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Get a Better Night's Sleep

Courtney Z.
COURTNEY Z.
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
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Join Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Courtney Zentz, for a live Q&A to get help with everything related to infant, toddler and child sleep! She is here to answer questions about nap transitions, night wakings, bedtimes and more!

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COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Night Waking & Night Feedings
TAMMY, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

My son is 4.5 months old. He has been waking up every night 2 to 3 times for feedings (breast), every 1.5 to 3 hours (no consistency). He goes down at 7 and will wake around 9:30 p.m. for a final feeding. He will usually wake up next around 1:30 a.m. and then again at 3:30 and 6:00 a.m. He usually doesn't open his eyes, but finishes eating at goes right back to sleep. The last three nights he has been waking up at 2:30 (not hungry because he would have just eaten an hour before) and he is wide awake! He laughs, talks and plays, and mommy and daddy are not amused. Why is waking to play (he's never done this?). He pretty much had his nights and days set since we came home. Also, his doctor feels that he should be sleeping through the night because of his size (16 lbs). Is there an easy way to adjust him to eating more during the day so that he's full at night. He currently only eats around 7.5 ounces while I'm at work and I feed him by breast in the morning before I leave and as soon as I get home during the bedtime routine.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi! At his age he would have no problems going from 7-7 without eating. To change you have to change, meaning no more feedings in the night will then trigger him to eat that next day more. The prop of nursing to sleep you also need to be aware of, ensure you nurse, then pop him off at bedtime and let him fall asleep on his own. The Merlin sleep suit is also great for this age too if he moves and wakes himself up.

I presume he's taking bottles while you are gone. That would be best setup so that he nurses, then eats around 3 hours every day. Total daytime sleep would still be 14-16 hours a day, with 4-5 hours in total sleep time. No naps after 5:30 and bedtime of 7pm. The first 24 hours of change are the hardest, but you need him to wake hungry to change the cycle vs continue eating at night and never 'start off the day right' with food since you are full from MOTN wakings... Make sense?

TAMMY

Since he's waking two to three times a night right now. What is the best way to start this? Drop one feeding and then another? When he wakes, how am I to get him to go back to sleep? Also, he sleeps in a pack n play in my room. I've been holding off moving him to his room until he was ready to sleep through the night. Would it be wise to make the change for both at the same time?

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi Tammy,

This is typically a much more detailed process that I work with clients on 1 on 1 to solve. Information about my services and support are available on my website. I am more than happy to speak and understand the additional details I would need to properly advise how to take it forward. I wish there was an easy answer I would be able to share here for you.

Courtney R. Zentz
Owner, Tiny Transitions
Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) r/>c. 610.762.0652
e. info@tinytransitions.com
w. http://tinytransitions.com/
f. Tiny Transitions Infant & Toddler Sleep Solutions

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Weaning early morning feeding
MEGAN, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

My 7 month old will sleep relatively consistently from 7 pm to 3 am. At 3 am I nurse him and he sleeps until 6 or 6:30 am. I have tried not tending to him at his 3 am wake time but that has led to him crying for hours. I have been told by my pediatrician he should be "sleeping through the night" any suggestions for weaning that last 3 am feeding?

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi, great and very common question! I agree with the ped, that at this age, that feeding is habit and not nutritional. What is happening at 3am? Details help so I can advise how to wean this one.

MEGAN

He starts to stir, first a bit of a wimper which turns into a cry. When I go up and try to comfort him without nursing he loses his mind. I've tried sending my husband up to give him a pat or two and gently rock him but it only comforts him for a few minutes then he's crying again. I've done CIO and he's cried for hours and eventually fallen back asleep only to wake for the day 30 minutes later.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Keep sending your husband, break the association. Then leave the room after a min but when you go in don’t pick him up. Comfort from the crib and check in every 10 mins until he’s asleep. After a few days the waking will stop.

