What Works for Us: Infant Sleeping

In coming weeks, I will be sharing with you what has worked for us at certain times in our journey as parents. I am not advocating that what we have done is necessarily right for other people (because every family and child is different), nor does it replace the counsel of others. But I do hope you’ll join me by sharing your story in the comments!

When I was pregnant with Big Brother, I think I attempted to read every book I could get my hands on that had anything to do with babies (in addition to teaching full time and finishing my Master’s degree). I was slightly obsessive. Okay, you can go ahead and take out the “slightly”. :)

Even though I am thankful to have so many resources at my fingertips, I think this reliance on information caused me to overlook relying on my own instincts. That’s why I think it is so important that each family does what works best for them…and sometimes this process is learned through trial and error, through the counsel of others, as well as becoming in tune to our instincts as parents.

Through all of our reading and seeking the counsel of friends and family, we found a method that seemed would be beneficial to us all and cleared it with my dad (who is a family physician). Starting at about 2-3 weeks, we followed a FEEDING, WAKETIME, NAPTIME routine (in this order). We learned to be in tune with our children’s hunger cues, but typically they could go 2 1/2-3 hours from the start of one feeding to the start of another. If they acted hungry before, I would of course nurse them. After a month, they could stretch it to a solid 3 hours between feedings. Once they were fed, we would play with them until they acted tired. The nap was the end of their cycle. Both of the boys were consistently sleeping through the night and taking regular naps by the time they were 4 months old.

We also chose to have our boys sleep in their own beds. I am a very deep sleeper, so I was terrified as a new parent that I would roll over on them if we co-slept! To this day, our boys have never slept in our bed…which makes me kind of sad because it seems quite endearing when it is not a nightly a habit.

Both of our boys are excellent sleepers (which I mostly attribute to inheriting my love of sleep) but I definitely think this routine helped. :)

Always remember…even though advice, books and articles like this one may be good resources, they don’t replace the parental decision-making. You have to do what is best for your baby because every baby is different!

So, what worked for you and your baby??? I realize this is one of those “hot topics” that people have strong opinions about, so please be respectful if you choose to comment.


  1. Just like you, I adapted the eat, play, sleep routine. I worked hard at getting my daughter into a schedule during the daytime.
    As far as getting her to sleep through the night, I did not nurse on demand after the newborn stage. At around 3 months, Kara was able to go at least 4 hours at night without nursing. As soon as I knew she could go that long, I refused to nurse her before 4 hours had passed. If she woke up after 2 or 3 hours, I would give her a pacifier and pat her back but I wouldn't pick her up or feed her. When she slept through her 4 hour feeding to 5 hours, I increased the time I would make her wait. Of course if she was sick or having tummy issues, I would give in. But she pretty much went along with it. As I kept increasing the gaps between feedings, she slept longer and better and learned to self soothe. Now, she sleeps through the night and I rarely have to get up in the night. (Rarely being maybe once a month)

  2. I also used the same routine. I read the book "The Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg. I found it so helpful! However, like any advice you have to pick and choose what is best for your own family.

  3. I really liked the Baby Whisperer too! I loved how she advocated treating the baby as a person…calling him by his name, talking to him, telling him when you were going to change his diaper, etc.

    Originally when I wrote this post I was going to include a few books that I read, but I never agree 100% with everything in a book so it's hard to give it a stamp of approval. :)

  4. I used this scheduling with my first two, also. I'm currently trying to get into it with the third. This type of schedule has not only been helpful when we're on vacation, but helps when bringing more babies into the family. Even though I have three kids under three, I still get a nap every day because they are all so scheduled and on similar schedules. And they've all started sleeping through the night at nine weeks, which is always nice!

