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Teaching Your Baby "No"

I write this post in response to a request.

Many people believe a baby is not capable of understanding the word no until they are "older." I am not sure exaclty what age "older" is, but it seems to be older than baby is, until baby is around a year, then baby just won't listen. Baby will learn words early on that are heard often.

Both of my children showed an obvious understanding of the word "kisses" at 5 months of age. Every time I kiss them, I say "Kisses!" At 5 months, both started giving me kisses. So I would ask for it, and they would comply and come at me with a wet, slobbery, open-mouthed kiss (which I of course loved).

Despite the fact that I belive my children to be the two smartest, cutest, etc. etc. kids on the earth, I will concede that other children can understand words that young, also :-). Children understand words long before they are able to speak them.

As soon as you see a need for correction, I would recommend introducing the method you are going to follow. You need to choose what you want your method to be. The word "no" can easily become overused, but I don't think that needs to be stricken from your vocabulary. Here are some strategies I follow in in correcting my children. Yes, I said children. 9 month old Kaitlyn needs it at times, too.

Become Aware of Your Child's Personality
I do intend to write more on this idea later, but will put some thoughts for now. If you aren't naturally an intuitive person when it comes to people's personalities (not everyone is), work to learn how to do so. I think the job of mother quickly teaches us this skill, but the sooner you become goood at it, the better. This requires you to accept the fact that every person has their own stregths and weaknesses. Every person, including babies, have their own personalities. We are all different, view things differently, and communicate differently. Try to get to know your child.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Brayden is a dutiful child who is very obedient. He does what he is asked far more than the averages given in Toddlerwise. It is a little young to tell for sure, but 9 month old Kaitlyn seems a little more intent to do what she wants; however, she also tests her boundaries far less often than Brayden did at this age.

Does your child resspond better to positive reinforcement? Most, if not all, do. Some are far more in need of this than others, though. My husband is one. He needs to be told he is doing a good job. If there is ever something I want him to be better at doing (like, putting his socks in the hamper), the best way to go about it is for me to wait, catch him in the act, and thank him for doing so. He will then do it consistently. If I go to him and say, "I would like it if you put your socks in the hamper instead of on the floor," he would not respond so well.

Does that sound odd? Honestly, it does to me. I would rather you come up to me and tell me to put my socks in the hamper. But my husband is the way he is. It took his parents several years to figure this out when he was a child, but they say it made a world of differnce with him.

Brayden (now 2.5) is the same way. I recognized it somewhere between 6 and 9 months. There was no question I had another "praise junkie" on my hands. I don't mean praise junkie in a bad way; they just need more praise than I do. I believe Kaitlyn is more like me in that area.

No matter how strong the inclination toward this, your child will prefer to be thanked for doing a good job to being scolded for a bad one. Get to know your child and you will have an easier time adapting discipline for him or her.

Decide on Rules
Before you can correct a child for doing something wrong, you have to decide what "wrong" is. Certain things are obvious, but other things will be depended on you. Do you want baby to be able to pull your hair? Do you want baby to be able to put fingers in the food? Do you want baby to blow raspberries while eating? Do you want baby to touch the plant? Look around and set some boundaries.

When Brayden was a baby, I didn't have much in his path that I minded him touching. I had set the house up so that it wouldn't be in his way. When he was around 9 months, I remember establishing a couple of things as "off-limits" for him to touch, not because I necessarily minded the way he played with them then, but I knew he potentially would get more aggressive in his play as he got older. I also wanted to have some things to be able to start working on obedience with him.

Another hint for rules, make sure you and your spouse are in a agreeance. Consistency is very important with correction.

Decide on a Phrase
Babywise II has the phrase idea of "that's a no." I love that--it is what I use. I like it better than a simple "no" because it takes more effort for me to say, so I know I won't start to say it out of habit. I also think I am able to say it with more conviction that just "no." Pick whatever phrase you want. Keep it consistent.

Decide on a Method
First, I say the name of the child to establish eye contact. I have a look I give my children when they do something they shouldn't. Without thinking, I give the look before I say anything else. Even my 9 month old will respond to that without me having to say a word.

After the look, I say, "That's a no." firmly. Remember what BW II says about letting your child have some dignity. If you have a strong-willed child, it might be good to look busy with something else and give your child the chance to stop doing what he is doing without feeling like he is losing some battle. If he doesn't, I would repeat the above. Also, give your child some time to respond.

At that point, redirection is a good idea. If he is playing with the plant and you tell him that is a no, suggest you read a book or play with this or that toy. Give him some ideas to move on to.

That is honestly as far as I have ever had to take it (up until 18 months with Brayden, but I will do a toddler discipline post). There are other ideas listed in Babywise II for you if you need them.

Have Realistic Expectations
Can you expect your baby to respond to your directions? Absolutely! You should expect a response. People rise to expectations. But keep your expectations within reason. What is within reason? Toddlerwise says a two year old will comply 60% of the time. A three year old, 70%. A five year old, 85-90%. That gives you an idea of what you can expect from your baby. This doesn't mean that if you have a two year old you accept him ignoring you 40% of the time. You don't say, "Oh, this is in that threshhold, I'll move on and try again." It just means your child is normal and for his age. You still work on it (these statistics found on page 94 of Toddlerwise).

