By Kelsey on August 29, 2012 10

How We Get Rooney to Sleep So Much

I get a lot of questions like, “How do you get Rooney to take five hour naps?” To be clear, she has only done that once or twice, but she is a really great napper and sleeper overall. We feel very lucky. I think as far as new parents go, we are exhausted but don’t even understand at all what other people go through.

nursery wall art

I really hesitate to do this post because:

  1. My baby is not your baby.
  2. All babies need different amounts of sleep.
  3. What works for us may not work for you.

But, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share our experience so far with Rooney and sleep.

How We Get Rooney to Sleep So Much

  • Rooney has very clear sleep signs. She will yawn. If we see it once, we bolt to put her down for a nap. She will rub her eyes. Either with her hands, or sometimes we’ll put a blanket on her and watch what she does with it. Sometimes she’ll take it and rub her eyes with it. When we see that, we bolt and put her down for a nap. Sometimes she will lay her head down on the floor or bury her head into our neck. Lately it seems she is kind of outgrowing those sleep signs because she is so active and distracted. Now we go a little more by the clock OR when she gets up on her hands and feet (which takes a ton of energy, I’m sure!) she will make a certain fussy noise that we now associate as a sleep sign. We’ve also noticed that sometimes she will spit up if she gets overtired.
  • Sleep is a priority for us. This is clear with our “bolting” her to her room after she tells us she is tired. I’ve read about the benefits of sleep and how you can’t make a baby sleep if they’re not tired, but you can certainly force them to be awake if they’re tired so you have to be careful and create an environment of sleep for them. Sleep is how babies process what they are learning. My sister gave me a book about sleep (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) that I read a little bit. There is some good stuff in there. We are always looking for her sleep signs. When she fusses, that is our default assumption. She is advanced for her age developmentally (and I am not just saying that) so I think it is fine that she sleeps 18 hours a day.
  • She plays hard when she’s awake. For a baby, the best thing you can do to help them gain strength is to put them on the floor and let them exercise. She plays so hard because we don’t put her in the car seat, stroller or Moby very much. She does a lot of independent playing on the floor with us laying next to her watching. We are just so amazed by her and want to see what she can do. She is on her tummy most of the time. This is a challenge when we want to change her clothes and diaper, but it has been amazing to watch her grow and get stronger. Sleep is a major part of growth so it is not surprising that she is so big (in her size and development).
  • Sleep products. She uses a pacifier to the point that it is now considered a sleep prop. This is warned against, but it has worked for us more than it has ruined us. She loves that thing. We have a few of them but we could use a couple more (one at day care, one in her car seat and one in her crib). We use a sleep sack now that she’s outgrown the swaddle. Both of those have been great for us. We used a sound machine for months (just recently stopped using it). My parents bought her a room-darkening shade for the window, so her room is pitch-dark for all naps and when she goes to bed early.

We’re new parents. We really have no idea what we’re doing. But these things have proven to work for us, so we continue. I have researched sleep (Babywise Mom is a great resource) and REM cycles, but I know most of this is probably that we just got a sleepy baby, and God gave her to us because we couldn’t handle anything else :) If sleep is hereditary then you should know that I also love to sleep and could probably sleep as much as her if someone let me.

What sleep tips do you have?


P.S. When to wake a sleeping baby.



I love my husband, my kids and the Internet.

  1. I am so jealous! Lol. Liam has never been a good sleeper. Trying to make him nap has always been a terrible time. Truth be gold he takes most of his naps in his stroller because he knocks out with minimal fussing. He just started sleeping through the night a couple months ago but still has challenging nights. He doesn’t take a paci and a sleep sack never seemed to make a difference. I’m really not sure WHAT the problem is/was. And he was always a short napper! I’m talking 30 minutes at best. Now he takes two naps a day and they’re each about an hour. I’ll take it! I’m really praying our next baby is a better sleeper because we really went through hell with Liam. Lol. And I have that happy baby book but by the time I read it Liam was already 8 or 9 months old. I’ll be following it carefully with our next one.

