Weaning

Sleep for the baby 6 months or older

Now, I may be the booby whisperer, but I do not claim to be the sleep whisperer.  But, here is some great advice for everyone with a baby 6 months and older.  For those of you with babies 6 months and younger, you shouldn’t be reading this yet. You should be reading this: Sleep for the baby younger than 6 months.

I don’t adhere to any one sleep training method. In my opinion, they are all way too rigid.  Your baby won’t fit perfectly into any of the “programs” that have been designed for babies because your baby is unique.

Although it may not be the “get results quick” type of program, I really love  The No Cry Sleep Solution and The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers  by Elizabeth Pantley.

Here are some useful notes from these books.

1. Fill the daytime tummy

Consider an evening snack about 30-60 minutes before the time you want your baby to fall asleep.  Aim for complex carbs & proteins: whole grain cereal, yogurt, brown rice, cheese, meats, whole grain toast, peanut butter. Go easy on sugar, even natural sugars like citrus fruit, apples and berries.

2. Check nightime comfort

Check temperature, textures, fabrics, light, sound, pain.  Try room darkening shades and don’t turn on any lights at night when you come in to comfort baby at night (including iphone!) We are trying to keep baby’s circadian rhythm set to “night” and any lights can disrupt that.

3. A  predictable (but flexible) bedtime routine.

It is a great idea to have a bedtime routine for your baby because it helps him transition from daytime play to nighttime sleep. We all have ways that we settle into sleep at night. Babies are no different. You cannot expect him to go from giggling with daddy to laying silently in his crib. He needs some time to adjust.  Here are some bedtime routine tips:

  • Keep it simple– Snack, brush teeth, 2 books, 1 song, lights out, nurse, bed. Even if you give a bath and a massage as part of your nighttime routine, keep those as a little bit separate from the actual routine.  That way, on nights when baby is looking particularly tired or you are running behind on time in your nighttime routine, you can cut those out, but still keep the predictable sequence of events.
  • Keep it the same time- Children thrive on predictability and repetition. They are like pavlov’s dog. If you repeat the same exact sequence in the same exact way every night (this is more about sequence of events rather than times), then baby will become conditioned to get sleepy and anticipate bed. He will be less likely to resist sleep because he isn’t anxious about what is coming next.
  • Say the same words- Give you child a word or phrase that triggers the “going to bed” sequence and the “you should be asleep” sequence. Say it often throughout the bedtime process.  So, during your bedtime routine you may say “Sleepy Sammy’s getting ready for bed.”  When it is lights out and Sammy should be asleep, say “SHHH it is time for Sammy to sleep.”

4. Sleep begets sleep, so make sure she naps- I don’t recommend working on napping and sleeping at the same time.  If you want baby to sleep in her crib, focus on that and do anything possible to get her to nap during the day- car, sling, in arms.  Some people think that if baby is exhausted she will sleep better, but it is typically the opposite. An over exhausted non-napping child sleeps worse.

5. Consider a lovey (other than your boob)-  Pick a blanket or toy that you think would make a nice lovey for your child and hold it with you whenever you are getting ready to sleep.  She may not take to it at first, but keeping it near by makes a sleep association with the blanket that you she may be able to making it her soothing object. Some kids take to this and some don’t, but it is worth a shot!

6. If baby wakes overnight, don’t talk to baby, only repeat the same simple phrases.  When I used to read this in books it would make me sad.  It is mean to not talk to your baby at night! But, seriously. Middle of the night is not the time for conversation although your baby will try to engage you.  Instead, if you are going in to soothe baby back to sleep from a middle of the night awakening, talk to him but say the same phrase over and over again from the bedtime routine “”SHHH it is time for Sammy to sleep.”  Move slowly and quietly.  Limit eye contact so as to not let baby think it is time to interact, otherwise, she will throw a party in her room at 2 am and you are the guest of honor!

What’s Average?

(Remember your baby is his own little man and may not fit “average”)

Age

Number of Naps

Total Length of naptime hours

Nighttime sleep hours

Total nighttime and naptime hours

1 mo 3 6-7 8.5-10 15-16
3 mo 3 5-6 10-11 15-16
6 mo 2 3-4 10-11 14-15
9 mo 2 2.5-4 11-12 14
12 mo 1-2 2-3 11.5-12 13-14
2 years  1 1-2 11-12 13
3 years  1 1-1.5 11 12
4 years 0 0 11.5 11.5
5 years 0 0 11 11

P.S. If your kid doesn’t get this much sleep not matter what you do, he is not going to be a chronically sleep deprived, learning delayed serial killer. Just do your best to figure out how many hours makes your kid the most pleasant and shoot for that.

Advice you know you should follow when it comes to sleep, but don’t always follow:

This is good advice for your baby & YOU!

  • It is best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.
  • It is best not to engage in exciting behaviors or expose yourself to bright lights (phone, computer, tv) in the 1-2 hours before bed.
  • Your sleep environment should be not too hot, not too cold.
  • This too shall pass. You will sleep again one day in the not all so distant future.