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Sleep Support for Babies and Toddlers

Arielle D.
ARIELLE D.
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
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Join Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Arielle Driscoll, and get all your sleep questions answered. Ask her about night wakings, short naps, early wake ups, and more!

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Message Arielle
ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Staying asleep through the night!
CHRISTINE , PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi! My 5 month old falls asleep on his own in his crib. I put him down awake with a pacifier and sound machine and he falls asleep. Problem is-he doesn't stay asleep! He wakes during the night-probably looking for the pacifier. He sleeps on his back and doesn't roll over yet. I haven't night fed in months so I know he can make it through the night without eating. He goes to bed around 7:30 and is up at about 5:30/6am. How can I get him to stay asleep through the night?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Christine!

Can you tell me what his daytime schedule looks like? At what times does he nap and for how long?

CHRISTINE

He's a horrible napper. I'm lucky If i get 30 minutes from him! I try the one hour rule but he seldom goes back to sleep. When he sleeps longer than that I'm shocked. His naps are inconsistent but usually 2-2.5 hours after his last wake up. He usually takes 3 naps a day.

Arielle
ARIELLE

It sounds like he could benefit from some sort of sleep training. It sounds as though he's dependent on you to fall asleep/back to sleep. I'd also work to get him on an age appropriate daytime schedule. I would recommend something like:

Nap 1 - 8:30/8:45am

Nap 2 - 12:30/1245pm

Nap 3 - about 1.5 hours after he wakes from his second nap

Bedtime around 1.5/2 hours after waking from last nap. His last nap should not go beyond 5pm or it may affect nighttime sleep. His bedtime will likely equal out to be much earlier than 7:30. This is ok will help prevent him from becoming overtired. An overtired baby has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.

CHRISTINE

Thanks for answering my question! Should I nurse him at the beginning or end of our bedtime routine. Does it matter? Usually it's bath-nurse-book-bed. I'll try this nap schedule and an earlier bedtime and see how it goes! You're right, he probably is overtired. Should I change our bedtime routine?

Arielle
ARIELLE

I would just be sure he's not falling asleep nursing. Otherwise, that routine looks good. :)

CHRISTINE

Thanks! I'll give it a try! :)

Arielle
ARIELLE

Good luck! :)

CHRISTINE

Hi Arielle! I wanted to update you on how things went last night! I put my son down earlier and tried the nursing>bath>book>bed routine. Before I had been starting his 3rd nap at 5pm. Last night we didn't do that and it really helped! He went to bed around 7:10 and stayed asleep all night! He was up at 5am though so i went in to turn the sound machine back on and then he slept until 6:30! Should I have gotten him out of bed at 5? Or is it okay that I went in to help him go back to sleep for a little. The new routine worked really well too!

Arielle
ARIELLE

WOOHOO!!!! No, definitely don't get him up any earlier than 6am. Awesome work!! :)

CHRISTINE

Thanks! I'm so excited we're making progress! you're advice really helped us. :)

Arielle
ARIELLE

Awesome! You can find me on Facebook, too. :) Expect to Sleep Again Sleep Consulting

CHRISTINE

Hi Arielle-I have another question to follow up on my post. If baby wakes up in the night, should I go to him or leave him. He doesn't really cry, rather whines and coos and whimpers. I've been going to him to put in the pacifier but I think I might be perpetuating an association by doing that. Should I just let him cry and whine until he falls back asleep? He has no problem falling asleep in his own. Naps have improved tremendously! But he's still waking a couple times at night. Thanks!!!!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Christine! If he's just kind of fussing and whining, I would leave him. :)

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Nap Training
KRISTY, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi Arielle,
Quick update from our call last week. So far so good on nap training EXCEPT for the "last nap" of the day. My little princess has yet to successfully settle for that nap AND once I got get her after an hour she has pooped everytime. Suggestions?

KRISTY

GO get not, "got get"

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Kristy! What time are you napping her and hold is she again?

