Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
January 11, 2022

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
Chapter 1 (only 16 pages!) outlines everything you need to know about your child's sleep.

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A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

I would appreciate your comments or answers to some questions. Please write in the ‘Comments’ section in any Blog Post



Blog Questions

Please Help

  1. Are there new topics you would like me to discuss?
  2. Would you like more information about old topics?
  3. Has your child benefited from only small amounts of additional sleep (Blog Post 6)? 
  4. Has your child benefited from an early or earlier bedtime (Blog Post 7)? 
  5. Have you made a video of child transitioning from an alert-awake state to a drowsy state to a sleep state (Blog Post 9)?  If you do this, you might be able to see more clearly the development of specific drowsy signs in your child to get a better handle on when to begin soothing to sleep.  Perhaps this would be a week-end project as it might involve two people. Consider posting your video online and include a link in the Comments section for this Blog.  Any observations or comments from you would also be welcome. There is no video online showing this transition!  So, the first posted link will be making internet history.  Sharing your video online offers the opportunity for other parents to sharpen their focus on their own child’s drowsy signs. Also, perhaps, I will notice items that I would share with viewers.
  6. Have you tried Fading or Check and Console (Blog post 19)
  7. Have you tried Graduated Extinction or Extinction (Blog Post 25)? 
  8. What is “colic” called in your country? How do you deal with it (Blog Posts 43 and 44)? 
  9. Did improving your child’s sleep help your marriage? 


  1. My biggest question is how to work with a big sleep debt. Our baby seems so overtired that nothing we do works. We try to put her to be early (5:30) drowsy but awake but she starts screaming the moment we put her down and won’t fall asleep until 7 or 7:30. She’ll stay in her crib all night, but she wakes up crying and doesn’t seem well rested.

    I try to watch for her drowsy signs but I feel like I notice something for a moment and then she’s back to playing like normal and then all of a sudden she’s fatigued and screaming. When she finally gets to sleep for her nap, she’ll only nap for a half hour.

    We must be doing something wrong because ever since we started extinction she’s just slowing accumulating a bigger and bigger sleep debt.

    1. How old is your child? How does she appear and behave around 4:00-4:30PM? Please describe her sleep during the day.

  2. She is just over 8 months. She wasn’t colicky per se, but she had a lot of tummy troubles until about 3.5-4 months and was thus a fairly fussy and uncomfortable baby until then.

    Around 4-4:30 she seems very tired. Last night we put her to bed at 4:45 and she cried for about 45 minutes and eventually fell asleep at 6. She woke up at 6 crying but was fairly happy after being fed.

    1. Please read Blog Posts 43 (Infant Colic) and 44 (Post-colic Sleep problems) and the cited Blog Posts and share your thoughts with me.

  3. She is 8 months old. She wasn’t colicky per se when she was younger, but she had a tongue tie that made it hard for her to eat until 6 weeks and she had a milk protein sensitivity that caused tummy problems until she was about 4 months. So she was a pretty fussy/uncomfortable baby for the first few months.

    Around 4pm she’s definitely having a witching hour. Last night we put her to bed at 4:45 and she cried for about 45 minutes and then played in her crib by herself until she fell asleep at 6. She woke up at 6am and didn’t seem to move around in her crib as much as she had been overnight.

    Before we started sleep training she would nap 3-4 times a day. She had to be very deeply asleep and then we would gingerly place her in her crib and pray she doesn’t wake up. We definitely did the thing you’re not supposed to do and gave her a late nap around 5 and then got her up until we went to be around 9.

    In the week that we’ve been doing extinction, she’s usually been attempting 3 naps. The first one is absolutely no more than 90 minutes after she wakes up. If I (mom) put her down she’ll cry for an hour and then maybe pass out for about 45 minutes. If dad puts her down she’ll cry for a few minutes and then play by herself until she falls asleep. Usually for 35-45 minutes. (Though this morning has been really good so far!). Then she’s usually ready for another nap by 11 and again at 2. Those are always questionable. By 4/5 it seems like she’s exhausted and we’re frazzled and unsure what to do. It’s hard to describe her daytime sleep as anything other than erratic, unpredictable, and a big struggle.

  4. Sorry, I didn’t see that my last comment went through!

    “Two or more months of crying sometimes adversely and permanently shapes parenting styles. An inconsolable infant might trigger in some parents a perception that their baby’s behavior is out of their control. They observe no obvious benefit to their young colicky infant when they try to be regular according to clock times or to be consistent in bedtime routines. Naturally, but falsely, they then assume that this handling will not help their post-colic child, either. Unfortunately, they do not observe the transition, at around 2–4 months, from colicky crying to fatigue-driven (sleep-deprivation) crying.”

    This sounds like me. Although we’ve never really been consistent with schedule or routine.

    1. At 8 months of age, for the post-colic child, your attempt is to simultaneously strive for a temporary super-early bedtime based on drowsy signs, feed her at night if hungry but otherwise give less attention at night (choose any sleep solution you are comfortable with) and schedule 2 naps (mid-morning and mid-day). The super-early bedtime will produce better quality night sleep which will produce better naps which will eventually lead to a somewhat latter bedtime. Details regarding this plan are described in my book. Sweet dreams, DrW.

  5. I have confusion on how to know if a newborn or infant is showing signs of self-soothing? How does a parent know if progress is being made in teaching self-soothing in the early weeks if the child doesn’t yet fall asleep independently. Thank you!

    1. Please be more specific in what you are observing and what are your concerns. More details might allow me to help you.

  6. Yes, absolutely. So, if I rock my baby in my arms to soothe to a drowsy state and she is calm and I sit down and stop rocking and she falls asleep, is that some evidence of early self soothing even though she is still in my arms? Or is it only if I put her down drowsy but awake and she falls asleep independent of my physical touch? Or is self soothing more of a physical action, like sucking on her thumb to soothe?

  7. I have a 15 week old baby who has just never slept well. It’s probably right to categorize him as a post-colic baby. Our biggest problem is night wakings, every 1-2.5 hours. We try to sooth for a while before nursing, but especially in the first half of the night, he will cry every time his back hits the bassinet if he hasn’t been fed. We may be in a four month sleep regression but hard to know since we’ve never had much progression….

    His bedtime right now is 8-8:30. I hear your advice about an early bedtime, but if I move it up 30 minutes or an hour I start getting false starts, and if I move it up to 5:30-6:00 he just treats it like a nap. Is there an implementation trick i am missing? Or should I just push through that?

    He always wakes up at 11/11:30 after about 3 hours of sleep. I’ve tried to let him cry a bit, to do pick up, put down to extend it and not nurse until after midnight, but that doesn’t seem to be changing his pattern, just denying us all an hour of sleep. How do I get the first long stretch everyone else seems to get? Is this attempt to have him hold out longer a strategy or just denying a tired baby more sleep.

    (FYI – he usually does four naps a day that are 35 minutes long, but I’ll try and extend one of them to 90 minutes by holding him)

    1. Sleep regressions are bogus.
      The bedtime is too late. Please read the Chapter on Sleep Solutions, pick a solution that you are comfortable with, and I will advise your.

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