How to Get Your Baby Down Drowsy But Awake


drowsy but awakeQ: Everyone tells me to put my baby down “drowsy but awake” but this seems impossible! How can I teach my baby to go into his crib awake without freaking out?! Help!

Putting your baby down “drowsy but awake” may seem like a daunting task. You may have tried a million different ways to no avail. I’ve got a few tips to help you get him there in no time!


A dark, cool, and quiet room are key to creating a healthy sleep environment. Be sure your baby is sleeping on a FLAT surface such as a crib, bassinet, or pack ‘n play. His room should remain between 65 and 72 degrees F.

Think blackout shades and ditch the nightlight (if needed for a feeding, switch it on when you come into the room and off when you leave). Circadian rhythms are controlled by exposure to light/dark. Ensuring the room is dark is essential!

And finally, run that white noise CONTINUOUSLY. By white noise, I mean continuous static noise. No nature sounds or music that shuts off after a certain amount of time. Any change in pitch can keep the brain partially aroused. This includes machines that switch off automatically. Run that noise for nights and naps!
Check out this post for some of my favorite things for sleeping babies!


Be SUPER conscious of your baby’s awake time. Age appropriate wake times will help ensure that you’re not putting your baby down overtired. An overtired baby is flooded with stress hormones that make him fight sleep (and make it much harder to put him down drowsy but awake!). 


This routine can be used before naps and before bedtime. Bedtime routines often include a bath so just skip that for naps. Ideally, you’ll avoid any sleep crutches at the end of your routine. What are sleep crutches? They are dependencies that your baby may have developed in order to fall asleep. The most common sleep crutch is feeding to sleep. Other examples include rocking, bouncing, use of motion (swings, cars, rock ‘n plays, bouncers). A great routine looks something like this: bath, change into pjs and sleepsack, feed, read books, sing songs and cuddle (while awake), and into crib awake.

Is it time for your baby to transition out of one of his naps? Check this post out for some help with transitions. 


Teaching your baby to fall asleep independently is just that – a teaching/learning situation. For most babies, this skill does not come naturally. We support our babies from the sidelines as they learn to roll, crawl, and walk. Learning to sleep is no different! We can’t do it for them, but we can provide them with the best opportunities to learn.

How can you support your baby? Often times, this is when you may need to consider a sleep-teaching (training – but I despise that term) method. Consider something such as the pickup/put down method or the shhh/pat method for a gentler, hands-on approach. If your baby is older than four months and these options are too stimulating for your little one, consider an in-between method such as the chair method or check and console. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: When your baby is first learning this skill, he won’t be super excited about changing things up from the way he has been falling asleep. What this means is that when you remove his former sleep crutches, he will likely be upset and will not appear to be drowsy (and may seem VERY awake). This is when your method will come into play.

With all of the above in place, you should see improvement and success within a week or two. Really and truly! If you’re still struggling, we are here to help support YOU through this process. We can provide you with individualized support throughout the sleep teaching process. You can expect to sleep again!