Gentle Sleep Training: The Four S’s

How to sleep train a baby without crying. This is a gentle baby sleep training method to get baby sleeping independently. No-cry sleep training method.

How to sleep train a baby without crying. This is a gentle way to sleep train your baby and get baby sleeping independently.

Can I let you in on a secret? I hate sleep training a baby. I don’t find it enjoyable in the least.

I fully believe in my children being capable of falling asleep on their own, however. The benefits of sleep are well-documented and I want my children to be able to sleep as babies, toddlers, children, teens, and adults! Healthy sleep habits are very important to me. 

My desire to help my children be good sleepers overrides my dislike for sleep training. I forged on with sleep training in order to establish healthy sleep.

When my third child came along, I discovered something amazing. There are many baby sleep training methods out there, and I had just discovered a gem.

Sleep Training Baby

When McKenna, my third child, was born, I wasn’t sure exactly when I was going to start sleep training with her.

I like to start sleep training baby early because I hate to teach the baby to need one way to fall asleep (like rocking) only to take that all away several weeks or months later. I think that makes things harder on the baby.

However, I also hate listening to my babies cry (who doesn’t?) and didn’t look forward to the whole sleep training process.

Please note, I have no problem with cry it out as a sleep training method. My oldest two were sleep trained using cry it out and it worked well. CIO is fast and efficient.

I do prefer this 4 S’s way to sleep train a baby, however. If you are considering cry-it-out, I have a lot of helps to get you started. Check this post first: Everything You Need to Know About Cry It Out

Baby in a bassinet with a text reading How to Sleep Train Baby the Gentle Way

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No Cry Sleep Training

When McKenna was three days old, I read Hogg’s Four S plan for teaching a baby how to sleep on her own in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. The Four S’s is a gentle sleep training method that involves no crying. I decided to give it a try.

It worked! It worked and McKenna still did not cry for a nap until she was three months old. Not only that, but she woke at sleep transitions (as babies do) and went back to sleep without crying.

I could even transfer her from a stroller or car seat to her crib when she was asleep and she would go back to sleep with no fuss.

McKenna was a phenomenal sleeper and continues to be. 

I am sure many of you are very interested in what these Four S’s are. I am going to share them with you, along with my own tidbits. However, if you want to try these Four S’s yourself, I highly recommend you read what Hogg has to say. I read over the Four S’s about 30 times before executing it. I wanted to be sure I understood the method. These are found on pages 182-186.

>>>Read: Sleep Begets Sleep? The Truth About Baby Sleep

The Reason You Want to Sleep Train Your Baby

Every 45 minutes, your baby has a sleep transition where he moves from one sleep cycle to the next. At this point, a baby has a high likelihood of waking up unless he is able to self sooth and fall asleep independently.

When your baby is good at self-soothing, then everyone can enjoy a good night’s sleep and solid daytime naps.

Establishing good sleep habits as close to the beginning of life as possible sets up everyone for success.

When baby takes predictable naps, baby’s sleep schedule is predictable, which makes the entire day predictable.

Sleep Training Newborn

One of the best things about this sleep training method is that it works best with newborns. That means you can teach your newborn baby great habits from the beginning.

You start as you mean to go on.

Newborn sleep is how you want your baby to sleep. You avoid sleep issues and sleep problems from the very beginning of your child’s life. This is infant sleep training that is gentle on the newborn and therefore gentle on mama’s heart. 

When my fourth child was born, I had no question in my mind how I would sleep train her. Gentle sleep training all the way! I used the Four S’s for sleep training with Brinley, also, and it worked just as well for her as it did McKenna. 

I can’t recommend this method enough. I have recommended it over and over in the last decade and I continually hear from you readers about your great success stories. 

Video Instructions for the Four S’s

Watch the video with this post to see a visual of the Four S’s. I use a doll to demonstrate exactly how I used this method on my babies. 

4 S's Sleep training steps graphic

How to Sleep Train Your Baby Without Crying

Here are the instructions for this baby sleep training method in text form. Take note, we never did more than the first three of the four S’s. I know people who have done all four, even with twins, and the fourth worked for them. If you need to move on to the fourth S, do not stress. It will still work out.

Setting the Stage

The first S is setting the stage. This is your sleep ritual; it is your routine before a nap or bedtime. See my post Sleep Routine Ideas To Get Your Baby Sleeping Well for help getting a great routine. 

You want your routine to be the same before naps and same before bed. Routine is a signal to babies and children. Even a newborn can start to recognize patterns. Make your routine calm. Set the stage in the room to the needs of your baby for successful sleep.

Success in all aspects of parenting relies on consistency. This is no different.

You will use the 4 S’s before every nap and before bedtime, so be sure you have a nice consistent bedtime routine each day, too. You might do exactly what you do before naps or you might add a few things to your bedtime routine. 

Turn the lights down. I either dimmed the lights (we have a light dimmer) or turned them off. With McKenna, I also closed the blinds, but Brinley slept just fine with her blinds open, so during the day, we had blinds open and closed them at night.

If I have a baby that sleeps well with blinds open, I leave them open. My idea is that it will help the baby distinguish day and night. However, McKenna was fine with days and nights and slept with blinds closed. When the child moves to two naps a day, I will close the blinds for naps.

For more, see my post on Sample Nap Routines, Perfecting Your Babywise Bedtime Routine, and Essential Elements to Any Babywise Bedroom


The next thing you do is swaddle your little one. Hogg says to do this even if your baby does not like being swaddled.

I have been asked if swaddling is a sleep prop and something that will cause problems with baby sleep.

Swaddling is not a sleep prop.

Babies have no control over their limbs, and that startle reflex can really wake them up. Swaddling can really help your baby sleep better.

