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Babies: Trouble Falling Asleep (0-12 mos)

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Sleep > Babies: Trouble Falling Asleep


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4 month old fighting sleep

June 2002

I have a very ''high energy'' 4 month old who is constantly in motion (legs kicking, arms waving, etc.) and when he gets very tired he starts moving around more. I'll see him start to drift off, and then he jerks himself awake, wave his arms and look around like he thinks he's missing something. He'll bring his knees up to his chest, straighten his legs and then SLAM his heels down on the bed. He does this when he's especially tired, and even while he's sleeping. I'm wondering about ways to get him to calm down because almost every sleep time is a huge ordeal with us, it can take hours to get him to sleep some times. And the longer it takes, the crankier he gets, and the crankier he gets the more he flails around. Oye.

The problem is, he's not a snuggler and he doesn't like to be confined, so holding him and rocking or walking has never been effective; he'll start to struggle against me and want to be put down where he can kick and wave. He hates the bjorn and forget about swaddling! I've seen him kick himself out of a pair of pants in under a minute. Feeding used to work but it seems to have lost its effectiveness lately. The pacifier used to work like a charm every time, but since he's started to use his hands, he pulls it out. Then he wonders where it went and gets upset; sometimes he gets it back to his mouth, but ends up sucking on the back or the side of it instead.

I've also tried patting, humming, shhhing, etc. but my presence seems to rev him up even more. He sees me, smiles, and thinks it's playtime and the whole thing starts all over again. I usually have to just stay out of the room unless he starts crying, and I can calm him down to stop crying but that doesn't stop him from moving. Does anybody have any similar experiences and helpful suggestions? Thank you very much! Jill


Put him on his tummy to sleep. He sounds strong enough to not smother in the bedclothes. Barbara
My daughter was very similar at that age. She used to lift her legs and slam them down over and over again while she was falling asleep. I think she actually did it as a way of self- calming, unfortunately it also kept her awake. She was also a baby who hated confinement of any kind. What helped her was playing music at bedtime. I left a tape of lullabies playing after I put her to bed, about a 30 minute tape, and I think it gave her the stimulation she craved without preventing her from falling asleep. Melinda
jill, you have to read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by marc weissbluth he addresses this issue exactly and other issues you may face in the future. it saved us. christine

5-month-old hyper and wired at bedtime

August 2004

Our 5-month-old baby is generally very easy-going and a good sleeper, but lately we've found that when we try to put her down for a nap or bedtime, she'll often go from being sleepy and tired to suddenly being wired, hyper and super playful. Efforts to calm her (patting, soothing, nursing, soft singing) generally don't seem to have any effect. While it's kind of cute to see her giggling, chortling and thrashing about, getting her to sleep has become an extremely long, drawn out, exhausting process. Ignoring her/letting her tire herself out sometimes works, but more often than not, it just leads to crying and fussing (which sometimes turns BACK into hyper happy again). Has anyone else dealt with this experience? She's still nursing exclusively, so I'm wondering if it could be something in my milk? Or maybe she's just at an age where everything is exciting. She certainly is very squirmy and active normally - but this is really over the top!
parents of bedtime comedienne


This answer probably won't give you a lot to work with, but it might make you feel better. I also have a five month-old and lately she has developed terrible sleep habits, especially with regard to waking up for no reason and getting really active and fussy at naptime. Last night she went to bed at 8:20p.m. then woke up at 1:20, 2:20, 2:55, 5:20, and finally at about 7:00 a.m. She is getting harder and harder to put down for a nap, even if I rock her mostly to sleep, she starts moving around as soon as she hits the crib, pulling out her pacifier and then crying about it, etc. Many of the other moms in my moms group are suffering similar problems, formerly good sleepers are now waking in the night and wanting to play, yell, etc. My only advice is to remember that this too shall pass. It seems as though it is true that the better the quality of nap sleep during the day, the better the night. If you are not already putting your child down for nap regularly (every 2-2.5 hours), you might try that, as overtiredness often leads to strange behavior. Hang in there, you're definitely not alone, as sleep seems to become a major issue at the 4-6 month period. Holly

How do you get your 5-month-old to fall asleep?

