Rocking and Nursing to Sleep

Posted on: December 21st, 2018 by Violet 60 Comments

What exactly is a sleep prop?
rocking to sleep

Sleep associations or “sleep props” are anything that your baby uses and needs to fall asleep. Nursing to sleep and rocking to sleep are the most common, but there are many others. The breast, a pacifier, white noise, rocking, swinging, comfort nursing/comfort feeding, movement in the car or stroller, can all be sleep props. Sleep associations are a normal part of falling asleep. Even us as adults need that something to help us fall asleep. It’s when these props disrupt your baby’s sleep, that it becomes a problem. If your baby is not sleeping well at night, wakes frequently, or puts up a fight at nap time, it may be time to start teaching your baby to fall asleep on his or her own and without any sleep props.

How do I know if my baby has a sleep association?

Babies that have strong sleep associations usually have very bad sleep patterns.  This is because they are very dependent on these props and associations to help them get to sleep and transition through sleep cycles. When that sleep prop or association is not readily available, they wake up completely in between sleep stages and cry out. Until they get their prop of course, and then fall back into a deep sleep again. Only to wake again shortly after. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Typical behavior of a “sleep prop baby”

  • Baby will not go to sleep without nursing, rocking, bouncing, stroller, or any other prop.
  • Baby sleeps while comfort nursing.
  • Baby wakes up crying, or screaming only 30 minutes after being laid down to sleep. (Sometimes even as soon as being transferred into the crib).
  • Wakes frequently at night, usually every 1-2 hours.
  • Will not sleep through the night without your help.
  • Needs a pacifier re-inserted multiple times a night.
  • Needs to be rocked or nursed back to sleep during the night.
  • Naps poorly. Babies that have sleep associations, usually nap no longer than 30-40 minutes (1 sleep cycle).
  • Cries hysterically when laid down awake.
  • Is clingy, cranky, and fussy throughout the day from all the fragmented sleep.
  • Bedtimes and Naptimes are an all out mess, and you’re usually stuck rocking or feeding your baby until she is completely asleep.

How can sleep props keep my baby up all night?

Think about how you go to sleep each night. Do you read a book, or watch your favorite show before bed? Do you take a warm bath, and slip into your comfy pajamas? Or maybe all you need is your favorite pillow? These are associations that help remind us it’s time to sleep. Any deviation from that can completely throw us off. You could be up all night, tossing and turning, just because you don’t have your pillow, or you weren’t able to take your warm bath.

We associate these props or rituals with sleep, so without them it’s almost impossible to fall asleep, even if your dead tired! This is exactly what happens with babies. They need that exact sleep association in order to fall asleep, and since they have many sleep-wake cycles during the night, they will also need that particular prop to fall back asleep.

Not to mention, if your baby has a sleep association with you, then she is going to wake up alarmed when she realizes she is no longer in your arms. Just as you would if you fell asleep in your bed, but woke up on the couch. It’s just as frightening for your baby! Also, if you are rocking your baby in your warm and cozy arms, but then place her in the crib, she will wake during the transfer or shortly after laid down. Quite often after a sleep cycle. She will wake up, scream, flail her arms or startle and at that point it will be very difficult to get your baby back to sleep. Laying your baby down awake so she is aware of her surrounding prevents this.

Rocking and nursing a baby to sleep is a parent’s natural and immediate response to their baby’s crying. And at times, that’s ok. However, it becomes a problem when you’re up all night rocking, bouncing, or nursing to sleep because that’s the only way your baby will fall asleep.

“Before I contacted Violet Anthony had never slept through the night, he was usually up twice a night. He was also dependent on nursing to fall asleep. I couldn’t believe it, the first night he slept 11 hours straight!! It’s been 2 1/2 weeks so far and every single night he’s slept for 10-11 hours! He also no longer falls asleep nursing! Now he nurses and pulls off when he wants to go to bed. He loves his crib which is a total change from before when he would cry every time I laid him down. Thank you so much!! Honestly, I thought there was no way my stubborn little guy would go into his crib awake and fall asleep. It’s amazing!! Thanks!! I can sleep again!!”~ Alison, California 

I rocked and nursed my first baby to sleep, and put her in the swing for naps. We were up multiple times a night, for almost a year! Her favorite sleep prop was comfort nursing, which she “demanded” pretty much all night. I let this go on for so long because I didn’t want to deny my baby comfort. But we were all exhausted, and sleep deprived. I knew that I needed to fix this. I learned that there were much better ways to provide comfort, ways that actually promote sleep. With my second baby, I vowed not to make the same mistakes. At only 6 weeks, she started sleeping through the night.

What can I do?