Brayden's toddler years have been quite easy over all. Believe me, he has had his moments. He has even layed down in the store once and cried. Overall, however, he is quite obedient. Part of it is his personality. As a 2.5 year old, he obeys at least 90% of the time. That boost in the statistic is his personality to be obedient and dutiful. The rest of it is due to him learning early on what I meant when I said, "That's a no." As a 11 month old, we went to visit some friends. They had no children yet and had some nice books right at his eye level. He was drawn to them. He went over and I told him, "that's a no." He left them alone for a while. He returned several times to the books, but never touched them. I was glad to be able to visit somewhere and be able to require my child to respect the property of others. I was glad I could tell him something was off-limits without a crying fest breaking out.

So what about the 9 month old? She really doesn't test me as much, but things happen. Today, she blew raspberries with a full mouth of food. Not fun for me to wear baby food. I just gave her a look and she stopped. Her personal biggest challenge has been biting me while nursing.

Kaitlyn has no teeth yet, but every now and then gets a glint in her eye and slowly bites down. It doesn't hurt in the least, but I tell her firmly "Kaitlyn, that's a no, you don't bite your mamma" and detach her. It is hard for me not to smile because she knows what she is doing is wrong and gets a kick out of it...but I won't be smiling once those teeth come in, so I want to correct this issue before she gets those pearly whites. She has gotten a lot better. Last night I saw that glint enter her eyes and I just gave her a look that said no. She just smiled at me and continued on without biting. She had a little smile on her face, like she had been caught and thought it amusing, but no biting.

They will test their boundaries. Are they the same today as yesterday? They want to know. Keep your patience and teach them over and over what is and isn't acceptable. Remember, consistency, consistency, consistency!

So long as you keep your expectations in check, you can start to teach your child to obey from a very young age. It will make your toddler years a lot easier.

Reader Comments:

  • jahanschen said...
    I can see the glint in your daughter's eye because my son does the same thing! He started biting at about 2 months. I would tell him "no bite" sternly and tap his cheek. He is 6 months now and still has no teeth; however, he is teething and I can tell they're coming soon. When he looks at me like that, I know what's coming and I say "no bite," and he doesn't! I want to breastfeed for a year, so I was quick to nip it in the bud. I have also raised a couple of teething puppies. I hate to say it, but the same thing works with them!
    February 5, 2008 12:24 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    It's true, many of the same ideas can be applied to both human babies and animal babies. I was raised around animals my entire life. Consistency is something important no matter what the species :)
    February 5, 2008 12:55 PM
Reader Questions:
  • Katey Magill said...
    What do you think about hand slapping/ flicking/ squeezing?February 22, 2008 1:10 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    This is a very sensitive subject for many people. Personally, I don't do any of the above or spanking.However, I really do think most parents do the best job they can for their children. If they think spanking is the best option and works, it isn't my job to judge that.I do think that the parent can find another way. There are a variety of discipline methods out thre. I think if you spend some time getting to know the personality of your child an his or her currency, you can come up with something that doesn't involve physical means.If I were to find that a child I had would only respond to spanking, I would have some basic rules for myself. One would be that I could never do it while angry or frustrated. No one really thinks they will go to far, but it happens. The best person in the wrong situation can do wrong things. I find it better to just stay as far from the line as possible. You might wonder how you could ever be angry or frustrated toward your sweet baby...just wait until he is a toddler :-). Another rule for myself would be one swat. Another rule would be it can't be hard enough to cause pain at all, only to get attention. Like I said, it isn't what I do or what I would do. I am sure it works for some kids, but I also think something else would work equally as well or better. Other things do take more time and effort, though. But even my 10 month old has responded to nothing but verbal correction. It can be done! That's my opinion.
    February 22, 2008 2:50 PM
  • LHS Class of 1998 said...
    Val-First as a daily follower of your blog, I want to wish you and your family a HUGE congratulation on your new baby news!!!! I remember and older comment of yours about purchasing a video monitor for your 3rd baby because you have all the girl/boy things. I just bought one a few months ago for my 10 month old and I can't tell you how MUCH I love it! You will be very surprised what they do during their naptimes that you never knew (stand up, roll around, sit up, and then go back to sleep without a sound!)Okay here is a question that I have really being wanting to ask you pertaining to discipline:- First, I love your/Babywise "that's a no". I have been using this line since day with my little guy and he has always responded amazing well to it. Lately for the past week with the things that he knows is a "no" he has been testing his boundaries and "touching" or "going" with it. What do you suggest for this behavior? Do you just remove them, squeeze their hand, swat their hand, etc. I would love a good detail suggestion of what you do for this area of discipline.As always Val, thank you so much for your writings. We especially thank you during this time of pregnancy for answering our questions!!Megan:-)
    September 26, 2008 9:10 PM
  • Plowmanators said...
    Megan, Thanks for the congrats! Thanks about the video montior. We have already been looking into them. I think it will be awesome.His behavior of testing limits is totally normal and will happen over and over throughout his life :). But that doesn't mean you sit back and accept it. I will first direct you to these posts, then let me know if you need further clarification:BW II: Freedoms: Discipline Strategy: Surrender with Dignity : The "Mini-fit" : and this is for older, but you might find some ideas: Tantrums and Discipline:
    September 29, 2008 11:27 AM

Thanks for the Comments

I have just now discovered that I am not being notified of all of the comments being made on the site! I used to get email notifications anytime anyone posted. Well, now I am getting some, but only a small percentage.

I am currently going through the entire site to look for comments made that I have not yet responded to. I will get there! I am not ignoring you! I appologize.

Keep them coming!

Reader Questions:

Combatting Babywise Myths #2: You have to abandon your child's needs

Babywise II brings up the idea of couch time with your spouse, and every book following stresses the importance of it. Some critics of Babywise criticize the idea of putting your spouse first. This is not one of the hotter anti-Babywise topics, but one I wanted to address.

