My Sleep Hierarchy For Newborns

How to prioritize and balance your baby sleep schedule and sleep training for your newborn. Get peace of mind sleep training your baby with these newborn sleep tips.

Brayden sleeping as a newborn

Many times, we get a little stressed out with our newborns in terms of sleep.

We want our newborn to sleep really well and aim to establish solid sleep.

We worry about starting bad habits and we want to teach our little ones healthy sleep patterns.

I have gotten many frazzled phone calls and emails from various people unsure about what to do with the non-sleeping newborn.

What do you do when your newborn won’t sleep or wakes early? How do you make sure your baby gets enough sleep without ruining all future sleep?

Newborn Sleep Hierarchy

I have a personal sleep hierarchy for newborns. I have come to this value system on sleep based on my personal experience and a compilation of things I have read in various sleep books.

It is quite simple and comprises of three goals:

  1. Baby sleeps WHEN she should
  2. Baby sleeps WHERE she should
  3. Baby sleeps on her OWN

These goals are numbered because they have a hierarchy. Goal three should not come at the expense of goal one or goal two. You need to fulfill the goals in the correct order.

But also take note that the ideal is that all three goals are met. You don’t want to just aim for goal number one and ignore the other two. If you do that long-term, the day will come that goal one is impossible to reach without some major change.

Let’s discuss each goal in further detail.

Sleep Hierarchy for Newborns

GOAL #1: Baby Sleeps When She Should

My number one goal for newborns and sleep is that they sleep when it is time to sleep. I don’t care what it takes for sleep so long as sleep is happening.

If a newborn gets overtired, she isn’t going to sleep well, and that isn’t going to do anyone any good.

She won’t be able to put herself to sleep in that state, which just perpetuates a non-sleep cycle. She also won’t eat well if she is tired, which isn’t healthy. Plus, sleep is important.

So the most important thing is that baby is sleeping when it is time to sleep.

If she is waking early (and isn’t hungry), you want to help her get back to sleep to take a full nap.

>>>Read: How To Calm Your Overstimulated Baby

Please note, you always want to follow safe sleep practices and recommendations. These are in place to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

You want to avoid loose bedding and items in the crib, such as pillows, toys, quilts, and crib bumpers. It is also recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) that baby go to sleep on her back and not her stomach. You want to have a safe sleep environment to avoid suffocation.


GOAL #2: Baby Sleeps When She Should, In Her Own Bed

Of course, there are risks and problems with baby sleeping at all costs.

You can get her to sleep when she should, but create problems down the road that lead her to not sleep when she should because she is too dependent on sleep props.

>>>Read: When Sleep Props Are Okay (And When to Avoid Them)

One common sleep prop is the swing or sleep through baby wearing.

A major problem in my mind with baby sleeping in a swing or in a sling is that sleep while in motion is not as restorative as stationary sleep.

So if you do use motion to get baby to sleep, it is best to have the nap take place in a stationary place, like her own bed (the crib or bassinet).

In the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth suggests if you have baby fall asleep in a swing that you turn the swing off once she is asleep.

Stationary sleep is far superior to sleep while in motion. Sleep while in motion does not allow the body to get into as deep of sleep.

So, even better than baby sleeping when she should is baby sleeping in her bed when she should.

>>>Read: 9 Effective Tips to Get Baby to Sleep in the Crib

GOAL #3: Baby Sleeps When She Should, In Her Own Bed, and Falls Asleep On Her Own

The ultimate goal is to have your child sleep when she should, in her bed, and fall asleep on her own.

This is what is going to get her the most benefits from sleeping.

A risk of having baby sleep at all costs is starting bad habits–like being unable to fall asleep unless she is in a swing.

This third goal is the best case scenario–this is what you are ultimately striving for.

But goal three shouldn’t completely replace goal one. For a newborn, sleeping is most important.

You don’t want her skipping all daytime naps because you are determined she will fall asleep on her own no matter what.

So if you put her down in her bed awake and she has a hard time falling asleep, my thinking is it is best to help her fall asleep so you can try again next time.

Odds are she is having a hard time falling asleep because she is over tired or over stimulated.

If you help her fall asleep, you can try again next nap to get the timing right. If not, she will be overly tired perpetually. You cannot have sleep training success if your baby is overly tired.

How To Make It Work

I recommend that you start with the end in mind. Aim for goal number 3. Go about your day as though goal number three will happen. If it doesn’t work out for a nap, scale back to goal two or even goal one.

For the next nap, aim for goal three again.

I definitely understand the desire to avoid sleep problems down the road. Start as you mean to go on!

McKenna went to sleep on her own for every nap and bedtime starting at three days old. She did this without crying, but I didn’t know for sure she would do that the first time I put her down.

Brinley also went to sleep on her own from the very beginning.

Yes, I highly value good habits from the start.

>>>See what sleep training method I used with McKenna and Brinley here.

Part of that is because I allowed and started bad habits with Brayden from the start.

