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Help! My baby won't sleep! (Soothing Tactics)

Updated on January 1, 2012

I can help.

This is a problem that I have had much experience dealing with. My baby just turned one year old and I am still using the tactics I've learned during this past year. I actually just used one within this past hour!

This hub is going to go over non-"Cry it Out" methods, but I would like to state that "CIO" (Cry it Out) is something worth looking into. Some people are under the false impression that CIO means putting your baby in his or her crib and letting him or her cry without interruption for as long as it takes. This is not true. Some methods do allow babies to cry for up to an hour without soothing, but others allow for soothing after increasing amounts of time (after 3mins, 5mins, 7mins, etc). That's what I did and it was even suggested by our pediatrician. If you go in as soon as your baby makes a sound, that will become a learned behavior. I do understand how painful listening to your baby cry is and I am not going to cover this slightly controversial topic any more than I already have.

If you'd like to learn some simple and sometimes creative ways to get your baby to sleep that actually WORK, read on!

Sleep Achieved!

Sleep Achieved on Daddy!
Sleep Achieved on Daddy!
Sleep Achieved on Mommy!
Sleep Achieved on Mommy!
Sleep Achieved with Thumb!
Sleep Achieved with Thumb!
Sleep Achieved in the Swing!
Sleep Achieved in the Swing!
Sleep Achieved at the Zoo!
Sleep Achieved at the Zoo!
Sleep Achieved in her Crib!  [Ultimate Goal]
Sleep Achieved in her Crib! [Ultimate Goal]

How to Soothe Baby to Sleep

I've spent MANY A NIGHT trying to get my poor little one to sleep. Sleep is extremely important for babies! (Could have fooled us right? I've often wondered, "you're SO tired; why don't you just. go. to. sleep??" But they're just babies learning how to be in the world and it's our job to help them learn how to sleep.)

Keep in mind that in the beginning of their outside lives, they're going to be finding sleep on you a lot. I've even heard the first 3 months referred to as the "fourth trimester". Your warmth, your voice, your heartbeat and your smell will remind baby of life in the womb.

Rock your Baby to Sleep. Cradle her close to your chest and sway from side to side.

White Noise. I cannot stress this enough! I wish I had a picture of the fan above our stove at our old apartment. My husband and I spent hours standing under that fan! I am not exaggerating. But it gets better! I promise!! There's something about that noise that really helps get babies to sleep.

There are even toys designed to make White Noise that you can put next to Baby's crib.

There's another toy that makes "womb sounds" - most notably, the rhythmic heartbeat.

I went with oven stove because it came with the apartment, haha, but I've heard great things about these other toys!

Sing Songs. You know those soft lullabies that were sung to you as children? Just do an internet search and get a quick refresher. I re-memorized "Hush Little Baby" and to this day sing it to my toddler every night. I have a terrible voice, but my daughter doesn't care; she loves my voice and my singing actually helps her sleep. (*Note: I do not sing her to sleep anymore; it is now just part of the bedtime routine. I put her in her crib away and she is able to get to sleep on her own!)

Breastfeed. I'm serious - this works so well that it almost works too well. I should write a whole different hub on how to keep Baby awake so she gets some food while breastfeeding! Sometimes I felt like a human pacifier, but sometimes that's just what my baby needed. If you can master lying down and breastfeeding, you could get a nap in! (*Note: I do not advocate bed-sharing through the night. Many people insist that it can be done safely, but I am not one of those people.)

Thumbs and Pacifiers. Speaking of pacifiers, they can work miracles. My baby preferred her thumb and the day she was able to find it on her own may just have been the best day of my life! Babies need to suck so give them (or in the thumbs case, help them get to) something to suck on - a pacifier, Daddy's pinkie, or their own little thumb! Combine this with white noise (and believe me, we DID!) and you could have a sleeping baby in minutes!!

Let Husband Try. A lot of times, husbands have bigger arms and can cradle Baby in a different way, which could make it easier to fall asleep.