Some babies have better control than others. For example, McKenna had better control over her limbs as a little newborn than Kaitlyn did. If she broke her swaddle, she could still stay asleep. But those arms could get going and really freak her out at times.

Most babies stop being swaddled with no problems around 3-4 months. Some can stop sooner. Some go on longer. Some babies have some transition time. But most stop the swaddle and sleep even better because they have arm control and are able to sleep more comfortably. 

>>>Read: Everything You Need to Know About Dropping the Swaddle


For me, this is where the real magic of the Four S’s sleep training method lies. With Kaitlyn, I had my sleep routine and my swaddling. I did those things with her.

So I had the first two of these S’s going on.

But I did not have the sitting. Sitting is the game changer.

Once your baby is swaddled, you sit. You don’t have to sit. You could also stand next to the crib. Just be sure you can be relaxed so your baby can relax.

You hold your baby with her in the vertical position. Plan on sitting like this for about five minutes. You sit still. You don’t rock, jiggle, pace, etc. You are sitting and holding her without stimulating her.

You tune into her. You wait for her to be ready to go down for her nap or bedtime.

When you do this sit, you give yourself the chance to really get that waketime down perfectly. You hit the perfect moment to put baby in bed drowsy but awake. 

You will feel her body relax and perhaps jerk a little. You then give a kiss, say the sweet things you say, then put her down in her bed.

You want her in bed before she falls asleep. You then leave the room so long as she doesn’t cry. You trust that she can fall asleep on her own.

You can see an example of my “sit” in the video above. 

Let me note, if your baby does fuss or cry a bit when you first put her in the crib, I would let baby fuss for a minute. I know this is a gentle, no-cry sleep training method, but some babies just need to blow off some steam before sleeping. Wait up to ten minutes before intervening UNLESS you feel like you need to intervene fast. 

This is how I did the sit part with Brinley as a newborn. We sat in the rocking chair in her room. I held her over my shoulder, patted her back, and rocked. As we rocked, I sang her lullaby to her.

Once the lullaby was done, I stopped the rocking and patting and just rubbed her back for a bit. Then I stopped that and we just sat. I waited for her to relax. She was not the obvious relaxer that McKenna was. With McKenna, I could feel her whole body relaxing. Brinley was usually quite relaxed from the start.

I then stood and placed her in bed. Then I turned off the light and left the room.

There were moments of exception. Sometimes she was in some sort of discomfort and instead of having her over my shoulder, I held her cradle style. I still rocked and patted her back.

If she was not relaxing over my shoulder, then I would do cradle.

Another exception is sometimes she was obviously not in the mood to be held. In those instances, I just put her in her bed. I don’t remember this happening with McKenna, but it happened a handful of times with Brinley in the first month. 

Hopefully this description will show you that you can make the 4 S’s work for you. Hogg says to not rock, but I find it very natural for me to rock my baby gently. I am not going fast, it is a just a slow, rhythmic gentle rocking. It feels right to me so I do it. Do what feels natural to you. 


I haven’t ever had to use the fourth S. You use this S if your baby cries. You keep baby in the crib and whisper “shh, shh, shh” while patting her back. You just lean over baby’s crib. Hogg has a long description on how to employ this step successfully, so if you need it, I recommend you read her description, especially since I have no experience with it.

Great Sleep Training Books

The Contented Little Baby
Mom’s On Call
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
The Wonder Weeks
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom Book of Logs
The Babywise Mom Nap Guide
On Becoming Babywise
The Contented Little Baby
Mom’s On Call
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
The Wonder Weeks
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom Book of Logs
The Babywise Mom Nap Guide
On Becoming Babywise

Middle of the Night Sleep Training

When your baby is up in the night, you might be wondering how much of this 4 S’s routine you need to replicate. Night wakings are very normal in at least the first 7-8 weeks of life. You will have them.

With my babies, I got them up, fed them, kept them swaddled through the feeding unless I needed to unswaddle to wake them up, burped them, and then just gently put them back in bed. They stayed drowsy enough in the night that we didn’t need to do the whole sit thing.

In the night, your stage is set and you have the swaddle. If your baby is awake and fussy, go to the sit so you can have baby nice and relaxed before putting baby back in the crib. 

Night sleep often follows daytime sleep. So when you get naps down, night sleep naturally follows suit. 

Looking for a different way to do sleep training? See Sleep Training Methods: 7 different ways to train baby

Why This Sleep Training Method Works

What is so great about this method? Baby falls asleep independently and learns to become an independent self-soother. This is all done without crying.

The sitting is where the magic of this method lies. If you have your baby’s nap cues right, she isn’t over-stimulated when you start to put her down, waketime is optimal, etc. then you have done everything right so far (for help on waketime length, see Optimal Waketime Lengths).

With the sitting, you are holding baby until she is at the perfect moment to fall asleep. She is relaxed. You didn’t rock her to get her there. She got there without external forces.

The sitting helps you time things perfectly.

Through careful observation, you can do this all without the sitting, but when you add the sitting you ensure baby is primed for falling asleep easily on her own.

Another thing I really like about the sitting is that it is a quiet time for me to hold my baby at the end of each eat, wake, sleep cycle. I hold my baby a lot during feeding and burping, but those aren’t moments where all I am doing is enjoying holding the baby. I am focusing on her taking a full feeding and getting that air bubble out.

With the sitting, I am able to just relax and hold her for a few minutes before her nap. Any mom with more than one child knows that this is harder to come by.

This method is great because it teaches your baby to fall asleep on her own from the beginning of life without other things that can be props (like rocking to drowsy). As the baby gets older, I see the need for the sitting becoming less pertinent.