When we finally went to cry it out (CIO) with him, he had a hard time because he wasn’t just learning how to sleep on his own, he was unlearning all of these props he had been supplied with.

Of all my kids, he had the hardest run with sleep training–the most intense crying. It took him the longest to get it and be able to sleep independently.

I do believe if you can get them in the right habits from the beginning, it will be easier on them in the long run.

However, you have time to work on things in the future. Do not sacrifice sleep today unnecessarily. Do not stress when sleep isn’t the perfect Goal 3. This is a learning process and can take time.

Tips for Sleep Success

For some babies, the smallest things can make or break a nap. Make sure diapers are fresh and clean before the nap starts. Diaper changes should be part of your bedtime routine.

Make sure you have a bedtime routine you follow before each nap and bedtime.

Pay attention to sleep cues (eye-rubbing, yawning, fussiness, etc.). Pay attention and figure out the right sleep cues for your baby.

Do not respond every time you hear some fussing. You always want to respond when your baby seems to be in great need, but fussing is okay.

Make sure the room temperature is right for your baby (read Finding the Ideal Temperature for Your Child’s Sleep).

If baby fusses some to fall asleep, give it 5-10 minutes and see if baby will go to sleep. If baby wakes up in the middle of a nap, wait 10 minutes before going in and see if your baby will resettle and go back to sleep.

Understanding Sleep Patterns of a Newborn

A newborn will fall asleep and go straight to REM sleep. After 45 minutes, that sleep will change to non-REM sleep. Newborns have active sleep (REM-rapid eye movement) and quiet sleep.

During active sleep, your newborn will move and make noises–newborns are very noisy! Active sleep is a very light sleep. During this time, your baby will be easy to wake up.

Quiet sleep is a deep sleep when it is harder to wake baby up.

>>>Read: Newborn Sleep Patterns

Baby is also easy to wake up during sleep transition–the time between active and quiet sleep.


This is my newborn sleep hierarchy; a sleep hierarchy and my practices would be different for infants 3 months and older.

But for the newborn, it sleep is the most important goal right now. It is a fine balancing act between establishing good sleep habits and allowing for sleep.

It is one you will likely stumble and fumble with along the way–especially your first time around. But you can get it.

Try your best to not stress about it. If your baby needs help falling asleep, there is always the next nap. So long as baby doesn’t get too tired, you will be able to keep working at it.


The Babywise Mom Nap Guide

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Sleep Hierarchy for Newborns pinnable image

This post originally appeared on this blog June 2010

56 thoughts on “My Sleep Hierarchy For Newborns”

  1. Please help me! My son is 15 weeks old (he was born 3 weeks early) and I just started BW on him a week and a half ago. He did really well after about the third day and started sleeping past his waketimes (when he was on the 3-3.5 hr schedule) and wouldn't take full feedings. So i figured he was ready for the 4 hr schedule, which has gone very well, especially with feedings. However, he hasn't been the greatest napper, especially when he wakes in the middle of a nap. He falls asleep just fine when i first put him in bed, but refuses to fall back asleep when he wakes in the middle of a nap, so i have to keep putting him in the swing to help him fall back asleep (I haven't had any problems at night. I still do a dreamfeed and he sleeps all the way through until it's time for the morning feed). He'll sleep for HOURS this way and I'm worried that I'm just giving him another bad habit. I also can't seem to ever keep him up longer than 45 min. to an hour at a time so I'm fearful that he's getting too much sleep durring the day. What am I doing wrong???

  2. Not sure if this is the best place to leave this comment, but I need help! My LO is 3 1/2 months old and having major sleep issues. We have been doing 'cry it out' for over 2 months straight now and she still cries almost every single time we put her down for a nap or bedtime. It is getting SO frustrating! I gave myself the full 8 weeks to see if she would get it and if anything I feel that it is getting worse. She will sometimes fall asleep without crying (or at least without too much crying) but now our latest problem (for the last 3 weeks or so) is her waking up after about 40 minutes of sleep and screaming. I am aware of the sleep cycles and how 45 minutes is a transitional period, so I try to just let her cry it out again, but it's really awful! After all this hard work of letting her cry it out every time we put her down, I hate to give up now…but it just doesn't seem like she will ever get it. Have you ever heard of a baby taking this long to figure it out? I am tempted to just abandon it all and try something else, but like I said, I hate to have to start from square one and confuse her even more. I dread nap and bedtime so much though! I so look forward to a day (if ever) that I can put her down and know that she will not cry (unless something is actually wrong). I'm so sick of doubting everything I am doing!!

  3. hello there. thank you for this post…i have a newborn..just 1 week old, that I think i'm instilling bad habits in already. She is pretty much on a 3 hour schedule..where she's feeding for 30 minutes, is awake for 15-30 minutes, and then sleeps for 1.5-2 hours. This works great for her during the DAYTIME, but at night, she refuses to sleep on her own. She demands that we hold her and have her sleep in our arms for entire time she sleeps at night. If we put her down, she fusses and cries until we pick her up. I feel that I am spoiling her, instilling a bad habit, and not to mention might suffocate her while she's sleeping in my arms! Any advice would be great. THANKS!

