sleeping baby wakes up when put down in crib

Why does my baby always wake up when I put them down? (Updated for 2023)

*Updated October 2023 to help you solve why your baby always wakes up when put down*

It is common that parents come to me because their baby wakes up every time they try to put baby down. No matter how gently, slowly or quietly they put baby down, they suddenly wake up!

It can be so frustrating for parents. It is an exhausting endeavor. Parents work so hard to get their sweet baby to sleep. They finally think they have accomplished the task and then the moment baby’s head and body touch the mattress, they are suddenly wide awake!

“My sound asleep baby seems to KNOW when I have put them down.” I hear this remark from parents on a regular basis.

Well, these parents are correct. Baby does KNOW that you put them down. But how do they know?

*Click here to skip the ‘why’ and just get to the solution!*

How your sleeping baby knows when you put them down 

Your baby is informed by multiple systems and factors when you put them down. Then consequentially, they can wake up from it. 

Vestibular System

The vestibular system is responsible for providing information to our brains about our movement and balance, specifically head movement. Additionally, it provides information about where our body is in space to help us stay balanced and stabilized through movement.[i] A system of organs in the inner ear primarily comprises the vestibular system.

By 5 months in utero, the vestibular system is one of the first senses that is fully developed. Mom’s movements provide sensory information to stimulate the vestibular system and the baby’s growing brain. Our sense of spatial orientation is provided by the information received by this system.

This system knows when our balance is altered or a spatial orientation has changed. Then it tells our brain about the movement.

Proprioceptive System

The proprioceptive system is a continuous feedback loop that between sensory receptors in the body and our nervous system to tell us how our bodies are moving. Proprioception tells us where our body parts, specifically our trunk and limbs, are in relation to other body parts, the rate and timing of movement and the movement of our muscles and joints. [ii]

Your baby’s proprioception is present at birth but is still maturing. As babies are growing rapidly their proprioceptive system is rapidly gaining new information based on the baby’s movements and growth. 

Think about it – if you close your eyes, you still know where your left foot or right thumb are in relation to your other body parts and even in relation to the environment, you are currently present in, even though you cannot see them.

Due to proprioception, we can move freely without having to think about each movement our body makes. Such as walking down the hall – do you think about each movement?

…Pick up my right foot move it 14.5 inches in front by bending my knee and using my quads, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles together to lift the foot. Also, my left foot needs to…

Nope, we just walk.

The mind-body connection

Through the sensory input from their inner ear and the sensory receptors in their skin, muscles and joints, otherwise known as their vestibular and proprioceptive senses, your baby knows where their head, body and limbs are in space and in relation to each other. They also know when their bodies are moving, and when their position has been changed. 

So yes, when you put your baby down, no matter how gently, slowly or calmly, their brains and bodies know you put them down. Your child’s vestibular sense senses the sudden change in position. Through sensory inputs from the skin, joints and muscles their proprioception tells them their body is in a different place in relation to their environment. 

Understandably, a sudden change in position and movement can wake a person up.

baby wakes up when put down

Let’s answer some other questions that commonly come up when your baby always wakes up when put down

Why do some babies wake up when put down and others do not?

Some people are more sensitive to vestibular changes. Think about someone who gets easily motion sick from spinning around twice versus the person who can spin around and around without feeling dizzy or sick at all. 

Why did my baby start waking up when put them down even though they did not previously do this?

Your baby’s vestibular system is mature in utero. However, their proprioception is present at birth but still immature. It is maturing constantly due to receiving more information and input through baby’s movements and growth. As the system becomes more mature and baby becomes more aware of where their body and limbs are in relation to each other, it could lead to baby becoming more sensitive to those movements. Then when baby is put down, it can trigger them to wake up.

Eventually, I am able to lay my baby down while asleep and they don’t wake up. Why does this happen?

Your baby’s body and brain still know that you have put them down. However, after a period of time it is likely that their body’s natural drive to sleep keeps them asleep even through the change in position and movements to put them down.  

How to help your baby stay asleep when you lay them down

Your baby’s brain and body are going to know when you put them down. They sense that their environment is changing and babies are designed to sense separation. We cannot stop their bodies from sensing this and potentially being alarmed by it, causing them to wake up. So unfortunately, the answer to how to help your baby stay asleep when you lay them down is frequently not putting them down asleep anymore.

Of course, there are always exceptions to every ‘rule’ because all babies are different.

Some babies are able to be soothed in their crib or sleep space once they are put down. This unfortunately is not the majority of babies but if it is your baby, great! Continue to soothe your baby if they wake up when you put them down. This allows them to get used to falling asleep in their crib. As they are more easily able to fall back to sleep, you can start gradually reducing the amount or type of soothing you are doing. Examples of this could include:

  • Pat intermittently rather than continuously
  • Focus on just soothing with your voice with reassuring phrases and shushing rather than touch
  • Reduce the amount of reassuring you are doing and focus more on shushing

Use your intuition to determine when your baby is ready for the next step. Depending on you and your baby, this can be a pretty slow (very gradual) process. But keep in mind, practicing falling asleep or back to sleep in their crib will help them do this overnight more often too!

What if I can’t soothe my baby back to sleep in their crib?

However, many babies are so alarmed when they wake up after being put down that they have a hard time getting back to sleep even if they are being actively soothed in the crib. These tend to be babies who are often described as more alert and aware or less “easy going.”

It is common that after a baby wakes up after being laid down it can feel impossible to soothe them back to sleep in the crib. Avoiding putting your baby down after they are asleep will help prevent the challenge and frustration of them waking up and needing to be helped back to sleep. By avoiding putting your baby down asleep, I mean you want to put your baby down awake so that they can fall asleep fully in their crib.

What you can do if your baby always wakes up when put down

Helping your baby learn to fall asleep in their own sleep space can make the going to sleep process easier and less frustrating for both of you. The key is to put your baby down awake. I recommend putting your baby down FULLY awake. (I see the common advice of ‘drowsy but awake’ not working well for babies who couldn’t be soothed back to sleep in the crib after being put down.)

There are many roads and many factors involved when determining a plan to achieve this, including what and where baby’s sleep space is, how motivated parents are to change their current situation, when or how quickly they feel they need to see a change and what parenting values they hold.