  5. I had the same routine. I did let all three children sleep in my room in a pack-n-play until they were 2 weeks old so that I could get used to the noises they made when they sleep. If I hadn't I would have been up every few minutes checking and making sure the sound they were making wasn't a bad one. After that, they were only in the crib. We would never have been able to co-sleep either because my husband is such a deep sleeper too and I was afraid he would squish them. I am not a deep sleeper at all. However, following this routine worked best for us. My first born, now 6 (where does the time go) wanted to sleep through the night from the get go. Literally, from day one. But the nurses in the hospital told me to wake her up to nurse her, so I did for the first couple of weeks. Then the pediatrician said if she wants to sleep let her sleep. So from then on she never got up in the night to eat. I still had to get up to pump, but she did not wake up. The only difference between her and my next two is she wasn't your typical newborn or older baby. She hardly ever napped during the day. Usually no more than an hour and a half. All this sleep when the baby sleeps wasn't happening during the day at our house…only at night, which I was thankful for. When the next two came along, I followed the same advice with both of them sleeping through the night at about a month old. My children never sleep with us either at night. We do have one that will once in a blue moon climb in our bed at about 5:00 a.m. when he hears dad getting ready for work. Now, on a Sunday after church, that is another story. Dad will pile up in the bed with the younger two if he can. Dad and the two young boys need lots of sleep and my daughter and I really don't need near as much. What a fun conversation.

  6. The eat, wake, sleep cycle of the BabyWise phenom worked for my firstborn, and, we're getting there with our 3-month old. She only wakes up once. We don't co-sleep, either (unless I'm in the mood to nap with her…just in case she's my last child!). It's oft hard to explain the "cry it out" technique to friends, but, it's what worked with us. We saw ourselves as problem solvers. Once all the problems were solved, it was up to the babies to cry themselves to sleep. Thanks for the post on this.

  7. Wow, I didn't realize the eat, wake, sleep cycle was something condoned by books and doctors!! It's what both my two kids fell into naturally, and I never did question it. I never read a pregnancy or baby book either. I'd ask my mom, I'd ask my dr, I'd ask my husband (who is particularly wonderful at knowing what kids need for some reason) and that was about it. 1st baby didn't sleep through the night until 9 months or so, but 2nd baby was sleeping through the night at 3 months old. We also did the pack'n'play for the first 2 weeks to get used to baby noises – with both kids. We didn't need a monitor for 1st baby (she's loud!) but 2nd baby was so quiet we ended up mounting the moniter right above his crib in order for it to pick him up!
    So glad to read that someone else says "use your instincts!"

  8. During those first few months I felt like all my Audrey did was breastfeed, but in reality she ate about every 2.5-3 hours as well. She was also sleeping through the night at 4 months. She was sleeping in our bed up until we started weening around six months, then I moved her into her crib(which both she and I preferred). Once she got to a certain age I could tell she liked her owns space while she slept. During my pregnancy, I read The Lullababy Sleep Plan by Dr. Catherine Tobin. This book really helped us sleep train Audrey. While we didn't use/do all of the methods exactly as she wrote, we incorporated her methodologies into our life. And it worked, just like she said it would! Every baby is different, you just have to do what you feel like is best for your family.

  9. We used the eat/wake/sleep cycle with our first child, and it really helped to establish a routine for her, although she never was a great napper. My second has been more of a challenge in some regards. He takes great naps, but we are still not sleeping through the night consistently (although he's improving!). I really liked the No Cry Sleep Solution, and believe that if I would become more consistent in my efforts he would follow suit. But like you said, each child id different and what works for one, may not work for another. I think following your own instincts really helps you to feel confident to, since no Dr. or child psychologist knows the inner workings of your individual child. My first born for instance could not go for more than two hours between feedings for the first four months of her life. She, like me, has an extremely fast metabolism and really needed to eat! My son, however, fell into a more normal time frame for feedings very quickly. It really is live and learn!

  10. I am so happy I found your site via NTFFC.
    I'm loving what I've seen so far. This post is great bc it's exactly what I told my friend who is expecting right now (I have 3 already)
    Books are great resources but instinct and common sense will take you much further when raising children. We chose to co-sleep with our firs to children but by the time the 3rd came along 6 years later the bed was much too small for all five of us and the kids were getting older. Our third baby never slept a single night in our room and now the older kids enjoy their space in their own rooms. Trial and error but mostly "what works for you"!
    Nice post. Hope you can drop by and visit me at http://www.threejewelsinmycrown.blogspot.com. I'm following you via gfc

