Problem Solving Tip: Detailed Log

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How to solve baby nap problems by keeping notes

I have created a book of logs you can buy here. See more products in my Shop.

How to solve baby nap problemsI always recommend to keep a log while you are problem solving, and even while you are simply starting something new. It is much easier to analyze the situation when you have the data to look at and compare.

When I say keep a log, I mean a detailed log. Details. I like to make a spreadsheet and print it out, but the same can be done just by writing it out on a piece of paper. Do what works for you.

So what kind of details are we talking about? Let’s say you are working on sleep training.

  • I would start by writing down the time baby woke up and ate.
  • I would keep track of playtime activities and total waketime length (including time it took to eat).
  • I would track the sleep cues you went by. Was it yawning? Was it eye rubbing? Fussiness? This can help you see which cue to go by.
  • I would then write down the time baby was put down for a nap. Perhaps include what the naptime routine was if it varies.
  • Next, I would describe the crying before the nap. How long was it? How intense was it? Describe it honestly.
  • You will then start over when baby next wakes up, and this time, write down how long the previous nap was.

After several days of this, you can look at a sheet of paper and analyze what is going on. Are there times of day baby seems to need to be put down sooner? Are there certain waketime activities that are over-stimulating the baby? What is working? What isn’t working?

This idea can be applied to any change or difficulty going on in baby’s life. Does your breastfed baby get really gassy sometimes? Keeping track of what you eat and when he has gas problems can help you pin down the problem foods for baby. Tracking the introduction of solids on paper can help you more easily watch for food allergies. It is good to keep a log for those early months when you are establishing routine and milk supply. How many wet and dirty diapers are normal (this is a question my pediatrician always asks me)? How many feedings a day? Some people can remember these things in their heads, others benefit from keeping track of things somewhere, somehow.

Don’t underestimate the benefit of the log while you are problem solving. I look at the situation in the light of a study. I need to collect my data and analyze it. I need to be able to see all of the details so I don’t miss something important. I need to think it through. As your baby gets older and you become more accustomed to problem solving (something you will do throughout your life as a parent-every age group has their things they do that require some thought and action by parents), you might not need to keep such details. There are sites online that help you track for a fee if you want/need the help.

One note, while I recommend this, I also caution to not let yourself get obsessed over it. Some people can drive themselves crazy with the log. Be as detailed as you can, but know yourself and your own limitations. We all want to be happy and calm! Happy problem solving!

If you need help solving nap problems, get my eBook, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide. This book helps you establish successful naps from birth through the preschool years. Right now it is on sale for an introductory price of $9.99. You can buy it here and get an instant download.

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

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  1. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 12, 2008 / 1:20 PM

    I have a question. Haley goes to a sitter during the day, who works with me on BW. I know she doesn’t do it exactly as I would, but she does as I ask for the most part. She keeps a few other children so at times it is hard.My question is, since Saturday night, every night (except Monday) Haley has woken up in the middle of the night. I haven’t fed her, and she does go back to sleep, but have had to “rock” her back to sleep 2 of the 3 nights. I will admit that we hold her at night after she is swaddled, and before she falls asleep we put her in her crib. Any suggestions???Susan

  2. Plowmanators
    March 12, 2008 / 4:31 PM

    I can’t remember her age. A question I would have is how long has she been going to a sitter? Babies often start night waking soon after starting a sitter. I have read that it can be because they want more parent time. If it has been a short time, try increasing the amount of mommy and daddy time she has once she gets home. If she is around 4 months, there are often disruptions in sleep around that age for some reason.I would be sure she isn’t going through a growth spurt. Since she is with a sitter who has several kids to watch in the day, the sitter isn’t going to notice little things as well as you would one on one. The more kids, the more your attention needs to be spread around :)See this post for a list of my first sleep things to check, then let me know if you have further questions:Nighttime Sleep Issues:

  3. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 12, 2008 / 5:08 PM

    She is 12 weeks old, and has been going to this sitter since she was 7 weeks. So, it isn’t a new thing for her. I am wondering about the growth spurt, but she goes back to sleep without eating. I did ask the sitter today to be sure she is getting enough play time, and try and make sure that she is awake until at least 5, when we get there to pick her up, since she eats at 3. My friend who has a little girl who is 8 months, and also a baby wise child suggested cutting the last nap to 45min to an hour, waking her up, playing, then bath, then last bottle then bed. Would you agree?

