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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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ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

4 month old doesn't nap long, is that ok?

MISHELL, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD

Hi, My 4 month old has slept through the night since 2 months old (10 hour stretch exactly), however only takes quick 20 minute power naps throughout the day. He wakes up happy, but I am wondering if that is enough.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Mishell! Can you share your baby's schedule? In general, any nap under 1 hour is not considered restorative. Offering naps at correct times in the day can help with these micronaps during the day. Also, how does he fall asleep at night? Do you have to do anything to help him or is he falling asleep on his own?

MISHELL

Hi Arielle,
It's hard to know his exact schedule since he is with a sitter during the week. But typically he wakes up at 6:30am and is ready to for a nap around 8:30 (which is when he sleeps for an hour), then he goes down again around 11:30/12 and that is when the 20-40 minute power naps begin. He will then nap again around 3ish and again at about 5:15. I try to then put him down to sleep by 7:30pm. I am sure I am not putting him to nap at the appropriate times. When he is with me, he usually falls asleep while nursing. But when he is not, the sitter does put him down and he falls asleep on his own.
At night, we have a routine of a bath, book, swaddle (even though we just transitioned to a sleep sack) and then I nurse him to sleep. I nurse him since that is the time he would normally eat anyways. He typically stays asleep until 6:00/6:30. However, in the last week he has been a little unpredictable and may wake after an hour or 2 and I just rock him a little to sleep (without taking him out of his bassinet). But, we will also be transitioning him to the crib soon as well. Oh fun! :)

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok - he's napping too late in the day. I wouldn't let him nap after 5pm, and I'd back up bedtime a bit if your schedule allows for it. Also, it sounds like he has a nurse to sleep association, which is why he's not extending his naps during the day. A way to break this is to move nursing to the START of his nap or bedtime routine rather than the end.

MISHELL

Great! Thank you!

Arielle
ARIELLE

You're welcome!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

2 year old wont sleep in crib

STACEY, PARENT OF 7 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD

Our 2 year old slept through the night in his crib on his own room from 4 months to 15 months. Now we cannot get him to sleep in there. He screams, cried and tries to climb out. I have a 3 month old daughter and was so exhausted and emotional when i was pregnant with her i couldnt bare to let him scream. He has been sleeping with my husband and i since. Os there any hope of retraining him to sleep in his toddler bed by himself? I realize this is our fault.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Stacey! Don't beat yourself up over it! It's definitely fixable but it will likely take some time. How far into 2 is he? Meaning is he just barely 2 or is he closer to 2.5?

6 month old - Not great sleeper, getting worse?

SARINA, PARENT OF 8 YEAR OLD, 6 YEAR OLD

My 6 month old son has never been a great sleeper. The past few nights have been even more challenging - curious what is normal, what's fixable? How can I get longer stretches?

He naps well. Usually takes three naps a day (2 longer and 1 shorter) totaling about 3 to 3.5 hours. Average awake time between naps is 2.5 to 3 hours. Usually able to self soothe to sleep for naps.

Nighttime sleep is another ballgame. His bedtime is usually around 6:30 to 7:00pm and he's usually up for they day between 6:00 to 6:30am. He wakes three times between bedtime and wakeup (at best) and I used to get him down by nursing then having him self soothe in his crib.

However, the past few nights, he has been getting upset when I transfer him back to the crib. I give him time, but he gets more upset if I check on him. I have ended up nursing then waiting until he falls into deep sleep in my arms before transferring him back into the crib. Sometimes I don't wait long enough and have to start all over, sometimes I fall asleep and then I miss the deep sleep window. I think separation anxiety has kicked in recently, but again this isn't an issue for naps.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

6 month old with orthotic helmet and sleep troubles

SARAH, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD

Hi, my 6 month old wears an orthotic helmet for plagiocephaly (he has had it for about 3 weeks). Before the helmet he slept well: bedtime around 6 or 7, slept until 3:30-5:30, took a bottle and went back to sleep no problem. But most importantly, he would fall asleep if we put him in the crib drowsy (but awake) without making a peep.

Now, he has to be rocked into a deep sleep and placed into the crib carefully to avoid waking him. If he wakes up, he screams. We have tried sleep training/returning at progressive intervals, but he only seems to get worse the longer we leave him without picking him up, and what's more, he often rolls over, moves around until his legs are stuck in the crib rungs (trapping him upside down), and with the weight of the helmet and him screaming like he is dying, I am terrified that he can't breathe well and that leaving him per the sleep training instructions is a SIDS risk.

Any advice?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Sarah! I always recommend speaking with the doctor if there is something medically involved with how a child is sleeping (I would consider the helmet the medical involvement here). You may share with the doctor that it has been 3 weeks and his sleep is severely disrupted. I'm sure you wouldn't be the first (or the last!) to ask the doctor. See if he has any tips and share your concern about him getting stuck upside down! Sometimes these things really need medical advice (which I, unfortunately, cannot give!).

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

Toddler sleep

LEAH, PARENT OF 7 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD

Tips on transitioning a toddler from cosleeping to his own bed? My 26 mo is night weaned and no longer nurses to sleep. He generally STTN, but sometimes stirs looking for me. I want to transition him to his own bed before our next child comes at the end of May. He has a hard time falling asleep. I don't feel that we have a good routine down. It takes him a while to wind down. His language is also emerging right now (expressive language delay), so I don't know if that's impacting his ability to fall asleep.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Leah! There are some sleep challenges that don't have a quick response, and this is one of them. When I work with clients with similar issues, it typically involves a lot of understanding about the child, his temperament, any developmental or cognitive delays, health issues, family dynamics, eating patterns, etc. Every toddler is so unique in this sort of situation. I work with clients with similar situations all the time, but it requires a lot of exploration and close work with the family. I think this is absolutely a solvable issue, but I don't think it's solvable in a quick Q&A (which is often the case with sleep, particularly with toddler sleep!). I hope this makes sense. Please feel free to message me or email me if you'd like to chat further.