If you plan to use this method, I recommend you also read my Cry It Out Bootcamp. This post will help you time things right and help you to know how to read your baby so you can start sleep at the right moment.

The more you know about sleep training in general, the more you will be able to get things right as you sleep train baby even with a gentle sleep training method. 

>>>Read: Tips to Get Baby Waking Up Happy From Naps

4 S' Infographic

Best Age for This Sleep Training Method

The best age for this sleep training method is anywhere from one day old to a three month old.

You can still use it as your child is four months old and even as a toddler (McKenna still loved a nice little hug that acted like a sit before her naps when she was two years old), but it will be harder to start this method with an older baby.

If you have an older baby, I would try this and see if it works.

If not, look into other methods. Cry it out might be a better option than this one for your baby. Tracy Hogg also has a Pick Up Put Down method that is designed for older babies and is a no cry sleep training method. Many people like the No Cry Sleep Solution. 

If you are comfortable with a crying sleep training method and can handle some tears, some good methods are basic Cry It Out, the Ferber Method (also called graduated extinction or the Interval Method), Extinction Sleep Training, the Fading Method (or Camping Out Method), and the Chair Method.

The best sleep training method is the one that works best for your baby and for you. Sleep training is something that just needs to be done, but the HOW does not matter.

>>>Read: Best Baby Sleep Training Books to Get Baby Sleeping

Four S’s Down the Line

Want to know how I liked it as the years went by? Here is my post The 4 S’s Three Years Later. You can also see how I did it with my fourth baby, Brinley, here at “Four” S’s In Action.

If you use this sleep training plan, I would love to hear how it went! Comment here or give me a shout out on Instagram or Facebook! Your experiences can really help other parents. 

Follow me on YouTube for more parenting content in video form!

Related Sleep Training Posts

 The Babywise Mom Book of Naps

Do you need more help with sleep? See my Babywise Mom Nap Guide for help getting great naps.

Reader Comments and Questions

Whitney said:
We’ve used the 4 S’s with our second baby (now 4 months old) and have loved it! I also think holding him upright over my shoulder helps him relax without needing a paci. Whenever I held him in a cradle position, he’d root around like crazy and would start to cry. He wasn’t hungry, I think it just reminded him of nursing and he wanted to suck for comfort. As soon as I started holding him upright, he calmed down immediately.

Amanda said:
We used the 4 S’s with Peter and it was a lifesaver! He didn’t even need any CIO (which was good since he had reflux) and just fell asleep happily. I do the “sit” part standing up since he was attached to an apnea monitor with a limited cord and would cry when I sat down and kick his legs against my lap. Standing worked well, I just sang 1-2 verses of a lullaby and then would shhh him and lay him down, then walk out. Emily, you might try an even louder shhh and firm pats on her butt while she’s in your arms, and definitely try standing. Also, if short naps are also a problem for her then she may need a waketime adjustment (1 hour, 15 minutes is average ideal for 3 month olds) or maybe there’s some discomfort waking her. Especially since she cries at naptime, sleeps well in the swing, and has early waking you may want to check and be sure she doesn’t have a touch of reflux. Some babies have reflux and it’s not too severe so it goes unnoticed. This is usually easily fixed with burping very well after feeds and before nap, inclining the mattress, and using a SnuggleU like Valerie makes. Those things definitely helped Peter sleep and he had severe reflux and food intolerances. I hope you find something that works soon!

Gigi M said:
When you are done with steps 1 & 2 and then u place baby down to bed, do u make sure baby still awake but sleepy or ok to be asleep? Thank u!

The Babywise Mom said:
Best to be awake, but if baby is asleep, I wouldn’t wake the baby.

Sleep Training Tips and Info

These posts will help you sleep train your baby with confidence. Learn how to sleep train in the method that best suits you and your baby.

The best sleep training method pinnable image

83 thoughts on “Gentle Sleep Training: The Four S’s”

  1. Yes! I completely agree with you. I love Hogg’s method of sleep training! We have been using BW for routine and scheduling but found that we weren’t cut out for CIO and this method has worked like a charm! BW really helped us calculate waketime and that is key to this working, and it does work! We actually didn’t do the sitting, but I guess I sortof do – but just standing still with ds if he needs to calm down. I found that if he gets really relaxed and i am holding him while sitting, the act of standing up can disrupt him too much. But sometimes i just stand still with him by the crib before putting him in. It’s so exciting when something works! I am glad you are having success.

  2. I read about the 4 S’s at 3 months, when my LO would only nap in the sling. After a couple of days of some hard work, he is now a great napper and sleeper. He’s 8 months now and I still set the stage and swaddle with the Miracle Blanket. I don’t have the shush pat or sit anymore.

  3. You know, to each his own…but one of the aspects of BW that attracted me to it…was the idea that you can eventually lay your child wide awake in his crib and he will fall asleep w/o props. That is what eventually happened with my son and I hope will happen real soon with my daughter. This just sounds like a production…no difference to me between using a rocking chair as a prop or holding the baby till he calms….isn’t he suppose to achieve this on his own w/o us? That’s what I did with my son and honestly…I am struggling to do with my daughter (7 years later)….and I think since I haven’t been as purposeful with her as I was with my son…I may be making it even more difficult. Anyway…glad you’re finding something else that is working for you…I’m not too sure about it for us…especially since my daughter at 5 wks old does not like being held when she is tired.

  4. Andrea, thanks for your comment. I actually do just stand by the crib also. It is for less than a minute each time before she is ready to be put down. She doesn’t fuss at all. I only sit if she gets the hiccups because I hate to put her in bed with the hiccups!

