Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

I don’t want to start the wrong associations when settling my 6.5-month-old baby

My son has been a good sleeper (with exception to common problems in the lunchtime nap). He has a skin problem which we are seeing a specialist for very soon, but although it is not gone I don’t think it is the cause of the problem. He has just dropped his late afternoon nap (except days like today when he only slept 1 hour at lunch), as sleeping generally seems to have gone out of the window. He feeds at the times stated in book and is not on meat protein yet as I want to keep his diet very basic until I see the dermatologist about his skin. I think that he is teething slightly, but don’t think this is also the cause, as on the days he is ok and not seemingly ill, he is still unsettled at night. He does suffer from heavy mucus in his throat and a cough which can sometimes stop him settling down. Tonight he cried for a while when put to bed at 6.50, he then started to go off and coughed so much he woke himself up but the doctor says nothing is wrong. Tonight I went in every 15 minutes, but he was so hysterical that even when I picked him up he would not calm down. Eventually, I gave him a small amount of Calpol and his dummy to calm him; my previous methods have avoided this, as I don’t want him to get used to me coming in or using something to get him back to sleep in case he gets used to it and starts to look for it at other sleeps. Last night he took 3 oz water at 11pm after crying on and off for 3 hrs but I am sure it is not hunger; he eats well.
I just don’t want to miss something obvious, he sleeps in a 0.5 grobag and on nights like tonight (it is 18 degrees in his room) he is in a short-sleeved vest and long-sleeved body suit as well as his sleeping bag.
At present he feeds at 7am 7-8ozs milk, 11/2 tablespoons of cereal with 2 cubes of apple, 11.30am 4 ozs milk, 3 cubes carrot, 2 cubes parsnip, 1 cube apple and sometimes 1/4 small pot of soya yoghurt, 2.30pm 7 ozs milk, 4pm 2 ozs water, 5pm 2 cubes sweet potato, 2 cubes broccoli, 2 cubes pear/peach, 1/4 yoghurt if still hungry, 6.30pm 7-8ozs milk.
He sleeps from 9-9.45am and 12.30-2.30pm. He is put to bed at 7pm and once finally settled for the night sleeps until 6am.

Although you feel your son is eating well, giving him a tea which has more carbohydrates in it could help him settle better in the evening. Even though you haven’t started meat protein, it would be a good idea to look at Gina’s Weaning Guide at some of the recipes suggested for teatime at six months. Many of these are vegetable-based but have a good carbohydrate content which is needed at this time of the day. As soon as you have seen your dermatologist and been given the go-ahead to introduce meat protein, then begin to replace 2 of his vegetable cubes at lunch with chicken ones. At his age his iron stores will be rapidly dwindling, even though he is on formula. A wider and more varied diet will help balance his nutritional needs.

To help him with his mucous condition, try elevating the top of his cot up onto telephone directories. Your son may find it easier to sleep in a slightly sloping position and the mucus will not tickle the back of his throat so much. Consider using a cold water humidifier if you feel that the air in his room is very dry. This can be another reason for his coughing in the night. Place this in the middle of his room, well away from his cot.

Have plenty of floor time in the afternoon, with rolling and kicking and also try to get outside as well; fresh air will help him sleep better. Have a very quiet bath time and feed him in a darkened room afterwards, so he becomes sleepy before being put down.

As your son is waking early in the morning as well, it may be hard to push his morning nap on towards 9.30am but if you can begin to move it by five minutes every few days and just let him sleep for 1/2 hr until 10am, you may find he will settle better in the evening. He may be a bit irritable for a few days whilst you put this into place but if it helps him to settle better in the evening and wake nearer to 7am, it will be worth it.