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Posts Tagged ‘naps’

How will you know it is time to drop a nap?
Typically, they tend to resist taking the last nap of the day or seem unsettled during the last nap of the day. They might even start to sleep a shorter amount of time for that nap. All of the other naps could also be effected, causing them to be shorter in length. You may even notice he may have a hard time going to bed at your designated bedtime, making bedtime later than you would desire. For some babies, they might even start waking early in the mornings because they are getting to much daytime sleep.

Try Shortening the nap to a catnap first
If your baby is experiencing sleeping problems mention above, sometimes all you have to do is shorten the last nap of the day to a catnap. A catnap is a nap that is usually very brief, about 30-45 minutes in length. If, however, shortening the last nap to a catnap does not resolve the other nap lengths or help bedtime, then you know it is time to drop the last nap of the day.

Dropping the 4th Nap
Around what age will they drop the 4th nap? Between 4-5 months

It is easy to drop the 4th nap when you move from a 3 hour schedule to a 3.5/4 hour schedule. Another way to drop the 4th nap is to just keep your baby awake during that 4th nap, but you might have to put your baby to bed early for a few nights or weeks until they are adjusted to staying up longer at night before bedtime.

Personal Experience:
With my son, I dropped the 4th nap when I moved from a 3 hour schedule to a 4 hour schedule at 4 months of age.
My son’s schedule @3 months on a 3 hour schedule(4 naps):
8:00 Feed
9:30-10:30/11:00 Nap
11:00 Feed
12:30-2:00 Nap
2:00 Feed
3:30-5:00 Nap
5:00 Feed
6:30-7:15 Cat Nap
7:30 Feed
9:00-10:30 Nap/ Nighttime sleep
10:30 Feed & Put right back to Bed for nighttime sleep

My son’s schedule @4 months on a 3.5/4 hour schedule (3 naps):
7:00 Feed
8:30-10:30 Nap
10:30 Feed
12:30-2:30 Nap
2:30 Feed
4:30-6:30 Nap *** He stopped taking a good nap here at around 20 weeks old so I began to shorten it to a cat nap
6:30 Feed
9:00 Feed
9:15/ 9:30 Bed

With my twin daughters, I dropped the the 4th nap when I move from a 3 hour schedule to a 3.5 hour schedule. There was about a week or two when I had to put the twins to bed around 6/6:30pm instead of the desired 6:45pm/7pm when I dropped the 4th nap. Gradually I started to stretch out their bedtime back to 6:45/7pm as they learned to stay awake longer at night.
Twin’s schedule @ 4 months on a 3 hour schedule (4 naps):
7:00 Nurse
8:30-10:00 Nap
10:00 Nurse
11:30-1:00 Nap
1:00 Nurse
2:30-4:00 Nap
4:00 Nurse
5:30-6:15 Nap
6:15 Nurse
7:45 Nurse
8:00 Bedtime

Twins’ Schedule @5 months on a 3.5 hour schedule (3 naps):
7:00 Nurse
8:30-10:30 Nap
10:30 Nurse & Solids
12:15-2:15 Nap
2:15 Nurse
4:00-4:45 Nap
4:45 Nurse & Solids
6:15 Nurse
6:45 Anna Bedtime, 7:00 Molly Bedtime

Dropping the 3rd Nap

Around what age will they drop the 3rd nap? Between 6-8 months of age

Typically around 6-8 months, you will find that your baby will be able to stay awake longer in the evenings. Your baby will most likely be on a 4 hour schedule at this point and will not longer require the 3rd nap (usually a cat nap by this time). I have found that around 6-8 months of age, babies tend to fall into a 2-3-4 napping schedule. This is when the baby is awake for 2 hours in the morning and then nap, awakes for 3 hours in the afternoon and then naps, and then awake for 4 hours in the evening before going to bed. For more information on a 2-3-4 napping schedule, please see my post 2-3-4 napping schedule for older babies: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/

Personal Experience:
My son Cooper dropped the 3rd nap at 6 months of age. I just decided that he did not need that nap any longer because it was effecting his bedtime. He need a longer wake time before bedtime and I did not want to put him to bed any later than 8pm. So I just dropped the catnap cold turkey. It took about a week or two of distracting him and helping him stay awake the last hour before bedtime, but he eventually he was able to stay awake happily until bedtime without the catnap.

