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When Should Babies Learn to Fall Asleep on Their Own?

By caseymullins |

So, it’s 4pm on Saturday, what are you doing? Me? Oh, nothing much. Just listening to my baby grunt. Although pretty soon her grunts may turn into an all out scream fest. You see, grunty baby needs to take a nap and over the last 9 weeks of her life I have noticed a pattern, grunty baby falls asleep right around 4 pm.

So we’re trying something a little different today. I fed her, I changed her, I burped her, I told her the story about the hickey on my neck (one I won’t be sharing with you) and I placed her in her bed. What she doesn’t know is that I’m 15 feet away listening to her exhausted chorus of grunts, squeaks, cries and babbles.

Baby is tired.

I feel like we’re sort of settling into a pattern, I don’t really want to call it a schedule because that little baby over there is the one deciding when everything is allowed to happen according to her little baby will. But it seems as though certain things are happening at the same time each day.

Bone dead sobbing tired? 4pm.

What I’m hoping is that the noises that are coming from her bed will slow down into sleepy little snores, not turn into a shouting match of Vivi vs. The Nap.

I know there are some people (my husband) who cannot let a baby cry. He will rock her until she is fast asleep and then practically ice skate across the carpet and set her in her crib a millimeter at a time so as not to wake her. And if she falls asleep on him while he’s sitting on the couch? Forget it. He’s not going anywhere. I’m pretty sure he’d pee in a bottle before putting a sleeping Vivi down.

I however require both arms at certain points during the day and some things can’t be done while wearing a baby (although I am sure there are those who will happily disagree with me as they perform light engine work while wearing their baby.) So at some point Vivi is going to need to learn to fall asleep on her own in somewhere other than my arms. (Even though the truth is I’d happily hold a sleeping baby all day everyday.)

Buuut, today is not that day. What can I say? She’s really cute, my will is weak and I love holding a tiny sleeping baby. I’m sure she’ll learn to fall asleep on her own by college.

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About caseymullins



Casey Mullins is a writer, photographer, and nice person living in Indianapolis with her two little girls, husband, and a one eyed cat. She writes regularly at her personal blog moosh in indy and can be found trolling local bakeries and napping whenever possible. Read bio and latest posts → Read Casey's latest posts →

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13 thoughts on “When Should Babies Learn to Fall Asleep on Their Own?

  1. Meagan says:

    My pediatrician says 2 months… but that sounds young to me. My one suggestion would be to maybe try putting her down for a nap at 3:30 instead of 4? Everything I’ve READ says they sleep better if they aren’t already exhausted. So far that’s all theoretical literature for me though… my babe won’t sleep without being nursed to sleep… the biggest no-no of all. :-)

  2. Andrea says:

    We started acclimating Max to his crib at around four weeks, just laying him in the crib while he was awake so that he could get used to it, and then around two months we would start putting him down awake but with leaden eyelids, and then very, very gradually we would start putting him down more and more awake, until by about six months old, we could put him down after a story and a hug and kiss while he was ready for bed, but still awake, and he would put himself to sleep.

  3. Ami says:

    My pediatrician suggested six months if I wanted to employ the ‘cry it out’ method. It worked well for my two oldest and another child I babysat. However, when I got to my youngest, no amount of ‘crying it out’ would work. So I say go by your gut and what seems to work for your child. And I never saw a college kid that couldn’t put themself to sleep.

  4. Danielle says:

    We put our baby down asleep almost all the time until she was between 5-6 months old. At that point, she started going to bed awake and falling asleep on her own. We are not cry-it-out people, we let her fuss for up to 10 minutes and then I would go in. Eventually, she figured it out.

  5. Jessica says:

    I always rocked and soothed my baby for sleep, but set her down drowsy but awake. I’ve done it this way since day 1 so I’ve never had to make her cry it out it learn to fall asleep on her own, she just doesn’t know any other way. It has worked for me!

  6. Kelly says:

    I’m well past these days, but we never let our kids cry it out. I just did what I had to do to make naptime happen. Usually that meant diaper change, nursing and rocking until they fell asleep. I can’t stand it when my babies cry, or really any baby for that matter!

  7. Krista says:

    Yeah, I don’t know. My baby is 4.5 months old and sometimes he does put himself to sleep, sometimes not. I think we’re getting dangerously close to that time when he HAS to learn to do it because by not putting himself to sleep his naps only last about 30 minutes. Therefore he’s never really rested and I’m spending all day trying to soothe him to sleep. And frankly, that’s not fun for me. Or good for him. But I remember the days of sitting outside his sister’s room listening to the cries and oooohhhh boy, do they suck.

  8. Jenn says:

    babies are only babies for a short time. when you have a 9 and 13 yr old and a 2 yr old, you start to realize that rocking a baby to sleep is only a limited time offer! I rocked all my babies then laid them down, I absolutely love doing it, and Ive come to realize one day, there will be no baby to rock :(

  9. Candace says:

    It seems like 4 months has been the “magic” age where my babies have been ready to go to sleep on their own. I watch them closely and at the first sign of sleepiness (that glazed over look, maybe a yawn) I start our little naptime routine (diaper change, book, maybe a little nursing/bottle feeding session or binky rocking time to get them a little more drowsy but not asleep then lay them down and keep my hand on them for a few seconds then walk out. I let them fuss up to 20 minutes then check for poops or spit up and try again. If it’s getting too stressful we bag it for that nap and get them to sleep however possible and try for the next one.

  10. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) says:

    ay yi yi… I went back and forth on this. Like you trying to get them to sleep on their own and then giving up and snuggling them to sleep.
    At this point my daughter is almost 4 and I still lie down w her every night to get her to go to sleep. but I oh so love those snuggles and I know they will be over so VERY soon.

  11. Katie says:

    I wondered the same thing (since it was 4 years between babes). I read several places that 6 mos is an ideal time b/c baby isn’t at the crazy separation anxiety stage yet and physically old enough to not need a nighttime feeding. Good luck though. All babes are different. :)

  12. Lis says:

    Most babies don’t have the ability to self-soothe until 4 months old. Some newborns are able to self soothe and get to sleep on their own but most can’t. It’s not really recommded to do sleep training until after that point in time. (that’s why sleep books don’t talk about sleep grainy until after 4 months old) We didn’t do formal sleep training which was a very modified cry it out until 5 months old when we thought he was ready. Before that we definetly sure to only go to him when it was hunger and not a night waking so we weren’t reinforcing bad sleep habits.

  13. Jessica says:

    my 9 month old had to be nursed to sleep up until this point. in the last week or so she has woken up and put her self back to sleep twice (thats a first!) without nursing. I am hoping this means she will start to fall asleep on her own sometime in the near future. but i am not going to rush it. im sure she will when she is ready and comfortable. and until then i am going to do what i am comfortable with and that is nursing her to sleep. even though my pediatrician says to let her cry it out, even if she cries for over 3 hours, no thanks…

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