Baby Whisperer: Sleep Disruptions

Any links to Amazon are affiliate links.

In Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg says sleep disruptions are inevitable for all babies. Here are some reasons for the disruptions (starting on page 187).

  • Solid foods causing gas or other discomfort.
  • Moving. Hogg says a newly moving baby will get a tingling in their arms that disturbs sleep. She also says a newly moving baby can get himself into uncomfortable positions he can’t get out of. See also this post: Nap Disruptions: Rolling, Standing, Crawling, etc.
  • Growth Spurt. Baby is hungry and needs more foods. Try adding more calories to the day. See also: Growth Spurts andĀ Baby Whisperer: Growth Spurts
  • Teething. Teething babies drool, have red, swollen gums, and sometimes a low fever. See also: Tips and Tricks: Teething
  • Dirty Diaper. Change the diaper in low light and put them right back to sleep.

Hogg reminds readers that sleep disruptions like these do not last forever. Keep perspective and the big picture in mind. See: It’s All About Perspective

Related Posts:

Reader Questions:

  • Heather said…
    hi jennifer…love the blog. would love your help with a quick issue.we have a 16 week old and ever since we dropped her 10p.m. feeding (gradually moved it back) she has been waking up around 5a.m. i can usually hold her off with a paci for 30 minutes or so, but i would really like her wake time to be 7a.m. because we feed her and put her down around 7p.m. when she wakes at 5a.m. she takes a full feeding and will go back to sleep for another 2-3 hours. what can i do to get her to move her waketime to 7a.m.? any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. thanks again for your wonderful help!heather
    October 1, 2008 9:20 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    Heather, I think I would re-introduce the 10 PM feeding. Also, see this post:10-12 Hours of Sleep:
    PS–my name is Valerie šŸ™‚
    October 1, 2008 3:54 PM

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it 1-5!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!


Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book,Ā The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on theĀ AboutĀ page. Follow her onĀ Facebook,Ā Pinterest, andĀ InstagramĀ for more tips and helps.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. BabyTaylor
    December 20, 2008 / 2:57 AM

    Hi! My daughter is six weeks old and we are trying to sleep train her. We have been letting her CIO for two weeks and for the most part she does great during the day, falling asleep and napping for two hours. But then in the late afternoon and early evening she will not fall asleep. She will either stay completely awake until her next feeding (3 hours) or fall asleep for 15 minutes, wake up and cry, we’ll give her the pacifier, she’ll fall asleep and then wake up again. Do you have any advice?

  2. Plowmanators
    December 31, 2008 / 4:08 AM

    That is a normal time of day for babies that age to be fussy. She might need a shorter waketime before the nap that is hard for her to fall asleep/stay asleep, or you might just want to do a swing or something like that until she outgrows the fussy stage.

  3. Kelly
    January 20, 2009 / 10:23 PM

    My daughter is 20 weeks. She’s been sleeping 12 hours at night for 3 weeks. The only time she had night wakings was when we were traveling and in a strange place. However, the last 3 nights she’s been up once between 10:30 and 1. She’s doesn’t have a dirty pants. I don’t think it’s a growth spurt because her days haven’t changed. She moves more during naps than at night without disruptions so I don’t think that’s it either. I have been feeding her but I’m not sure if that’s the right thing either. She’s not on solids yet. My dr recommended waiting until 5 months. She takes 2 2 hour naps and a 30-45 minute catnap in the late afternoon. She’s has 5 feedings during the day with a 1.5 hour wake time. Somewhere you mentioned nightwakings may mean you need to drop a nap but I think she’s pretty on for BW standards for naps. Would you recommend lengthening her waketime? Should I try CIO instead of feeding her? I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

  4. Plowmanators
    January 24, 2009 / 10:34 PM

    Kelly,It is possible it is a growth spurt since you have been feeding her. Since you are feeding her then, she might not need more in the day. Try giving her more in the day to see if that helps. Most babies need more food in general at four months, so it isn’t just a “spurt” but a boost in how many ounces needed in the day. See also this post for more:4 month Sleep Problems :

  5. Jules
    February 28, 2009 / 3:43 PM

    Thanks for your blog! What a great forum.I would love some advice on my 3 month old. We just finished a move, where for a week we were traveling across country, in the car seat, nursing every 2-4 hours whenever he woke up crying, sleeping in hotel rooms, of course waking at night whereas before he had just started sleeping through from 1030 dreamfeed to 6:45.And NOW…. we are one time zone back, so he is up at 5:45, along with my 2 1/2 year old. So that is one problem. After three days here during which time I was exhausted and sick and couldn’t make it to 10:30, I reintroduced a dream feed at 10PM. That has been going on 4 days now, and he has awoken each night anywhere between 1:30- 4:15 AM. Then again at 5:45-6:30. Ok, so there are so many thing happening, I don’t know where to begin. He was CIO during the day especially the evening after the move, but now he is better during the day, and lengthening his feedings to 3-4 hours naturally.He could be on a growth spurt (no poop!), then the move disruption, the reintroduction of a dreamfeed, and early waking. He shares a room with my toddler, so CIO during the night is not happening.I had not been giving him a consistent waketime since the move, but I know I should start that again. I would like to shift my toddler’s too, but one thing at a time. We didn’t train him to stay in bed, so it may take longer…Help! I’m done with the 1:30AM feedings!