June 2004

It sounds crazy but--how do you put a baby to sleep? My toddler had a very hard time getting to sleep as a baby and I think my husband and I didn't make things any better by rocking him and walking him around sometimes for over an hour. Thankfully he can lie down in his bed and fall asleep on his own now. So we have a five month old now and we don't want to get back into our old ways. How do we teach him young without being as extreme as Ferber to get himself to sleep? He's not the kind of baby who'll just fall asleep in someone's arms, he won't even sleep in the carseat! He'll either sleep in the front pack or he'll fall asleep when we swaddle him and bounce him a couple minutes. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Don't want to repeat history


I'm sure you will get lots of responses!! I just have to throw in my two cents and say that you might want to read the Ferber book; he may not seem ''extreme''. We had the same questions about our baby, and after reading and trying literally everything out there, Ferber was the one that gave us an alternative that taught our baby how to fall asleep by himself. After a week of torture for all concerned, we have a baby who loves to go to bed and sleep 12 hours every night. Its frustrating and hard for the little guys to learn how to soothe themselves, but for us it was the best thing he has ever learned. Good luck. Well rested family
from everything i've read and my own experience, it is KEY that your child learns to put him or herself to sleep. on average all kids wake up at least 2 - 3 times during the night, and if they need you to get them to sleep, you'll be up for years. you have to let them cry it out and then they see its ok and soon go right to sleep. it is really best for all involved! its ok for them to cry a bit. with the ferber method, you let them cry a bit then go in and soothe, then leave them for longer periods. you'll be surprised how quickly the baby will be fine and be glad you took the trouble. however, sitting in another room hearing the baby cry was one of the hardest things for me! good luck
my advise is to buy a lamb skin from ikea ($20). first wash it (you can do this with other wools in the wash machine on cold with woolite and air dry), and then put it it your baby's sleeping place. when it comes time to put him to sleep lay him on his tummy directly on the lamb skin or ''lamby'' as we refer to ours. we did this with our second son who is now a year, and by about four months he was going to bed gladly with his lamby. i don't know if you feel comfortable laying your baby to sleep on his tummy. i did with both my boys who slept that way much better. you will know the right time to lay him down if he has no need to fuss (all his needs are met) yet he fusses and is not appeased by the usual things that might do the trick (snuggling, food, toys etc.). make sure the room you lay him in is quiet and dim. i do recall that my son did cry a little a few times. if he cried longer than 3 or 4 minutes, we knew he wasn't ready to sleep yet and we would try again in 15 or so minutes. the nice things about the lamby are that it is 100% natural animal hair and can be washed as much as needed, it helps to keep the body at a regular temperature and it is very soft and extremely comfortable to sleep on. not only does our son love the lamby, but we do too. it has made putting him to sleep a total dream- and it also serves as a ''lovey'' ie. ''sibling #2''! he is as happy to see his lamby as he is to see me! we now have two lambys and a portable one (a small piece that we cut from one of the larger ones). we were given the first one as a gift from a friend who had one for both her children who said they both loved theirs. liesl
Read the book ''Secrets of the Baby Whisperer--How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with Your Baby.'' by Tracy Hogg. She tells you how to teach your Baby to fall asleep on his/her own while respecting him/her and yourself. anon
I highly recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley. She discusses helping your baby get to sleep and stay asleep without letting him/her cry it out. I found it really reasonable, respectful, and helpful. Good luck. DL

