Sleep Help for Babies

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Of all the things that I really love about having a great community both on here and on social is that when I need help or a suggestion, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience chiming in when I ask!

I recently shared that I’ve been struggling with Emily’s lack of napping and occasional nighttime sleep disruptions on Instastories. I thought it may help to expound more on those two topics and also share a bit more about why I asked for help.

Emily has truly been a great night sleeper for months now. And she’s only 5 months old. She started going 5-6 hours at only a few weeks old and since then has only increased her night sleeping. Her naps, though, have been consistently short (about 20 minutes) and sporadic. She would also fight going to sleep with all of her sweet little soul and spirit. It was such a frustrating thing because as her mom I knew she was tired but she just couldn’t easily fall asleep or stay asleep for naps. The day would spiral downhill and she’d be pretty irritable by the end of the night.

I know that even babies who nap well in the day can still be irritable at night. It’s kind of just a baby thing. 

With the boys, Justin and I were diligent about getting them on a pretty predictable routine at an early age. I was probably a little too rigid with their schedule but I was pretty stressed out as a new mom. Even though there were difficulties in getting them on a schedule, it paid off in the best ways. They were happy, they knew what to expect, and we (the parents) were happy as well. Putting them down for nap became as easy as placing them in the crib, walking away, and they would fall asleep without making a peep* on their own.

For some reason I have been resistant to trying to get Emily on a routine. I don’t know if it’s a “last baby” thing or what. Finally, I reached a point where I couldn’t keep doing this daily mystery game of “are you tired? no? not yet? maybe? should we try a nap? you don’t seem tired. are you tired?” It wasn’t working for Emily, nor Justin and I.

So in an exhausted moment I asked for help from other moms to try to resolve Emily’s nap issues.

I got so many helpful messages and I wanted to share them here in case you are in the same boat, or will be in the future.

Many people recommended Taking Cara Babies. She has a ton of information on her Instagram account and also offers some classes through her website all about sleep tips. I’ve learned a lot by just following her on Instagram which I’ve been doing for about a month or so.

I received a ton of recommendations for the Moms on Call book or scheduling app. I have the book and read most of it, but I downloaded the app shortly after I heard from so many readers that love it. The app suggests a routine that may work based on your baby’s age. I started following it as closely as I could and Emily took the best morning nap of her life on the first day. At the time I’m writing this we’ve been using the schedule for 4 days and she’s already making massive, MASSIVE improvements with her naps. Some are still short, but she’s going down easier and seems to be happier in the day since she’s not as exhausted as she was before.

I received a lot of recommendations for various websites where you can speak directly to a sleep consultant and they will tailor a plan that works for your lifestyle and your baby’s temperament and age. I decided to try following the Moms on Call schedule (again, it’s a goal not a set in stone timeline of how her day actually is right now) first and if that doesn’t work for her then resort to speaking with a sleep consultant.

After scrolling through message after message I realized an important thing. Every mom tries their best with the method they think will work best for their baby. There are so many methods of teaching a baby to sleep just like there are different parenting methods. It’s kind of great that we have so many resources available to find something that works for each family, isn’t it?

If you have a baby that isn’t napping well, or isn’t sleeping through the night, I hope you are able to find something that works for you and the baby very soon. To me, that’s the hardest part of a baby–figuring out SLEEP! It’s one of those things that gets better with time so it takes every single ounce of your patience until the baby has figured it out.

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*eventually. We helped soothe them to sleep until they could do it on their own.

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Comments (23)

  1. Posted October 15, 2018

    Baby sleep sounds like such a difficult thing to get right!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Sherry says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    I have heard of sleep training a lot lately. Emily sure is a precious little girl, definitely looks a lot like Justin at the moment (especially in the swing picture the other day). Hope you guys have a great Monday.

  3. Miriam says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Emily is just precious! I have a 3.5 month old baby girl (our first) and I love seeing someone with a baby just a little ahead of us 🙂 We follow the moms on call schedule too and I think I was to rigid with it at first (and probably started to soon) but once I adjusted my expectations and became a little more flexible it’s been great! I love having a predictable routine. I will say, naps were a struggle for us until about a week ago. She would only nap 45 minutes at a time (which is fine but I could tell she was still tired). We did stop swaddling and used the Magic Merlin suit and I think that combination combined with her finding her hands so she could self soothe helped a lot! So glad y’all found something that works for you! Happy babies = happy mommas 🙂

    • Kate says
      Posted October 15, 2018

      You took the words out of my mouth! Em is in the magic merlin right now as well!

      • Erin says
        Posted October 15, 2018

        We are debating trying the magic merlin… My son loved being swaddled, but I think my 4 week old little girl would prefer something different… Just don’t know what it is yet. Kate – could you Insta story about your experience with it??

        • Kate says
          Posted October 15, 2018

          It took her a few times to get used to the Merlin but I think it really helps her feel cozy and warm!

  4. ashley says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Oh girl, a good schedule is key both because it (mostly) works for the baby, and it helps us mamas feel like we have some semblance of control…! Before I had my daughter a colleague recommended Babywise (which I know can be wildly controversial) and I loved it.

    Hang in there, and thanks for posting about something that is so difficult.

    • Jena Bowen says
      Posted October 16, 2018

      Babywise all the way! I have 4 children – each a different temperament – but I put them all on a schedule that worked for them and us. Once we figured out the right rhythm for each one they all slept through the night (8 hours or more) by 8 weeks old. They also took the appropriate length naps for their age. Not saying it was all a cake walk! Ha! Not by any means. But the work we did to establish good sleep cycles and patterns was well worth it in the end! Happy babies and a happy Momma!

