Sleeping Babies!

Sleeping Through the Night: 
I get a lot of requests for newborn sleep advice, so I thought I would write this down and keep it on here before I move on to the next phase and forget! Here are some suggestions I have been successful using for getting my babies to sleep through the night- it is primarily based on Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. I have had all three girls sleep 8 hours through the night at 8 weeks (actually the last two did it at 6 weeks) and the 12 hours through the night at 12-13 weeks. I am blessed with good babies, but I also put in effort from the start to establish a routine for them that encourages them to sleep through the night. I have said it before on here, it doesn't matter what plan you use, but I believe you will be a lot more relaxed and your baby will be a lot happier if you have a plan. It is very rare for my babies to cry- having a routine gives them- and us- security to know what is coming next. I must say before you read this or Baby Wise; you do not need to be rigid with this plan, be flexible and relaxed with it. If you follow the basic idea and do what works for your family, you will be successful. I was a lot more rigid with my firstborn and I am forced to be really flexible with my third- and they both successfully slept through the night! Here are my suggestions based on what worked for me: 
1. Schedule: Baby Wise uses "PDF: Parent Directed Feeding", I assume this is the main "controversy" with this plan- people don't like to wake a sleeping baby. At first you need to wake them up at 3 hours to eat (until the 10pm or night time feeding)- this simply gets their days and nights in the right place- if you let them sleep all day- they will not sleep all night- seems logical to me. I think it also establishes a good expectation from the start- the parent runs the show, not the baby. The hospital and probably the doctor will say to feed the baby when they want to be fed- this is great at first when you are establishing milk (if nursing)- but after the first few weeks until week 12- I am most successful with the 3 hour cycle (of course if your baby is starving at 2 or 2.5 feed them and start fresh at the next cycle): change diaper (to get awake), feed, 1.5 hour from start of feeding is wake time, 1.5 hour nap time: here is a sample- (times vary based on morning wake time) Week 1-12 or 13:

- 7am wake and change diaper (get them really awake with the diaper change)

Feed (they will try to sleep after feeding, lay them down and try to get them awake right after feeding)

- 8:30am nap (if possible lay them down in a bed or somewhere safe- if they are held through the whole sleep it not only gets them used to that for later, it will probably not allow them to wake or sleep "naturally"- they are all snuggled in and don't want to get up! I have had to rip babies out of people's arms to have success with wake time! *Obviously this is flexible- sometimes just hold them and sleep and let others do the same- just not every time.

- 10am wake, change diaper, feed

- 11:30am nap

- 1:00pm wake, change diaper, feed

- 2:30pm nap

- 4:00pm wake, change diaper, feed
- 5:30pm nap
- 7:00pm wake, change diaper, feed
***try to keep awake during this period- give a bath, lay down- if you pick one period to not let them sleep on you or a family member- this is the crucial one, if they fall asleep, lay them down, but try to keep them awake.
- 10:00pm wake, change diaper, feed
*lay down for sleep and do not wake them up, feed when they are truly awake. A lot of babies wake up crying a little but are not actually awake- make sure they are truly awake before getting them up. I always wait 15 or 20 minutes before getting them up to make sure they are truly awake (this is after the 4 week mark, the first 4 weeks they will probably eat every 3-4 hours at night). Most of the time they go back in to the restful sleep and do not need to get up. This is where having them in a room other than your room is helpful. I have even put my girls in the living room outside my room- they can sleep anywhere and through anything as newborns.
Week 13: switch to 4 hour schedule- for example: wake/feed 8am, nap 10am, wake/feed 12pm, nap 2pm, wake/feed 4pm, cat nap 6pm (for a couple of months), 8pm feed/bedtime

2. Feeding: I believe a full baby is a happy sleeping baby! If you are nursing- mind your milk! Make sure you are getting enough calories to feed the baby- the theory that you will lose weight immediately when nursing is not necessarily true if you want to mind your milk. I nursed my first two girls for a year each and it wasn't until I stopped nursing that I lost all of the baby weight.  There are a lot of foods that upset babies tummies- dairy, green leafy veggies, coffee, etc.. so you have to be particular what you eat and you need extra calories to make the milk- frankly you are starving so this isn't a problem! And drink a TON of water! If you cannot or do not want to nurse- don't stress about it- the important thing is that your baby is receiving adequate nutrition and you are enjoying it!! I don't use feeding as my first response to crying, see where they are in the cycle and attend to their needs based on that- lots of times babies act hungry when they are really just tired.

