"Ask Me Anything" about Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night with Dr. Natalie Barnett

Melanie Nanit Team
edited August 3 in Sleep Training

The AMA will begin on August 9th at 9 am ET through August 13th at 11:59 PM ET. The thread will open when the AMA begins.

Ask Dr. Natalie Barnett Anything about getting your baby to sleep through the night.

Dr. Natalie Barnett serves as Director of Clinical Research at Nanit. In her role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world which use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep. Prior to joining Nanit, Natalie was Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia. She is able to apply her scientific knowledge to everyday sleep problems and enjoys nothing more than giving families the gift of sleep.

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  • Melanie
    Melanie Nanit Team

    The AMA with @Natalie_Barnett_PhD is now live! Ask your questions about getting your baby to sleep through the night below now through Friday, August 13th.

  • Isalis
    Isalis Member

    Hi! My daughter is almost 12 months, she os already weaned off breastfeeding, sleeps in her crib although we still practice cosleeping as recommended. She has no issues falling asleep but still wakes up at least every 4 hours and drinks between 4-6 ozs of milk. She is already on solids and eats pretty well!

  • Bryony
    Bryony Member


    My 3 month old baby girl sleeps fairly well in the first part of the night (about 10pm-2.30am) but after I breastfeed her and put her back down, she kicks and groans every 15-60 minutes until she gets up at about 5.20, her eyes stay closed though. Do you know why this might be and if there’s anything we can do to help her have a more settled second sleep?

    Many thanks,


  • Our 14month old has always has finicky sleep patterns - he would randomly sleep through the night in two week stretches and then suddenly stop. But he hasn't slept through the night since turning one. We've recently been trying to wean him off the bottle and night feeds with no luck. His bedtime routine is bath, bottle, play, PJs, books & rock to sleep. He wakes every 2 - 6hours. The first waking he can usually be soothed back to sleep but by 3am he'll wake and scream until we give in with a large bottle (8oz or more). We've tried CIO (he'll scream for over an hour nonstop) and gentler methods but nothing seems to work except giving him a bottle. Aside from this obviously not helping him to actually sleep through the night his pediatrician seems to think some of his stomach issues (constant bouts of diarrhea) stem from the large amount of milk he's drinking overnight. We've also tried slowly watering down his milk but that hasn't worked either. He eats well during the day so he shouldn't be waking up so hungry that he acts likes he's starved. He's on soy milk due to milk sensitivity and he's pretty small (16th percentile). We're desperate to get some sleep and to have his stomach issues resolved. Any tips or ideas would be much appreciated!

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @Isalis Most babies are capable of going through the night without a feed at this age. If you are wanting to cut down the night feeds, you can try ramping up her feedings during the day as a first step. Take a look at our Sleep Schedule Generator and try to feed her around the times suggested there. The next step might be to gradually cut down on the amount you give her in each bottle when she wakes.

    An important thing to remember is that what she needs to fall asleep at the beginning of the night will be what she needs to get herself back to sleep when she wakes in the middle of the night. If she is falling asleep at the bottle, that might be the reason she's needing the bottle to get back to sleep.

    Id love you to try having her fall asleep by herself in the crib at the beginning of the night. Once she can do that, it should be much easier for her to get back to sleep when she wakes.

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @Bryony This is REALLY normal. Most babies are in a very deep sleep for the first few hours of the night and then after their first transition into REM sleep they can cycle in and out of light and deep sleep throughout the night, leading to more wake ups and a lot more movement (and grunting!) in many babies. There is nothing you need to do, she is doing exactly what I would expect her to do!

    That 5.20am wake up is likely still part of the night. I'd suggest a quick feed and then pop her back down to sleep for another hour or two!

  • KMGould_0302
    KMGould_0302 Member
    edited August 10


    My five month old screams out multiple times through the night. Most nights she wants her soother and goes right back to sleep without any other interaction.

