Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Daytime Sleep

Where should my 7 month baby spend his daytime sleep?

I have a seven-month-old son who has gone into his own room to sleep. It’s not going at all well…! Once an hour he starts crying, so I go in and give him a dummy. If that doesn’t work, I give him a bottle feed while he’s still in the cot. Then, if he still cries, I pick him up, comfort him and breastfeed him, which does the trick in the end. But he keeps waking, some times as soon as I’ve put him sound asleep from my arms into the cot. He has routine day sleeps although I use my night techniques to get him to settle in the afternoon, and he sleeps every day in the sling or pram when we go out. Is there something obvious I’m missing?

If your son has been sleeping in your bedroom for six months and having most of his naps in a sling or in the pram, he is probably feeling slightly abandoned at being put in separate room and a strange bed.

There is an added problem here, though – your son has to be helped to sleep with the aid of the dummy, rocking or feeding. This is the cause of him crying out every hour – as he comes into his light sleep, he is unable to get back to sleep without the same assistance. Both of these problems are very common with babies who have not learned to get to sleep alone in the early days. To solve the problem, he will have to learn to get to sleep on his own, which means going in the cot when he is tired and ready to sleep but not fully asleep. Unfortunately, at his age it will almost be impossible to solve the problem without some degree of crying. I suggest that you ask your health visitor to refer you to a sleep clinic so they can advise you on how to do controlled crying properly. There also several books, including my second book ‘From Contented Baby to Confident Child’ which explain how the controlled crying method works. If done properly, controlled crying should solve the problem within a matter of days. However, it is very important that you have your son checked over by a doctor to ensure that there is no medical reason which would prevent him from being left to cry.

In the meantime I suggest that you get him more used to his cot by putting him in it to play for short spells during his awake time. Start off by sitting on a chair beside the cot and holding both his hands across his chest while he watches his mobile go around. Once he is happy to lie there without getting fretful, let go of one of his hands and give him a small soft toy to hold. Once he is happy holding the toy in one hand, encourage him to hold and play with it with both hands. Continue to remain seated by the cot talking and reassuring him. Then, when he is happy to play with his toy for five minutes, gradually move the chair further and further away from the cot while continuing to talk to him. Eventually you should reach a stage where you can potter around the room while he is playing in the cot. Once he is happy to lie and play for twenty minutes while you are pottering around the room, you should start to leave the room every five minutes for a minute at a time. Gradually build up the time you are out of the room. If you carry out the above procedure for several times a day for a week, it will make controlled crying easier.

My tip is always to get babies used to their cots and to being on their own in them as early as you can – to avoid bigger problems later on.