  4. This is a GREAT post, especially for those new to BW and trying to implement it for the first time with their newborn.I think so many moms let a newborn get overtired trying to do "CIO". I definitely advocate CIO, but not if baby is so overtired he/she is unable to learn to self soothe.

  5. I'm glad to see this post. I have a question about the middle of the night feeding for my 6 week old. Out of the last week, he has slept 9 hours straight for 4 of the nights and wakes up once around 3:30 and feeds for 3 of the nights. Now that I know he is capable to sleep through the night, I'm wondering what to do if he wakes up? I feel like he's so young to drop that feeding but he does fine without it? What are your thoughts?

  6. Thanks for this post. I was wondering if you might be willing to do a post on your sleep hierarchy and practices for babies 3 months and older as you said they would be different. I have a 14 month old and we have been doing BW since day one and love the results. Expecting number 2 in October so I am reminding myself of what it was like with a newborn! I didn't know about your site with my first until she was over 5 months old, I am so glad I have it as a resource for the second one so early on!

  7. Such perfect timing for this post! We are first time parents of a 5 week old and love the BW philosophy and the results we've seen in our friends' kids. We're having such a hard time getting our son to fall asleep on his own, though, and have been struggling to figure out when it's best to let him cry it out (usually 25-45 minutes of crying if he goes down drowsy but alert at about 40 minutes of waketime) and when it's best just to hold, walk, or nurse him to sleep (the only way he falls asleep otherwise). Sounds like from this post, you recommend trying CIO if he doesn't seem overtired to encourage learning to fall asleep on his own, but if he's overtired just do what it takes to keep him on schedule?

  8. localchika2,My guess is that he is just getting used to sleeping on his own in a bed. Give him time to get used to it. For now, I think what you are doing is fine. Give him about a month of getting used to being able to settle himself to sleep before worrying beyond this. You want to be cautious to not start a bad habit of needing the swing. So long as he will still sleep the first half in his bed and doesn't start needing the swing for the whole nap all the time, I would continue as you are while you both get used to this.

  9. Sabrina,I assume you have read all of the posts related to CIO?What is her crying like? Is it a minute or two, or somewhere around 15? Are you sure she doesn't have reflux or gas pain or something? Are you sure you have waketime length right?When she wakes early from the nap, I don't know if I would do CIO right now. I think you are too frazzled for it. I would say to first be sure it isn't a growth spurt and isn't her needing more food. If she isn't hungry, I would rock her or put her in a swing to finish it out.I would suggest you see the blog label "healthy sleep habits" for a boost to your confidence, and I would even suggest you buy the book. Also, around 17-20 weeks old is a really rough time for babies, so hang in there!

  10. gracemejin,I would think about what is different at night from day. Is it colder? hotter? Is she in a different bed? Figure out what is different and work to get it the same.

  11. Amy,It depends on how much of a risk taker you are. There is risk to going that long if you are breastfeeding because you might compromise your supply in the months ahead. If you are formula feeding, then it is fine so long as he is fine. If it were me at that age, I would check him when he wakes in the night and make sure he isn't hungry. Growth spurts happen every 3-4 weeks, so that could cause night waking.

  12. IldikoT,Yes, I would work to keep him on schedule and to prevent him from getting overly tired. I would try each nap starting out in his own bed to fall asleep, but if he doesn't, I would help him fall asleep because an overly tired newborn will not fall asleep on his own. Be sure to check out the blog label "optimal waketime" too.

  13. I have posted this question on the message board as well, but I am doing BW with my new daughter. She is now 3 1/2 weeks old and I have been working with her since day one to get her on a 3 hour schedule. We are on track with that and have it down pat, my question comes in from what age do you think it is appropriate to start actually CIO? My daughter has been WAY overtired at times and I was concerned b/c it was taking her hours to finally go to sleep. She would be awake through 2 feedings and I would just let her go to sleep after the second one because she had been awake so long. I now read that an overtired newborn CAN'T put herself to sleep, so that solves that problem. I was placing her in the bassinet awake, but sleepy and expecting her to just drift off. She rarely does and now it has gotten worse b/c she is getting attached to a pacifier! I did BW with my first daughter and she was a thumb sucker so this is a whole new world to me. It has been suggested to me that I hold her and let her take the pacifier for about 5 minutes before each sleep cycle and to place her in her bed awake still. I did that today and she threw down, really let loose and cried her little heart out. I let her cry for 5 full minutes before going in to comfort her so she did not wake herself up too much and need additional help getting to sleep. For the past week or so, I have been waking every time she cries to adjust the pacifier in her mouth and make sure she takes it. But it eventually falls out and I am back at square one. Tonight I did the 5 minutes with the pacifier and then put her down. She started crying after a few minutes and I let her continue for a few moments before going in to pat her on the back and "ssshhhh" her for a minute. I am at a loss though for if I should be letting her tough it out on her own at this point or if I should intervene and pat her or pick her up, calm her down and start over. I am most confused b/c she has reflux and I don't want her to get so upset and have tummy issues because I left her to cry for so long. I started my first daughter at 5 weeks and she was a pro at it in a few weeks. She is now 2 1/2 and still sleeps 12-13 hours a night and takes a 2-3 hour nap every day. She is a great sleeper. I am a true fan of BW and I know it works, I just don't know if I am pushing it right now with such a young infant and just making things worse on myself. Part of the issue I am sure is that had high expectations since I had done this in the past, but I quickly learned that my expectations are just making me more stressed and a little down about the progress we have made so far. Can you offer any advice?