The first step is finding a strategy that feels good for your family to get to the point of being able to put your baby down awake for them to fall asleep in their sleep space. Then allowing you to avoid the ‘put down after asleep’ which is key.

Consistency, feeling confident and being able to remain calm (easier said than done!) are crucial to helping your baby be in a place they can learn to fall asleep independently in their sleep space. Those things are much more easily achievable if your plan is something you feel comfortable implementing. (Check out my 4 C’s to successfully helping your baby learn to fall asleep independently!)

successful sleep training for babies and toddlers

Sleep training strategies to help your baby learn to fall asleep independently

The phrase ‘sleep training’ often gets a bad rap, and is often seen as synonymous with ‘cry-it-out’ which is also known as extinction. However, here we define sleep training as any planned steps you take to help your baby go from needing your help to fall asleep to falling asleep independently. There is a spectrum to sleep training strategies, ranging from extinction (a.k.a ‘cry-it-out’) to very gradual methods that take things one small step at a time.

Here is some sleep training strategies for you to consider when figuring out what will work for your family and your baby:

  • Extinction a.k.a ‘cry-it-out’: Put your baby to bed and don’t go back in until the morning.
  • Graduated Extinction a.k.a “Ferber Method”: Put your baby to bed and return to briefly reassure at increasing intervals.
  • Gradual fading, sometimes called the chair method or the shuffle: Stay with your baby and gradually reduce the amount and type of soothing you are providing as while as physically moving farther away from your baby’s crib.
  • Responsive phased approach: This looks different for each family but the overall goal is to peel back one layer of help at a time, using your intuition for when your baby is ready to move to the next step.

This list includes the overarching ideas of the range of sleep training strategies. The details of what this looks like in practice, such as the timeline, what you do when soothing (e.g. can you pick up your baby at all or not?) and how it is implemented can differ between families as well as between different Sleep Coaches’ recommendations.

Help your baby to fall asleep independently

There are many paths to go from the point when your baby always wakes up when put down to your baby falling asleep independently in their sleep space. However, it can be a confusing and overwhelming endeavor to determine what is best for you, your baby and your family.

There are many different strategies and plans you can create to help baby learn how to settle themselves to sleep. What works for your sister, neighbor or best friend may not work for you. That is okay! You know your baby and family best so find something that works for you.

If you want your baby to be able to fall asleep independently, but feel stuck on how to help them actually start doing this, reach out. I help families every day go from the frustrating up and down of their baby waking up when they are put down to being able to lay their baby down and have them peacefully fall asleep. You can schedule a free evaluation call here for us to learn more about each other, what is going on and how we can work together to reach your family’s sleep goals.

Cheers to healthy, happy sleep!




68 thoughts on “Why does my baby always wake up when I put them down? (Updated for 2023)”

  1. Hi I would like my 7 month old son to fall asleep on his own, our current situation is during the day he will only sleep in my arms and during the night he will sleep in his crib.

    1. Hi Emilee! Helping him learn to fall asleep on his own in the crib by putting him down awake will help him not wake up when you put him down and will also help him sleeping in the crib during the day if this is your goal. When you put him down awake you can be supportive, responsive and there for him. There are lots of different methods and strategies to do this. I’d love to help. If you are interested in chatting more about how I can help, you can schedule a free discovery call here:

      1. My daughter’s baby is 5 months and she is so sleep deprived from him not self soothing to sleep. Everything he leaves her arms, he wakes and cries. She works during the day but needs her sleep. I babysit during the day. Please help

        1. Hi Cindy! Sounds like baby needs to learn some independent sleep skills. This is typically known as sleep training. There are lots of different methods and strategies to help him learn to fall asleep on his own. This will help him fall asleep in his sleep space so you and your daughter don’t have to transfer him when he is sleeping. I recommend finding a method that feels comfortable for the family, that you can be consistent with to help him learn. This is also what my team and I do when we work with families 1-on-1. We help determine the strategy that will help the family the best to help little ones learn to fall asleep independently. Your daughter can schedule a free evaluation call to learn more here –

  2. Hi, what is the earliest age you can realistically expect to start to teach a baby to fall asleep independently? I have never managed to get me 7wo to sleep without feeding or rocking and she wakes as soon as she is put down. Thanks

    1. Hi Chris! You can really start with independent sleep skills from the very beginning, although it is challenging. At 7 weeks, it is really about getting the timing right so she isn’t overtired and not undertired. Somewhere between 45-60 minutes of awake time so she is right in her sleepy zone and you can lay her down and her body’s sleep pressure helps her fall asleep on her own. The more practice she gets the more she can do it. That being said, feeding and rocking to sleep is normal at this age and she can always learn independent sleep skills later. As far as the waking up when put down, trying to get her drowsy while feeding/rocking and then putting her down while keeping a hand on her until she falls asleep can help. If you have any questions or want to chat more, please feel free to reach out!

  3. My son is 9 weeks old. He seems to have very long awake periods of 3 hours then will nap on me for 2 hours or more 3 times a day. When I try put him in his bassinet, he wakes straight away. I have tried putting him down while fast asleep and while half asleep and then rocking / singing to him to help him sleep. Nothing works – he wakes straight up and is very active with his arms and legs while crying. If I keep trying to settle he gets overwhelmed. If I don’t let him nap on me and keep trying with the bassinet, he eventually gets overtired and then gets very upset while feeding. Not sure what to do!! Any advice?

    1. Hi Lillian! Ugh, I know how frustrating it is when he wakes up every time you try to put him down. You can try for one nap a day (first nap tends to be easiest) to put him down sleepy but awake so he knows he is in the bassinet and soothe him with rocking/singing to help him fall asleep. If he falls asleep in the bassinet, it can help him stay asleep there. He’s still very young so have a few contact naps a day is still very normal and appropriate. Hang in there! If things don’t seem to improve or you keep having more trouble as he gets older, please reach out and we can chat more about how I can help!

  4. Hi, my 8 week old only sleeps for 10-15 minutes when put down but will sleep up to am hour in my laps. So during the day she hardly gets2 hours if sleep.Night time is better she goes 4-5 hours at a stretch. Please help!!!

