Troubleshooting Sleep Problems

If parents have followed my sleep method and it’s still not working, there are a number of ways of troubleshooting sleep problems that we pursue until we solve the problem.


Troubleshooting 101:
I start by asking parents to describe their bedtime routine. I think of the bedtime routine as a series of highly predictable events that begins at your baby’s dinner time and ends when she falls asleep. The time frame we are talking about may be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes in length. I listen particularly for indications that the baby may be overstimulated during this period. For example, is the lighting bright and harsh? Is the television on, even softly? Is there music playing? Are there a lot of people talking loudly? Is everybody passing the baby back and forth among themselves? If it turns out that there are too many stimuli, I discuss ways to reduce them, which sometimes is more easily said than done. In some homes there are simply too many people and too much surrounding chaos to reduce stimulation. Dr. Spock would argue that this is not necessarily a bad thing and that babies will get used to it, but Dr. Weissbluth and I would not agree with him. In general, less stimulation is better than more, and the empiric research seems to corroborate this. The trick is finding a way to reduce stimuli. The solution may be to find a quiet but well-ventilated corner of the house or apartment where light, sound, and tactile stimulation can be kept to a minimum.



Teething pain often interrupts the process of getting a baby to learn to go to sleep. At around four months of age, give or take, a baby may start drooling much more than before and may start grinding her fist into her mouth. This is likely the start of the teething process, though actual teeth may not appear for eight months.


Colic almost always happens when babies and their parents want to be sleeping. Once all the other causes of crying have been ruled out (baby just ate so she can’t be hungry, diaper is clean, she’s not constipated, and so on), you might settle on colic as the cause. Troubleshooting colic is a subject unto itself, and beyond my scope in this post!


This is actually a subcategory of colic. Many babies wake up crying because they have to poop and they can’t. There are many easy ways to help a baby through constipation problems. Your pediatrician can help you with these

Need for more calories?

Many of my mom-clients are so successful that their babies outgrow their supply! A healthy baby that is born to a healthy mother and grows as fast a human being can grow eventually reaches the point where 20-calorie-per-ounce breast milk or formula is no longer sufficient for her needs throughout the entire day. Sometimes the baby will signal this change by waking up in the night at times when she used to sleep. This phenomenon is real but is often short-lived because feeding is so often a self-regulated phenomenon. Breast-fed babies will stimulate their mothers to make more milk during the day, and formula-fed babies will drink larger or more frequent bottles. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.