Get a Swing. We had a swing that rocked back and forth and made music. A lot of times this magical contraption helped Baby sleep but sometimes even if it didn't do that, it at least helped her to stop crying long enough for me to eat an actual meal! (I remember that being very challenging in the beginning.) I've heard really great things about Rock 'n Plays, but haven't actually used one. Those swings that vibrate might also be worth trying!

I hope these tips come in handy for you and that you and your little one(s) can get some much needed rest! Good luck!! If you're a survivor of the zombie mom days like me, participate in the poll below! :o)

Zombie Moms

How Long did You Feel Like a Zombie?

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    • anjegirl profile image


      7 years ago from Myrtle Beach,SC

      I didn't read all the comments and don't know if someone mentioned this but in the 70's I went to a baby shower in Hawaii where the baby got a mosquito net for obvious reasons but also the baby got an aquarium on wheels to put next to the crib which the shower goers said was common in Hawaii---the purpose is to gently lure a baby to sleep as they watch the brightly colored fish swim in the tank---the moms there all recommended it and told me that as they grow they can learn to count and learn colors from their own little fish tank and when old enough can feed them and clean the tank--I told lots of mom's here on the mainland who got them and loved them

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      How I remember... Great reminders. Congratulations!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      My mother told me that when I was a baby, they had a difficult time putting me to sleep! I think she wished she has read your hub then! LOL

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To all who would like to read and vote and support the Hubnuggets, this way please:

    • Infobrowser profile image


      7 years ago from UK

      The white noise idea is a good one. If you were to hush a baby (shhhhhhhhhhh)continuosly while rocking them in your arms this would also help. I saw it on TV so it must be true =P

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      So, I took off the handle, and stuck the pacifier nipple through the screw cap of the baby bottle, screwed the cap back onto the bottle.

    • Moon Willow Lake profile image

      Moon Willow Lake 

      7 years ago

      Oh gosh, this brought back memories! Our son loved his swing, and we spent many, many hours just holding him. He also loved to sleep in the car, provided we kept moving and didn't need to stop. Saying they were "zombie" days are certainly appropriate as our son had colic. But, yes, it DOES get better!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      With my eldest--the one who just liked to scream for no apparent reason--she would not accept a pacifier, until I tricked her. Back then, pacifiers had plastic loop handles that could be fairly easily removed. the attachment point for the pacificer nipple was a plastic disc the same size as the little cover that went inside the screw-cap of the baby bottles. So, I took off the handle, and stuck the pacifier nipple through the screw cap of the baby bottle, screwed the cap back onto the bottle, and gave it to her. She was then happy to hold the bottle and suck the pacifier! You just have to be smarter than the baby! ;-)

      (She never sucked her thumb, either, but her two middle fingers, until she was almost 3 years old, and had worked up a callus on the knuckles!)

    • ForLoveofCupcakes profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Jensen 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      I heard that thumb sucking helps prevent SIDS. I agree with everyone about thumb sucking not being the best thing. I am going to try to wean her by 18 months. I love it when she's so little because it helps her sleep (and is so darn cute!) but I don't like when kids over 2 are sucking their thumbs / pacifiers.

      Weaning from that could be a whole other hub!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      7 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I'm sorry, I meant deep enough sleep that they forget to breathe. lol

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      7 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I don't care for the thumb sucking either. There were two girls in my daughter's Girl Scout Troop that sucked their thumbs and they had all the girls sucking their thumbs. Those two had to have braces put on also.

      My kids never sucked their thumbs and didn't put up with a pacifier either. My grandchildren all suck both. Their Dr. told their mother that there is less crib death if they suck. It disturbs them getting into a deep enough sleep that they forget to sleep. I think it is suspect.