  6. Plowmanators
    March 5, 2009 / 11:12 PM

    Jules,Keep in mind that in a few days we have the time change, so 5:45 will become 6:45. That will fix your toddler and your baby’s early waking. Also, at that point 10 PM will become 11 PM, so your dreamfeed can go back to 10:30 if you want.If it is a growth spurt, I wouldn’t let him go 4 hours in the day. If it is a growth spurt and he is eating at longer intervals in the day, he will need that night feeding to get the calories he needs.If you think CIO is the answer, I would put him in your room and you and DH sleep on the couches or something for a couple of nights to see if that helps.There is also the factor that you just moved. It is going to take children time to adjust to that. Good luck!

  7. naomi
    April 12, 2009 / 3:44 PM

    Help my 3 month old can’t sleep at night. She goes down fine but wakes up 4-6 times. She only needs 2 feeding, I know that bc if I feed her more shes not hungry in the morning. Would cio apply to her? I feed her when she goes down about 830. She has another feeding at 12(wakes up inbetween) and the I don’t feed her again till 4(still wakes up at least 2 times). HELP I need sleep!

  8. Plowmanators
    April 28, 2009 / 9:15 PM

    Naomi, it depends on the reason she is waking. Does she go down by herself without any props? If she uses a pacifier, it is a likely culprit. If she is waking because of pain or coldness or hotness, then CIO won’t help because it won’t solve the problem. How are her naps in the day? Does she go down and sleep at least 1.5 hours?

  9. naomi
    April 29, 2009 / 4:00 PM

    Yes, she sleeps anywhere from 45 mins to 2 hours 3 times a day. I don’t use any props at night. I let her CIO and now she only wakes twice now for feedings:) She is 4 months now. She sleeps at 8:30 and then wakes at 12:30 and again at 4:30. Then she wakes up for good at 7:15ish (I would like her to wake a little later b/c my 2 y/o goes to sleep same time and wakes at 8:30)but she isn’t hungry untill 8 or 8:30. Is this normal? She I try and cut a feeding? Or will she do it herslef? Thanks alot! Naomi

  10. cbgsteph
    May 2, 2009 / 8:30 PM

    Hi. Thanks for the blog. I wish I had found it with my first child. My second turned one month old yesterday and we have been doing BW since day 1. She typically goes 3 hours between feedings during the day. For the last 2 1/2 weeks, she has been waking up 1-2 hours after her 1st unscheduled feeding at night. I have tried everything I can think of…feeding her, adding an additional daytime feeding, holding her off. I have searched your blog and did not find this issue addressed, although in my extremely tired state, I might have missed it. I am worn out from the now three feedings at night in addition to the last scheduled feeding of the day. My milk supply is fine…she only eats on one side at each feeding (alternating sides) no matter how hard I try to get her to eat from the other side. The other side is always full. Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

  11. Sarah and Ryan
    May 13, 2009 / 5:29 PM

    Hello. Thanks for your blog. I am trying desperately to work on baby’s schedule.My little one is 4 months old. He has been a poor self-soother all his life. For the first two months he was actually hungry… we ended up having to supplement with formula. He has been so happy since then!Still, he is not great at self-soothing. I started the sleep training when I felt he was ready (around 9 weeks). I swaddled him and still do for the most part (I am this week starting to work on training him not to be swaddled- one arm out is going ok). He takes a passy to help him go down. I wanted something since his hands were unavailable to him.Now I am trying to work on him for longer naps. I know it is possible because he occasionally does it on his own. But typically he still only wants to sleep 45 minutes. Yesterday I decided to let him stay down for the allotted amount of time- 2 hours I think. He woke up in the middle, but I went in to give him his passy. He did great! Today, however, he is really struggling. He woke up at 45 minutes and I tried to let him go back to sleep. He got really really upset, and I ended up having to comfort him. But I knew from the way he was acting that he was still tired, and when I got him to calm down he went right back to sleep in my arms. Now he’s asleep for a good long while it seems. I am just frustrated because the crying-it-out doesn’t seem to work for him sometimes. He gets SO upset that he can’t calm down. Still, I know he isn’t hungry. How long should I let him cry it out in the middle of a nap? (Especially if I am sure he isn’t hungry, which I am, since now he is back asleep peacefully). If he doesn’t stop crying after the allotted time, what should I do? I know he isn’t hungry, and if I feed he will likely just go back to sleep. He really just wants comfort. Should I take away the passy altogether and let him tough it out with his hand for a few days? It hurts my mommy heart to let him cry for too long…. any wisdom would be appreciated.Thanks!