  5. LC, you do lay your child down wide awake. The only difference between this and what I did with Kaitlyn is that I take a moment to hold McKenna before putting her down. It is literally less than a minute 95% of the time. She is awake with her eyes open when I leave the room. She goes to sleep on her own without crying. Learning to self-soothe doesn’t mean they must cry. If the child will go to sleep without crying, all the better. Believe me that if it were a prop situation, I wouldn’t do it. I enjoy being able to put my children to sleep wide awake. This method just puts you a lot more in tune with your baby so you time everything right, which leads to less crying.

  6. ok, I know you said you didn’t use this part, but how I’ve heard lots of people talk about patting a babies back while in the crib…how does that happen if we’re supposed to lay them on their backs? am I missing something? 🙂

  7. Wow, I really like that sitting concept and can see so many benefits in it. Interestingly, this is kind of what I’ve fallen into with my sleep time ritual with my 5.5 month old. I usually hold him for a few minutes before naptime as he starts to get fussy, but I’ve learned that I need to keep him up past the fussiness to get a longer nap out of him. When I hold him, he faces out and we look out the window, say hi to the dogs, etc. I see this holding as kind of a wind down for him. Then, when nap time arrives a few minutes later, I turn him around and hold him up against my shoulder. I am usually walking into his room by this point or already in his room. Amazingly, he has learned this as his signal that it is sleep time because he will immediately put his fingers in his mouth and let out some tired fusses. Now, I usually end up swaying him back and forth in this upright position and tell him good night, etc. The swaying lasts about 10 seconds and he never dozes off or anything in my arms. It actually usually takes him 10 minutes to settle himself once in the crib. He’s so active and it seems hard for him to get comfortable :)Maybe I’ll try not to sway him and just hold him still and see if this helps him fall asleep faster. Maybe it stimulates him…Either way, I’m glad you’ve found something that works so well for McKenna! It sounds like everything is going great with her!

  8. I didn’t discover Baby Wise or Baby Whisperer until my son was about 6 six weeks old and we tried to implementing them then. At that point I wasn’t sure about CIO so I wanted to try Tracy’s method. With my squirmy 6 week old, I couldn’t figure out how to keep him swaddled (I have since figured that out) and he didn’t like to be held when he was tired either. So I tried the Shush-pat and sometimes spent up to an hour hanging doing the Shush-pat! THough I do think it was helpful, we ended up doing CIO but used the shush pat to calm him at intervals. I’ve always thought using Tracy’s method would probably work great for a new born because they are learning in their first moments here on Earth to go to sleep in their cribs, and without crying. I plan to use all the 4 S’s with my next baby from day 1. I am curious, Valerie, if McKenna starts to cry for naps as she gets older. Please let us know! =)To answer Becca’s question about patting doing the shush-pat while baby sleeps on back, Tracy mentions propping them onto their side. With my son, as he calmed down, I was able to slowly lower him back onto his back and just lightly pat his bum while still saying “shh”.

  9. I commented a few days back about finding your blog. I find myself referring to it regularly now! I do have a question:I have a 10 week old preemie (corrected age is 3 weeks). We are on a 4 hour schedule (4am,8am,12pm,4pm,8pm,12am) and waking on her own. She is eating approx. 4 ozs. each feeding and doing fine. I would love for her to be able to eat at 11:00pm for her last feeding and then sleep until 4:30 or so. I have tried to give her more at the last feeding, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Any suggestions or ideas about her schedule? It might be too early to expect this since she is a preemie but wasn’t sure. Thanks for your help!

  10. I don’t admit this to many people…but I sort of threw out BabyWise after finding The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I tried CIO once and almost threw up myself, especially because my son went almost 2 hours of screaming. After that ordeal, I said no more and found TBWSAYP. Everything in her book has worked…especially her wake to sleep method. I, sadly, have a 45 minute napper for a son (my daughter, his twin, sleeps full naps all the time)…so each day I have to go into his room, 20 minutes into his nap and poke him a little and then leave. On most days, he will then take a full nap. On the days I do not poke him…45 minute nap, guaranteed.

  11. Hi Val,I don’t blame you. My son never cried for more than twenty minutes or so and we always went in and soothed at 10. If he ever cried longer than that, we knew he was past the point of no return, and CIO wasn’t going to work that time. At which point we turned to the pacifier or back to Tracy Hogg’s methods. (He’s 9 months now, puts himself to sleep, and doesn’t use a pacifier). I wouldn’t have been able to let him cry for two hours either!Glad that Wake to Sleep has worked for you! We did it once when he was having a hard time dropping a middle of the night feeding and it worked for us too then!

  12. I have been struggling with sleep on and off for all 14 months of my daughter’s life….and just today as I was finally trying a new bedtime routine I magically hit upon this very thing!! It was amazing! I’m so glad to hear that this is actually something recommended. I am switching to Babywise after finding that my daughter won’t nurse to sleep anymore…so out the window goes my old AP hat with all my old tricks. A Babywise friend told me she sings a song to her daughter before bed, so after dinner, nursing, potty, bath and story I stood up by her crib, held her against my chest/head on shoulder and sang 3 verses of our song (Great is Thy Faithfulness) very calmly. The miraculous moment (after a traumatic day of sleep training I thought she would HATE the crib) she turned and reached for her crib!! I laid her down and she snuggled in, sucked a finger for a minute, turned her head back and forth, and was out within a couple minutes. This from a child who could “CIO” for 2 hours straight (tried at Christmas and then gave up from frustration/emotional overload.) Wow! I’m so glad to know that I have more tools for when I have baby #2! Next time I’ll start off this way instead of waiting until the second YEAR. Glad parents are allowed to make mistakes. I know I sure have. God is so gracious to me.Rochelle

  13. Becca,Hogg does address this. She says to put baby up on their side while you pat, then back on the back when you are done? I think it seems complicated also 🙂

  14. Jeannie,10 minutes actually isn’t long–acording to Hogg. She says “textbook” is 20 minutes, but some are longer and some shorter.