  14. I always say to start CIO when you feel it is right. I think the mom is the best judge for it.So far as what you do with the paci, that depends on where you want to go with it. If you are fine with her using it long term, you can continue to use it. If not, I might stop it.One thing is that many reflux babies find comfort in the paci–in sucking. If you do decide to use it long-term, I suggest you see the label "pacifiers" for a link to a great article on the pacifier and how to use it successfully. When you are ready for CIO, be sure to see the "CIO Bootcamp revised and updated" post. Be sure to also study the optimal waketime posts. Good luck!

  15. Hopefully I'm not repeating someone. I haven't read all the comments. I was just wondering about what age would you transition to each goal? Also are you saying that you would accomplish these by 3 months or just that your hierarchy changes at that age if the goals are not reached? Thanks for everything! -Rene'

  16. Rene', at 3 months, I would start to shoot for new goals (I recently wrote a post on my 3-6 month sleep hierarchy). I don't have ages because every baby is different. I would just shoot for the next goal once the first is reached. Some babies reach all three immediately, but others take some work.

  17. Hello! I just starting CIO with my 6 week old a few days ago. My question is similar to IldikoT's above, but how long should I let my baby cry before giving up and using any means necessary to get her to sleep? So far I've been going in every 5-10 min and comforting, but she's still not falling asleep on her own after that. I don't want her to get so overtired and completely miss the opportunity to nap, yet I don't want to give up and intervene all the time. After an hour of on-off crying, I've been moving her to the swing. This happens now for practically every nap. 🙁 Ahh! Please help! P.S. I have tried to leave her once for about 15 min to see if she quieted on her own, but she just got angrier and cried harder.

  18. Erin, it really is going to vary from child to child, and from age to age. So with a younger baby like that, I might try for 20-30 minutes then move to a swing, but if that becomes the constant pattern, then all you are doing is making a baby cry for 20 minutes before sleeping in a swing and there is no learning taking place. So you have to feel it out for the child. Go with your intuition. Be sure to see the CIO bootcamp on this blog and also the "optimal waketime" blog label.

  19. This is interesting. I had my son take many naps in his sling as a baby, it helped calm him down and take longer naps. I know of friends, who due to their daily routine or the nature of their babies, had their babies nap for EVERY nap in a sling, for 4-6 months or more. I am wondering what evidence there is that this is physically harmful to the baby (not getting enough rest). It seems that worldwide, many babies are sleeping in slings and carriers while being happy and safe next to mom. Also, isn't there a protective benefit against SIDS by baby not sleeping too deeply? I am just wondering what kind of evidence you have for these claims as they seem to not match the anecdotal evidence I have observed.

  20. Hannah,I suggest you read Healthy Habits, Happy Child if you are interested in the evidence surrounding healthy sleep.And yes, not having a baby sleep too deeply might be protective against sids.

  21. Hannah, I agree with Rachel; if you are interested in knowing more about the importance sleep, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth is the book for you. I do have a few posts on here, but not even the tip of the book. So far as cultures using slings around the world, many of them are used out of absolute need. In many cultures, it is the only safe place for a baby and/or the only way a mom can go out and gather food while keeping baby safe. But again, importance of sleep (along with studies) are in that book.

  22. Hi Valerie,First, I want to thank you for all the hard work and dedication you put into this blog and helping people!I have a 5week old son who for the most part a laid back baby. We are BF and formula feeding him and he will typically eat about every 2.5 to3.5 hours during the day. At this point I have not picked a wake up time in the morning but plan to do that in the upcoming weeks when bedtime is more stable. My question is about wake times and napping. I always keep my sons wake times less than 45 minutes even if I don't see any sleep cues. I will swaddle, turn on white noise, and rock for a few minutes. He usually does not settle but instead get more mad. I will then lay him down and leave. Typically he will cry for 2-3 minutes and then quiet down. But he won't go to sleep, instead he sits there and looks around (not sure what he is looking at since his room is dark for sleeping). How can I encourage him to go to sleep since by doing this he goes way past his wake times. He will do this at night to. Eventually he will go to sleep but will wake 45 minutes later. If I put him in my sling he will.fall asleep in 15 minutes and sleep for 1.5-2 hours. I don't like doing this because my back is killing me but I know you said OT babies can't fall asleep. Also I can't wear him at night. I just don't know how other people can have a baby who falls asleep in the allotted wake times and mine is fine looking around but then progressivly gets more OT.Thanks for taking the time to help me.

