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Sleep Support for Babies, Infants and Toddlers

Katie  P.
KATIE P.
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
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Putting your baby back to sleep 5 or 6 times a night? Second guessing motherhood? Resenting your snoring husband while your baby is screaming? Join Katie Pitts, certified pediatric sleep consultant and learn how to help your whole family get a better night's sleep.

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KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
7 Month Old Nap Schedule
EMILY, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 4 YEAR OLD

My 7 month old daughter has never stuck to a consistent nap schedule and I'm afraid it's now affecting her (previously successful) night time sleep. She was pretty consistent about napping/eating/playing in a 3 hour cycle with 1-2 dream feeds until she was about 3.5 months old and started easily sleeping through the night (7pm-6:30am). At that point her daytime routine suddenly fell apart and her naps were all over the place even though she continued to sleep through the night. Then, last month, she started waking in the night at odd hours, crying for anywhere from 5-40 minutes and sometimes waking for the day 5:30am. Since then we have tried to encourage a consistent nap schedule (one at 9am, 1pm and maybe a short one at 5pm) to hopefully get her night sleep back to normal. However, she will not cooperate! Even if I can push her first nap until 9am she often won't make it until 1pm for the next one and the length of these naps varies daily. Is there anything we can/should do to get her day time sleep more consistent so that hopefully she will go back to sleeping through the night?
Thanks for your help!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Emily. Does she have a bedtime and naptime routine? What has to happen at night and naps in order for her to fall asleep?

EMILY

Hi Katie,
She does have a routine for both. We put her down drowsy but awake at night after a bath, bottle and song. She talks to herself then goes to sleep no problem. For naps it's similar (minus the bath, obviously) and when she's tired she goes right to sleep. But sometimes she's asleep in my arms before a nap then wakes when I put her down and won't go to sleep again at all.

Katie
KATIE

Drowsy but awake is typically trouble at this age so I would work on putting her down 100% wide awake during all sleep situations. Adjust your bedtime routine to a bottle, bath, song & story to help make sure she stays awake. As far as a schedule, I would push her to a 2 nap schedule with napping at 9:30 and 1:30. If her naps are short, do an early bedtime of 6:00! If you need help with this process, I'm happy to discuss some further options with you during a free 15 minute evaluation: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
7 Month old sleep training
LAURA, PARENT OF 8 YEAR OLD

Hi Katie, thanks in advance for your help! My son (an 18 lb baby who loves to eat!) is almost 7 months and we have been sleep training him for about 3.5 weeks now. We have gotten to a point where he puts himself to sleep after being put down awake for bedtime and all naps. Sometimes he will quietly put himself to sleep and sometimes he will still cry, but usually for less than 10 minutes, but I still hate that he is crying. He goes to bed around 6:30pm and wakes up between 5 and 5:45am. I had been making him stay in his crib until at least 6, but our target wake-up is 7am, so recently, I have decided to feed him when he wakes and then put him back down (awake) and he will sleep until 7ish. For now, I am ok doing this, as he is starving when he wakes up, but when is it reasonable to expect him to eat around 6pm and then not again until 7am? Or is that never reasonable? For naps, he has largely moved to two naps per day with one being about 2 to 2.5 hours after he wakes and then 3 or so hours after he wakes from that nap. What is the optimal nap schedule for this age? Generally, he will do 1.5 hours in the morning and 2 plus in the afternoon. But if one nap is considerably shorter, he might be up from his second nap around 2 or 2:30 and then we have a tough time making it to 6:30pm. When that happens, should we try to fit in another nap? And once we get to a solid two nap per day schedule, how will long will we want to maintain that schedule before the naps will change? Thanks so much!

LAURA

Let me revise that...sometimes he puts himself to sleep with no crying, but tonight, he has cried for a good 30 minutes so far and is still not asleep. And this is angry crying. I checked on him to make sure he did not have a messy diaper, and he doesn't. I dont understand why after this long with sleep training, he is still crying so much to put himself to sleep some of the time. And it breaks my heart!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Laura. It's possible he is getting too much daytime sleep. A baby this age needs 3 - 3.5 hours of daytime sleep, never having a nap over 2 hours. If he does, he won't be tired enough for bedtime or not tired enough to sleep his full 11-12 hours. For his age and weight, he should be able to go 11-12 hours without eating in the middle of the night. Early morning wakings can linger for 4-6 weeks so I would go back to cutting out the feed, having a minimum wake up time, and giving it more time for him to connect that last sleep cycle.