  11. I'm current trying the eat/wake/sleep cycle with my newborn. He's 3 weeks and has been in this routine since day 1… sort of. He doesn't sleep every 'cycle'. It ends up he has some extended wake periods and extended (2.5hr) nap times. He's been great at night since we came home, getting up just to feed about 3 times per night – with a few exceptions of course (I did a load of laundry at 3am one night cause he was/we were up).
    He sleeps in a bassinet in our room, but after reading comments I think I'll put him in his own room within the next couple of days.
    I'm a by-the-book kind of person and have realized just in the last few days to relax and respect baby's routine too. If he doesn't sleep every 'Sleep' time it's okay – He's eating, growing and not keeping me up at night. It seems to work for now, and if it doesn't in a month, we'll change.
    Thanks all for sharing your comments!!! I love to hear what works for others.

  12. I'd love to see more posts from people who tried these things and they DIDN"T work. They worked for one of my kids-but not the next-I think it just depends on the baby…From the moment my son was born he wanted to be held-when we came home at 4days he would NOT stay in his bed-but he slept soundly held!

  13. <— First Time Mom… and did I mention that we adopted our son at six weeks old!!

    He came with a schedule of his own… we'll call it NO SCHEDULE at all. Can you say EXHAUSTING!?!

    He's now nearly six months old and is up every three hours of the night! HELP! This momma & daddy would love a whole nights sleep for once.

    I feel the good hand of the Lord was upon me 'finding' this post while reading about the 4month milestones post. I see from all of your chatting here that we are doing it backwards. YIKES! The last thing our son does before falling asleep is eat. Oopsy!

    From time to time we are so exhaused from just falling asleep only to get up again that after some patting and putting the pacifier back in the mouth we just walk away and let him cry. The other morning…. that lasted for one hour and ten minutes before mommy here gave in… fed him… and fast asleep he fell.

    One of the things that likely frustrates the self soothe thing is our son needs to sleep in one of those swaddle things. He jerks a lot in his sleep and is restless nearly waking every half hour or more when he does sleep swaddled. So those hands can't get to the mouth in the night.

    Mother's….. What would you do if you were us?!

    Thanks for your input!

  14. I should also add these facts to the ones above:

    Age: 5 1/2 Months
    Feedings: 2 1/2-3 oz every 2-3 hours, he also has started to eat baby cereal & a fruit or veggie 2x a day- mid AM & mid PM

    How does the 'cry it out' method work presently for us: Not well. In fact horrible. Our son had marathon worthy endurance and could cry if he's ticked enough until you break down. An we have NO clue how to do stop this tantrum of sorts.

    Medically: He is perfectly healthy & normal as per his therapist and pediatrician. Yes, he had a therapist because it's a requirement to have him checked up on in our state post adoption. Even if he's a baby.

  15. Heather…I'm not an expert, by any means.

    But it does sound like your little guy is a snacker, meaning he lights to eat small amounts more frequently.

    My suggestion would be to try to get him to eat more like 6 ounces per feeding. I think by 6 months that's what my boys were doing when I gave them bottles. And my AAP book suggests, "most babies are satisfied with 3 to 4 ounces per feeding during the first month, and increase that amount by 1 ounce per month until reach 8 ounces."

    Also, I would recommend reading "Babywise." I know this book is controversial and I don't agree with all of it, but many of the suggestions really helped us.

  16. Jenae!
    Thank you! I'll look into that book! Yes, I agree he does like to eat often. He's a spit up-er and when we try to give him more he just winds up throwing it all up. Hence the smaller, more frequent meals. Which are a pain in the but.
    Last night we started on the Eat, Play, Sleep routine… So far so good. Except he was just so incrdibly tired earlier from the crying for one hour in the night that he fell asleep after I fed him here at lunch. But he made it 6 hours without being fed.
    This ridiculous eating schedule got started with the pediatrician telling us he needed to back off of 4 oz every 3 hours or he would be the butterball turkey. That freaked me out! But now it's getting exhausting to feed him all day and night like this. We tried spreading them apart before and it was misery for us and him. But now we will try your suggestion and see what happens! :)

    Thank you again for your encouragement. I'm learning parenting has lots to teach me and I have lots to learn from trial & error!