Like I said, we all need some sort of sleep association each night. However, you have to decide which one you can deal with, and which one won’t keep your baby up all night. Pacifiers, soothers, white noise machines were all created to help soothe babies. They are all fine to use if they don’t become a problem. If your baby needs a pacifier to go to sleep, but doesn’t mind when it falls out, then that’s great! It’s when you’re waking up every half hour to stick it back in her mouth, that it becomes a problem.

The best thing you can do for your baby is to help her fall asleep on her own, so that she doesn’t require your help getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. Many parents fear that this means that they will have to incorporate some harsh methods of sleep training. Let me reassure you that there are plenty of gentle techniques to achieve this, and you don’t have to miss out on any cuddles, kisses, or hugs. My babies got plenty of cuddle time with mommy every single night before bedtime. When we were done cuddling, I laid my baby down awake, and she fell asleep completely on her own in under 2 minutes. No crying, no fussing, just happily and peacefully fell asleep.
If your a baby will not sleep at night or naps poorly because she uses props to fall asleep, or is struggling with other sleep troubles, I am available for Personal Baby Sleep Consultations.

wonder weeks

Teaching a baby to fall asleep without sleep props such as rocking or nursing to sleep is one of my specialties! I can create a step by step sleep plan of exactly how to do this. I can also help and support you through the whole process, and will be only an email away when questions come up, to ensure you are successful.

Take a look at what others are saying about how I have helped their little one sleep through the night. You might find a story similar to yours!


I Am Available For Personal Help!

Sometimes figuring out why your baby is waking up so often and finding a solution to stop the wakings,
requires some help. For that reason, I offer personal consultations.

profile-7The consultation comes with a step by step sleep plan that I create for your baby, and help with the entire process, so that your baby can start sleeping through the night. If you need help getting your baby to sleep, please take a look at my Consultation Packages, or see what others are saying about how I have helped them on the Testimonials Page.

Violet Giannone

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60 Responses

  1. I never saw sleep associations as a negative thing, but you've made me realize how sometimes they can be. Perhaps the best sleep association would be a baby's blanket. They're small enough that they're easy to travel with and serve the practical purpose of keeping your baby warm at night too.

  2. Neither did I Julia, until I learned that was the reason she was waking up so much at night. Now everyone is so amazed at how easily my daughter falls asleep on her own. And, that's exactly what we use, a small blankie/lovey. It doesn't require any work on my part when she wakes up at night. Thanks for your input, good luck with your little one!

  3. My daughter goes to sleep easily at night, i just lay her in her cot awake and she goes to sleep within 5 minutes, but she wakes often from 10pm almost every 30 – 60 mins, and she doesn't go back to sleep on her own. That is my problem, she has her blankie, but that means nothing to her at those times, how do i get her to stop waking so often and to help her self back to sleep at those times, she does it fine for her nap times and begining of the evenings! She is already 15 months and this has been going on the whole time, so it's not cause of teething, although at those times it is worse. WHAT DO I DO, i've done all programes, she has a solid routine, same as my son, and he sleeps fine, but not her. at my wits end

  4. Violet – my 14 week old has been rocked and bounced to sleep an then put in a swing for ages. He used to cry out in his sleep every 20 minutes starting at 3 weeks. It was excruciating. The swing was the only thing that would prevent this. But now he is a HUGE paci addict. I am currently in his room for the 7th time tonight holding the paci in. He wakes up alllll the time to suck. Naps are horrible. I have to either hold him or lay next to him to hold the paci in because naps are effectively over once it comes out. He sucks the whole nap and never stills. He gives me zero sleep cues so I go by the clock for naps. I try to rock him to sleep in under 2 hours. It's a fight every time. I also have to usually cover his eyes so he can't look around when going to sleep. I have an awesome bedtime routine of bath, book, bottle – but then I rock to sleep with the paci. He is also still swaddled. Blah I don't know what to do!

  5. Hi Anne! I can totally relate, I was nursing or rocking my first baby to sleep and she was up all hours of the night for a long 8 months until I decided to do something about it. She's been sleeping like a champ ever since. I think it may be time for a little "sleep training".

  6. I just go in and lay her back down, give her a kiss and walk out, she sleeps for an hour and then stands up calling again. I never pick her up or rock her or anything, i just carry on doing this all night

  7. There might be more going on, I would have to take a look at her whole schedule to truly understand what's going on. It could be separation anxiety, teething, nap times could be off, just to throw out a few ideas..

