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Sleep Support for Babies and Toddlers

Melissa P.
MELISSA P.
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
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Join Melissa Perry for a Q&A all about baby and toddler sleep. Melissa is here to answer questions about naps, sleep training, middle of the night wakings, and more!

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MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Nighttime wakings
VICTORIA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

Hi Melissa
My 6.5 month old has recently been transitioned to feed only during the day but occasionally wakes at night (2am-4am) screaming sometimes for over an hour!! I am trying to avoid feeding as a route to stop this and get him back to sleep but unfortunately have done so on the two occasions crying has exceeded 1.5 hours. Do you have a suggestion and method for me to get him to sleep without feeding?
Thanks
Vicky

Melissa
MELISSA

I actually don't because there is a strong possibility he is waking because he is hungry! We see this often with boys around this age. They just need more!! I wouldn't let him cry, I would go in and feed him right away if he has woken around that time. now if he wakes any earlier, sleep train him UNTIL he falls back asleep.

VICTORIA

Oh no! I thought he could last through the night if fed adequately through day and at bedtime (and he has an 8oz bottle at 6:30pm). I feel terrible leaving him if hungry, didn't realize this was a common problem at his age! Thanks for letting me know.

Melissa
MELISSA

Absolutely! Yes may suggest all babies can sleep thru the night 12 hours no problem. But after 6 years of being in business, i can attest (even with two out of my three children) the boys seem to always need a lot more then the girls. i would wait until solids are getting better before you start reducing that feeding all together.

VICTORIA

Ok good to know, thank you! He's a large baby so it's definitely possible.

KIM

Melissa my infant is five months and she eats baby food three times daily due to reflex and sleeps allot during the day she still drinks formula with every feed but will not sleep a whole night still wakes up once at least for a bottle and she goes to sleep at 9 what am I doing wrong

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Nap question
CRISTINA, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Hi Melissa! My son is 20 months and we finally have reached a good routine. However if nap time doesn't go as expected than night time sleep is almost guaranteed to be choppy. How do I handle days with bad naps or days that we need to do activities during nap time (I avoid this as much as possible). Is it better to do early nap and super early bedtime? Or push nap time and bedtime? Thanks for the help!

Melissa
MELISSA

What time is your son currently taking a nap and what time is his bedtime?

CRISTINA

Nap is 12-2/2:30 and we do bedtime 4-4.5 hours after nap wake up so 6-6:30ish.

Melissa
MELISSA

I would rather you bring up bedtime if naps are horrendous than keeping bedtime the same. We don't want him to become overtired, making it harder for bedtime. But naps can be choppy at this stage of the game so know that if and when it happens, bring bedtime up as needed.

Melissa
MELISSA

in general, keep nap time the same time every day.

CRISTINA

Ok I'll try that. It just seems doing 5:00 bedtime is crazy but from experience pushing it later doesn't make things better. Thanks!

LESLIE

By bring up you mean push it earlier in the day?

Melissa
MELISSA

yes!

CRISTINA

So today for example he took a really late nap from 2;30-3:15. Refused to go down for our caregiver and it was really short. When should I have put him down for bed time? I did 7 and he woke up 2 hours later crying.

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Wake times
KATRINA, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

what are appropriate wake times between naps and bed for an almost 14 month old?
Thank you!

Melissa
MELISSA

7pm - 6am is considered normal - i would to try and push it to 12 hours to see if the child needs that. If not, 11 hours is just fine! From there, you might get one or two naps at her age anywhere from 8:30/9am for one hour and then again around 1pm for a good 1.5/2 hours.

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Getting 10.5 month old to not wake up so early! Also, what sleep changes can I expect at 12 months?
AROW, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi Melissa! My 10.5 month old is a fairly good sleeper. I put her down typically at 7:30 pm and she wakes up at 6 am. I'm wondering 1) is there any way I can get her to wake up a little bit later in the morning, 2) is this schedule healthy/appropriate for her age and 3) what will start to change about her sleep as she gets closer to 12 months.