    1. Hi Grace! Ugh, I know those super short naps are so frustrating but awesome to hear that things are going pretty well at night! Keep in mind she is still very young so some contact naps during the day are appropriate and can help increase the total daytime sleep. You can also try putting her down sleepy but awake and soothing her there if needed to help her fall asleep in her sleep space. This can help her sleep longer there. If things don’t start to improve or you are having trouble getting her to fall asleep in her sleep space for any sleep, please feel free to reach out and we can chat about what is going on and how I may be able to help!

  5. Hi Bonnie – my 4.5 week old hates our beautiful (expensive!) bassinet. 95% of the time he sleeps on us. This includes nighttime which I know is ill-advised. It sucks, but, what’s our other option – he is too young to cry it out or formally sleep train, right?! Once per day, I do “bassinet bootcamp” where we try to get his 90 min nap in there, If I rock him into deep sleep sometimes he will continue that sleep cycle in the bassinet (for about 30 min) but every time he emerges into active cycle, he realizes he’s not in mom’s arms and gets pissed. I pick him up and rock him, stroke his head, shush, etc etc and he sometimes falls back to sleep, but never for more than a few minutes. I want to give uo, but I also DESPERATELY want him sleeping in there at night. i’m losing my mind with the sleep deprivation….any suggestiohns on how I can help him persist through that active sleep cycle?

    1. Hi Katie! Ahh, how frustrating and exhausting. Continue with the bassinet practice, it will help — it can just take awhile to pay off at this age. A few other things to try — make sure he is getting some awake time flat on his back so he isn’t only in the position while sleeping, it can got him used to it. When you know he is about to his normal wake time, you can go in there and try to soothe in bassinet to avoid full wake up. You can also try to soothe in the bassinet before picking him up. While he is not ready for formal sleep training, there are definitely some sleep shaping things we can do to help get him sleeping better and in the bassinet. I’d love to chat more about how we can do that, feel free to reach out if you want to chat about it more! Hang in there! It will get better!

      1. Hi Bonnie , My son is 1 years old and every time he’s tired he falls asleep in my arms I put him down and he wakes up and won’t go back to sleep unless I’m holding him help me please 😫

        1. Hi Sakya! Sounds like your son needs to learn to fall asleep independently so that you don’t have to transfer him once he is asleep. This will help him sleep longer stretches at night and sleep well for naps too. When I work with families 1-on-1 we create a personalized sleep plan to help little ones learn to fall asleep and stay asleep independently. I offer a free call to chat through what that would look like. If you are interested, I’m confident I can help you! You can schedule a free call here – I hope to chat with you soon!

  6. Hi my 5 month old baby boy fights sleep everytime we struggle to get him to nap through the day he falls asleep on his bottle most of the time not sure how to get him to sleep on his own ( we have a white noise machine playing we we try )

    1. Hi Josh! I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with your little guy’s naps. Naps can be so hard! At 5 months between 2-3 hours of awake time is typically what I recommend. There are lots of different ways to help him learn how to fall asleep on his own. The 2 most important things are 1. finding a method or strategy that feels comfortable for your family and 2. being consistent with whatever strategy you choose. When I work with families 1-on-1 I help develop a strategy that fits the family’s needs. I’d love to chat more about what is going on and how I can help get your little one falling asleep on his own. If you are interested please do reach out and we can schedule a call to chat or you can schedule one here – Hang in there!

  7. Hi there I have two under 2. My son is almost 2 years old and my daughter is 6 months. Here are our problems with both.
    My son is waking up ever 3 hours for a bottle, he only has one nap a day and it’s anywhere from 1 to 3 hours his bed time is 7:30-8:00pm we have tried everything we can think of and everything we have read and nothing is working.
    My daughter only sleep if she is being nursed and even when she is a sleep ill wait a few mins then lay her down starting with her feet then her back and then her head. Even doing that most of the time she wakes up and starts to cry. My husband or I will let her cry for a few mins then go to her and try to make her stop crying but she doesn’t so we walk out and wait a bit longer each time we go in.
    We ready need some help that doesn’t involve them to crying out because we have older kids that need their sleep for school. HELP

    1. Hi Tanya! Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with your toddler and baby. It sounds like helping them learn the skills to fall asleep and stay asleep independently will help them both sleep much better. For your son, it sounds like his schedule a appropriate but getting rid of the bottle and sleep association will help him sleep through the night. For your daughter helping her do the same will also help. There are many different options that don’t involve leaving your kiddos to cry on their own all night. However, crying is involved because it is a big change and that is how kids express their feelings about change typically. Working with parents to create a personalize sleep plan that meets their unique family’s needs is what I do. If you want to chat more about what is going on, your goals and how I can help, feel free to reach out or schedule a free call here: Good luck! It will get better!

  8. My 9 month old daughter will nap on me but wakes up as soon as I lay her down. I’ve tried the independent sleep, she cries till she makes herself sick. She sleeps through the night but she doesn’t sleep at all during the day. It’s been this way for awhile.

    1. Hi Kayla! Ugh, that is so frustrating when she wakes up as soon as you lay her down and I’m sorry to hear that things did not go well when trying for independent sleep. Since this has been going on for awhile, it sounds like she is overtired which makes working on independent sleep harder. Did you try for naps or bedtime, it often is easier to try at bedtime if you haven’t. How she falls asleep at bedtime will help with being able to put her down at naps. A step you could take to get her used to falling asleep flat rather than being held is putting the crib mattress on the floor and letting her fall asleep next to you. This could get her used to sleeping flat on the mattress and without being held as much, but still the comfort of you being there initially. If you want to chat more, I am confident we can get her sleeping better. Feel free to reach out and schedule a free discovery call if you are interested!

  9. Hi! My 2 years old has never been good sleeping ( apart from with me) we had to do sleeping training when she was 11 months it was horrendous but more or less it worked with ups and lot of downs . But now she has started to walk out of her bed at night. We keep putting her back but she starts shouting and can keep doing it for ages. Plus we have a nearly 3 months old that won’t stay sleeping anywhere but my arms, same she did when young so with my husband working night shifts I am on my own with both and it is being a nightmare. I know the sleeping training we did for her worked at some point but it was too much for me as it meant force her to sleep at times and I had to stick to stay in the house,it was very depressing. Anything for keeping her coming out of her bed? We have tried rewards too b won’t work for long.