5-month-old has trouble falling asleep

August 1999

Our now 5 1/2 month old baby has always had difficulty falling asleep, but the problem seems to be getting worse. We were hoping that there are parents out there that have had similar experiences because no one in either of the moms groups that I belong to seem to have this problem. Our son has always cried before nap time, but usually he cried for a few minutes and then he would fall asleep on his own or I would nurse him lying down and he would fall asleep. During the past two weeks, everytime we put him down for a nap, he screams and cries without end. Nursing no longer works, the only thing that will help him to fall asleep is to be rocked in my husbands arms for a long time. Also, he his bedtime has gone from 10pm to 10:30 pm. If we try to put him down sooner, he cries and screams. We have read in a couple of books and have been told by our pediatrician that we should just let him cry until he tires himself out. We tried it a couple of times, but after ten minutes, we caved and had to rock a sobbing baby to sleep. We are worried that if we don't continue trying to allow our son to fall asleep on his own that we are setting ourselves up for rougher roads ahead. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


We have a five and a half-month old baby as well, with the same problems, so I can completely sympathize. One possibility--could your child be teething? This is often the problem with this age. With our first baby, we tried Tylenol just before bedtime on the suggestion of our pediatrician. You should talk to your own pediatrician, but this seemed to help him. Unfortunately it is not helping a lot with our second!

Another thing to try with the "crying it out method"--go in after 2 minutes, then 4 minutes, then 8 minutes, then 10 minutes, then every 10 minutes after that. This is a more gradual approach, and usually works after a few days (less and less crying), if it isn't teething.

Best of luck--I know how hard this is!


When I started to read your posting, I thought I might have written it last month. My daughter is 6 months old, and had always gone to sleep easily with a bottle and rocking. A few weeks ago, the bedtime routine started to on for 45 minutes or so (too long!), and we wanted to get into a nap schedule, and have her nap in her crib. After speaking to many experienced parents and our pediatrician, we decided to try letting her "cry it out." She cried like she never had before, up to 45 minutes before finally falling asleep. But after three days, her protest crying was down to five minutes or less. She seemed to sleep better and longer, as a bonus. When we were on vacation recently, we fell off the wagon and started helping her to sleep. Now we are retaining her.

Of course, the hard part is actually letting them cry. I have to admit that it has been the hardest thing I have done as a parent, and I know many babies cry for hours, not minutes like ours. I can offer this advice: believe in what you are doing (see below), solicit success stories from other parents, go where you can't hear your child crying, and have some support to call upon when you are about to go in and pick up your child.


I got helpful advice from the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc
Weissbluth, M.D..  Particularly helpful to me were the ideas that

* I am  teaching my child something important (to fall asleep on her own);
* this crying is not a pain cry, but a protest cry indicating that my child 
  would rather have my company than be shut in a room by herself, but as a 
  parent, at times I must give her what she needs (sleep) rather than what 
  she wants (my company); 
* the problem would only get worse as she gets older and remedying it would be
  harder;
* children who are well rested learn better;
* the crying has an amnesiac effect so that children forget the learned behavior
  of needing help to fall asleep;
* intermittent reinforcement (i.e. going in to comfort them every few minutes)
  teaches them to cry until you come in; and
* prolonged crying for this purpose has no ill effects.
Not only does my daughter go to sleep more easily, she sleeps longer and does had acquired on our vacation). Because she is a generally happy baby, I had not noticed that she was overtired at times. But now that she is truly rested, I can see that her attention span has lengthened, and she is rarely herky jerky in her movements. Best of all, and an endorsement for this technique and a guilt eraser for my lingering doubts, she wakes up smiling! Good luck!

6-month old sleepy but will not go to sleep

May 2002

Hi all, I've checked the archives under sleep, getting baby to sleep, the family bed, etc., and haven't found anything right on target. We have a 6 month old girl, and we're having two related issues when it comes to getting her to sleep.

First, we're trying to impose a bedtime on her of 7 or 8pm. She almost always looks tired then (rubbing her eyes, yawning, etc.) and we've tried all sorts of things to get her down then (walking, bouncing, nursing, etc.) but she fights and fights and fights. We then spend 2-3 hours trying to get her to sleep, and she ends up doing what she would have done anyway, which is going to sleep at 10 or so. Not the worst thing in the world, but my wife and I would love to have an hour or so to ourselves every night. Any suggestions? We really don't want to let her cry it out, so we're looking for other alternatives.