I like to do scheduled naps at this age, typically around 9:30 and 2:00 I find is best. He should be in bed 3 to 3.5 hours after he wakes from his last nap.

LAURA

Hi Katie, I think he is generally around 3.5 hours of daytime sleep per day. His longest naps might be 2.5 hours, but that might happen once a week. If he is on the 11 end of the 11-12 range, and he goes to bed at 6:30pm, then it makes sense that he is waking at 5:30am. So would you recommend moving his bedtime later? For 11 hours of sleep, he would need to go to bed at 8pm to get up at 7am, which seems really late for him. But for a 9 or 9:30am nap, he would need to get up at 7 to make it to nap time. And he needs to be napping at 9 or 9:30 because we have to take his sister to school at 8:30. Thanks.

Katie
KATIE

Regardless on what time he wakes in the morning, I would not put him down any earlier than 9:00. Make sure he isn't getting tired or falling asleep in the car while bringing his sister to school. I would recommend taking your 5 am feed back out or you will soon notice it moves to 4:00 am, then 3:00 am, etc. Always have a minimum wake up time. If he is going to bed at 6:30, 6:00 would be a good minimum wake up time. Try pushing that second nap closer to 1:30 or 2:00 so he can make it to a little later of a bedtime.

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
10.5 month old schedule
KATRINA, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 4 YEAR OLD

What are recommended wake times for a 10.5 month old? Wakes around 7 and first nap is still 2 hours after. But then she only naps 30-40 minutes and then Goes 3-4 hours before 2nd nap and then goes 5 hours before bed. I have heard if they wake at 645, they should go to ned at 645, so i make sure she is in bed 12 hours from wake time. Idk what to do about erratic schedule. I have tried to get her on one but does not seem to wirk bc she has short naps but sleeps 10-11 at night

Wakes to eat and sleeps another 1-2

Katie
KATIE

Hi Katrina! An ideal schedule for a 10.5 would be:
7:00 Wake up
9:30 - 11:00 Nap
2:30 - 4:00 Nap
7:30 Bedtime

Pushing that morning nap back by 30 minutes should help you get to a longer morning nap! A baby this age generally can handle 3.5 hours of wake time. It's common for them to have the shortest wake time in the morning before first nap.

KATRINA

I wish an 1.5 hour nap
Longest has been
53 minutes
Lol!
Maybe some day

KATRINA

But i just don't think i will ever get to a 230 afternoon
Usually its 130 and then up so long before bed. How long should be up before bed? Maybe she should start going to bed at 5? Idk!

Katie
KATIE

What is your naptime routine? What has to happen at bedtime and naptime in order for her to fall asleep?

KATRINA

Naptime i just lay her down when i see rubbing eyes and yawning
Bedtime is book, bath, brush teeth, nurse and she goes down awake
She rolls to side and plays with lovey or sucks her thumb

KATRINA

What happens most days is she takes three 1/2 naps

Katie
KATIE

Your nap time routine looks great. Lengthening the awake times should do the trick. If you try extending the wake times and don't see any improvement with nap lengths, I'd be happy to discuss this further with you during a free 15 minute evaluation call: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/

KATRINA

Ok will try but she cannot seem to make it and redirection does not work :(

Katie
KATIE

It's always a hard push at first but going outside, playing with a new toy, offering a snack are all great ways. If she is having a really hard time, try extending it by 15 minutes every 3 days until she gets to your desired awake time. Stick with it - it will be worth it when she takes nice long naps!

KATRINA

Sounds good
Thanks a ton!

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
3 month old nap training
TAMARA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 16 MONTH OLD

Hello,
My 12 week old mostly takes 30 minute naps during the day when we try to swaddle and put him in bassinet to sleep- he will take longer naps only if he is in the baby Bjorn or stroller. I am trying to put him down 1.5-2 hours after last waking, having him go down asleep but drowsy, simulating bedtime with white noise/lullabies/swaddle, but we can't break the 30 minute sleep cycle. I am hoping to improve this before he starts daycare. Any tips to lengthen naps? Thanks!

EMILY

Following!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Tamara. It looks like you are doing some wonderful things. There are some babies who are not ready to consolidate their daytime sleep until they are 4-6 months old - no matter what you do. It sounds like your little guy might be one because your awake time and routine all look great. These are two strategies to help extend the nap. First, try going in as soon as he wakes and coax him back to sleep. If that doesn't work after 2-3 days, switch your strategy to leaving him for 10-15 minutes after he wakes for him to try to put himself back to sleep. If neither of those work, take a deep breath and know that you are doing everything you can to develop healthy sleep habits but he might just need a little more time.