    1. Hi Carmen! I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling with your little ones and their sleep. For your 2 year old, it can be hard to get her to stay in bed because she likely has not developed impulse control yet (typically somewhere between 2.5-3 it starts to develop). I also find that rewards don’t work well in the long term. Helping her feel calm, comfortable and confident in her bed can help a lot. The way to do this is through connection. Things such as a new lovey that is special from you or used to be yours, a picture of the two of you taped to the wall next to her bed, making one of your old t-shirts into a pillow case or taking a picture of her once she is asleep and showing her in the morning to show her you check on her when she is asleep can help bridge connection through the night and help her stay in her bed easier. At her age it can be really tough, but doing some of these things plus staying consistent with putting her back into her bed calmly will help. It just may take awhile unfortunately. If you want to chat more or troubleshoot, feel free to reach out and we can schedule a free call!

  10. Hi our 10 month baby is fine napping and everything is great until we put her down. Soon as I put her over the cot she wakes. How can i fix this?

    1. Hi Tang! Sounds like your baby needs to learn to fall asleep independently so you can put her down in the cot awake and she can fall asleep on her own. This helps her connect sleep cycles and sleep for longer stretches. There are lots of different methodologies and strategies to help her learn. I recommend finding one that you feel aligns with your parenting style and that you can be consistent with. Consistency is key! Helping families create sleep plans that fit their family’s unique situation is what I do when I work with families 1-on-1. If you are interested in learning more about how I can help you get your daughter falling asleep independently, please reach out and we can set up a free call!

  11. Hi! I currently cosleep with My 11 week old, she only wants to sleep on me. I’ve tried putting her in her bassinet. my mom has put her to sleep a few times, she’s put her down awake but drowsy and she’s woke up after about 30minutes but falls back to sleep. Anytime I try and put her down she realizes and cries even if I try and soothe her. so I pick her up after a minute or 2. she was doing very good sleeping at night but the pst few days. She still ONLY wants to sleep on my chest. Is this normal? If I let her sleep on me, will she b like this the next few months?! I love holding my baby, but sumtimes I have things to do!

    1. Hi Madelin! It is very possible that she is going through some big developmental leaps as she approaches 12 weeks and needs a bit more support. Trying to put her down more awake than asleep or drowsy and soothing (including picking her up until calm and then putting back down with soothing) can help her feel more comfortable sleeping in the bassinet. Letting her sleep on you for some sleep (or more if that is what you want to do) is ok, even helpful. If you want her sleeping in the bassinet, I recommend continuing to try and practice as you feel comfortable. If she sleeps on you and becomes more and more resistant to the bassinet, after 4 months there are more intentional things you can do to help her sleep in the bassinet. Sleep coaching and learning can help her sleep in the bassinet at that point. When I work with families 1-on-1, I help them come up with a plan to help their babies learn to sleep in their separate sleep space. It won’t be like this forever! Hope that helps! If you hit that 4 month mark and need more help, please reach out and we can schedule a time to chat more.

  12. Hi. We have a 3 month old and for awhile I was able to get her to fall asleep and stay asleep in her bassinet but recently, within the past week or so when ever I put her down for bed she wakes up and starts screaming. I’ll try to sooth her in the bassinet but end up having to pick her up to calm her. Then I try again and the same thing happens. It’s not till 3:30 am that she actually falls asleep and stays asleep in her bassinet.
    I do try to make sure she has a good balance between wake times and naps

    1. Hi Aloha! There can be a lot going on developmentally at this age that can make independent sleep a little harder. Maintaining 1.5-2 hours wake windows during the day helps (sounds like you are doing this!) Continuing to practice as you have been will pay off in the long term if getting her to sleep independently in her bassinet is the goal. The good news is you know she can do it because she was doing it, so you will be able to get back there with continued practice. This phase is really, really hard but it will end soon! Hang in there and feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  13. Hi. I have a 3 week old who refuses to sleep anywhere except for in someone’s arms or on their chest. Unfortunately he only goes to sleep after breastfeeding where he falls asleep literally at the boob. Trying to catch him in a sleepy zone doesn’t work so well because he wants to keep at the breast. That leaves us to try setting him in his bassinet or co-sleeper after he is already asleep – where he wakes up within 10 minutes screaming.

    I know these are really early days. But, I want to know if there’s something we should be doing to help make this transition easier? We choose to bed share with him, following all necessary guidelines to ensure our little man stays safe during the night. But during the day it would be nice to set him down so that my husband and I can get things done!

    1. Hi Jordan! Congrats on your little one! With bedsharing at night, it may make it harder to set him down during the day because he is so used to falling asleep and staying asleep with you near. It is also very common and normal that babies at this age falling asleep nursing and need to be held. A few things you can do to help your little guy stay asleep once you put him down are warming the bassinet with a hot water bottle (check to make sure it isn’t too hot before laying him down!), ‘wear’ the bassinet sheet for a few hours so that it smells like you, let him have lots of floor time during the day, tummy time is definitely important but getting him comfortable on his back is also helpful. Making sure he is burped and not uncomfortable after the feed being laid down is also helpful. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  14. Hi, my daughter is 2 and a half months , she was born a bigger baby. Hates swaddling. Plus is already able to roll over. Her startle reflex is also very strong. She will not sleep in anything but will on my chest. If I can get her to go down it’s only for 30 mins or less and that’s a big if. She wakes right up. Every time I lay her down she’s wide awake!!! She’ll sleep forever if it’s on a chest though. What can I do?

    1. Hi Becky! Now that your daughter is rolling over, it is best not to swaddle for safety reasons, but sounds like you are already there since she doesn’t like it. Putting her down in he bassinet while she is awake (before she sleeps at all for her nap) and soothing her to sleep in the bassinet can help her stay down for longer stretches, especially at night. 30 minute naps are pretty common at this age, and typically extend around 4-6 months when babies can handle longer wake times during the day so that they can consolidate their nap sleep easier. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out to chat through putting her down awake and soothing to sleep in the bassinet!