  15. thesprain,I will keep you updated. She has only had three times before naps taht she has cried at all at almost 6 weeks old–all three were less than 2 minutes each. One was when she was very overly tired. I agree with you, it is a great method from birth because it is the first training rather than re-training.

  16. Sarah,I am not really sure. I would be inclined to say she needs to go to a 2.5-3 hour schedule in the day so you can hope for longer stretches at night. You want to get the ounces in her during the day so she doesn’t need them at night. Since you need to treat her as a 3 week old, also consider that a 3 week old should have at least 8 feedings in a day and your baby has 6. At this point it would be about 5 weeks old? So adjusted she is about the same age as McKenna. Basically, if you want longer stretches at night, you have to have more food during the day. You do that either by offering more at each meal or offering meals more often.

  17. That is interesting Val. I am glad to hear the wake to sleep method works. If McKenna becomes a habitual waker, I am going to try it.

  18. Rochelle, I am glad you have had success! We all make mistakes, and most of them fall on our oldest. I guess that is what makes oldest children who they are 🙂

  19. have been following your posts for the last year. I have done BW since my baby was 4 weeks and now she is exactly a year. Since 3 months, she has never had a problem with going down for naps or bedtime. Within the last week, when I put her in her crib for naps, she stands up and cries for 15 – 30 mins. I eventually go in and try to calm her down, then place her back in her crib, but nothing seems to help. I know she is tired. She is not hungry, no dirty diaper, not sick, etc. My question is what should I try to help her out and is this normal?? I am at a loss!! HELP!! Thanks!

  20. I had never heard of BW (properly called) but our peditrician had given us this awesome "schedule"-feed, wake, sleep, every 3 hours (and lay them down right before they fall asleep). We did it with our first and she was sleeping through the night by 5wks! We have done it with our 2 other children and have loved how we can put our kids to bed and they fall asleep and have always been fantastic sleepers. Now with #4 I'm having problems-he's doing that 45 min wake thing, will do a 5hr stint at night and then up every hour after, he needs something to suck on always. Maybe I'm forgetting something, I don't know-but I need some help/advice. He's now 11.5 wks old-and I don't want to keep bad habits. Thanks for anything you can give me

    • My son did this and we finally had to let him cry it out. We did that for a nap, bedtime and another nap and he was back on track.

  21. So glad to see this post! We're having a "witching hour" before the bedtime feeding, and maybe the sitting will help. Definitely worth a shot!

  22. I turned to BW when my daughter just would not go to sleep in her crib (one of many issues we've had with her being extremely fussy). We did the shush-pat (sometimes for 20-30 minutes before she'd fall asleep) for a couple of weeks, and now she'll go to the crib awake and fall asleep by herself at 9 weeks. She does normally have the pacifier, but she also has a nasty case of reflux and the pacifier seems to soothe that a lot (she actually won't take it if she seems to be crying out of fatigue or boredom). Anyway the shush-pat is a lot of work every night for a little while but it worked for us!

  23. Amber, have you treated it as a growth spurt? When they wake early, it is best to first treat it like they need more food. If they take it, you know they are waking for hunger. If not, then you move on to other trouble shooting possibilities.

  24. Lisa, if it doesn't work, just keep in mind that during witching hours, do what it takes to keep baby happy. I would put McKenna in the swing (for the two weeks she liked the swing). I would also rock her, hold her, give her a pacifier, etc. Only the swing became problematic for her (but never did with my older daughter).

  25. La profesora Sarita, Thanks for sharing that! I think many moms wonder if it actually works for people, so it is good to have someone attest to it working.

  26. Hi Val, Thanks so much for your blog. So helpful! I read BW before I had my now 12 wk old son, and fully intended on implementing it. At about 6 wks I realized I had the schedule part down pretty well, but knew I was missing something because he wasn't a good sleeper! I was rocking and nursing to sleep. (he'd been in the hospital at 2 wks, and I think that made me hyper-sensitive to him, and keeping him happy!) He was waking at all hours, and wouldn't cooperate with a schedule, and was still waking 2-3 times at night. Anyway, found your website and realized I had missed the whole laying him down awake/CIO part. At 6 weeks I decided to try CIO. He cried for 2 hours, straight through his nap. He did this at least twice more, and I couldn't take it! I found the 4 S's and that seemed to work for us. At first I still had trouble with consistent wake times, but his schedule has stabilized. The sitting was the part I liked best, but this past week he's started crying as soon as we sit. Sometimes he'll calm down within the 5 minutes, and then I can lay him down mostly awake. But then the rest of the time he cries and cries. I've tried shush-pat and sometimes he's just hungry, but usually the only thing that will calm him is his pacifier, which he usually spits out before he goes down. I feel like I'm probably doing something wrong, but I don't know what it is! Help!

  27. I think some babies can kind of outgrow the 4 S method. That could be going on. But if he sometimes wants/needs to get some sucking in before he goes down, I don't see a problem with that. I would give it to him and let him suck away until he starts to spit it out. That is unless you see it starts to become a problem for him.He also might be a type who doesn't like to sleep. He knows the routine and knows that when you sit, it means nap is about to start, so he cries. Good luck!

  28. Hi! I have a 2-week old newborn and starting BW this week.Is an hour of CIO too long for a 2 week year old? We will reassure her every 15 minutes but it doesn't seem to work. I will try the 4S' and get the baby whisperer book too. But, wanted your two cents on this! Thanks!

