12 techniques that will NOT get your baby to sleep

bw-babyMy first baby did not like to sleep.

My second baby does not like to sleep.

The first time around we tried everything.

The second time around we tried everything else.

Turns out everything and everything else do not work on my babies…

However, after spending YEARS trying to get babies to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep, I have a pretty good idea of how not to do it.

Here are a few techniques I have tried along the way that will definitely NOT get your baby to sleep:


It is vitally important that you establish a consistent bedtime routine that is routinely consistent at bedtime. The baby will consistently not go to sleep at bedtime, but at least you have an established routine.


It is essential that you put your baby down in the cot drowsy but awake. Then wait for her to scream because you put her down drowsy but awake. Pick up non-drowsy wide-awake baby, comfort and put down. Pick up, put down, pick up, put down, pick down, put up……wait, am I picking or putting?  Continue until you pass out.


If there is a God, I imagine he has better things to do than help me get my baby to sleep. But there have been a few desperate nights when I thought he might be worth a go.

Dear God,

If you make my baby stay sleep, even for just a few hours, I promise I will go to church every Sunday (except next Sunday as it is my friend’s birthday and I have a thing one weekend in June). Actually, can we make it every other Sunday? Keep her asleep ALL night and I will even throw in a christening.



Following extensive shushing, singing, rocking, feeding and trying to get your baby to sleep by whatever means necessary, try to appeal to her softer side. Do not be too proud to beg your baby to go to sleep (exhausted tears of frustration optional).

Please go to sleep. Have mercy on my tired soul. Please, please go to sleep. PLEASE!!’


So you have tried all of the above but your baby is STILL awake. Time for extreme measures. Attempt to bribe your offspring to go to sleep.

‘You can lick my phone and I won’t stop you. Those delicious looking bits-of-crap on the floor you have had your eye on? They are ALL yours. But only if you GO TO SLEEP.’


No more Miss Nice Mummy. Wine o clock has been and gone and now all you want to do is to go to bed. Time to tell your baby who is boss.

‘If you do not go to sleep right now, I have a Gina Ford book and I am not afraid to use it.’

The baby smiles up at you. They can smell an empty threat a mile off.


Hiding under the covers and pretending you can’t hear the baby cry seems like a good idea at the time, but it will only make things worse. Much worse.  The longer you leave her the harder she will scream. The harder she screams, the longer she will stay awake.


You need a wee, your lullabies have turned into a creepy monosyllabic droning noise and your back aches so you give up and retreat to the living room.She’ll soon tire herself’, you think as you sit down. She immediately screams.

Pick baby up. Screaming stops. Sit down with baby. Baby screams. Repeat three times.

Now you are screaming. ‘What do you want from me?’

Your bundle of joy doesn’t want to be asleep; she wants to be awake. But only in a dark room with you. Therefore, you can either stand up holding a screaming baby in the living room, or stand up holding a baby who is not screaming in the bedroom.

You go back to the bedroom.


Tell your partner it is his ‘bloody turn.’ Give him the baby and head for the wine. After one gulp and five minutes of continuous screaming for mummy, angrily retrieve the baby from partner. Spend the next ten minutes considering whether partner never being able to get the baby to sleep is good enough grounds for divorce.


Take pictures of your sleeping baby looking unbelievably cute.

Forget to turn the flash off.

Now they are awake and really pissed off.


Thanks to Google, parenting advice is available 24 hours a day.  This is a good time to type in ‘how to get a baby to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep?’ You won’t find the answer but you can enjoy reading about all the things you are doing wrong.



The Sod It, Let Her Sleep In My Bed method is popular among the sleep-deprived. You have read all the lovely articles about how babies sleep better with their mothers. Sounds great, right? However, what they don’t tell you about is the hair-pulling, the kicks to the ribs and the fact that some babies think co-sleeping is one big pyjama party.

I did eventually work out How To Get My Baby To Go To Sleep And Stay Asleep When She Did Not Want To Be Asleep. It turns out that you just have to wait (and wait and wait and wait)…until they are not actually babies any more.

I don’t know how to teach my baby to sleep. But I can provide comfort and security until she feels confident enough to sleep through the night without my help. And she will. Eventually. Won’t she?!

What techniques do NOT work for your baby?  Or maybe some of these do work for you- that would be brilliant?   

For more useful tips on how NOT to get your baby to go to sleep, feel free to follow me via email or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

33 thoughts on “12 techniques that will NOT get your baby to sleep

  1. Reading this as my bany cries upstairs. I’m at the pass over to husband coz I just don’t give a shit anymore stage. Which will soon pass I’m sure….!