3. Days and Nights: I said it earlier but getting the days and nights in order is huge at the beginning. I just make sure to wake them at the 3 hour mark and get them REALLY awake to eat and I make them eat a full portion- not snacking. If they fall asleep after feeding and you cannot get them awake- just let them sleep and start over at the next feeding- but really try for a little wake time- probably means laying them down! After a feeding they are all snuggly and warm and just want to sleep with you (at least all 3 of mine did) so I found if I lay them down right away they wake up and if they still sleep, clearly they need sleep. I call it natural sleep vs. artificial sleep- artificial because they are not naturally needing to sleep, they are responding to the snuggly environment!

4. Be flexible: if they wake up early and are hungry or you have somewhere to be and can't feed there- feed them and start the cycle from that feeding point. You can manipulate the schedule based on what works for you! After the 13 week mark, every day should be pretty predictable- wake time at the same time, naps at the same time, feedings at the same time and bed time at the same time- so you can schedule accordingly! Just relax and know that you can always start fresh at the next feeding!

5. Bed: I like to put the baby down in various locations- sometimes in a Pack N Play by a window, sometimes in the crib, sometimes in the bassinet- they will sleep anywhere when they are newborns and this gets them used to sleeping in various spots. I always try to put them down in the crib for at least 1 nap when they are newborns, that way it isn't a transition when they move in there. I move my babies into their crib at 1 month. It is hard (for you, emotionally) because it is a big bed and tiny baby- but you will sleep better and they will not have to adjust to the new place when they are older.

6. Sound Machine: All of my girls sleep with sound machines- Ocean noise to be exact! Crank it up loud- they can sleep anywhere with anyone in the room and with noise- dogs barking, doorbell ringing, siblings crying, etc.. not an issue. And I believe it gives them the constant familiar sound no matter where they are that signals "bed time".

7. First Month: Just enjoy and relax the first month- try to get them awake enough for feeding- but just enjoy the baby and worry about the schedule at 4 weeks! If you want to let them sleep on you or a loved one- go for it! As long as they are having wake time during the day and you wake them up every 3 hours to eat (again, working on days and nights)- just enjoy!

8. Bath: They say to give a bath every other day, I like to give a bath every evening (when it works for my schedule and energy level) with just warm water and a wash cloth. I only soap every other day. My girls had cradle cap and Mustela makes a great foam shampoo for cradle cap, I like to lotion after every bath (again, love Mustela for newborns)- here is an article on baby massage it helps a lot with development and I use this time after bath with lotion to do the massage.

9. Sleep Props: I think blankies (for older kids) and binkies are fine sleep props, if it gives a baby comfort- great! My first daughter loved the binkie and it was no problem to break her of it at 2. I made sure to always leave it in the bed only- no walking around the house with it. (of course airplanes are a different story- bring the binkie), my other two want nothing to do with it- so that is fine (I really wish my 3rd wanted one)! I had a few different blankies the girls slept with, they have their favorites but they are totally fine to sleep with another blankie if their favorite one is in the wash. This comes in handy for school bags later on- you can keep one in there and wash it and not have school germs in their beds. This also works well for travel- they can have their blankie at sleep times but you can wash it or give them a clean one later on when that one has travel germs! Lots of people love swaddling, I do a loose swaddle at the beginning, I like them to have their arms free and legs able to move around- so I loosely swaddle mainly for warmth! I also like the vibrate button on the bassinet to help them settle in to sleep the first month. Again, do what makes you feel comfortable. I like to rock my babies sometimes, I think it is fine to rock them to sleep, just not every single time- don't let it be the only way they fall asleep. But I love a little rocking time once in a while (see #10)! 