Our Q&A is now over.

TINYHOOD, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD

Thank you, Arielle! Arielle will answer all of the questions asked in this session.

Arielle and Expect to Sleep Again Sleep Consulting offer a variety of sleep services for babies and toddlers. Check out Arielle’s profile for more info!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

6 month old cannot stay asleep

MANDI

My 6 month old was a great sleeper, who slept through the night from 2-4 months. At four months she hit that regression and has been a bear since. She goes to sleep great... we put her down with no sleep crutches and she settles herself around 7:30 or 8 but she always wakes at 11 and will scream until I nurse her. She'll go back to sleep fine then but the same thing happens again at 2 or 3 am. Same thing happens during naps... at the 45 minute mark she wakes up and I can tell she is still tired but most of the time she cannot settle herself back to sleep. She's sleeping in her own room in a zipadee zip swaddle transition sleep sack, dark curtains and a sound machine... I have no clue what else to do.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Mandi! At what times are you doing her naps? It sounds like her bedtime is probably too late.

MANDI

She wakes at 7:30 usually and naps at 9am and 12pm consistently. The last nap is very inconsistent since I have to pick up my older kids from school some days and she will catnap in the car. Any suggestions on a good time for the last nap/bedtime?

MANDI

Well, I take that back a bit. She usually naps 2 hours after she wakes up... so if it's a quick 9am nap she will nap around 12 although every once in awhile she takes a longer morning nap and I'll put her down later than 12 if that's the case.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok, I would try pushing her second nap to start around 1pm. If she skips the third nap, I would get her to bed much earlier - around 5/5:30 or about 2 hours after she wakes from her second nap. I realize this sounds super early but if her naps aren't great or the third is skipped, putting her down super early will help prevent her from becoming overtired, which can lead to those night wakings. Is there a sleep training method you're comfortable with? I'd probably explore methods and figure out what you can be most consistent with and begin implementing that method with a tightened up schedule.

MANDI

We're fine with CIO, we did that at 3 months which helped her go to sleep. It just seems harder at night because I'm always afraid she's hungry (although our pediatrician did say she should be fine through the night now). I will try tightening up the schedule and see if an earlier bedtime helps. If we are home and she does get a third nap in, what time should that be? Then what time would you suggest for bed?

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

3 year old naps

SUNNY

My three year old refuses to nap at home on weekends, but naps fine at school. What to do? Help please :) thank you!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Sunny! This is SUPER common. Can you tell me about naps at school? What time? How long? And what do you try at home?

SUNNY

They lay down on cots from 12-2, and his teacher said he usually falls asleep in 5-10 minutes and sleeps the full time. At home we usually aren't able to try and put him down until 12:30/1. We read books and do the same nighttime bedtime routine. He sleeps in a crib but can easily climb out. When we do (rarely) get him to nap at home he doesn't fall asleep until after 2, then nighttime sleep is messed up!

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

2 to 1 nap transition

EMILY

15 mo old has been transitioning to 1 nap for a month, since he started refusing 2nd nap, and will only nap for 35 min to 1 hour if we're lucky (on 2 naps he was getting about 2 hours total). We are putting him to bed by 6 and he is getting about 12 hours at night, but I can tell he needs to nap more. His behavior has changed for the worse and he wakes up from his nap very crabby and clingy. How can we help him nap longer? Will he ever, or can he just be a short napper?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Emily! At what time are you offering him a nap?

EMILY

I have been pushing it to between 11:30 and 12. We started out pushing nap time slowly later every couple of days, and even when it was an earlier nap time, like 10:30/11, it was the same nap length.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ideally, on one nap, we like the nap to be at least 90 minutes. How does he fall asleep at night? Does he have any sleep associations? Does he depend on you to help get to sleep (or back to sleep)? Additionally, how long have you stuck with one particular time to start the nap? Or do you change it up every day?

EMILY

He falls asleep on his own for his nap and at night, with a little blankie, and sleeps through the night. For the past week I have put him down for nap between 11:30 and 12, but he starts yawning and rubbing his eyes as early as 8:30 some days. Luckily it has been unseasonably warm here and we have been able to play outside to help push the nap, but it's getting cold again and he is a mess.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!

Sleep Training

KATY

Hello, my daughter is 8 months old. She is still up 2-3 times a night. We went through a period of a couple of weeks where she was just up once, but that didn't seem to last long. I think she probably does need to get up 1 time to eat, but the other times seem to be for comfort. If we rock her, she will go back to sleep, but as soon as we put her down in her crib, she wakes up screaming. We eventually bring her in to our bed, and she sleeps just fine. I think we just need to sleep train her a bit, but we're running into a logistical challenge because she shares a room with our 3-year-old. We do not let the baby cry for more than a minute or so because we don't want our 3-year-old to wake up. What's the best way to sleep train in this situation? Thanks!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Katy! yes, sounds like it's time to do some training. Can you move the 3-year-old into your room for a bit while you work on training? Or have a "camp out" for the 3-year-old somewhere else in the house for a few days?