  29. I have a 3 month old, and although I've followed Babywise to get him on the eat, play sleep cycle and he already sleep through the night, I have completely neglected letting him CIO or teach himself to go to sleep…. We rock him for every nap and before bed, and we rock him atleast 30 minutes usually. Is it too late for me to try to teach him how to go to sleep on his own?

  30. Love your blog! I'm on it everyday and love the back and forth from moms all over the country. Thanks for the forum to do so!I have a 3 week old, cuddly, sweet boy. I have been trying the 4 s's, which has worked out well during his sleepy newborn phase. Well, the phase has ended and now he is awake and very curious! When I go to stand still with him, he just looks around bright eyed at everything around us. I try to put his head in my shoulder, but he just raises his head and looks around. He also roots around a lot like he is hungry even though he eats (breastfeeds for about 20 minutes every 2.5 hours–his waketime is around 45-50 minutes). What do I do if the "sitting" phase isn't happening no matter how long I stand with him? The only way I have gotten him to sleep is by holding him and covering his eyes with my hand until he is completely asleep with his pacifier. Then, when I put him down (if he doesn't startle awake), then he will usually wake up every 15 minutes or so ro sometimes he will make it to 30 minutes. I've combed both baby wise and baby whisperer books and I am not sure what to do. Hopefully you have an idea!! Thank you!

  31. I just stood in the room and watched him through a nap and found that after I calmed him, he would start to close his eyes until they were like slits, and then jerk awake. I know you have advised others with this issue that they are overtired, but if I am trying to get him to sleep on his own, then he is going to be overtired. It seems like a catch 22.

  32. This has worked great for us although sometimes it's hard for him to stay awake by the time we put him down! We are getting ready to transition our 9 week old from a SwaddleMe to Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit. Would you suggest using the 4 S's as described or modify them a bit?

  33. Hi there. We've been doing BW with our LO since she was 4 weeks old but nothing from the 4S's. She is now 13 weeks old–is this too old to start the 4S's?

  34. I have been trying the 4 S's for the past couple days. Before that I did something similar, but not exactly. My daughter seems to need the shush-pat. She has a hard time relaxing. However, I find it hard to do once I've put her in the crib because it's hard to reach her lol. I'm leaning over the railing and my back is completely cramping up. Am I the only one with this problem? I really like the idea and I'd love to try it in entirety.

  35. I have read this book cover to cover and the sleep method over and over and I LOVE the routine idea and use it with my daughter. BUT…I have to say this, you have to know your baby. My daughter REFUSED to be put to sleep this way. There was no 'sitting' because she HATED it! She would scream the minute I put her in this position. Then she would scream for over an hour while I did the shush patting. It was exhausting, frustrating and just awful! After over a week with it not getting easier or better, I stopped using this method. My baby was happier and I was happier. So KNOW YOUR BABY! One method isn't right for all babies. We ended up trying this sleep training with her 3 more times & she never got it. She just wasn't ready for sleeping training. But when she was finally ready (at 10 months) I came up with my own method and it was easy.

  36. I have read this book cover to cover and the sleep method over and over and I LOVE the routine idea and use it with my daughter. BUT…I have to say this, you have to know your baby. My daughter REFUSED to be put to sleep this way. There was no 'sitting' because she HATED it! She would scream the minute I put her in this position. Then she would scream for over an hour while I did the shush patting. It was exhausting, frustrating and just awful! After over a week with it not getting easier or better, I stopped using this method. My baby was happier and I was happier. So KNOW YOUR BABY! One method isn't right for all babies. We ended up trying this sleep training with her 3 more times & she never got it. She just wasn't ready for sleeping training. But when she was finally ready (at 10 months) I came up with my own method and it was easy.

  37. The Baby Whisperer teaches how to put your baby to sleep without rocking or any other sleep “crutch” all with NO Crying It Out!!! But I know that sometimes, people get overwhelmed with the amount of information that Tracy covers in her book. I was looking for something easy to read with step-by-step instructions and I have found exactly the same method as in Tracy's book but much simplier explained with short clear isntructions: "How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone" guide by Susan Urban ( found it here ). That's why I just love this short guide and I recommend it to other parents. The method is great – it has worked in 2 days with my son and in 3 days with my daughter 🙂

    • Yes! I know this one! I used this with my son. My firstborn daughter was a sleeping angel – no method needed. But with the boy… total cat-napper and night-fighter! I was so lucky to find Susan Ubran’s method. I was not convinced to training at all but this one seemed so gentle and easy. Worth a shot! Turned out as a gamechanger. Thank you HWL!

    • Susan Urban is the best! I used this sleep training book and breastfeeding first. Both super helpful and – what’s more important – well written, so you just know what to do!

  38. Hello! First, thank you for your blog – I’m on it practically every day 🙂 we are dealing with the 45 min intruder on most naps and I know it’s because baby is not falling asleep on her own. Is 9 weeks too late to implement the 4S’s based on your experience starting late with Brayden and needing to do CIO? I’m currently using a paci and holding to sleep and then going in to help after a few min of fussing to get more nap out per the hierarchy. We are working toward laying down drowsy but I’m not ready to do CIO and don’t see line of sight to doing that without the paci. Any suggestions??

  39. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!! My baby is 10 days old and tonight (2nd night trying this method) I successfully put her in her bassinet with no crying. I am so grateful. Now I can get some sleep in between night time feedings.

  40. When using the 4 s sleep training method.. at what age do you stop swaddling? My baby is almost 4 months and everytime I swaddle her she breaks free

  41. Hi. My baby is 8 weeks and I just found this post. I’ve been trying the sitting (and ordered the book) but so far my baby will just scream in my face while I sit. How long am I supposed to let that go on? And are the supposed to scream? I want this to work, but I’m not sure it is :/

  42. Hi, Valerie

    I’m a new mom and baby E is 12 weeks old. I’ve loved reading your blog, so thank you so much for writing it! I feel like you’re my kind of girl! You love your babies, but sleep is important so sleep training is too.