Cooper’s Schedule @5 months (3 naps)
7:00 Feed (milk & solids)
9:00-11:00 Nap
11:00 Feed (milk & solids)
1:00- 3:00 Nap
3:00 Feed (milk only)
5:00-5:45 Cat Nap
5:45 Feed (solids only)
7:45 Feed (milk only)
8:00 Bed

Cooper’s Schedule @6 months (2 naps)
7:00 milk & solids
9:00 nap
11:30 milk & solids
2:00/2:30 nap
3:30/4:00 milk
5:30 solids
6:30 bath & milk
7:00 bed

My twins dropped the 3rd nap at 6 months of age. I knew they needed to drop the catnap because they started to refuse to sleep for the 3rd nap and if they did take the 3rd nap, they would stay awake longer at night before bedtime. I did not drop the catnap cold turkey with them though. I started trying to keep them awake until bedtime without a catnap. Some nights they could make it to bedtime without the 3rd nap and other nights they could not skip the catnap and would need to take it. Anna dropped the catnap much quicker than Molly. On some nights that they dropped the catnap, they had to go to bed earlier than 7pm, which is their normal bedtime. Even now at almost 8 months old, Molly still needs to go to bed earlier, around 6:30pm and Anna can make it to 7/7:30pm.

Twin’s Schedule @first half of 6 Months
7:00 Nurse & Solids
9:00-11:00 Nap
11:00 Nurse & Solids
1:00-3:00 Nap
3:00 Nurse
5:00- 5:30 Nap
5:30 Nurse & Solids
7:30 Nurse & Bed

Twin’s Schedule @Second half of 6 months
7am Nurse
8am Solids
9:00/9:15- 11:00 Nap (Molly goes down for a nap sooner than Anna)
11:00 Nurse
12:30 Solids
1:15/1:30- 3:30 Nap (Molly goes down for a nap sooner than Anna)
3:30 Nurse
5:00 Solids
6:30 Molly Bottle, Followed by Bed
7:00 Anna Nurse, Followed by Bed

Dropping the Second Nap
Around what age will they drop the 2nd nap? Typically between 15-18 months of age, but for some it could be as early as 12 months old.

I wrote a long post about moving from two naps a day to only one nap a day. Please read that post to get more information about dropping the second nap. http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/transition-from-two-naps-to-one-nap/

Personal Experience:
With both my son Cooper and my twin daughters, I found that I had to shorten the morning nap in order for them to be tired enough to still take a good afternoon nap. If my kids took a longer nap 1.5-2 hours in the morning, the afternoon nap started became shorter or they required a longer wake time in order to go to sleep for their second nap (making the second nap too late in the day and thus effecting bedtime). I shortened the morning nap to 1 hour and the afternoon nap was preserved this way and was usually about 1.5-2 hours in length.

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Here is what I did to give myself some sanity:

As far as nursing goes- I tired to makes sure that Cooper was occupied while I was nursing, especially because I am tandem nursing and it is really hard to watch him and nurse at the same time. The hardest time for me to nurse was the 4pm nursing because he was around. I made sure to have a snack, milk, and his favorite things on his blanket. Even if he was watching a DVD, I made sure he stayed on his mat/ blanket.
7am nursing, Cooper still in bed
10am nursing, Cooper in Independent Play Time
1pm nursing, Cooper was just put down for his nap
4pm nursing, Cooper has blanket time or DVD
6pm nursing, Cooper is with Daddy
8pm nursing, Cooper is getting his bath or getting ready for bed

