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Infant Sleep 101

Caroline A.
CAROLINE A.
Certified Child Sleep Consultant
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If baby's arrival has sent your sleep schedule into a downward spiral, help is on the way. While things do get better (we promise), our resident Sleep Consultant, Caroline Adcock, can answer any questions you might have in the meantime.

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CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Nap duration 8 month olds
BIANCA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

What is the average nap duration for 8 month olds? My twins are (3 weeks early). They use to sleep 1.5 and last few days have been 1-1.10.

Thank you

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Bianca! For a nap to be restorative, it needs to be at least 60 min long. One way to working on lengthening a nap that's too short is to leave the kid in the crib for the length of the target time. At 8 months old, the average total nap time on a two nap schedule is around 3 hours, total sleep in 24 hours is on average 14-15.5 hours. But again, those are averages. If your kids are happy when they get up/are up, go to bed easily, and don't experience any night sleep disruptions, then they are probably getting enough sleep.

BIANCA

Thank you this is great! So since I have didi twins I feel like part two of my struggle is that they are different. Baby boy is doing well sleeps through the night and does 1.5 for naps (unless sister wakes him up) but baby girl has not been sleeping the full 1.5 and I think she also could do well with less wake time but baby boy does not. He needs more wake time. Any tips to find a common ground?

Caroline
CAROLINE

Yes, that's a very common thing. While we would wish they are the same because it would make things so much easier (well, at least if they were like the one that sleeps great that is) they are two individuals. In my experience, there's always one that is more sensitive and one that is a more robust sleeper. My advice is to follow the sensitive sleeper, your daughter in that case, and when sleep training or trying to sync their schedules go off of her sleep needs and have your son follow along. So in the case of naps, if she wakes up, wake him up within 15 min of her so you aren't stuck with two babies sleeping at vastly different times. Maybe it's a timing issue for your daughter and she may just be ready to go down sooner than your son, so put her down a little earlier than him and see if that extends the naps.

BIANCA

So if I went and woke up the other due to one waking early would I not do crib hour?

Caroline
CAROLINE

No, not necessarily. In case of crib hour, leave your daughter in the crib until the hour is up but then also go get your son and get them both back down when your daughter requires it. This is to avoid that their schedule drift apart too much.

BIANCA

Okay, do you think that he’ll get use to going down a bit early. I’ve noticed that if I put him down a tad early he gets to the point of crying. Last night he cried in and off for an hour which is not a thing he would normally do, baby girl went to sleep no problem. I feel like I can only get one of them to cooperate. I really wish I didn’t change anything after getting advice form a non expert. Thank you for all your help! Hopefully they get back on track soon.

Caroline
CAROLINE

It’s really difficult to give targeted advice without doing a full intake to see what else could be going on. If he cries for a full hour that’s not good either. Maybe you can deal with them being in slightly different schedules for a while? Otherwise we do offer some affordable options for some more targeted support.

BIANCA

Is that option different than the monthly subscription? I did pay for the monthly subscription.

Caroline
CAROLINE

Yes, it would include a full assessment of your situation, history etc., and a tailored sleep plan. Twin sleep is pretty complex because there a so many variables to consider and general advice only goes so far. To do it justice, it’s best to start from the ground up.

BIANCA

I have been communicating with Vanessa, but how would I get connected with you on a full assessment? Thank you

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
It’s getting worse
KRISTY, PARENT OF 2007 YEAR OLD

My BF 8 month old has never been a great sleeper, getting up 2-4 times a night but I was easily able to get her back to sleep rocking or feeding, more recently the wakes have be more frequent and she cries when i lay her back in her crib, starts fussing within 10 min, or sleeps 45 min-1.5 hours. It seems to be getting worse.

I’ve tried researching and realize she needs to learn to self settle, and break sleep associations but I’m just not sure how

I’m so discouranged

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Kristy! Around 8 months we commonly see that babies, especially if they haven't developed self-soothing skills yet, show difficulties in the sleep department. It sounds like your daughter has relied on your soothing skills so far and this is, coupled with probably some developmental advances on her part like starting to pull up/crawl etc, is what's causing this increasingly difficult. With that said, I would also make sure that she doesn't have an ear infection because this can also lead to a pattern like you describe. In order for her to learn to self-soothe, you will need to take away the sleep crutches (rocking, feeding, etc) and give her the room to find her own way to do it.

KRISTY

But how do I do that? I’ve tried letting her cry and she starts hyperventilating, 😔

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Kristy! It is tough to say what the right approach would be without knowing more details and doing a full intake. Try to get her as rested during the day as possible and get her down within an appropriate awake window (within 2.25-3 hours) and see if that helps.

Sleep
NICOLE, PARENT OF 23 MONTH OLD

My son turned a month yesterday. He was doing good but now when it's time for bed he eats between 7 to 9 ounces but his eyes are wide opened. He's been up for 7 to 8 hrs. We lay him down and he screams. We leave him but he doesn't stop.