    • nina64 profile image

      Nina L James 

      7 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      This is a wonderful hub!!!! How I wish I had this advice when I had my children years ago. But I learned some of the same suggestions that you give in your hub. This information will help both new moms and dads in their quest for some much needed rest during the early stages of their newborn's life. Also, I used to wrap my baby girl in a receiving blanket and rock her to sleep. Today, she still likes to sleep under lots of blankets. By the way, you have a beautiful family!!!!!!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day. I love your detailed coverage of the many ways to help sooth a baby. I have also heard of the 4 S method that includes some of the options you have listed here. The only one I don't care for is the sucking on thumb. I think I am biased because I have seen adults who still suck their thumb, parents that still have their kids drinking from a bottle well after 2 years, and parents that give a pacifier to kids that are walking and talking. I'm sure there is a reason, as each child is different, but I was lucky that my kids never took to a pacifier. Voted up!

    • rLcasaLme profile image


      7 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

      These soothing tactics are really effective. Me and my wife applies all these. On our baby's first to sixth months, we use the first three tactics you mentioned all at the same time. If baby was hungry and at the same time sleepy, my wife would breastfeed her to sleep.

      From her sixth month and on, breastfeeding wasn't as effective as before. The more she's breastfed, the more she'll become lively and energized. Cradling her on my chest also isn't effective anymore, she'd prefer sleeping on the swing. Nursery rhymes no longer has effects on her, she'd prefer an FM radio station listening to the current music trends.

      She also loves being tapped to sleep. Just soft tappings on her leg synchronized in the beat of the music will surely put her to sleep.

      I agree with truthisntstupid. A moving car alone is enough to put baby to sleep. Nothing is expected from you.

      Great Hub!

    • boyatdelhi profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting information


    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      My heart goes out to parents in this stage, and any tips are great for them. I would encourage them to hang in there, it WILL get better. I recall it all so well, I was in sheer exhaustion mode. Take any and all help, don't be afraid to ask for it. For our babies, adding one minute of crying time each night helped them to learn how to soothe themselves, but not feel neglected. It was what I could handle. Thanks for sharing these tips with people. Great hub.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

      My getting-baby-to-sleep days are long behind me--my eldest grandson is 18; the youngest granddaughter is nearly 4.

      With my firstborn, nothing, and I mean nothing worked, and she was a horrifically light sleeper as well. With the second, I could run the vacuum right under her crib and she'd never wake up. So, sometimes, it's just the difference in individual children.

      However, you've presented a good number of suggestions that normally work for most babies. ;-) Well done.

    • Jewelz1313 profile image


      7 years ago from Branson, Missouri

      All of these are great. I have used several of these. The car ride, I agree, is also helpful. Another I've used is a bath right before bedtime and humming a series of low "sing song" hums.

    • D.C. profile image


      7 years ago

      Can't beat the ol' car ride.

    • davenstan profile image

      Katina Davenport 

      7 years ago

      I just had a baby boy 3 months ago and I can testify to the zombie mom thing. Lately it's been slap happy mom. Anyway, I will use the suggestion of white fact I think I have it on the swing, but never used it. I thought it would be too noisey. Also, I will be using the CIO techniques too. Thanks for a great hub.

    • greatstuff profile image


      7 years ago from Malaysia

      Congratulation on Hub of the day. Years ago when I had my first baby, out of desperation, I had to take him for a drive and it really helps. However the side effect is, he now sleeps without fail, whenever he is a passenger in any moving traffic..and he is now 27years old!!

    • oliviaharrisbrown profile image


      7 years ago

      Being a mommy myself with baby number 2, I understand the importance of getting sleep. My baby sleeps two to four hours at a time. I have found the swing very helpful though. I like this article. It feels good to know that I am not the only one experiencing being sleep deprived.

    • dreamdoterra profile image


      7 years ago

      this is great!! Something else I do is I rub some doterra lavender essential oil on the bottom of the feet. Lavender is all things relaxing so it knocks them out instantly! I send free samples to everyone...message me if you would like me to send you a free sample...

    • Ms57Classic profile image

      Cheryl Wright 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great information!

