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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!
bedtime
EMILY, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

our daughter usually goes to bed at 6pm and wakes us around 550-630. she is almost 5months old. we will be starting solids when she is 6m in April, and we would like to move her bedtime to 7 since we both work this would allow us to eat dinner as a family. how can i move her bedtime back? she is ready for bed and pretty much out by 6..

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Emily! How many naps is she taking a day? At what times and for how long?

EMILY

she takes a morning nap around 9ish for about 1hr and then another nap around 145ish for about 1hr. and when i get home from work at 4 she will take a short 20min power nap after she nurses

EMILY

thank you for taking my question!

Arielle
ARIELLE

It may be challenging to get her a 7pm bedtime if she drops her third nap. If she continues to take a nap around 4 for 20-30 minutes, you may be able to get her there. Typically, I see 6 month olds going to bed closer to 6 still.

EMILY

ahhh ok thank you it is reassuring to know that she is right on track then thank you very much

Arielle
ARIELLE

Totally on track! :)

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Toddler goes to sleep fine but wakes several times a night?
LOVETTE, PARENT OF 8 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD

We have been having a problem with our 2.5 year old and sleeping. He goes to sleep on his own fine. However, he wakes up several times a night. As soon as we go in there he immediately lays back down and goes to sleep without any words, comforting, etc....I cannot figure out how to teach him to just go back to sleep without crying. Also, now he has starting yelling he has to potty (he is daytime trained (4 months now) but still sleeps in a diaper. So we will come in and take him to the bathroom even though he has the diaper on. We have tried CIO and it hasnt worked. What could be causing this and how can we help him so he gets a full nights sleep.

Arielle
ARIELLE

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

LOVETTE

He wakes about 6:45am we get dressed have breakfast at home, go to school he has second breakfast at school around 8a. They play go outside then he has lunch then naps there from about 11:30ish-3:00p they have snack at 3:30 then play more outside. I pick him up we have dinner at 6pm then bath bed routine for bed at 8pm. He sleeps with a blanket now, but no pillow and he is still in a crib. We have not transitioned to toddler bed yet, but are thinking about it.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok, so.... Is it possible for daycare to cap his nap? That's a REALLY long nap for his age. I find that most toddlers can't sleep longer than 2/2.5 hours during the day without nighttime begin disrupted. His bedtime is also a bit too late. If you're able, I would try to get him down for bed closer to 7ish. When you put a child to bed too late, their body fills with hormones that make it difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

LOVETTE

Thanks I will ask daycare and try to get to bed earlier!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Perfect!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Baby still wakes up to much at night
JENNIFER

Baby wakes up 3 to 4 times a night for a bottle ahe is 8 months old i thought by now shed be down to one time a night wakings. I try rocking her before giving in to the bottle. She is a great weight so i feel she should be cutting back on bottles anyways. Help tips to keep her asleep longer at night

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Jennifer! Sounds like she has a feed to sleep association, which basically means she's dependent on the bottle to fall asleep. How much is she eating during the day? How many times and how many ounces?

Also, how does she fall asleep at the start of the night? Does she fall asleep while eating?

JENNIFER

Thank you for the reply it was hard transitioning from breastfeeding on demand to bottlefeeding i have mangaged to reduce her to 5 bottles a day with 5 oz each feeding plus she is eating 4 to 5 solid meals a day than she wake up 3 times at night for a bottle......at the start of the night she has her bath than bottle and i rock her for a few minuetes after with her binky and lay her .uk n bed....she sleeps in her crib till 1 than wakes if i try rocking her or giving binky she screams and kicks till she has a bottle than goes back down for two hours than up again her bedtime schedule is 8 to 5

Arielle
ARIELLE

Is she taking pumped breastmilk or formula?

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Two to One Nap Transition
STEPHANIE, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Hi Arielle,
My son is 15 months and he started protesting his afternoon nap about three weeks ago. I would leave him in the crib for an hour and he would not go to sleep. This happened for a week straight so I thought it was time for the transition. He sleeps at night from 8 to 7/8 so I try to keep him up until after lunch (12:30). Problem is he wants to go to sleep earlier; he gets tired around 11. Sometimes I will let him go to sleep earlier and he is generally fine until bedtime. Sometimes I try to keep him awake. Should I just let him do what he needs or try to keep him up?
Also, every couple of weeks he has a night or two where he wakes up and can't fall back asleep for 1-2/hours and is off and on crying and standing up. (This happened both before and after the nap transition.) When I go in and hold him he stops crying, but I have to wait until he falls back to sleep to put him back in the crib. Should I just let him work this out on his own and not go in?
Thanks so much!
Stephanie

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Stephanie! I would definitely let him sleep at 11 if he's tired. The problem is that pushing him may be making him overtired, which can then lead to those night wakings. Additionally, I would probably try to tighten up bedtime a bit. Again, those night wakings sound like they are related to being overtired. At his age, I typically recommend waking a child in the morning by 7/7:30 and bedtime sometime between 6 and 7.