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
12 month old wont sleep!! Hellppp!
SAMANTHA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

My 12 month old wont sleep through the night!! Please help. Ran out of options.

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Samantha! Any more details on what's going on?

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
How long does the 4 month sleep regression last? Is this even a real thing??
MEGHA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Megha, nice to see you on here! Yes, it is a real thing, although I prefer to call it a progression instead of a regression. Really one of the main things that's happening around that time in a baby's life is a maturation where the way sleep is organized becomes more adult-like. Before about the four-month mark a baby usually goes right into a deep- sleep stage, and after it, he/she will enter sleep through a lighter sleep stage first. As a side effect, a baby that hasn't acquired self-soothing skills yet will have a harder time to go to sleep, is easier aroused when being put down etc. So to answer your question how long it lasts, one would have to answer that it's permanent.

MEGHA

Ahhh! Well, i guess progression should always be permanent. I guess the self soothing teaching is up next! It’s inevitable ...

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Sleep
JENNIFER, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

My 8 month old son won’t sleep through the night anymore. He was sleeping 7pm to 2:30am but he got sick and now goes to be at 7 all by himself in his crib. He wakes up 2 hours later screaming and won’t go back to sleep. I am thinking of doing the Ferber method but kinda scared to let him cry for so long. But this momma is tired and if we don’t get some sleep we are all going to go crazy

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Jennifer! Before embarking on sleep training, why don't you have a look and see how much total sleep your son get per 24hours. At his age, he should be getting around 14-15.5hours, and a wake-up like the one you are experiencing is often tied to a child being overtired.

JENNIFER

He doesn’t sleep well during the day cause his babysitter is his great grandma. He sleeps on a good day 2 naps one an hour and the next 30 mins. I started taking away his 3rd nap that was about 30-45 mins. I am at a loss cause I know his great grandma won’t make him sleep longer. I don’t know what to do!!! His dr says to let him cry it out but that’s hard for me.

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
15 month old sleep
ERIN, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

what is the average amount of sleep/day a 15 month old needs?

Caroline
CAROLINE

At 15 months old, a child should be getting around 13.5 to 14 hours of sleep.

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Toddler slee
ANGELA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Hi, I have a 21 month old who every few days will wake up in the middle of the night screaming. He seems inconsolable. I don’t know what’s wrong - he has most of his teeth at this point so I don’t think that’s the issue. He just flails and cried. He goes to bed on his own between 7:30-8pm no problem, but around 10/11pm he’s screaming, eyes closed and and arches his back. Night terrors?? And if they are night terrors, what can I do??

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Angela! Does he respond to anything if you try to talk to him? If not, it could well be night terrors. The good news is, that your son won't remember any of it. So they are a lot more terrifying for the onlooker than for the person experiencing them. That said, don't try to get him out of it by waking him up because that will be scary for him. Common triggers for night terrors are overtiredness (=get him to bed a little sooner, even 15min may help), exciting events (positive or negative) and if you have a family history. The best thing you can do while it's happening is making sure he can't hurt himself if he is flailing around and then just waiting until it is over; it will stop as abruptly as it started

ANGELA

Thanks Caroline! I’ll try getting him in bed earlier to see if that helps. But should I even pick him up if he is having night terrors? Or just let it run its course. He’s got a lot going on in his little world - including 2 new twin sisters so feelings of jealously seem to be high. Hopefully he just needs to go to sleep earlier!

Caroline
CAROLINE

Oh yeah, the new arrivals could definitely be causing this. No, you don't pick him up, just make sure there's nothing in the way that he could hurt himself on. Good luck!

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Baby will not sleep alone
BEULAH, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

My baby won't sleep unless he's in my arms. Help!

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Beulah! Up until baby is 12 weeks old, you won't be creating a bad habit if you let baby fall asleep in your arms, or being rocked etc. So do what it takes to keep him or her rested but be mindful that, as baby gets older, you allow for practice runs for baby to figure it out for him or herself.

CAROLINE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Getting more sleep
RHONDA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

If I should wait until my baby is four months old to sleep train, what can I do in the meantime to maximize sleep?

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Rhonda! Use a pacifier, white noise machine, swaddle and darken the room the baby sleeps in to create an environment that's most conducive to sleep. In these early weeks, it's important to watch for sleepy cues to determine when a baby's ready to sleep again. Generally, a baby aged 0-6 weeks can only be up for 45-60 min tops before becoming overtired. If your baby is fussy a lot or seems like he or she hates the crib, to sleep etc. he or she could well be overtired. Always place your baby on her back to sleep in a dedicated, infant approved safe sleep space like a bassinet, crib or pack'n play without anything else in it. While the safe sleep recommendation mainly goes to minimize the SIDS risk, it also goes a long way towards training you, the parent, to get used to having your baby sleep that way and avoid creating any habits you have to work on changing later.