Q&A With Elizabeth: Swaddling and Night-Waking

Posted by in No-Cry Sleep

We swaddle our newborn for naps. The problem is that it’s the only way she’ll sleep. When should we ween her from this – and how?
~ Cole, father of newborn Alec

There’s no rush. Some babies love to sleep swaddled up to 6 months or even older! When the time comes to wean from swaddling do it one step at a time, for a week or so at each “phase” – first leave one arm out, then two arms, then legs. (Or for some babies, begin leaving their legs undone first, and then progress to arms.) This gradual approach works better than just stopping the swaddling suddenly. Once you’ve moved past the swaddle try using and armless sleep-sack style sleeper.

Meghan, 15 hours

Meghan, 15 hours

We’ve made peace with the fact our baby wakes up twice a night to feed, and usually ends up in our bed, but I’ve read that if a baby isn’t sleeping through the night in her own bed from early on, it can lead to life-long sleep problems. What’s your opinion on that? ~ Alice, mother to 9-month-old Leta

Wow! If night-waking led to life-long damage 70% of people would suffer – since 70% of children under age 5 need a parent’s help to go back to sleep in the night. So, this one is obviously a myth! My rule is this: if baby is sleeping well, parents are sleeping well, and everyone in the house is happy – then don’t change a thing. Ignore the naysayers and enjoy your baby.

Tucker, 13 months

Tucker, 13 months

For more sleep tips see the new The No-Cry Sleep Solution Enhanced eBook with helpful videos!


  1. My 21 month old will only sleep by me. He sleeps through the night if he is by me and touching me. If I am not there he will wake up after a couple hours. He started sleeping through the night once I gave him water instead of breastfeeding. We have baby number 3 on the way in a month and I need him to stay asleep and not by me or he will be up all night again. The other problem is my husband will not sleep in the same room as him! What can be done?

  2. Do you have resources for converting a child to their own bed? My son has co-slept with us pretty much his whole life. While he does sleep well, he has a few times when he gets restless, snuggles up to me them easily for a back tp sleep. At times he has slept the first portion of the night in his crib, he will not return to his crib after that first wake up.

  3. What’s your advice for getting baby (almost 10 months) to sleep in his crib when room sharing (especially when he still wakes a few times a night). I find that the first time he wakes, (between 9-11), i go to feed him, and then i cant get him back in his crib. He wakes every time i try to put him down. So i eventually give up and he comes into bed with me. The problem is that my husband hasnt really slept in our bed for almost 10 months. I need to get our son sleeping through the night, but i believe he wont until we can move out and he has his own room.

  4. My baby wakes a lot at night- minimum 5 times and he is 6 months old. However my main frustration is that he wakes almost every morning between 4:30-5 and is up for at least 2 hours. It makes for a long day when I also have a toddler! 90% of the time he has a dirty diaper at this time, so I don’t blame him for waking. Any tips?

  5. My 13 mo is teething (4 molars and 2 incisors) and waking up quite frequently at night( sometimes every hour or two). I’m reading through your book now, but is there anything I can do to help this??? Not sure if I just haven’t gotten to the right chapter yet. I’m debating setting up camp on an air mattress In his room since my SO and I bed is too small for three. Just want him to be comfortable and for us both to get more sleep. Napping is anywhere from one starting somewhere between 9-11:30 and another starting anywhere from 3-4. Sometimes it’s 45 minutes, sometimes 1hr 45 minutes… Laundry is pilling up because I’m exhausted and try to nap when he does most of the time. But by the time I fall asleep he’s up! My SO works all day sometimes weekends too in a job that requires good rest so him getting up with baby isn’t an option right now… I thought it was getting better yesterday, but I wanted to take advantage of this Q&A because it may not be over yet! And we’re still nursing since we both enjoy it and I’d love to continue!!! (I posted on Facebook also since I wasn’t sure which site you were checking for questions.) thanks so much!!!

  6. How do I deal with two different bedtimes and naptimes. I have a 2 month old and a 2 year old. The two year old goes to sleep at 8, but ends up waking up at 6 in the morning and it’s very difficult to get her to nap. If she naps, she wakes up early. If she doesn’t nap, she MIGHT sleep a little longer, but sometimes she won’t. Its so confusing, because I either have to deal with waking up too early for my liking – but getting some free time when she naps. Or her waking up a little later and not napping at all. Confused especially since I’m waking up so often at night to feed the newborn! I’m pretty sleep deprived in the morning and that makes me a very cranky mom!

  7. Our 5 month old won’t sleep at night we have just stopped wrapping him as he was getting upset when we did. It hasn’t made a difference. He will only feed to sleep and wakes the minute we lay him in cot during day he ends up in our bed for naps and at 5 am when we give up after 4 + night wakings of an hour a time. Neitjer baby nor parents getting sleep have been told I’m going to cause irreparable damage to his development by not getting him to sleep at night is this true? We have tried everything and it bredks my heart to leave him to cry I just can’t do it.

    • Oh, Natalie! Don’t let those scary people frighten you. If parents could cause irreparable damage from sleep issues then 82% of people would be affected – since that’s the percentage of parents who say that their child has sleep issues that need to e changed! Keep working on your sleep plan – read up on the various gentle sleep solutions and take it one night at a time. Things will improve.

  8. great! I would add that when the baby is trying to roll over from back to front, you definitely want to be making the transition away from swaddling with arms in because if they flipped onto their bellies, it could be dangerous if they can’t push out with their arms to free their heads/faces.

    • That’s right Julie! Thanks for pointing out this important factor.

  9. Our baby girl will stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning before finally wanting to sleep. Then wants to sleep until 2 pm and only waking to feed. Is this normal for baby’s?

    -Angelica, mother to 2 month old Priscilla

    • Hi Angelica – This is so common with newborns that I have a section about this in The No-Cry Sleep Solution – here’s a brief overview:

      A newborn baby sleeps about 16–18 hours per day, and that sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven brief sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.

      Begin by having your baby take his daytime naps in a light room where he can hear the noises of the day, perhaps a bassinet or cradle located in the main area of your home. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet. This means no talking, singing, or lights in the middle of the night. If your home is noisy after baby’s bedtime, use “white noise” to cover up the sounds of the family. “White noise” can be soft background music, the hum of a heater or fan (safety precautions taken), or any other steady sound. You can even purchase small clock/radios with white noise functions (they sound like spring rain or a babbling brook), or cassette tapes with quiet nature sounds or even sounds from the womb.

      You can also help your baby differentiate day naps from night sleep by using a nightly bath and a change into sleeping pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

      Keep your nighttime feedings quiet and mellow. There’s no need to talk or sing to your little one in the middle of the night; save all that for daytime.

  10. My wife and I have your book. Our daughter would wake up every thirty minutes to hour every night. Within a week of getting your book she’s already increased her naps during the day and sleeps for 4-5 hrs straight. The problem is once she wakes up (usually 7 pm to 1 am) she’s back to up every hour. I treat this situation like I’ve treated her from the beginning but it’s like she’s just restless after that. Am I doing something wrong or will it get better with time?

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