  15. Hi I have a two week old who has just started to wake up about 5-10 minutes after I lay her down. I have 5 children total under the age of 6 and need to have my hands free. I usually start just wearing the baby at this point and while that is helpful it doesn’t allow me the freedom I need to be with the other children at times (sit and read a book, pick up my 22 month old). So my question is how do I start teaching her to fall asleep on her own? Is she too young for that? The youngest I’ve had success with is 2 months old. Can they do this in the newborn stage? Is it crying out out?

    1. Hi Susanne! You can definitely start laying the ground work and fostering independent sleep from the beginning, but it isn’t as quick as it can be later, so give it time and patience. It is not developmentally appropriate to do a cry it out strategy at this age. The biggest piece of laying the ground work is getting your little one’s wake windows right so that you lay her down drowsy but awake and she can peacefully drift off to sleep being in her ideal tired zone. Typically about 45 minutes of awake time, including time feeding at this age. Newborns don’t show reliable sleep cues so watching the clock is helpful. As she practices falling asleep on her own because her sleep pressure is high but not too high, it will help her be able to continue to fall asleep on her own even when things are not perfect. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more about working with newborns to help them be set up for independent sleep!

      1. Hello! I am in a similar position with my 3 week old. I lay her down drowsy, but still awake. Sometimes she lays in the active sleep state for 30 minutes and then wakes up crying. Sometimes she wakes up within 5-10 minutes of me putting her down. How long do I give her fighting the sleep and me soothing her before I take her out to restart the routine. I do all the “textbook” things of watching wake window times, laying her down drowsy, dark room, swaddle, and sound machine. She was doing great sleeping on her own until we hit 3 weeks, but now she only sleeps on me.

        1. Hi Mariah! This can be a pretty tough age. I recommend practicing putting her down drowsy but awake for bedtime and 1 nap a day at this age. The more practice she gets the better she will get at it and staying asleep. Short naps can also be really common. So try not to worry too much if she only sleeps 30 minutes. I typically recommend trying for 30 minutes before taking a break and restarting the routine. Sounds like you have the pieces and they will come together soon! Hang in there and keep trying. It will pay off! Hope that helps. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions!

  16. Hi, asking for my sister. Her 6-month-old baby boy has a realllly hard time sleeping independently. He sleeps better in the day time but terribly at night. Part of the problem is that he tenses up a lot even when he’s sleeping in her arms. When this happens, she has to keep rocking him or else he will wake up in a bad mood. Even when he’s not tensing his body, he just can’t stay asleep more than 15-20 minutes at night. The past couple of weeks, my sister has barely slept a wink. Any advice that I can try to pass on to her? Any help would be great!

    1. Hi Lina! Sounds like helping your sister’s little guy fall asleep independently will help him sleep better at night. This will help him connect and consolidate sleep cycles. When he is not reliant on rocking to sleep, she won’t have to worry about him waking up when she stops rocking. Hope that helps! Tell your sister she can reach out and we can chat more about helping him fall asleep independently, that is what I do when I work with families 1-on-1. She can schedule a free call here:

  17. Hi Bonnie. I’m currently having serious issues with getting my 9 week old to sleep. I’ve been trying to transition him to his bassinet but he’ll wake up after about 10 minutes. Contact naps don’t really do much to keep him asleep either. Sometimes he’ll sleep for about 90 minutes and other times he’ll sleep for about 10-30 minutes before wanting another bottle. Just recently he’ll fall asleep for about 10 minutes, wake up, fall back to sleep, wake up, etc. He’ll fight his sleep for upwards of 3 hours so eventually he’s hungry again. I’ve tried white noise, a dark room, shushing, and swaddling(but he grunts and struggles against it every time). His bedtime routine has been the exact same since he’s been born. He was a pretty good sleeper for his first 4 weeks and then he just changed. I know he’s overtired but it seems like nothing I do works. We wake up at the same time everyday and I watch the clock so I can feed him and get him back to sleep on time but he jerks himself awake or he’ll constantly push up on his legs or want more and more bottles over the course of 3 hours of awake time. He does have acid reflux so I know that can be a reason.

    1. Hi Silo! There is lots going on developmentally at this age that can lead to short naps. It sounds like you are doing everything you can and it make take some more time to get him sleeping longer. When he is fighting sleep, he may need a bit more wake time. Not sure what wake time you are using now, but bumping it up slightly may help him get to sleep a bit easier. Then using some contact naps at this age with the longer wake time to help him get caught up. With the reflux, trying to feed him when he wakes up as opposed to right before sleep so he has time to digest before being laid down can help. Doing things such as warming the bassinet slightly and wearing the sheet against your body to make it smell familiar and like you can also help. Hang in there! It will get easier. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  18. Hi Bonnie
    I have a little trouble with bedtime for my 2 month old.
    Daytime naps are going well I always start to put her down after 1 hour of awake time and oftentimes she falls asleep on her own in her crib. She only manages to sleep 45 minutes though. Night sleep is going pretty good too she mostly only wakes at 4am.
    However at around 8pm i realize she is ready for bedtime (she feeds much longer and gets very drownsy) And at that time when I put her to her crib even if she falls asleep on her own she’s straight awake again after 10 minutes. I try to calm her but she screams so I pick her up and she falls asleep immediately on me. So I put her down asleep and she wakes after 10 minutes again. This goes on until midnight. It is very frustrating because I spend my whole evening going to her crib again and rocking her. What could be the causes for this?
    Eventually at midnight I get so tired I breastfeed her lying on my side and we both fall asleep next to each other. I would really like for her to sleep in her own crib what can I do?
    Thanks already!

