Get started: the right solutions for your baby's sleep challenges

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Get started by general topic in option 1, or go straight to more specific topics based on what's happening with your baby right now, i.e. go by what you observe, in option 2. You can come back anytime of course to switch to any other topic or option, so that you can collect all the info you need.

Option 1. By topic: what do you want to work on?

Option 2. By observation: the sleep answer finder

How to use this sleep answer finder / symptom checker:

Select your main sleep challenge below, then head straight to the general advice and specific links suggested for it.

Gold down arrow

The links will point you to the articles on this site that will be most helpful for you right now.

If necessary, the articles in turn will refer you to further articles until you have all the tools and information you need to improve your child's, and your own, sleep.

My baby ...

My solution ...

... needs help falling asleep (nursing, holding, rocking, ...)


Use age-appropriate, gentle & progressive techniques to teach your baby lasting self soothing skills. There is no need for crying it out (CIO).

Start with these basic tips and advice to improve self soothing.

To take it a step further (and faster), follow the steps in my award-winning 3-step self soothing solution. You'll help your baby efficiently to transition away from nursing, bottlefeeding, holding or rocking to sleep; co-sleeping, sleeping on you, sleeping in a swing, etc.: i.e. transition from being helped to sleep in any other way.

... wakes up too many times at night


Find the cause(s) of the frequent wakings, then remedy them.

With the hourly wakings action plan you will go through the list of the 12 most common causes of unnecessary nightly wakings. Most parents find at least one or two culprits that keep their baby from sleeping through for longer. For each cause, you will also find age-appropriate techniques to remedy.

... takes too few or too short naps


Find the best-fitting schedule for your baby's age and needs right now, extend naps and/or work on self soothing at naptime.

For basic information and best-practice tips for naps, read the daytime sleep essentials article.

For faster results, in my award-winning naps guide you will find doable step-by-step instructions to adapt your baby's daily schedule precisely to her needs so that she can truly sleep well for naps.

To keep a daytime sleep diary and learn how to recognize your baby or toddler's sleepy signs, download the Sleepy Signs Journal (printable diary template).

... is teething


Relieve teething pain all day long, not just before bed or at night. Prefer non-medical remedies.

Apply as many of the "natural or homemade" teething remedies as you can.

Important! The only way to minimize sleep problems due to teething is to keep up or re-enforce all basic good habits such as a safe and pleasant sleeping environment, a regular sleep schedule, bedtime routine and self soothing practice - all while being flexible enough to comfort and soothe your baby when in pain.

... still feeds at night but I think she could sleep through the night


Reduce nightly feeds with careful progressive techniques and look into daytime food intake.

First of all though, ensure that you have all the prerequisites for sleeping through the night well in place, and have not slacked with any of them. When trying to reduce night feeds, only tackle one at a time, and do so gradually (no cold turkey as that almost always makes things worse).

Consider doing the complete 3-step sleeping through program, which includes the most efficient and safe ways to increase daytime food intake while gradually reducing night time feeds. You will work thoroughly on self soothing as well.

Remember not to give an extra big feed right before bed: in stead of avoiding night feeds, this leads to restless and unhealthy sleep.

... wakes up very early in the morning


Ensure a well-timed bedtime, good naps and encourage longer nights with age-appropriate techniques.

Improving naps and in particular a well-adjusted sleep schedule are important to get better and longer nights.

For starters to help extend the night: treat the early waking as a night waking (remain in bedroom, no lights on, no activity, etc. even if not sleeping) and/or gradually delay breakfast if appropriate (don't do this if your baby is too young or her health condition does not allow to go without food for long!).

Nearing toddler hood, a toddler alarm clock is the most effective way to extend the night. A sticker reward chart is a great help too.

... only sleeps on me / in my bed / when held or in a swing / stroller / car seat


Progressively wean toward more sleep independence with effective self soothing practice.

At moments when nothing else works (baby still very young, sick or or otherwise uncomfortable) this is fine for a while. Do start self soothing practice as soon as you are both up to it though.

With its effective 3-step program, my award-winning self soothing guide shows you the necessary must-do's and gives you the specific no-tears techniques to wean from each of these habits.

... cries and I don't know why


Carefully check for each of these possibilities, even if symptoms are not 100% clear:





Uncomfortable lying down: this may be caused by a stuck nerve or bone for which an osteopathy treatment is an option

Food intolerances and/or allergies: if you suspect this: contact your pediatrician or contact me to discuss options.

... cries as soon as I leave the room


Find the cause, remedy if possible and progressively re-install baby's confidence.

Your baby or toddler may be going through a phase of separation anxiety, which you can overcome best by striking a balance between gentle reassuring and positive encouragement towards independence.

Combine with self soothing practice and the hourly wakings action plan as necessary.

Also, ensure that the bedroom is not too dark (use a good night light), and that you have a pleasant and reassuring bedtime routine in place.

None of the above


There is still help for you here - your baby or toddler is just not having one of the top most common sleep issues.

Depending on your preference, you can either:

1. Browse the FAQs to read advice that I have previously given to parents with similar symptoms

2. Search this site for easy referral to articles that fit your baby's issue

3. Contact me for private 1:1 counseling so that I can advise and guide you in your specific situation right now