How long are his naps?

STEPHANIE

Thank you so much! His nap can range anywhere from 1-2.5 hours. It seems to be related to how many hours he has slept at night.

Arielle
ARIELLE

It probably is related to his overnight sleep! I like to look at how much a child needs in a 24-hour period and figure out a good, individualized "formula" for their sleep on one nap. How many hours of sleep does he do best with?

STEPHANIE

Somewhere between 13 and 14 hours. Thanks again!

Arielle
ARIELLE

So I would do the earlier nap, but then back up his bedtime. I bet this will help!

STEPHANIE

Great! I will try this. Thanks again!

Arielle
ARIELLE

You're welcome!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
22 month old early wake ups
MEGHAN

Hey Arielle!
My daughter generally has been a good sleeper but in the last 2 weeks she has been waking up daily around 5:30/5:45. Not one thing has changed in our routine. Normally wake up time is anywhere between 6:15-7:15. Takes a 2-3 hour nap daily and bedtime has been at 7:30, the last few nights I have tried 7:15 and she has been waking up at 6 on the dot. Regression possibly? Should we be adjusting bedtime more?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Meghan! At what time is she taking the nap?

MEGHAN

When she is home 1-3, sometimes 3:30 or 4 at daycare 12:30-2:30

MEGHAN

Daycare is 2 days per week.

MEGHAN

Also we don't reinforce the early wakeups by letting her get up. She will stay in her crib until about 6:30

Arielle
ARIELLE

Sorry for the delay - it has been busy in here!!

I would try capping the nap at 2 hours, and then putting her to bed around 7. See if that helps.

MEGHAN

Thank you :)

Arielle
ARIELLE

You're welcome!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Improving naps
NICOLE, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

My four month old sleeps great at night (approx 7pm-7am with one wake up to eat around 4 or 5am). But his naps aren't great. He hardly ever naps longer than 40-45 minutes and so currently takes 5 naps a day. How do I get him to take longer naps so that he can start transitioning to 3-4 naps a day?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Nicole! One way to improve naps is to only offer an age appropriate number of naps per day. Offering too many naps gives them no reason to extend the ones they are taking! I would recommend 3 naps at 4 months. Typically I like to see naps happening around 8:45/9 (if he's waking at 7), 12:15/12:30, and a third nap about 1.5 hours after the second nap. Bedtime should be about 1.5 hours after waking from the third nap. This may make bedtime earlier, however.

NICOLE

For additional context, he falls asleep on his own in his crib within about 5 minutes of putting him down, and has been doing that pretty much since about 8 weeks. He is awake 60-90 minutes between naps.

NICOLE

How do I make the switch to 3 naps though without him getting overtired?

Arielle
ARIELLE

You'll have to back up his bedtime a bit. Are you able to do that?

NICOLE

Since currently his last nap of the day is usually around 5 or a bit after, he wakes up sometime between 5:45 and 6. I then nurse him and we start his bedtime routine between 6:45 and 7 (I like to feed him twice before bed to help him 'tank up'). How much earlier should I move his bedtime?

Arielle
ARIELLE

I would not let him nap any later than 5pm. I would have him asleep about 1.5 hours after his third nap.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
19 month of still on 2 naps
KATIE

hi my 19 month old still takes two great naps 1.5 /2 hours each and goes to bed at 6:30pm and wakes up at 7:30 - she's a great sleeper but I was wondering should I move her to one nap since she's 19 months? Her sister will be born in 7 weeks or so , so I wasn't sure if I should mess her schedule now or just let her show me when she's ready for 1 nap?
Thank you!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Katie... wow! That's a LOT of sleep! Is she otherwise healthy?

Given her age, I don't see any reason not to transition her BEFORE her sibling arrives. You could even give her a couple more weeks and then start the transition. The good news is that transitioning on the later side makes it MUCH easier typically. :)

KATIE

Yes she's a healthy girl in the 80% eats very well and sleeps amazing. I just didn't want to mess with her schedule unless it was a good time. It would be nice to have her on 1 nap.