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Toddler Bedtime
EMILY, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 4 YEAR OLD

My (about to turn) 3 year old has always been an excellent sleeper. Since she was about 2.5 she has slept 8-7am (early morning wake ups were solved by a toddler clock). She still naps very well (1-3pm each day) and is crabby if she misses her nap. But in the last few months she has started fighting sleep at night. She has the same routine every evening, happily kisses us goodnight and then promptly begins every stall tactic imaginable as soon as the door closes. If we go in she makes up reasons to talk to us or for us to get her things. If we ignore her she will whine and cry for up to an hour. Does this mean it might be time for her to drop her nap or could it just be a phase? We have mostly been ignoring her since we know she doesn't need anything but I hate to leave her in there if we are asking too much with the naps and an 8pm bedtime. Please advise. Thanks!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Emily. It's likely that she is getting close to dropping a nap. At this point, you have a choice of moving bedtime back to 8:30 (or even 9:00) or capping the nap at 1.5 hours. I would personally recommend moving bedtime back first to see if that helps with the issue.

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Sleep for a 3 y/o
BETH, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

My son who recently turned 3 transitioned to a bed from crib about a month ago and has continuously been waking up 1-2x/night and coming into our room. He will typically go back to sleep if we lay in bed for a bit with him but I'm not sure why he's waking. The worst part is getting him to bed. He wants us to lay with him until he falls asleep and gets out of bed otherwise. we just started to leave him in there and continue to put him back until he finally stays. He used to go to bed so easily in the crib and sleep throughout the night, so this is all new for us. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Katie
KATIE

Hi Beth. The transition to the bed can be a rough one. He's waking for you guys to come lay with him because he can and it's working! Who wouldn't want quality one on one time with mom or dad at bedtime and in the middle of the night? The best way past this is to make sure you have clear rewards and consequences. Using a sleep clock such as the Kids Sleep Classic can also be very helpful in teaching him when it's okay to get out of bed. Try a few of those strategies and if you are still struggling in a week or so, I'd be happy to discuss a toddler sleep plan with you during a free 15 minute evaluation call: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/

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

Is there an ideal age to transition my 3-month old into his own crib and own room? Should it be done in stages (first crib in my room, then crib in his own room) or all at once? I wouldn't mind bedsharing until 6 months or so, but I'm afraid the transition will be harder then. I also don't want to do it now and then have to retrain after the 4-month regression. Thanks!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Nan. What is he currently sleeping in? It's much easier to transition if he is on a flat service like a bassinet rather than a rock n play.

NAN

He sleeps in bed with me at night and mostly in a rock and play for naps.

Katie
KATIE

I would transition all at one time - to his crib in his own room. That will be the quickest way to get him sleeping well. If you are okay with how things are, you can wait until 6 months but typically, the earlier you start, the easier the transition because they have had less time to develop bad habits. If you teach your little one healthy sleep habits, you should slide right through the 4 month sleep regression as well. If you need help making these transitions, I'd be happy to discuss some ways that I can help during a free 15 minute evaluation call: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Newborn sleeps only when held
P, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

We have a 1 month old. During the day he naps only if held or carried in a wrap/car. During the night he still feeds every 2-3 hours and after 3 am he doesn't go back to sleep in the cradle. We tried eat (nurse) play sleep but it isn't working. We also tried sleep shortly after nursing but he has a lot of reflux. Help! Thank you!

Katie
KATIE

Hi P. Congrats on your little guy! At this stage of the game, we can't do sleep training but we can start teaching healthy sleep habits. The best place to start is by continuing to do (or try to do) eat-play-sleep. Also, realize that newborns have a very small awake window. He should only be awake for 45 minutes before you try to get him to take another nap. Definitely speak with your pediatrician about his reflux because he/she can provide you some tips in that direction. If you'd like to discuss more about teaching your newborn healthy sleep habits throughout a 3 week period, I'm happy to discuss it with you during a free 15 minute evaluation call: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Early morning wake-up - 14 month old
ROBIN, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

My 14 month old has been waking up between 5-6 am every morning for the past couple of months. Desired wake up is 7am. His bedtime is 7-7:30pm, and he goes to sleep fine on his own in his crib. He typically wakes 1 or 2 times per night but goes right back to sleep, either on his own or with a quick visit (less than 30s) to replace his pacifier. But at 5:30am, the only way to keep him quiet is to put him in bed with us. Sometimes he passes out again immediately, but he often sleeps fitfully with lots of moving/crying/waking until 7am.