    • jacqui2011 profile image


      7 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      Congratulation on being chosen as Hub of the Day. Very informative hub with some great tips here. My daughters are 16 and 10 years old now, but they used to fall asleep with the noise of the vacuum cleaner! Lovely photos of your family. Voted up and useful.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 

      7 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Great information. My daughter struggled with getting her new son to sleep and tried most of your suggestions without success. At two he has finally decided that he needs the sleep and will go to bed with no problems.

    • ChrisPatrick profile image


      7 years ago from West Coast long ago.

      Great hub and lots of really good tips. Loved the pictures - what a lovely family.

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      We tried it all plus some. The minute we would lay him in his crib his eyes would pop open. The minute we weren't touching him his eyes popped open. We weren't new parents. This lasted unti he was 10.

      Good hub.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      7 years ago from Northeastern United States

      A warm bath worked sometimes for our son. Or a ride in the car. The swing worked great. I almost cried when he was too big for it anymore! :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      7 years ago from Western New York

      Those early days are so hard! It took us a while to figure out that our oldest son needed to learn to go to sleep on his own. Once he learned how to do that, it was the biggest relief! Our youngest son was an entirely different story - he has severe reflux and severe apnea, so there is no "sleep training" in his case. He's four years old and still can't make it through the night (he has failed medical therapy and uses a C-Pap machine to keep breathing)- I'm a perpetual zombie. :) I would caution parents that if a child is screaming and/or arching their back frequently, to make sure there is no acid reflux involved!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      7 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Congrats on Hub of the day. I also used these with my three. I have another one though which is great for when they have colic or gas. Put them in a carrier and place them on top of the running dryer. It mimics the sounds and motion of a car. The white noise it puts out is great too. I learned this while trying to get some laundry done when my oldest was little. Washer needed loaded but he was fussy, and started screaming every time I left the room. I just took him with me. Beats driving for miles in the middle of the night when it is icy.

    • cardelean profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Oh I remember (and don't miss) those sleep deprived days! It is so hard to deal with a baby who doesn't want to sleep when you are so in need of sleep yourself. I think that I used just about all of the techniques that you mentioned when my kids were babies. Great information and congrats on the hub of the day!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      7 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      My 5 month old grandson loves to be sung to. It doesn't matter what or how bad it is. Just start singing anything you know the words to. It also works to turn the radio up, he especially loves 80s funk.

    • msshandriaball profile image

      Shandria Ball 

      7 years ago from Anniston

      great hub! voted up

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      I have 4 children...with this self-soothing it is easier when they are younger because it takes less time then when they get bigger. I covet my sleep. By 2 months old I had great sleep with all of them. It's the secret to how moms with lots of children (6+) survive. And some babies have to be taught how to suck their thumb. I have at least one who I had to do that to.

    • ForLoveofCupcakes profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Jensen 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      @my_girl_sara oh of course! These tactics are for newborns, mainly. I also encouraged my baby to self-soothe but not until she was older. One of the tactics I wrote about is thumb sucking, but she wasn't able to do that right away.

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Congrats on hub of the day...such a bad idea to "soothe your baby to sleep." You are training your baby to need your help to fall asleep instead of teaching herself to do it on her own. It's fun when they are first born but a real drag when they are a year old. I have 4 children and taught them all to soothe THEMSELVES. On my blog I have a link to the book Babywise. It teaches parents how to train their babies to fall asleep on their own. Good luck.

    • ForLoveofCupcakes profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Jensen 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Wow thanks everyone!! Your comments mean so much to me - they are so nice! I can't believe I got Hub of the Day... I am ecstatic right now!! :o)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Just wanted to come back and say congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

    • mljdgulley354 profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day. I have used your tips on children and grandchildren and yes they definitely work.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 

      7 years ago from Tennesee

      You have provided some of the best new parent advice I've seen posted in years. I have four children and yes, every one of these suggestions are good. Voted up and I have to admit, I came in because of the adorable pic of your baby on the front page. In fact, I love all these photos; you have one beautiful child there, congratulations!

