September 22, 2022

How to Put Your Baby Down Drowsy but Awake

close u of sleeping newborn baby sleeping on mother

Caring for your baby can take its toll on you, especially if it’s the middle of the night and your little one won’t go to sleep!

Putting your baby down drowsy but awake may feel impossible when you are tired, but it’s key to ensuring that your baby gets the sleep she needs, as well as establishing good sleeping habits in both you and your baby.

Asian Siblings Sleeping in Bed- Sleep train

Here are some tips on how to put your baby down drowsy but awake.

What is The Drowsy But Awake Method?

The drowsy but awake method is when you start to put your baby down when they are drowsy but still awake. This helps baby learn how to fall asleep on her own and get used to their bedtime routine.

It is important to do this a few times a week so that your baby can learn the cues that they are sleepy and learn how to fall asleep independently. Some common sleep readiness signs are yawning, rubbing their eyes, or being less active.

For example , if your baby is soundly sleeping for an hour at 9:00 pm, you should wait until 10:00 pm before putting them in their crib. Once they start showing sleepy cues like yawning or rubbing their eyes, it’s time to put them in their crib drowsy but awake.

If they cry for a few minutes while going through the process of sleep training, just continue with your soothing routine and eventually they will be sleeping soundly without needing any rocking or holding by mommy!

Does The Drowsy But Awake Method Really Work?

The drowsy but awake method is when you put your baby down in her crib when she’s drowsy but still awake. The thinking behind this method is that if your baby falls asleep on her own, she’ll be more likely to sleep through the night. And who doesn’t want a good night’s sleep?

Happy Mom and Daughter sitting on couch

Being a parent of an infant can often feel like running around with no shoes on, so it can be easy to forget what being tired feels like.

That being said, the most important thing when it comes to putting your baby down for bedtime is consistency: at around the same time every day and with a routine of some sort.

So what is the right way and when should you start doing it?

The Right Way To Put Baby Down Drowsy But Awake

Drowsy but awake is the sweet spot for putting your baby down in her crib. If she’s too awake, she may cry a few cries before falling asleep. But if she’s too drowsy, she won’t be able to soothe herself back to sleep if she wakes up in the night.

The best way to tell when you should start trying the drowsy but awake method is when she can sleep independently without help from you.

For example, once my 12 months daughter was old enough to sleep through the night without waking up and crying, I started using this method. When I put her down, she would squirm and fuss a little bit before nodding off on her own after about 20 minutes or so. She’s sleeping soundly now!

Mixed Race Mom and Baby

Moreover analyze the following:

1. Analyze her sleep habits: One great way to figure out whether or not your baby is ready for the drowsy but awake strategy is to look at her sleep schedule. It’s likely that she will be most willing to fall asleep on her own when he has slept plenty during the day.

Pay attention to what time of day it is and make sure she gets enough rest throughout the night.

2. Watch for sleep signs that she’s ready for bedtime like rubbing her eyes, yawning, or telling you she’s sleepy. Keep an eye out for warning signs of trouble ahead like lightheadedness, lethargy (a lack of energy), extreme fatigue (too tired to do anything), or talking incoherently (like mumbling).

Take note of what time of day it is and how much napping he does during the day. Sleep begets sleep so babies need more at night than they do during the day.

3. Pre-sleep routines are essential and there are many ways to get your baby relaxed and drowsy. Play soothing music, read together, give a warm bath, have some milk with cereal before bedtime, rock gently and sing softly while holding her close.

Make sure her room is quiet as well as cool – not too hot or cold.

4. Separate eating from sleeping: Avoid breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or having solids two hours before going to bed. Stay close by her crib until she falls asleep and then leave the room; she’ll go back to sleep better on her own than if you hover over her every time she stirs.

Boy Waking Up

Successful Tips on Putting Baby Down Awake

1. Establish an age appropriate bedtime routine and stick to it as closely as possible. A set routine will signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down for the night.

2. Start the drowsy but awake process when your baby is sleepy but not yet asleep. This usually happens right after the last feeding of the night.

3. Gently place your baby in the crib awake, using whatever method you’re comfortable with (rocking, patting, etc.).

4. Leave the room without saying anything or making any sudden movements, so as not to jar your baby into alertness.

5. When you hear those first few sleepy sounds like gurgles or yawns from your little one, head back into the room, turn on a soothing nightlight and sing softly until they fall asleep.