KRISTY

We are trying to offer 3 - 830am 11:30 or 12 and then 2 or 230. She is 5 months.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok, does she sleep well in a stroller or in the car? The third nap can be "on the go" and some babies do best when they are on the go for that nap.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Extending naptimes
KATRINA, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

My pediatrician recommended nap training my 12 month old and so far 2 weeks in, things are going a lot better. I put her down at 9 and 1. But there arw still days she wakes in 40 minutes and i leave in until the hour mark. She never falls back asleep. Any tricks to getting her to? Or just forget trying and get her up at the 40 minute mark?

Also, was told bedtime should be 3-4 hours from last nap. This puts us at 6pm which is doable just early with a rambuncious 2.5 year old. When can that be pushed back?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Katrina! 12 months is a tricky age for naps and notorious for wakings at 40 minutes in. I would definitely leave her until it has been an hour. Naps are always harder to work on than nights, so I would still be giving her that opportunity to fall asleep and extend the nap.

At 12 months, I recommend a 4 hour wake time after her nap. I typically recommend a wake time sometime between 4/4.5 hours for quite some time if the afternoon nap occurs around 1pm.

KATRINA

Thank you!

Arielle
ARIELLE

You're welcome!

KATRINA

Forgot to say how long does the 4-4.5 wAke time go on? I would love to coordinate a later bedtime with my toddler.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Katrina - I recommend it for quite some time. Even for some 2-year-olds. It will really depend on what happens when he moves to one nap.

KATRINA

Great thanks!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
4 mo old night feedings
RENEE

I have a 4 month old who only sleeps 2 to 3 hours stints. She takes two naps during day at 9a and 1p 1 to 2 hours in length, an evening nap from 630 to 730p, bed at 9p, then I am usually up 11p, 1a, 4a and sometimes 6a to feed. She will typically sleep better in co sleeping, only when I am die need of sleep. What can I do to get her to sleep longer at night?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Renee! Her schedule is quite off for her age. I would recommend something like the following:

Wake by 6/7am

Nap 1 - 8:30/8:45

Nap 2 - 12:15/12:30

Nap 3- about 1.5 hours after her second nap

Bedtime about 1.5 hours after waking from her third nap. Babies are biologically wired to go to bed sometime between 6pm and 8pm, so her bedtime isn't helping her overnight sleep.

Do you currently nurse her to sleep? That may also be part of her problem. She may be relying on you to nurse her as she wakes between sleep cycles in the night.

RENEE

She is usually awake by 7a. I do nurse her to sleep. She might get another nap that I didn't list at daycare, I just wasn't sure. I know the bedtime hour may be off, but I don't get home from work until after 6pm. I do nurse her right when I get home. Then she is awake for about an hour and goes to sleep for about an hour waking for 9-10p feeding.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Getting a nearly 3 year old to fall sleep alone
BECKI, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

My son, who will be 3 in March, has refused to fall asleep alone for the last 3 months. It started when we were back in the UK for Christmas (his dad wasn't there for 2 weeks and he slept in my bed as refused the crib). We moved him into a toddler bed when we got back here but he will only fall asleep if one of us is lying next to him. He has started sleeping through the night (he was waking and coming into our bed) but I don't know how to get him to fall asleep, without an hour of us lying on his floor! I'm also 8 months pregnant.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Becki!! Is he still napping? If so, for how long? And at what time are you putting him to bed?

BECKI

He still naps, normally goes down at 2pm and I wake him 90 minutes later. He does fall asleep quicker in the days he doesn't nap (it takes him
30 minutes as opposed to an hour but he still needs us in there). He goes to bed at 7.30 so falls asleep at 8.30.

Arielle
ARIELLE

I would consider a gentle method with him, something like the "chair method" or "camping out" method. I think you'll likely just have to set some serious boundaries with him.