  8. Hi violet! After reading pretty much everything on your blog I got started on some new methods tonight.I put my maternity wedge under my 5 month old's mattress and wrapped the mattress with a very soft blanket (she naps on the couch next to me against pillows and holding her blanket- it never occurred to me to implement them in her play yard (which for the time being we use as a crib)). She now sleeps almost 6 hours without waking but lately she's been crying right after I put her in semi awake. I let her whine and whine and sometimes cry and go in at 4 minute periods. eventually she sleeps. My question is how do I make her nap in her "crib"? I took your advice and covered all the lights in her room but during the day its really bright. You mentioned to do sleep training for a nap like we do for nighttime. If she just doesn't calm down during her naps in the day won't she be very cranky the whole day? Also, when she sleep on the couch she sleeps 30 minutes or so after every bottle. Is that too little?
    Thank you so much for your great advice, her doctor just told me to let her cry it out and that she just takes cat naps…. he's not here to hear the crying now is he? 🙂

  9. Hi Jana, you might have to adjust your wake times to make sure she is on an age appropriate schedule. Is there a room you can put her in that's dark, for naps? 30 minutes is a very short nap, that usually happens when a baby doesn't fall asleep on her own, they wake after one sleep cycle..

  10. Well, I am saddened to report that I gave in to her whinning today. since its cloudy today in NY, her room is nice and dark – something does not happen often because we live in a corner apt. I did the same sleep routine (minus the bath and book) and put her down drowsy for her 7 am nap. she skipped it and instead wanted to whine and look at her hands.when she started crying i picked her up at which point she started falling asleep and then i put her down again. this happened for 2 hrs. I fed her again at 9. she was soo tired but I stuck it out for another hr. Finally, fearful she was going to skip the second nap, I laid her on the couch and it was lights out in 5 minutes (semi- on her own…) for 45 minues. I'm a whimp…

  11. Don't be too hard on yourself, but do remember that you control the results you are going to get. If you let her sleep on the couch, then thats what she's going to expect every time. So you have to decide how important this is to you.

  12. My 5 month old has been sleeping through the night since he was just a few weeks old but lately he's been waking up every 3 hours and the only thing that will get him back to sleep is the pacifier. As soon as he gets his pacifier, he's out for another few hours. I'd like to break him of the pacifier but he's teething now too. Do you think he's waking up now because he's teething and the pacifier helps him? Should let him keep the pacifier since he's teething? If so, when can I break him of the pacifier!?

  13. Im reading your post and thinking if maybe I wrote this myself and don't even remember lol. I am going through the exact same situation with my 5 month old. We decided to keep the binky for now as it is helping with the teething tremendously. To better answer your question, you have to decide how disruptive this binky situation is. If its just a matter of getting up, putting it back in once or twice, then perhaps its not as big of a deal when compared to what could possibly happen when you take it away when those teeth are poking through. To make things more confusing, I always teach parents to break binky habits right away if their babies are relying on them to fall asleep. The 2 exceptions are regressions/growth spurts or teething, in these situations you can put it off a little bit. But teething where you can actually see swollen gums, a visible bump and teeth about to erupt. Not the everyday teething that babies have until well after their 1st birthday. Your other choice is to take the binky away, it will take about 3-5nights of hell but then he will forget about it and will find a new way to soothe himself to sleep, but at that point you will have to speak to your doctor about some medication for the teething if its disrupting his sleep. So it's a personal choice, and depends on how much it's disrutpting night time sleep for the family. Remember if you take it away at night then it's best to take it away all together not to confuse or tease him. At 5 months old that's not a step we are ready to make because like I said it's helping so much with teething, without the need for medication. It's great for crankiness, illness, and doctor visits (especially after shots). So we decided to keep it, but if it gets to a point where we're waking up multiple times at night, then it will have to go. Good luck, hope that helps clarify things.

  14. My 4.5 month old is nursed to sleep as we co-sleep/bedshare (safely after reading up on it). She is in her 4 month sleep regression the last week as she wakes every hour after falling asleep. But she only ever naps for 20 to 30 mins at a time. She just got her first 2 teeth as well in the last 2 weeks. How do I break the nurse to sleep routine? Do I nurse her in a chair and then put her in her crib (side-car to my bed)? Then she starts crying so do I pick her up and comfort her, then put her down again? How long could that go on for? I hate to see her upset about changing her routine but I'm going back to work in January and would like to have some sleep under my belt and make naptime easier for daddy as he will be the caregiver.

  15. Everything you wrote above applies to my 2mo. He wakes multiple times at night, has to be rocked or nursed back to sleep, needs a pacifier and often wakes during the transfer to the crib. To make matters worse he naps terribly and we often end up giving up and having him nap in his swing just for some reprieve for the both of us. He's always in his room which is pretty dark and we have a pretty solid bedtime routine (though the time fluctuates and nursing is the last thing we do currently), then he swaddles and he goes in the crib. Last night I slept about 2 hours and today I am desperate as he is also not napping unless in the swing. HELP!