  4. Plowmanators
    March 12, 2008 / 5:26 PM

    That is a good idea. Usually that nap is dropped around 4 months anyway, so it could be a good step toward dropping that nap all together. If she can’t shorten it quickly, take your time. My son could quickly do sleep changes like that, while my daughter usually needs slower changes.3 months is a normal growth spurt age, so watch that. I like the making sure waketime is enough idea.

  5. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 12, 2008 / 7:22 PM

    How can I tell if it is a growth spurt? I mean, at what point do I feed her in the MON if she wakes up? I hate to sound selfish, but I don’t want to “revert” back to her wanting to eat in the MON. I have never done this before, which is why I ask all these questions….thanks so much for your help!Susan

  6. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 12, 2008 / 9:30 PM

    Ok, so since she goes back to sleep rather easily, without eating, I think it may be a napping issue. My question is, if I do feed her in the middle of the night, is she likely to have to “drop” that feeding again? I am willing to do whatever I need to to help her, so just curious 🙂

  7. Plowmanators
    March 12, 2008 / 9:50 PM

    If she is waking because of a growth spurt, she should go back to sleeping once the needs of that growth spurt are met. Though not all do. I would watch it because she will go through a growth spurt at 3 months. I would keep that in mind and let the babysitter know. My kids have never woken in the night because of growth spurts, but I make sure to give them extra food in the day. If she gets that extra food in the day, she shouldn’t need it at night.

  8. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 13, 2008 / 1:13 AM

    I am pretty sure that the sitter feeds her if she is hungry during the day, but I will be sure and ask her that in the morning. Haley never seems hungry when she is waking at night, just more awake than anything, which is why I tend to think it is more of a need to shorten that last nap, which we did tonight. We’ll see how she does tonight. Thank you so much for all of your advice, I hope you know what a God Send you are to so many women and men and their families 🙂

  9. Plowmanators
    March 13, 2008 / 4:51 PM

    Thanks Susan! So sweet!

  10. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 13, 2008 / 5:34 PM

    Just wanted to let you know that Haley went down at about 7:50 last night, and didn’t get up until 6:30 this morning, so shortening that last nap helped! Thanks again for all of your encouragement! I appreciate it!

  11. Plowmanators
    March 14, 2008 / 3:10 PM

    I am glad you are seeing improvement!

  12. Susan and Ethan Peterson
    March 17, 2008 / 8:44 PM

    Just an update…looks like shortening of the last nap was what we needed, and she is getting more used to going down for a short amount of time, and being content. Thanks again for all of your help!Susan

  13. Plowmanators
    March 17, 2008 / 9:38 PM

    It sounds like things are really improving for you! 🙂

  14. Karissa
    February 19, 2009 / 1:46 AM

    New blogger here— thanks so much for creating this site! I have been attempting a log of sorts to troubleshoot some sleeping/eating difficulties my 5 wk. old is having, but I’m afraid I lack the organizational skills to collect this data in a helpful way. Do you still have the spreadsheet you used for logging? If so, could you please post it or e-mail it to me? That would be so helpful. (I could probably make one, but I know I would spend way too long on it.)

  15. Plowmanators
    February 23, 2009 / 9:08 PM

    Let me check. If not, I will make one. I will need it soon when Baby #3 gets here 🙂

  16. Ben and Jenny
    April 8, 2009 / 2:48 PM

    I didn’t see a post of the logging spreadsheet you used. Is it on the blog? If not, would you also email me a copy? I have a 7-week-old that I need to do a little problem solving with and this is a great idea. I also have a 2-year-old and my ability to focus and remember between the two of them just isn’t cutting it. I have been scouring your blog, trying to read as many posts as possible. Thank you so much for all your help and insight. Jenny

  17. Plowmanators
    April 24, 2009 / 9:15 PM

    Jenny and Karissa, can you list your email address so I can send it to you? I don’t know how to get it on the blog. If you know, but all means tell me 🙂

  18. Rochelle
    April 28, 2009 / 2:51 AM

    I’m brand new to Babywise (14 month old daughter). I know, I know…way behind. I’ve been putting it off since before she was born, but I have now “seen the light” so to speak. Anyway, I’d love a copy of the spread sheet as well since we are working on a schedule, switching from play/eat/sleep to sleep/eat/play, etc. ~ taylor . roch @ gmail . com. Thanks!

  19. abigailk
    May 3, 2009 / 8:01 AM

    I told my wife I would attempt to make a spreadsheet, then I noticed your offer to e-mail one. could I have a copy as well, please? please send to [email protected]!

  20. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2009 / 10:32 PM

    Rochelle and abigailk, I emailed both of you today!