  12. Plowmanators
    May 14, 2009 / 5:45 PM

    Naomi,If she is eating at 4:30 and then not hungry at 7:15, then that is a sign she can drop that feeding. See this post for ideas:Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime: in mind that not all children can go 12 hours at night. Some only need 10. BW says 10-12 hours. I would put her down at 8:30 and then wake her somewhere between 10-11 for a feeding. That should help her to make it longer through the night. This feeding is called a “dreamfeed”. This should help so she wakes only once a night.

  13. naomi
    May 16, 2009 / 1:06 PM

    Hi! I introduced the dream feed like you suggested. (at 11) It worked! She dropped the 2am and 6am feeding:) yay! She woke at 6:45 for the day. I guess she doesn’t need the full 12 hrs like my son. Thanks so much for the great advice. I read through all the info but I got pretty confused on where to start. Thanks again! Love the blog!

  14. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2009 / 10:18 PM

    cbgsteph, unfortunately, I don’t have any additional ideas! Four montsh is a growth spurt, so if she was having a growth spurt, that could help explain it. Did you ever find a “cure”?

  15. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2009 / 10:18 PM

    Naomi, thanks for the update! It is always great to hear of the successes.

  16. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2009 / 10:24 PM

    Sarah,It sounds to me like he just needs consistency. You can’t give him the paci some days and not others. Also, if he gets a paci to go to sleep initially, I don’t think you will find much success in getting him to go back to sleep without it after a “power nap.” Basically, you have a few choices. One is to go in and give him the paci until he is old enough to find it himself. That would be anywhere from 6-8 months from what I hear. Two is to take the paci away all together and do CIO. If you choose that, see the blog label CIO for more on that. Three would be to take the paci away and try Hogg’s advice for teaching self-soothing (in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems). It is non-CIO, but would take a lot of work and effort also. See the blog label “Baby Whisperer” for more on that. I would choose one of those and stick with it. Good luck!

  17. Amber
    June 10, 2009 / 6:07 PM

    Hi! Your blog has been sooo helpful! What a wonderful service! I have a 17 week old who is only sleeping appox 4-4.5 hrs at a time at night. He is on a 3 1/2 hr schedule (7, 10:30, 2, Cluster feed at 5 and 7, then DF at 10:30). He is still waking around 2:30, then again somewhere around 6:30. We give him a paci sometimes at the 2:00 time but he wakes again in about 30 min so we assume he is hungry….I am thinking about trying to introduce cereal because he does nurse good at both the DF and middle of the night feed…I am also just confused about our evening feeds/ bedtime routine in general….if he nurses at 5:30, he will likely be ready for a nap by 6:30. What should I do after that??

  18. Jennifer
    June 10, 2009 / 10:49 PM

    Amber, BW says to keep your baby on a three hour schedule until they are STTN. More feedings during the day help them not need as many feedings during the night. I'd try that before introducing solids. Give it a week or two–maybe it will work!?

  19. Amber
    June 11, 2009 / 1:51 AM

    Thanks for the response Jennifer. On the 3 hr schedule, he wasn't taking full feedings every time. I am BF and working so my husband gives him BM during the day. Sometimes he would take 5 oz and other times only 2-3 oz, but he has been much more consistent as far as feedings on the 3.5 hr sched. Now he is taking 5.5 oz pretty consistently. He did have acid reflux (undiagnosed since 2 wks old) but has been on medicine for about the last 6 weeks now and feeds normally now. His naps also seemed to get better once we moved to the 3.5 hr; however, he can only stay awake for about an hour or so…we start the day at 7, play and then 2.5 hr nap. He is pretty consistent on 2 hr naps the rest of the day whereas he was only taking 1 hr naps on the 3 hr. Is he getting too much sleep during the day?? My husband does have to wake him from some naps to feed again. If we move back to the 3 hr, should I keep the DreamFeed since he is still getting up in the middle of the night? DF is hard because I am so tired that I want to go to bed before 10:00 and usually do so I am essentially getting up twice! BTW, he has slept 5-6 hour stretches before and 8 1/2 one time with ear infection!