    Baby E is doing well sleeping at night. I think we’re finally getting the hang of wake time and she’s beginning to self-soothe a little by sucking on her fingers. Here’s my problem. She is ACTIVE and has a bit of a temper. Lol This morning she accidentally rolled from her back to her tummy in her swaddle. She started rolling from tummy to back on and off at 6 weeks but she doesn’t do it intentionally yet. So, I know we have to stop swaddling like YESTERDAY. The issue is that she gets so worked up when we put her down. We do the consistent bedtime/naptime routine every day at every nap. We try the “sit” but we haven’t ever mastered it because she starts to squirm and get upset as soon as we begin. Most of the time it seems she does better when I swaddle, hold for a minute and put her down. I just don’t want to be unfair to her and put her down unswaddled if she’s not relaxed.

    We can do the tough love if we have to. But of course I don’t want to! I want a gentle way to help her transition and I’m not sure how to do that if she won’t “sit.”

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your response!

    • Hello!

      I am glad the blog has been helpful for you!

      With her temperament, you might have to go to tough love, and the tough love really shouldn’t take more than 1-3 days, but I know those 1-3 days feel like forever when you are in it.

      I would try starting to sit with her sooner or try different routines before nap to see if you can get her calmed down before starting the sit, but if that doesn’t work, move on to the tough love. Good luck!

  43. I’m struggling with this! Every time I “sit” my son starts rooting and gets really upset that I won’t nurse him. He’s almost two weeks old and we’re on day 1 of training. We set a wake up time and I’ve spaced out his feedings every 2.5-3 hours and I’ve managed to keep him awake for a full 20 minute feeding all day. He comfort suckles Or nurses to sleep prior to this so he’s wanting to do that in his bed.

    • It can take some time for a baby to switch up sleep methods. You could try a pacifier if you think that would be a good transition for him–he could suck on it while you sit and then remove it before he goes in the bed.

  44. Thanks for the helpful info! Especially the “sit” method for helping a baby fall asleep on her own. My baby just turned 3 months old, and we do the Babywise schedule with her. But she’s used to being rocked to sleep. We’re working on that. I’d love for her to fall asleep without that help. Nice compromise with the holding time. I look forward to trying it! She’s our 4th baby and we liked BW with our 2nd and 3rd daughters as well. The help is appreciated!

  45. This totally worked for my daughter! Thank you for your simple explanation about the Sit method. She’s our 4th baby and as much as I love snuggling, I needed to have her learn to fall asleep on her own. I have other beautiful children and house stuff to attend to. 🙂 We already do BabyWise and love it. I started this Sit method when she was about 2-3 months old and within a few days she responded to it! It’s like a dream to be able to do a tiny routine with her and then put her down to sleep. She’s awesome. I do give her a binky, so that’s a crutch, but it’s better than her needing to be rocked to sleep every time (like my first daughter). 😋 I just wanted to say that I’m grateful! Best wishes!

    • That is so great to hear! I am so glad you commented because I often get questions asking if it will work to start around the age you said you started and I am never sure. I am glad to know it worked for you so I can encourage others to try it. Thanks for commenting!

  46. Any advice on what to do if baby starts fussing and crying during the sitting phase? Just wait it out? Give a pacifier? Jiggle till calm then be still till relaxed? I’ve tried this method with all three of my kids, with every wake time possible after a consistent short routine and it’s never worked because they all get angry while I’m sitting or standing!

    • Are they the type who just don’t like to really be held physically?

      If not, I would guess waketime length is off.

      If so, I would try just swaddling and letting them lie there with perhaps you patting the tummy if they are okay with that until they relax.

  47. I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. I wish I would’ve read about the 4 s’s sooner! My baby is already almost 7 months. She is now refusing to stay asleep when I lay her down at night until it’s about 3 am and I’ve picked her up and gotten her back to sleep 5 times or more. I did the CIO method with my first two and they would cry for hourssss and it took way longer then the few days for both of them so I didn’t really want to do that with my third although from the sounds of it this may be my only sleep training option? I feed her to sleep so that I can hurry and lay her down (usually unsuccessfully). I have to do something different because I need this girl to sleep! Any recommendations would be so much appreciated! Thank you!

  48. First of all, thank you to all of the commenters – I learn a lot from the comments! My 10 week old boy hates napping, and I haven’t quite figured it out. Turns out I was following this method before I even bought the baby whisperer book, but when I do the sit part, he inevitably starts fussing and arching back and will cry pretty soon after. I always try to get him swaddled after the 1st or 2nd yawn. Am I to put him in his bassinet very quickly so as to get the jump on the fussing? The book says to sit with him and wait until his eyes get droopy, I thought.

    • Have you ever tried standing instead of sitting? That might help. But if that doesn’t work, try just putting him right down and see if it helps. If so, great! If not, you can go back to holding.

  49. I have used BW with 3 kids so far and am currently trying to train baby #4 who is 3 1/2 weeks old. She seems to have much more difficulty falling asleep than the others did so I have tried implementing the 4S’s. Sometimes “sitting” will work, but others she will cry while we are sitting for up to 10 minutes or more. Do you think this would be a problem of keeping her up too long beforehand?
    Or other times she calms while “sitting” I put her down and she settles only to cry again in 10 minutes or so. Calms again and cries and so on. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Kristen,

      I would keep really close notes of when she cries and when she doesn’t. How long was waketime length? What were her activities like during waketime? Is she getting overstimulated during waketime when she cries before the nap? See if you can see a pattern with it. It might even just be a certain nap of each day.