Courtney R. Zentz
Owner, Tiny Transitions
Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC)
c. 610.762.0652
e. info@tinytransitions.com
w. http://tinytransitions.com/
f. Tiny Transitions Infant & Toddler Sleep Solutions

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Night wakings
RENEE, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hello! My 12 week old son has been sleeping an inconsistent 4-5 hour initial stretch... but then wakes every two hours thereafter. I don't know how to get the initial stretch to last longer... and what do I do about the every two hour wakings!? We've been feeding him every three hours during the day and he goes down at the same time every night.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi Renee, Look into a few things. Wake time during the day shouldn't be more than roughly 1.5 hours between naps. Total nap time should be 3-4 hours during the day. Naps being between 7am & 5pm ( with bedtime at 7pm every night). Also, is he being nursed or rocking to sleep? Something other than falling asleep on his own? If that's the case, when he's waking in-between sleep cycles, he doesn't know how to fall back to sleep. Those are the habits at this age you are easy to correct and they become easier with a baby that's rested and not overtired.

Overtired can cause wakings as can 'props' to put them to sleep... look into those two areas and see if that helps!

Check this out https://journal.thriveglobal.com/is-2017-the-year-for-your-baby-to-sleep-bbbc383c4a9e#.p0iz1wk89

RENEE

Thanks Courtney! Quick question about his day time naps.... should he be put in his bassinet? Or is it ok to leave him where he falls asleep i.e. Boppy or mamaroo?

Courtney
COURTNEY

I recommend that he be in the crib for at least 1 nap a day, however, other places are ok as long as they are safe. The crib i find provides the best place for babies to be comfortable and get the deep sleep they need, vs a lighter sleep in the swing or on a chest for example. Good luck!

Courtney R. Zentz
Owner, Tiny Transitions
Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC)
c. 610.762.0652
e. info@tinytransitions.com
w. http://tinytransitions.com/
f. Tiny Transitions Infant & Toddler Sleep Solutions

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
10 month old only sleeps when held
KAY, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

I currently cosleep with my LO at night but would love to teach him how to sleep in his crib during naps. He currently only sleeps when being held for naps. He stays with DH during the day, and will not fall asleep unless DH is holding or rocking him. Is there a way to sleep train for naps only and in the crib, as I would like to continue cosleeping at night? He is also very attached to me/us, so it would be great if there was a gentler approach besides CIO.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi Kay,

Thank you for reaching out. With children, they do very well with habits and routines. They come to expect things and don't feel anxious when things suddenly change. Right now, at his age, the hard part in what you want is that your son ultimately won't understand why he is in the crib for some sleeping and with you for other sleeping, especially as he continues to grow. While every family has a different approach, it's hard for the little ones more so to adjust to things like that because it's confusing. It's not impossible, but can take longer to get to that point. There are more gentle approaches I use in my practice over CIO.

However, showing him that for naps, he is going to be in the crib, then for bedtime he's with you, that would mean you are going to bed at 7pm every night? For many families in the longer term, that's not sustainable. I often tell clients to look at the longer term to understand and get things how you want them now, vs making changes over a longer period more, as that's usually harder on the kids. Is it just personal preference to have him in the bed or some other reason he would be co-sleeping?

KAY

Hi Courtney,

Thanks for responding. He is still experiencing separation anxiety and prefers me, plus I work during the day, so the cosleeping is a partially personal preference. He is with DH during the day, so I could see him eventually sleeping in his crib while in his care vs at night when I'm around since he prefers me. Also, I breastfeed, and LO eats while next to me many nights.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi, I would be happy to setup a consultation of my services and work with you and your husband on a customized plan to help if you determine that'll need the support to align the sleeping preferences. Please let me know!

Courtney

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Night waking
BRITTANY

My 22 month old son wakes up every night for 2-3 hours. We go in his room because he is screaming like he is so scared but do not take him out of the crib. As soon as he knows we are there, he immediately lays down but is up for up to 3 hours just rolling around and fading in and out. It's been going on for over 6 weeks and we are all exhausted!!

Courtney
COURTNEY

A few questions, what time is bedtime, waking and nap? Also, when you say scared, can you elaborate, is he just crying or is he telling you he's scared, having a nightmare?

