How to Solve Baby Sleep Issues: Experiment


Inside: How to Solve Baby Sleep Issues: Experiment to see if your solution works.

 How to Solve Baby Sleep Issues: Experiment to see if your solution works.

When you are solving a baby sleep issue, you can spend a lot of time wondering what is wrong and how to fix it. You can agonize over which solution to go with. A simple answer is to experiment. Give it a try and if it doesn’t work, go back to the way it was. Basically, it doesn’t hurt to try. So if you are wondering if your child is ready for a four hour schedule, try it and see how it goes. I personally get a bit nervous when trying new things because it can take some time to get back on track if they don’t work out. Here are some experimentation tips.


  • When you are experimenting, keep in mind that you really should give it a few days before deciding for sure if it is or isn’t working. Sticking with the four hour schedule decision, your child might do just fine the first day of it, but really need more calories. After a few days, there could be night waking or short naps because he wasn’t really ready and needed more feedings in a day.
  • Keep a proper perspective. If you try something out and your child isn’t ready, fight the urge to feel like you have then regressed. Keep in mind that you are only experimenting, not definitely moving one way or the other.
  • Be willing to go back. When I first stopped swaddling Kaitlyn at 9 weeks, I soon saw after a couple of naps that she just wasn’t ready for it. I had to decide whether to press on or go back to swaddling. I really wanted her to be done swaddling, but in reality she just wasn’t ready yet. We went back to the swaddle.
  • Try only one thing at a time. Don’t change several things at once because then you won’t know for sure what is the problem if your child has a hard time with the change. Keep your variables at a minimum.
  • Be aware that things can go wrong and take a while to get back on track. When Kaitlyn was around 6-8ish weeks, I decided to try to get her to do a dreamfeed. She was going to bed for the night at 8:30 and then waking around 2:30. I figured a dreamfeed would push her for longer nighttime sleep, thus giving me longer nighttime sleep. It really backfired. She wouldn’t wake up to eat no matter what I tried. I had stayed up late with no success. I tried it a second night with no success. The third night she ate, but then still woke around 3. I decided to forget the dreamfeed. She had a week of waking earlier in the night, disrupting my sleep more. We all know that a week in newborn time seems like an eternity. It just wasn’t a great situation.
  • It also might go really right. Things might work out really well. It can make you nervous to drop the dreamfeed, but once you do, a whole world opens up to you. You can go to bed early if you want to. You can go out after the kids go to bed and not have to be back a couple of hours later, which means you can go on a real date with your husband. Plus, your child will be getting better quality sleep.

 How to Solve Baby Sleep Issues: Experiment to see if your solution works.So if you are wondering if your child is read for the next step, take heart and give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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16 thoughts on “How to Solve Baby Sleep Issues: Experiment”

  1. Hi,Love your blog! My son is 14 weeks and we’ve been slowly easing ourselves into the bw program. He currently is on a 2.5 to 3 hour schedule though as much as I try the exact eating and sleeping times are not yet consistent. He has had a set bedtime at 7:30 and bedtime routine for almost a month now. The other night we experimented with CIO at bedtime for the first time. He only cried for 30 minutes the first night, 10 minutes the second and 4 minutes the 3rd. We were thrilled! However he usually sleeps until his dreamfeed anywhere from 10:30 to 11:30 and then wakes up once in the night around 4 a.m. But the 3 nights he has put himself to sleep he has woken up consistently before the dreamfeed which he has never done before and has also woken up several times during the night after that. Any idea what might be causing this? I used to do the bedtime routine then nurse him to sleep. He would nurse/pacify for about 45 minutes before I finally put him down. Now I nurse him at 7:00 and then we do the routine and put him down at 7:30. I would appreciate any ideas you might have! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the great ideas today! When moving to a 4-hour schedule, will there be times when baby wakes from their nap before the 4-hour mark? Do you just hold them off until the 4-hour? It seems like that breaks the “cycle” a bit, but at this point is that okay? That has been the main reason I haven’t gone fully to the 4-hour schedule. My daughter is almost 7 months and on solids, so we should be there by now. But due to her short napping, we’re stuck at 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Help!!!

  3. Me again… Can I give you a sample of my morning to see if you can help? She woke and ate at 6am. I put her down for a nap at 7:45. We woke at 9, but I didn’t feed her until 9:30 (3 1/2 hrs.). She went back down at 11 and woke at 12:30. That puts me back at 3 hours, so would I go ahead and feed, or wait until 1? or even 1:30 if I were stretching to 4 hours? Thanks so much!