He is between 1-2 naps per day. He usually goes down around 11:30 or 12 and sleeps for 1-2 hours. Occasionally, he goes down for a nap earlier in the morning (10 or 10:30). If he naps an hour or less, we will try to get him down again around 3:30-4, but the second nap isn't always successful.

Some quick comments about the pacifier: he is an addict and will happily have it in his mouth most of the time if given the option, but he does well without it during the day (as long as he doesn't see it). It is definitely part of the nap and bedtime routine, and it's difficult to get him down without it (unless he occasionally falls asleep while still being held for his bedtime story). It's remarkably effective during the day and even at night (except early morning), but I'm wondering if it's part of the problem at this point.

My questions are:
1. How do we keep him quiet in his crib until 7am?
2. How can we eliminate the 1-2 wake-ups per night?
3. Is the pacifier helping or hurting?

Thank-you!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Robin. Thanks for posting! I see early morning wakings quite often when babies are ready to transition to 1 nap. Here is an article to help with this transition: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/article-02/

I would continue with the nap transition and not put him down earlier than 12:00. If he takes a short nap, do an early bedtime at 6:00.

At this stage of the game, I'm concerned about the pacifier use. It is definitely what is causes the middle of the night wakings and also possibly the early morning wake up call. In my experience, in order to get rid of the pacifier the quickest with the least amount of protest is cold turkey. Brace for 1-2 hard nights but after that, he should be right on track.

Getting rid of the pacifier can be a tricky part of the process so if you'd like to create a plan together and learn what to do if he protests the change, I'd be happy to discuss some ways I can help during a free 15 minute evaluation call: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/

KATIE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Removing the swaddle
SARAH, PARENT OF 10 YEAR OLD

My baby is 4 months. Any tips for teaching her how to fall asleep and stay asleep unswaddled? She loves to chew on her fingers throughout the day so I think it would help her resettle during the night. Should I start with naps or when she's tired at night? One arm out hasn't worked but I could keep trying. Also I do not want to use the Merlin sleep suit or anything else. I'd like to go straight to the sleep sac as I did for my other babies. Thank you!

Katie
KATIE

Hi Sarah. You are right at this age to get rid of the swaddle. It actually can become dangerous because babies will start to roll. At 4 months, my best advice is to get rid of it cold turkey. You will want to start with bedtime and continue with naps the next day.

SARAH

Ok, I will try! She also has been waking up between 4:30 and 5. At first I was using a pacifier to get her back to sleep and now she is able to resettle by herself, but she often wakes me up. Is this the best I can hope for in that I don't have to settle her, or is there a change I should make that will prevent her from waking up? I usually put her to bed awake and cooing (or complaining) and she puts herself to sleep.

Katie
KATIE

Sounds like you are on the way to some wonderful healthy sleep habits! If you do not have to go back in to resettle her, that's wonderful. Eventually that waking will go away. What is your bedtime routine? Does she have a nap schedule during the day?

SARAH

Before bed she eats, then I hold her upright for nearly an hour as she's a big spitter, then I swaddles her, turn out the lights and put on the sound machine and sing some songs and bounce for about 5 mins and I put her in her crib. She wakes around 7 and I stick to no more than 2 hours awake at a time so she usually naps 9-11 and 1-2 or 3. I struggle with the late afternoon because if she wakes up at 3 or later, she's sleepy around 5, which is too late for a nap but too early for bed. Sometimes I get her to cat nap on me, but she's my third so it's a tough time of day! What is your advice about that third nap? If it's 4 or 4:30 and she's sleepy, I'll swaddle her and try to give her a nap but it doesn't always work. Thank you so much!

MERLE

Curious about the nap issue - going through the same with my 4.5 month old.

Katie
KATIE

Hi Sarah! Everything looks great. Try simplifying your routine a little by putting her down in the crib a little sooner with less bouncing so she can fully settle herself. That will help her early morning party hours. For this age, a cat nap at the end of the day is very common (30-45 minutes). If she refuses a crib nap at this time, you would try putting her in a carrier or swing for a little rest while you tend to your other little ones.