BRITTANY

Bed time around 7/730. Naps around 1130/12 for 2 hours and wakes in the morning around 530/6. He has always been an earlier riser and we are probably quicker to get him because we don't want him to wake our 4 year old (they share a wall). He doesn't tell us he is scared but you can tell it in his voice/scream. Very different than a regular cry. He has been having prettty bad separation anxiety lately so guessing it's related to that? For bed time we used to be able to just say good night, put him in crib and he would go to bed for the night. After an ear infection and a vacation it has never been the same but that was a month ago!

BRITTANY

He wakes up anywhere between midnight and 2am. Last night, bed at 730, woke up at 2 back asleep around 4 and then woke up for day at 530.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hello,

I would stick to a bedtime of 7pm, and try pushing his naps out little to 12:30 after lunch with a wake up at 2:30. This is will help avoid him going to bed overtired. New habits form when children usually do ’something’ new for 3 days. Therefore, if you want to break the habit, you can try a sticker chart or reward in the morning. If you are staying in the room during those three hours, it may be making him stay awake vs if you leave the room and let him settle. In typically 2 days all should go back to normal with him no longer getting what he wants, you coming in the room, as a reward for the screaming. You have the video monitor, use that ensure he’s ok if you do leave the room but you may find that he settles quicker. I always tell older siblings whats going on, to just stay in bed and go back to sleep before that bedtime.

Courtney

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Nighttime Wakings - 2yo
STACEY, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

Hi Courtney! My son is two last month. He has always been a bad sleeper, but has generally gotten slightly better with age. He'll often cry out randomly through the night then immediately roll over and fall asleep. In the past year or so he has started waking up between 12-5 am and stay awake 1-2hrs or more. He'll sometimes keep to himself - singing songs, talking, etc, but often becomes more upset and calls for us or needing intervention. The intervention times are hard, for sure, but more so it's that he's exhausted the next morning when we wake him for daycare. We've been tracking food/nap/bed all month and see no trends. Secondly, I'm due in March and he'll be sharing a room with the baby - we're terrified of him waking her nightly with this! He's still in the crib (& likes it), bed around 7:30, and napping 1/day for 1.5-3hrs Usually starting around 1230 and we dont let him sleep past 330 (though that's rarely and issue, and on those days he usually sleeps through that night!). And thoughts/advice are appreciated!!

Courtney
COURTNEY

Congrats on #2! That's wonderful! Now, this is actually going to seem like a really simple answer, but trust be and give it a try! Get him in bed lights off at 7 tonight. See what happens tonight, then reach out to me tomorrow with how he did. Sometimes just a 30 minute adjustment to bedtime makes a WORLD of difference, you would be amazed.

STACEY

Ok - so he was in bed at 7 and probably asleep by 7:30.... I'll let you know tomorrow! Thanks!

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Newborn-Frequent wake-ups
SARAH, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi there!

Do you have advice for getting a newborn to go longer stretches throughout the night? The longest my 8 week old has ever slept is 3.5 hours at night but that was a few weeks ago--over the past 2 weeks he's been up every 1-2 hours and often times he refuses to eat so I'm not sure that it is hunger that is driving the wake-up. At the beginning of the night we try to put him in his bassinet awake but drowsy and on a rare occasion he actually will fall asleep. Usually we try about 3 times then end up rocking him to sleep. I'm wondering if he is waking up between sleep cycles and having trouble getting back down. My jiggling and hand on the chest doesn't seem to be enough to get him through to the next sleep cycle and I end up picking him up and attempting (unsuccessfully) to nurse him.

I do expect him to wake up to eat throughout the night, but would love it we could get some longer stretches of sleep for the both of us!

Thank you,

Sarah

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hello! Congrats on the new bundle of joy! Check this out, as it's going to help you set the foundations for him.
https://journal.thriveglobal.com/is-2017-the-year-for-your-baby-to-sleep-bbbc383c4a9e#.6ng1j0vti

However, a few things. Move him to the crib, it's the safest and easiest now to get him conformable in it, plus you find he may wake less, and don't be scared, that video monitor is right there.

