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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!
Night waking/feeding
KOMAL, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi Arielle,
Thank you for answering questions. My 5-month old son goes to bed at 7am. He is able to go to sleep for naps and at nighttime on his own within 10-15 minutes. He wakes up twice at night. Once at 10:30pm and once between 2 and 4am for a feed. We are uncertain about how to wean him off these feeds at night particularly the early am feed. Sometimes he wakes up and is able to fall back asleep without a feed within 20 minutes and sometimes he will fall back asleep and then keep waking up every few minutes and crying until I feed him. He cried for almost an hour last night and my husband tried soothing him on and off almost for an hour after that but he wouldn't stay asleep without a feed. He has reflux that is managed reasonably with omeprazole, appears to be teething, and is not doing solids yet. He has done longer stretches at night before the 4 month regression. He was doing anywhere from 6-10 hours. Any advice or suggestions would be helpful.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Komal! Have you done any sort of sleep training with him?

KOMAL

We do a bedtime routine at night and he falls asleep on his own without props. We let him cry it out for 15 minutes or so when he wakes up at night then husband goes in to calm him and puts him back drowsy but awake. Aside from that we haven't done much. We haven't done any formal sleep training. Anything you recommend?

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Naps at 9 Weeks
SARAH, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

My nine-week old will only take a nap longer than 20 minutes in a carrier or in our arms. If we put her down drowsy, she snaps to attention after a minute or two and eventually starts wailing. If we put her down asleep, she only lasts about 20 minutes. Getting her down at night takes a lot of rocking, but she usually sleeps well once she's out. She gets up once or twice to nurse and goes right back to sleep.

Is she too young to be trying anything other than letting her sleep wherever and however she can? When should we start trying to help her sleep on her own?

Thank you!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Sarah!

When are you offering her naps right now? How frequently?

SARAH

We offer her first nap about an hour after she gets up in the morning, when she starts to stare into space instead of wanting to play. During the rest of the day, I try to get her back to sleep about 60-90 minutes after she awakens from her last nap. When we use the carrier, she's usually taking four 1.5-2 hour naps. Without it, it's cat nap city, and we're constantly trying to put her down. Thanks, Arielle!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok, I would definitely recommend about 60 minutes right now. And cat nap city, unfortunately, is super age appropriate. Daytime sleep usually begins to consolidate sometime between 3 and 6 months, but usually closer to 4 months on the early side.

SARAH

Thanks, I'll definitely try sticking to the 60 minutes! Do you think it's better for her to get plenty of sleep in the carrier or keep trying to put her down with the constant wakeups?

Arielle
ARIELLE

I would keep using the carrier for now. When she gets closer to 4 months, if she's still having trouble, you can shoot me a message! ;)

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Toddler Waking shortly after put down
CRISTINA, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Hi! I have a 20 month old who finally started sleeping through the night (most nights) around 17/18 months (right after getting his last set of teeth for now). However lately he wakes soon after we put him down 1-3 hours. In the past when he wakes up we try to rock him and settle him and try to put him back in his crib but now he instantly wakes up and basically refuses to go back to sleep until we take him down with us to cosleep. Then he's perfectly fine the rest of the night. Is this just a phase? Separation anxiety? I'm trying to break the co sleeping habit since we are expecting #2 late summer but sometimes it's easier and quicker. Appreciate any advice.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Christina! Can you tell me about his daytime schedule? When does he nap and for how long? When is bedtime? It sounds like he may be overtired. Typically, when a child is overtired, they will wake within 1-3 hours after going to bed.

CRISTINA

He naps from 12-1:30/2 and bedtime is 7/7:30. Usually when he is with me he sleeps better at night but not always. However with our day care provider his naps aren't as good as much as she tries. The home is on a noisy street which doesn't help. The last few nights he hasn't napped well for her so perhaps that is the case.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Ok, I would definitely get him down earlier for bed. I would aim to get him down about 4/4.5 hours after he wakes from his nap. I realize this puts bedtime much earlier than it is right now, but it will *really* help with those night wakings.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Drowsy but awake for 4-month-old
LAURA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 14 MONTH OLD

We're working on putting our 4-month-old down drowsy but awake, but she usually fusses and needs to be soothed back to drowsy. When we put her back down, the whole fussing/soothing process repeats. How many times should we do this before just putting her down asleep, and is it different for naps/bedtime/night wakings? At some point she needs to get some rest...

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Laura! Are you using any particular method? What does her schedule currently look like? When is she napping and for how long? When is bedtime?