As far as getting them down for naps- This was hard for me. It still continues to be a challenge, but it is getting better. The girls wake time at that time was about 40 minutes. After I was done nursing them, I would swaddle them and place them in their swings/ bouncers. I would watch them until their eyes got heavy and start to shut. I would them pick them up and place them in their cribs. I found that if I swaddled them after they started to get sleepy at that age, that they would wake up and fight going to sleep. Plus, I had Cooper running around begging for my attention. It was hard to bring them into to their rooms and spend time shush/ patting them when Cooper was following me or whining and waking them up. So the swing and bounce were my friend for a few weeks. I did not have to turn the vibrate on or the swing on all the time. It was just being swaddled and cradled in their swings/ bouncers that helped. I did buy a great bouncer seat that I swear by. It really helps my girls to relax and get ready to sleep. www.target.com/Bright-Starts-InGenu… Luckily Cooper was somewhat occupied while I was putting the girls down for their naps due to their short awake time. Here is what I did with Cooper while trying to get the girls down for their naps:
7:40 Cooper Still in Crib (he stays in crib from 7-8am)
10:40 Cooper still in Independent Play Time
1:40 Cooper still napping
4:40 I put Cooper in our game room that has a gate so that he cannot leave the room and follow me. I made sure he had on a DVD for the 5-10 minutes that I was gone. (Cooper’s TV hours was between 4-5 which is when I had to nurse and put my girls down for their nap while Cooper was awake, not occupied, and with me).
6:40 The girls napped in bouncers/ swings if they slept at all. So I did not worry about Cooper at that given nap time
8:40 Cooper was in bed for the night and it was the girls bedtime. My husband helped me put them to bed at this time.

Now that the girls are 9 weeks old, I don’t put them in their swings and bouncers that often anymore before their naps to get them drowsy. It seems that they have just figured out how to go to sleep on their own. I watch for their sleepy cues. As soon as I see them, I swaddle them, and lay them in their cribs. But from the time they got home from the hospital until they were 7/8 weeks old, they always were allowed to get drowsy in their swings/ bouncers (whether they were on or off). But just remember, I swaddled them first, then put them in their swings/ bouncers. If I swaddled them after they got drowsy, they would fully wake up and then I would have a hard time getting them down for their naps.


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My son is now 7 months old. His daily schedule is a lot more flexible than it use to be. Prior to 5 months old, if I did not get Cooper down for his nap at exactly the right time, then he would not nap well. Timing was everything. Now that Cooper is a little older, he has become more flexible with his napping schedule. This is very nice for me because I don’t have to stress out if I am out running an errand and will make it back a few minutes late for his nap because he will still take a decent nap.

I was looking over his schedules and noticed a pattern to his napping schedule. I started to goggle some information about older babies napping schedules when they are down to only 2 naps a day. I found that a lot of babies fall into a 2-3-4 napping schedule. What is a 2-3-4 napping schedule? This type of schedule is when a baby is awake for 2 hours in the morning before the morning nap, awake 3 hours in between the morning nap and afternoon nap, and awake 4 hours in between the afternoon nap and bedtime (nighttime sleep). It seems that babies cannot stay awake as long in the morning. I am not really sure why this is, but it has always been true with my son. Even when he was on a good 4 hour schedule (up for 2 hours down for 2 hours) he could only stay awake 1.5 hours before his first nap. As he has gotten older, 6 and 7 months, my son has naturally fallen into a napping schedule very similar to the 2-3-4 schedule. He is on a 2-3-3.5 napping schedule. Here is his current napping schedule at 6 & 7 months:
7:00 wake-up
9:00-11:00 nap
2:00-4:00 nap
7:00/7:30 bed

*his naps are anywhere from 1.5-2 hours in length usually. His nap lengths do cause some variation to the schedule. I just start watching the clock from the time he wakes up. So if he wakes early from his morning nap at 10:30 that means he would go down for his next nap 3 hours later at 1:30. To see all of my son’s daily schedules type out by age click on this link: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

More information on the 2-3-4 nap schedule:
http://www.easybabylife.com/baby-sleep-schedule.html
http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2005/12/quick_and_dirty.html

For more information on creating a daily schedule for infants read my post:
http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

For more information about sleep requirements for babies read my post:
http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/

If your child is having trouble with napping read the following posts:
http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/nap-trouble-the-45-minute-intruder/
http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

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What is the 45 minute intruder?