  21. Jenna Ruiz
    May 22, 2009 / 3:44 AM

    I have been reading your blog every day for the last week… catching up on everything that my old edition of BW leaves out.. thank you for creating this!I just saw that you posted a few days ago to a request for your spreadsheet… if you get a chance, I would also LOVE a copy! Thank you soo much!Jenna

  22. Plowmanators
    June 18, 2009 / 4:09 PM

    Jenna, hopefully you have seen the link to the Yahoo! Chronicles of a Babywise Mom group. From that group, you can get your files.I can't email you a copy without your email address 🙂 but if you join the Yahoo! group, you can download the copies of what you want.

  23. The Lovells
    August 27, 2009 / 4:42 PM

    My six week old has been waking an hour into his naps and cries until next feeding (sometimes he cries and lays with eyes open others he cries the entire time). We started babywise at birth, however was not truley strict with CIO until week 4 (mainly because of family visits and there wasn't much need for it due to the sleepiness of newborns) It has been almost 2 weeks since I have been strict with CIO. He falls asleep on his own well, feeds well, and is sleeping at night well. Once he is asleep for a nap (not all, but most)he then wakes 1 – 1.5 hours later and can not seem to put himself back to sleep. I have questioned gas, heartburn, or possibly going to a 2.5 hr. schedule (which I hate to do, since I have 3 other children).One other note…one week ago he began waking for only one mid-night feeding (4:30-5:00am), however, the last 2 nights he has woken twice. Thank you so much for this blog. It has been great to have such detailed support.

  24. Plowmanators
    September 9, 2009 / 4:10 AM

    The Lovells, it sounds like a classic growth spurt. I would feed him every time he woke early. Plan on giving it at least a week of doing this. Once he gets all the food he needed, he will go back to his old sleeping habits.

  25. Erika
    October 26, 2009 / 5:30 PM

    Thank you so much for making this blog. I have been having a rough couple of weeks with naps and have been praying for wisdom and I know God led me to your site. So, thank you. My first question is, could you email me your log for nap troubleshooting? [email protected] I have read all your posts on naps and really want to start keeping track of my 6 month old's habits. In the last few weeks she has really thrown me for a loop. We were doing great on our 3/3.5 hour schedule and I thought she was ready to move to a 4 and I think food wise she is but I feel like I don't know anything about naps anymore! I started keeping her up just 5 extra minutes in the am and she slept until after noon last week. I did the same the the next day and she woke up after 40 minutes! She woke up happy and content but an hour and 20 minutes before I expected her to. So, another one of my questions is that while I am troubleshooting with keeping her up later or putting her down earlier, what do I do when she wakes up like that? Do I leave her in her crib and let her talk to herself until noon? Do I get her up and just play with her? Feed her? She doe great at night, sleeping 12 hours every night with no problems (although every once in a while she will wake up at like 6am and cry for 2 minutes and go back to sleep). thank you again for all the work that you put into this blog!

  26. Erika
    October 29, 2009 / 5:42 PM

    I wanted to add to my last post to clarify it a little. It seems like some days my daughter sleeps long for her morning nap and then we do the 4 hour schedule and she is fine but then the next day she wakes early from her morning nap, like an hour and 20 minutes early, so it is even early for the 3 hour schedule we were on, so then we do a 3 hour schedule that day. Is that normal when transitioning to a 4 hour schedule or do I need to just keep her at a 3/3.5 and wake her up from her morning nap? That is what I am thinking of going with right now because I just can't plan my days the other way 🙂 Also, I read one of your posts about your daughter waking early in the morning due to the heat, Faith has started in the last 2 days waking up 20-30 minutes early in the am. I don't think she is hot/cold as we keep the temp the same at night as during the day but could it be hunger? She doesn't cry she just lays there and sucks on her fingers until I come get her. Any other ideas of what to troubleshoot for that? Thanks again!I wanted to add to my last post to clarify it a little. It seems like some days my daughter sleeps long for her morning nap and then we do the 4 hour schedule and she is fine but then the next day she wakes early from her morning nap, like an hour and 20 minutes early, so it is even early for the 3 hour schedule we were on, so then we do a 3 hour schedule that day. Is that normal when transitioning to a 4 hour schedule or do I need to just keep her at a 3/3.5 and wake her up from her morning nap? That is what I am thinking of going with right now because I just can't plan my days the other way 🙂 Also, I read one of your posts about your daughter waking early in the morning due to the heat, Faith has started in the last 2 days waking up 20-30 minutes early in the am. I don't think she is hot/cold as we keep the temp the same at night as during the day but could it be hunger? She doesn't cry she just lays there and sucks on her fingers until I come get her. Any other ideas of what to troubleshoot for that? Thanks again!