    Any ideas how to help her self sooth herself back to sleep ? She puts herself to sleep for naps and nighttime sleep (with the soother)

  • Mary_Jiang
    Mary_Jiang Member
    edited August 10


    I have a 5 months old who is fabulous at falling asleep independently in his own crib (since about 4 months). His first stretch at night can be 6-8 hours long. I usually feed him at that time and put him back for a few more hours. However, for the last 1.5 weeks, after he feeds, he stays awake for 1.5hrs (sometimes up to 2hr!) He isn't in distress and mostly just coos or rolls around. After he does fall back asleep, he wakes up around 7-8am (infrequently 8:30). Because of this middle of the night waking, his totally night sleep is only 9-10 hours.

    He has 3 naps during the day, falls asleep independently - takes anytime from 10-20 min (sometimes longer, but I can't seem to find a pattern). Total naps time is usually 4-4.5 hours, and I often have to wake him up from his second (after 1.5hr) and third nap (after 45-60min) to make a reasonable bedtime.

    My questions are:

    • what would you recommend in terms of the middle of the night wakings?
    • I know he's only 5 months (6 month as of Sept 4), but could this be a sign of 3-2 nap transition?

    Thank you so much!


  • Leigh
    Leigh Member


    my almost 11 m/o apparently had forgotten how to sleep through the night, and how to fall asleep on her own.

    there’s been developmental leaps and teething over the course of a few months, but we’ve totally derailed from what used to be a good sleeper.

    her most common problem is waking in the night after 5 or 6 hours. She’s not fully crying, but crying out and/or whining. If she’s not fully awake, she will be eventually with her own noise. I’ve unfortunately become her crutch, and most times I can get her back to sleep quickly. But even then she may wake up again in an hour or two, and then she wants to be awake for 2 hours just babbling and rolling around in my arms.

    everytime I put her down to try and sleep on her own she cries, even at nap time (she takes two, around 2.5-3hrs total a day pretty consistently)

    weve tried most methods of sleep training with no success.

    any input would be great!



  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @KMGould_0302 The most important thing is for her to fall asleep at the beginning of the night without the soother. Once she can do that, it will be far easier for her to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. What I want you to remember is that what she needs at the beginning of the night to fall asleep will be what she needs to get back to sleep the times she wakes during the night (all babies wake up during the night). Its frustrating for her to need something that she cant get, and you are hearing that frustration when she wakes. If she can learn to fall asleep by herself in the crib at the beginning of the night, you will eliminate those middle of the night call-outs really quickly!

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    Hey @Mary_Jiang ! It sounds like you are doing an amazing job! Hes falling asleep unassisted at the beginning of the night, which is huge! I dont think he's quite ready to transition to two naps and its really normal to be up and moving around and cooing in the middle of the night. There is a huge range of 'normal' for total sleep time and I wouldnt be worried about him being awake for a long stretch if he is happy in the crib. We also know that reaching milestones can disrupt sleep, so it could be something that is short-lived and resolves itself in a week or so. As long as he's happy in the crib I wouldn't disturb him in the middle of the night after that feed - it sounds like he is great at self-soothing (way to go Mom!), so you shouldnt need to do anything to get him back to sleep.

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @kylies335 I'd love to see those night feeds cut down if we can. As I'm sure you know, the key to doing that will be having him fall asleep by himself at the beginning of the night. If you've tried CIO, Ill give you a few pointers to encourage you to try sleep training again!

    1. Get him ready during the day by ensuring he has eaten well and is very full, I want every feed to be a good big feed during the day.
    2. Make sure he gets as much exercise as possible that day, I want him physically tired out which can make it easier for him to fall asleep (like you would feel if you've been for a 15k run that day!).
    3. I also want him awake for at least 5 hours before bedtime.
    4. Do the last feed of the day in the living room with the lights on so hes not falling asleep at the bottle and then have a short book after the bottle so there is something between the bottle and going into the crib.