I'd also recommend napping him sometime between 12 and 1pm. This way, he will be falling asleep at night at a more age appropriate time. 2-year-olds I work with are typically going to sleep for the night by 6:30/7pm.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Almost 6 month old suddenly waking to eat at 3pm
MARY KATE, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD, 20 MONTH OLD

My almost 6 month old is a great sleeper but she suddenly has started waking around 3am to eat. She goes down awake and puts herself to sleep. Sometimes she wakes but usually babbles and goes back to sleep. The middle of the night waking seems different though - I've let her try to work it out, my husband has tried resettling her and the only thing that works is feeding her. Before that, she was sleeping 7pm until at least 6am. She eats and goes right back to sleep until 7-ish but I really would love her to drop that feed again - I feel like it's a habit now. I'm back to work and am having a hard time finding energy for work, baby and my three year old.

Thanks!

MARY KATE

Also she's gaining fine and is around 60% for weight. She's exclusively breastfed. Thanks!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Mary Kate! Have you ever done any sleep training with her?

MARY KATE

Hi Arielle - sorry I'm late. I've never needed to...

Arielle
ARIELLE

What's her sleep schedule look like? When does she nap and for how long? It could be that her bedtime is too late.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
8 month old ewu
GLORIA

My almost 8 month old has been sleeping through the night since Extinction Sleep Trained 4.5 months then dropped night feeds at 5 months. However he always wakes up early. I did Extinction for the early wake-ups so he no longer cries in the morning but he babbles and talks loudly 545 - 625 then dozed back off for 15-20 min.
DWT 6:45 +/- 15
Nap 9'30-10:45
Nap 1:30-2:45
Bed 6
I also would love to get his bedtime pushed back a little bit, 6:30 or 7 but he turns into a hot fussy mess about 5:35. So we slowly get ready for bed, nurse about 5:45, sometimes I can push back nursing him at 6 and then he will be asleep about 6:15 but he still wakes up early

GLORIA

Alsowe transition from three to two naps at 6 months because he was fighting the third cat nap and I thought maybe the short amount of wake time before bed was causing the early wake-ups. Because even when he took a 345 cat nap, he still went down for the night at 6 / 6:30.
Initially on two naps I did 2,3,4 for Wake time. Then transitioned to 3,3,3 thinking maybe that 4 hours before bed was making him over tired and causing the early wake up. None of this mattered, still ewu

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Gloria! So an age appropriate wake up is any time after 6am. I know we would all love for our babies to sleep until 6:45/7, but nature doesn't really work that way!

Has he always woken up before 6?

GLORIA

Yes. It was 4:30 - 5:30 am for awhile. He would babble awhile and fall back asleep until 6:15. And I was fine getting him up 615. So it is a little better at 5:45 now the past few weeks. But I don't want to get him that early and then by 6:15, he will be snuggling back to sleep. I know this is not that bad of an issue so maybe I should just deal with it haha period just thought maybe I could tweak it because it would be nice if he could be up just a little bit later in the evening, I mean past 6 p.m. but I suppose that will come with age

Arielle
ARIELLE

It will definitely come with age! I typically recommend naps around 9 and 1 at his age, with bedtime around 3 hours after he wakes from his second nap. Sounds like you're doing that!

GLORIA

Thanks for the reassurance

Arielle
ARIELLE

You're welcome!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Molars coming in
MICHELE, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

How do you train a 16 month old to go back to sleep if her back molars are coming in and she is screaming and standing up in the crib. I picked her up and gave her medicine and she woke several times a night. Can I try to re-train her to go back to sleep on her own. When the teeth are coming in, how do you comfort her when she won't lie back down in her bed. Do you let her CIO? I guess I have had difficulty doing that. Do I wait until the teeth break through and then try to sleep train her again. Advice needed. thank you.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Michele! Teething actually does not affect sleep like that. I know that's super frustrating to hear (parents never want to believe me haha!). You can read more about my thoughts on teething here: http://seacoast.citymomsblog.com/sleep/regressions-and-sleep/

I'm a little confused - have you already done some sleep training with her?