    1. Hi Lelo! I’m sorry to hear you are struggling so much in the early night. That is so rough! It sounds like your little one has independent sleep skills but needs some help using them consistently — which can be really hard at this age. Getting her fed for bedtime before she is getting very drowsy can help her fully use those independent sleep skills to stay asleep longer. So feeding her a bit earlier and possibly getting her into bed a bit earlier (also sounds like there may be some overtiredness there) and putting her down more awake should help. You can continue your calming routine as you described due to her age (you should not “sleep train” a baby her age) when needed but try to put her down calm but awake if you can since she knows how to fall asleep on her own. Then if you can get through a few nights without falling asleep with her in your bed, it will help her get the hang of sleeping in her crib. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  19. Hi, my daughter is 9 weeks old.
    Right from when she was born, she never slept for more than 30 mins in her crib or bassinet and never sleeps on her back! She’s a restless sleeper. To worsen things, she has really bad acid redux, regurgitation and cow milk protein allergy (long tiring story), did I mention that she would NEVER sleep on her back. If I lay her on her back even in deep sleep she wakes up immediately and cries. She sleeps on her tummy or side when she manages to.
    This is partly due to the reflux and of course Moro reflex. On her back, she startled herself awake with her Moro reflex.
    She will sleep only in my arms or a carrier (she sleeps restlessly). No matter when I put her down or how she wakes up. Throughout the day, she’s in a carrier on me or in my arms. She’s mostly comfortable being carried upright especially cos of the reflux.
    It’s frustrating for me as I get no sleep at night or rest during the day as she’s constantly on me.

    1. Hi Jane! I’m so sorry to hear you are struggling so much with your daughter and her sleep. This age is really hard and when reflux is such an issue, it really needs to be resolved/managed first in order for sleep to improve. Hang in there and work with your doctor on getting that reflux managed and then sleep should start to improve. If not, definitely reach out and schedule a free call and we can chat more about what is going on and how I can help! A tip for now is to really watch wake windows – about an hour of awake time between periods of sleep during the day. Avoiding overtiredness will be key to getting things on track once reflux is well managed.

  20. Hey Bonnie! My wife is struggling at home with the baby (she’s 6 weeks old) because she’s impossible to put down during the day and is constantly fussy. We look for sleep cues, we swaddle, noise, movement, suction, etc, but as soon as we put her down she’s already writhing. And if she does go down we might be lucky if we get 20 minutes naps. Soon as we pick her up…she’s back asleep pretty quickly. We put her in her room, dark, sound machine, sometimes pacifier and sometimes not. The hardest part is we have a 23 month old at home that begs her attention. Her days are very stressful and we’re hoping some peace comes soon. The baby does sleep at night well all though inconsistent at times because she fusses but generally 9-10 pm bedtime and then generally a feeding around 2-5. Our first baby was a breeze. Any suggestions or anything we can do? My wife does not want to do baby wearing as much as I try to get her too. But at this point teaching her to sleep independently seems so far away.

    1. Hi Joe! I’m sorry to hear your wife is struggling so much with baby’s sleep. Sounds a bit like you may be waiting a tad too long before putting her down. Watch for early sleep cues before yawning, red eyebrows, fussy, etc. About an hour or so between sleep periods. Making sure baby isn’t uncomfortable (reflux or diaper rash, etc) is also important. I do typically recommend baby wearing at this age because babies need that closeness and comfort especially if they are sleeping well and on their own at night. This age can be really hard. There are definitely things you can do to get on the path to independent sleep so continue giving her the opportunity, fine tune those wake windows and avoid overtiredness – those will be key for when you are ready to teach her to sleep independently. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out and we can set up a time to chat more in depth!

  21. Hi Bonnie! My husband and I are desperate for sleep advice for our 10 week old. She is pretty good at falling asleep independently, and will do so for most naps and at bedtime. During the day, her naps only last 40 minutes exactly, but I will do at least 1 contact nap to get a nap of atleast 2 hours so she isn’t too overtired. We do wake windows of 60-90 minutes all day. At bedtime (9pm), she will sleep normally 3.5-5 hours (waking normally around 12:30am-2am). I will feed her at this time, but then she will not stay asleep in the bassinet for the rest of the night (so I am up for the rest of the night!!). She is obviously tired as she will immediately fall asleep on me, but she will wake up as soon as I put her in the bassinet (or stay asleep for about 5 minutes and then wake up). When she “wakes up”, she isn’t crying, but she is thrashing and squirming and grunting like crazy. Sometimes she will have her eyes open but most of the time they are closed. Intermittently I will see her stop moving, relax, and sleep… but it will only last a few minutes and she will start up again. This could last for hours if I did not pick her up. As soon as I pick her up, she falls immediately to sleep. When I put her back down, it starts up again. Please help, I am very concerned she is not getting enough sleep.

    1. Hi Danielle! I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with your daughter’s sleep. This is really tough age for sleep because of how much is going on developmentally. Since she is falling asleep independently, I recommend continuing to practice this as much as possible. The short naps are very common at this age, so following wake windows (and her cues) and getting her those naps, even though short will help her avoid overtiredness. For the nighttime, have you tried settling her in her bassinet as opposed to picking her up? Since she is falling asleep independently other times, trying to practice settling in her bassinet will help her transfer those skills from naps and bedtime to the middle of the night. Keep it up and while it is super rough now, it will pay off! Hang in there and feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  22. Hi Bonnie! I have a huuuuuge problem. My 13 month old baby has always been a terrible sleeper. He is extremely sensitive to movement and would always wake up even if we changed our position while holding him. He never got around to falling into a napping and sleeping routine (my older son was similar, but slowly fell into a routine and now sleeps very well). We are now at a point that he may nap at any time during The day, and even though we have tried everything to at least make it happen at the same hour, it’s impossible to get him down unless he wants to. So when he naps in his crib (assuming I manage to lay him down), he will be up in 40 minutes. If he is in our arms, he may sleep for 2 hours. He may nap twice a day or take one nap. At nights he sleeps fairly easily when I put him down at around 8:00 pm (he breastfeeds, we brush teeth, I walk him a bit in the dark while singing to him, and put him in the crib semi-awake). He usually sleeps until around midnight, and then wakes up and screams. If you manage to get him back down in his crib (e.g my husband may lay in the crib next to him), he will continuously wake every 40-60 minutes. Up until 3 weeks ago If i picked him up and brought him to our bed, he would sleep and suckle until morning. The last three weeks he has begun tossing and turning and then sitting up and starting to sing! 😳 My husband now has no choice but to take him downstairs to the living room where they sleep on the sofa. He manages to get him back to sleep, but I can still hear him wake up a couple of times till morning. The doctors tells me he’s just a light sleeper (we have many of those on both sides of the family) and there is nothing pathological. We are both so sleep deprived that we even had a car accident two days ago, and working? Well… I fell asleep at a meeting! 😳 Please help!