She naps from ~9-10 am and 2-4 pm. I have tried to push this wakeup time later (even a 6:30 am wakeup would be amazing!!) by either putting her to bed earlier (7 pm), or later (8pm). Or giving her more or less nap time during the day. Sometimes she will wake up at 6:20 or 6:30, but most days it is 6 am on the dot. Her sleep always shifts when we move time zones, so I know she can adapt her sleep to new schedules.

Thanks!
Aimee

AROW

I give her a bottle about 15 minutes before bedtime. We have blackout shades, white noise, and a consistent nighttime routine. She doesn't sleep with a pacifier anymore.

Melissa
MELISSA

I love what you have her on. The only thing I might change is to move everything up 30 minutes. I don't know if you can, but its quite a long morning from 6am until 9am to be up - i like to see 2/2.5 hours in the morning. That would also help make her afternoon nap 1:30-3:30pm which will make sure she is nice and tired. But overall, fabulous schedule! As far as her morning wake time - on average 10-11 hours of nighttime sleep is considered normal at this age. You can of course try sleep training her but you might just see she is a natural early riser. She is getting plenty of sleep in a 24 hour period so there really isn't many changes i would make besides the ones suggested. Really great job!!

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
9week sleep and feeds at night
KRISTA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD, 6 MONTH OLD

My nine week old has been sleeping well. We put her down around 630-7pm when she shows signs of sleepiness. Lately I have been feeding her at 10 PM sort of a dream feed. Then she will wake up around 2 AM for another feeding then again around four or 5 AM. My question is how and when do I start weaning the feedings down either stopping the 10 PM or do I just sort of let her decide when she doesn't need them. She was 2.5 weeks early and is only 10.5 lbs. at what point can a baby go through the night?

Melissa
MELISSA

I would wait until she shows more signs of dropping - more towards 4 months - 6 months old. For now, keep feeding her!!! She needs it.

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Not sleeping since illness!
KRISTI

My almost 8 month old has had a cold for 3 weeks (been on antibiotics for ear infection now). Prior to illness she was sleeping 8pm-7am (nursing @ 2:30)...now she is waking every 2 hrs throughout the night for 2 weeks! She is no longer waking due to congestion or ear pain. It seems to be a separation anxiety now. I tried one night to let her cry for about 10 minutes and she became very raspy. She still has a cold ao crying exascerbates her symptoms. Help! (She goes down for naps just fine!)

Melissa
MELISSA

Are you feeding her in the night?

KRISTI

Usually twice...but they aren't even full feedings (like usual). I've tried just standing by her crib and soothing her. It works sometimes and she falls asleep...but still wakes again within 30min and realizes I'm not there anymore. I've resorted to bringing her to my bed around 2am ONLY the last 3 nights bc I'm exhausted and don't know what to do. She still wakes in my bed but gets her paci and usually falls right back to sleep.

Melissa
MELISSA

It sounds like she doesn't know how to self soothe and being that you are doing a lot to get her back to sleep, she has only learned to associate sleep with you. That being said, I would start by finding a sleep training technique you feel comfortable using. Start from the beginning of the night and work it throughout the entire night! However, i would wait until she is FULLY feeling better. Once she is good, begin!!!

KRISTI

Can you recommend a technique besides cry it out? I've never been able to do that. I appreciate your help.

Melissa
MELISSA

i would try the sleep lady sleep shuffle based on the information you have given me. With our clients, we go deep into the personality of the child and parenting philosophy so she might need a little more. however, thats the technique i would use.

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
15m Early Waking
EMILY, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD

How can I get my 15m old to sleep later? She goes to sleep around 715, wakes at 545. We have tried varying her bedtime earlier and later, to no avail. She has white noise, a pitch dark room, a bedtime routine, naps well, etc. She wakes up and immediately starts crying for us, but her bedroom is next to her toddler brother's and so we don't want to leave her screaming for too long as we don't want to wake him. Is she too young for an OK to Wake clock? Thanks.

Melissa
MELISSA

She is a bit too young for the OK to Wake clock but truth be told, if you are viewing this as an early morning wake up then you have to handle your response with sleep training. I would put on a white noise machine in your toddlers room to help eliminate some of the screams. She is waking due to a habitual waking - you can try setting your alarm for an hour prior to her normal wake time and go in and ever so gently get her to stir. If she stirs then step out and see if you were able to reset her body clock. If not and she still wakes at the same time, go right over and start using your sleep training technique to help break the habit. if you start sleep training, do it until she falls back asleep. And then wake her by 7:15! You got this!!!