Even before I ever knew Babywise existed, I have felt husband and wife needed to put their relationship first. As a child growing up, I knew my parents put each other first. Their loyalties lied with each other, not my sister or me. They were a unified front. If (um...when) I was mouthy to my Mom, my Dad would talk to me about why that was not okay when he got home from work. Did that make me mad? You bet! I was sure I was justified in mouthing off and didn't appreciate him telling me otherwise. Am I glad he did? Again, you bet.

There is a great deal of comfort a child feels knowing her parents love each other and that nothing is going to break them apart. Yes, they disagreed. Yes, I knew it. But they were friends and committed to each other.

I recently saw a thread in an online group asking the question of who came first, the husband or the children. I was shocked that at least half said the children. I honestly thought everyone thought spouse first. There were comments along the way, and I could see where some people were drawing their "children" conclusion from.

They said the children would be fed first in the case of a famine. They said children's needs before husbands (food, water, etc.). They said if husband ever abused the children, he would be out the door. Yes, yes. Of course! Those are not the issues at stake when you are deciding spouse or children first.

Here is a good reason I think you need to put your spouse first. You have this unconditional love for your children. No matter what they do, you love them. You don't have to work at it. As a newborn, you do nothing but slave over that baby with not as much as a smile in return and your love increases day by day. The love is there without question or effort.

With your love your spouse, but you do not have that same unconditional love for him (if you do, congratulations and be so happy). It is a relationship that requires work. You both have to put in effort to let the marriage relationship grow. There is nothing wrong with that, it is the way it is. But that is why it needs to come first. It is so easy to let the child sneak in there and become your number one priority. It is what comes naturally for many moms. That is why you need to put your spouse first.

If you put your spouse first, you aren't going to neglect your children. Your natural love for them is too strong for that to happen. If your put your children first, you are most likely going to neglect your spousal relationship. It will not be nurtured. It will not grow. It will become strained. Your children will move out and you will find that you don't really know each other. Putting your spouse first in no way equates to child neglect. Sometimes I don't like the way my husband chooses to handle a situation, but I never bring that up in front of the children. I give him respect and allow him to remain the father to the children. If he were beating them, of course I would step in and stop him. But him threatening a time out too often is not the end of the world and something that I need to address in front of Brayden.

Couch Time
Couch time is when husband and wife sit on the couch for about 15 minutes when Dad gets home and they talk to each other. has more information on this topic:

We are not so great about real couch time. My husband gets home from work rather early. Brayden (2.5) is usually asleep, and Kaitlyn (9 months) is in solo playtime.

The other day, Brayden had woken early and was awake when my husband got home. We didn't consciously do it, but we sat on the couch and talked. We always are able to do that because the kids aren't around. So we did what we always do. Brayden started to try and interrupt us. We looked at him and asked him to wait and be patient because Mommy and Daddy needed to talk for a few minutes. No problem. He waited. When we were done, we helped him with what he needed. Naturally, had he been bleeding or otherwise in some dire situation, we would have helped him. He just wanted to go outside and scoop snow. That can wait. Once we were done, he was able to ask to go scoop snow and we were able to tell him things that needed to be done before that happened. He is still a happy, healthy boy today.

Weaning: Breast, Bottle, and Formula

Whether you are weaning from breast or bottle, you might be wondering what to do. Here is what I did with Brayden. We haven't weaned Kaitlyn yet, so more ideas might come after I do that (a few months off).

I breastfed Brayden for a year. Neither one of us were attached to doing so. When it came time for weaning, neither one of us were sentimental about it (though I did have a brief moment at one point--lasted maybe five minutes).

One woman I know once pointed out that if you feed your baby for comfort or to get to sleep, weaning will be harder. So the good news for Babywise moms is that it shouldn't be an issue because baby eats to get nutrition, not for other reasons. Comfort, joy, and cuddling might be bonuses, but those things can still be done even if you don't breastfeed if you put in the effort to do so.

I am the type to take things slow, so here were my strategies for weaning.