The 45 minute intruder is a term that was coined in the book Baby Wise, but this is not a Baby Wise phenomenon. The 45 minute intruder refers to when your baby wakes up from a nap or nighttime sleep after only being asleep for 45-50 minutes. Why are some babies waking up at this point? Well, if they are in a growth spurt, it might be because they are hungry. However, if they are not in a growth spurt and are well feed it could be related to their sleep cycles. Babies cycle from light, deep, and back to light sleep in about 45-50 minutes. When your baby returns to light sleep, they may partialy arouse. If they hear a noise, smell something funny, realize they are too hot or cold, or are conditioned to need a sleep prop such as rocking or nursing to sleep, they will have difficulty returning to sleep to complete another sleep cycle. For more information on sleep cycles, read my post entitled “infant sleep cycles”http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Other possible causes for waking 45-50 minutes into a nap could be due to being overtired, overstimulate, or not enough wake/ play time. If you keep your baby up too longer, they may be too tired and wake up early from a nap. Or perhaps you had company over and everyone was playing with your baby, that may have overstimulated your child. Both overstimulation and overtiredness can cause a baby to wake early out of a nap. Make sure you are following your son/ daughter’s naps cues and you get them down for a nap before this occurs. For more on this read my post entitled “Sleep Windows: Get them to bed before it’s too late”  http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/ It may be possible that you did not keep your child up long enough. That happen to my son a couple of times. I put him down for his nap and he fall asleep relatively easy, but would wake up 45 minutes into his nap. It occurred to me that he was getting older and may need to stay awake longer. I adjusted his awake time and that solved the waking up at 45 minutes. I believe he just was not tired enough to take a long nap. For more about appropriate awake time lengths see my post entitled, “Baby & Infant Daily Schedules” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

My son had chronic 45 minute napping problems

My son has chronic problems with the 45 minute intruder from the time he was 2 months up until he was 4.5 months old (maybe even almost 5 months old). You could set a stop watch and he would wake exactly 45-50 minutes into each of his naps. It use to make me nuts. At first, I thought he was a short napper, but he would wake up fussy. According to Baby Wise and The Baby Whisperer, your baby should not fussy if they just woke up from a nap and you’ve feed them upon waking. The Baby Wise book says that it can last a few day or even two weeks–ha! This lasted for 2.5-3 months. I never thought I would see the day when he would sleep straight through a nap.  By the time he hit 4.5 months old, he was sleeping through most of his naps without waking. We still had the occasional 45 minute intruder, but that was about 20% of the time. Now he is 7 months old and my son rarely ever wakes up early from a nap unless he is in a growth spurt, has a dirty diaper, or a sound from our condo building has stirred him.

What I did to get through the 45 minute intruder

Lay a firm hand on his chest: a little before the 45 minute mark, I would creep into his room and place my hand on his chest. I would press firmly on his chest and apply a little pressure. This kept him from startling himself awake when he was transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. I did this when my son was very young around 4-8 weeks old.

Swaddle/ Sound Machine: I started to swaddle my son really tight so he would not startle himself awake. This helped a lot. I bought a swaddle me (http://www.kiddopotamus.com/p_swad.php), but then I added an extra step to the swaddle me. I took a piece of cloth from a receiving blanket and would lay it behind his back and weave the fabric over his arms and tuck it behind his back again. This kept his arms good and snug so there was no way he could break free while napping. This kept his body from jerking himself awake. I got this idea from the miracle blanket. Watch their instructional video clip to see how I modified the swaddle me to keep his arms snug. http://www.miracleblanket.com/video.htm I also used a fan and later a sound machine to block out the noise he may have heard from living in a condo building. Both of these things helped greatly, but we still had our issues. The most important thing is to make sure you create a good sleep environment that eliminates as much stimulus as possible. For more on creating a good sleep environment read my post called “Creating a Good Sleep Environment” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Cry-It-Out (CIO): Around 10 weeks old, I believe that I start to just let Cooper cry-it-out at the 45 minute mark. The first week I started this, he would cry for almost 45 minutes until it was time to get up for his next feeding. But it only took a week, and after that if he woke up at the 45 minute mark, he would only cry for 5-15 minutes and then fall back to sleep for another sleep cycle of 45-50 minutes. This pattern of waking up at the 45 minute mark and crying lasted for about a month (the entire time he was 3 months old). The nice thing was, when I finally got him up to feed him he was always happy and well rested! Then around 4 months old, he would still wake up at the 45 minute mark, but just fuss or cry a tiny bit and drift back to sleep right away!