  23. Hi Valerie,My son is now almost 7 weeks and while the time intakes him to fall asleep for naps has gotten better it has improved because I have extended his wake times to 60 minutes. Now he will usually fall asleep within 15 minutes. But he is a habitual 45 minute mapper. Maybe one nap a day is 1.5 hours. I know one of your biggest suggestions is cutting back on wake time which I will try tomorrow. Otherwise the swing does not work for nap extensions. Sometimes I can rock him back to sleep but then I am stuck holding him which is hard to do when I also have a toddler to take care of. Also, I am struggling with his night sleep. Right now he will initially go for a 4 hour stretch but then after that it is anyones guess as to how offer he will wake, A lot of times he is not very settled and will grunt and move all around his crib or he will be crying. Sometimes I do let him cry because i don't think he is very hungry so he will cry off and on for 30 minutes where he will fall back asleep for another 45 minutes. Usually at this time it has been 3 hours since his last feed so I will give him a bottle and put him back to bed. Some of what is hard is that his bedtime is never the same. He seems to get drowsy at different times basically because his wake/eat/play schedule has to be adjusted every day compared to the last due to his variable nap lengths (primarily 45 minutes with an occasional 90 minute nap ). Is there anything I should be doing for night? Is it okay to let him cry if it has been less than 3 hours from his last feed during the night?Thanks

  24. Sorry for all the posts but I am not sure how to help my son as he is getting more OT everyday. He can put himself to sleep, although it can take up to 25/30 minutes to do so (he will fuss and cry off and on). But as I stated in previous postings he won't sleep longer than 45 minutes before waking again. Do I need to let him CIO even though he is only 7 weeks old. Putting him in the swing only keeps him up and he won't take a pacifier. I just feel terrible because he is just more and more OT which is hard on a 7 week old baby. Can you help me formulate a plan of action to get him sleeping more? I know you are super busy with your own family and other responsibilities but I really don't have anyone else to turn to.Oh, some other basic information is that he is now FF and sleeps on his tummy. My wind down routine consists of closing the blinds, turning on the sound machine, rocking for a few minutes while humming and then laying down in his crib.Thanks for all your help!Kristy

  25. RoxyT,If you get his optimal waketime length right, he should go to sleep rather quickly (though the Baby Whisperer does say that average time to fall asleep is 20 minutes). I am glad to see that you extended length of waketime. If the child takes a long time to fall asleep without crying, it is a sign that waketime length is too short. At his age, the short naps can mean 1)growth spurt and needs to eat more often or 2)he just hasn't learned to sleep through a sleep cycle. All babies wake every 45 minutes, so he might just not know how to go back to sleep on his own.I would start by assuming it is a growth spurt. Feed him when he wakes early. See growth spurt info on this blog for more.If not, then I would move him to a swing or something after he wakes at 45 minutes (see the post "waking early from naps, won't fall asleep for naps"). For night, try out gas drops and/or gripe water to see if he is uncomfortable with gas issues.

  26. Hi, Valerie. I have a question about newborns and sleeping. We have a 4.5 week old. We started doing CIO with her very early on (about 1-2 weeks) and she was doing great. She was would cry for about 10-20 and put herself to sleep. However, this past week things have really changed. She would put herself to sleep and after about 15-30min she will wake up and cry off and on until her next feeding. I remembered your newborn sleep hierarchy, so for the past few days we have been doing what it takes to get her to sleep. However, we end up doing this for almost every nap. We try CIO at first (usually we let her cry until about an hour before her next feeding), but end up taking her out and trying to get her to sleep (rocking in her carseat, swing, and/or giving her a paci). I feel like I'm starting bad habits. I know she is only 4.5 weeks old, so I guess my question is, do we just keep working on getting her to sleep no matter what or is it time for all out CIO? I'm finding it hard to balance keeping her from being overtired but not hooking her on props. Thank you so much for looking at this post! Your blog has been a huge help and source of encouragement! -Wendy 🙂

  27. Wendy,Are you sure she is falling asleep? Or is she sitting happily for 15 minutse and then crying? If she is sitting happily, she might need a few more minutes of a waketime length. If she is falling asleep and then waking, then she either needs a shorter waketime or she is in a growth spurt–or she could be in pain of some sort.

