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Getting Babies to Sleep

Getting Babies to Sleep

As soon as the sun starts setting, my heart sinks a little. With the setting sun comes night and with night comes “bedtime” for Zoe. “Bedtime” for Zoe is not what it is for most of us – for her, it is the six hour time block where she will be inconsolable, cry incessantly and, when not crying, stare at us like she is ready to party.

Tactics for Getting a Baby to Sleep

We have tried a handful of techniques and have only come across two that *somewhat* work:

The first is to drive her around the block until she falls asleep. After a few minutes of screaming, she eventually eases into slumber but we then run into the problem of having to remove her from the car seat and put her in her crib without her waking up. One night I actually laid down on her bedroom floor and stared at her for two straight hours while she slept in the car seat to make sure she was breathing. I did not dare touch her and figured that sacrificing my sanity was what needed to be done in order for her to get some sleep and be happy.

The second is to wear my baby carrier so that she is up against my skin. The minute I get her into the carrier, she is out cold – she enjoys being close to me and hearing my heartbeat. Again, the problem is when I need to get her out of the carrier and into her crib. I don’t mind wearing the carrier during the day so she can nap between feedings but at night, that is not possible. It takes me about 30 minutes to get her out of the carrier because I go so slowly, all-the-while praying she doesn’t wake up.

Each night is when I repeat my good, better, best mantra as we try the long list of techniques to get her to sleep. First we sway, then shush, and then swaddle. We try the swing, the vibrating chair, nursery rhymes, books, and bouncing. Sometimes we will come across one that works and are relieved to get some shut eye. When none of those work, it’s on to the car and carrier.

My body has slowly gotten used to running on 3-5 hours of sleep a night but it is not ideal. My brain is not functioning as it used to and I will admit that I have found my car keys in the fridge, left a bag of groceries in my trunk and can be incoherent at times when trying to talk. Our doctor and friends say it is a phase and she will soon grow out of it. Please, please, p-l-e-a-s-e don’t let teething be the next phase.

Have you encountered a similar predicament? If so, what has worked for you?



  1. meeshie October 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I breast feed so I co-slept for the first four months. It was easier on all of us. At four months we transitioned him into his crib. It was rough for about three days and then it was fine. (Did the Ferber technique for falling asleep but picked up him and breast fed him every time he woke up no matter how often)

    He’s six months now and he sleeps through the night about 70% of the time.

  2. Ann October 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    We transitioned our son from the bassinet in our bedroom to his room and his crib at three months. At the exact same time we started sleep training him. We wanted him to associate this new sleep routine with his crib from the very beginning. I had read one book on sleep training called “On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep”, and then promptly threw all its teachings out the window. My husband and I just ended up doing what our pediatrician recommended, which was simply 1) set bedtime to be 12 hours from when you want the baby to wake up, 2) start a bedtime ritual that is no longer than 5-7 minutes and consistently follow it, and 3) place the baby in his crib, shut the door, and then don’t open it again until the morning. Of course, number three is easier said than done, and can only be fully executed within reason. Our pediatrician said that it takes on average about seven days for a child to begin to adjust to putting themselves to sleep, and I think that is correct. It took about that many days before our son didn’t cry so much. But almost from the beginning, after he cried himself out, he was then out until morning (except for during growth spurts when he would wake up hungry in the middle of the night, and of course those darn teeth). Our son does cry every night when he is put down and he is 20 months now. Although he cries rarely longer than 20 minutes and then usually falls into a deep sleep. We just figure that he needs the stress release of a good cry before he can relax into sleep.

  3. Lisa October 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Oh Jessie – I remember this all so well. I read every book, and tried every possible trick. In a way you’re lucky that using the baby carrier works…my daughter just squirmed and never wanted to be held chest to chest. We happened to have a VERY sensitive teether – so the sleepness nights went on for 18 months, and the only “trick” that worked was finally getting all of those teeth in. Whether you can get the baby to sleep is a little luck of the draw – but, how you manage your own health and wellness is more in your control. Try to rest, don’t be hard on yourself, and who the heck cares if you keep your keys in the fridge. Be kind to yourself and accepting that there is no “right way” to do it!

  4. Sarah October 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    The other readers had great thoughts. The only other thought I had was have you tried white noise? (CD easier than the shushing) The White Noise seems to remind babies of the noisy womb. Hair Dryers and vacuums can work too if you want to try it out before you get a CD. Hang in there. It will get easier.

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  7. GabbyLAmom September 29, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I bought a Zipadee-Zip swaddle for our little guy. He was right at the point to where he’d break out of his swaddle multiple times during the night, but had trouble falling asleep without it. The Zippy seemed to help him not flail around so much, and I really like that it keeps his hands covered- keeps them warm, and he likes to chew on the sleeves, haha. He slept amazingly well in it the first night. It also holds up really well as I have washed and dried ours a bunch of times. I bought a small for our 5 month old- he is 18lbs and 28 inches- as the company says to go a size smaller. I thought he would need a medium but small fit him well as its supposed to be snug.

  8. Tiffany October 31, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Our daughter REFUSED to sleep without the swaddle and we tried every trick in the book. She just hated having her arms free and would scratch herself to bits. I finally tried the Zipadee-Zip and was super skeptical that it would even work since literally nothing else had and to my utter shock, she slept 12 hours the first night in it! Crazy! I guess the resistance in the arm span is what gives her the feeling of being swaddled and soothes her startle reflex but the star shape gives her the ability to push up and roll over. She couldn’t safely roll in the swaddle and when she’d break free, I’d find the loose fabric over her face which terrified me! The Zipadee-Zip ( is where I found it) gave her the security to be able to sleep swaddle free which means I SLEPT TOO!!! Thank goodness for this thing!

  9. GabbyLAmom July 6, 2015 at 12:54 am

    These are great tips! Personally, I highly suggest the Zipadee-Zip sleep sack when a child is over 3 months old. It contains the whole baby but allows them to have full freedom of movement. I have seen on their site that they have sizes for up 24months and most babies can even wear them until 2.5 years old. Not only does it prevent a baby from climbing out of the crib but it also helps keep a little one in their new big girl/boy bed when it’s time to make the move to that as well. Check it out!

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