10. Laying them down: I think it is important to lay them down in their crib completely awake (at nap or bed time of course) and let them sooth themselves to sleep most of the time. Sometimes it is just delightful to rock your baby and snuggle- but most of the time, simply lay them down and let them work themselves into sleep. Baby wise says there is a period of active sleep and restful sleep during each sleep period. Make sure to let them fuss a little to make sure they are awake and not just active.

11. Naps: I wrote my nap thoughts down here- Nap time starts when mom says it starts and ends when mom says it ends- When you have a schedule, you will have the confidence to know when they need naps- you are absolutely meeting their needs by allowing them to sleep at nap time. If they cry at nap time- guess what they need..sleep! 

12. Wake Time: Sing, play, read, mobileswing- but make sure to let them chill out and discover things around them- too much stimulation is not good for naps. Stimulate after feeding and then chill when nap time is approaching

13. Growth Spurts: If you baby is waking at night and not soothing back to sleep or wanting to eat more often than usual, it is either a growth spurt or you need to "mind the milk"- they go through several growth spurts, so just feed them and they will go back to normal after the growth spurt. I haven't had to adjust my schedule very much for growth spurts.

14. My final word of advice is this, let your baby sleep! Don't jump up every time they are sleeping and cry- make sure they are truly awake- this goes for nap or nighttime sleep. They will usually go back to sleep if they need more sleep. Once you know they CAN sleep 8 hours or 12 hours (nutritionally) it will make you more relaxed to let them cry a little bit and go back to sleep. 

This is the plan that has worked for me, Baby Wise has so much helpful information and Baby Wise 2 has a lot of helpful tips on manners, etc.. it really helped me. Finally, sleep training is the first step in the child training process. Keep things like- teaching them self control, obedience and patience in mind from the beginning and you will be grateful you did when they are toddlers!  

Here is a good article to check out about CIO: HERE

It seems like everyone I talk to is frustrated with their children's naps- or lack there of. When I tell people that my 5-year-old takes a 2 hour nap, at the same time that my 3-year-old takes a 2 hour nap and now my 8-week-old takes a 1.5 hour nap at the same time as well- they seem to comment how "lucky" I am. Yes, I am blessed with good sleepers (I prayed a lot for good sleepers!) however, I have worked REALLY hard to get them to abide by this schedule and with a little effort you can have napping angels as well! I read the article at the bottom of this post and have seen enough studies to know that kids need naps- and to be honest, moms need kids to nap too! I don't know what I would do without my "break"- I can sleep, do bible study, read, prepare dinner, laundry- you name it- it happens between 2pm and 4pm. There are several nap phases with children, I believe. Here is my synopsis:
Phase 1: (0-13 weeks) I generally (very loosely) follow Baby Wise and with that plan they eat then are awake for 1.5 hours, asleep for 1.5 hours; therefore there are several naps throughout the day and usually they are happy to be napping! 
Phase 2: (13 weeks-1 year)  The move to a 4 hour schedule- so they are awake for 2 hours then asleep for 2 hours. This is where I start to manipulate their schedule according to what works for the family. I want my kids wake up time to be 8am, so I put them to bed at 8pm and then allow them to sleep until 8am when I feed them and start the 4 hour schedule: (NOTE: baby #3 might just have this schedule in the car between errands, I am prepared to be flexible!)
8am: wake
10am -12pm: nap #1
2pm-4pm: nap #2
8pm: bed
I always love that Baby Wise says: nap time starts when the parent says it starts and ends when the parent says it ends. There is a time during each sleep period when the baby is active, maybe even crying- if you pick them up at the first movement it will train them that they are in charge of waking and sleeping. I think this plays a huge role in the future of napping! Make sure to give them time to fall back asleep- my girls usually fall back asleep if given the chance. 
Phase 3: (1-2ish years- or as long as they are in a crib) Maintenance- I believe this phase is all about "training" the child to nap when the parent says it is time to nap- which is the time when their little bodies are ready for a nap. When you have a schedule, you have the confidence to know when they need that. Baby Wise points out that if your child wakes unhappy or crying, they have probably not received enough sleep and most of the time, they will fall back asleep if given the chance (i.e. leave them in there until you think they are ready- even if they cry a little bit or delay response) At some point in this phase, usually around 18 months, they drop the morning nap and are down to 1 nap a day= FREEDOM! You will love the one long nap a day, you can accomplish so much more outside the house! My girls were both sleepy in the mornings so it took a few weeks of keeping them up and pushing back the nap before they made in to 2pm (which is the time I chose for nap- you decide what time works for you).
Phase 4: (2ish-5 years) When they move into a "big kid bed" that is when the fun begins! Usually, if you have followed the above, they will stay in the bed whether it is a crib or not, until you say it is time to wake. However, when given the first taste of freedom it gets a touch challenging. This is where you have a choice- you can let them come out of the room and decide when nap time ends or you can train them to be obedient and stay in bed until their nap is complete. I will say, Ellie is one of the few kids who still naps in her pre-school class and she has been talking a lot about "skipping a nap" because she chats about it with her buddies at school. They all tell her they don't nap and she thinks that is a great idea- which means I need to "reinforce" the importance of nap time at our home (because she still needs one- some kids do not require it at 4/5, every child is different). Here is what works for me; I give the child a generous amount of time to fall asleep- if I hear them on the monitor or check on them and they are not sleeping- there is a consequence. In my opinion, you can go a number of ways here- the key is consistency and (sadly) it has to "hurt", meaning if your child sleeps with 8 items (as mine do) and you take away the baby at the end of the bed that they don't really care about- you will probably be unsuccessful- take the prize item the first time- for example the blankie- yes they will throw a fit, but I bet the next time all you will have to say is- "if you do not sleep, I will take X and you will not be getting it back until you can obey mommy and take a nap." At bedtime that night, you will have to remind them why they are not sleeping with that item and that when they obey mommy or daddy you are excited to give it back. What I really care about with my 5-year-old is that she is resting in her room from 2-3 and not waking her sister- who shares a room. I do not necessarly require sleep anymore, but most of the time she falls asleep because she is required to be in her bed, quietly resting. My 3-year-old needs to sleep, so I make sure she is sleeping at nap time or she will get a consequence. I have had to give further consequence when this becomes an obedience issue vs a sleep issue.