  4. Hi,I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now. My son is 8 months old and has done great with Babywise. My question is unrelated to the post, but I really wanted your opinion on something. I see many advertisements for baby wraps and slings, but have always thought of them as attachment parenting devices. However, I have thought that a Baby Bjorn or something similar to that would be handy with a newborn at the grocery store, since a newborn can’t sit in the cart. It could also be great for other outings as well. What are your thoughts? My son is too big now for me to get something, but we hope to have more children and I would just like another Babywise mom’s opinion. Thanks!Dianna

  5. Dianna,I have a Baby Bjorn for my baby (she is four months old) and I love it. We’ve used it with her since she was a couple weeks old. I take her out on walks with it and also use it at the grocery store since she isn’t a big fan of her car seat. She likes it because she can look around more and see what’s going on. I’ve never used it to let her sleep in, though, which I think is more of an AP thing to do. Not that she’d sleep in it anyway! :o) The Baby Bjorns are more expensive than some of the other brands, but I think they’re worth the money because they’re more comfortable for your back. We have a Snugli, too, and it is murder after only a few minutes. Hope that helps!Andy

  6. BB, Thanks! It is pretty normal to have some disruption when you start CIO, especially if your baby is “older.” As he gets better at self-soothing, sleep should get better than it was before you started CIO. I would read this post:Progress is a Spiral:

  7. Heather, Thanks! If it were me, I would stick with the 3.5-4 hour schedule until she can sleep until the mark. This will come when she can have a long enough waketime to go a long with the right nap length. Keep in mind that you can wait about 15 minutes after wakeing up to feed, so if that is about how early she is waking, it is okay. See this post for more on that: Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle: would have fed at the three hours I believe. At the longest 3.5. Good luck in figuring it all out!

  8. Dianna,I think a baby carrier is totally fine. What you would want to avoid is letting it become the place for napping on a regular basis. But if you are out and about, I think it is a great way to carry your baby and see nothing wrong with it. Even if your baby fell asleep while grocery shopping, I wouldn’t see that as problem. You just want to avoid it becoming a sleep prop or habit. And I agree with Andy, if you get something, spend the money. We have a Snuggli and neither child liked it. Although my BW friend did borrow it for her son and he was fine with it.

  9. Hi. My daughter is 8 months. She is still struggling with naps. I usually lay her down at 9:15am and she falls right to sleep for 30-45 minutes and plays the rest of nap time (she eats at 11:00am). Her afternoon nap is the same. I lay her down around 1:15ish and she sleeps for 30 minutes to 1 hour and plays until 3:00. Any sugestions? I know I have always asked about naps, but she has NEVER been the type to sleep the ENTIRE nap. She doesn’t fuss while she in her bed, just plays…Thanks.

  10. I have a question about CIO. I have read some of your past posts, but didn’t exactly see the answer to this question. But I may have missed it! My son is almost 7 months old and has overall been a good napper (although around 4 -5 months we had TERRIBLE naps and I asked you some questions!). I usually sing him a song and rock him, he starts looking drowsy, and I put him down. Sometimes I hear him talk/fuss for a little while, sometimes not a peep. If he is overtired and struggling, there are times I rock him to sleep. So, naps are not an issue, but nightime sleep is!! He has not nursed in the night since about 10 weeks (except a growth spurt around 4 months), he just wakes and fusses or cries…sometimes once during the night, sometimes 5 times. I usually let him go about 10 minutes, then if he hasn’t fallen asleep, I go to him (I don’t want him to wake his 2 year old sister up!). Sometimes I just give him a paci and he goes back to sleep, but many times I have to hold him for a few minutes. I am ready to CIO if we need to…but does it seem funny that he is usually fine for naps, but not at night?? I guess that really is my question. My daughter struggled with naps (we did CIO for months and months) until she was probably close to 8 months old, but has always been a FANTASTIC night sleeper, so this is new territory for me. And I am getting tired!! Any advice would be appreciated.

  11. Susie,Have you tried adjusting the waketime length? Here are a couple of posts to be sure to review:Naps: Troubleshooting: Nap Fix: Minute Intruder: trying to fix it, but try to not stress about it. It can be really stressful to worry about.

  12. Noelle, No, I don’t think it is weird to be fine for day and not night. He likely makes it just fine for a big chunk of time, but there will always be those transitions. It sounds like he needs to be better about making it through those transitions. One way to do that is CIO. Do you think he wakes up looking for his pacifier? He could want that and wake fully when looking for it. You could either take it away or wait for him to be able to find it and reinsert it on his own, he is close in age to when he should be able to do that. See this post for more on pacifiers: Pacifiers :

  13. Thanks! I have wondered about the paci issue, but he has been reinserting it on his own often-times for several weeks now. Is there any chance he could be legitimately hungry in the night, or is that super unlikely since he eats solids and still has a DF?? Last night he was awake and fussing most of the time between 3-4 am, (he had also woken 2 times previously) so I finally nursed him at 4….something I haven’t done in months. He didn’t make another peep until morning, although he refused to nurse until about an hour later than usual, I’m sure because he wasn’t that hungry at 7:30 after having eaten at 4! I have not even considered hunger to be the problem, but maybe I am wrong? What do you think? Thanks!

  14. I am inclined to think it is not a food issue for a couple of reasons. One is that you (usually) aren’t feeding at night and yet he continues to nap well. Another is that when you did feed him, he didn’t want to eat in the morning. Of course, maybe he would have eaten at 7:30 if he had eaten at 3? Always many factors to consider. 🙂

  15. Referring to the questions/comments about babycarriers – I’ve found the Ergo to be the most comfortable and usable carrier. I bought it when my son was 7 weeks old (he’s 27 months now), and can even carry my almost 4 year old daughter in it. It’s usable on the front or back, newborn to toddler. I carried my son ALL DAY LONG at Disney when he was 8 months old, and it felt heavy after 5 hours but not painful.


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