  2. I think your wisdom is reflected in being responsive to the signals your child is giving you rather than trying to get a baby to comply with sleep instructions. It’s much more fun being a parent that sees the uniqueness of their child and gives them what they need to develop as an individual than it is to be a compliance officer forcing them to be on a predetermined track.

    Of course, those parenting behaviors are reflective of what we think our purpose is as parents and how we perceive our Father’s interaction in our lives.

  3. I have taken a que from reading about how said you were more prepared for labor and delivery than for taking care of a baby, and I’ve added several books to my reading list that cover topics like sleep and breastfeeding. Otherwise, I think I would have been the same way if I hadn’t read about your experience.

    I’ve heard both good and bad things about Babywise. I have the book and plan to read it, but I am also reading books about attachment parenting. I’m definitely going to check out the blog you mentioned. At the end of the day though we will just have to see what works for us and our little guy when he gets here.

    I pray our child sleeps well because I am like you and value sleep! I cannot function with out it. Are there other blogs you’ve found to be helpful resources?

    • It always makes me so happy when I hear that my experience is in some way helping someone else…so thank you! :)

      I did not read Babywise, but what I like about the Babywise Mom blog is that she has a lot of different baby books (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happiest Baby on the Block, Babywise, etc) and she will compare them in her posts. So in a post about sleep sometimes she will give you what four different books say. Super helpful and then I don’t have to read all the books! :) I don’t read her blog daily…just when I have a question about something.

      My favorite mommy blog that has specific baby-caring tips and ideas is Writing Chapter 3: Ada is 10 months old (I think) so she is just ahead of Rooney. I’ve read every post. It is written by Ashley of (Never) Homemaker.

      Also, Mama Natural is good if you are interested in natural stuff: I read parts of it and then implement what I want.

      Good luck!

  4. great post! i think you’re lucky, but at the same time, i think you set rooney up to learn to settle herself to sleep. it can be hard to handle in the process, but has big payoff when you can just lay them down and walk away.

    i read babywise before i had x and remember glancing over my notes and highlights in the beginning with both kids. having babies that pretty much stick to a schedule is wonderful for people who like to be in control :) and yet babywise teaches you to be flexible when babies deviate a bit (sick, teething, etc.)

    x still sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 3 hour nap and he’s almost 3. i love it. :)

  5. Another habit that we never got into was letting the kids sleep with us my kids are older now but I have friends who can still not get away from having kids in their beds!! A child learning to fall asleep without having to be with mom or dad or having to be “rocked to sleep” will pay off in the end! I would rock my kids read a book then lay them down awake and it worked out great! My kids took 3-4 hour naps !

  6. Hi there! I have a daughter who is 11 weeks old. She is generally a really good sleeper too, takes lots of naps and sleeps well through the night with one to two short feeds only. I have been trying to stick to an eat-play-sleep routine and most days it works..l plan to try a little harder to perfect our schedule once she gets past the 3 month mark. My question is, did you have to teachn Rooney to put herself to sleep? Do you still rock her to sleep for naps and bedtime? I am still rocking Cora for every nap and she eats to sleep at bedtime, but I’d like to be able to put her in her crib and have her fall asleep. I am reluctant to let her cry it out…not that i think it does damage but she is NOT a crier so i honestly don’t know if I could handle it. Ive been trying to find some ideas of how to teach a baby to soothe themselves with as little crying as possible…let me know if you have any ideas!
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Jessica! Congrats on your little girl and good sleeper! We do not rock Rooney to sleep – we really never have. I remember doing it once, and it hurt my back so I decided I would never do it again. :) At 11 weeks we swaddled her and used a pacifier and sound machine – but I bet your daughter is about to outgrow some of those soothing aids.

      For as long as I can remember, we have put her down sleepy but awake, and left her. Sometimes we have to go in and replace the pacifier, but she will fall asleep pretty quickly if we follow her sleep signs and get her down at the right time. Sorry, I’m afraid I’m not much help!

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