Weaning from the Breast
When I weaned Brayden at one year, he had 4 nursings a day.
  • I dropped one nursing a week and replaced that nursing with a bottle. If your baby will go straight to sippy cup without issue, I would shoot for that. The bottle is what worked for us.
  • I started with the third nursing the first week. I knew I didn't want to start with the first or last since 12 hours were already between those. I knew the third nursing I had less milk than the second, so we went for that.
  • I weaned to formula. He was already accustomed to the taste of formula because I fed it to him once a week from birth.
  • Even though he insisted upon holding the bottle himself, I still held him while he drank. We got some cuddling time (rare with the active little boy). Also, I was able to make sure he drank it all at once and kept the feeding time and didn't turn it into a snack on the run.
  • Week two, I dropped the second nursing and replaced it with formula.
  • Week three, I dropped the morning nursing. After a few days of this, he preferred to drop the fourth nursing also.
Something I loved about this strategy was that my milk supply slowly decreased, so I had no discomfort.
Weaning from Formula to Cow's Milk (or Breastmilk to Cows Milk)
After Brayden was completely weaned from the breast, we switched from formula to cow's milk. I was genuinely shocked when he didn't like the cow's milk. Come on! That has got to taste better than formula! There were two problems. One, milk is really cold and two, he just wasn't used to the flavor. Here is what I did. You could apply the same strategy if you are going straight from breastmilk to cow's milk.
  • Slowly mix cow's milk in with the formula or breastmilk. If you are doing breastmilk, you will obviously need to pump. Brayden drank 6 ounces per meal. I started with one ounce of cow's milk mixed with three ounces of formula. I gradually increased the amount of cow's milk. It didn't take him very long--only a few days--to prefer cow's milk.
  • I also warmed the milk up. I had always given him his formula with cold water because he just didn't mind it. But I think milk that has been sitting in the fridge is colder and harder to swallow faster than cool water coming from my fridge. So I put the milk and formula in the bottle and then put the bottle in a cup full of hot water and let it warm up a bit. We didn't need to do this for long, either. He soon became accustomed to drinking it cold.
Weaning from Bottle to Sippy or Regular CupOnce Brayden was weaned from the breast and drinking straight cow's milk, we started working on switching to the sippy. He already knew how to drink from a sippy, but only drank water from it.
  • I followed the same steps as weaning from the breast. We did one feeding at a time. We did it slower than one a week, though. I don't remember the exact time frame.
  • He was fine with the sippy at the two meals in the middle of the day, but wanted a bottle at morning and night. For those two, I used a soft-top sippy. He was fine with that.
  • Once he drank only from sippys, I hid the bottles. He then only wanted them if he saw them.
  • Over time, he started to just drink milk with his meals and not in a formal "sitting on the couch" eating session.
  • For the next year, I was sure he got his needed ounces of milk each day based on his doctor's recommendations.
Good luck in your weaning process! I found it to be painless, and other Babywise moms I have spoken to have expressed the same thing.
Reader Questions:
  • Baby Momma said...
    How long til breasts no longer have milk? I don't have discomfort, but I did the last feeding over two weeks ago and still have milk and haven't gone back to my original size (I don't expect original state).Glad to see this - I feel like I haven't been able to find good weaning resources.
    January 30, 2008 10:37 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Baby Momma, I am not sure. I have heard some women can take up to two years for no more milk! That is purely word of mouth with no verification, though. I know I weaned my son and got pregnant with my daughter two months later. I had milk very early in the pregnancy. Maybe I never really lost it?
    January 30, 2008 6:37 PM
  • Salina said...
    I'm thinking of weaning my son from breast to sippy. He's never consistently had a bottle, so I figure why start now? He's 9.5 months, and my goal is to also go through his 1st year. Now, he merely sips a little water from the sippy, but mainly plays with it. I guess I'm a little anxious about the whole process that will be here soon. He's also never had formula. When did you go from sitting feeding the milk to letting him take it at the table. How much is enough cow's milk?January 30, 2008 2:51 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Salina, I think it is a great idea to go straight to sippy if you have never used the bottle. I would completely encourage that. Even though my daughter has had a bottle, I think I will go straight to sippy with her if she will do it. It is hard to describe why, but I think she will be okay with that. I don't think my son would have been. I don't remember the age we went from sitting drinking to taking it to the table. My guess is he was around 16 months or so. I then watched his ounce intake per day and tried to get him to drink what he needed to just before bed. This was a purely liquid feeding.I read 24 ounces of milk a day. I told that to my doctor, and he said that sounded great. I did 6 ounces 4 times a day. Good luck when you get there!
    January 30, 2008 6:40 PM

Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime

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2013 update: There is a newer version of this post titled "5-6 AM Night Wakings." Please see that post for more information. For that reason, comments have been turned "off" for this post.

It seems many babies get to a point where they start waking for food in the 5 or 6 AM hours, much earlier than waketime, but they just aren't quite ready to make it through the night without eating. Here is what I have done.

With Brayden, I just continued to feed him until he started sleeping through on his own. I know he needed that feeding because he always ate breakfast well and eagerly.

At some point, Kaitlyn did not eat breakfast well. She would eat sometime in the 5 AM hour, but then not really be hungry for her first meal at 7:30. I knew then that she didn't need to eat at that point in the night. Here are some strategies for dealing with meals at this time.

