend CIO.

  • Reply Crystal Thompson October 19, 2011 at 3:03 am

    My son is going to be 3 years old in December. He climbed out of his crib two weeks ago and hasn’t slept through the night since. He used to put himself to sleep, then sleep from 8pm to 8am and take a 3 hour nap during the day. Now it is taking me over an hour to get him to sleep and to stay in bed, and then he wakes up several times throughout the night and comes to my room. How do I get him to stay in bed and sleep through the night again?

  • Reply Two Peds in a Pod October 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    We have one post and one podcast that should help you solve this common sleep problem. The post is Three’s the magic number: Understanding three-year-old development, which addresses common behaviors and fears in this age group. The podcast is “There’s a monster under my bed!”: all about nightmares, night terrors, night wandering and bedwetting. Your child’s health care provider is also a good source of information and can help exclude medical reasons for poor sleep if you are unable to change your son’s behavior. We hope your son’s sleep (and, therefore, your own!) improves soon.
    Thank you for following Two Peds in a Pod.
    Drs. Kardos and Lai

  • Reply Kristine January 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I have a 3 week old baby. He won’t sleep in his bassinet. I’ve tried swaddling, rocking, white noise, establishing a bedtime, and nothing is working. He only sleeps if he’s being held on your chest. Any suggestions on how to get him to sleep in his bed, even if it is only for a few hours? He tends to grunt and gargle once you lay him down. I’ll take any advice.

  • Reply Two Peds in a Pod January 28, 2012 at 1:07 am

    A 3 week old is expected to wake up to feed about every 2-3 hours. Baby’s at this age are too young to “cry it out.” Given that, a baby is allowed to fuss a couple minutes or so when they are first put down into their bassinet to sleep. Put yourself down to nap when the baby naps. Invite people into your house who will do your dishes and let you nap— kick everyone else out. If you start feeling resentful of the baby or find yourself sad and depressed you have postpartum depression- let your doctors know right away.

    These two posts will help with your questions – take care:
    Parents of newborns: get your Zzzzzs back
    Sleep Patterns of the Newborn

  • Reply Nicole January 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I have a 6 month old baby girl. She’s getting up over 10 times a night and rolling on her belly and then screaming because she can’t tool back (she has but not a lot) . So I’m waking up many times a night to flip her over . I did CIO method with my son and that worked great bit I feel bad making her be stuck on her belly. Help!

  • Reply Two Peds in a Pod January 14, 2014 at 4:10 am

    As you are aware, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting babies down to sleep on their backs at the start of the night in order to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Note that the recommendation does not comment about flipping a baby like a pancake numerous times during the night. Eventually she will learn that if she accidentally flips over onto her belly in the middle of the night, but prefers to sleep on her back, then she will get back onto her back.

    Thank you for reading our blog!
     Drs. Kardos and Lai

  • Reply Cynthia m March 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you so much for this blog…I always refer to it when I’m having a problem with my child.

    While I liked this podcast, it did not answer my question. I have a twenty month old who was always a great sleeper until about two weeks ago. Now she refuses to sleep in her crib. She screamed on and off for two hours and sounded scared. We changed the crib into a toddler bed…that didn’t work. Now, she sleeps on the floor in her room and is waking up once or twice a night. She will go back to sleep if someone lies down with her until she falls back to sleep but otherwise will begin to cry and eventually scream if no one responds.

    What do we do now???

  • Reply Two Peds in a Pod March 24, 2014 at 2:48 am

    Sounds like you have already have the answer yourself- “she will go back to sleep if someone lies down with her until she falls back to sleep” … she is depending on you or your partner to fall back asleep again. She’s having difficulty doing it by herself. Start by making sure she can fall asleep on her own when you put her to bed. Revisit this podcast for ways to teach her how to fall asleep. Once she understands how to fall asleep on her own, then whatever you do in the middle of the night is up to you. You can feel good that even if she protests, she does know how to eventually fall back asleep.  Just do whatever it takes so that eventually everyone has a good night’s rest- many people enjoy snuggling with their older toddlers in bed. For every family sleep requirements are different, and what works one week will change in a month.  

    This may also give you some ideas    
    take care
  • Reply Parents of one-year-olds: Rule your Roost! | Two Peds in a Pod® October 4, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    […] Sleep: The rule is that parents decide on reasonable bedtimes and naptimes. The toddler decides when he actually falls asleep. Singing to oneself or playing in the crib is fine. Even cries of protest are fine. Check to make sure he hasn’t pooped or knocked his binky out of the crib. After you change the poopy diaper/hand back the binky, LEAVE THE ROOM! Many parents tell me that “he just seems like he wants to play at 2:00am or he seems hungry.” Well, this assessment may be correct, but remember who is boss. Unless your family tradition is to play a game and have a snack every morning at 2:00am, then just say “No, time for sleep now,” and ignore his protests. […]

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