The second issue is that until recently, I (dad) was really active in trying to get her down at night for bed, walking her, singing to her, bouncing her, etc. Over the last couple of days, though, she won't let me take her to get her down. When I take her when she's tired, she cries and cries and cries, getting more and more worked up until Mom comes to get her, at which point she calms down almost instantly. She still interacts with me well when we play, or when it's day time, and also in the middle of the night, when I walk her down if she wakes up between feedings. My difficulty getting her to sleep, though, is stressing all of us out, because it puts a lot more of a load on my wife, after she's had primary responsibility all day long. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance, Michael


I recommend reading the book ''Secrets of the Baby Whisperer'' by Tracy Hogg. She uses a ''Pick Up/Put Down'' method, which is an alternative to crying it out that teaches your baby to learn to put herself to sleep, with your help. It's not necessarily for everyone, and it's NOT easy, but once you get the method working it will always work. My 4 month old puts himself to sleep on his own and has been sleeping through the night (7pm to 7am waking up once at 11pm to eat) for the last 3 weeks Jill
I went through something similar with my daughter (now 3) and my son (now almost 7 months). Both are very intense, active children who have trouble shutting out the world around them (as a baby, my daughter would never nap anywhere other than her crib including stroller, airplanes, etc.). When my daughter was a baby, my sister-in-law (who has five children) insisted she could get her to fall asleep before 10:00 pm and was amazed when she failed.

First, on bedtimes. It is almost impossible to get this kind of baby to fall asleep before he or she is ready to. So, the first thing to do is work on getting him to fall asleep more easily. Then you can gradually move the bedtime up. You may also want to start sleep training with naps. At this age, babies go to sleep better at night if they are not too tired (I believe a six- month old needs about 3 hours of nap time).

I, like many other parents, felt a full ''crying it out'' treatment seemed too extreme (I hate listening to my kids cry!). But what I have read recently suggests that it is important to teach babies to fall asleep on their own. And the best time to teach that is between 4 and 9 months. So I did a few things. First, I tried to find something that would provide a comforting atmosphere for my kids (other than me!). I tried music, but what worked for both was one of those ''white noise'' machines (my son likes ''California Coast''). I think this really helped them tune out the world and relax. Both my children are also thumb-suckers (they never took to a pacifier), and as soon as thumb-sucking was well established, I tried to put them to sleep on their own. Then I established a bedtime routine. Every night we do bath, nurse, have a little story and snack time with big sister, sing a going to bed song, put the baby in the crib and sing a lullaby (the same every night). Then I leave. The first time I tried it with each of them, the babies who would not fall asleep in my arms no matter how long I rocked and walked and sang, cried for about half a minute and then fell asleep! I was astonished! Sometimes it is not that easy, though. Then I go back into the room, based on how the baby sounds, not by following a clock. And if the baby is clearly agitated and does not seem about to go to sleep I pick him up and take him downstairs and try again later (at least half an hour). This seems okay, as long as it is not every time. If my son is crying, but has his eyes closed and looks ready to fall asleep, I just leave him alone. Sometimes I come in and pat his tummy, but I often found that agitates him.

Finally, I was also the only one who could comfort my son and get him to go to sleep. But now that he knows how to go to sleep on his own, anyone can put him to sleep as long as they follow his routine.

I think the most important thing is to come up with a plan that works for you and stick to it. Every baby is different, but every baby can learn. My kids who tortured me for four or five months each are now both excellent sleepers. Good luck! Stephanie


After weaning from the breast at 9 months, my son still preferred me to take him through his bedtime ritual (after dad gave him his bath) until about 11 months. He calmed down faster with me than with his dad (who has always been very much involved in every aspect of caretaking, as it sounds like you are) until about 11 months, when it no longer seemed to make as much of a difference as to who took him to bed. So, perhaps mom is just more comforting to your daughter in the process of going to sleep right now. I'd respect that as much as possible, as it will probably fade away in the next few months (even though that probably seems like an eternity to you right now), as it has for my son.