Other Nap Intervention Suggestions

I have not tired these various methods, but I have a friend who used the PU/PD method with great success. I have used the wake-to-sleep at night, but never during the day. It worked great for me at night. Both of these strategies come from the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. (p.251)

Wake-to-Sleep: “Instead of waiting for her to wake, go into her room at 30 minutes, because that’s when she starts to come out of a deep sleep…pat her gently until you see her body relax again. It could take 15-20 minutes of gentle patting. If she starts to cry, though, you’ll have to send her back to sleep with PU/PD.”

PU/PD (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. “Granted the first time you try this remedy either situation, you might spend the entire nap period doing PU/PD. and then it’s time for the next feeding. Now both of you are tired! Because sticking to the routine is as important as lengthening her nap, you need to feed her and then try to keep her up at least half and hour before putting her down for her next nap- at which point you’ll probably have to do PU/PD again because she is overtired.” Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. For more on this method read: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

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How can you know if your baby is getting the right about of sleep? Are they getting too much or too little? According to Kim West in her book Good Night, Sleep Tight “children need to get the right amount of sleep and they need to get the right kind of sleep. Quality counts along with quantity. Good Sleep should be largely uninterrupted. If your child is getting up a lot, she isn’t getting all the sound sleep she needs.”

Signs that you baby is not getting enough sleep:

  • Baby falls asleep in the carseat all the time- A well rested child will not fall asleep in the car often, unless it is close to his scheduled nap time.
  • Sleep disruptions- if your baby is overtired you will notice that you baby may have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. You child may wake early from a nap or wake several times throughout the night if overtired. Or you child may have difficult falling asleep at night. For more on this see my post about sleep windows.  http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
  • Fussy/ Irritable- You may notice that your baby is waking from a nap or nighttime sleep fussy. Your baby should be waking up happy unless they have not slept enough. Young babies will wake from a nap crying, but that is usually due to hunger. Once they are feed, they are generally content unless they did not get enough sleep. Make sure you don’t rush in when you hear your baby stir during sleep or naps, they might be cycling from one sleep cycle to the next. If you leave them alone they might return to sleep on their own. For more on this see my posts entitled “Baby Wise: Sleep Training” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/baby-wise-sleep-training/ and “Sleep Cycles” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Quantity?: Check my post about sleep requirements that babies need. For instance a three month old should be getting a total of 15 hours, 10 hours at night and 5 hours during the day (spread over 3 naps). If you are already jotting down the time and length of each of your daily naps in a sleep log, then you should be able to quickly total up the amount of sleep to see if it equals 15 hours. Some babies will sleep slightly less or slightly more than the recommended amount, but usually no more than an hour of deviation. At 3 months old my son slept for about 15.5 hours a day, 9 hours at night and 6.5 during the day. You can see that my son still slept close to 15 hours a day, but his nighttime sleep was a little less and his day time sleep was a little more than the average infant at that age. The important thing is that he was getting at least 15 hours and appeared to be well rested.   http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/

Quality?: Your baby really needs to sleep in his own crib or bassinet for his naps and nighttime sleep. Prior to 6-8 weeks old, your newborn is so sleepy they will sleep in someones arms, in the car, in the swing. When your baby is older than 6-8 weeks old, they really need to sleep in a stationary crib. “Motion lulls us to sleep, bit it also keeps us in a lighter, more fragmented sleep; our brains never reach the level of full restorative sleep if we’re moving.” If your baby falls asleep in the car (and it will happen every now and again), try to move them from the car to the crib as soon as you get home. If you put your baby in a swing before nap time and you notice him drifting off to sleep, quickly remove him and place him in his crib. Now I know that babies are only little for so long and that you might want to hold them a little while they sleep, that is okay. Just try not to make that a habit.  Also, it is important to make sure that your baby’s room is conducive to sleep. You would not want to put your baby down for a nap in a bright room right outside a noisey street. Try to make sure your baby’s room has very little sound and light and is a good temperature. For more on how to create a good sleep enviroment for you baby see my post “Create a Good Sleep Enviroment” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Quotes taken from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 35-36

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My son who is now 7 months old started waking up an hour early for about the past 3 weeks. He does not do this consistently. I was looking over my notes and it seems that he has been waking between 5:45-6:30 but occasionally sleeping in until 7am (which seems to happen mostly on weekends). I should add that I have dark out blinds in his room and a white noise machine running all night long.