How do I start the process? Slowly make her morning naps later?

Thanks again!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Sorry, it got so busy in here!

I would jump into it by giving her a nap around 11/11:30 for a few days and see how she does, then slowly inch it forward. Some parents like the nap to occur between 12 and 1pm, but some children do better with an earlier nap (11/11:30) so you may have to play around with it a bit. I typically work with families for 2 weeks during the transition because it can take some time to figure out the best schedule for each child.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Getting past the 4 or 5 am wakeups
TAMARA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 16 MONTH OLD

My 4.5 month old is going to bed at 7/730 pm and sleeping through the night until 4 or 5 am when he wakes up and needs to be resettled before going back to sleep and eating around 6 am and then going back to sleep until 730 am when we often have to wake him up. I am trying to not feed until at least 6 am since I know he can hold out until then and don't want to back track. However, I usually have to resettle him or let him cry it out around 430/5 to get him to fall back asleep. How can I try to get him to sleep through until at least 6 am? He obviously is tired since he falls back asleep until at least 730 am after eating, but we just can't seem to break these early morning wake ups. He goes to daycare so naps are not consistent in length or time despite trying to have him on a schedule at home. Thanks!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Tamara! Is there a reason why you are holding him off until 6? I would personally recommend feeding him at 4:30/5 and then letting him sleep. Thoughts?

TAMARA

Hi Arielle, I had gotten advice from a sleep consultant about pushing out feeds and holding him to his best standard in order to ultimately drive towards a 7-7 overnight sleep pattern. If I go back to feeding him at 4 or 5 am, is he less likely to ultimately drop this feed or push it back to the goal of 7 am? I know it's a tricky time because they are less tired as it's end of night/early morning - do most babies over time end of sleeping longer, or is there something I should be doing to help this?

His daytime schedule ideally is: wakeup 7:30, nap sometime around 9/9:30, feed at 10, nap 11:30/12, feed at 1, nap 2:30/3, feed at 4, bedtime 7. But nap lengths are variable and his schedule gets thrown off at daycare and he does come home exhausted, usually having been up since 3pm there. Should we put him to bed even earlier? Thanks!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Tamara - he is still SO young. My personal thought is that he's young and that if he wants to eat at 4 or 5 and is going back to sleep after, then there is no problem there. Each sleep consultant has their own thinking on this. I believe that a baby should not get up any sooner than 6am for the day. I also personally believe that while a 7 to 7 schedule sounds glorious, it's near impossible for many infants. We have to be mindful of biology and how a child is biologically designed. In general, it's age appropriate for infants and young children to wake anywhere between 6am and 8am, and to go to bed between 6pm and 8pm. Sure, there will be outliers here and there that wake on the early side, but in general that's what we are working with when it comes to babies. In my opinion, I believe that if a 4.5-month-old wants to eat at 4:30/5 and returns to sleep after, there is no issue here. If a 4.5-month-old wakes at 4:30/5, eats, and then does NOT return back to sleep, that's a cue to me that the baby no longer needs the feeding at that time and the feeding should be eliminated.

I would DEFINITELY be putting him down earlier. If he is up at 3, I'd be putting him to bed at 5. I know it sounds nuts, but it will really help prevent him from becoming overtired. At his age, I recommend a schedule such as:

Wake by 7am (but no sooner than 6am)

Nap 1 8:30/8:45

Nap 2 12:15/12:30

Nap 3 1.5 hours after waking from nap 2

Bedtime 1.5 hours after waking from nap 3

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
transitioning from bedsharing
NAN, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

I'm looking to move my almost 5-month old into his own room and crib in the next few weeks. He currently sleeps in bed with me (nurses to sleep) and nurses briefly throughout the night. He's never slept in a crib before, but goes down awake during the day for naps with minimal fussing in a rock and play (I will switch to crib for naps as well once we sleep train for nights).

Should I approach the night time transition all at once (in crib awake with no sleep props)? This would be my preference since I do not want to drag the process out, but my fear is that it's too much of a change all at once and he'll have a lot of trouble adjusting.

He currently sleeps from about 8 pm to 7 am, and takes four naps during the day (usually a long one in the morning, and then 3 40-minute catnaps). Should I keep this daytime schedule until he's sleep trained for nights? I know his wake times are on the low end for his age, but I'm afraid of stretching them and going down to 3 naps and still getting the short naps.

Thank you!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Nan!