6. Set up the ideal room environment before putting your baby sleep. Babies are sensitive to light, noise and temperature changes. It’s important to make sure the room is dark enough that she can’t see what’s going on around her, there are no glaring lights coming through windows or monitors, and she doesn’t feel too hot or cold while she sleeps.

7. Rock your baby less until your baby is drowsier, dazed and even quieter than usual, which might take 20 minutes or more. Wait until your baby is snoozing before placing them in their crib.

8. Be patient before responding to her fussing. If your baby wakes and starts to cry, wait 10-15 minutes before picking her up again. You’ll likely notice that the crying has calmed down when you return.

Active Child after first nap

What To Do When It Isn’t Working

If your baby is older than 6 months and you’ve been trying the drowsy but awake method for a while without success, it might be time to try a different approach. Maybe your baby needs more practice falling asleep on her own.

Try putting her down for shorter naps during the day so she has a chance to get used to falling asleep without you. You can also try letting her cry for a few minutes before you go in to check on her.

And remember, all babies are different. Yours might not be ready for drowsy but awake at 4 months old, or 6 months old, or even 8 months old. It takes some trial and error to figure out what’s best for your baby. And every stage of development comes with new challenges.

But as long as you’re consistent about your method, you’ll find that you’re able to put your baby down without worry—and get more sleep yourself!

But whatever you do, don’t give up! The more consistent you are about using a method of putting your baby down drowsy but awake and checking on her from a distance—and sticking with it—the better off she’ll be. And in time, she’ll fall asleep without any crying at all.

When that happens, you can feel good knowing that you’ve given her a skill that will benefit her throughout life: She’ll know how to put herself to sleep when she’s tired and wants rest.



1. When can you start drowsy but awake?

After your baby is three months old and has learned how to fall asleep on their own, drowsy but awake might be a good way for you to put your baby down. Of course, every baby is different—some babies may not be ready until they’re four or five months old.

You know your baby best, so if they are still waking up after you put them down drowsy but awake, then keep working on putting them down while they’re still sleeping soundly.

2. What is considered drowsy?

Being drowsy means that your baby has the right amount of sleepiness to be able to fall asleep easily. If your baby is too tired, they will get cranky and have trouble falling asleep.

If they aren’t tired enough, they won’t feel sleepy enough to fall asleep and will stay awake longer than needed in order to try staying up as long as possible.

3. When should I start laying my baby down for bed awake?

You should begin putting your baby down drowsy but awake when they reach three months old and have developed the ability to self-soothe themselves back to sleep.

Every child is different – some babies may need more time, while others will do better at an earlier age.

4. How do I know if my baby is drowsy?

Your baby’s eyes will become heavy and droopy, which signals that it’s time for bedtime!

5. Why does my baby wake up as soon as I put her down?

If your baby wakes up as soon as she’s put down, it could mean that she isn’t used to this new routine yet. It also could mean that she’s not getting enough naps during the day (and her body clock needs to adjust).

Don’t worry though; just follow these tips and continue putting her down drowsy but awake until she falls asleep without waking up.

6. Will putting my baby down drowsy but awake work with my infant who wakes during the night?

Putting your baby down drowsy but awake at nap time is great for ensuring that she stays asleep throughout the entire nap. But what about nighttime?

Putting your baby to bed awake doesn’t guarantee that she’ll stay asleep all night long, especially if she typically wakes up multiple times each night.


Drowsy but awake is when your baby is tired enough to fall asleep, but not yet asleep. It’s the perfect time to put your baby down for a nap or for the night. You can start using this technique when your baby is around 6 weeks old.

To do it, simply hold your baby close and rock them until they are drowsy. Then, put them down in their crib while they are still awake. They may cry for a few minutes, but eventually they will drift off to sleep. For some parents, transitioning their baby to a drowsy but awake state is difficult. Babies are unpredictable and you never know when they might fall asleep while being held.

But with a little practice, you’ll learn how your baby’s body language changes when she is about to drift off. Then you can put them down for a nap or bedtime before they nod off completely. This method also works well if your baby doesn’t like loud sounds and light sources when falling asleep.

Taryn Crimi

Taryn Crimi

Taryn is an international intuitive, focused on helping to empower you manifest your best life!

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