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Sleep Guide - 4-6 months

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Congratulations! You've made it through the worst of the sleepless nights and are ready to move into establishing a bedtime routine for baby. A full night of sleep is within your reach!

By this age, your baby could already be well on the way toward an established sleep pattern. A typical day could include two naps with a long stretch of seven to eight hours sleep at night. Routine still plays an important part in baby’s daily life, so be sure to instil good sleep habits by sticking with a bedtime schedule.

HOW LONG WITH MY BABY SLEEP?

By now, your baby's internal clock has kicked in, and he can differentiate between day and night. He should be on the way toward an established sleep pattern. During this time, babies need an average of 14 hours of sleep per day:

  • 4 months: A baby can go eight hours at night without a feeding
  • 5 months: He can sleep for 10 or 11 hours straight. Babies will sleep four to five hours during the day, spread out over three naps
  • 6 months: Babies need an average of 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and 3.5 hours of daytime naps spread over two to three naps

HOW AND WHERE SHOULD MY BABY SLEEP?

Typically this is the stage where a baby become too big for the bassinet and it's time to move into a cot and preferably in his own room where he can sleep without interruption.

Safety still remains the most important consideration when it comes to your baby’s sleep environment. The cot he’s sleeping in should meet national safety standards, and unnecessary objects such as toys, pillows and blankets should be removed. Using a Baby Sleeping Bag is the safest bedding for your child.

Once baby starts to pull himself up in his cot, mobiles and objects such as curtains, blind cords and wall hangings pose a safety risk and should be placed out of his reach.

BE CONSISTENT

Children crave routine, so it's important to have an established bedtime routine for baby. Once that internal clock kicks in, you'll notice your baby has a preference for when he wants to go to sleep. And you know that "witching hour" that so many new parents talk about? It usually occurs in the evenings, and the primary reason for it is that the baby is tired. So if your baby gets fussy around 6pm, start getting him ready for bed at 5:30pm so that he's already dozing off before the crankiness begins.

DAYSLEEPS & NAPS

At this stage, napping is all about length and predictability. Nap training is hard for parents. Babies, like adults, simply have trouble sleeping when it's not dark. In addition, babies aren't yet good at helping themselves switch gears from active to restful. They fight it off because they would much rather stay up and play, explore, and be with you! But if a baby doesn't nap well during the day, he'll eventually become overtired and overstimulated - making it harder to get him to bed at night.

Ideally, 4-5 month old babies should nap for 90 minutes or longer two of the three naps (the third one can be shorter); 6 month olds should nap 1.5 to 2 hours twice a day (the third nap can be cap nap to get them through to bedtime but this is optional). These naps should be in the cot as much as you can. The odd sleep in the car seat or buggy when you are out and about but the routine of sleeping in his cot in much more powerful.

RECOGNISE SLEEP SIGNALS

Your baby will send some pretty clear signs that he's ready for sleep. You can become quite sensitive to these signals and can catch that 'magic moment' when your child is tired, ready to sleep and easily falls asleep. These can include a slight quieting, a slight staring off, and a hint of calmness. Other signals include yawning, rubbing his eyes, and losing interest in other people or his toys. The key is to put baby to bed before he becomes so tired that crying, fussing, or a tantrum starts.

GENTLY ENCOURAGE SLEEP & WHAT'S CAUSING THEM TO WAKE?

By this time, routine should play a large part in promoting sleep for your baby at night. If you haven’t started a nightly routine, now is the time! Refer to the information in previous sections for helpful tips.

  • Soothing activities to help promote self-setting, such as a warm bath followed by stories and singing continue to be important cues to your baby that playtime is over and bedtime is approaching, as does dressing him in a Baby Sleeping Bag
  • Using a Baby Sleeping Bag helps a baby understand it’s bedtime and becomes a familiar item that they associate with sleep
  • A baby who has been sleeping anywhere from seven to twelve hours per night will still occasionally wake in the wee hours. After ruling out teething pain, illness, or soiled nappy, allow him time to resettle back to sleep before you respond. After seeing that everything is OK, let him fall back to sleep by himself, and don’t forget that any cuddling, feeding, or talking you do may prompt him to wake each night for this attention. For more information on gently encouraging self settling, click here.
  • If he is waking up many times each night, perhaps there is an external reason. Is he too big for his bassinet? Do you still have him in your bedroom? Is his room the right temperature? Is his room too light or dark? Is there a noise outside at a particular time of the night (e.g. trucks reversing) which could be waking him up? Once you know the problem the solution is often very easy
  • Avoid reintroducing 'Nightly Feeds' once you have stopped giving them to baby, unless he becomes extremely unwell. If you do, your sleep schedule will become interrupted and any efforts to have baby in a routine will need to be revisited. If you think baby is thirsty, try giving a bottle with cooled down boiled water from 6 months onwards. This provides less of an incentive to wake at night and he’ll soon begin to realise that milk is not on offer
  • Another common sleep problem at this age is the early riser; a baby who babbles or cries for you before the crack of dawn. Although there may be nothing you can do to prevent your baby from waking when he or she is ready, a few safe toys in the cot may provide enough of a distraction and they are more than happy to entertain themselves for a short period. A window shade or dark curtains may help to keep out the first light of day and allow you to get an extra few minutes of sleep in the morning

Again, consistency is key and by sticking with a routine you will have less trouble with early risers.

SEPARATION ANXIETY

It first peaks at around 6 months, and it increases when baby is overtired. Your baby might fight to go down for naps and bedtime and wake up several times throughout the night in order to be with you. Helping your child to self-soothe can ease this problem. A special stuffed animal or blanket can be a useful tool to ease separation anxiety and weaken other sleep-disrupting night time habits.

WHEN DO I CALL THE DOCTOR?

Once you have ruled out external reasons for night time restlessness and you still think baby isn’t sleeping for long enough or is sleeping too much, don’t hesitate to contact your paediatrician. Bear in mind that teething pain can be a common reason for sleep problems at this age, and your doctor should be able to suggest ways to relieve discomfort, or diagnose any other illness you may be concerned about.

Need some assistance? Please don't hesitate to contact us for any questions or queries that you may have.

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