As for ''imposing'' an early bedtime, it sounds like this is not working so well. We found that at about the age of 6 months, even if our son was rubbing his eyes a bit at 7:30 or 8 pm, the whole going-to-bed process was faster and smoother if we waited til later, usually starting the bath at 9 or 9:30 pm and having him in bed by 10 pm at the latest, which has been a good rhythmn for him (and somehow we've managed to be able to detect when he is so exhausted that he really DOES need to go to bed at 8 pm, rather than us wanting him to go to bed at 8 pm for our own purposes !). So, while you'd like to have some alone time between 8 and 10 pm, the amount of time spent struggling to get your daughter to sleep sounds like it uses up a lot more energy and frustration than simply waiting a bit later (I know because we've been there), and I'll bet that any potential ''alone time'' will mean ''too exhausted time'' anyway. We've found that following our son's natural rhythms for a later bedtime means a lot less fussing, and we have learned to tell when a rubbing of the eyes at 8 pm means ''I'm a bit tired now but not ready to go to bed so let's do something new for awhile and don't put me in bed awake 'cause I'm going to get a second wind'' and when it means ''I'm crashing and need to go to bed now.'' When it means ''I'm crashing and need to go to sleep early tonight,'' he may still be restless because he is so tired. While we are vehemently opposed to ''crying it out,'' we have learned that when our son is that exhausted and needs to go to sleep, he may cry intially for 3 to 5 minutes in his crib and then go to sleep on his own. So, if he seems exhausted at 8 pm and we put him to bed early and he doesn't go to sleep immediately and cries for 5 minutes without going to sleep, then we take him out of the crib and take him to bed later. We have found that this does not reinforce his not going to sleep when he needs to, but rather that we misjudged how sleepy he was. He almost always goes to sleep immediately when he goes to bed at his regular later bedtime of about 10 pm, even if he didn't seem sleepy. While we might be able to ''train'' him to do the same thing at 8pm, I am skeptical, as this pattern seems to be a natural one for him. A later bedtime works for us because both my husband and I work and we want to spend time with him anyway in the evening and we don't have to get him up until about 8:30 am. Of course, this kind of schedule may not work for you.

For my parting comment, let me add that when your baby is 6 months old and you're still more sleep deprived than you possibly imagined you would be at this point and unable to ''get things done'' in the evenings (or spend time as a couple) like you used to be able to do, I know the end of the first year still seems like an eternity away, but feel confident that your baby will keep sleeping better and better (well, except for those teeth coming in occasionally !) and more soundly as the year goes on ! And your time together in the evening will begin to increase ! anon


My husband and I had a very similar experience with our seven month old very recently. My son *loves* to play and laugh with my husband and they obviously have a strong bond. However, when my husband would try to put our son down for the night, he would cry and cry until I took over. It seems to have gotten better in the past couple of weeks. Also, when our son was quite a bit younger, he went through a period in which he would cry a lot with me until my husband took over. In both instances, my son has grown out of it. The best thing that we can do is to not take it personally and to remember that it will likely happen again, who knows what the reason is.

As to not getting your daughter to sleep until 10pm, we're also dealing with very similar issues. My son's bedtime is around 7:30pm if his afternoon nap isn't too early or too late. Lately he'll stay up well beyond his bedtime even if he is clearly tired. We walk him to sleep to music and have never left him to cry himself to sleep. I think our son's current sleep problems may be related to his temperament and compounded by his developmental stage. He is going through a lot of changes right now and may feel the need to spend more time with us before bedtime. He also just started crawling and seems to have a burning desire to get down and crawl when we're trying to get him to sleep. So, we just keep handing him off to the other every twenty minutes or so and he eventually falls asleep. My guess is, this phase will pass for your daughter. Best of luck to you! Amanda