  16. I have a 7month old preemie who is 5.5 months adjusted. I'm not sure if I base her sleep schedule off actual or adjusted but there's both.

    Currently she barely naps maybe 2-3 30 min naps a day only when being nursed or bottle fed to sleep then either held or when I nurse her I lay in the bed. She within the past month or so has started to wake up every 1-2hrs a night just to nurse for 5 minutes and fall back to sleep. We do bedshare and in the beginning it was a much better nights sleep for us, now not so much. I am ready to get this resolved and try to get her to sleep on her own the only thing I worry about is her getting upset. She is not a whiner when she cries, she screams bloody murder. I'm afraid it wont work bc she will just get so worked up and purple faced and sweaty that she wont calm down.

    I've tried putting her down drowsy and she either wakes up and laughs at me and then eventually cries, or just straight cries when I move her. I'm at a loss I dont know what to do and I want this to change but I guess I dont really know where to start.


  17. Hi Sarah your situation is very typical and just like about 90% of the emails I get, so you are not alone:) Sounds like your baby really needs to learns how to fall asleep on her own. She only knows how to go to sleep by you assisting her with the process. This will continue to cause multiple nighttime wakings because she just doesn't know how to fall back to sleep unless you come in and do it for her. Lay her down awake and give her a chance to learn and figure this out. It won't be easy, but it will be so worth it…for the both of you:):):) Good luck! Let me know how else I can help

  18. I have a 9 month old that just will not sleep. I have a bedtime routine for him and I put him down awake but he will do everything he can not to go to sleep. Eventually he does get that tired that he does go but sometimes it takes bum patting to do it which I am trying to get him out of. He is also fighting his naps during the day. He use to have his 1st nap about 3-3.5 hours after waking up and then his 2nd nap about 4-4.5 hours after waking from his first nap. Now he will stay awake for 6 hours and nothing I can do will get him to sleep. This is then affecting the time that he goes to sleep at night. He has also decided that he's not keen on eating solids at the moment. I make sure that he does get enough during the day though so he shouldn't be hungry at night. He just isn't doing anything that he should. I know I'm the mother and have to be firm and I am but it takes hours to get him to do anything lately. I can't afford a sleep coach so that is out the window. Any suggestions please.

  19. Is he sleeping through the night? How long are his naps? Maybe he is meeting his sleep requirements and just doesn't need all that sleep. Also, are you treating naptime as bedtime, with a wind-down routine, room darkening shades that sort of thing? Just throwing a few ideas without fully knowing the whole picture…

  20. Hi thank for your great posts! My DD will be 6months old next week & past few days has been teething or so I believe. She was congested & very cranky at night. She has been SSTN since 2 months & I was able to put her down to sleep with a 5 minute rocking session. Past few days as I thought she was sick I was rocking her to deep sleep & she would wake every 30min. Will she get back to her normal routine or should I put her down while still awake? No paci?

  21. my son is 27 month-old and his bad time routine is a mess. He never fell asleep on his own. He usually cries, wants to play, read one more book, tell stories, etc. I ended up putting a mattress on the floor of his bedroom and I stay there with him…when he finally falls asleep I leave, then my night saga begins… he wakes up 2, 3, 4 times calling me at night. If I don't go ,he cries or he comes to find me. I am so exhausted that most of the time I end up sleeping there with him. Now I want to withdraw the mattress, but he keeps saying that that is his bed.
    Is there still hope for me? Is there still time to fix my son’s bedtime routine? This craziness is ruining my marriage.

  22. Yes there is hope, it's never too late. You just have to be a little more firm, and commit to getting this problem solved, otherwise this will just continue…