MICHELE

Yes, I had done sleep training with her and would go in after a couple of minutes. Sometimes I wouldn't go in because the crying got worse. However, she has not been a great sleeper and maybe because I have picked her up on occasion.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Yes, it's essential to be 100% consistent with schedule and method when sleep training. I would recommend finding a method you feel you can be 100% consistent with, and sticking with it for a good two weeks. That should help!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Help 16 month old no sleep
EDITH

I have a 16 month old almost 17 m that wakes up twice a night to nurse. Dad has tried to help with rocking her to sleep and putting her in her crib after many attempts. She cries nonstop looking for me. How can I start the process of getting her to sleep through the night and also weaning her? Sincerely, one exhausted mommy

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Edith!

Sounds very exhausting, indeed. When I get clients with similar situations, it typically takes us about two weeks to get things sorted out, so it's difficult to give you "quick" direction with this.

I would recommend doing some research on different sleep "training" (I really dislike that term!) methods that you may feel comfortable with implementing with her. I would also move nursing to the start of any pre-sleep routine instead of at the end during which time she's probably falling asleep at the breast (is this correct)?

Also - what does her daytime schedule look like? When does she nap and for how long? What time is bedtime? When does she wake up for the day?

EDITH

Yes, you are correct she sleeps while nursing. I have been trying to stop this so she is not used to using the breastfeeding as a way to sleep. Naps, she is down to one nap midday typically after lunch. Same after lunch she nurses and sleeps at the breast. I transfer her to her crib and she sleeps for an hour or two, it's never a consistent time frame. Bedtime she would sleep at 7-7:30pm now she recently started to stretch it until 8:30-9:30 sometimes. Same bedtime routine but she refuses to sleep. She wakes up usually at 4 am to nurse and sleeps until 7:30-8. But if she wakes up to nurse before 4 am she wakes up at 6-6:30 am and is up for the day.

EDITH

I should add that wake ups at night are long because she is asleep and I try to transfer her to her crib and she wakes up. I literally have to hold her for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok, I would back up her bedtime. Sounds like she is overtired by bed. At her age, she should be going to bed about 4/4.5 hour after her nap. This probably puts her at about 6/6:30pm. When a baby is overtired, her body fills with cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine - these hormones make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. So I would first start trying to get her on an age appropriate schedule, then I would look into a sleep training method that you may feel comfortable implementing. I work with clients in this sort of situation it can take some time, but typically is resolved within 2 weeks.

EDITH

Any suggestions on how to get her to sleep at that time? I am not sure what to do next or how to start sleep training. Please recommend reads, support?

Arielle
ARIELLE

If you shoot me an email, I can send you a flyer with information on different methods. My email is arielle@expecttosleep.com.

EDITH

Done. Thank you!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Toddler Self Soothing
CHARLOTTE, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 16 MONTH OLD

Our 28 month old needs lots of support to fall asleep at night and throughout the night. How can we transition him to needing less help? He sleeps in his own bed from 8pm to 6:30am. We have to stay with him and pat his bottom while he falls asleep. In the middle of the night, he makes lots of requests (blanket! water!, etc) before wanting us to pat his bottom while falls back to sleep. We don't mind staying with him while he falls asleep the first time, although it would be nice if he could fall asleep without us. The bigger issue for is the night waking. He gets so upset when he wakes that it takes more to get him calmed down and back to sleep.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Charlotte! Can you tell me what his daytime schedule looks like? When does he nap and for how long?

CHARLOTTE

Wakes around 6 or 6:15 but doesn't get out of bed until the light on his monitor comes on at 6:30am. Daycare from 8:30 - 3:00 with a nap from 1:30-2:30 (sometimes he starts napping a bit earlier). They wake him at 2:30 so I can pick him up at 3:00. Dinner is around 6 and we start putting him to sleep around 7:30 or 8.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ah ok. He's overtired! I like to see toddlers napping for at least 90 minutes. Given that his nap is considered "short" for his age, his bedtime is far too late. I would try putting him to bed closer to 6:30. I bet this will help him immensely!

CHARLOTTE

Thanks!