  20. Tyler Mama
    June 15, 2009 / 5:10 PM

    Hi Valerie,It's Amber again…well, while awaiting your response, things have changed! For the worse, unforutately…now he is not even sleeping his 4 hr stretches! This past week, Tyler seemed to have gone on a nap strike! We thought that was bad but now he is not sleeping for much of a stretch at all at night..we haven't had any changes except for going out of town last weekend but we were able to keep him on schedule really..I am still on a 3.5 hr sched beginning at 7, ending 5:30 then 8:00 and 10:30. Last night, he woke by 1:30, gave paci, awake again by 2:00, gave paci, awake at 2:15 so I nursed him. Then, he only slept til like 4:15. We decided to let him cry which he did for 15-20 min then would fall asleep for 2 min. This repeated a couple more times then he finally fell asleep until we got him up at 7:00. It was much worse a night or two before…what happened???? We are seriously considering CIO….He did get his 4 month shots Sat morning, but the nap strike and terrible nighttime started the week preceeding them…Thoughts???

  21. Tyler Mama
    June 22, 2009 / 3:19 PM

    Hi Valerie, I hope I am posting correctly since I haven't heard back from you yet…anyway, the latest update on Tyler. We thought we had it figured out – swaddle withdrawals since we stopped swaddling cold turkey. I had never considered that he would need to be weaned off the swaddle. We started swaddling again and that did help both the naps/ night except for the consistent 45 minute intruder and still only 3-4 hr stretches at night. My last nursing periods of the day are 5:30, 8:00 and DF at 10:30. I only nurse him one time after the 10:30 and pacify if when he wakes other times. I am so tired that I tend to go to bed prior to the 10:30 DF so technically I am getting up twice! I am confused about whether I should keep the 10:30 if I have to get up to do it…doesn't that defeat the purpose?? I hope you are out there…I would really like to know your thoughts šŸ™‚ P.S. Tyler will be 19 weeks on 6/24.

  22. Plowmanators
    July 11, 2009 / 7:13 PM

    Amber, Jennifer is right that the 3 hour schedule might be of use, but like you said, some babies won't take full feedings. From what I have read in many books, adding cereal will not fix sleeping problems. I don't know if that is true or not, but many books state that.Since he drinks from a bottle, be on the lookout for the need to switch to a larger nipple size if you haven't done so yet.

  23. Plowmanators
    July 11, 2009 / 7:17 PM

    Amber,With the added info (as Tyler Mama), I have added thoughts.One is the pacifier. Around 3-4 months, many babies who use pacifiers run into sleep problems because they are unable to fall asleep without it. So when they wake in the night, they call out for the pacifier. All babies (and adults) wake several times in the night. Without the ability to fall asleep without external forces, they need help. So I would consider teaching him to self-soothe OR wait until he is old enough to put the pacifier back in himself (typically around 6-8 months old). Yes, keep the dreamfeed unless you think it is interfering with sleep. I would try to fix the soothing issues first. See also the blog label "4 month sleep problems" and "pacifiers"

  24. Ryan and Kimberly Smith
    July 25, 2009 / 2:24 PM

    Hi, thanks so much for your blog – it has helped me a ton since my son was born! We are having some new issues with him lately. He is 16 months old and just learned how to climb out of his crib the other night. We disciplined him each time he got out and after a day of this, he stopped. But, now instead of climbing out, when we put him down for naps or at bedtime, he just stands in the far corner and cries and cries and cries. I was going in every 20 mins, calming him down and then leaving, but it sometimes takes him over an hour to fall asleep or he doesn't sleep at all. PLUS, he has been waking up at 2am and 4am in the night and takes 2-3 hours to go back to sleep then too! Needless to say, we are exhausted from all this. I can't figure out if he is suddenly having separation anxiety or is afraid of his crib, his room, etc? Not sure what to do to help him – his voice is hoarse from all the crying and he has dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep. Any ideas?

  25. Jennifer
    November 2, 2009 / 7:16 AM

    I am desperate for some help! I have an 8 month old and we have been experiencing sleep problems for about 2 months. She was sleeping through the night and taking two 2 hour naps each day. Then she got 2 ear infections and she had trouble sleeping through the night. She was waking up and not going back to sleep on her own. Her ear infections healed and then one came back and not only did her night time sleep continue to suffer but her naps both shortened to about 1 1/2 hours each. Now both her ears are fine and still sleep is a struggle. Some nights she will do just fine, others she is up 2-3 times. I honestly don't know what else to try. Any suggestions?

  26. Plowmanators
    December 1, 2009 / 12:03 AM

    Jennifer, there are a couple of possibilies. One is that bad sleep became a habit. Another is that there have been many different factors. There are so many posts that cover sleep problems, including "5-8 month sleep disruptions." Good luck!

Leave a Reply