Ok, so first I would definitely drop him down to 3 naps if he's almost 5 months. It may seem like you're helping him by offering MORE naps, but you're actually making it difficult for him to learn to consolidate his daytime sleep into longer stretches of sleep. How long is his first nap?

With regard to transitioning from bedsharing, I would start by seeing if he will nap in the crib. If he's not having it, don't force it until you're ready to move him completely. And yes, I would just transition him all at once.

One additional side note is that Rock and Plays are not safe for sleeping per AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines, so if you can get him sleeping flat on his back for naps, that will be great!

NAN

He usually naps two hours in the morning after about an hour of wake time. If he doesn't take a long first nap, I'll put him down after another hour awake and he'll usually take a decent second nap. Otherwise I put him down after 1.5 to 1.75 hours awake for the rest of the day, and he's usually awake 2 hours before bed. I'll start slowly stretching the wake times to accommodate 3 naps instead of 4, and try napping him in the crib before moving him in there at night.

>Is it reasonable to go down to one night feeding at this age? Would it be confusing for him to come to bed with me after feeding? I'm open to anything, but I'd like to minimize crying in the early morning hours because I don't want it to wake up my 2 year old. Thanks so much!

Arielle
ARIELLE

OK, so I typically have a 5-month-old on a schedule such as:

Nap 1 8:30/8:45am

Nap 2 12:30/12:45pm

Nap 3 about 1.5 hours after waking from nap 2

Bedtime about 1.5 hours after waking from nap 3

It's totally reasonable to drop to one night feeding as long as his doctor approves and he is a healthy weight. It may be hard to minimize the crying as you work through it, but it may not be difficult if you can start getting him on an age appropriate schedule. Often, that helps with the overnight wakings. :)

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
4-month old will not get to sleep on her own!
JENNA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 12 MONTH OLD

Hi Arielle! My 4-month old can not put herself to sleep. We rock her for every nap (which she fights like crazy, no matter how tired she is) and to get her down at night. I often end up holding her for naps just so she will get some sleep during the day. She's starting to get very distracted by everything so even stroller doesn't always get her to sleep. We're swaddling her in a Halo sleep sack at night and I've been trying to swaddle her during the day as well. She sleeps very well at night when she goes to sleep, usually 8-9 pm through to 6-7 am. She's currently sleeping in a bassinet by our bed and if I can get her to stay asleep for a nap (outside of my arms), I have her in a dock-a-tot in her crib. I'm not sure where to start in trying to teach her to get to sleep on her own: is it the swaddle? Should she cry it out? Is she going to bed too late? The sleeping through the night is amazing so I'd love to not mess with that, but want to do what will be best for her long-term in self-soothing. Thanks!!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Jenna! It does sound like she could benefit from some overall changes. 8-9pm is definitely a late bedtime, and I would drop the swaddle at this point. If the Moro Reflex is still a problem, you could consider using a Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit for a bit. Are you familiar with sleep suits?

What does her daytime schedule look like? How many naps is she getting and when are you offering her naps?

JENNA

We do have a Magic Merlin that we have not tried yet! Would I use that all day or only at night? We're currently on a pretty good eat/play/sleep cycle of about 3 hours, sometimes a little longer. She typically seems to start to get tired (rubbing eyes/yawning) 1-1.5 hours after eating (shorter if she really didn't sleep before). So after she wakes and eats first thing in the morning, I can usually get her right back to sleep and then the rest of the day she plays and hangs out after she eats. She'll fuss for a bit when she's tired and I will try to get her to sleep. If I can't sometimes she is then totally fine and will skip that nap entirely.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Jenna! Sorry for the delay - it's busy in here! Yes, I would try the Merlin for all sleep for a bit. At 4 months, I typically recommend a schedule such as:

Nap 1 - 8:30/8:45am

Nap 2 - 12:15/12:30pm

Nap 3 - about 1.5 hours after waking from nap 2

Bedtime about 1.5 hours after waking from nap 3. I don't like to see naps end after 5pm because napping that late can affect overnight sleep.

JENNA

Thanks! Haha, it's very busy. So would each nap be 1-1.5 hours or 2? And then for the last nap say she went to sleep from 12:30-2:30 then she would be up until 4 essentially, have her last nap then up 5:30-7ish and go to bed for the night?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Yeah, if she gives you nice naps like that! If she woke at 2:30, her next nap would be at 4. I'd be sure to wake her by 5pm (naps after 5 can tend to encroach on nighttime sleep), then bedtime around 6:30.