Here’s my theory for why he is waking an hour early:

First, it is getting lighter sooner. I think this is setting off a natural alarm clock in Cooper that says, “rise and shine”. Unfortunate for Chris and I because our alarm clock says, “no thanks we need another hour”. I have tired to darken the room even more than it was, but there is still a faint bit of daylight creeping through, enough to make it appear to not be night but morning. The hormone that signals sleep, melatonin starts to decrease in the early morning hours, causing us to have lighter sleep. Sunlight also decreases the amount of melatonin that we produce.

Second, our neighbors above us (we live in a condo) have been waking up early in the morning it seems. I hear them somewhere between 5am and 6am. I can hear their footsteps and water running. Occasionally, I might even hear their dog tramping across the floor or let out a bark. They are not being overly loud, but the noises are enough to stir me awake. (I am a light sleeper to begin with.)

Conclusion: I think I am just going to have to accept the fact that Cooper is waking at 6am. I cannot not tell God to make the day light come up an hour later and I cannot tell my neighbors above us to wake up later. This just means that Chris and I need to go to bed an hour earlier at night and wake up at 6am instead of 7am. Oh well!

Future Action: Since we are moving to Texas in a month, the time zone will change and we will be an hour behind Maryland time. This might be the chance for me to get Cooper back to waking at 7am. I will be in a quieter house with no condo neighbors and the time change will make it easier for me to just shift his schedule.

There are many reasons your little one could be waking early in the mornings

  • might need less sleep- check my post about the average amount of sleep your infant should be getting daily. It could be that your child is older and now requires less sleep at night or during the day. If your baby is getting too much daytime sleep, it could be causing him to wake early. Or if you little one is sleeping too long at night, they could be waking up.  http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/
  • morning nap is to close to nighttime sleep- if you don’t keep your baby up long enough in the morning, your little one could be confusing the first nap of the day as part of his nighttime sleep. Try extending his wake time between the time he wakes from nighttime sleep to the first nap.
  • afternoon nap is to close to nighttime sleep- the last nap of the day or the afternoon nap if you are down to two naps is to close to nighttime sleep, this could also cause your child to possibly wake up early.
  • hunger- your child could be going through a growth spurt or just need more food. Try feeding him more solids or offering bottles/ nursing more frequently during the day to prevent him from waking early in the morning. You can also try to offer a later dinner that has more carbohydrates to keep him fuller longer. You can also do a late night feeding (some people call this a dream feed). A late night feeding is when you feed your baby after already being asleep for the night between 10-11pm. This might help to hold his hunger out longer in the morning.
  • needs a longer awake time- you might try keeping your child up longer in between naps and nighttime sleep. Your child may not be tired enough to sleep for a longer stretch. If you adjust their awake time, they may sleep longer. See my post on infant schedules, it includes average awake times for infants. http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/
  • overtired/ overstimulated- if you child has been not sleeping well and may have had a lot of disruptions to his sleep, then that too could cause him to wake early. Try to get your baby to bed during their “sleep window” before they become overtired/ overstimulated. Stay as consistent with your schedule as possible too- this helps to get your little on back on track. See my post on sleep windows http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
  • too bright in bedroom- the room may be to bright in the morning. Invest in some darkening blinds or put cardboard up to block the light.
  • too noisy- invest in a good quality sound machine/ white noise machine, run a fan, or play soft music in the background to block out external noises from loud neighbors, your own home, or outside.
  • room temperature is too hot or too cold- make sure to dress your baby appropriately for bed. If they are either too hot or too cold they will wake more easily, especially in the morning when melatonin, the hormone that helps us to sleep, is wearing off.