  28. hi i am in desperate need of your help!i am starting my 5 week old son on CIO and training him to fall asleep on his own. first off he never sleeps! even when we brought him home from the hospital he would only take 2 naps a day. i would put him in the swing after feeding him to try to get him to sleep and he will just be wide awake the entire time until his next feeding. so i was thinking maybe he is just overtired so he can't sleep. so i have written up a 3 hour schedule and am sticking to it. i leave him awake for his wake time usually 20-30 min and than lay him down in his crib for his problem is is that he will cry for up to 2 hours. i don't know if i am doing something wrong. i go check on him and i know his diaper is cleaned and he isn't hungry. i know you had said you put your daughter in the swing after so long so she would not get over tired. i'm nervous about doing that though cause i feel he will learn that i will go in there eventually and get him to put him in the swing so he will just cry till i do.naps though seem to be the only issue. when we lay him down for bed time he only cries for like an hour which is short compared to his nap times. but it's like he hates falling asleep for naps. so here are my questions:-do i just let him cry until it's time to feed him next, feed him, and than start the schedule all over again? -do you think he is just not tired since he never seems tired and that's the reason he cries and cries?-what did you do with your son when you couldn't go in there cause it would only make him worse seeing you? did you just leave him till he fell asleep or did you pick him up to feed him after he cried for so long? -will me putting him in the swing after so long create bad habits?-what do i do????anyway i'm so sorry if that was way confusing. but i am very confused about this whole thing lol. your advice would be greatly appreciated!!

  29. Thank you so much for all this helpful information! Here is my question… My child is 8weeks old. She has always been a good sleeper both in the day and night. Went down perfectly. She has also slept through the night 3 days in a row, only to stop and go back to waking at 330 and 730. Over the last week or so she has been waking at 130, 330, and then 730 in the morning. She is only really hungry at 330 and then 730. I know she can hold off until 730, but she wakes and I am not sure the best way to settle her back to sleep. In the past, after settling her she'll sleep for 3 min, 20min, or 2 more hours. I can't keep wondering which it is going to be, I am up for hours at a time in the night. What is the best way to break waking so many times in the night, when I know she can wait at least 7hrs??? She eats every 3-3.5hrs during the day.

  30. Maren,She is at a growth spurt age, so you might try feeding more often in the day or else cluster feeding in the evening and see if that helps her go back to longer stretches in the night.

  31. Hello, I am a new follower of your blog and LOVE it. I read BW while I was pregnant and was excited about it from the start. I have also seen it implemented with children of my friends and cannot argue the positive effects. My son is now 5 weeks old and I have him on the 3 hour schedule and he has cooperated with that from basically birth. He sleeps in his crib (most of the time) but always at night. I can get him to sleep in the swing more during the day. I have read that babies that sleep poorly during the day are not like us- in that they would sleep better during the night. BUT I feel like my son is an exception. If his naps are deep and sound during the day he is up more at night and vise versa. For the last 2 weeks he has started to be up for the FULL 3 hours before his last feeding and then just crashing for 5 hours. I will feed him at 8 and then he is up until 11 when I feed him again. Then it takes about half an hour and we put him down in his crib and he sleeps the 5 hours. Once he is up he wants to be awake 1 maybe 2 hours before he is sleeping again. I have not implemented the CIO method yet because for the most part I put him in his crib and he is happily awake for 10-15 mins then starts crying and I give him his pacifier. I do this twice maybe three times and he is asleep. BUT that only works when he is tired and wants to sleep. I did try CIO one day just to see his reaction and the first nap he cried 5 mins, next 10, next 15, next 40. I thought 40 mins was just too long for the little guy when inserting the fallen out pacifier would solve it in 5 mins.How can I get him to sleep longer at night when he has good naps during the day? And should I let him cry longer then 40 mins? I have herd that an execrated hart rate is unsafe for a baby so young..? HELP!

  32. Emma, so far as CIO you can only do what you are comfortable with, BUT I think if you get things right, he should not need to cry that long. See my CIO bootcamp revised and updated post for more help if you decide to go that route. He might just be having "day/night confusion." See the newborn index for a blog post on that to help you sort that out.

  33. Thank you so much for this blog! I am a first-time mom doing babywise and have only one friend who has implemented it. Everyone else, from my pediatrician to my parents seems to be skeptical- so it is great to have this resource! My question is this- I have a 7 week old and she only naps twice (sometimes only once) a day. She will nap in the morning for about 20 minutes and sometimes in the afternoon for 45 minutes. We started with establishing full feedings and got her on a three hour schedule by week 2. At that time, she would nap twice a day for 1-1.5hrs, and sleeps a 5 hour stretch and 3 hour stretch at night. I went home for the holidays for two weeks, which was certainly stressful for her, but we have been back home two weeks, and and back on a 2.5-3hr schedule and she sleeps less now than she did 2 weeks ago. I started cry it out 5 days ago in an attempt to get her to sleep, but she cries 2-2.5hrs and then it is time to feed again. Sometimes she does not cry the whole time, but does not sleep either- just sits in her crib. If I do CIO for every nap in a day, it ends up being like 6 hours a day that I'm either letting her cry, or trying to leave her on her own, and I'm worried about damaging her little spirit. She will not sleep in a swing, she will not sleep in my arms, and she will not fall asleep in the car. The only time she will go to sleep is while she is nursing, and she wakes up as soon as she is off my breast. (This is other than her 2 naps). I know she needs more sleep than this, but I am at a loss for what to do. I have been trying to establish with her that she needs to sleep during the day, but using nursing for naps only throws off her schedule and makes me tired. She will not take a pacifier either, but has a strong propensity to suck for comfort. She does not spit up or seem to have reflux- occasionally she has gas, but those times are apparent, and at least then I have a reason for her difficulty sleeping. She sleeps fine at night most of the time, but only 8 hours total. Any suggestions as to what I can do to help her sleep?