Our daughter is now 9 month old and after being a difficult sleeper for up to 3 or 4 month of age I decided to do something about it. I read the book ''Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child'' by Marc Weissbluth and I absolutely recommend it. It might come down to letting your baby cry a little, but it sounds like she is fighting sleep anyway, even in your arms. I just learned a lot about babies sleep behavior in general. Most eye opening was the fact that good daytime naps are crucial for good night time sleep. The more rested your baby is, the better and more sound it will sleep at night and the easier she will go down. Also important is to catch the right moment to put her down, just about when she is calm and a little tired not any later. When our daughter is overly tired she really fights sleep and is harder to put down. The book recommends putting your baby to bed early, at around 6pm. At 10pm your daughter is probably so wired that it's almost impossible for her to unwind. Our daughter is now asleep at around 6pm or 6.30 pm and sleeps until 6.30 in the morning.(Unfortunately not always through the night!) More sleep had a huge effect on our daughters personality as well, she is really a much happier kid and pretty relaxed most of the time. And WE have some time for ourselfs! Maybe changing her sleep habbits will also have an effect on how your daughter reacts to you... Good luck! Henni
We had the same exact sleep problem when our daughter was 3 months (she's 4 months now). She cried and fought sleep although she was yawning & rubbing her eyes. What worked for us was the method recommended in ''The Baby Whisperer''. It DOES involve crying, but much less than it did when we rocked her for hours. We established a routine-ours is a bath, then nursing, then she goes in her cradle for bed. We wait until she is rubbing her eyes and fussy to start the routine-which usually is right when dinner's on the table but that's okay. Once she's in the cradle, we don't pick her up again, but we'll comfort her until she stops crying, leave the room, and if she crys again we go in and comfort her. The first day was tough, but ever since then it's been a new, easier world for us. Karen
WOW. My family is in exactly the same situation with our 10 month old son. In earlier months, he used to let me (daddy) walk him to sleep at night without much fuss. But as the months wore on, he's become quite demanding about his sleep conditions. Must be in our bed, in the dark, with the air filter on (allergies run rampant in our household) and mommy and breast at hand. Take away any of those conditions and the fit starts. Our solution so far has been for mommy to put him to bed like that most of the time, and then get back up. At times even that won't work. And sometimes mommy can't put him to bed - sick, not home, tied up with something else, etc. Then we find the 7:30 or 8p bedtime has become 10:30 or 11 and we get no time together or to ourselves. So when I have to put the youngest to sleep, I just dig in my heels, cradle him in my arms, find something on TV that doesn't require hearing to follow (because of the crying) and let him cry while I walk back and forth and rock him. Last night was the most recent episode. He squirms and wiggles and fights while he cries but it is down to 30-45 min. when he wears himself out and concedes (it used to be 1.5 - 2hrs or whenever mommy got home/gave in and took him/etc.) I strive to emit a feeling of love and protection during this time, yet remain firm that he stay cradled in my arms and not get up (which leads to more fighting and fussing because he doesn't want to be up, really he wants to be asleep). My hope is that he senses ''Daddy isn't mad at you, but he's also not going to let you get up so might as well go to sleep''. I know mommy and I can't handle the ''stick'em in a room and leave'' approach as it shatters our emotions, but we're open to other suggestions for improving the situation. Jonathan