    Nature will take over and this baby WILL fall asleep (it might just take some time). Whatever method you choose (CIO, Ferber, Chair Method) I'd love you to commit to doing it for at least three days. I'd also suggest that you make the room as dark as possible, use a white noise machine and make sure the room is a comfortable temperature for sleep.

    When he wakes during the night, you have several options - you can give him the opportunity to get back to sleep, you can give him a set amount of time to try to get back to sleep (say 10 mins, after which you go in and feed him) or you can gradually cut down the amount you are feeding him and/or start to dilute the milk with water.

    Good luck!

  • mdynan
    mdynan Member


    I'd love to get your thoughts on the dream feed. My baby is nearly 6 months old, and his sleep patterns have started to become more consistent and predictable. We have him to the point where he can easily fall asleep on his own in the crib, and he's pretty great at self soothing for night wakings. He goes to bed around 6 p.m. and wakes up for the day around 7 a.m. He does still require one feed somewhere in there. I had been letting him wake on his own to feed (usually around 12:30 - 1 a.m.), but last night I tried a dream feed at 10:30. I'm not usually up this late, which is why I haven't done one consistently, but I'm wondering if I should consider adding one in? That dream feed had him sleeping through from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., which is a huge win for us. Do you think adding a dream feed is worthwhile? And if so, is it worthwhile to add one before (or even at) my bedtime, which ideally is 9:30 p.m. (though I may be willing to dream feed as late as 10 p.m.)?

  • t_taylor1918
    t_taylor1918 Member
    edited August 13


    I have twin 15 month olds who are on the same schedule, 7am wake up 7pm bedtime, with one nap a day, 2 hours. They both fall asleep on their own and have no night wakings for milk. For the past two months my son has been waking anywhere between 4:30am and 5:30am. He rarely slept till 7am, the full 12 hours overnight, but as long as he slept past 6am I thought good he got 11 hours of sleep and that is fine. And he was fine throughout the day and napping fine. But since these early wake ups the whole day is thrown off, the naps are thrown off, and then it throws off attending his twin sister. Hands full over here! Because he wakes early He is crashing earlier for nap time so I have tried to hold him off until the 12pm nap time but then he is overtired and only naps for 30 min. I tried letting him nap when he’s tired earlier around 11am-ish but that isn’t working either. At nighttime I tired putting him down earlier, like 6:30pm, but that isn’t working either. We follow the Nanit schedule generator. He eats solids great, three meals a day with two snacks. He also gets as least 16oz of milk throughout the day with the last 6oz after dinner in the living room before we go upstairs for the bedtime routine: bath, books/non-stimulated plush toy play, bed, lights out. He also gets plenty of exercise, he has been walking since 12m old. He also teethed early as a baby starting at 4m and now almost has 16 teeth…top molars and top eye teeth aren’t fully in yet but have broken through.

    I can tell he is still tired when he has an early morning wake up or wakes up from a horrible short nap because he is overtired from the early wake up but I can’t seem to relax him. I don’t know what to do.

  • ChristinaC
    ChristinaC Member
    edited August 13


    My baby just turned 2 months and his great sleeping habits seem to be coming undone. From 2 weeks he used to sleep 11pm-5am and couple power naps during the day. Now he wakes up at 830am, has a 4 hr nap midday, sometimes maybe a power nap in the evening and goes to bed at 10:30pm. But then wakes up at 2am and 5am during the night and again at 8:30 for final morning wake up. I breastfeed him for 15 min during the night and then another 15 min rock him to sleep. How do I get him back on the 6hr night sleep so I can get more than 2hrs of sleep at a time again? He’s a great eater (4oz when I pump and bottle feed) and has been sleeping in his crib in his room from the first week.

    Thanks in advance!