  34. This actually sounds a lot like Brayden before we started Babywise. He would really only sleep if he was breastfeeding.First, work your hardest to not let her fall asleep while eating. If she does, she gets a little cat nap and just won't be as tired for nap time.Second, figure out her optimal waketime length. I have a post on that.Third, do you swaddle? Swaddling can really help. So can a noise machine if you live in a noisy area. See also the Naps: Troubleshooting post for more ideas.

  35. Yes, after reading some of your other posts about Brayden, I noticed some similarities. She is 10 weeks now and we have been working hard at her routine. It is funny how I am already learning that in parenting, when I get frustrated that something is not going well, it usually something I am doing or not doing. So, after reading everything I could find on this site, I changed some of my ways. 1) I did start swaddling again. I went out and bought a swaddle me blanket and even though she gets her arms about halfway out of it, it still seems to help her sleep faster and longer.2) Awake while nursing was a huge epiphany! When I read BW I thought the point of keeping her awake while nursing was to achieve a full feeding, so when she got to the point where she could doze and still nurse well, I stopped working to keep her awake. I didn't realize that part of keeping her awake was to ensure that she was tired enough for nap and not overstimulated from her play time. Understanding this made the whole BW schedule click for me. 3) Optimal wake time is tricky, but I think we are getting the hang of it now. After her working on her routine, she now realizes that she's tired, and so one of the big cues she has besides rubbing her eyes and yawning is that she wants to NURSE. That is what truly tells me she is ready for sleep. I don't let her nurse, but I also stopped doing CIO b/c she was not falling asleep after her 2 hrs of crying. Instead, we started focusing hard core on a nap routine. I rocked her in the rocking chair (which she doesn't really like, but was one thing I was able to do for as long as it took) for every nap. If she didn't fall asleep, we just stayed rocking in that chair for her whole naptime. After several days of this, she figured out that she wasn't going to get to nurse, and she wasn't going to do anything else, and so she started to fall asleep. After a few days in a row of consistent napping, she started to realize that she was tired and wanted to sleep when naptime rolled around. This was a huge turning point, since before then she had no desire to nap. For the past several days, we have been just sitting in the rocking chair and shhing and patting her back. I am starting to try putting her down mostly asleep, and sometimes this works and sometimes not. I will probably start CIO next week when I can devote the required time/energy to it, but I think that she will not cry nearly as long now that she has a routine that includes actual naps. I have 2 new questions. 1) In regards to bedtime routine- I usually nurse her to sleep at night b/c when I read BW it talked about no waketime for the evening feed. Should I be putting her down awake? I’m sure this is where she got her idea that nursing=sleep. The reason I ask this question is b/c if I put her down awake it often means that she is not asleep as early, and I’m wondering if I should adjust her bedtime and put her down awake. Question 2) I want her bedtime to be 7:30pm, but she will not wake for a dream feed. I would like her to wake up to be 7 or 7:30am, but she consistently wakes up at 5am. Right now, I usually nurse her at 7pm, 2am, and then 5am. The 5am waking makes sense to me b/c it is the 3hr mark after her last feeding, and she usually takes a full feeding, but then does not really go down well for rest of her “night”. It is as if her day is really starting at 5am. Also, on days when she seems to want to extend her sleep, she moves to earlier in the day, falling asleep at 5 or 5:30pm and not wanting to wake up for the rest of the evening. So, I was wondering if I should try pushing her bedtime to later in the evening, so that her long stretch of sleep starts later. Then if she extends her sleep to earlier in the evening we can add a dream feed? (sched. now is 7,10,1,4,7,2a,5a)

  36. Hi, hope this is the place to ask this…. I have a 4.5 week old that seems to be totally regressing since birth. She was on a combo 2.5-3 hour schedule since about 2 weeks, and was doing awesome! Even giving me 5.5-6 hour stretches at night! Since then, she stopped napping so well during the day, or kept waking up 20 min or so unless I would help her back to sleep. Night toime is now only 3 hour stretches and which has resulted in getting up twice a night! Right now I'm listening to her cry during her nap as she's soooo tired, but just won't sleep. I keep waketime fairly short (30-45 min) since I know it takes her so long to fall asleep. I have kept nursing her every 3 hours, but that's the only thing that seems to be consistant with this one. My first daughter was a BW pro by this time! I did just start putting her in her crib for naptime, as before it was wherever she fell asleep (swing, arms, carseat, etc.). Have you heard of babies regressing with their schedules? Need help figuring.g this one out! Thanks!

    • Heather, it sounds like it might be a growth spurt. Remember growth spurts happen every 3-4 weeks — so things will be disrupted that often.