All of that being said, of course there are days when we skip naps or take naps at a different time to fit in our schedule. I believe you can start at any phase- it takes a full week or two to establish a new routine and the key is sticking to it. If you are firm and consistent at the start and the nap is "parent directed" not "child directed" you will have napping children! These are just my opinions, I am not a doctor or expert at all- we have issues just like everyone else! I realize I have only been doing this for 5 years and I have SO much to learn. This is simply what had worked for my family. Sleep is extremely important around here, so I have worked hard to maintain this wonderful daily routine! If it is not important to you- do whatever works for your home. That is the beauty of our "job" as parents- we get to decide what is important to us and how we want to enforce those important things in our home. God called YOU to raise your family, no one else has been called to parent your children, so do whatever you feel is best for your family! Hope this was helpful for those of you frustrated by naps- please feel free to email me or comment below if you have any questions about what I said above.

BabyCenter News

Missed naps could put children at risk for mood disorders

HealthDayThu, Jan 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) — Children who miss daytime naps may be at increased risk for mood disorders later in life, a new study indicates.
Researchers looked at children aged 30 months to 36 months and found that depriving them of a single daily nap resulted in more anxiety, lower levels of joy and interest, and reduced problem-solving abilities.
"Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their 'sleep tanks' are set to full each day," study leader Monique LeBourgeois, an assistant professor in the integrative physiology department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a university news release.
"This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems," she explained.
The researchers videotaped the emotional expressions of toddlers while they worked on solvable and unsolvable picture puzzles on two different days. One day, the test was conducted an hour after the toddlers had their normal 90-minute daytime nap. On another day, the toddlers were deprived of their naps and tested an hour after their normal nap time.
When they were nap-deprived, the toddlers had a 34 percent decrease in positive emotional responses after completing the solvable puzzles, a 31 percent increase in negative emotional responses when they were unable to complete the unsolvable puzzles, and a 39 percent decrease in the expression of confusion when they tried to complete the unsolvable puzzles.
"Confusion is not bad -- it's a complex emotion showing a child knows something does not add up," LeBourgeois noted. "When well-slept toddlers experience confusion, they are more likely to elicit help from others, which is a positive, adaptive response indicating they are cognitively engaged with their world."
Overall, according to the release, the study shows that missing a daytime nap may make it more difficult for toddlers to take full advantage of exciting and interesting experiences and to adapt to new frustrations.
"Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day," LeBourgeois said.
The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

-- Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

If you need help or have questions, you can email me {} Before you do- make sure to check out my FAQ: HERE 

1. My baby wakes up 30 minutes into nap time every day: (or they will not take naps)
This is the #1 question I get, I think for some reasons babies either wake up 30 minutes in..or that is their "active" sleep period. (I discussed napsHERE.) I have found, if I leave my girls to nap, they will go back to sleep or settle back into restful sleep MOST of the time. Of course there are times of teething or sickness when it just doesn't work out- but most of the time, they go back to sleep. When you go with the philosophy of: Naptime starts when mom says it starts and ends when mom says it ends- it gives you a good frame of mind to allow them to fall back asleep.
Make sure:
a) they are getting really full at feedings
b) they are not waking up because of a prop- if the binkie comes out or swaddle comes loose and that is waking them- time to kick the habit (better now than later..I think!)
c) They are stimulated right after eating, nice and awake and they chill right before naptime- nothing too stimulating right before sleep.
d) Make sure they are not going too early...or too late. Sometimes they are so over tired that they wont sleep. Also, sometimes they are acting very alert and not sleepy at all...and it is nap time so we hesitate putting them down- that is when the "nap time starts when mom says" comes into play- weeks 1-13 they should eat every 3 hours and nap every 1.5hrs after eating. Weeks 13 on they eat every 4hrs and nap 2 hours after each feeding. When it is nap time, lay them down to nap.
e) Establish a routine (here is mine): Walk in the room, turn on a sound machine, snuggle for a minute (maybe sing a little song- not rocking, just standing), lay her down (now my #3 likes her tummy- she is all over the place) and walk out of the room. I return when nap is over.
f) If they are crying..(or screaming) of course think of what could possibly cause them to scream and are you certain they are safe in the crib (no blanker over the head or anything) (a video monitor is handy for you to know without going back in- although, I personally am not a fan of the video monitor- we can discuss that later!) Anyway- if the only reason they are screaming is they are tired- Let them sleep! So...have in mind how long you are willing to let them cry.. start at 15 minutes. Turn off your monitor, do whatever you need to do and let them work it out. Push that time back every nap as long as you feel comfortable. BUT..when you set that time, do not go back in until that time is up.
g) I read a post by Elena at Vegalicious - she used her husband's shirt (with his smell on it) in the crib so her baby could have comfort from that familiar smell- it seemed to work for her baby- I say try it! As long as your baby is old enough to not get it stuck over their face or something horrible- try it out!
h) Use your instincts- if your baby is screaming and it is "not working" just get them up, feed them and start fresh! Every feeding is a chance to start fresh. If you have a bad nap- your baby is not a bad sleeper- they just had a bad nap!
i) Babies act hungry when they are not let feeding be your first response if you know it is nap time!

2) My baby is XX weeks/months old and still wakes up at night: 
Once you know they CAN sleep through the night, nutritionally, it is a lot easier to let them.
- I said it in my article- DO NOT run in the room every time they cry at night. Lets call it "delayed response"...really delayed. Allow them to have some active sleep (my 5 year old still has active sleep some nights).
- Same thought as above: set in your mind (before you go to sleep- we do crazy things when we are tired!) how long you will let them cry or talk or fuss or whatever they do- start with 15 minutes or whatever you are comfortable with- and DO not go in until that time frame is up. Push it back each night- turn off the monitor or turn it really low if you need to- whatever it takes!
- Make sure they are REALLY full before bed- I like rice cereal before bed for older babies- whatever your method is- make sure they are getting enough food. I also like sound machines- loud!
- Really focus on the daytime schedule while you are trying to establish sleeping through the night. Do not let them go more than 3 hours (1-13 weeks) or 4 hours (13-...) without waking them to eat. You can be flexible on this once the routine is established.
- Take 2 weeks and focus on that daytime routine being wake, eat, play, sleep- I have found that my babies sleep better at night when they have good daytime sleep- it is opposite from what you would think. The later you keep them up...does not mean the later they sleep- I promise on this one!