  • KateD
    KateD Member

    Hi there! My daughter is 9 months old and was a great sleeper until the last few weeks. She was sleeping 10 hours a night. If she stirred she could get herself back to sleep, then she started developing separation anxiety, which we noticed in the day time. Now at night she wakes up after about 5-6 hours and cries until we get her. And then it’s over for us - she won’t go back to sleep unless she’s with us. Also - we’re having a hard time letting her CIO bc she has started to pull up, she’s pulling herself up in her crib but since she’s not strong enough yet, she falls over and knocks her noggin. She does this only after about 3 - 5 minutes of crying. We don’t want her to hurt herself. Any advice would be appreciated!

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @ChristinaC It actually sounds like your baby is doing beautifully! Nothing has come 'undone'! You may have just gotten lucky with those six hour stretches. Typically two month olds still need to eat several times overnight, wich they may continue to do for another few months.

    The only thing I'd suggest at this stage is to try to ensure your baby is feeding about every 2-3 hours during the day so that you can gradually and naturally start to increase those ounces during the day. Those night stretches should start to naturally lengthen again.

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @t_taylor1918 You have your hands full! You are amazing! It can be really tough to deal with twins who naturally have different chronotypes, and it could be that your early riser will always be aln early riser.

    That said, I completely understand how important it is to try to get twins on the same shcedule. In my experience, I love to recommend a set wake up time, before which they need to be trying to get back to sleep. That can be different for every family, but typically I like to recommend a wake up time that is after 6am. So if they wake at 4.30, they just need to be trying to get themselves back to sleep. That can be easier said than done when you have twins sharing a room! You can try having the later sleeping twin in a different room for a few days while you encourage the early riser to be getting back to sleep.

    One other important and easy thing to try - I'd love you to put black garbage bags completely covereing the windows to block any light coming in. That early morning sun at this time of the year can make it really tough for babies to get back to sleep in the early hours of the morning. You dont need to leave them on long term but Id love you to try it for two weeks.

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @mdynan Great question! The dream feed works well for some babies and doesnt work at all for other babies. I think its worth experimenting with! You can totally try a dream feed at 9.30pm and see if it works. I dont want you having to stay up late to do that feed, so if it is before you go to bed then go for it. Alternatively, you could have your partner offer the baby a bottle a bit later if they are still up and you can get yourself to bed early.

    You might find that the baby still wakes naturally at 12.30/1am, in which case the dream feed can be a waste of time, but I think its absolutely worth playing around with.

    My personal preference is to allow the baby to wake naturally for a feed and gradually see that wake up time get later. However, if that wake up is two hours after you go to bed and you are in a deep sleep, it can be far less disruptive to offer the dream feed if it works. I just dont want the dream feed to become a crutch that the baby still needs at 18 months. So I'd suggest give it a go for now, but then, perhaps in a couple of months, you can transition back to allowing the baby to wake naturally for that feed as you work towards going through the night without a feed. Good luck! Please keep me posted!

  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @KateD This can be really frustrating, especially when she was sleeping so well! The good news is that she knows how to sleep and she can learn it again quickly!

    I want you to make sure she is falling asleep by herself at the beginning of the night, that should help her be able to get back to sleep when she wakes. And then, whatever you do in the middle of the night, I want you to be consistent about the method you choose. CIO is super effective, but if you are inconsistent and picking her up sometimes and letting her cry other times, then that crying is for nothing and it can be confusing for her to know what is expected of her. Choose a method that you can stick with for a week and follow through on it!

    Regarding hitting her head, dont worry about it too much. Cribs are made to be safe. There might be some bumps and bruises along the way, but heads are strong and can stand a little bump here and there. I'd love you to practice during the day her getting down from a standing position so it can be easier for her to do at night. One thing to try is have her pull up to the coffee table or sofa to stand and then put an exciting toy on the ground just out of reach so that she has to get down to play with it. Try that as many times as you can during the day, so that she masters it in a few days and is able to get herself down without hitting her head!

  • Melanie
    Melanie Nanit Team

    Thank you for participating in our Ask Me Anything with Dr. Natalie Barnett! The AMA is now closed, but be on the lookout for our next Ask Me Anything.

This discussion has been closed.