Sleep Talking Tuesday: Bedtime Routine Advice

What is Sleep Talking Tuesdays?  Twice a month, Jen Varela offers a private online video conference or call-in option, where you can ask your sleep training questions or bedtime routine for baby questions and benefit from hearing other parents’ questions, too.

Sleep Talking Tuesdays: Online FREE Q & A Sleep Support

Are you looking for sleep coaching, or do you just have a few questions about your little one’s sleep?  This is an excellent introduction to Jen’s coaching philosophy, in the video conference you can ask your most pressing sleep questions and Jen will provide you with sleep strategies, realistic and practical tips to support the biology of sleep for your child.  You can check the calendar to see when the next one is being offered.

This mom attended Sleep Talking Tuesdays and got the help she needed!

Sonia B.—9-Month-Old Son

  • Is there an intermediate, gentle stage between, 1) an infant being fed to sleep and 2) me being next to the cot with my hand on the infant’s tummy, softly singing to him? My 9-month old just cries when I don’t feed him to sleep, and I give up after 20-minutes. 
  • Night light or no night light? Is it keeping my baby awake? I turned it off, and he slept better the first night but now wakes up every 45 mins or so when the light is off 🙁

I look forward to the chat today—I need help.



Hi Sonia:

It’s great that you are being so loving and intentional in wanting to create a sweet, soothing bedtime routine for your baby. Let me answer both of your questions in the order you asked them.


It sounds like your son has a strong association between feeding and going to sleep, so the goal will be to adjust your routine a bit to help ease that transition of him falling asleep on the mattress. For instance, let’s say you put on pajamas, read him a book, feed him, and then put him down in his crib asleep. Changing up the order of your bedtime routine can help you determine if your feeding him at the end of your routine is for nutrition or a sleep sucking association.  You can adjust your bedtime routine by putting on pajamas, then feeding while he is awake, reading a book, and then rock him to sleep. This way, the feeding becomes separate from the act of going to sleep.

You didn’t mention if you are bottle-feeding or breastfeeding your son. If you are giving him a bottle, you can change the routine gradually by offering half the bottle at the beginning of the bedtime routine, doing the other activities, and then feeding him the rest of the bottle right before bed. After he has adjusted to this, then give him a full bottle at the start of the bedtime routine, and do not give him the bottle again at the end.

Once you have moved the feeding up to the beginning of your baby’s bedtime routine, you can offer whatever comfort measures work best for both of you—rocking, holding, walking—don’t provide another bottle to help him go to sleep.

It can take a few days for your son to learn how to fall asleep without feeding to sleep, and he might protest in your arms.  Remember, it is hard work for him too, sleep is a learned skill, and he would prefer you to continue with the way things were.  It is essential to hold on to the fact that he is safe in your arms, he is not in any danger of fracturing attachment with you and “keeping your calm on” will help keep him calm.

When a child is between 15-months and 18-months old, strong attachments to the bottle can form, and if he is still reliant falling asleep on the bottle at that age, it can take more of an effort to wean him off the bottle.


At this age and stage, some babies might need the night light, which can create a relaxing, comfortable environment for sleep. A lot depends on what kind of night light you use and how you use it. I like a night light such as the LectroFan Kinder: It’s not only a night light but a sound machine, too, with gentle settings that can be controlled via a smartphone app. (I like the amber-colored light on the LectroFan—it’s not too bright, not too dim, but just right.) Your son is young enough that you don’t have to worry about him still needing a night light in his college dorm room; right now, it’s all about creating a space conducive to sleep. Also, you can use the night light as a cue for bedtime: As you are transitioning to that new bedtime routine, I talked about for your first question, keep the room lights on while you are feeding and reading. When it’s time for final snuggles, turn the night light on so your baby knows it’s time to get down to the work of falling asleep!

It is hard to know if the particular night light you are using is waking him up at 45-minutes.  There could be several reasons for the night awakenings.  Just considering the night light as a reason for sleep struggles, it is important to know that not all-night lights are equal.  You want to make sure the night light in your child’s room is in the red and amber colors selection.  Blue night lights, or even the little LED lights on the baby monitors which are blue, can signal the brain it is daytime and suppresses the signals to the brain, which say it is the end of the day and time to go to sleep.

Feel free to share this FREE resource with your tired friends, you both can get your questions answered at Sleep Talking Tuesdays Online Q & A.  You don’t have to choose between loving your baby and getting the sleep both you and your child need.  You can “trade tears for time” by breaking down the sleep associations one step at a time.  The book Loved to Sleep by Jen Varela, and Andrea Strang is another excellent resource to consider when looking for a nurturing strategy in which you invest your time to reduce the amount of crying and improve sleep.