While Baby Needs Early Morning Feeding
  • While your baby continues to need that feeding, feed her and then put her straight back to bed. If she eats at 5:30 and your waketime is normally 7:30, you can wait to get her up until 8:00 and still be in your 30 minute waketime window.
When Baby Does Not Need Early Morning Feeding
You will know baby doesn't need that feeding because she won't eat well at breakfast. This then causes a ripple effect problem because she will then be hungry for the second meal of the day early. So you will want to stop that feeding.
  • One way to stop the feeding is to do Cry It Out (CIO). Babywise states it takes, on average, 3-5 days for a 9 week old to "establish unbroken sleep cycles" (p.132).
  • Be sure you haven't extended daytime feeding cycles before the night has been established. " not lengthen the time between daytime feedings until your babies are sleeping at least nine to ten hours at night" (p.182). If you have extended feedings, cut back to the three hour schedule.
  • You can cut back the amount eaten at the early morning feeding over time. This is what I did. Kaitlyn sleeps right next to my son. I didn't want her to wake him up in the CIO process. I breastfeed. She ate for 10 minutes on each side per feeding during the day. So at the early morning feeding, I cut back one side to about 7 minutes. Then 5. Then I did the same with the other side. Then I cut one side out all together. She eventually started sleeping through as her body grew accustomed to eating little then and more at 7:30. It took longer than CIO, but this was the preferable option for us with our sleeping arrangement. Another nice thing for me was that my milk supply slowly compensated. I don't remember exactly how long this process took before she slept through. I think it was 2 weeks. It might have been as long as 4 weeks. If you bottlefeed, you can simply reduce the number of ounces eaten at this meal.
Here is to happy sleeping!
Reader Advice:
  • Gabby said...
    When I was trying to drop my son's last middle of the night feeding around 2-3:00 AM I used a pacifier for a couple of nights. I held it for him since he never really kept a pacifier in well, but it calmed him down without nursing. After about 3 nights I let him CIO and it took very little crying to drop that feeding. It might be worth a try. :)
    April 1, 2008 7:29 PM
Reader Comments:
  • John and Amanda said...
    Great advice (as always)! And the timing couldn't have been better! I've been thinking about how to break my little man of his 4:30am feeding! He doesn't respond well to CIO... he is a persistent little guy! I love the idea of reducing the amt of food offered! I will have to keep that in mind! It appears though, that for now at least, my little guy has sleep trained himself and has been sleeping through that feeding for the last 5 nights! :) BREAKTHROUGH!! :)
    January 28, 2008 11:38 PM
  • Nanny4Two said...
    the 4 month old i nanny, his mom breastfeeds him @ 6:00, then he goes back to bed right away.thankfully he does not require middle of the night feedings, but he has been waking up as early as 4:00 or 5:00 to feed.
    January 29, 2008 7:14 AM
Reader Questions:
  • bethers21 said...
    I'm having a similar problem with my 4 week old (sorry for all of the questions, but I just discovered your blog and LOVE IT). I've just started letting him sleep at night and waking on his own for about a week. Prior to that I had to keep him on a 3 hour schedule at night to gain weight. He sleeps between 3 1/2-5 hours at night. If his 1st feeding is at 7 am, what do I do if he wakes up hungry at 5-6am? Also, I'll need to adjust his schedule to 6 am when I go back to work. Should I start this now? I like being able to feed him at 7pm and 10pm. We haven't started a good bedtime yet. At times my husband works late, and like you it's important that my son gets to spend time with his daddy so if he naps after 7pm we let him. If not, he gets more time with daddy. Any thoughts??
    January 30, 2008 5:52 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    I am glad you like the blog! When do you go back to work? If it is in a couple of weeks, I would probably start to adjust it now. I would for sure do it one week before. It would be good for him to be accustomed to his schedule before you go back.
    January 30, 2008 6:33 PM
  • IzzysMama said...
    I found your blog a few weeks ago and Im addicted!!! Keep em coming! My lo is 3mo and is still eating every 3hrs at night. She doesnt seem to be eating as much at the 4/4:30 feeding or at the 7:30 feeding but she is still eating. Is it possible she still needs that feeding or does it sound like a habit??? I ebf and have always been paranoid about her getting enough to eat so I worry about cutting out feedings even though my gut is saying it might be time to try.
    January 31, 2008 1:52 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    You sound like me! I am that same way.I really think if they are not eating much at the first feeding of the day, they don't need that night feeding. I liked my method for slowly cutting down with Kaitlyn. Think it through, you probably already know that you she doesn't need it. Then convince your emotional side of the fact. Then choose your course of action and go for it!
    January 31, 2008 2:24 PM
  • bethers21 said...
    Val, I know you get lots of questions about this topic. This issue last night was my LO woke at 5:30 am. His first feed is at 7am. He's 7 weeks so he's not STTN most nights. He was definitely hungry so I didn't let him CIO. Would you just rework the rest of your day or should I have tried to wake him up again at 7am?February 20, 2008 8:09 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    There are a couple of options. One would be to try to get back on track by the afternoon by having longer naps in the morning. Or shorter, but an extra feeding.I personally would wake him up at 7:30. Then you are within 30 minutes of normal waketime and can have a normal day.
    February 20, 2008 11:38 AM
  • mommynik said...
    I read Babywise with my 1st - a girl, but she was a natural sleeper and is still on a great schedule at almost 3 yo. I have forgotten things though & with my 2nd - a boy - being a different sleeper, I wonder about these night nursings. My boy will wake at 11p, 3a & 5a. Not all of those are good feedings, but my question is, if I even just do 1 or 2 of those night feedings, aren't I messing with the concept of CIO? I mean, I know I could do scheduled awakenings, but the wake-up varies for him from night to night. Since I've been CIO for 1.5 weeks, I've also thrown that schedule off.
    Can you tell how confused I am? I don't know which way is up. I held him until very recently, just to let him sleep. But then he started to get inconsolable even when I held him, so I started doing CIO in his crib. He stiffens his body, so a swing is out, and hubby doesn't help much through the night so it is all me.I'll keep looking through your index though, b/c finding some good ideas. I just don't know where to start. From a different comment I wrote, you responded that I should start with night sleep and I think that's what is best. I will try to get his night time sleep to maybe not even need a feeding, and just let him sleep when he's tired during the day. If that means more short naps in a day, I think that is okay as long as he is getting in about 3-5 hours. I just can't torture him 24 hours a day with trying to make him sleep.
    February 21, 2008 10:46 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    You would have to determine if any of those feedings are necessary for him. You don't want to have him crying if he is hungry. One thing a mom I know recommends is to go in and comfort baby back to sleep (just for one night) to see how it goes. If he goes back to sleep and sleeps fine, then you know he is waking for comfort and not food.The 11 feeding could be a dreamfeed. But then I would think at most he would only be hungry for one other feeding in the night--and at his age possibly none. You could also feed at the 3ish time and see if he sleeps well after that. If not, he isn't waking for food. If you are responding to a hungry baby, it isn't going to teach him bad CIO habits. Good luck! There are so many factors! I can be really overwhelming. Just pick one thing at a time and work on that. Baby steps!
    February 21, 2008 10:57 AM
  • bethers21 said...
    I have the same frustration. Two nights ago he slept 7 hours. Last night, we were up every 3 hours again. I don't know whether to CIO or keep feeding. The times are variable and his hunger is variable. This is slightly off the subject, but how do you know how much sleep your LO needs at night? For example, how do you know they're on the 10 hour end or 12 hour end? I think the answer is pretty obvious. I'm just too tired and need someone to walk me through it. We've not had a good nap yet today!!
    February 21, 2008 10:58 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Keep in mind that progress is a spiral (see Progress is a Spiral: ).You will know the nighttime sleep needed based on when your child wakes up. My son usually slept 10 hours at night. When we dropped the 3rd nap, he extended to 10.5 hours. When we dropped the morning nap, he moved up to 11.5 hours. It is another one of those things you have to experiment with. My daughter has been a 12 hour a night gal for a long time. SSo the answer is expiriment, and at some point, you will know.
    February 21, 2008 1:26 PM
  • Gabby said...
    I just found you blog and wish I had sooner. :) I have a 5 1/2 month old BW baby. He has been sleeping about 8 hrs since 3 1/2 months (except for the 4 month growth spurt and a couple of other set backs). He just started waking at 5-5:30 AM. Our waketime is 6:30. We are still doing a dreamfeed at about 10:00PM. Do you recommend dropping the dreamfeed yet, or holding off the early AM waking feed. I've tried to let him CIO with no luck (at this time). He just seems awake at 5:00, but not starving, If I feed him he always falls back asleep. Thanks for the help!!