  23. My daughter is 8 months old. Just this last week we decided it was time to take her pacifier away because she was waking every couple of hours and could not go to sleep without it. I had wanted to do this earlier, like 5 weeks ago, but she started cutting teeth and now that both bottom teeth are through we decided to start. It has been a rough 5 nights. She can go to sleep just fine: I change her diaper, put her in her pj's, brush her teeth, and give her one last feeding in the rocking chair. I don't just let her suck herself to sleep or sit there and rock her but as soon as she is done eating I will lay her down and she falls asleep.
    It seemed to be getting better when I realized that when she would wake up in the night, she would cry like she was hungry but then when I would feed her she would only suck just long enough to fall back asleep. (In the past, I have just fed her as often as she wanted in the night laying next to me in bed. When she was done I would put her back into her crib which is right next to our bed.) So I started to stop picking her up and trying to feed her. She will usually sleep straight from about 8:30 to 12:30 then I will feed her that once in the middle of the night when she wakes up but after that I try not to. The last couple of nights after that feeding from 1 to 4 she will fall asleep for like 15 min then wake back up and cry. I have tried to let her cry until she calms down and then will help reposition, and cover her back up. I have even tried rubbing her back and shushing to her which she will fall back asleep again but only for 15 min or so. Pretty much, I have tried everything I can do for her- after she has cried it out for herself for a little bit- to just try and help her learn to sleep without the pacifier or me as her human pacifier. She finally will fall asleep about 4:30 to about 8 with no problems, if she does wake up she puts herself back to sleep pretty quickly.
    I am a little lost on what to do from this point, just keep doing the same thing? Is there something I am doing that is giving her the wrong message of what she is supposed to learn? I hope there is something I can do better because my poor husband and I aren't getting much sleep.
    Oh, and the other thing is she got super tired two days ago and got very little nap time in, but for the most part and since then she usually gets two naps: first one from 10 to 12, second from about 3 to 5 or 6.

  24. Sorry, I just submitted a post about my 8 month old. I forgot to tell you that she falls asleep finally around 4:30 again in the morning when I feed her for the second time. Thanks.

  25. My 15-month-old daughter settles herself to sleep in her crib after a bottle, but she wakes up like clockwork every night at midnight and 4 a.m. I have not made her "cry it out," and probably should have. I give her a bottle, put her back in the crib and she self settles again. It's not hard but it does get old. What can I try? Thanks!

  26. Hello, please help, I'm going mad! my 10 1/2 month old sleeps through very sporadically, the last time being about 10 days ago. He has a very good bedtime routine, sometimes falls asleep immediately after his bottle & before I've got him into bed, sometimes he is drowsy when he goes down & falling asleep is no problem. however, he wakes about twice a night, usually around 1am and again about 4ish, both times, he is stood up in his cot crying and we have to pick him up for a cuddle to get him back to sleep. often he will go straight back down for a few hours, but the last few weeks we have had to take him to the spare room so he can lay on us and once he's asleep we put him back down – he was ill a few weeks ago and so needed us in the night and I am sure its now because he is used to this behaviour. My husband disagrees and says we should remember that some people have it worse!! He was always a good sleeper but since weaning has had patterns of good and bad sleep, he is a very happy boy and although generally has been a good sleeper, has never been a great napper, not sure if this has any connection. he has been at nursery and with my parents for the last 6 weeks or so as I have returned to work 3 days a week.

  27. Thanks. I get that – that how we respond in the night will mean that he will expect the same when he wakes but having said that, some nights he sleeps thorough and some he only wakes once or twice, surely he has woken in the night and settled himself as sleep cycles are relatively short in babies (in fact I have stood at the door and watched him settle himself), so he CAN settle himself, its just on one or two occasions he seems to not be able to. Its all so confusing! Also, he is usually sat or stood up when we go into his room and so we have to tend to him to get him to lay down. Appreciate the link to the article, its a real help, I shall start changing things and see how we get on.

  28. Sounds like he knows how to do it, but has not yet mastered it….2 completely different ball games. But he's headed in the right direction. Good luck, let me know if there is anything else I can do!

  29. Sounds like the change in day time care givers could be disturbing his night time sleep. Children in large group daycare often don't sleep well at night because the day is over stimulating. When we sleep at night our brains work through the problems of the day. Once he adjusts to his new caregiving arrangements he should be a better night sleeper.

  30. I have a 4 months old baby and first time. I have been rocking and nursing her during naptimes and bedtime. For the first 3 months, she slept really well during naps (while we hold her in our arms) and nights (with no waking thru 2 feedings). However, I think she is hitting the 4 months sleep regression. She would take very short naps like 1/2 hr and would wake up crying in my arms. And at nights, often wake up every hour tossing and turning to fight to go back to sleep. She would try to look for the breasts to try to help herself to go back to sleep. I begin to see this as a problem. Lately, we started a bedtime routine with her (for a week) to get her to bed early between 8 and 8:30. I am trying to nurse her and then make sure she doesn't fall asleep and then rock her till she is drowsy to put her down but she would fuss and cry. After I pick her up, she would still cry and would try to look for the breast. Last night, I tried to let her cry it out in the middle of the night when she looks for the breasts to fall back asleep but she would make some noises and then went back to sleep. It happened a fre times. Then around 2, thought she might be hungry so I nursed her when she was forcefully looking for it. Should I skip the night feedings totally? She is co-sleeping with us on our bed. Also, what should I do to try to help her to sleep on bed during naps? I can't get anything done holding her thru 3 naps in a day. Any recommendations and suggestions are appreciated.