EMILY

Thank you so much! Will give it a try.

MARIA

Following as we have the exact same issue with our 16 month old. Early wakers are so tough!

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
My child is 5 weeks old, last couple days he has been stubborn and not wanting to nap. Any suggestions to ease into napping?
AMY

Melissa
MELISSA

Hi amy, this can happen at this age and up until 6 months old. His body is still trying to get use to his new world. I would make sure you start applying the healthy sleep foundations now to allow him to adjust quickly to wanting to take a nap. Start off by creating a cool (68-72 degrees), dark environment. Make sure he has a comfortable crib or bassinet and after he has finished his feeding, put him down awake so he knows where he is when he starts to fall asleep. If you are what gets him to sleep, he is going to come to expect it. Start working on that routine each time you put him down for a nap and it will start connecting. How are you getting him to fall asleep currently?

AMY

Me or his dad get him to sleep, sometimes his swing. He screams and crys otherwise. I was told not to let him this little to cry to sleep, is that true?

Melissa
MELISSA

No, definitely don't let him cry it out but a little fussing is fine. If you do a pick up/put down and stick with it, he will begin to fall asleep on his own which is your goal! Obviously he is still too young for sleep training. But introducing these foundations now will eliminate many other obstacles you would be facing in the future.

AMY

Thank you

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
9 week old prolong nighttime feed?
JACKIE, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

Hi Melissa!

My 9 week old is on a pretty good nighttime schedule and we are putting him down between 9:30-10:30 each night. In his 7th week he had been going 7-8 hours in between feedings but has been waking 5-6 hours in between recently. I can get him to go back to sleep for another 3 hours if I re-insert pacifier a few times and am wondering if that will result in him going back to the longer initial sleep stretch in the future.

Melissa
MELISSA

It definitely will! That's amazing!!! Keep it up - sounds perfect!

JACKIE

Great, thank you! 😊

MELISSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
2 year old wakes a lot at night
CORIENA

Hi there,

My daughter just turned 2 and she still wakes a lot at night--once on a good night, 3-4 times on a bad night. We co-slept until around 18 months, and then I night weaned her and moved her to her own bed just next to ours. We have a going to bed routine (not always at the same time, though), and she normally falls asleep on her own after I kiss her and walk out the door. Her naps are irregular and we have no routine for those, but she goes to bed easily regardless of when or how long her nap was. BUT, she still wakes up at least twice usually and will go back to sleep pretty quickly if I just lay her back down and pat her, or give her a drink of water. Sometimes I change her b/c we use cloth diapers and she's pretty wet so I want to be sure that's not what's causing the waking. I'm just dying for an uninterrupted night's sleep, or even 5-6 hours. I have a hard time falling back to sleep once she wakes up, so I'm feeling very tired these days. Wanted to see if you have any advice.

Melissa
MELISSA

I am sure that is tough and exhausting! How much time do you play in her room with her?

CORIENA

Before bed or in general? Before bed we sometimes play a little, but right before bed we just read a book or two and then turn the light out.

CORIENA

Also, she doesn't have her own room--her bed is in our room which is not that big, so I recently moved all of her toys out into the living room. We do still play together in there sometimes--with the unfolded laundry and baskets or the occasional toy she brings into the room.

Melissa
MELISSA

i would take some time and really play one on one with her in her room. laugh, play, sing, dance, play hide n seek. just have fun. This builds confidence throughout the entire night. That being said, do you have a door monkey or a baby gate. You might also try and start using a reward/sticker chart. I would also explain at the beginning of bedtime that if she gets out of bed, mommy will need to shut the door. If she gets out, shut the door for 30 seconds. Open it and ask her if she can lay in her bed and not get up. Continue doing it/adding time if she gets out. Eventually the door becomes a privilege to keep opened. You just have to remain consistent about it.

Melissa
MELISSA

oh that changes things. are you open for transitioning her to her own room.