|I have a question concerning my baby’s sleep routine.
I’m very confused as she used to have a wonderful routine
at night where I just lay her in her cot at nine o ‘clock
when she was sleepy and she fell asleep very peacefully (at
the age of 4 months). When she turned 5 months old, she slept
less during the day, and it seems that she’s not sleepy
at all at nine, only at ten in the evening, but when I put
her down it’ is an immense struggle to get her to sleep,
and either me or her father has to lull her to sleep. I don’t
understand the change… could you please advise.
This is not an uncommon situation. It seems that babies
get to an age where experiencing the world becomes more
important than the sleep they used to enjoy! It is not easy
for baby to accept that you know better when it comes to
sleep, so many babies fight off sleep, both day naps and
going down at night.
The first thing to consider is whether you think your baby
is getting enough sleep from her day naps. It is perfectly
normal for a baby to refuse to sleep in the day, and then
be so overexhausted at night that she simply cannot fall
asleep. So if she is really grouchy, crotchety and overwrought
at bedtime, then it could be that overtiredness is your
main problem. Overtiredness is an extremely common reason
for poor sleep in babies, and needs to be carefully managed
by the baby’s caretaker.
If it is likely that overtiredness is the problem, then
you may have to make some extra effort to get her to sleep
a bit more in the day. At this age it can take quite some
time to settle a reluctant baby, so don’t give up
too quickly. Try some of the usual tactics – some
winding down activities after a nice feed, and then a lie
down in a dark, quiet room, and you may have the answer.
However, if not, it would be perfectly acceptable to resort
to other tricks – a nice drive in the car or trip
in the pushchair might be enough to get baby to doze off.
You would be surprised at how many of the day naps of babies
are timed to coincide with a car trip – it really
does kill two birds with one stone if you can get the timing
Then on to the night sleep. Do you have a night-time routine?
This is an indispensable part of your baby’s successful
sleep patterns. A bath is an excellent way of getting baby
into a calm and contented frame of mind. You could experiment
with one of the soothing bath additions on the market –
lavender and camomile work well for some babies. From here
on until baby gets into bed, things should be kept quiet
and calm. No matter how tedious and boring it is for you,
bedtime routines work best when they are adhered to quite
strictly. Some quiet activites, perhaps starting with a
massage after bath if baby enjoys that, will help baby wind
down. A story, a song, a cuddle and maybe even putting a
favorite toy to bed, can all help lead up to a quite and
happy bed time.
Unfortunately if none of these strategies solve the sleep
problem then you may have to resort to the method of letting
baby cry. There are a few different ways to approach this,
and they are discussed on the website www.babyonline.co.za
in the section on sleep. You may find that the older baby
is, the cleverer she is at pulling at your heart strings
and luring you back into her bedroom. So if you want to
address the sleep problem with this method, the sooner you
do it the better! Good luck!
Sleep - Appropriate
sleep routines (Jacqui Flint advises)
Sleep - Background
Sleep - Dealing
with Catnapping (Author Erica Neser advises)
Sleep - Darkened
Sleep - Night
Sleep - Reasons for waking
Sleep - Sighing
Sleep - Sleep routines for Baby (Author Erica Neser advises)
Sleep - Surviving Co-sleeping (Author Erica Neser advises)
Sleep - Toddler Sleep Problems (Author Erica Neser advises)