I remembered my daughter having the same problems going to bed that age. I was not brought up with a strick bedtime, so it was new to me when the doctor suggested to introduce bedtime as a routine. I think it makes worse. I always feel so exhausted by the end of the day (after spending all day with her) and all I want for her was to go to bed early. For some reason, the more you wanted her to sleep the more she resisted. I finally realized that 1-2 hours bedtime routine was more exhausting than just letting her stay awake and played with her. Sometimes all my daughter wanted that late in the evening was for me to be around her and talked to her about things. Anything, read her the book/magazine that you've been wanting to read. When it's time for her she will fall asleep in minutes. My daughter nursed to go to bed until she was 9 months. She definitely cried & cried until she fall asleep when I was not there for bedtime. Now looking back, I realized how I get so upset & overworked when she doesn't go to bed on time. pl
We've had a similar problem with our now eight month old. We found that she will get all worked up and then it is nearly impossible to get her to sleep. One thing that worked for us is to actually start the wind down to sleep earlier. Even though that sounds counter-intuitive, it works for her. I think that she actually gets overstimulated if we wait for her to show many clear signs of being tired before we start her nightly routine. You might want to try moving up her sleep time by a half hour and see if it has any effect. Once she isn't so overwhelmed by the stress of going to sleep, it may clear up your other issue. Good luck, Elizabeth
Our situation wasn't exactly like yours, but I had a thought: A few months back, when our daughter was 6-7 months, her bedtime routine, previously long and anxiety-provoking (bath, story, nursing or bottle, singing, rocking, more rocking, putting her down and sneaking out, sometimes doing the last half over again), but successful -- suddenly stopped working. She wouldn't relax in our arms, she didn't fall asleep, she hated sitting and rocking and so we paced, and she squirmed and cried for up to an hour. And she was clearly tired. Like you, we didn't want to let her cry, but finally decided that since she was crying anyway we would go ahead and put her in her crib (where she'd been sleeping for a month or two already). She did cry there for a few nights, which was yucky, but she pretty quickly learned to go to sleep by herself. I think that all our routines had actually started to keep her awake, and that she was better able to sleep on her own in her crib than she was while being jiggled and sung at by her interfering mothers. She really seemed relieved to be put down, and has slept much better since. Catherine
One thing you might try is putting your daughter down earlier than you have been. I can't remember which ''How to get the baby to sleep'' book I read this in, but I tried it, and had good success. Rather than wait until the baby is clearly very sleepy (rubbing eyes and yawning), put her to bed the instant you see a single sign of sleepiness, often 6:30 or even 6:00. Another thing that helped us a lot was, once we figured out a good bedtime, to establish a little routine. Not a long one at this age, but just a 15-minute set of things we did every night; in our case, change into pajamas, two little board books, and a lullaby, then down to bed (with the same objects every night: a little flannel ''blankie'' and a pacifier). This also worked very well. Karen
We had a week with nights like the one you describe. It is temporary but you may have to make some adjustments to make it so. We read the No Cry Sleep Solution by Pantley. Discovered it has some good advice, but that our baby would cry no matter what if she wasn't nursing in mom's arms, so it was the some cry sleep solution for us. We figured out that for now, when Mom is home she wants to nurse down. This after months of being put down by Dad alone. But we compromise. She nurses until just about to fall asleep and then I pass her back to dad. There's some whimpering in his arms. Then she's anxious to get in the crib. Then she's anxious to get out. A few sit ups and some whimpering and she puts herself to sleep. We too went through some mourning about losing our time to ourselves. We worried about the dangers of messing up her sleep if we 'gave in.' Then we decided she was telling us what she needed and her difficulties were connected to learning to sit up from the prone position and she was practicing that to some extent as she went down. Tag teaming it on the nights Mom is home worked for us. She accepts Dad alone when Mom isn't in the house. One night we brought her out of the bedroom for a breather and it turned out she was hungry. So keep experimenting, and realize that when we're sleep deprived we tend to 'globalize.'Now, on the other side, I can't believe the difference from this week to last week. Good luck. Jessica