3) Am I being mean or not responding to my babies needs by letting them cry it out?
Ok...God gave us instincts as moms to know what our babies need- so listen to those! He also filled us with love and mercy for our babies- so how precious that you are concerned about this! It is horrible to listen to a baby crying and not be able to do anything- so hard! Here are my thoughts: (you will find a TON of people to disagree with me!)
- When your baby is on a schedule and you KNOW it is nap time, you are absolutely responding to their needs by letting them sleep. You are simply teaching them to soothe themselves into sleep instead of you soothing them to sleep.
- If you do a little sleep training or "sleeping boot camp" I have found that your baby will cry a lot less than if you do not. It is a fact that babies get cranky and cry when they are tired...if you do not allow them to nap...guess what they will be doing all day?
- I believe that 2 weeks of being strict with a schedule and letting them cry it out a bit will save you a lot of tears down the road. I think it takes 2 weeks of strict schedule to establish a new routine.
- Take one nap or one night at a time- try your best and if you need to feed and start it!
- I PROMISE it is easier to sleep train a baby than to sleep train a toddler- I promise!

4) What if my baby wakes my other children when "crying it out"?
This is tough- really tough! I honestly do not have any experience with this- I am blessed to have my girls in different rooms and my older two are really sound sleepers. Here are some ideas:
- Hopefully you have a situation where your baby can be in a different room from you or your other children. I would say, if not...purchase a divider or something so the baby cannot see you or their siblings- it is really hard to let them soothe to sleep if they are starring at your face :)
- Sound machines for EVERYONE! Make sure you have them in the siblings rooms and the baby's room. Don't be afraid to crank it up. (Any sound machine is fine, I use this one LINK)
- If you absolutely NEED to put the baby in a Pack N' Play or something in a different room for the 2 week boot camp (as mentioned above)- you might need to do that- or put the other kids in another room? But, I would try to leave them in their room or wherever you want them to sleep. I would bet your other kids will sleep right through it- Pray a lot! :)

I will keep adding to this- these are just the 4 questions I get A LOT. You can feel free to comment usual, I will not respond to hate mail and will gladly delete anyone who is negative- if this isn't for you...move on!

As always please make sure to follow on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm a fellow believer and it's so refreshing to read a blog of someone professing their faith and being an example! =) As far as "White Noise", would a CD player with ongoing nursery/classical music work? Or is it too much? Thanks!

    Lora C.

  2. I have a 15 week old that we have been using baby wise with since day 1. In Baby Wise it mentions 7 feedings a day so we are still feeding every 2.5 hours. I would love to stretch it out to 3 or 4 hours but he asts very hungry as it is with 2.5 hour stretches. His hands have been discovered and he will suck them like crazy and wine constantly. At night he is sleeping about 7 hours, waking to be fed, and then going straight back to bed for another 3-4 hours. How do you recommend decreasing day time feedings and still dropping the night time feeding?

  3. Our baby is 12 weeks old and we have not had him on this program. He is on no schedule what so ever with sleeping or eating. We almost always rock him to sleep. Should we start the training at Phase 1? If we put him down for his nap and he cries hard should we leave him there for the 1.5 hour we expect him to sleep? If he doesn't sleep the entire time, do we get him up and feed him after his expected nap time? Is it ok to swaddle him (he hasn't rolled over yet) so that he sleeps?

  4. Thank you for this! I am due with twins in 6 weeks(ish) and have read Babywise but needed to see a sample schedule actually written out. Much appreciated!

  5. My baby is 6 weeks old, is that to young to lay her down for a nap and leave her to work herself to sleep? Recently I have been feeding her, having wake time, and simply watching for sleep queues like yawns before I would put her down. If she isn't giving me sleep queues I worry that she will just fuss the whole time before her next feeding. I'm feeling confused about what is best for her and looking for advice. Thank you!


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