  27. Plowmanators
    November 29, 2009 / 11:22 PM

    Erika, I sent you an invite to the Chronicles Yahoo group. It has all of my files uploaded to it.It is normal for longer waketime to be okay initially, but then get bad. Sleep deficits can grow over time.For what to do with waketime, see "waketime when they wake early" and "waketime when baby wakes early."It isn't normal for naps to get worse when moving to a four hour schedule. If that is happening, I would go back to a 3/3.5 and try again later. You can have a combo schedule, also. She could be waking early from hunger; six months is a growth spurt time. That could also be whey she isn't napping well for her first nap some days; she might be overly tired from getting up early.See the post "5-8 month sleep disruptions" for common reasons for waking early in that age group.

  28. Plowmanators
    January 22, 2010 / 10:26 PM

    smr1496, I sent you an invite to the yahoo group so you can get files. I will delete your comment now so your email is not out in the open for everyone 🙂

  29. Colby and Megan
    July 12, 2010 / 3:57 AM

    I need help- I've been trying to do babywise for two weeks with my 12 week old- but she is resisting horribly! She will wake up from her nap after 1 hr and 10 min- she can only stay awake for 1 hour and 5 min so when she wakes up she is way to eary for a three hour schedule and she refuses to eat then when she finally eats she'll only eat 3 oz! Then in the middle of the day she throws a loop and takes a three hour nap so then she goes about 4 hours. But in the evening she HAS to go to bed @ 830 or she is cranky- so I feed her @ 8 then dream feed at 1030- but she wakes up at 2 or 130 then again at 5 or 6 then she won't go back to sleep until 7 or so- Mind you- this changes every single night! She refuses to be consitent! Please send me an invite [email protected] HELP!

  30. Plowmanators
    July 19, 2010 / 10:53 PM

    I sent you an invite!

  31. Ann-Marie
    February 12, 2011 / 12:16 AM

    Thank you so much for your blog!! Ten years ago I followed BW with my textbook daughter. Now I have a 16 week old and he is anything but textbook. I have struggled getting him on a schedule since day 1. At 10 weeks old, I went back to work. My husband keeps the baby in the morning, then the babysitter in the afternoon until I get him late afternoon. How do I stay consitant with so many caregivers? Is it possible to get a spirited 16 week old baby to ever STN more than 4 hours? He doesn't take very long naps, maybe 45 minutes. Last week he suffered from RSV so that through everything for a loop. I read your idea of keeping a log of everything. How many naps should he be taking at this age? How long should he be sleeping for naps? How often should I be feeding him? Would you mind sending me an invite for your yahoo group? Thank you [email protected]

  32. Plowmanators
    February 25, 2011 / 10:40 PM

    Anne-Marie,It is possible with that many caregivers, but you will do best if A)they know exactly what your goals are and how you want them to react and B) you all communicate on what he is doing. A log would help that. At 4 months old, he should be taking 3-4 naps. Most will be taking 3. The first two will be 1.5-2 hours. The last will be 30 minutes-2 hours, though at four months should be on the longer side. But it is okay if it isn't.He should go to bed around 7-8 PM, get up around 7-8 AM. You might have a dreamfeed around 10ish PM.Feedings will range from 2.5-4 hours. Some are doing 2.5/3 hours and some are doing closer to 4.

  33. Sonya
    May 30, 2011 / 6:18 PM

    Hello, I have a 6 week-old and I am ready to become BW! Could you please send me the logging spreadsheet? Many thanks!

  34. Plowmanators
    June 15, 2011 / 8:54 PM

    Sonya, I sure can but I need your email address. Thanks!

  35. Kristin
    June 16, 2011 / 9:45 AM

    Hi! I LOVE this blog. What a wealth of information! Thank you for all your hard work.I've got a very difficult 6-week old who hates to sleep and fusses and cries when he's awake. I am going to start BW, so if I could have an invite to the group or an email with the logging spreadsheet, that would be wonderful. Thank you.Email is: krisnoelx2 @ (I added spaces)

  36. Joey and Whitney Plumb
    November 5, 2011 / 3:48 PM

    Love your blog, could I get an invite?wjplumb03atgmaildotcom

  37. Fiona
    June 6, 2013 / 3:51 PM

    Hello! Thank you for this blog! It really helps!Can I get a copy of the logging spreadsheat, [email protected] you!

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