How do I transition my baby to sleeping throughout the night in her crib? She will sleep about 5-6 hours alone then cry for me.

All of us do something to help us get back to sleep when we rouse at night. For your daughter, it’s snuggling with you. For older babies, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (unless it’s keeping you awake and making you a zombie, in which case it is a bad thing). But for younger babies, especially those under six months, sleeping with you may not be safe. To get her to sleep independently, you need to help her figure out how to go back to sleep without you. When she cries at night, instead of picking her up, try shushing her and telling her you love her. You can pat her or caress her, but don’t pick her up. Every few minutes, if she is still awake and crying, go and do the same thing (I don’t advocate letting her cry herself to sleep—she needs to know that you are there and love her)—but still, don’t pick her up. It may take a few nights, but sooner or later she will figure out that crying isn’t going to work, and she will start to find ways to soothe herself to sleep. If it’s not working, touch base with your doctor and do some brainstorming together. 

Dr. Claire McCarthy


Claire McCarthy is a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She’s also a mom raising five children!