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Reflux
BETHAN

My month old has really bad reflux and is sleeping in average for 20-40 mins at a time and due to her discomfort it can take up to an hour to get her to sleep. We have her in an incline sleeper and have her swaddled. She is on breast milk but the pediatrician has put her on two night time formula bottles to help her sleep more. This morning she has had only 40 mins total sleep since 3. Any advice for a very exhausted mom?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Bethan - Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this. The combination of reflux and age is difficult because at her age, circadian rhythms are not yet established so it's difficult to get them on any sort of predictable schedule because their sleep is erratic. If sleep is that hard, however, I would speak with the doctor and get a referral for a GI specialist. That little sleep is concerning.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Short naps
COURTNEY

Any suggestions for increasing the 30-40 minute naps my 3 month old takes?

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Courtney! At what times are you offering the naps? Typically, daytime sleep begins to consolidate between 3 and 6 months of age, so 3 months is on the early side for naps but a solid schedule may help.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Night weaning
JULIE, PARENT OF 7 YEAR OLD

Hi, I'm looking to cut down the 2-3 wakings to be fed down to 1-2, and ideally none. We've transitioned overnights from nursing to bottles which has helped a bit, but how do you advise dropping bottles? Baby is about to be 7 mo old. She falls asleep on her own most of the time in her crib and takes 2-3 naps day. We have a consistent bedtime and sleep routine.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Julie!

When you say she "falls asleep on her own most of the time" - what do you have to do to get her to sleep initially? Is she falling asleep while nursing or taking a bottle at the start of the night? And what about for naps?

At what times is she napping and for how long? And when is bedtime?

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Night waking/ sleep training
GENEVA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

My daughter is 7 months old. We have co slept her ebtite life so far and when she wakes up in the night I nurse her for a minute and she falls back asleep. It's kind of working for us but we are going away for the weekend in April and my mom will be watching her so we know we need her to be able to settle herself back to sleep by then. I have three questions: 1. What are your thoughts on the sleep training method extinction with a cap? 2. If we have her CIO how do I handle subsequent night waking? 3. My daughter is small and eats some solids but is mostly breastfed. I still think she needs one night feed. How do I do manage to include one night feed without jeapordizing the sleep training? Thank you!!!!

Arielle
ARIELLE

1) Extinction with a cap is fine as long as the cap isn't super short. Some babies will give it a good cry for up to 2 hours. After that point, I think capping is a good idea; however, I also believe you have to do what you can handle and be 100% consistent with.

2) If you chose extinction for your method, you would use it for night wakings and naps as well.

3) You can absolutely keep a night feeding if needed! What you would do is set a cutoff time and not feed her before X time or after X time. As a general rule, I typically recommend not feeding before midnight or after 4:30/5am.

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Early wakings
KRISTIN, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

My 9 month old daughter wakes each morning around 5:15-5:45am. She typically goes to bed around 6-6:30pm each night and most times sleeps through the night. I am wondering if there is a way to get her to sleep slightly later in the morning without disrupting her schedule too much. She goes to daycare during the weekdays and her naps are somewhat "scheduled" around 9am and 1pm. Her naps range from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, but most days, it seems she doesn't take more than 45 minute naps. By 6pm, she is definitely ready for bed. If we move her bed time up earlier, would this help her sleep longer? Or, should we just expect that somewhere in the 5am range is her morning.

Thank you!!

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Kristin! I would consider trying an earlier bedtime for a bit to see if it helps. If she naps at 1 for 45 minutes, then 6/6:30 is a huge stretch for her. I typically recommend a 3/3.5 hour wake time at 9 months.

Has she ever woken at 6 or later? Is this early waking a new pattern for her?

ARIELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Nap transitioning
JACKIE, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD, 18 MONTH OLD

Wondering how/when to transition from three to two naps. My 8 month old has been going to bed around 715/730p and sleeps thru to 6am. He naps at 8, sleeps 1.5-2 hours, he then naps around 12 for 45-60 min and takes a final nap around 330/4 for 45 -60 minutes. Sometimes he needs the nap at 12 but sometimes he can definitely stay up longer and I'm wondering how I can transition to one longer afternoon nap instead of two short naps and what time would be appropriate. He's at home now but going to daycare next month so trying to get him on that two nap schedule before then if doable.

Arielle
ARIELLE

Hi Jackie!

At 8 months, I typically recommend napping babies at 9am and 1pm. This helps to push out their nap schedule a bit, which builds sleep pressure and leads to longer naps. When you drop to 2 naps, you'll need to back bedtime up a bit. He will need to go to bed around 3 hours after he wakes from his second nap.