    March 17, 2008 8:22 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    I am glad you found us! I personally wouldn't drop the dreamfeed until baby is sleeping from dreamfeed until desired waketime consistently.However, some moms have found that dropping the dreamfeed actually helped baby to sleep better at night.If you want to try it, you always can. If it doesn't work, you could re-instate the dreamfeed :)
    March 17, 2008 11:03 AM
    Gabby said...
    I just wanted to follow up on my little one. He was on a different schedule Friday after stating with my mother in law. He ate at about 8:30 in the evening and went to bed right after, so I did not wake him for a dreamfeed that night. He slept until 6:00!! That's very close to our 6:15-6:45 wake up window. I've adjusted his schedule to feed him later in the evening ( about 8:00) instead of waking him up to dreamfeed. I guess I was disrupting his sleep because he has made it three nights now. Yeah! We had to comfort him one night at about midnight, but it was not hunger that woke, so he went right back to sleep. I just thought I would share what worked. Thanks for your advice!
    March 24, 2008 3:12 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Thanks for sharing your success!
    March 24, 2008 10:15 PM
  • bethers21 said...
    Val, quick question...I'm headed back to work/daycare. Booo! Kai is 11 weeks and sometimes STTN. His new wake up time is going to need to be around 6:45am. As he starts to extend his night, I'm worried he's going to be waking up at 5ish. Would you feed at 5:30 and 6:45 if he seems hungry? I just don't have the luxury of reworking his day or making sure he gets good naps anymore so I want to be as consistent before/after daycare.One more question, as he starts to extend his nights and/or need more sleep because of daycare, should I just play with moving his bedtime up to see how much sleep he needs? I suppose I just need to be looking for cues to know how much earlier to move his bedtime up?Thanks for all of your help. I check your site almost daily and always look for your responses on Maya's Mom :) Both have helped me get through a lot of anxiety!!
    March 17, 2008 12:05 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    That is a tricky one. If he starts waking around 5, I would try to feed very little, and then feed again at 6:45. I think this is the order I would do things:1-feed at 5 when he wakes. Then feed again at 6:45. See how he eats then at 6:45. If he is totally not interested, I would then move on to other plans.2-slowly decrease amount fed at 5. Feed only as much as he needs to get back to sleep. 3-Hope he starts to sleep through on his own with no further work on your part.4-If he doesn't, wait for a weekend and do CIO at 5.If his waketime is 6:45, you will want bedtime anywhere from 6:45-8:45. Test it and see what he needs, and be ready to change it as needed if necessary. Good luck!
    March 17, 2008 3:18 PM
  • Susanna said...
    Valerie-By what age did your babies drop the late night/early morning feeding? I thought we had made good progress with my 8 week old since he would go from his 10:00 p.m. DF till about 6 a.m. (Our established waketime is 7 a.m. but that has been hit or miss depending on the day). In the last two days, he's been up around 4 a.m., 5:30 a.m., etc. I went ahead and gave a full feeding both times. Today, I started our day at 7:30 a.m. (since he fed at 5:30 a.m.) and noticed he didn't take a full feeding. My question is 1. would there have been enough milk since it was only 2 hours since he last ate? (5:30 a.m.) and also 2. is 8 weeks too early to start CIO to phase out that feeding? Thank you so much!
    March 21, 2008 8:08 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Susanna,You are describing something that is very typical for a baby first learning to STTN. They make it to say 6, then randomly wake up at 4 then 5 then back to 6 then 3! All over the place. I didn't start BW with my first until 9 weeks, so you are already far ahead of where he was at 8 weeks. Kaitlyn also still had a night feeding at 8 weeks. I can't remember her exact age, but by 3.5-4 months she was done with night waking to where I knew with confidence she wouldn't wake in the night.1-there wouldn't have been as much milk two hours later as their would have been otherwise. And ther likely was a lot of milk at 5:30, so he wouldn't have been as hungry at 7:30. But you did the right thing.2-I personally would say yes. I like to wait until 12 weeks before considering CIO at night. I like it to happen naturally so I am confident they aren't hungry in the night when crying. 15% of BW babies don't start sleeping through on their own until 12 weeks. I haven't ever done CIO at night. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, but I just haven't.I do have a friend who did CIO with her daughter at 9 weeks with great success.So it will be up to you to decide what you want to do. I think I would wait another week though. It sounds like he is getting it. My friend's daughter was waking at the same time every night. Your son is still all over the place. Also, keep in mind that statistically boys take longer to STTN than girls.
    March 21, 2008 10:09 AM
  • momtobobby said...
    Great advice! I am so in love with this site! This is exactly what Bobby is doing. He is 11 weeks and he wakes between 5 and 6am and I feed him. I put him right back to bed and he sleeps until 10am. When he wakes up at 10, he is not hungry. He won't be interested in eating until almost 11, so he is missing a whole feeding in there. It sounds like I should let him CIO until 7am. Would you agree?
    March 31, 2008 2:32 PM
    momtobobby said...
    Okay the more I read on this site, the more I realize that I have been doing BW all wrong!! This is my sample schedule: Bobby wakes between 5 and 6 and I feed him and put him right back to bed. He then sleeps another 3 or 4 hours making wake time around 9 or 10am. he is usually not hungry until 45minutes after he wakes up. We then do feedings every 3 hours. Usually 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm. He takes 3 naps. Two 1 hour naps and to one 2 hour nap. He then goes to bed at 8pm and I give him a DF at 10pm. I think that I am letting him sleep too long in the morning. If I cut back on that morning sleep, Do you think he will sleep from 8pm through the night to 6am? Should I cut back on his naps as well? I'm soo glad that I found this blog, you have no idea:) I am constantly consulting BW thinking that there will be something in there that i have missed. This site is heaven sent!
    March 31, 2008 3:07 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    You can definitely give CIO a try and see how that goes. It sounds like he doesn't need that 5-6 feeding since he goes so long afterward. I would first work on that feeding. Once it is dropped, you can evaluate to see if he needs the dreamfeed. At his age (until 15 weeks), you don't want him sleeping more than 9-10 hours if BF and 11 if bottlefed. Don't worry, there is a lot to remember. Your first time through, you seem to miss a lot :) Keep consulting the book and site for more ideas. It sounds like he is doing quite well.
    April 1, 2008 2:13 PM
  • Firecracker said...
    My son has been consistently waking up at 4 a.m to eat for the last week or more. I know he's hungry at this feeding, but his wake time is at 6 and he will barely eat then if I have fed him a full feeding at 4. I can't let him CIO since I am staying with my Dad right now, so I wanted to try to wean him off the feeding. How exactly did you do it with Kaitlyn?And how long did it take? And about how old was she?
    March 26, 2008 9:40 AM
    Firecracker said...
    How exactly do I wean my son off the 4 am feeding? I have been trying to cut back the time. I have gone from him eating about 8-10 minutes. To about 4-6 minutes. But if I try to do anything shorter than that he will scream when I pull him off. BUT if I give him a full feeding he won't eat well at 6:30 (his wake up).Babies are so funny. Just when you think you got them figured out they switch things up on you. Ha ha ha. How long does the weaning process take? I have been doing it about a week now. (starting week 2)ThanksDanielle
    April 1, 2008 2:25 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Weaning takes longer than CIO. It took my daughter about 3 weeks of weaning. CIO typically only lasts 3 days (though it can be longer). Hang in there! Just expect it to take some time.
    April 1, 2008 3:08 PM
    Gabby said...
    When I was trying to drop my son's last middle of the night feeding around 2-3:00 AM I used a pacifier for a couple of nights. I held it for him since he never really kept a pacifier in well, but it calmed him down without nursing. After about 3 nights I let him CIO and it took very little crying to drop that feeding. It might be worth a try. :)
    April 1, 2008 7:29 PM
    Firecracker said...
    Thanks! I'll give the pacifier thing a try too. My son has never really taken one, but I'll try holding it. by-the-way Plowmanator, Thanks to your advise I was able to move his schedule to 30 minutes later at night in only a week! Thanks so much for everything.Danielle
    April 1, 2008 10:35 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Thanks for your added advice Gabby--and Hurray for Danielle! Thanks for sharing your succecss.
    April 1, 2008 10:47 PM
  • Annie Haymans said...
    Hello..Not on pacifiers but another sleep question. My 6 1/2 month old finaly started sleeping through the night again (we went through a rough stage) but he is waking at 5 or 530am. Do I get him up and start his day or do I feed and put him back to bed until 7?
    October 8, 2008 4:47 AM
    vicko said...
    My daughter always seem to wake up at 5:30. I leave her in her crib to talk and try and pacify with a pacifer and try and to prolong her to start her day closer to 7.
    October 8, 2008 9:54 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Annie, this is up to you. BW talks about options. See this post: Also, 5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions : You can also try Vicko's suggestion. Good luck!
    October 9, 2008 1:19 PM