Give him a minute to settle himself at night, sometimes babies are noisy and we jump right to them vs giving them the ability to learn they can settle.

I would stop the rocking to sleep. That's creating a bad habit that's hard to break. Instead, ensure that he is not over tired when you put him down (they should only be awake about 1 hour to 90 minutes) and see how he does.

If you follow the blog, it will start to align all of this and at this age, they will start to sleep 6-8 hours consolidated and add a hour every week. GoodLuck! You are Doing GREAT! (Order a magic sleep suit, you can use it soon and it's amazing and perfect for when he starts wiggling around)!

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
5 mo bedtime
ERIN, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

What time do you recommend 5mo old baby to go to bed and wake up? If he wakes up before that time, what suggestions do you have?

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi, At that age, babies should be in bed at 7pm. Total daytime sleep between 3&4 hours, no naps after 5 and will wake about 7am. Earlier bedtime, like 6:30 if sleep is off the rails that day for naps :)

For early wakings, try the earlier bedtime, or 7 if it's later. That often stops those early wakings, believe it or not. If they still wake, give them 10-12 minutes, watch the clock, as there is something magic about that time. The brain needs that long to calm down, even in adults, it's the same in kids. Good Luck!

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
3 year old won't sleep by himself
D, PARENT OF 11 YEAR OLD, 7 YEAR OLD

My 3 year old is afraid to sleep by himself. He thinks bats and/or monsters will get him in the night. I lie with him in his bed until he falls asleep (it usually takes him 1 hour!) and then leave. 9 times out of 10, he will come in our bed when he wakes up during the night. I breastfed him for two years, so he has never really slept by himself. How do I break this habit without having him cry it out?

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi, thank you for reaching out. LOVE the nursing for two years, it's so great for them! This is definitely something I can help with, however, it's not something that is going to be fixed with a tip I can give you here :( I wish it was, I am all for helping! The obvious is going to be to get you out of the room and get him to stop coming into your room at night. However, I would need to learn all about the past 3 years then customize a plan to help you very gently and with as little tears as possible, get him sleeping in his bed and get you out of the room. Most children respond pretty quickly at this age, in a few days, they are fast learners as well as boundary pushers. You don't have to make him cry it out. If you want to setup time to speak or learn more about my services, I am offering $50 off any TinyHood parents. http://www.tinytransitions.com/toddler-consultations.html

COURTNEY ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
22 mo old
JEN, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD

Hi Courtney,
Our 22 mo old had a long stretch of going down awake and sleeping from 7-7. He naps 1-1.5 hrs between 12:00-3:00. Lately, he has been screaming after we shut his door - same routine as it's been. Then he bangs his head for attention. Sometimes he will stop crying and listen to see if we are coming. This lasts from 30-45 min. He also has been waking up at 6, and sometimes getting back to sleep on his own. He will also wake at 12am or 2am and we can't get him back down for a couple hours. I fear we are falling into a bad habit again with rocking him.

Courtney
COURTNEY

Hi, thank you for reaching out. The head-banging can be scary and is often for attention, as you point out, to see if you are coming. I always tell clients to speak to the Dr. about this as I can't provide medical guidance, but some clients have put a bumper on the top of the crib (not near the mattress, as it fits perfects and protects their head.) They also realize when you do this it no longer gets the desired results and they typically stop shortly there after. Bedtime at 7 and naps from 12:30-no later than 3 look good, so that's right aligned for his age.

Have you tried a sticker chart? Rewards charts with kids that age work well. Also, perhaps introducing a new lovie or animal for comfort. Let him pick one out at Target. Then tell him he can take it to bed, but that when he goes to bed tonight, you aren't rocking him and stick to it. You can check on him every few minutes just don't pick him up, watch him from the monitor but he's doing it for the attention knowing he will get rocked. Once he realizes that he won't get rocked, that curbs the behavior. Again, this is one you can speak with the Dr about, as I am not a ped and would never want to put your family in a dangerous area.