Getting a 9-month-old to bed

Feb 2006

I'm am going to be babysitting my 9 month old granddaughter for three hours a week for the next 5 months. My question is what on earth do you do with a 9 month old girl (in the evening)? My now teenage son went through his bedtime routine at that age and was asleep by eight, but these kids go to bed later and it will be at my house not hers. When I babysat her older brother at this age he cried the whole time so I sang and rocked and walked the whole time (at most an hour). My granddaugther is a lot easier so we won't be filling the time trying to soothe her. Any suggestions? Hope I haven't lost my touch.


We have an 8-1/2 month old girl, and our nightly routine is as such: at 5:00 I get home from work and play with her (she likes to crawl around, stand up holding onto tables, and play with her toys). At 5:45 - 6:00 she eats dinner (fruits, veggies, etc). At 6:30 she gets a bath. At 7:00 to 7:15 I read to her and by 7:30 she is in bed. She is usually very tired by that point and goes down easily. Mary
I would recommend sitting with her while she plays with toys and reading to her. Bathtime can be a lot of fun for babies, too. Cathy

10-month-old taking 2-4 hours to fall asleep

April 2007

My 10 month old has been taking 2-4 hours to fall asleep at night lately. She has been out of control screaming until I go in and hold her. Once I hold her, she calms down. After I hold/nurse her she usually goes back into her crib until she falls asleep. She screams if my husband goes in on his own. We haved tried everything. We only end up going in to her room because she screams so much that her crib sheet, pjs & sleep sack get all wet and we need to change them. She was a big time night waker up until 9 mos when we hired a sleep consultant. She slept 12 hours straight for three weeks after we met w/the consultant. That was until she caught a cold last week. While she was sick, my sleep training ''rules'' went out the door so that I could comfort her at night. My plan was to ''re-train'' her once she was healthy. However, now that she is better, she is suddenly developing this new sleep problem. Could this be separation anxiety? I don't understand what is going on with her. She's worse now then before we hired the sleep consultant. Thanks in advance for any advice! Tired & Puzzled Mama


Our son is generally a very good sleeper, but we also have setbacks every time he gets sick. During his most recent illness, we started rocking him to sleep and going in to him at night when he was having coughing fits. Now it seems he's testing whether we'll keep doing it now that he is better! He is always worse about sleeping after the illness than he ever was before he was sick. Go back to the rules, stop going in, and after a few days she'll figure it out and sleep well again.
I am actually writing to ask you about the sleep consultation. We are in a very similar situation - have a 9-months old that was never a good sleeper. We are considering going to a sleep consultant, but it's so expensive and we don't want to pay someone to tell us to cry it out - we tried it on our own and it didn't work! Can you please write back and tell me more about your experience? Thank you C.
Your baby is going through the normal stage of seperation anxiety. Sleep can be a scary separation. Search for info.on: baby seperation anxiety. anon

11-month-old is fighting sleep

Jan 2005

I'm at my wits' end! What do you do when the bedtime routine suddenly stops working? All our sleep cues now cause our daughter to start screaming and fighting, and it takes hours to get her to sleep. My husband has better luck with her than I do, which is a reversal of the past when she had a strong preference for mommie, but he simply isn't able to be home every evening. We think this is development-related separation anxiety (she's getting ready to walk), but I'm at a loss about what to do. I can rock her to sleep, but as soon as I put her down (even after waiting 20 minutes, checking that her arm is limp, hearing regular snoring), she wakes up and starts shrieking in panic. We've tried patting her in her crib or leaving her to cry (although I'm against this, I've resorted to it) but she just gets more and more wound up and upset, and I'm not willing to let her go on for more than 30 minutes. My husband can lie down in bed next to her and she'll put herself to sleep, but when it's me, she screams to nurse or be picked up. I've tried nursing her down, but it doesn't always work. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that we both work full time. She naps well at daycare, but still seems tired when I pick her up. Everything I've read says be consistent, but how can you be when nothing works?? How does one get back on track?!? --mother of angel by day, screamer by night


Try having your daughter sleep in bed with you and your husband, But you should lie on your stomach so she doesn't get to your boobs. She'll cry for a while at first but by the second night, she'll put herself down next to you both. anon
Have you tried co-sleeping? That is to say, take your daughter into your own bed with you, nurse her or just comfort her to sleep, then get up only to return later when you're ready to sleep. anon
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