When your baby has a hard time going down for her naps or wakes up early from one, try these troubleshooting quick fixes to help her learn how to fall and stay asleep:

#1: Wait 15 minutes before you go in to the nursery.

This is your first and most useful fix to teach your baby how to fall asleep on her own.  Our 15-Minute Rule is based on the idea that even the easiest of babies will predictably cry, whimper, or whine during the 5-20 minutes while they’re transitioning between sleep cycles.  If you rush in, you don’t allow your baby the opportunity to fall back to sleep on her own.  By rushing in, you also prevent your baby from learning the essential skill of self-soothing.  So, set your timer and “hurry up to wait!”

#2: Change your baby’s diaper and re-swaddle her.

If your baby is still crying after the 15-minute mark, go into the nursery, turn on the light, pick her up, change her diaper, and re-swaddle her.  Burping her is also a good idea as sometimes gas could be the issue, especially if she’s waking up close to when you put her down.

#3: Place her back in the crib on her back and gently rub her side.

Gently rub or pat her side or forehead while saying some soothing phrases to her like “It’s nap time”  “It’s okay, Sweetie”  “You’re just falling asleep” and  “I love you very much.”  Do this for about two minutes.

#4:  Check the nursery for anything that might be preventing her from falling to sleep or waking her up.

You want to check that:

– the nursery’s temperature is cool enough (read our Baby Temperatures post)

-the nightlite isn’t too bright

– the volume on her sound machine isn’t set too low

– a pet wasn’t accidentally left in her room

– the nursery is dark enough so buying and installing black-out curtain liners is a must-do!

– sudden, loud noises aren’t waking your baby (like a dog barking outside her window)

#5: Turn on the soother, turn off the lights, and close the door on your way out.

Turn on his crib soother machine (which you should have permanently set to last between 15-18 minutes), turn off the lights (leaving on a low night lite) leave the room, and close the door.  She will most likely continue to cry, but you need to leave at this point.  It’s heartbreaking for you but remember, you’re doing what’s best for your baby – you’re teaching her how to sleep and that is a precious gift!  Give her a few minutes (3-5) to fall back to sleep.  If your baby is still really crying after that time, start the 15-minute timer again and repeat the process – but the second (and/or third) time you go in, do not change her diaper or take her out of the crib.  If you need to re-swaddle her, do it in the crib.  Say soothing phrases to her for a couple of minutes and leave again. Repeat the process up to three times total.  If the third time doesn’t do the trick, feed her early and then catch her up to the schedule gradually during the day.

Related Posts: Baby TemperaturesNursery Organization Must-HavesPPB Schedule Birth-3 WeeksCrib EssentialsSwaddlingBaby’s NightcapWaking Your Baby to FeedThe 15-Minute Rule, Sleeping Milestones, Crib Soothers, Sound Machine Magic, Swaddling, Why Use Our PPB Schedules, How to Become a Practical Parent