  50. Bonjour! thanks for the precious advice on your blog – you have readers all the way from France 🙂

    I started to apply the 4 S method this week, as my 6-weeks old baby started waking up every 20-30minutes… I know it has to do with falling asleep on her own at the end of a sleep cycle, but it’s soooo tiring…!!

    We started giving her the pacifier 2 weeks ago because it helped with her digestion pain… now she can’t fall asleep without it and wakes up if the pacifier is not in her mouth 😅
    I’ve tried to take it away but what would be your advices for helping a newborn self-sooth? (6weeks)

    Also now that we implemented the ritual before naps/bed and the 4 S method more seriously, she starts fussing as soon as I swaddle her/sit down, and cries more and more, until I give up and give her the pacifier 😅 she cant seem to calm down without it and becomes more and more agitated as I sit with her in my arms or put her in her crib 🙁 I thought sleep routine was supposed to soothe her and calm her down but it seems to have the opposite effect on her those past 2-3 days 🙁
    Any advice ?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hey! The video automatically pops up and starts playing. If you are on mobile, it will either be at the top of the post or the lower right corner if you scroll down from the top. If it you are on desktop, it will be at the top of the post or again lower right as you scroll down. If it isn’t showing up, you may have settings to prevent video from playing or from it to pop up. You can find it on YouTube, also:

  51. Hello, thanks so much for this! I tried the “sit” step today for my daughter’s first nap – she’ll be 4 weeks in two days. We’ve been having difficulty with CIO (mainly because it’s harder on me than it is on her!). She didn’t cry much this time! But the constant problem we have with her sleep (both naps and bedtime) is that she’ll finally fall asleep after 10-20 minutes but then pop back awake only a few minutes later and fuss, then settle herself back to sleep (or sometimes I have to go hold her again), but then pop back awake again after a few minutes. Is this a sign of an overtired baby? She sleeps fine at night once she’s settled in. Well. She’s not doing any ling stretches…but she doesn’t wake up a million times or anything. I feel really clueless when it comes to timing wake windows, so maybe I’m keeping her up too long. I really don’t know! But I’d love some help!

  52. Hello! I have been so grateful for your blog the last few years! I have a 19 month old and 3.5 month old. I have a sleep training question!!

    The 3.5 month old usually lays down and falls asleep on his own, as I tried my best to follow the 4 S’s from the get go. It’s amazing, especially having a toddler to care for!!! But I’m wondering, what next steps can I take to get him to sleep through the night? We aren’t opposed to CIO with him as we used this with our first, but I hope for them to share a room as soon as possible, so the less crying the better.

    He’s consistently waking up once a night but at inconsistent times. I have struggled getting him to hit the same time for his last feeding each night making the middle of the night feed varying, always stretches between 5 and 7 hrs. He’s gone 9 hours once before. He usually eats a full feeding so I do think it’s hunger waking him…

    Lastly, I’ll wait for the docs approval for sleep training/trying to get him to stretch more at night, but he’s already 17 pounds, chunky as ever, and in 95%+ for length. So any advice is greatly appreciated as we hope to encourage him to sleep a little more at night… is it possible?

    • It sounds like he is hungry, so I would either wait until he isn’t OR I would try to get more food in him during the day. Once he hits four months old, you can see if his doctor thinks he is ready for solids. Do you do a dreamfeed? If not, that might help.

  53. What do I do if I try these steps, but my baby is fussy the whole time – crying fussy. I try to hold her upright until she calms, but she doesn’t calm. She just cries & is stiff & unsettled – not relaxed. Or she’ll relax for a few seconds & then just start up crying again. She also often roots around like she wants to nurse, but when I’ve tried nursing her, she doesn’t want the milk so I know she is not hungry, she just wants the comfort. I’ve also tried starting the 4 S’s earlier thinking maybe she’s over-tired, but it’s always the same – she just cries & cries. My daughter is 4 weeks old.

    • She sounds overly tired. Have you looked at wake time lengths? For her age, you are look at 30-45 minutes including feeding time. Maybe 60 minutes.

      But if she isn’t overly tired, she might just really be overstimulated and holding her is making her upset.

      I would also wonder if she has some sort of pain, like reflux or gas pain.

  54. Hi Valerie!

    I’m desperate to start the 4 S’s method (or any method that helps baby sleep independently) but I am so conflicted. Please please please give me some advice. My baby girl is now 4 months old. She was quite small when she was born and to this day she is much smaller than other babies her age but she’s gaining weight well.

    She currently gets rocked & fed to sleep or uses a paci until asleep. She still sleeps with an Ollie swaddle although she hates it, because she still has very disruptive moro reflex. She currently sleeps in a bassinet and I haven’t moved her to a crib because I’m afraid that she will roll around in the crib with her swaddle on and could suffocate. Her bassinet is snug and has a baby positioner to keep her from rolling because we were told to elevate her bassinet by 30 degrees to help with her reflux symptoms. I’ve tried removing the swaddle but then she cant sleep at all. Her little arms just go all over her face and she cries and startles.

    An empty crib is so different to the setup in the bassinet and I don’t know how to transition her safely.

    Ps: She sleeps great in her bassinet at night. 8-10 hours and puts herself back to sleep if she wakes up. To start, I usually rock her in our rocking chair or standing, until she’s peacefully asleep then transfer her. She then continues to sleep on her own the rest of the night unless she has a night feed. However, she struggles to sleep longer than 30-45 min during the day. My pediatrician advised me to let her nap on me in the rocking chair so that she could improve her sleep and since doing that, she takes 2 hour naps but I’m stranded so this isn’t a solution either.

    Any advice would be appreciated.


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