  5. Tawney says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Thanks for the blog post. My first child was an easy, Babywise routine baby. My second child, who is six months old, is a no limits solider who hates sleep and loves to slap. ☺️ I have struggled with getting her to nap and we have an active schedule so many times that means that by the end of the day she is exhausted and then sleeps poorly throughout the night. I look forward to trying these suggestions with my baby to see if they help. On a side note she LOVES to watch your Instastories, especially anything with Emily or the boys in it.

  6. Hannah says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    We did moms on call with our first and will definitely be doing it with our second! We love it.

  7. AA says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Hi Kate,
    Would you consider doing a post along the lines of “How to prepare for your first baby”? It seems like parenting certainly has a “learn as you go” component to it (plus every baby is different) but if there is anything that would be helpful to learn beforehand, that would be great! For example, “research different sleep methods and pick a few you’d feel comfortable trying”.

  8. Lindsay says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Read ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’, by Dr. Marc Weissbluth.
    I used the strategies in my infant classroom and consistently had babies asleep for 3+ hours, five days a week, 4 to a room, over many different classes. And then I used it on my own little sleep monster! His book is my go-to baby shower gift. Trust me, new moms need it more than another 3m outfit! And it has sleep advice for birth-adulthood.
    Dr. Weissbluth KNOWS.

  9. Sarah says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    I had the LOVELIEST experience with a Sleep Consultant from Sleep Wise Consulting with Katie Pitts (they’re on Facebook). I’ve referred friends all with 100% success. I had a 5 month old who refused to have any normal sleeping or napping patterns and she was able to get us on a sleep schedule, sleeping through the night within 3 days-lots of folks say it only takes them 1 day. Blessings to you, mama. Sleep troubles cut to the quick of my soul-praying y’all get some sleep soon!

  10. Amanda says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Hi Kate,
    I downloaded the Moms on Call app based on your recommendation here because, like Emily, my little guy (5.5 months old) sleeps amazingly through the night but not the best napper. That being said, he rarely (if at all) wakes at 7am for the day. Do you wake Emily at 7 (and from naps) in order to follow the schedule they recommend in the app? or do you let her sleep and adjust for when she wakes? I’m surprised they don’t give you an option to “start baby’s day” at a certain time, so I’m not sure if I should wake him to follow the schedule or not! Wondering what you did 🙂

    Thanks!!

    • Laura says
      Posted October 15, 2018

      I am so curious about the answer to this as well! My LO (and older kids too) usually sleeps until 8:30 which would probably throw off the schedule according to the app.

      • Amanda says
        Posted October 15, 2018

        Glad someone else shares my question .. I felt a bit dumb asking it LOL!

        There’s a customization feature but I’m really confused by it.. and my mom always tells me never to wake a sleeping baby!

    • Kate says
      Posted October 16, 2018

      Oh I WISH she would sleep until 7! She typically wakes up at around 6:15, but a few times a week it’s even earlier (5:45ish) So I just start her schedule from when she wakes up and adjust the timing to match her first wake time.

    • Sherry says
      Posted October 18, 2018

      We followed the moms on call schedule since our babe was 7 weeks (she’s 15mos now) and we wake her at 7 every day. It kind of sucks some days but now it’s like she knows when 7am hits the clock. In the book it talks about how important starting their day at the same time is so that is definitely something I make sure to follow. I also wake her from her naps when she hits the max time. again, sometimes it sucks but then I remind myself that my baby ALWAYS sleeps 12 hours and has since she was 13 weeks so I count myself lucky!!! I’m just hoping it works as well with the second baby who’s in the way! I definitely recommend the book to go along with the app because it helps explain the why behind the schedule.

  11. Heather says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    Hang in there. My kiddo would fight sleep with every ounce of his being. Every evening was hours of torture for all of us with him being so over tired he was crazy cranky and ya spending hours trying to get him to sleep. Fast forward a few years and he puts himself to sleep all on his own after showering and brushing his teeth. I never thought it would happen!

  12. Erin says
    Posted October 16, 2018

    Thank you for sharing Kate! My 4.5 month old daughter is a cat napper during the day. Can’t wait to check out these resources!

  13. Hilary says
    Posted October 19, 2018

    Thanks for this post, Kate! My sweet girl is 3 months and creating solid sleep habits is a major priority for us. What do you do about going out at night with her bedtime? I saw on instastories you went to the fair last night (looked amazing!) but we never go out at night because we’re so firm on getting her down at her early bedtime. How do you balance that with having older kids? Are we doomed to never go out to dinner as a family? Is this why people eat at 5 PM??

  14. Deidra says
    Posted November 8, 2018

    Oh my goodness…So I have a 6.5 week old so I haven’t stayed up to date with your blog.a.as you can probably imagine why…and boy am I GLAD I took the time (now that I’m back at work) to play catch up on your posts! These resources are helping out already and can’t wait to utilize! Thanks for sharing such helpful info Kate! =)

  15. Amanda says
    Posted November 16, 2018

    I also have the Moms on Call book and Cherish the First Six Weeks book. Both have helped me to feel like I have a sense of direction as a first time mom.

    Have you taken any of the online classes from Taking Cara Babies? I’m wondering if it would fill in some of the gaps I have from the Moms on Call book.