  17. Our babies all started in cribs and all wound up sleeping in my arm until we moved them to their rooms and let them cry-it-out. Might have something to do with having 3 kids under 3 and one who refuses to nap at all – so Mama just doesn't have the energy to re-settle the baby for an hour or two till she falls asleep on her own. I've found that making sure we're all sleeping enough, even if it means co-sleeping for a few months then enduring a few nights of crying makes sure that we have much better days. When Mama is tired, everyone suffers. And both my older two are now sleeping through the night (unless sick or teething) just fine, so it all worked out in the end.

  18. I am new to your blog. But have found many many great ideas that have helped me to teach my daughter some basic skills and have fun at the same time. I wanted to share how our family puts into practice the eat, play, sleep advice.
    We ahve two children, our girl who will be 3 in June, our boy is 8 months old. Our daughter was a very high needs and sensitive baby, and the only way I could cope was to co-sleep, nurse on demand and carry her (using a sling or wrap) during her waking hours. I carried her for nearly 10 months. SHe was very happy and giggly when carried- and I was able to go about my day and get all my tasks done with both my hands free (yay!). She nursed on demand, which depending on is she was in a growth spurt, teething, having "growing pains" or just over stimulated, as I say she is a very ssensitive baby, might be 8 times, or 12 times a day. We co-sept becasue that was the easiest for me and my husband. I was able to get adequate amounts of sleep and she could "self-serve" any time she wanted during the night. My husband enjoyed that I was wel-rested and pleasant. Not the usual grumpy sleep-deprived new mom. I transistioned her to her own bed two months before her 2nd brithday, as I was due with her brother very soon by then. SHe was in her own bed in her own room by the time her brohter was born- and I started co-sleeping and carrying him the same as I did for her. Her is a very curious and adventurous child and preferred to be put down, did not like the sling- only wanted to nurse around 6 times (the most was 8 times) a day. I think his stomach capacity was bigger and he was a more efficient nurser. I firmly believe that different babies come hard-wired with different personalities. My sosn loves to play hard and he also naps for LONG stretches during the day (he is 8 months- still take a morning nap and afternoon nap, at least 1.5 hours each). His siter was never a napper, and still isn't. I am so glad to see others perspectives on this issue- as I agree it is a sensitve and controversal one. I agree with you- Each mom shuld be in-tuned with her baby and follow her instincts and listen to that mommy voice inside, and repsond appropriately.

  19. I have an almost 3 year old and an 8 week old baby and I found that they are totally different! With my daughter I read all of the books too because being a first time parent I felt like I needed to know it all – I feared I wouldn't be able to figure it all out on my own (which I did). She wasn't a very good sleeper. It took her a long time to sleep through the night and she was eating every 2 hours too. Still, to this day, she wakes regularly during the night (sometimes to go to the bathroom which is encouraged, but for other reasons too).

    With my newborn he slept 6 hours when he was only a week old. Now at 8 weeks he has had nights where he slept as many as 8 hours through the night. He doesn't do this every night but he RARELY sleeps less than 4 hours at a time. He also takes a few naps during the day. With him I am concentrating on the eat, wake, sleep pattern. So far so good! And this time around I didn't read any books. The second time around is much easier in figuring things out! Both of my kids also slept in their crib from day 1.

  20. I just found your site and Love some of the posts I am going through. I have a 9 month old son and we have tried to our wits ends to get different routines to work but for us it is last bottle/nurse before bed, cuddle rocking time, we put him down in his crib for 2-3 hours then he is AWAKE. HE doesn’t just wake up and fuss and want to go back to sleep, nope. He thinks that was just a long nap! So it get him up but keep things mellow, bring him out while we talk and finish cleaning. Then he comes to bed with us. Yes, we co-sleep the rest of the night and we love it. He wakes up happier. He goes to sleep easier. And I actually get some sleep! We have been fighting it since he was 4 months old. I would desperately try to keep him in his bed until morning. But it got to the point where he was up every 45 minutes. And frankly- that stinks for me who has to be up and at work by 8 for a full day. I’m glad this routine has worked for so many of the other moms on here, but I just wanted to post our experience to let other moms know that it is OK if something doesn’t work. Eventually you have to just stop stressing yourself out and go with the flow.