  2. Love this post! It’s like reading my own life, only minus the wine, unfortunately, as I’m still breastfeeding. And he still doesn’t go more than 3 hours without a feed for me to enjoy one. Sleep and wine theif!!!

  3. You left out one of the most important that I’m always hearing people suggest ‘give your 6 week old solids! That will help them sleep.’

  4. Thank you! After staying awake most of the night again tonight, reading your blog has helped me realize it’s not just my baby (babies, my oldest wasn’t so good on sleep either) that doesn’t sleep. I am almost at the end of my tether, but I know I’ll just have to wait it out. Anyway, when we finally manage to wake up enough to get out of bed and look at them properly, they always melt us right down with their smiles and cuddles. I have also tried just about anything on my baby, including medication (melatonin), and nothing seems to work. He just wakes up every hour or so, won’t even stay asleep when we let him sleep in our bed (if only!). I have come to terms with the fact that he’ll simply start sleeping better when he’s good and ready. I only hope I make it until then…

  5. Love this blog. Funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Hats of to you for trying for so long. My little monkey is only 3 months and I realised very early on he did NOT agree with sleeping on his own… Not as in sleeping in his own room, but on his own as in not physically attached to me or dad. I caved in pretty much straight away and let him sleep in bed. I value my night sleep far too much. We have made progress though and he now falls asleep in his cot (that has one side off and is attached to our bed) every night. He still ends up in bed during the night though… He’s a night feeder and still a long way from sleeping through the night…

  6. Oh feed them solids they said it helped mine sleep everytime.
    LIES you just have a pissed off non sleeping baby with food in its hair

    Drop a day sleep (babies actually do them???) ah what sleep am I dropping?? There isn’t one to drop

    Go to sleep school, they fixed everything thing. Yes I’m the proud mother of a sleep school Drop out. Suck it even with your magical sleep powers and you can’t get her to sleep.

    She’s not a sleeper. I’ve accepted it. Her sort of awesome only needs 6hrs to recharge a day


    Take pictures of the baby not being asleep to post on Facebook.

    Forget to turn the flash off.

    Now they are wide awake and really pissed off.

    I have done this on so many occasions! I finally got my son to sleep and he looked so sweet so I took a photo on my phone…damn flash is all I am going to say!!

    Needless to say back to shh’ing and screaming baby again!

    Thank you for the laughs. Good to know I’m not the only walking zombie haha! xx

  8. Ah yes I’ve tried all of these, over an hour and a half of CIO broke me at one point, hubby wouldn’t take the baby for longer than 10 minutes…I have no answers, jem now sleeps on the whole…but I gave no idea why.

  9. Asking your partner to go and attempt to get them to sleep because you’ve had the f*ck enough. That also doesn’t work. I always end up with a tiny screaming ball of fury when I’ve done that. A tiny screaming ball of fury and also a man-sized one.

  10. Oh no, I’m busted. I didn’t even have cry babies and STILL I tried all of those with the same results.

    The most annoying thing was when I just gave up after hours: “so be it then, let’s be awake”, and the baby fell asleep, but I was too wide awake to fall asleep anymore. (Of course, at about 5 am, I was ready to go to bed again, but then big sis usually got up. And so another great day began).

    • Oh yeah – someone told me that one, too. Worst! Idea! Ever!

      Another bad idea: give them a “dream feed”. People tell you to do this like it works, but in fact it just makes them super-uncomfortable, so they’re waking every fifteen minutes instead of hourly. The only thing that stopped me from tracking down and strangling the person who told me to do that was severe tiredness.

      Actually I exaggerate a bit: according to my late-night googling, there’s only, like, a 50/50 chance it’ll make things unbearable. Do you want to guess which category you’re going to be in *before* you try it or just wait and see?

      • Ha ha. Yes I remember trying the dream feed! She was wide awake instantly, nothing dreamy about it! It never made sense to me. I soon learnt you wake a sleeping baby. You unleash hell.

        • We would actually get through the feed without waking P, but it took several days for him to recover from the trauma of having been tricked into taking milk when his body didn’t need it. And during those several days he mainly stayed awake screaming.

          I was (later) told it can take some weeks or even months for some babies to get the hang of it, which made me wonder if they’d really looked closely at what was happening in the control group?

          • I am not surprised! It must be pretty awful being fed when you are full up! I am glad we never persevered with it now. It never quite felt right to me.

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