  37. CuddleMom,1) Yes, you should be putting her to bed awake. You don't necessarily need to change her feeding time, but can if you think that is best.2) You can try moving bedtime later, but be very observant because typically that will result in waking even earlier. Most sleep experts would suggest you move her bedtime earlier rather than later. You could try one and if that didn't work, try the other.

  38. I am a first time mother to 6 week old boy/girl twins. We follow the bw method and have the twins eating every three hours. However, I follow the 7am wake time with eatings every three hours. The longest they will sleep at night is 3 hours. I make sure to stay on schedule and give them more feedings during the day. I am breastfeeding but they get formula three times a day. I have heard other moms say their babies sleep longer. Are my babies stuck on the three hour eating schedule at night? If so, how do I break the three hour habit. They were 4 weeks early but average delivery for twins. They are around 7 pounds now. Any suggestions?

  39. So their adjusted age when you wrote this would have been 2 weeks old. With that combined with the small size, I would say they were doing well for their age and size. When it comes to them meeting sleeping milestones with BW, I think you should adjust their age back by four weeks. Also, size has a big impact on how long they can make it between feedings at night.

  40. I am trying to figure out how to use this sleep hierarchy with my 2 week old to help her nap while also being able to care for my almost 2 year old. We have been trying to put her to bed awake after a wake time of about 45 minutes. However, she does not fall asleep with that. We have been going in to get her at around 15 minutes of fussing just to preserve the nap and make sure she gets the sleep she needs. The only way she will eventually fall asleep is in our arms or in a carrier (we haven't tried the swing yet). Is this an appropriate amount of time to let her try to fall asleep on her own? Is there something else we should be doing to get her to sleep after that besides carrying or wearing her? It's hard to rock her to sleep at that point because I'm also chasing around her older brother! But I also don't want her to start making really bad habits!

  41. Try putting her down earlier than 45 minutes. Also, try the 4 S's I have on my blog. It is very helpful. 15 minutes is a great length if time right now to let her try to fall asleep on her own. Tweak that optimal waketime length to try to get her to fall asleep easier on her own.

  42. Your site has been such a gift to me as a first time Babywise mama, and I was hoping you might be able to help me sort out my daytime schedule. The short of it is: It can take my 8 WO up to 20 minutes to settle himself to sleep after our naptime ritual {and sometimes another 20 minutes to transition sleep cycles!}, which throws off his nap schedule if I let him sleep for a full hour and a half to get a whole nap in. Right now, we're a full nap cycle behind. I usually end up waking him up after a single sleep cycle {and sometimes more than once!} during the day to try to get back on track before bedtime. I put him down at the first sign of sleepiness, which is never more than an hour from when he first woke up, so I don't think he's over or undertired – It seems like he's just a bit new at the whole going and staying asleep thing. I don't want to drop a nap {and definitely not a feeding as he stretches out his nighttime sleep!}, but four naps would sure fit into our day better than five. As of now, we are following the BW schedule to the letter with daytime feedings at 7:00 AM, 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:30 PM, 5:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. We always manage to keep the DWT, bedtime, and dream feeds consistent, but the middle of the day is much less predictable – I never know which naps will take him longer to settle in!

  43. Hi Christine, start counting the nap time from the time you put him down for the nap rather than the time he falls asleep. That will stress you less 🙂

  44. Thanks for helping me sort this out, Valerie! So would you say that keeping him on schedule right now is more important than making sure he gets full naps in? Would you give your little nappers any wiggle room {say 15 minutes in either direction} or would you try to time it to the minute?

  45. I have an 8 week old who is a pretty decent sleeper (though she's started this weird 45 min nap thing like clockwork) and she's good about being put down in her bed and falling asleep. I go back to work next week…as a nanny. And I get to take her with me which was amazing to me before she was born but now I know so much more about sleep that I'm terrified I'm going to make her into a terrible sleeper by taking her with me. Every day will likely be different as the kids are older and don't nap anymore and likely her naps will take place in the car on the way there or in the stroller while at the park or while I wear her. I might be able to get her set up in a rock and play that I can keep there but it won't be her own bed. Am I doomed to make her a bad sleeper bc we won't have as good as a routine or that she won't be sleeping in her bed for every nap. (Some days I have half days so AM naps can happen in her bed). I can't not work and I can't afford to have someone else watch her while I'm there. I feel helpless (and kinda hopeless) and my husband thinks I'm putting the cart before the horse and setting myself up for failure bc I think it's all going to fall apart. Advice?

  46. My 6 week old baby has a habit of laying awake for ages (not crying, very happy and alert) in his bed. Sometimes he eventually falls asleep, but there’s been several times he’s gone longer than an hour so I’ve had to either bounce him to sleep or feed him and skip that nap entirely. Any thoughts/ advice on what to do or why he might be doing this? I don’t put him down until he shows tired signs or he’s been up for 70-90 mins. Would you wait an hour to bounce him or do so earlier to give him more sleep time?


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