  21. We co-slept, baby-wore, and fed on demand. My daughter is now 3. As her needs changed, the habits naturally changed. She was sleeping in her own bed at 2 1/2 and prefers it. When she won’t go to bed at night we tell her she has to sleep with us and she will protest and promptly behave. She nursed until a week before she was 3, but by the time she was 2- only nursing in the morning, at night, and sometimes when hurt or sick. She potty trained by 2. We did part-time EC and ASL. She was pretty much on my schedule. I would potty her as a baby at the times when babies usually potty (waking, after car rides, after feeding, etc) and offer when I had to use it. I had to put her in daycare at 2 when her father deployed. Before then, we would switch off by work schedule. The daycare, although advocating for sign, didn’t understand it. Her potty needs were ignored and she had to relearn to communicate her needs as well as wear diapers that she had been out of…. I guess one residual of this is she always announces that she has to potty as she runs off to do it. She would be the only one not napping for them too since she was already having afternoon naps (the time when I would clean house and get dinner together before work/school). Since her father has returned, she now naps in the afternoon again (not having any naps at all at home or school when it was forced on her at school).

  22. I loved the way you wrote that. My baby isn’t the best sleeper, so I am always curious what others methods are. Sometimes when I read I get frustrated because I can tell that who ever wrote it thinks my way is wrong. I really appreciated one of the last paragraphs:

    “Always remember…even though advice, books and articles like this one may be good resources, they don’t replace the parental decision-making. You have to do what is best for your baby because every baby is different!”

    It helps the reader feel empowered to take care of their child the way their child needs it. …And to trust their intuition. Thank you so much.

  23. our plan was to do a set schedule right away. i have insomnia and really didn’t want to have to get up more than i had to. however plans changed at birth when we had some complications. to help regulate his breathing and body tempature we did skin to skin/cosleeping. we were only going to do it a few days and then start using the cradle next to the bed but breastfeeding was a nightmare and he ended up with colic so by default we started cosleeping, baby wearing, and feeding on demand. it’s not for everyone but it has worked great for us and certainly has opened my eyes to different/unconvential ideas for parenting. he’s 8 months now and starting to do better. other than the colic he has been a super happy, well developed baby :) we used Dr. Karps method from The Happiest Baby on the Block for the colic.

  24. Hi,
    I wanted to just mention that Co-sleeping does not mean Bed-sharing. The term is often misused. Co-sleeping is a term that applys to sleeping in the same room as your child. It is very beneifitual to you and the child especially for breastfeeding and reducing SIDS. It is recommended to sleep in the same room. However, it may not be for everyone.
    Bed-sharing is different. It can be under the umbrella term of Co-sleeping but it applys solely to you and your child sharing a bed. There are risks to Bed-sharing. However, there are no risks with Co-sleeping in the same room.

    I have loved reading your site and learning new things to try with my own little one. Thank you for having a heart to share info with others.

  25. This post was several years ago but why not.
    I don’t have children myself but babysit for my sister quite often.
    When her daughter was a baby apparently at my sister’s house she was a menace to put to bed, my sister used the “let them cry” method(not sure what the actual method is called) and I used the “I’ll hold you until you sleep” method (yet again don’t know what it is called). My niece behaved amazing for me and slept through the night from about two weeks.
    The “feed, play, sleep” method did not work for me but sorta of worked for my sister.
    My sister had a shelf of parenting books, I’ve never read one in my life and my niece is now an amazing 6 year old.
    Oh, my niece and I also co-slept most of the time mostly when she was teething and I couldn’t be bothered walking to her travel cot.

  26. Just to tell something about this, if you do choose to follow the co-sleeping route, make sure the togetherness you desire addresses your child’s needs and not just your own. If you are a single parent or your spouse is often away from home, for instance, you should not allow your child to sleep with you just to stave off your loneliness. Nor should you take your child to your bed simply because you feel that it will be easier to get him to go to sleep that way. You can certainly help your child to learn to fall asleep in his bed within a few days.

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