Drowsy But Awake

routines Aug 09, 2022


I seriously HATED this phrase as a first time parent. It seemed so impossible and annoying because no-one actually shared HOW. But here is some helpful information for you! ⬇

Laying your baby down “drowsy” helps them fall asleep without your constant support (rocking/nursing). As babies get older, this support often takes longer and longer, and can be extremely strenuous for exhausted parents.

Here is the logic of it... If babies can fall asleep on their own at bedtime, they’re less likely to wake up in the night unless they’re hungry.


Great question. Really this can mean anything from half asleep, to basically asleep but still wiggling, or simply awake but relaxed and calm.

What it comes down to is that they aren’t totally limp asleep when you place them down.


Beyond the newborn stage, ‘drowsy but awake’ doesn’t often work. You CAN start as soon as you get home if you like, but it’s really not necessary, and likely just to cause stress. I like to begin trying this once a day after 4-6ish weeks. After about 12 weeks, you’ll probably find that baby gets more and more frustrated when you do this, especially if you’re JUST starting now. At this point I would learn a little more about baby sleep teaching rather than newborn sleep. 


If you attempt ‘drowsy but awake’ without any sort of preparation or understanding… It's unlikely to be successful. Educate yourself on newborn sleep, and HOW to optimize it. Often, the smallest changes to environment and routine can make the biggest difference!

Want to learn more about this? Sign up for my Free Night Waking Course here.


You don’t need to be trying this for every single nap. I repeat. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE DOING THIS FOR EVERY TIME THEY SLEEP.

Life happens and it can be much too stressful when a baby struggles being put down! Before 12 weeks old your baby probably has lots and lots of cuddly contact naps in the rocker, in the carrier or even on the go. That’s ok. It will NOT cause bad habits. It’s more important that they sleep than HOW they get to sleep at this point.

A better goal for attempting “drowsy but awake” is to start with bedtime!

The sleep drive is higher in the evening, it’s dark, and it’s just generally a time where sleep comes most naturally.

When you’re feeling more confident and ready, you can start with the first nap of the day, and then more as you feel comfortable. Baby wearing & naps on the go will not discourage great sleep at night!


Sleep is important! If you’re really struggling & need support along with a clear step by step plan…I can help! I have a newborn sleep shaping guide that you can download right to your inbox tonight.

Life with a newborn is so overwhelming! And when they don’t sleep well? It feels like you are completely losing your sanity. This guide is a comforting, gentle approach that gives you all the information you need to start shaping your newborn’s sleep from day one. My hope is that you’ll feel empowered and confident in the steps you can take to lay a helpful sleep foundation for your new baby. 

With the internet now, there is SO much noise and content out there. It’s hard to know what’s real, what’s helpful, and what will feel good to you and your parenting style. But you don’t need to spend hours google searching sleep regressions in the middle of the night. I’ve simplified it all right here in this accessible, easy-to-follow guide. It’s your comprehensive handbook for surviving the fourth trimester. 


  • Create a healthy sleep foundation for your newborn

  • Understand healthy wake windows 

  • Read your babies’ sleep cues so you put them down at the right time. 

  • Help your baby feel well-fed and comfortable before sleep.

  • Lengthen your babies night sleep gently

  • Make empowered choices about your family sleep environment, routines, and calming strategies. 

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