  31. Hi, Just came across your site, and am between about three sections at the moment. I haven't had a chance to read all the comments. My boy will be 19 weeks on Tues Oct 14th 2014, and has always woke around 2-4 hourly. We do use a dummy, but he is usually ok when it falls out. I used to feed him everytime he stirred, now I just stick it back in (in a hope he will resettle and not wake DP). He still sleeps in our room, and is now in a cot, but was like this in the cradle too (cradle was always locked, never rocked it). Lately he has been super grumpy, I have missed his tired signs, and sometimes all I can do is rock (which I never do) and have his dummy in. He is usually awake when I put him down, he wakes anyway if he is asleep. He usually resettles overnight after a feed quickly (he is exclusively breastfed).
    He can fall asleep without the dummy, but this happens probably less than 10% of the time, and is usually in the car.
    He is still swaddled in a Love to Dream Swaddle Up, and can touch his face and suck on his hands, keep his dummy in, or pull it out.

    We recently went camping for two nights, he was very cranky and screaming when I tried to put him down, so rocking again it was. I had to check on him the first night, it was cold and had been nearly 6 hours and still no peep from him, accidentally woke him, so he fed and went back for another 4.5 hours. The next night he had a dose of paracetamol as he had a temp, and slept for nearly 10 hours! When I checked my phone the alarm went off (around 6am, when it was meant to go off at 9pm) and woke him. Now I know he can sleep for long stretches, I want to continue it.
    I thought maybe we had the room too warm, but it was cooler the last couple nights (changed his flannalette sheets for summer ones) He usually sleeps in a light onesie or legless suit, the swaddle and a doubled over sheet.

    I thought maybe it was a feeding issue, as he fed for less than 10 mins total, from both sides. But he has been gaining weight no problems. The lactation consultant I seen said to introduce solids, Farex as it's 'a different kind of full', but I don't really want to, and don't really want to start with rice cereal. We have let him hold food and he will put it to his mouth sometimes, but he doesn't seem interested.

    I never wanted a dummy, but as a thumb sucker myself (till I was in my teens) I kind of prefer it. The dummy was introduced on day 3. I had a long labour, followed by a ventouse extraction, he was born 3.47kg, 52.5cm long and 36cm head, if that helps?

    I am continuing to read through your website, as well as others for now, but please help!

  32. Hi, my baby boy is just 3 months old and he used to sleep 5-6 hours a night, then every 2 hours after that. But now he goes to sleep and wakes every hour. I have been nursing him to sleep since the beginning really but this last week I've been tackling that with the pick up put down thing. He eventually drifts off after and hour or so but then is awake after 2 hours. What is the best thing to do when he wakes up? Do I nurse him as usual? Rock him? Let him cry? I just don't know. Last night was a little better but by 3 he woke up after being fed and hours ago. I picked him up and he wouldn't go back in his cot.

    Thank you in advance.

  33. Hi Erin,
    At 3 months old your baby will most likely still need a feeding at some point during the night. The first step would be to determine which feeding he actually needs. Then you would work on eliminating the feedings he is using just for comfort. Unfortunately this is not as easy as just doing a little pick up/put down. You will have to have a good and consistent plan in place of how you will be responding to the wakings, and be extremely consistent in whatever you do. You will also have to know which wakings are due to hunger, so that you are not trying techniques that will do absolutely nothing because your baby is hungry. Hope that makes sense? Please let me know if you need anymore help.

  34. Hi Violet, I have a question about putting your baby down drowsy. I have a 7 week old that if I put down drowsy she pretty much wakes up right away and cries. I know I am suppose to pick her up then but my question is then do I keep putting her down over and over till eventually she goes to sleep. It seems like I would be making her upset a lot. Please help. I would like to have good sleep habits with her.

  35. I have a 3 month old who loves to be bounced to sleep. When he was younger, he would only sleep when being held and would wake instantaneous when trying to lay him down. Therefore, we have been holding him most of the time when he sleeps. It's the only way we can get any sleep. However, that is getting really old! When we try to lay him down now, he will last 30-45 minutes before waking. I have tried laying him down awake and tired, but he only screams!! Is there a way to teach him to fall asleep on his own without all the crying/screaming?

  36. No absolutely not, crying/screaming is not the only way to help your little one learn to fall asleep on his own. Have you considered one of my sleep packages? This is exactly what I help parents with.