Some kids are just early birds

If your child wakes up happy, you have tried all the suggestions above, and you have seen no improvement, then you might just have to accept the fact that your child is waking early. Some children just wake early. Just adjust their schedule as needed to accommodate the earlier wake time.

Other Resources About Early Risers

Note: many of the ideas were pulled from Good Night, Sleep Tight p. 98-100 and the internet resources provided

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I am a relatively new mom. My son is 7 months old. For the most part, my son has been a pretty good sleeper. He is a touchy sleeper though and he needs things just right in order to get some sleep. I discovered he needs it very dark to sleep so we invested in some dark drapes to cover the windows. We also live in a condo and the noise from our neighbors wakes him. We invested in a sound machine and that helps to drown out most of the background noise. When my son was under 6 months old, we swaddled him. The swaddling helped him to sleep longer and keep himself from jerking his body awake. At 4.5 months old we would still swaddle him, but leave one arm out. This allowed him to suck on his fingers if he woke up early so he could self-sooth himself back to sleep. Then at 6 months old we transferred him from a swaddle to a sleep sac because he started to roll over and he needed both of his arms so he would not get stuck. We also have a fan in his room to keep it cool one warm days. My son will wake early from a nap if he is too hot or cold. We would just layer him with more clothes in the dead of winter so he would stay warm.

What if you travel?

We have traveled quite a bit with my son and I also have to take him to a friend’s house once a week where he takes one of his naps. It use to be that when he napped any where else other than his room, his naps were terrible. I was lucky if he would nap for 45 minutes. After some advise from some friends, I started to get smart about traveling with my son. First, I take his crib sheet because it has the sent of home on it. I would just place the crib sheet over the pack ‘n play mattress. I brought the sound machine to help drown out the background noise and create a familiar sounding environment for him. I made sure to bring his swaddle or sleep sac along, but I made sure I did not wash it right before we left in order to keep the familiar sent. To darken the room, I brought a large sheet to drape over the window. If the sheet would not drape over the window, I would drape receiving blankets on the four sides of the pack ‘n play to keep some of the light from directly shining on him.

Sleep Sack http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2610669

Swaddle http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2265543

White Noise/ Sound Machine http://www.amazon.com/Marpac-SleepMate-980A-Electro-Mechanical-Conditioner/dp/B000KUHFGM/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1240856752&sr=8-2

Pack ‘n Play (travel lite crib) http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2959499

If you have another suggestions for creating a good sleep environment both at home or when you travel, please leave a comment!

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In the book Good Night, Sleep Tight Kim West writes about sleep windows. A sleep window is the time your child would naturally go to sleep. If you time it right, your child’s body starts to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that helps induce sleep. If you keep your child up past this precious sleep window, they stop producing melatonin and start producing cortisol, a stress-related hormone that will eventually overstimulate your child, thus creating a second wind. “He will be more agitated, more difficult to console, more likely to need a lot more of your time and energy to help him wind down again and get to sleep.”

If he naturally falls asleep around 7pm and you keep him up until 8pm, he will most like not sleep well. He’ll have a hard time falling asleep and even staying asleep. He may wake several times in the night and maybe even wake earlier than normal in the morning before he is well rested. “This cycle can lead to poor naps the next day, which will lead to an overtired baby at bedtime, which leads to poor nighttime sleep.”

It is important that you learn your child’s sleep cues. Every child is different, but here are a few common sleep cues: “rubbing eyes, yawning, becoming less active, maybe a little listless.” Don’t wait until your child is fussing and crying, almost always at this point you have waited to long and your child is overstimulated/ overtired.

“If you have trouble detecting your child’s signals, keep one eye on him and another on the clock. Try going into a quiet, dimly lit room and engaging in a very gentle activity when you think nap time or bedtime is approaching. The signs may then appear.” For me, I will take my son into his bedroom and turn off all the light and only turn on the reading lamp and we read a story. If he will sit calmly in my lap, then I know it is time for sleep. Try taking your child to his room and reading a story, doing infant massage, sing soft songs together, or lay on the floor and talk to you child. Just keep the activity simple and quiet.