Potty Training On Hold

After much thought and pondering, we have decided to stop potty training for now. Things seemed to be going so well! But after some thought, I realized I wasn't judging success in potty training completely accurately. Here is the summary of what happened:

Day 10
This day went very well. He peed and pooped in the potty. He woke clean and dry from his nap. No accidents. His last time going on the potty for the day was around 11 AM.

Day 11
Imagine my surprise when Brayden woke clean and dry in the morning. He hadn't peed since 11 the previous morning. Hmmm....strange. This is the day potty training went very south. I expected him to go to the bathroom soon in the day since he had woken dry, but by 11 AM he still hadn't, making it 24 hours since he last went. I started to worry he had a bladder infection. I sanitized his potty so I could hopefully catch a clean sample. I knew he couldn't go on demand at the doctor. He finally peed a little and we went to the doctor. It turned out there was no infection. I wondered what was wrong. Brayden had cried and cried, saying it hurt to go and that his poop was too big. An hour into "naptime" he was still trying to go, but couldn't. He cried because he didn't want to get his underwear or training pants dirty, but he couldn't pee or poop on the potty. I finally asked him if he would go to sleep if he wore a diaper, and he said yes. So we did. That night, we had a birthday party for my mom and Brayden had an accident, I assume from all the excitement going on around him he forgot about underwear and toilets. At the end of the day, I was trashed. Potty training had been such a taxing time. Nate and I talked about possibly stopping, but I hated the idea of quitting. He had had so much success! I did some praying and pondering over the situation.