    • penofone profile image

      Anish Patel 

      7 years ago

      What a wonderful world we can imagine with our new born babies, I had triplets with my first wife and knowing their names and mixing them is the challenge. Great hub, Thanks.


    • anusha15 profile image

      Anusha Jain 

      7 years ago from Delhi, India

      Great pics and awesome information. Really deserving hub of the day. These tips will be most welcome by new parents struggling with their babies' sleep. Voted up and useful.

    • jeyaramd profile image


      7 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      This is a great article for new parents. I see so many sleep deprived parents having one too many coffees during break at work. I should recommend this hub to them. Thanks so much for this hub. It is very useful. We can all learn from your skills in parenting.

    • Brett Winn profile image

      Brett Winn 

      7 years ago from US

      My babies are all grown up now, but I enjoyed reading this sweet hub just for the memories it invoked! Voted up, and much enjoyed!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      great hub... great tips... congratz

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      Interesting Hub! Congrats on the Hub of the Day! Your hub provides valuable advice for many parents of newborn babies-toddlers! Vote Up.

    • raakachi profile image


      7 years ago from Madurai / Tamilnadu / India

      Fine tactics you have chosen to make sleep your baby. Very interesting to hear and thanks for your sharing. voted as beautiful.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from North Central Florida

      Great hub, ForLoveofCupcakes. Congratulations on hub of the day. I am sure those with a new baby will thank you for sharing this.

      When you are a new Mommy, it can be overwhelming when your baby is not sleeping, especially if it is a baby with digestive issues. You are tired, baby is tired, Daddy is becomes a cycle of no sleep. You have offered a number of ideas to those facing that problem. Thanks.

    • geetbhim profile image

      sangeeta verma 

      7 years ago from Ludhiana India

      good hub even some of this method I use to try to make sleep my baby. He use to be very comfortable on my hubby's tummy exactly as shown in the picture that reminds me of 11yrs back taking care of young ones. Thanks for sharing ForLovecupcakes.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      What fantastic pointers! Thanks so much for sharing them, ForLoveofCupcakes. I can't wait to see what you publish next!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Great Hub. This is a very good information for the new mommies nowadays. Voted up. Thanks for sharing. Welcome to HubPages!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub I had three boys and two had great difficulty sleeping. I tried everything maybe I try to many tactics. I did survive and they are great sleepers now. Thanks!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for a hub! This will be a useful resource for lots of mommies (and daddies) out there.

    • kikalina profile image


      7 years ago from Europe

      Great hub. My last daughter was born a great sleeper so I cant complain.

    • gts68 profile image

      Tom Samworth 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Good stuff! I need a major refresher with another one on the way in june. She (or he)will be joining her (or his) 16 and 13 year old brothers (yes - you read that right!). I was awesome with babies over a decade ago...

    • Little two two profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      Fabulous hub, I don't have kids, but am around them a lot. Great tips and advice. I was going to say, a car ride always put my one niece to sleep, preferably with country blaring from the radio. Voted Up.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Great hub - new parents could really benefit by reading this. I tended to have the good touch to sooth my children to sleep, but when they were inconsolable, breast feeding was the way to go.

      Voted up and useful.

    • truthisntstupid profile image


      7 years ago from Missouri

      Have you ever noticed what happens five minutes after you put the car in gear and head down the road? I remember often taking our kids for a drive just to settle them down and make them go to sleep.

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Palen 

      7 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Very helpful hub! I don't have any children, but I know a handful of people with infants. Great hub and some really great tips. I'll definitely be passing this along!

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Great hub and BEAUTIFUL family! Be sure to check out some of mine on your same topic. One of my babies would not sleep until we played Led Zepplin..not what I would call white noise, but it is a coping mechanism. Thanks for sharing your strategies!


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