    1. Hi Dzov! I’m so sorry to hear you are struggling with the sleep deprivation so much. It can be so difficult and really impact all areas of your life. It sounds like your son needs to learn to fall asleep on his own. This will help him be able to fall asleep easily and stay asleep, or get himself back to sleep if he wakes up. There are lots of ways to help him learn to fall asleep independently. Find something that feels comfortable for your family because it helps you stay consistent and staying consistent is extremely important so he can really learn what to expect and develop his own skills and strategies to put himself to sleep. Helping families find a strategy that feels comfortable for their family is what I do when I work with families 1-on-1. Feel free to reach out if you want to schedule a free call to chat more about how I can help. You can schedule a call here if you are interested! Hang in there!

  23. Hi Bonnie,

    I have a 6 week old (born 36weeks) whom I can’t seem to introduce these healthy sleep habits. He fusses whenever I try to put him down awake at the 45-60min window and always needs to be carried up to soothed before putting down again. Eventually it almost always ends up with my rocking him to sleep and putting him down drowsy (after several tries) or it dragging to the next feed such that I have to offer him the boob. He does nap well for 2h whenever he goes down. Does it take long for babies this age to learn? Should I be doing something else ! It’s really hard as I have 3 other kids at home…

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Lisa! This stuff is hard and progress can be really slow at this age! Sleep is very developmental, so I look at adjusted age and I typically don’t start a ton of working on independent sleep (putting down drowsy but awake, soothing in crib) etc until 3-4 weeks so you are getting close. Keep practicing and it will pay off! It can be a frustrated endeavor but you are doing great! Any practice is good practice at this age. Hang in there and feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  24. Hello Bonnie,

    Our baby is just one month old and will wake up as soon as it is put down. He will not fall asleep if he is not in our arms and once he does fall asleep, he will wake up and start crying if he senses that we have put him down. Could you please advise if we are able to do something at this early stage or should we just keep on trying untill eventually he gets used to his sleeping place?

    Best regards.

    1. Hi Velizar! This is unfortunately very common, especially at this age. One thing you can try is putting him down drowsy but awake in his ideal sleep window (using wakes windows about 45-60 minutes after he last woke up) to help him drift off to sleep in his sleep space. If he cries, you can pick up and soothe and put back down drowsy but awake and soothe in the sleep space to help him adjust to falling asleep in that space. It can be tough at this age, but practice falling asleep in his sleep space will pay off! Hope that helps. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  25. Hello, my baby is 6 months tomorrow and we have never been able to put him down drowsy-but-awake. He has never been a good napper, we have always had to wear him to sleep until he was out cold, then move him to the bassinet, but he’d only nap 30-40 minutes. We have kept to his wake windows depending on age (right now we are doing approximately 2 hour wake windows). This week, even if he is out cold, he has been waking as soon as he is in the bassinet & kicks and screams until held again. I’ve been having to let him nap while wearing him. He did just get his first tooth to poke out through the gum so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. At night has been just as challenging, a lot of times he falls asleep nursing in bed with me & after an hour or so I can move him to the bassinet. Help!

    1. Hi Jennie! It sounds like he is ready to learn independent sleep skills if you are ready to help him learn. This will avoid the putting him down awake just for him to wake up because you will put him down fully awake. I often see that drowsy but awake doesn’t work as well at this age compared to when babies are younger so putting him down fully awake and allowing him to fall asleep in the bassinet or crib will help get past this challenge. There are lots of different methods out there to help you do this, but confidence and consistency are key so pick a method that feels comfortable to your family, that you can be consistent with so that he can learn what to expect and develop his independent sleep skills. Hope that helps! I work with families 1-on-1 to develop a personalized sleep plan to meet your family where you are at and get you all sleeping better. If you are interested you can schedule a free evaluation call with me here – so we can chat more about what is going on and how I may be able to help!

  26. Cherie pallamountagne

    I have 15 month old twin grandsons, one of which sleeps better than the other and the brother of this twin falls asleep on the lounge and as I helped my daughter the other night she had told me of this on going issue that the moment you put him in his cot he immediately wakes ? I actually put his older brother to sleep and popped him in his cot no issues but I then tried to put twin 2 in his own cot and yep sure as eggs he woke started to winged so I lifted him back out as to not wake his brother and laid him on the lounge and he went right back to sleep? My daughter has two other children the 9 year old is a great sleeper but the 3 year old is not so good ! My daughter has tried just about everything even cleansing the boys room with white sage to remove negative energy,! She is exhausted 😴 have you ant advice please kind regards caring grand parent

    1. Hi Cherie! Sounds like helping twin 2 learn to fall asleep in his sleep space will be helpful. Then you don’t have to worry about transferring him asleep and having him wake up. This is commonly known as sleep training and there are lots of ways to do this to help the little ones learn to fall asleep independently. Find a method that feels comfortable for the family and that you can be consistent with. This is what my team and I do when we work with families 1-on-1, help families determine what method will work best for their families to get little ones sleeping independently. Feel free to have your kids reach out to schedule a free evaluation call to learn more! You can schedule a call here –

  27. Hi there. My baby girl is 1.5 weeks old. We are doing lots of contact naps but also practicing with the bassinet. She was doing AMAZING until a couple days ago. When I put her down she will lay there relaxed for about 2 minutes and then begin tensing up and grunting. She brings her legs up and pulls her arms into her face. I have tried burping more and seeing if gas is the culprit but the moment she is in our arms or on our bed she settles down a lot! I can’t help but think this is possibly a reaction to the bassinet. It doesn’t seem to matter if she is awake or asleep when going in. It does seem 50% better (less disturbing to her sleep) if she is swaddled with both arms in and given a pacifier (which she usually spits out after a while anyway). Would love to hear your take on this sudden change.