  37. Hi. I have a baby boy that turns 4 months on 27th of march. Since he was a few weeks old he slept well during the night waking up only 2 times at 2:00 am & 5:00 am. Later only at 5:00 am. Has been 10 days now that my baby wakes up every hour at night. He starts whinning and them crying. He's used on a pacifier but the dummy didn't put him back to sleep. Only feeding, sometimes on both breasts do the trick. I want to mention that my baby sleep only on my breast while he's feeding. He didn't sleep when i put him awake on the crib and he start crying a lot when i try this. Please help me cuz im sleep deprived now and i dont know whats going on with my baby. He's also a terrible napper and sleep only at 40 min stretch on daytime. Whats wrong ???? Thank you

  38. Hi,

    My daughter will be 6 months next week. I have finally gotten her able to fall asleep independently in her crib for all naps. Sometimes she fusses/talks and occasionally tears. It can take her anywhere from 5-20 minutes to fall asleep. I am plagued by the short nap. She naps for about 35-40 minutes each nap. I have tried the wake to sleep method to extend her naps, which did not work. I have been trying crib hour for the week so see if that will help but so far she just gets frustrated after waiting for so long. She has a consistent nap and bedtime routine – dark room, music, diaper change, sleep sack, cuddle – crib. Her wake times are usually about 2-2.5 hours. Sometimes shorter in the morning. I go based off her cues (yawn, rubbing eyes, etc).

    Any tips on extending her naps?


  39. Please help I'm at my wits end my little boy will sleep great at night and hoes to sleep in his cot 98% of the time no issues and is asleep within 5-10 mins on avg you can just hear him chatting away! Napping however is disastrous I can tell he shattered but unless in the pram/car or I rock him to sleep he literally will just scream i find it far to distressing have tried the whole walk away for a min then 2 etc but can never take it past 10 as my lb gets soooo upset and I can't bear to hear him cry!! I don't know how to kerb this

  40. Hey, Such an informative article. Every single word mentioned here is so true with my 15 month old. By now she is so attached to my breasts that she has developed a strong association with suckling and sleeping and I am going crazy. I have tried giving her bottle/pacifier/sipper at night but to no avail. She cries the hell out! She only wants me, me and me.Her nap times and night time sleep are totally dependent on my breasts. She naps poorly and is a pathetic sleeper right from birth, waking up every 40-70 min at night even today! I assume i have not been consistent with her in my approach. One day firm, the other day relaxed. I want her to get off my breast now as i am tired and our family life is getting disturbed. She has been co-sleeping with me. Any suggestion /help would be welcome. I need some peace in life now.

  41. Hi my 6 week old daughter can go 5 hours between feedings at night but only when she cuddles with me in the recliner. I've done a ton of reading and tried putting her down when she is drowsy at 8pm. She wakes up in 30 minutes screaming and after 15 mins of reinserting her pacifier I end up giving up and holding her because she won't settle down. Then when I finally get her to sleep I put her in her crib and she is awake in 2 hours and crying hysterically and won't sleep unless we are in the recliner. I've wedged her crib, played white noise, kept it dark. She kicks herself out of swaddlers and panics when I put her in one because she lives having her arms out and turning on her side. Any advice on how to get her to sleep for longer periods in her crib????

  42. Hi I have a 6 week old who hates being swaddled and hates sleeping in her crib. I read to her at 8 and put her down drowsy. She self soothes and wakes up in 45 mins screaming. I try pacifiers and crying it out but after fifteen minutes she is still going. She will only sleep with me in the recliner and can go a solid 5 hours very peacefully without waking up to eat. Anyways I feed her again at 10, put her down drowsy in a dark room with white noise and a wedge under her mattress and a shirt that smells like me and she's up in 45 minutes refusing to be consoled. Any advice?

  43. Hi Violet,
    Great article! Do you have any advice/articles on transitioning out of a swaddle? My 5 month old used to sleep 8-10 hours through, and now that she started to bust out of her swaddle and is rolling, I stopped the swaddle and she will not settle down to sleep on her back. One arm out, two arms out, same thing. She's managed to get 3-4 hour stretches on her tummy, but as soon as she rolls over she wakes up and can't go back to sleep alone — she just grunts, kicks and waves her arms about, where as she used to settle back down by herself after waking when she was swaddled.
    Thanks and what a resourceful website!

  44. Hi, I have a 6 month old who as a bad sleep association. She nurses to sleep. My question is how do I get her to sleep without being nursed. She is currently crying it out in her crib. Any advice is appreciated.

  45. Hi, I have 6 month old who has a bad sleep association. She uses me as a pacifier to get to sleep. So I need some advice on how get her to self sooth and sleep on her own. I feed her changed her and laid her in her crib awake. She is currently crying it out. Any help is appreciated.

