How Can Fussy Babies Learn Healthy Sleep Habits?

Fussy babies

Did you know that over 20% of babies suffer from some form of colic during early infancy?  Did you know that out of that 20% only 9% have difficult temperaments and sleep problems after 4 months of age?  What can a parents of fussy babies do to resolve this problem or make it better.

I am sure these families have tried everything but after weeks of extreme fussiness parents are stressed and baby is overly tired.  They forget that babies do begin to grow out of this around 3 to 4 months as they change physically and neurologically.  There are too many habits that exist out of survival during the prior earlier weeks that can now be changed if they are willing to make some sacrifices and possible lifestyle changes to benefit everyone concerned.  These include the following;

  • Parent-soothed to self-soothe
  • Regular sleep schedules
  • Consistency
  • Get help from a professional if things don’t improve

Parent soothed to self-soothe

How we soothe our baby to sleep at 4 weeks old should be different by the time they are 4 months old.  Parent-soothing was necessary with a fussy infant and even a baby that is easy going needs help getting to sleep.  Parent directed techniques such as rocking and nursing to sleep are fine in the early months when baby is in the fourth trimester.  However, now that baby is getting older and developmentally changing adjustments need to be made.  Parents are sometimes reluctant to give these up because they have become a habit for both baby and parent.  They have spent weeks fine-tuning this technique that may still works but is often exhausting.  Now it is time for baby to learn a new way and parents to change their ways.  It is time for the baby learn to self-soothe as he is developmentally ready.  Read my blog article on self-soothing at

Regular sleep schedules

When baby was a newborn being aware of sleep and wake states and following sleep cycles is all that was needed as a firm schedule was impossible during much of that time.  Now baby is older and at 4 months and beyond a regular schedule is needed.  If baby is still fussy at this age it is usually not from colic but from fatigue.  It is sometimes hard for parents to think about their baby in another way and make changes as they are so tired themselves.   A bedtime routine is a must and may need to be tweaked by having an earlier bedtime, adding some key words and doing it the same way every single night.   Scheduled naps are important and baby usually needs at least 3 naps at 4 months of age.  Parents need to be cognizant of this and not be out and about running errands and having their baby get short naps in the car.  If you want your baby to nap and not get overtired this is important.  It does require some sacrifices but you will be rewarded by having a well-rested child and fewer night waking’s because of it. Protecting their sleep schedules is essential for fussy babies when they are learning new habits.



Being consistent with your actions and your schedules makes baby feel secure.  When babies are treated with inconsistency, they become confused and bewildered, and finally become clingy and fearful.  When there is structure and routine in their lives, they feel more in control because they are not constantly blind-sided by something unexpected happening to them.  Now I am not asking you to a control every minute of the day and things do come up and some flexibility is needed when caring for children.  However, don’t get too side-tracked that you go back to old habits that may have contributed to the problem before.


Get help from a professional if things don’t improve

If things aren’t working and you don’t know how to turn things around get some help.  Perhaps a relative can spend a couple of days with you so you can get some rest.  Sometimes all that is needed is a couple of good nights of sleep for the parents so they can figure out what changes need to be made and how to make them.  If more than that is needed hire a sleep coach that will create a plan for you based on your needs and parenting style.   A good sleep coach can turn things around in a couple of weeks or less and everyone will be happier and well rested.  Check out my Lullaby Sleep program if you feel a coach is for you.  Go to


Final words

I think the most important thing for parents to do at his time is make a firm commitment to turn things around by following the steps above.  Create a plan!  It can be done if you implement the necessary changes and give your plan a fresh look.

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