Personal Experiences: My son is currently having trouble sleeping. I suspect that he is overtired and I am missing his sleep windows. We had a lot of disruptions to his schedule last week. He had a cold, we had a home inspection (because we are selling our home) that cut a nap short, we were out late at a friends house, cut a nap short for church on Sunday. I think that all these disruptions added up. I did not see the signs at first, but a good friend of mind helped me to see that he was probable overtired. Then I pulled Kim West’s book out and it hit home. I started to really watch for his sleep cues. For my son, his eye lids get really pink and you can see the veins in them. If he yawns, I may have already been to late. So I watched for the sleep cues today, but his naps were still pretty poor, which is most like a results of poor nighttime sleep the night before. I imagine if I do it again another day, his naps will improve. He has also been waking up around 5am when his wake time is 7am. I know this is due to missing his sleep window and becoming overstimulated/ overtired. His bedtime is 7pm, but we were not always diligent about getting him to be at 7pm. I should have known better because it has backfired! So tonight, I made sure he was in bed before 7pm so he would have plenty of time to fall asleep. Another thing to note, because he was so overtired today, I went back to rocking him before naps and bedtime. I did not let him fall asleep in my arms. I only did this to help him relax since he was so overstimulate from a weeks worth of poor sleep. I am hoping that tomorrow I will start to see the benefits of getting my son down for his naps and bedtime during his “Sleep window” and staying as consistent as possible! UPDATE 4/27/08: My son is back to taking his solid 2-2 hour naps a day and getting 11-12 hours of sleep a night. It took about 2 days of being consistent with timing his sleep windows and watching his tired cues, but he is back to sleeping well! He is not longer overtired and has been in a great mood!

Quotations are from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 33-35

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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I have found that Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight to be a great resource for infant sleep questions. I really like how she has laid out the amount of sleep an infant needs from birth to age 5. I have made a quick reference list below for each age.

You may also want to check out these post:

0-4 Weeks
• total 16-18 hours, half at night and half during the day
• by the end of the first month they sleep an average of 15-17.5 hours total, about 8.5-10 at night, 6-7 during the day spread over 3-4 naps.
• They still wake up 2-3 time during the night

4-8 weeks (second month)
• sleep an average of 15-17 hours total
• 8.5-10 hours at night, 6-7 during the day spread over 3-4 naps
• some will wake only once to fed, although others will still need 2 night feeding for a few more weeks

8-12 weeks (third month)
• average 15 hours sleep
• 10 hours at night, 5 hours during the day spread out over 3 naps
• sleep 6-8 hours stretches before a nighttime feeding, by end of month most babies should sleep 8 hour uninterrupted

4-5 Months
• 4 months can sleep 8 hours at night without a feeding
• 5 months can go 10-11 hours a nigh without a feeding
• 4 hours during the day spread out over 3 naps

6-8 Months
• need an average of 11 hours of sleep at night (uninterrupted)
• 3.5 hours of day time sleep over 2-3 naps

9-12 Months
• 11 hours at night (uninterrupted)
• 3 hours of day time sleep (over two naps, with the occasional cat nap, but that is usually given up)
• Morning nap is usually 1.5 hours, afternoon nap is usually 1.5-2 hours (by 12 months the afternoon nap is usually 1.5 hours)

13-18 Months
• 11.25 uninterrupted nighttime sleep, 2.25-2.5 hours sleep during the day
• They start with 2 naps, by 18 months usually down to one midday or afternoon nap

1.5 years- 2.5 Years
• 1.5-2 years: 11.25 hours at night, 2.25 hours for one midday nap
• 2 years: 11 hours at night, 2 hours during the day
• 2-3 years: sleep will drop to 10.5 hours of sleep at night, 1.5 hours of sleep during the day

2-3 Years
• 10.5 hours at night, plus a 1.5 hour afternoon nap

4 years
• 11.5 hours at night, most don’t need a nap and if they do it is only 45 minutes (this could be 45 minutes of quite time too)

5 Years
• 11 a night, quite afternoon time is beneficial

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