  46. Hi I have a 6 month old that I have been sleep training. She was dependent on the pacifier for sleep so we weaned her off. Since then my baby girl has been sleeping through the night with occasional random crying but goes back to sleep within minutes. But giving up the pacifier now she sucks on her fingers to sleep. It makes me paranoid that it will be a future habit since people have warned me that it's harder to wean than the pacifier. Not sure I want to reintroduce the pacifier. Any experience with this way of soothing or suggestions for future weaning? And she is teething also. Thanks from FTM

    PS-I think sometimes she may have put her fingers in her mouth with the pacifier also before.

  47. Hi i have a 6 months old. I rocked him to sleep since he was born when hes napping and sleeping for the night. Now i started to sleep training him. Trying cry it out method. Its been going okay. He cries so much but we will work this out. My question is should i also use the cry it out method for his naps too. Should i stop rocking him and let him cry? I feel like he would have to cry all day. And i really dont want to do that to him.

  48. So my 10month old son slept in a bassinet in my room until he was between 5 and 6 months old but had been sleeping through the night since 8 weeks. When we transitioned him into his own room and crib we had no problems, for the most part, transitioning. I would lay him down for naps and he would fall asleep on his own and at night I’d nurse/rock him to sleep as his last feeding and then he would sleep all night, 7-7, with one dream feed at 10pm. Then at about 7 1/2-8 months he started waking up again a couple times a night. At first i just put his pacifier back in but then that started to not be good enough and he would cry and cry until I picked him up and fed him. Now 2 months later the problem still exists where he wants to eat at night and falls asleep quickly otherwise it takes an hour for him to fall back to slee to where I can lay him down. What do I do? He was able to sleep all night before when I nursed/rocked him to sleep. Why did that stop working at 7 1/2-8 months old? Any help would be great. I’m feeling sleep deprived and not sure if I should feed him or just keep trying to get him back to sleep without eating?

    • Sleep props such as rocking or feeding to sleep usually tend to stop working right around the 4th or 8month regression when a baby really starts to struggle with sleep. At this point to fix your baby’s sleep troubles, it would be best to help him to sleep independently so he is waking all night needing your help to get back to sleep. This article is a great start. I am also available for one on one help.

  49. Violet, I have just started reading your blogs. My 6 week old has previously had very bad crying spells and has pain, which I am now starting her on colic calm( hoping this helps). We were on a good routine of her feeding every 3 hours and she naps for 2 hours at a time during the day with 1hr wake periods (feeding ab 30 min/play other 30). We mainly have an issue when I start her bedtime routine. Her last nap usually is from 330-530 and I bathe her at 630 then dress and feed her. 730 I start putting her to sleep, she may go down for an hour then she is back up. We do this off and on until about 1230. After 1230 she normally sleeps 3 hour stretches. Now this week she has been off I’m guessing because of growth spurt, but she just isn’t consoling as easy. And wants to eat more. I always wait before going into her room 3 min. If she doesn’t stop crying then I go change her and she is usually hungry. I am sometimes able to lay her down awake and she goes back to sleep but not always. I don’t know how to make it a consistent pattern.

    • It sounds like sometimes she is getting comfort fed because you don’t know what else to do? This may be the cause of the sleep troubles since she will expect to be fed to sleep anytime she struggles falling asleep. I would look into some calming techniques such as in this article about no tears sleep training

  50. Hey Violet. Thank you for all of your input and advice. My 3 month old will sleep through the night (around 9-6:30am). The only problem is he will only fall asleep by being rocked to sleep, and from there, i have to lay him in his bouncy seat, which is the ONLY place he will stay asleep. He will not sleep in his crib. I know he will outgrow his bouncy seat soon, and when he does, we’ll be in trouble. Lol Please help!

  51. Hi there! I have a 6 month old (23 pounds and 28 inches – big boy) who used to sleep well, but since the 4-month regression (where nursing only got him to sleep), he is sleeping horribly. He will usually sleep about 4 hours, then wakes up every hour. Sometimes its the other way around. I recently started work full time and he is only drink about 3 ounces per feed (every few hours) with some solids. Sometimes I feel like he is genuinely hungry, however I never know until he is done nursing. He currently naps about 1 hour four times a day. I have tried everything to get him to sleep longer. After he wakes from his last nap I nurse, feed solids then start bedtime routine – bath, diaper, pajamas, nurse again, book, put down awake. He will fall asleep great on his own but when he wakes up he can’t put himself BACK to sleep. Is this a nap issue? hunger issue? comfort/separation anxiety issue? Help!

  52. Hi I have a 16 month old that hates sleeping which I feel teething hasn’t helped him as He just got 9 teeth at once and is 3 short of all his teeth. The past few months I’ve had to put him in the car and drive around and before that it was rocking him. We can’t handle letting him cry or cry it out to sleep so any tips about how to go about not having to drive around should be great? Thanks Kristine

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