Day 12
My husband decided to stay home from work to help in the efforts of potty training. Brayden woke clean and dry in the morning, and by 10:30 AM was crying that he couldn't go on the potty. Finally I asked him if he would rather wear diapers or underwear. He thought about it for about 5 minutes, and finally answered diapers. I said okay, put the diaper on him, and he was perfectly content. I felt really good about the decision and like a weight had been lifted.

I have of course done a lot of analyzing the whole situation. I know he wasn't not going on the potty out of rebellion. Bless his little heart, he gave it honest effort. I thought about it and realized I was looking at success incorrectly. Yes, he was having little to no accidents and staying clean and dry, but he also was only peeing once a day. That can't be healthy. I decided he must not be ready to let it out sitting down. I had hoped he would get used to it and the hang of it after a couple of days, but it never clicked. After a week and a half, he still didn't know how to make himself go.

Over the 12 days, he had slowly gone down hill. He had become clingy and whiny--two things he has never been in his life. I hadn't realized the stress that had been taking him over. He had rings under his eyes. He wouldn't do solo playtime half the time because he needed to go to the bathroom but couldn't let it out. Once we put a diaper on him, he played happily. He went back to his old self after he was put back in diapers. He was jumping, running, being crazy, loving solo playtime... I talked to my friend Kelli about it. Kelli is really good and reading people and understanding their personalities. She also does Babywise with her two year old son. She pointed out that Brayden is really dutiful. If I ask him to do something, he does it to the best of his ability. So physically he was able to stay clean and dry, but not able to let it out because he didn't know how. She was so right and I realized how careful I will have to be when I ask him to do things in the future. I will have to be absolutely sure he is developmentally ready for the things I ask of him. He is a perfectionist, so to not be getting something despite the best of his ability was very hard for him. I am also a perfectionist and hate to "quit," so it took me too long to recognize that he just wasn't ready.

Since we have quit, he has asked me for permission to pee and poop in his diaper. He has also suddenly gained a disliking for having a wet or dirty diaper. Before potty training, it didn't bother him in the least. So he is more ready than he was a couple of weeks ago, but just not quite there.

I told this story to a friend with 6 year old boy who has always reminded me of Brayden. She said that when her son was potty training, he also had a hard time learning how to go on the potty. He eventually started waking in the night throwing up all over. She took him to the doctor and they x-rayed him and found his intestines to be completely full of poop. There was no more room. So she stopped potty training. Several months later, he asked to do it and never had one accident and no problems. Here's hoping!

Poll Results: What is Baby's Bedtime


6:30 PM: 6 votes (7%)
7:00 PM: 14 votes (17%)
7:30 PM: 12 votes (14%)
8:00 PM: 23 votes (28%)
8:30 PM: 11 votes (13%)
9:00 PM: 3 votes (3%)
9:30 PM: 2 votes (2%)
10:00 PM: 8 votes (9%)
Who Knows! It changes every night!: 2 votes (2%)

Total of 81 votes

Related Posts:

Easy Nap Fix

I wrote this article for ( I thought I would post it on this blog as well:

It seems most if not all moms come across short naps at some point in time. I would like to share my number one fix for both short naps and long crying sessions before naps.

The nap/crying fix is nothing new. “During the first two months, if your baby is not napping well, try cutting back on his waketime by 15-minute increments” (On Becoming Babywise, p.130). I wanted to stress this fix. It is not something I really gave much weight while Brayden was a young baby, but learned as he grew how true it was. I do, however, apply it to all ages of babies, on up to my current toddler.

If your baby cries a lot before a nap, there is a good chance he was up too long. If your baby typically doesn’t cry at all but cries before a particular nap, he was likely up too long.

As your baby gets older, it is easy to let him stay up too long. Many of them change their sleepy cues or drop the cues all together. You also want your baby to get all the waketime possible, often in hopes of a good, long nap will follow. This will often backfire. Maybe you were just having too much fun with baby-and I know we start to miss our babies as the nap draws on. If your baby is waking early, the first thing I would do is evaluate your waketime. Be aware of the time he wakes from the previous nap so you are sure to get him down in time for the next nap.

I have found that even at 9 months, Kaitlyn needs to be down in time for a nap. If not, my 2 1/2 hour sleeper turns to a 1 hour sleeper. Sometimes she goes back to sleep, sometimes not. If she is down in time, her nap is seamless. Even with Brayden, getting down for his nap in time is important. His nap starts at 1:00 PM. If he is down by 12:50-1:00, he falls asleep almost immediately. If he is down by 1:15, however, he will take at least an hour to fall asleep. He just stays in his bed and sings to himself. It also isn’t unusual for him to not fall asleep at all after getting down 15 minutes late.

So while it is an easy fix, do not discount it. I always recommend it be the first fix tried when problem solving because it is so commonly the culprit and so easy to fix. Some moms are hesitant because they don’t want their baby waking any earlier, but if baby is taking a 45 minute nap and you move downtime back 15 minutes and baby sleeps 1.5-2 hours instead, baby is sleeping much past that old 45 minute mark.

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