    1. Hi Dana! This is pretty common for little little babies like yours. Keep practicing by putting her in the bassinet and giving her the opportunity to fall asleep. You can even soothe to sleep while in the bassinet (shushing, patting etc) to help her adjust back to the bassinet but if she isn’t having it, you can try again later. Any practice is good practice at this age. If swaddling and pacifier help (these can be very soothing for babies this age) I would definitely try when she is swaddled with the pacifier and you can work away from those tools as she gets older. Hang in there and feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  28. My baby is 11 weeks old and we are having some major sleep issues. As soon as we were able to let her sleep without waking to feed, she was sleeping great. She was eventually giving us 7-10 hours of sleep at night. We followed the same bedtime routine every night but I was nursing her to sleep. For naps, I would wear her or hold her often but at least one nap a day, we’d put her down either in the bassinet or dock a tot. At 8 weeks old, she changed completely. She became so sensitive to movement and refused to let us put her down. She’d wake up immediately. At night, we had to hold her to sleep and my husband and I took shifts holding her, which is so dangerous because there are times where we have drifted off. Now she will sleep in the dock a tot between us in bed (still unsafe but we are desperate) but ONLY if I feed her in the dock to fall asleep. She is dealing with reflux issues which seems to be managed with meds but I can’t get her to sleep independently. We follow wake windows closely and I can get her to fall asleep within minutes for naps but she wakes up immediately after putting her down. I’ve tried a few times putting her in the crib awake but showing early sleepy cues. She’ll lay in there for a bit before crying. I’ll try and soothe her in the crib then eventually out before trying to put her back in. Then she becomes overtired and will miss her nap. We are struggling big time! Please help.

    1. Hi Kate! This is a really tough age because there is so much going on developmentally for your baby. Continue to follow wake windows (1hr-1.5 hrs) and try to put her down in her crib when she is drowsy but awake and try to soothe to sleep there. It can take some time and practice (practice, practice, practice is what it is about at this age, and practice doesn’t always mean successful!) She is approaching the age where you can make some more intentional shifts to independent sleep as well. Hang in there a few more weeks (I know this is absolutely brutal 🙁 ) I would also love to chat more about what is going on, your goals and how I can help. You can schedule a free evaluation call here so we can connect!

  29. Hello!
    My baby is 11 weeks old and we have been suffering for the past 2-3 weeks.
    She seems to only want to sleep in my arms and if I attempt to put her down, she wakes up and won’t go back to sleep!
    This causes her to become overtired and she cries constantly.
    My paediatrician says this is caused by reflux but she doesn’t have any reflux symptoms and the side effects of the medication (Nexium) are very severe so my husband and I are reluctant to use it.

    I am desperate for a solution as I cannot continue like this.

    1. Hi Janyta! I’m so sorry to hear that it has been such a struggle with your daughter the past few weeks. I know how hard that is. The challenge with the reflux is that it may be uncomfortable for her to be laying flat. I completely understand not wanting to use medication with severe side effects. Have you talked to your doctor about other options? Gripe water or something like that? Feeding her when she wakes up so she has more time to digest before being laid down could possibly help too. The challenge with sleep is that when there are health issues causing discomfort like silent reflux, it is important to get those managed before focusing on sleep unfortunately. Otherwise trying to help her learn to fall and stay asleep in her sleep space versus your arms is very challenging and not always successful until the underlying issues like silent reflux are managed. I recommend double checking with your pediatrician about options as well as feeding frequency and amount to get it under control and then we can start working on sleep. I would love to chat with you more how we can get things moving in the right direction for you. You can schedule a free evaluation call here so we can chat more about what is going on, your goals and how I can help you reach those goals. Hang in there, there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  30. Hi Bonnie!

    I have an 8 week old who we help fall asleep by patting/rocking/shushing. She wakes up within minutes when put down in bassinet for naps. Sometimes after 5,10,20 min etc. Sometimes we are lucky and get 45-60 min. But it happens sometimes 2-3 times for the same nap and it’s been exhausting! Nighttime she’s pretty good overall and will wake up mostly once and sometimes twice at night. I have tried the drowsy but awake for the naps but it didn’t seem to work, she wakes up instantly and lays awake until she starts to fuss and cry for us. I would try to soothe her, pat or rock, her while in bassinet, but she ends up crying and I’m forced to pick her up and help her sleep because I don’t want her to be overtired….and then she wakes up again and sometimes I end up contact napping just so she gets a nap in. Any tips to help with this? How long do you keep picking up and putting down to help her sleep independently until you give up and assist to avoid overtiredness? FYI she’s been congested for a few weeks now too.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Kristina! This can be pretty tough at 8 weeks old. There is so much going on developmentally! For some babies, drowsy but awake doesn’t work well and it can work a bit better to try to put them down awake and then soothe from there in the same method you use to soothe outside of the bassinet. When trying for more independent sleep in the bassinet at this age, I recommend trying for the first nap and bedtime. You can use those soothing tools and picking up and putting down for as long as you feel comfortable at bedtime and about 20-30 minutes or so at naps. At this age it all is just practice, so if one day isn’t successful, try not to worry about it too much and just try again next time! Newborn sleep is flexible so allowing her to fall asleep in different ways is helpful. Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat more!

  31. Hi Bonnie.
    I have a 6.5 week old and he is extremely extremely hard to put in his crib. He wakes up the second his head hits the mattress. SO FRUSTRATING!
    He’s colicky and have been getting very minimal sleep ever since the day we brought him home.
    We spend about 1.5 hours each night to get him to his crib.
    We tried to let him cry it out and it DID NOT WORK! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP!!
    also he wakes up every three hours to eat at night too.

    1. Hi Kathryn! I’m so sorry to hear what a struggle it is with your baby and his sleep. This newborn stage is so difficult, especially if he is colicky. The main things to focus on at this age are creating sleep routines so that he knows when sleep is coming and managing wake windows to avoid overtiredness. I recommend about 60 minute wake windows at this age because babies this age don’t always show reliable sleep cues. Additionally, making sure he is getting the calories he needs in a 24 hour period is very important not only for growth but for sleep too. Waking up about every 3 hours to eat at this age is fairly normal, unfortunately. Make sure he is eating at least every 3 hours during the day so he can start getting the majority of his daily calories during the day. As he grows the first stretch of sleep at night starts getting longer. Working on limiting sleep associations or comforting to sleep in the crib can help him start to extend his stretches of sleep as well. I hope this helps! I know how hard this newborn period is and would love to chat more about how I can support you in getting better sleep as soon as possible. If you would like, you can schedule a free evaluation call here!

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