Whole Parenting Family

slleeepppp my baby

sleep help baby

I have written so many posts on sleep. Why? Because it’s what we all dream about as moms, right? Dream // dread // fear // desiresodeeply.

Sleep sampler // infant -12 months

Toddler sleep & big boy wakes

Ousting the co-sleeper (sorta)

Why co-sleep?

Toddler sleep night trouble

12 steps to recovering your humanity when you’re a wreck

When to stop night nursing

When your infant screams and screams and you do too

to name a few.

Generally, we’re in the attachment parenting group. We follow Dr. Sears on most things. We don’t do cry it out with babies. Once our kiddos hit 12 months, we night wean and gently work on letting them cry for  a few minutes alone before comforting them, then letting them cry a little again. You’re thinking:


infant sleep help

Combined with:


And I can only laugh and agree I’m crazy. And yet, somehow, it has worked so far for our family. My big kids screamfightplay if I’m nursing the baby down for his nap. They don’t get screen time because I’m (crazy) and (not nice) not a huge fan. They learn to deal with each other and are old enough to be left unsupervised a room away from me for a little while. They learn to negotiate, freak out, and come and bother me 53 times and be told again and again to work it out.

infant sleep help

I follow the same basic pattern with my babies for sleep that doesn’t involve sleep training. My kiddos are good nappers and good at night, eventually. This system works for me with babies–it might not for you. My $.02, as it were.

1) Wear babies in a carrier.

They fall asleep! It’s so great! It’s like I’m magically rocking them down while nursing but I don’t have to stop what I’m doing! Up til 6 months or so, my babies don’t seem to care where they pass out, nursing–loud, soft, dark, light, whatever.

I love my Sakura Bloom ring sling and my Ergo. Those are the only two I own/need/i-want-all-the-carriers-but-can’t-justify-buying-more.

2) Watch for tired signs.

Rubbing eyes? Cranky? Rooting to nurse/be bottle fed? The typical pattern for the first 6 months is three naps a day, 9, 1, 4 or 5. Naps range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, right? They’re usually awake for about 2 hours before they want to sleep/eat again.

3) Intercept before meltdown.

I may hurry the big kids upstairs so they can screamfightplay in their rooms before they’re quite ready to come up. Too bad. The baby needs to sleep and if I don’t start nursing him down now laying in bed together, he will either need to be in the carrier (see number 1) and go down there, or start screaming. Pick a location and go for it.

4) Nurse them to sleep.

If you have one child, you’re probably desperate for sleep advice and have searched the internet and all sleep books. All the advice is contradicting. All the advice says if you don’t follow it, you will forever more screw up your baby’s brain. I nurse my babies to sleep and might even sneak in a quick burp before they totally pass out.

So nurse.


Nurse again.



I promise you will figure out what works for you & baby. Being an informed parent is important, but ultimately, you gotta do what you gotta do (in the realm of loving, tender parenting, of course).

The reasons I nurse to sleep are because they love it; they get a great feeding in; they pass out from a fully milk belly. They are not crying. They are satisfied. And nursing releases happy hormones in my brain. Counteracts the screamfightplaying noises.

5) Lay with them or rock them while nursing.

Another highly controversial idea. Movement to fall asleep or no? Will your baby be forever more dependent on it?

My question: does it work? If yes, do it. If no, do something else. I side nurse BabyLoves. I rocked & nurse the older two. Both methods worked: sleeping baby = success.

If they’re fighting sleep badly, I might pack everyone up and go for a walk. That motion puts even the most hard core non-sleeper to sleep.

6) Low expectations for the day.

When you have a tiny baby, they nurse and poop and spit up and fuss. It happens all the day long until someone comes along to relieve you of your duties. When you go back to work, they still do the same thing. When you stay home with them, ditto. I have very low expectations when I have a nursling baby who needs to constantly eat and sleep and be held.

Dishes? Nope. Dinner made? Maybe. House tidied up? Maybe. Kids alive? Yes.

It’s hard. You just want them to go to sleep so you can finally shower. Or finally respond to emails. Or finally get your work done. Or just not be holding/nursing/listening to crying all the time. Sadly, or happily, this is my stay-at-home-mommy-blogger life. It revolves around happy sleeping baby.

The bigger kids? Oh, they protest nap all the time. Ha!


Helpful? Remotely? I hope. Many many of my friends do cry-it-out or a modification thereof. I’m not passing judgment here; I’m simply sharing what’s helped me survive three kids without screen time and with lots of napping and without baby crying. BabyLoves is an easy keeper–but I really credit wearing him, nursing on demand, and this approach to sleeping (and no acid reflux, thank GOD) to him being so easy and generally happy.

infant sleep help


  1. Lauren on October 9, 2014 at 2:37 am

    I think it’s all about what you’re comfortable with and what your baby will accept. We didn’t do cry it out until recently (13 mo, I know she’s totally okay because I close the door and haven’t even turned the corner before she’s stopped), but my kiddo is a pretty good sleeper. I put her down to sleep sleepy, but awake, wore her constantly, nursed on demand, but rarely nursed her to sleep. The two things that really resonated: following your baby’s cues, and low expectations for the day. Funny, but so true.

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 10, 2014 at 8:14 am

      As they get older, they’re totally fine! And you’re so right–you know your baby best!

  2. Laurel on October 9, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I think it is funny, too, once you’ve had more than one to find out what is “normal” in terms of helping them sleep. Each one needs different things. My oldest wouldn’t go to sleep without nursing, initially or after waking up in the night, until she was about 9-10 months old and I put my foot down a bit. My youngest likes to nurse to calm her for sleep, but she doesn’t usually fall asleep entirely until I put her down. (Makes it a little easier than those who have to be fully asleep first and then you have to v.e.r.y. c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y. put them down or risk needing to start the whole routine over again.) We’re kind of the same Dr. Sears followers camp as you guys, but we take each according to her needs. I’m really learning, though, that reading their sleepiness cues is so fundamental to getting them down more easily.

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 10, 2014 at 8:14 am

      Oh my gosh yes. Every child is so different and just figuring out what works for you & them is crucial!!

  3. Amanda on October 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Haha, I’ve written about sleep so. many. time! My oldest rarely nursed to sleep. He loved to nurse, but we rocked/carried him in a sling and then put him down. He was my rockstar sleeper and still mostly is. Baby numero dos and I had a really rocky nursing start (didn’t calm into a good place till 4 months) and nursing to sleep is how it all happened because the boy hated sleep (well not really but it just wasn’t happening naturally). Now, here I am in completely uncharted territory at 20 months. He still nurses to sleep for naps and nighttime and will nurse randomly during the night. The only reason it has gone on as long as it has is because I got hit with back problems back in May and this is the only way I can help/assist him to sleep (picking up, carrying, putting down, rocking – can’t do right now). So, God be with us in these next months and prayerfully the boy will wean into a beautiful sleeper? maybe? *not holding my breath*

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 10, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Back problems are THE WORST when you’ve got a baby. It’s like, really God? Please no!!! I will hold my breath for you that your baby weans into a beautiful sleeper!!!

  4. Colleen on October 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Love your blog! And I’m a baby sleep topic junkie!

    Anyways…I currently have a four month old and a two year old. I still nurse my four month old to sleep but would love to know how you did it with two babies and didn’t have to resort to turning on a show for the toddler? Right now when the littlest needs a nap I will put on a Netflix show on the laptop in the room next door but would love suggestions for not resorting to this! I’ve tried without and she always comes in loud and needing something and the baby wakes up…

    Also…I am a little worried when she gets older she might fall off the bed. Never happened with the first but how did you handle that possibility?